Scotland’s Mountain Environment

If you draw your gaze slowly from your feet to the horizon, what will you see? Perhaps you’ll spot a mountain hare dart across the hillside—or startle a ptarmigan tucked in behind a rock—both hanging on to their winter coat, not yet ready to blend in with the summer environment. Maybe you’ll spot the tiny petals of starry saxifrage, resting in beds of alpine moss, fed by an ice-cold trickle from a snow patch. Even your 1000-yard stare at the nearest piece of rock might lead your mind to wander into lichenous battlegrounds being fought on a minuscule scale. Learning how these organisms have adapted to—and thrive within—this ever changing environment provides a depth of experience that both the hillwalking newcomer and seasoned mountaineer can enjoy.

While this environment and the mountains—given everything that mother nature throws at them—might at first glance appear to be invulnerable, they are in fact incredibly fragile.

Bell heather

Humans have had a huge impact on almost everything you see on your day in the hills, and continue to do so. With the ever-increasing volume of people found enjoying a day in the hills, there has never been a time when the mountains are in need of our help. Being a responsible mountain-user takes little thought and isn’t hard; pick up that piece of litter discarded by the previous hillwalker, stick to the path through that boggy patch to avoid further erosion, check forecasts before you leave the house so that you are prepared. If everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot. Our mountain environment will thank you for it, and reward you with a pristine environment to enjoy.

Loch Avon

When Hostile Habitats was first released in 2006, it was the first of its kind: a guide to flora, fauna and landscape. It was revised and updated in 2018, which is the current edition. With over 325 photographs and diagrams, the book is as beautiful to look as it is educational. Hostile Habitats is a book to enhance your adventure: packed full of information about terrain, wildlife and weather, the information allows you to become aware of your surroundings and appreciate your contribution to the mountains.

Author biography

The corporate world was cast aside when Rob became a freelance publisher in 2018. Having climbed in a variety of interesting places, he now has a young family, and the scale of his climbing objectives has temporarily diminished. Aside from the occasional Scottish adventure, Rob can usually be found sitting beneath a sandstone outcrop, trying to spot handholds.