Sandstone Press

Blog Tour: The Mountains are Calling

If you've followed us for a while, you'll be aware that we're rather fond of the great outdoors. We're delighted to share this post by Jonny Muir, author of The Mountains are Calling, which is the latest addition to our outstanding list of outdoor titles. This is the third stop on the blog tour for The Mountains are Calling - please see the banner at the bottom of this post and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the rest of the tour!

The hour is approaching midnight when I hear the sound of running water, a relentless groan in the darkness. It is the sound I long for; the sound I dread. I have come too far to turn back. I step into the Abhainn Rath, facing upstream, moving sideways in jerky, crab steps, ankle-deep, knee-deep, thigh-deep, the downward glare of torch light illuminating white froth, imagining the water spilling through my legs falling as snow on a mountaintop.

I am in a new place: a boggy plateau of tussocks. Invisible mountains girdle me. I feel suddenly very cold. I wander aimlessly, knowing a bothy is here somewhere. As I had descended to the river, I was sure I had seen a flicker of light – perhaps a candle in a window? – but now there is nothing, only the disarming juxtaposition of certainty and uncertainty. It is here, but where? And then, quite alarmingly, I turn and see the building before me: Meanach – a desolate rectangle of bricks several hours from the nearest road – and I somehow feel even more scared.

***

What strikes me most now is that I did not turn back – and how grateful I am for that resolve. I had kissed my daughters goodbye in Edinburgh at 6, eaten fish and chips in Tyndrum at 9, left a car at Kinlochleven at 10, then ran alone into night-time hills draped in heavy March snow, my torch catching the fiendish glances of deer, trepidation in every step.

The next day, Meanach was a black speck in a vast landscape, glimpsed from 1,000 metres up on the kinking line of the Grey Corries. We ran along snow-banked ridges under an ocean-blue sky, picking out islands in the west. Some days you know you will remember forever. They are frozen in your mind, like a photograph. And the photographs that day were extraordinary: a long shot of me climbing the triangle of Stob Choire Claurigh on an Alpine background; three of us sweeping across snow to Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr; Ross Christie and Anthony Hemmings cresting that mountain, the finest of the Grey Corries; another long shot of us descending to Steall from Coire Giubhsachan.

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                                        Jonny Muir on Stob Choire Claurigh (© Eóin Lennon)

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                                           Descending Coire Giubhsachan (© Eóin Lennon)

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                                  Approaching Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr (© Anthony Hemmings)

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                                  Reaching the summit of Sgùrr Choinnich Mòr (© Eóin Lennon)

That one of these images would adorn the cover of The Mountains are Calling was inevitable, but the process of choosing was not about finding the ‘best fit’. Eóin Lennon’s shot of Anthony and Ross is not simply a snapshot in time. This is an image that symbolises the brilliance of running and being in the high places of Scotland, for that day, after bumping downhill to Steall, we tramped back to Meanach, utterly dumbfounded by mountains. 

The Mountains are Calling is published on Thursday 17 May. The book will be launched at Edinburgh Waterstones and can be preordered here.

Please see the banner below for full details of the blog tour celebrating the book's publication.


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