The Big Walks, Classic Walks, Wild Walks

Big Walks, Classic Walks and Wild Walks are very much also part of the Hard Rock series. The theme is exactly the same - challenging itineraries of great character, careful informative photography and essayists chosen because they had something to say and the skill to put it into words. Richard Gilbert had exactly the same approach to his hill bashing as I had to climbing (he gave up climbing after a big lob off Agrippa on Craig yr Ysfa in the 60s and after incidents involving other mates of his). We were both united in seeing hill bashing, particularly of gnarly mountains in poor conditions, as offering just as big a challenge as some rock climbs. I regard everything from Classic Walks to Extreme Rock and Cold Climbs as part of a very desirable British mountaineering spectrum. Anyone who is a serious "mountaineer" in a broad sense should seek to involve themselves in all these facets of the sport, plus alpinism and expedition climbing of course, and bouldering too. In these books we were lucky to capture in print some of the finest mountain walking photographers in Britain - there are lots of ordinary ones but the sheer consistent excellence of people like John Allen, Ken Andrew, Gordon Gadsby, Richard Gibbens and Jerry Rawson (to name just five of many) in the manner in which they consistently capture figures in grand landscapes in an interesting (non posed) way is very impressive. Others (e.g. Tom Rix, Jim Teesdale, Stephen Greenwood) are skilled at capturing fine landscapes in fascinating light or weather conditions but it is the skill to have figures setting off the "grand landscape" that particularly appeals to me. These three books are stuffed with fabulous pictures that celebrate, for anyone with the slightest interest in the British mountains, the sheer variety, interest and spendour of our hills. It has been a rare privilege to have been involved with that.

The books, particularly The Big Walks, were greatly imitated of course, but I think it is fair to say that they remain preeminent in the genre, though Gordon Stainforth's specialist regional essays added an additional level of quality with his fine, carefully considered, high resolution landscapes and Colin Baxter's aerial shots in Cameron MacNeish's Munro book also added a welcome new dimension.

Ken Wilson, 2001

The Big Walks covers British mountaineering expeditions of a long and challenging nature.

The Big Walks published 1980 (Diadem)

Ken Wilson & Richard Gilbert

The cover shows the view westwards from Ruadh Stac Mor, the highest summit on Beinn Eighe Photo: Irvine Butterfield

Out of print

Classic Walks published 1982 (Diadem)

Ken Wilson & Richard Gilbert

The cover shows Slioch from the path above Letterewe, Ross-shire Photo: Donald Bennet

Reprinted 1986
Reprinted 1990
Reprinted 1997

Classic Walks covers over 70 less serious mountain and moorland expeditions and low level walks.

Another selection of superb British walks, this time selected because the frequent wilder and more remote places.

Wild Walks published 1988 (Diadem)

Ken Wilson & Richard Gilbert

The cover shows Helvellyn taken from Hart Crag Photo: Richard Gibbens

Reprinted 1995

Big Walks Routes List

Sadly, all these books are now out of print. However, you can often find them in second-hand book shops. You can also buy 200 Challenging Walks in Britain & Ireland which is a condensed version of all three.

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