The Living Mountain

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Robert Macfarlane takes inspiration from writer Nan Shepherd on a very special poetic pilgrimage to the Cairngorms.

Nan Shepherd believed that it was 'a grand thing to get leave to live.' She did this by spending every minute she could in her beloved Cairngorms. In her 88-years, she covered thousands of miles on foot and became minutely aware of the rhythms of these wild places.

She collected her thoughts in 'The Living Mountain'. It's a remarkable love letter to these dramatic landscapes, but convinced that readers didn't want an "aimless, sensual exploration of the Cairngorms," Nan tucked the manuscript away in a drawer and left it there for 30-years.

Four years before she died, her book finally saw the light of day. At just 80-pages, it's small in size, but big in impact and has been described by The Guardian as "the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain".

Robert Macfarlane agrees. He calls 'The Living Mountain' a "wry, beautiful hymn to 'living all the way through'". He thinks this book is hugely important as more and more of us experience less and less contact with the outside world; "We are, literally, losing touch." Nan's writing is the antithesis of this. She plunges readers right into the landscape.

Robert celebrates this intrepid literary spirit by embarking on an autumnal trip right into the heart of Nan's favourite wild places.

Robert celebrates this intrepid literary spirit by embarking on a trip right into the heart of Nan's favourite wild places.