Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Film Review – The Cairngorms in Winter – Chris Townsend; Terry Abraham

I downloaded this film form the distributors – Steep Edge ( ) when it 1st came out in 2013 but only watched it last night as I didn’t want to watch it on a computer screen but on a big Telly and couldn’t figure out until now how to transfer it to the telly. Last night I cracked the problem using an iPad and an HDMI adaptor and boy was the wait worthwhile! From the outset the Grandeur of the Cairngorms is wonderfully captured in Terry Abraham’s fantastic cinematography combined ith an excellent soundtrack.

I first came across Chris Townsend’s writing nearly 30 years ago when I read ‘The Great Backpacking Adventure’ (which I really ought to read again soon). Chris has since become something of a guru on Scottish Mountains (see his Cicerone Guide to Scottish Mountains) but despite his obvious familiarity with the Cairngorms his delight in the area comes across clearly in this film. As he says himself in the narrative no matter where in the world he has been he can always come back the these hills and feel they are not diminished in any way.

The film starts with Chris introducing himself and his topic at the ‘Squirrel’ Café – my name for it not the official one by the Glenmore campsite. As an aside they do a mighty fine apple strudel if your ever in the vicinity though Chris limits himself to a hot chocolate. Chris then takes us on several days out in the hills is to a camp in Glen Feshie and then into the Lairig Ghru – from which he turns back due to weather. Most of the action takes place around the Cairngorm / Ben Macdui Massif but as Chris points out in the film the Cairngorms are so much bigger (there wouldn’t be time in a 96 minute film to cover the whole area) he points out Lochnagar and the Glenshee hills from his lofty vantage point on a snow covered Ben Macdui.

The film is not a travelogue or a detailed guide to the Cairngorms but is much more personal than that. Chris provides some guidance on visiting the hills in winter – there is a short piece on equipment to take – but more importantly he puts across his love of these hills and of wild places and the need to protect them. This need for wild places is I think the key message of the film.

The Film is 96 minutes long and for me is a remarkable piece of work that I thoroughly enjoyed. This could have been several hours longer and I would not have tired of watching. I believe it is now available as a DVD from Amazon and I would certainly recommend getting a copy