Nature of Snowdonia - a field guide

Using the Nature of Snowdonia guide book , 215 kb
Using the Nature of Snowdonia guide book

Identifying a Fox Moth Caterpillar, 203 kb
Identifying a Fox Moth Caterpillar
I've lived and worked in the mountains of Snowdonia for the last five years and, having worked as a Mountain Instructor for much of that time, I consider myself to have a reasonable knowledge of the nature and geology of my surrounding mountains, but what this new book from Mike Raine has shown is just how much I don't know!

Nature of Snowdonia is 'a beginners guide to the upland environment' - what that means is it is a paperback book, written by North Wales resident and Mountain Instructor Mike Raine, and it gives a guide to plants, birds, animals and geology of the Snowdonia national park.

The book is beautifully produced in full colour with superb illustrative photographs making plant and animal identification as easy as a stroll up Moel Elio. The author, Mike Raine, has painstakingly shot all the relevant specimens in good light and the photographs are shown in a large size giving much needed detail. Many of the shots are more than simple identification tools, having a beauty in their own right, making the feel of the book very much aesthetic and very 'thumb-able'.

Mike's writing is extremely accessible, his prosaic style more 'knowledgeable uncle' than 'abrupt geography teacher', and the amount of information on each specimen or geological feature is really well balanced, giving enough titbits of info to satisfy the fact hungry naturalist, but keeping it simple enough to be easily digested by the general mountain user.

I have taken the book on several mountain outings, at first primarily to test it for this review, but I soon found my regular dog walks were enhanced by the book, with plants and rock features otherwise overlooked becoming focal points of interest.

The book has a fun feel and the inclusion of a little section at the end on 'Myths and Legends' brought a smile to my face and added few extra bits of local heritage and knowledge to my repertoire for entertaining groups in the hills.

Identifying one of the most common mountain flowers - Tormentil

Jack Geldard - Poet or Madman? Looking for a boulder at Maen Du'r Arddu, 219 kb
Jack Geldard - Poet or Madman? Looking for a boulder at Maen Du'r Arddu
If I had one gripe - and I have to have one, as this is a review after all - it would be the sectioning of the book in to seasons. For me it seemed more logical to use the book with all the plants in one place and the birds in another, but once you get a feel for how the book is put together (which to be fair took less than half a stroll up Tryfan) you can navigate your way through the trees and shrubs and past the amphibians and reptiles as quickly as David Bellamy.

I would strongly recommend this book for any one interested in the mountain environment of Snowdonia and would suggest that it is an invaluable tool for any instructors or aspirant instructors or teachers hoping to work in the mountains of Snowdonia.

Pesda Press say:

"The first complete field guide for the mountains of Snowdonia through the seasons, its  plants, animals and rocks. Everything you're likely to see in the hills at that time of year is here in one volume.

Follow the seasons of Snowdonia; winter is the perfect time for studying rocks and lichen; in spring the bog flowers flourish and beautiful orchids bloom; summer brings fruits and flowers, and the trees are in full leaf; in autumn an amazing display of funghi appear, the hill farms are busy again in preparation for winter and as the nights draw in it is time again to sit beside the fire and tell tales of local myth and legend.

A little knowledge of thyme, tormentil and thrift will enhance your day in the hills. Fossil trilobytes and roche moutonnée (rock sheep), bogbean beer and caterpillar fungus, are just some of the fascinating things you will discover."

About the author:

Mike Raine started hillwalking on the Yorkshire moors in the early seventies and graduated to rock climbing as a teenager. Having started working in the outdoors in the early eighties in centres and as a freelancer, he then studied and trained to become a geography teacher and spent 12 years working in secondary schools. Today he works full time at Plas Y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre, as a mountaineering instructor and coach. Mike heads up the environment department at PYB where he also runs weekend and week-long courses about Snowdonia's upland environment. As a keen rock climber he is still adding new routes in North Wales.

Nature of Snowdonia
© Pesda Press
Book Information:

BYMike Raine
ISBN: 978-1-906095-10-9
EDITION: first
FORMAT: 182 pages in full colour, 200x140mm, paperback section sewn
PRICE:  £14.95


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