Favourite book you read as a child?

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I’d been brought up on the likes of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. Indeed, I was a proud member of the Famous Five Club, but the middle-class, public school atmosphere of these books didn’t sit comfortably with a youngster from Govan. Mark Twain’s two books, Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, were realistically raw and gritty in comparison. I desperately wanted to be like those characters.

First book to make an impact on you?

WH Murray’s Mountaineering in Scotland. I discovered it in Paisley Library about the same time as I was discovering the hills. Murray’s tales of pre-war climbing are saturated in Gothic romance and contain some of the greatest writing ever about Scotland’s mountains.

Which book made you laugh?

Billy, by Pamela Stephenson. Billy Connolly is simply the funniest man I’ve ever come across.

And cry?

John, by Cynthia Lennon. A crazed gunman robbed the world of a flawed genius.

Least favourite genre?

Anything that glorifies war.

Book you wish you’d written?

First Across the Roof of the World, by Graeme Dingle and Peter Hillary. This is an account of the first trans-Himalayan trek between Sikkim and Pakistan. I’ve visited the Himalaya – Nepal, India and Pakistan – about a dozen times and I adore these raw, elemental landscapes, and the mountain people who live there. If there’s one walk I’d like to have done it would have been this one. Too old now, sadly …

Which book do you think is overrated?

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. Some of this little book about the Cairngorms is inspirational but I find a lot of it is over-written, self-indulgent and impenetrable.

E-reader or print?

I prefer a good, solid feeling book but, somewhat guiltily, I confess to using a Kindle. It takes up less space in a tent or campervan. My main problem with proper books is that I find it incredibly difficult to part from them. My bookshelves at home are crammed full. My wife recently made me get rid of dozens of books and it felt like a bereavement. I’m still grieving for them.

Where do you like to read?

I read for at least 30 minutes every night in bed, whether I’m at home, in a tent or in my wee red campervan. It’s my way of winding down, relaxing before sleep. My nightly read always used to be accompanied by a large dram but illness earlier this year has forced upon me a measure of abstention. The nightly dram has gone but I won’t give up my nightly reading pleasures so easily.

Last book you didn’t finish?

Stephen King’s The Stand, a post-apocalyptic fantasy about a deadly virus that swept the world. As I read, I became increasingly aware that this fanciful virus was all too similar to Covid-19. Was Stephen King being prophetic when he wrote this book in 1978? I didn’t wait to find out.

Last book you read?

Where There’s A Will, by long-distance cyclist Emily Chappell. Some fabulous descriptions of riding the Transcontinental race across Europe and the agonies and discomfort of competing in such a race but a lot of personal darkness too that I found quite depressing.

Favourite non-fiction books?

The Man Who Walked Through Time, by Welsh American writer Colin Fletcher, the story of the first on-foot traverse of the Grand Canyon. Hamish’s Mountain Walk, by Hamish Brown: an account of the first traverse of all of Scotland’s Munros in one epic journey. Desert Solitaire, by American conservationist Edward Abbey. Abbey was rough, tough and combative. We badly need his type in Scotland today to help stop the destruction of our natural treasures from the bulldozers of a GDP-obsessed political system.

Favourite novels?

Sunset Song, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Strumpet City, by James Plunkett: the sweeping story of Dublin’s slums in the early 20th century, set against the grasping, middle-class pretence of the Catholic Church and those influenced by it. Where the Crawdads Sing, by naturalist Delia Owens: I read this wonderful book at the beginning of lockdown. I had just come home from a week in hospital and this book refreshed and inspired me better than any medicine. Set in the swamplands of South Carolina, the descriptions of this incredible landscape, and seascape, form a vibrant background to a great storyline about sexism and racism in the early 20th century.

Favourite Scottish book?

Sunset Song. The descriptions of rural life in the Mearns in the years leading to the Second World War reveal the absurdities of class division and I love the early recognition of the healing qualities of the natural world. I’ve read it several times.

Guilty pleasure?

The novels of Irish writer Maurice Walsh, best known for The Quiet Man, later made into a film starring John Wayne. A mix of drama and romance, his novels mostly recall a rural Ireland and Scotland long since gone.

What do you hope readers will take away from your new book?

That increasing age and degenerative issues are no bar to enjoying the great outdoors of Scotland.

Come by the Hills, by Cameron McNeish, is published by Sandstone Press, £19.99