A follow-up to the original "Wild Walks," Cameron McNeish's "Wild Walks 2" offers ten more of his favorite Scottish mountain excursions, packaged into bite-sized chunks of about 10 minutes apiece. As with the first DVD, the highland views of peaks, glens, and lochs are spectacular, and the host is congenial and knowledgeable.
For those inclined to follow McNeish's example, the walks are classified into easy, moderate, and serious. They include: (1) Beinn Alligin in Torridon, (2) Ben Lawes, one of the highest mountains in the southern highlands; (3) Stuc an Lochain in Glen Lyon, (4) Schiehallion in Highland Perthshire; (5) A'Chailleach in the Monadh Liath (where McNeish dons his snowshoes); (6) Creag Meagaidh on the Lochaber/Badenoch bnoundary, (7) Bienn Tianavaig on the Isle of Skye; (8) Braeriach in the Cairngorms (where, at the outset of his climb, he goes "boulder-hopping"); (9) Ben Starav in Glen Etive, site of the legend of Deirdre of the Sorrows, and (10)Buachaille Etive Mor near Glen Coe, a perfectly pyramidal mountain that might double as the Paramount Pictures logo.
McNeish has presented some of these areas in previous disks: Striding Edge's "Great Walks: Scotland" includes "The Heart of Torridon" and "Creag Meagaidh," and Mountain Media's "The Skye Trail" offers spectacular views of the Isle of Skye. But there is no archival footage here; these are new walks that confirm why these particular places are among McNeish's favorites and worth visiting repeatedly (though he does admit that he has never before climbed Beinn Tianavaig on Skye).
As usual, McNeish is full of information about the history and lore of these places. He relates the links between Schiehallion and the Knights Templar, the Holy Land, and freemasonry. He explains how a field near Beinn Tienavag was the site (in 1882) of the last battle fought on British soil--between a battalion of police and a group of displaced crofters. He recounts the successful efforts since 1985 by the Scottish National Heritage to regenerate the forests in the area of Creag Meagaidh. He notes that while on his grand tour of the Highlands, Charles Dickens visited Buachaille Etive Mor and declared that it was the sort of place you'd come across when you were deranged in the height of a fever. (Bear in mind, McNeish adds, that Dickens "was essentially a city man.") And while on Braeriach, he tells how the nearby Cairngorms mountain Bod an Deamhain, west of the Lairig Ghru Pass came to be named in English: it seems that when Queen Victoria was visiting the area she asked her local ghillie John Brown to translate the mountain's name, which means, literally, a certain private part on the devil's body. Thinking fast, Brown answered, Ma'am, it means "The Devil's Point."
Larry B | Ventura, California | October 2018