Tales from the Grahams: 231 medium-sized hills of Scotland
by Alan Dawson and Ann Bowker
with contributions from Hamish Brown, Paul Richardson, Alan Rowan, Fiona Torbet, Eric Young and others
Published in December 2022, price £20
376 pages, including ten key tables of topographic data, 235 tales from the Grahams, over 180 colour photographs and accurate survey data from 99% of the summits
The Grahams are not high or low, they are medium-sized hills, roughly halfway in height between sea level and the summit of Ben Nevis. They vary widely in appearance, accessibility and location. but all of them have two measurements in common. They are between 600 and 762 metres above sea level and their summits are at least 150 metres above the surrounding land. These hills were identified and classified in the 1980s, with the first published list appearing in April 1992 as part of a much larger set, in The Relative Hills of Britain by Alan Dawson. Since then they have been renamed, revised, contracted, surveyed and redefined.
This book contains the final, definitive list of the 231 Grahams, a tale or two about every one of them, and historical information about the origins of the list and the tragedy of Fiona Torbet (née Graham), who provided the name for the list. It is a reference book and an illustrated story book, not a guidebook that tells you which way to go. The tables record the key topographic characteristics of the hills and the tales describe aspects of climbing them, for one person on one day. Every tale has a title to accompany the name of the hill. The titles give a flavour of the experience on the day, or one specific aspect of it. Sometimes it is the quieter and less well-known hills that provide more memorable experiences. Themes covered in the tales may be profound, trivial, contrived or obscure but they are contemporary. There are no history lessons about battles, castles, legends or royal visits. Some of this material is important or interesting but it is well covered elsewhere and is not relevant to the experiences of most hill walkers.
The tales capture the spirit and variety of the hill walking experience in all its unpredictable splendour and suffering, covering the highs and the lows and the lulls in between. Every experience is different and every story is unique. You never know what you will see, hear, feel or think until you set off up a hill and find your way to the top. The stories do not tell you how to walk up and down the Grahams, but they are informative and entertaining whether or not you have any intention of climbing these hills.
Measure for measure
Comedy of errors
Much ado about something
As you like it
The Grahams by height
Tables and tales
Western Highlands: North and Central
Western Highlands: South
Southern Highlands: West
Southern Highlands: East
William and Fiona
Love’s labours lost
All’s well that ends well
Index of areas
Index of hills
To obtain a copy of this very fine book, see the Orders page.