Not being able to travel – for whatever reason – sucks, but luckily we will always have books to take us on armchair adventures around the world! In this post, I’m sharing 20 amazing adventure books about Scotland so you don’t have to stop exploring Scotland entirely. Some are personal favourites, some are still on my reading list. Pick up one of these books and come on an adventure to Scotland with me!
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I love books – apart from travelling in person, they are the next best thing to going on a real adventure.
Adventures books have always inspired my love for travel and adventure activities. From classics like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild which gave me itchy feet to Sten Nadolny’s The Discovery of Slowness which gave me a long-lasting fascination for the Arctic region. I loved reading Hugh Beach’s A Year in Lapland and Piers Vitebsky’s The Reindeer People, and then travelling to Sweden and Norway to learn more about Sami people and culture in person.
My love for Scotland is equally fulled by books about Scotland – especially those that inspire me to venture outside and go on adventures.
Since visiting the places of our dreams is not always an option, books can be a great substitute to travel to a location without actually going. It inspires your imagination and hopefully soothes some of your wanderlust.
Read on for 20 adventure books about Scotland that you could read right now in order to visit Scotland from your armchair.
Adventures Books from Scotland
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
The Living Mountain is one of my favourite books about Scotland’s nature. I have read is several times and love to come back to it whenever I feel stuck inside without an option to venture out into the mountains.
Nan Shepherd actually wrote this book during World War II, but the manuscript lay in a drawer until it was finally published for the first time thirty years later.
In the book, Shepherd describes the natural world of the Cairngorms mountains with great detail – from the flowers and animals that call them their home, to the people who roam among them. Her careful account of every inch of the mountains makes even inanimate objects like rocks come alive before your very eyes.
It’s is an essential read for nature writers.
Also available as an audiobook on Audible.
Wilderness Weekends by Phoebe Smith
I recently picked up a copy of Wilderness Weekends: Wild Adventures in Britain’s Rugged Corners and it is full of inspiring trip ideas for future adventure getaways.
The book begins with an introduction to doing wilderness adventures right – everything you need to know to plan a successful trip, to stay safe and to take proper care of the environment.
Smith then lists 26 ideas for adventures around the UK of which 12 lead to Scotland. Ideas include hikes like the Range of the Awful Hand in the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, a trip to the isolates Knoydart peninsula and bothy hikes in the Northern Highlands.
Island on the Edge by Anne Cholawo
In 1989, city girl Anna Cholawo moved from the hustle and bustle of London to the tiny Isle of Soay off the southeast coast of Skye. In Isle on the Edge Cholawo tells the story of her transition from the big smoke to a largely unpopulated island on the Scottish west coast.
A dream that many of us might share!
Cholawo interweaves her own journey to Skye and Soay with the history of the island and detailed descriptions of its unique natural world.
The Scottish Bothy Bible by Geoff Allan
I love flipping through the pages of The Scottish Bothy Bible which is a complete guide to Scotland’s bothies and how to reach them.
The book perfectly combines practical tips for bothying in Scotland with awe-inspiring photos which makes this the perfect book to dream up hypothetical adventures for the future.
Allan describes how to plan a trip to each of Scotland’s 81 bothies run by the Mountain Bothy Association as well as many other small bothies off the beaten track. The book includes suggestions for bothies particularly suitable for first-timers, families, romantic getaways, solitude and specific landscapes.
Wild Scotland by Kimberley Grant
Another must-have for anyone who is always planning their next adventure before the current one is even over.
Wild Scotland: Hidden places, great adventures & the good life is an awe-inspiring book with travel ideas for the Scottish Highlands and Islands, including many destinations that are remote and for off the beaten track.
The collection of over 800 hidden gems to discover all over Scotland is accompanied by beautiful photography and lists of local businesses you can support on your adventure.
The Evidence of Things Not Seen by W. H. Murray
The Evidence of Things Not Seen: A Mountaineer’s Tale is the autobiographical account of Scottish mountaineer, writer and environmentalist William H. Murray.
Written shortly before Murray passed away in 1996, Vertebrate Publishing has recently brought back this classic of Scottish adventure writing and published a new edition of the book.
Beginning with tales of his childhood and young adulthood during which he discovered his love for the Scottish mountains, Murray also tells his story as a Nazi prisoner of war during World War II. Regaining his freedom after the war, Murray went on many more adventures in the Highlands and beyond and became a leading conversationist in Scotland.
The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat
High up on my wishlist is Alistair Moffat’s The Hidden Ways: Scotland’s Forgotten Roads.
In the book, Moffat follows long-forgotten roads and paths, discovers pilgrim routes and warpaths, follows coastal trails and traverses mountain peaks. He reflects on the natural beauty of Scotland while telling some of the lost histories of the country.
The description reads: “In retracing the forgotten paths, he charts a powerful, surprising and moving history of Scotland through the unremembered lives who have moved through it.” I can’t wait to read it!
Crowdie & Cream by Finlay J. Macdonald
I picked up a copy of Finlay J. Macdonald’s iconic book Crowdie & Cream in a small bookstore in Stornoway, after completing the Hebridean Way. Crowdie & Cream tells the story of the author’s childhood in the Outer Hebrides, taking a close look at the unique island communities in the far north-wests of Scotland.
In the book, Macdonald pays just as much attention to big global developments such as the Depression and World War II, as he does to describe playful summers spent at his Grandfather’s house on Lewis.
This book will take you on a journey through time and to the Western Isles, inspiring many trips to come.
Flowers in the Snow: The Life of Isobel Wylie Hutchison by Gwyneth Hoyle
There are far more biographies about or autobiographies by male adventurers and nature writers, so make sure you put this exception on your reading list.
Gwyneth Hoyle’s biography of Isobel Wylie Hutchison, Flowers in the Snow, tells the life story of an incredible Scottish plant collector and explorer. In her pursuit to learn about the Arctic flora, Hutchison reached the Norwegian Lofoten islands, the American Aleutians and travelled across Greenland and Alaska. And all that at a time, when women were conventionally taken care of household and childcare – Hutchison lived from 1889 to 1982.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and devour it!
PS: Hutchison has also published several books, but they are pretty hard to track down.
Love of Country by Madeleine Bunting
Another classic about the Outer Hebrides, Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey explores the turbulent history of the Western Isles and how they influenced the British nation-state and were used to shape a British national identity.
Author Madeleine Bunting travelled the islands extensively for years to gather histories, testimonies and reflections and weaves a rich tapestry from all the threads that make up Hebridean island life.
However, this is also a book about the beautiful landscape and scenery of the Outer Hebrides and an ode to the natural world.
The Call of the Mountains by Max Landsberg
Overall Max Landsberg has trekked over 1,000 miles through the Scottish mountains. His book The Call of the Mountains distils his experiences and subsequent love for the mountains into words.
The book contains personal accounts and reflections on life in the Scottish mountains, but also plenty of practical guides and tips for finding the best views and the most rewarding hikes in the country.
Landsberg also writes about the geology, flora and fauna of the Highlands and reflects on trekking as a strategy to nurture body and mind.
Other Adventure Books to Inspire Scotland Trips
Solo Trip by Annika Ziehen
Solo Trip: Me, Myself & The World is a book about travelling alone by travel blogger Annika Ziehen. Practical, funny and inspiring, Ziehen has pulled together a vast resource for anyone who is solo-curious but has not taken the plunge yet and explored the world by themselves.
Aimed at first-timers and sceptics alike, Ziehen talks openly about her love for solo travel and debunks some of the most common fears like what it’s like to go out for dinner by yourself.
Candid as on her travel blog The Midnight Blue Elephant (a must-read for foodies, beach bums and divers), Ziehen also talks about the downsides of travelling alone.
The book ends with three suggested itineraries to her favourite destinations, Thailand, New York and Morrocco – you’ll want to pack your bags for a solo adventure after reading Solo Trip!
Wild Women, edited by Mariella Frostrup
This anthology of short stories by adventuring women is worth its weight in gold – so inspiring!
Wild Women and their Amazing Adventures over Land, Sea & Air contains 50 stories by fearless women who retell their adventures around the world. All of them. are excerpts from longer books, which means you don’t also get inspiring adventure snippets but also a list books to look out for in the future.
Some of the stories are historic accounts, such as Amelia Edwards’ A Thousand Miles up the Nile or Nellie Bly’s Around the World in 72 Days. Others are contemporary adventure stories like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild or Bella Pollen’s A Snapshot of Afghanistan.
Scotland is also represented with Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain and Aberdonian Lois Pryce’s Red Tape and White Knuckles about her solo motorcycle adventure from Alaska to Patagonia. Pryce’s book is available in full here.
Waymaking, edited by Helen Mort, Claire Carter, Heather Dawe and Camilla Barnard
The anthology Waymaking has the mission to highlight women in adventure and nature writing.
It collects over 70 short stories, essays, poems illustrations and photographs by adventures women from around the world including household names like Ana McNuff and Bernadette McDonald, but also less prominent writers, artists and poets.
Some of the Scottish connections in the books are several of Jen Rendall’s photographs from around the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh-based writer Sandy Bennet-Haber’s short story Do You Remember Me Turkey Blue? and Alison Grant’s poem Affric.
She Explores by Gale Straub
Gale Straub is the host of one of my favourite adventure podcasts called She Explores, in which she interviews women about their life-changing wilderness adventures.
The book She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild is the culmination of this podcast and a collection of short stories by many of the women who had contributed to the podcast over the years. It is a celebration of female courage, self-reliance and self-discovery and a huge source of inspiration for budding adventurers like myself.
Most of the stories in the collection are set in the United States, however, the personal journeys of the women represented in the book are relatable and easily transferable to the Scottish wilderness.
Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking has been on my bedside table ever since I got it as a Christmas present in 2019. I haven’t come round reading it yet, but I would not be surprised if I get itchy feet once I do.
Here is what it says on the back: “What does it mean to be out walking in the world, whether in a landscape or a metropolis, on a protest march or a pilgrimage? In this modern classic Rebecca Solnit draws together many histories to create a range of possibilities for this most basic act.”
You Won’t Remember This, edited by Sandy Bennett-Haber
Some say, once you have babies, you won’t be able to travel anymore. You Won’t Remember This: Travel with Babies proves them wrong!
Even though I don’t have children myself, I love reading the stories of (mostly) women who defy what society would like to tell them about raising children. The short stories in this book are tales from train journeys and plane rides, heartfelt letters to future adventurers and encouraging stories for other parents with wanderlust.
Bennett-Haber’s own contribution is her account of her first trip with her newborn baby to the Isle of Mull, The Puffin, the Haunting and the Turtle.
Which adventure books about Scotland are on your reading list?
Share a book that inspires your journey to Scotland with me in the comments.
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