Exploring Scotland with Tom Weir

Tom Weir

Pelham Books, £16.99

PUBLISHED in 1991, Tom Weir’s captivating book reminds you of his undiminished love of the great outdoors and of his impeccable conservationist credentials.

In the introduction he recalls his earliest days as a “budding Seton Gordon”, Gordon being a well-known hillman and naturalist who lived on Skye and wandered across Scotland, studying wildlife. Weir taught himself photography and began submitting illustrated articles to newspapers and magazines.

He went on, as we know, to make a considerable success of it, and later branched into making programmes for the BBC and STV.

The travels depicted in this book, all originally written for The Scots Magazine in the 10 years to 1990, see him range across the country he knows so well: there are enjoyable chapters on everything from the Black Mount and Skye to Anstruther and the Borders. Lots of excellent photographs, too.

With an old friend he takes to the new stretch of the A9 at Killiecrankie and follows the whisky trail to Strathspey; on a “sunny morning of high visibility”, and in high spirits, he climbs Arthur’s Seat, in Edinburgh, to meet a trio of geologists.

Weir focuses on the environmental concerns that were prevalent in his early days as a writer: hydro-electric schemes, the effect of toxic chemicals on the breeding success of golden eagles, the disappearance of miles of hedgerows, the neglect of primeval Caledonian pine forest.

The problems, he observed in 1991, “are still with us”, and though the voices of conservationists had been growing louder, he added, “the green movement is more words than deeds as yet”.

Tom Weir died in 2006, aged 91, but he would have been comforted to see that the cause he so enthusiastically espoused for decades has since been taken up by millions of people around the world.

Russell Leadbetter


Countrywise, STV, Sunday, 11.55am

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