AMONG THE SUMMER SNOWS
CHRISTOPHER NICHOLSON, SEPTEMBER PUBLISHING, £8.99 (PB)
Acclaimed novelist Christopher Nicholson roams the Cairngorms in search of the elusive summer snowfields, whose icy remnants endure from one winter to the next.
Clinging on in north-facing clefts and crevices, these vestigial echoes of the glaciers that shaped this landscape are as unpredictable as mountain weather itself. Which is precisely why Nicholson’s expedition offers a frisson of uncertainty: where will the snow appear; what features will the meltwater have carved therein; will he even find the crystalline grail he seeks?
Defying humid, midge-infested bogs, an injured foot, advancing years and existential angst, Nicholson presses on, pondering life while scouring the coires and bealachs of the Highlands for evanescent shards of white, gleaming through the summer cloud.
Nicholson’s finely honed observational and descriptive firepower meld vivid depictions of the spectacular landscapes with the contours of his consciousness, offering occasional glints of scintillating clarity, as the clouds suddenly lift from a lofty arête to reveal a pristine snowfield.
His moving journey makes compelling reading. Occasionally amusing, seldom maudlin or self-pitying, and ultimately uplifting, this quest for meaning offers solace for anyone with a penchant for pondering the mysteries of life, love and loss during solitary wanderings through the wilderness. Mark Sutcliffe, outdoors writer
Year-round snow dusts the peaks of the Grampians