Gleneagles Townhouse
Escape to a Highland Haven:

Our Scottish Summer Reading List

16 May 2024

Whether you’re relaxing on our front lawn immersed in the sights and sounds of The Glorious Playground or continuing your Highland romance from the comfort of home, escape into Scotland's breathtaking landscapes with our summer reading list, celebrating Scotland’s greatest nature authors.

Explore Nan Shepherd’s ‘The Living Mountain’, a captivating narrative of her profound connection with the Cairngorms’ natural wonders. Or lose yourself in Andrew Douglas-Home’s ‘A River Runs Through Me’, a compelling tale that follows the ebb and flow of seasons along one of the world’s best salmon fishing rivers. Looking to fully immerse yourself in a Highland haven this summer? Delve into the rich sounds of Scotland with our suggestions featuring some of the country’s foremost folk, contemporary, and traditional artists.


‘The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain’ – The Guardian

In her masterful narrative of her expeditions into the Cairngorm mountains, Nan Shepherd paints a vivid picture of a world that oscillates between breathtaking beauty and harsh reality. It is a work deeply rooted in Shepherd’s knowledge of the natural world, and a poetic and philosophical meditation on our longing for high and holy places. Drawing on different perspectives of the mountain environment, Shepherd makes the familiar strange and the strange awe-inspiring. Nan Shepherd dedicated her life to uncovering the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorms, her sensitivity and powers of observation put her into the front rank of nature writing.


‘An unforgettable evocation of a way of life that has slipped away…’ – The Guardian

Presented with the decision between a demanding farming existence and the allure of education and literature, Chris Guthrie opts to stay within her rural roots, driven by her profound love for the land. However, the onset of the First World War heralds a drastic transformation, leaving Chris to confront a landscape drastically reshaped. “Sunset Song” unfolds as an emotionally resonant tale, offering a poignant depiction of a land and people in turmoil. Twice voted Scotland’s Favourite Book, ‘It is a love song for a landscape and language still familiar – and precious – to a generation born long after [Grassic-Gibbon] died … Chris is one of the great women of 20th-century fiction” – The Guardian.

‘The memorial Murray deserves. Like a Highland sunset, his talent flared in glory one final time.’ – The Guardian

Introduced to climbing in his early twenties, Murray found his connection with the outdoors deeply influenced by both his time spent scaling mountains and the periods in between. However, his Scottish climbing ventures were abruptly halted by the onset of the Second World War, during which he endured three years as a prisoner of war under Nazi captivity. Despite the adversity, these years became a period of intense philosophical contemplation for Murray, during which he also embarked on the remarkable feat of penning his seminal work, ‘Mountaineering in Scotland’, not once, but twice, using nothing more than toilet paper. The act of writing about mountains served to further fuel Murray’s fervour for scaling them. Upon his return to Scotland, he began the fight to conserve the wild places that motivated him. From spearheading the John Muir Trust to advocating for forest conservation, Murray’s writing carries a philosophical depth and an infectious admiration for Scotland’s rugged wilderness, a must-read for anyone for whom the mountains are still a source of wonder.


‘A book of unparalleled beauty, sharpness of observation, wit, delicacy, strength of vision and rare exactness of language.’ — Daily Telegraph

Kathleen Jamie, an acclaimed poet, possesses a keen insight into the natural world and landscapes of Scotland, coupled with a sharp understanding of our domestic realities. In her work “Findings”, she skillfully weaves together these themes unlike any other contemporary writer. Whether she’s tracing the flight of a peregrine falcon in the hills of Fife, navigating through the darkness of a winter solstice in the Orkney islands, or contemplating the remains of a whale on a windswept Hebridean shore, Jamie constructs a nuanced and contemporary narrative, uniquely attuned to her surroundings and interconnectedness with them.


‘John Lister-Kaye is Scotland’s high priest of nature writing; it’s charming and moving to wander along with him… The Dun Cow Rib is a loving book’ – The Times

John Lister-Kaye’s lifetime has been dedicated to the exploration, preservation, and admiration of the British landscape and its diverse wildlife. His memoir, “The Dun Cow Rib”, serves as a poignant narrative of a young boy’s enchantment with the natural world. Lister-Kaye fondly reminisces about his idyllic childhood holidays, filled with joyful escapades of chasing birds and small creatures through hedgerows and ditches, tending pigeons in the loft, and tracking foxes along the garden’s edge. These experiences became the foundation for his dual passions: the exploration of nature’s wonders and the art of writing about them. Interwoven throughout his adventures, from his relocation to the Scottish Highlands to his involvement in establishing the renowned Aigas Field Centre, is a heartfelt tribute to his extraordinary mother and a wise, affectionate homage to Britain’s breathtaking natural landscape.


‘Considerably more than the sum of its parts…’ – Country Life

In the pages of “A River Runs Through Me”, Andrew Douglas-Home crafts a captivating tale set against the ever-shifting rhythms of Scotland’s River Tweed, chronicling a lifelong bond with one of its most revered inhabitants: the Atlantic salmon. With a blend of vivid anecdotes and familial recollections, Douglas-Home offers a narrative that is both warmly familiar and subtly humorous, centering around this remarkable fish and the river that cradles it. Across the decades, amidst youthful escapades and memorable catches, intertwine tales of one of Scotland’s oldest families – narratives of politics, camaraderie, and a deep commitment to the stewardship of the natural world. This reflective and insightful work not only reminisces about age-old traditions but also looks ahead, contemplating the actions necessary to safeguard the future of Atlantic salmon and their habitats. With its rich tapestry of storytelling, it serves as an ideal companion for aficionados of angling and admirers of Scotland’s natural beauty alike.

The Sounds of Scotland

Discover Scotland’s vibrant music scene spotlighting leading talent in folk, contemporary, and traditional music.


‘Nature’s songwriter’ – The Guardian

Scottish composer and multi-instrumentalist from Orkney, his work combines field recordings with traditional orchestration and contemporary electronic elements. Through music, words, and cinematography he explores landscape, memory and identity. Enjoy ‘Maalie’ on long scenic road trips through sweeping glens.


‘The perfect soundtrack to a Scottish summer’ – The Skinny

One of Scotland’s most sought-after folk bands. Exquisitely rugged yet refined blend of fiddle, Highland pipes, flute, bodhran and guitar, Rura’s powerful, entrancing instrumentals have won a devoted following in many corners of the globe. ‘Catriona’s’ is the perfect backdrop to summer nights in the garden.


‘See them now before they rocket up into the same musical orbit as the mighty Mumford & Sons.’ – Falkirk Herald

What are Skerryvore? They’re like no one else. Epic of melody, intimate of feeling and plugged into the roots of Scotland but blasting out to the world. With a mix of bagpipes, fiddles, accordions, and whistles, alongside guitar and vocals, underpinned by driving bass, drums and keys, Skerryvore represent the best in contemporary Scottish traditional music. ‘Take My Hand’ could just be the summer anthem you didn’t know you needed.