Nan Shepherd: The Living Mountain

California Wildflowers

All the aromatic and heady fragrances – pine and birch, bog myrtle, the spicy juniper, heather and honey-sweet orchis, and the clean smell of wild thyme – mean nothing at all in words. They are there, to be smelt. I am like a dog – smells excite me. On a hot moist midsummer day, I have caught a rich fruity perfume rising from the mat of grass, moss and wild berry bushes that covers so much of the plateau. The earthy smell of moss, and the soil itself, is best savoured by grubbing. Sometimes the rank smell of deer assails one’s nostrils, and in the spring the sharp scent of fire. 98

Nan Shepherd The Living Mountain (Canongate 2011)

Nan Shepherd’s book about the Cairngorms is an absolute delight to anyone who loves walking and who has experienced the high of being alone on a well-loved mountain in the silence and vastness of unspoiled nature. And she’s about to appear on the new Scottish £5 note.



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