February Festival Highlights

This February the Scottish Mountaineering Press were at the both the Fort William Mountain Festival and Magic Mountain on Skye. We held a range of events covering new books, creative writing and art, our Gaelic writing project, workshops and hosted an exhibition too. In this article you’ll find out more about what we got up to, which we hope is something you’ll see more of in the future.

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This year was the 20th anniversary of the Fort William Mountain Festival and we were absolutely delighted to be working with the team there to put on a creative presence the likes of which the festival had not seen before. There was a fantastic buzz around the event and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time meeting new people and catching up with old friends.

Throughout the festival we had books on show, including our new releases Harold Raeburn: The Steps of a Giant and The Cairngorms & North-East Scotland, alongside an exhibition of Creatives work featuring winners of our flash contests and also from our Gaelic writing project Mèinn, which is to be published later this year. We were kept company by The Highland Bookshop who were on hand with a range of Scottish Mountaineering Press and Scottish Mountaineering Club books, as well a loads of other great outdoors-related titles from other publishers.

We hosted five presentations throughout the weekend – two book launches (Harold Raeburn: The Steps of a Giant and The Cairngorms & North-East Scotland), a presentation on mountain running for a forthcoming book, a talk from Anna Fleming on her process of writing about the mountains, and our headline Creatives event. While all of there presentations bought something new to the audience, Here are a couple of stand-out moments for me…

The first was Raeburn presentation where it was brilliant to see a packed auditorium, with standing room only, and an audience of all ages, with author Peter Biggar and editor Deziree Wilson deep in conversation about a Scottish mountaineering legend. Peter shed light on the man himself, as well as providing insight into the detective work required to write this wonderful book. I could have listened to this for the whole afternoon but unfortunately we had to stop to make way for book signing and other events!

The second was the Creatives presentation where, in part one, we heard in depth from three published Creators (Alison Roe, Phoebe Sleath and Anna Norrie-Toch) about their work and how they have ben inspired by Scotland’s mountains and the land, and then in part two we heard in Gaelic (with live translation via headset to English) from three contributors to Mèinn (Rhona Nic Dhùghail, Coinneach MacFhraing and Màiri NicGillìosa) who spoke of deep connection with the land and their own creative response. The two parts, side-by-side, gave fresh insight in our shared relationship and place within the landscape, and highlighted the different ways in which we interact with this valuable resource – one which is to be treasured and cared for. A big thank you to our Creatives editors Alex Marceau and Raghnaid Sandilands for hosting these discussions.

Finally, for Fort William, we also hosted two sell-out Creatives workshops. ‘Drawing the Mountains’ saw Jack Spowart and 12 participants head up to the North Face of Ben Nevis, while ‘Writing the Mountains’ saw Anna Fleming and another 12 participants head up to the Steall Falls for some creativity inspired by the outdoors. Both Jack and Anna have been published on Creatives and it was lovely to see folk along to hear more about their craft and to try they hand at illustration and writing, guided by these talented artists. These workshops were supported by Anna Danby, from Wild Roots Guiding, and also Kat Bennett, from the Press.

All-in-all we had a fantastic time at Fort William and we hope to bring you more of the same (but even better!) in 2025. I’d like to offer my personal thanks to the whole Press team supporting the event, our speakers in events and hosts on workshops, Kelsey and Alice from The Highland Bookshop, Anna from Wild Roots Guiding, Fèisean nan Gaidheal (for live translation by Angus Macleod, and for the loan of headsets for translation), the Gaelic Books Council, Wildland, the team at the Fort William Mountain Festival and of course everyone who came to our events to support us.

Finally, and as if that wasn’t enough, Kat Bennett then headed up with Magic Mountain on Skye where Tessa Simpson ran two more Creatives workshops! It was so nice to carry on the hype from one festival to the next, and we were delighted to be able to build on what we did last year to bring more opportunities for people to get involved with the the Press and our creative writing and visual art project.

Thanks again for your support – we better get back to publishing books!


Image credits

Image 10 & 17 © Hannah Shaw.
Images 1, 14 & 15. © Ryan Balharry.
All other images © Scottish Mountaineering Press.