Book review of The Munros The Complete Collection of MapsRoss Cadie, Mountain Safety Advisor at Mountaineering Scotland, reviews The Munros: The Complete Collection of Maps, a book by HARVEY Maps. Bursting with mapping of every Munro, this book seems like an obvious choice for someone like Ross, who works with the mountains almost every day. Over the course of a few weeks, Ross noticed how he used the book in several different ways, from admiring the contours and gathering inspiration, to planning new routes and reminiscing on past adventures in the mountains.
Images top and bottom © Ross Cadie
The word 'cartophile' is given to a lover of maps. That's what I am. And if you are too, then you're going to love this book.
Over 200 pages of stunning maps are sandwiched between brief histories of how and why HARVEY Maps produce such beautiful products, and the story of the man who gave his name to the infamous mountain list.
The book was launched to commemorate the centenary of Hugh Munro's death, who (as many of the readers will know) was the man behind the table of Scottish mountains over 3000ft (or 914m for the young among us!). The need to create lists, and then to tick them all off, is a distinctly human characteristic, and the activity of Munro Bagging, which has seen an exponential rise in popularity in recent years is the perfect example of this.
I have always been fascinated by maps, even from an early age. So, when I first opened the pages of this beautiful hardback and saw that almost every page was filled with wonderful maps of the 282 Munros exquisitely put together, I was in cartophile heaven! As I was with the first 20 map-less pages - which are filled with the history, philosophy and methods of making HARVEY Maps, as well as detailing how the book was produced.
I have always enjoyed the freedom that the mountains afford, and this was one of the main reasons for me making the move across the border to Scotland. This sense of freedom is captured in The Munros, not by what it says, but by the absence of what other Munro books would usually say. This book is framed as a space to imagine your next adventure, rather than be told how you should be doing it. It is not a guide on 'How to do the Munros', or what routes to take, although it does have the occasional recommendation in the margins.
It relies on the reader to actually 'read' the information put before them, with the onus on the reader. A map is not simply a projection or photograph of the ground, but an interpretation. And unlike other maps of the UK mountains, HARVEY Maps produce maps specifically for the hiker, hillwalker and mountaineer. What comes through in HARVEY Maps is the knowledge and experience of the HARVEY Maps team to know what a hill-goer needs to successfully navigate through the mountains.
Over the last few weeks, I have come to realise that I have used the book in polar opposite ways. The first for dreaming, inspiring and the early part of planning. As I sit in the house in the evening, I turn the pages contemplating where I next want to visit. After deciding on an area, I take note of all the usual details and considerations around my designated target and start to build that all-important plan which is the foundation of all successful and enjoyable adventures. Where is the best access to my chosen mountain? What are my options for possible routes up and down? How long will they take me? Only then will I go to my trusted sources to find out what the guidebooks and websites say and recommend. For me, this forces me to look at the whole mountain and take note of both the macro and micro. It encourages the reader to absorb and process what is presented, and to re-imagine and get creative. If I go straight to the guidebook or website, I tend to just look at the recommended route, and only notice a fraction of the mountain.
The other way I have been using the book is for reminiscing - looking back at the maps of adventures past. My mind is transported to the feelings, the effort and the sense of achievement of reaching the summit. And, occasionally (although I shouldn't admit it) the places of slight navigational detours or lapses of concentration! I may start using the margins of the book to annotate my journeys as a kind of journal or logbook for when my knees decide enough is enough!
Although quite obvious, I'm going to say it anyway (because, someone at some point is sure to try it) The Munros is not designed to be taken out on the hills for map reading. I am a member of a Mountain Rescue Team in Scotland and the majority of the time we rescue people in real need who have made genuine mistakes - mistakes I have made myself- or people who've had an accident. But when they say, "take a map", they don't mean this book!! Although, who knows, maybe the second edition will be printed on HARVEY Maps waterproof paper!
This is a must-have book for anyone who is interested in beautiful maps of beautiful places, regardless of whether or not you are an avid Munro Bagger and mountain walker. For those days that can't be spent on the hill, for whatever reason, this may well be the next best thing.
A tabletop book of beauty and, like their maps, of the highest quality, clear and inspirational.
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If you would like to get your hands on a copy of our best-selling book, The Munros: The Complete Collection of Maps, you can find it by following the link.
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