After reading this book, I imagine that John Burns may not be the last hillwalker much longer. I enjoyed reading this immensely. I think anyone who has a love of hiking, climbing, and generally living it up in the wilds will relate to this book. In the Northeast of the United States, we do not have Bothies, but we've got a string of mountain huts through the White Mountains. Growing up, when these were still somewhat affordable to the average hillwalker, I visited these with my dad and we'd have a great time eating canned stews and talking with other like-minded individuals. I could relate to the changes that have taken place that John writes about, the gradual shift in the outdoor community and the slight lack of like-minded, heavy backpack-toting folks. Even more, though, I could relate to the strong passion for the wildeness and the humanity that he writes about. I could also relate to the feeling that I'd rather be in the hills more than anywhere else and to the rag-tag, lack-of-cash approach that many of us are forced to use to get on our adventures. I'll be getting his other book, Bothy Tales, when I've got the scratch together.
The author, John Burns, and I are of a similar age. My parents introduced me to the mountains of North Wales, the Lake District and Scotland when I was quite young. His descriptions of the truly awful equipment our generation wore and used brought back so many funny memories. Anyone who has spent any time in the hills and mountains of Scotland will laugh, and also wince, when reading of the swarms of midges that seem to be ever present. John's writing is clear, thought provoking and funny and will be enjoyed by anyone who gets pleasure from walking in the hills, be they in Britain, the United States or elsewhere in the world.
I loved this book. I am not a climber but I am definitely a hillwalker in a different set of hills. I found this story to be humorous and entertaining till the very end and I could relate to the author on many accounts. Thank you for sharing your stories John D Burns.
John D. Burns’s informative, engaging, and self-deprecating writing style is gripping and enjoyable from page one. I began to read more slowly toward the end of the book, as I didn’t want it to end. I look forward to reading more tales of the outdoors from the author.
I really enjoyed John's perspective on the evolution of hillwalking and society's connection to nature. I share similar thoughts and experiences about the realm of specialized hiking and camping gear —how it came into existence and influenced all of us, especially through the 1970s and 1980s. It is fascinating to think about the technological advances in shoes, rucksacks, sleeping bags, tents and other accessories and how they can improve and/or degrade an outdoor experience. Today, people are convinced that they need to buy specialized gear from a specialized store to wander in nature when in reality they don't need anything more than a desire to explore. The bladder demon was a favorite "laugh-out-loud" moment of John's storytelling. The most entertaining aspects were when things went wrong (getting lost, midges, kicked out of train station in snow, running out of petrol, etc.) and he had to figure out how to handle the situation. These situations usually ended with laughs about how we have all been in similar embarrasing and challenging circumstances. It was a pleasure to meet his friends and hear how they influenced his decisions. Their eccentricities and back-stories were especially appreciated. In my own life, friends have been the motivation for many an adventure. I can relate to his various life transitions from long walks to snow camping to daredevil ice climbing to performance poetry to stand-up comedy to portraying historical figures to going back to the basics of interacting with all aspects of nature while seeking refuge at a remote bothy. It is admirable to have collected so many experiences. I appreciate his sense of humor, sarcasm and intimate depictions of his life in past decades. At times, in the earlier chapters, I hoped for more depth in any given scene before moving to the next adventure. Each chapter could've been a separate book! I had trouble with the jumping back and forth in time. Sometimes the intensity of a scene was diminished or cut short in an effort to explore other story elements from a different time period. For me, a linear approach would have sustained the drama and suspense more consistently. If it were screenplay, I could see how the non-linear storytelling might've played a more powerful role in a visual sense. I felt that the later chapters featured well-rounded storytelling with vivid poetic imagery, engaging internal and external dialogue, meaningful emotional context and increasingly thorough descriptions of his intriguing and thought provoking experience. I look forward to further works from this well-weathered storyteller. I highly recommend this to anyone who gazes at the mountains in wonder. I especially recommend to veteran hikers/hillwalkers, ramblers, climbers, outdoor recreation enthusiasts and nature lovers.
One man’s passion for mountaineering and how it gripped from a young age, eventually waning but opening new doors later in life. Reads like an autobiography, following the author from a young man to the present day. His love for snow and ice, the ideal route, danger, friendships made and lost. Nice touches of dry humour throughout and those middle aged amongst us will appreciate the nostalgic stories from the 80’s to the present. A wonderful read about how passions can take hold, and eventually leave to be replaced with new desires.