Scotland’s Mountain Landscapes: A Geomorphological Perspective


By Colin K Ballantyne

I love the Scottish Highlands and I am proud to say that I have climbed many of the mountains covered in the glossy hardback. But, as I say in the other book review on this page, it is more than a picture book. It contains some excellent and fascinating science explaining their outstanding beauty.

Geomorphology is the study of landforms, their processes, form and sediments at the surface of the Earth (and sometimes on other planets). In this respect, this book outlines the geological history of Scotland’s mountains, the relationships between rocks and relief, and the ways in which uplift over the last 55 million years has produced high, dissected plateaus. It explores the causes, nature and history of the Ice Age, making particular reference to the last Scottish ice sheet and the mountain glaciers that were present in Scotland as recently as 12,000 years ago. It also explains such things as the origin of Scotland’s glacial landforms, the effects of frost action and the dramatic results of deglaciation and earthquakes in triggering catastrophic landslides and much, much more. All of this is explained in everyday, non-technical language and clear diagrams, and accompanied by what really makes this book – the photographs.

Scotland’s Mountain Landscapes is written in clear, non-technical language and is abundantly illustrated with both full colour photographs of classic Scottish Mountain views (I know – I’ve climbed many of them and they really do look that good) and diagrams to explain the relevant geomorphological point.

The author is Emeritus Professor of Physical Geography at the University of St Andrews. He is a geomorphologist with 40 years of research experience and has worked on a variety of mountain environments, including those of the Canadian High Arctic, Norway, Spitsbergen, the Alps and New Zealand. He has also published numerous scientific papers about the glacial, periglacial and postglacial landforms of Scotland.

As I say in the other book review on this page, I suggest that, after your walks in the Scottish Highlands, you relax with a favourite and appropriate drink, while looking at the gorgeous pictures in this book to remind you of where you have been and why it was so lovely.

Scotland’s Mountain Landscapes: A Geomorphological Perspective, by Colin K Ballantyne, Dunedin, Edinburgh and London (2019), 174 pages (hardback and also available as an eBook), ISBN: 9781780460406.

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