by Norman Newton
pub. Pevensey Press, 2001
112 pages, £8.99
ISBN 1 898630 26-7
It is always a pleasure to review one of Pevensey's Guides which offer, as they do, a nice balance between informative words and wonderful glossy landscape photography. Norman Newton's Guide to the North-West Highlands is no exception.
Unlike some of the other Pevensey publications we have reviewed on this website [and which break their Content into various subject topics] this book divides its subject matter into regions and places - Inverness, the Black Isle and Easter Ross; Sutherland and Caithness; Wester Ross, Applecross and Localsh; Lochaber; Loch Ness and the Great Glen - and interleaves local history and folklore with descriptions of the physical geography and plenty of stunning photographs. But then Scotland's natural beauty and breathtaking views have a large part to play in the latter, don't they?
This combination makes Newton's Guide ideal for anyone travelling or touring in the North-West Highlands; breaking its areas into manageable chunks, and providing information with enough depth, but which does not browbeat the reader, nor is too scant. Such a formula inevitably means that the author cannot go into depth about the history of the landscape he writes about, but must pick out the most interesting and important items. Yet the broad brush of the Highlands' history is included within Newton's pages - from ancient times, to the Rebellions and Highland Clearances, to World War Two and NATO's influence.
The book is also a guide to touring the area and the author offers advice on the best routes to take, those which offer the best scenic views, and recommended places and sights which the visitor should not miss.
The one small niggle this reviewer has about the Guide is that a reader wanting to find a location mentioned in the text will have to refer to a rather cluttered regional map in the book's Introduction. Smaller scale maps of each area included alongside the author's write-up would have been a useful addition.
The final sections of the book include a list of useful information sources and places to visit [most are listed with their telephone number and opening times], three pages of local place names and their meanings, and a number of references for further reading.
All in all, Norman Newton has done an excellent job of slimming down thousands of years of history and a vast landscape into an easily digestible volume which won't break the bank.