Nature of Snowdonia

A Beginner’s Guide to the Upland Environment
1st March
(1 customer review)
BY: Mike Raine
ISBN: 978-1-906095-10-9
EDITION: first
FORMAT: 182 pages in full colour, 200x140mm, paperback section sewn
AVAILABILITY: out of print


New edition in the works

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 treas 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.

Mike Raine

Mike 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.

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1 review for Nature of Snowdonia

  1. malcolmcreasey

    Nature of Snowdonia by Mike Raine.

    The subtitle states this is a Beginners Guide to the Upland Environment and that is exactly what this eagerly awaited book is. Having got my hands on a copy I made the mistake of taking it home so I could have a good look through in detail. However, what in fact happened is that Caroline, my better half immediately seized on the book and I’ve only today managed to get my hands on it!

    Weighing in at around 175 pages this book is lavishly illustrated with at least one, sometimes several colour photographs on each page. The book cleverly follows the seasons starting with winter setting out what lies beneath the vegetation. This first chapter is written by Dr Janet Summer who clearly has an excellent grasp of the geology of the area although she openly admits it is extremely complex and can be a little complicated to understand, particularly from a beginner’s viewpoint. However she explains this very well and although perhaps at the first reading some things might not fall into place the overall concept of what type of rock it is, where it originated from and how it got to it’s final resting place (for the time being) is easy to follow. There is an intriguing rock ‘quiz’ embedded in the first chapter with the answers given just prior to the section on glaciation which naturally enough comes next as what has happened to that rock since it arrived on the surface of the earth has played a major role in creating the landscape that we see today. After looking at what forms the bedrock to glaciation it seems natural progression to look at what plants, mosses, lichens and animals can be found living on that landscape in the winter months, a nice little progression.

    To my mind this book follows a further natural progression with the 2nd chapter entitled Spring and the first subject in that chapter is of course Flowers which is also the first subject covered in the Summer chapter, however the Autumn chapter starts of with Fungi. All this feels very logical to me and the contents page makes this really easy to understand with a simple colour coding system against the chapter headings matching up to the bottom right hand corner of the pages so once you have found your way around the book, and assuming you know what season it is it should be easy peasy to find out just what you are looking at! English, Latin and Welsh names are used wherever known or possible and the information to many species contain information regarding any medicinal properties the plants were either thought or known to have. Having just a smattering of Welsh I really enjoyed this touch and hope that like me, many others who don’t have Cymraeg will perhaps understand that little bit more as a result of reading these, at the very least you can see the logic behind the names, both in English and Welsh.

    Towards the end Mike finishes of with a few myths and legends before the Final Word, I’ll leave you to decide what that is! None of the subjects covered in this book are covered to any great depth and Mike freely admits that with a good bibliography at the end for those who seek to extend their knowledge. However what this book does is, and I’m going to quote my wife Caroline here with her exact words being ‘it is so nice to have a little bit of everything in one book’. Of course there can always be a few quibbles, perhaps with almost too many smaller photographs for me although the pictures do convey a clear message to the reader (or should that be viewer) and some of those captions, particularly on the multi coloured backgrounds can be difficult to read. Still, those are minor gripes for what should become a must have for anyone dipping there toes in to the Upland Environment of the Nature of Snowdonia.

    Mal Creasey

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