Getting Reaquainted with the Scottish Highlands

No, not the landscape itself, though it’s far too long since I went hill walking in the north and west, this is the name of the pictorial book that Dorothy and Alastair wrote together along with photographer David Paterson in 1988.

Although immersed in all things Dunnett and with a house full of multiple copies her books, I don’t quite have a full set of every title she produced. Specifically I only have two of the Dolly series – at least in English, I do have some copies in German but unfortunately that’s a language I don’t speak. The other gap in my collection was The Scottish Highlands, which I’d always meant to buy a copy of during my time at James Thin, when I sold a fair number of them, but which unexpectedly went out of print and denied me the chance. Until today.

Having unexpectedly received a cheque from a client instead of being paid by electronic transfer, I had to visit the bank in Morningside, not far from the old Dunnett home, and having paid for 20 minutes extra parking than was required something told me to nip into one of the many secondhand bookshops in that area. Scanning first the history books and then the Scottish books I suddenly spotted a familiar cover and happily acquired a copy of the missing book for a mere £3.99 and in good condition.

Memory sometimes plays odd tricks – there is a little more text than I remembered, both the initial section by Dorothy and the chapter descriptions by Alastair, and it’s interesting to find that in this context their writing styles were very similar. It’s lovely to read snippets of stories of their travels by hill pony, yacht and motor cruiser, and their clear love of the Scottish countryside, even though they explored it in different ways. It seems that unlike Alastair, who wandered the hills with friends like Michael Powell and Seton Gordon, Dorothy was no hill walker.  We also learn that although she enjoyed skating she hadn’t good balance and wasn’t very good at it. Apart from cooking that must have been about the only things she wasn’t good at!

I’ll enjoy dipping into this old friend of a book after so long. Finding the other Dollys may prove a bit harder!


Getting Reaquainted with the Scottish Highlands — 1 Comment

  1. tell me about it! I bought a Scottish Highlands off ebay for a reasonable price, but many Dolly(s) are very expensive – I’ve actually never read them (shame!) and my local US library doesnt know they exist. 🙁 maybe Kindle?

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