Simply to approach and land on 162 Scottish islands from a 41ft yacht might be daunting enough for many people but then to research comprehensive detail of each place, to include all in a book with relevant maps and evocative watercolour illustrations would be beyond most people’s capabilities. The author notes his original intent to “compile for my personal satisfaction a list of the Scottish islands equivalent to Munro’s Tables of the 3000ft Mountains of Scotland” and in a lengthy preface he describes the strict criteria of size and accessibility that he applied to his choice.
One may wonder at Haswell-Smith’s achievement, he makes generous acknowledgement to his four disparate crew and many others, but the reader realises that the final effort of completion is his alone. It is clear, however, that he, together with family and friends, share an unashamed pride and affection for the area.
The geographically arranged text follows a standardised pattern that includes name roots, OS Map references, area, height, owner, population, geology, wildlife and narrative history. Although not a pilot, brief access and anchorage notes complete each entry and the map-type chartlets also indicate possibilities for the intrepid. The work is completed by appendices and indexes that range from the islands’ order of height to those permitted to issue their own postage stamps or distil whisky. The volume, strongly-bound on heavy, high quality paper of clear print, is indeed a ‘Munro’ equivalent; a fascinating Bradshaw for the Scottish islands.