The Last Hillwalker – John D.Burns

By: snowgood

Nov 14 2021

Category: adventure, Walking

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Another good book to add to my 2021 reading list.

I bought this in a garden centre when we were supposed to be looking for Christmas lights, around about a year ago.

It wasn’t for me, but a gift for my walking partner.

He read it some time back, and this week it was my turn to catch up on the highs and lows in the life of John D. Burns.

At first I was shocked to read how he and a bunch of friends starting clomping around the Lake District in woefully inadequate kit.

My “superiority complex” looked down on his over engineered frame rucksack, and stupid jeans as I read about his teenage exploits.

These days I travel light (much like the chap in the last chapter of the book), always have quick dry trousers, a decent pair of Salomon shoes, LowePro rucksack and water.

Then I thought back to my first 5 years in Great Langdale. You guessed it, I too had jeans agonisingly uncomfortable walking boots and pretty much nothing useful for hillwalking in bad weather.

So I cut him some slack, revelled in his Morris Marina accidents and disappointments (my Mum had one – they were truly awful) and started to enjoy myself.

Yes I have climbed Ben Nevis, but never indulged in crampons or ice axes so the maturing Burns has far more experience of inhospitable terrain than me.

I admire his courage to stop climbing with a “buddie” who wasn’t disciplined enough to be a safe partner. His efforts as a Mountain rescuer deserve praise, and his prose made sliding sliding down an ice slope or climbing “up a chimney” things of delight.

I may never get involved in ropes, never want to see Scottish midges, but I do hope I can at least replicate some of his winter escapades “under my belt” as my weak knee seems to be recovering.

Book Rating : 8 out of 10

P.S. I was also pleased to see he noticed a sign about the forgiveness of sins, even if it was only a passing comment. Jesus (still) saves.

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