This book has been a long time in the writing. While Mike Cawthorne's life over the last two decades has been mostly involved in climbing and journalism, he has managed to stow away a large memory bank of experiences of his times spent deep within the wilderness areas of Scotland. These 8 extended essays begin with a canoe trip down the River Dee in 2002 ("Tale of Two Rivers") and his epic round of the Munros in the company of his friend Dave Hughes in 1986 ("Paupers and Kings"). "Terra Ingognita" deals with the Monadliath mountains, 'one of the last places left on these crowded islands where you can experience genuine solitude'. "Crofting on the Edge" deals with people Mike has encountered who have chosen to live in the most remote and inaccessible areas of Scotland as does "The Hermit's Story", which describes the life that James McRory-Smith chose to lead in Strathailleach, a shepherd's cottage near Cape Wrath. "A Last Wild Place" describes the ruination of many of these wilderness areas and the efforts made by large energy companies to exploit these special places. '...only wilderness if you can be killed and eaten' is a quote by American writer Edward Abbey referring to grizzly bears stalking humans in the Rockies.
Mike recalls this in "Dying for Trees" as he spends a day on Creag Meagaidh with a deer-stalking party where a minor bio-diversity miracle has taken place by carefully controlling deer numbers to allow the spread of broadleaf woodland. "Scotland's Alaska" is the final essay on Sutherland's flow country...'the best and worst of wild Britain.'