Experience cloud inversions in the Cairngorms, marvel at the beauty of the North-west Highlands, hike California’s John Muir Trail and discover how to learn from your mountain mistakes – all in the March issue of The Great Outdoors

Making mistakes is all part the hillwalking learning curve. Most of us have misjudged timings, taken the wrong route on a scramble, left the spare head torch batteries at home or forgotten to pack the tent pegs. But blunders like these have one upside – they can teach us more about managing in the mountains than any perfectly planned expedition ever could.

In the March issue of The Great Outdoors, outdoor enthusiasts share the most memorable mistakes of their mountain careers, and what the fallout taught them. From stormy weather to chafing pants, this litany of life lessons is a must-read for walkers of all experience levels.

Also in this issue:

  • James Roddie captures the beauty of the North-west Highlands in a stunning photo essay
  • Chris Townsend experienced cloud inversions galore on a Cairngorms backpacking adventure
  • Ronald Turnbull takes on California’s mighty John Muir Trail

PLUS: how to be prepared for mountain emergencies, year-round gloves reviewed, 5 wild walks, how to hike the Blencathra edges, meet the first runner to complete a continuous winter round of the Wainwrights… and plenty more!

How to get a copy

  • Order a single copy of this issue and get it delivered with free postage.
  • Take out an annual subscription and take advantage of our new subscriber offer (£15 for your first 6 issues).
  • Download the digital version to your tablet or smartphone and start reading straight away.
  • Take advantage of our special lockdown offer (3 issues along with the accompanying digital editions for just £9.99 plus free postage, with no ongoing commitment to subscribe.)
  • Buy it in shops across the UK.

Read more: a look inside the issue

The Wild North-west: Hillwalker and mountain photographer James Roddie has spent years capturing the other-worldly beauty of the North-west Highlands in winter. Here he shares some of his favourite routes – and the best images he’s taken on the way.

“The landscapes found up in the North-west are almost unquestionably the most impressive anywhere in the UK, and the quality of the hillwalking found here is unmatched. It is home to some of the oldest, and arguably most unusual, hills on Earth – from the incomparable monoliths of Assynt and Coigach, to the ancient volcanic wonders of the Skye Cuillin.”

Tales of the unexpected: We all learn from our mistakes, but how? Here a collection of outdoor enthusiasts, with different levels of experience, each reveal a time when things didn’t go to plan – and what it taught them

“Nothing eats time faster than a winter climb when you are a bit gripped. The light was fading and the wind had got up when we reached the top pitch – the chimney proper. Wally pulled his head torch on, and it illuminated the steep cracks bounded by rock walls. I put mine on my helmet for later. When the gloom finally engulfed me, I pressed the switch on my torch. NOTHING. The batteries were dead.”

Cloudbusting: A weather forecast might look bad, but paying attention to tiny details can lead to big rewards. After spotting a key line in an otherwise gloomy report, Chris Townsend got to enjoy a glorious Cairngorms trip above the clouds

“The land began to glow gold, the mists began to sink away. Suddenly I was above the clouds. All thought of stopping vanished. I headed for Ben Macdui. Through the thinning mists I could see Braeriach rising above a cloud-filled pass; the Lairig Ghru. I reached Ben Macdui just as the sun was setting. From the summit the Cairngorms were an isolated archipelago floating above a white sea.”

The supersized trail: In California’s Sierra Nevada the mountains are big, and so are the backpacks. Ronald Turnbull and son take on an American classic: the John Muir Trail

“Above the mighty sequoias, we take a red-brown path below the sugar pines up into open meadow, yellow grasses below great granite walls. Then a pass, uphill in gentle zigzags below rock towers. At the top we’d sometimes dump our backpacks and take a sidetrip to a nearby summit – easy scrambling on clean, rough rocks, and a different sort of scenery, looking down into the grey-green valleys and outwards to a hundred other summits.”

Order a single copy of this issue and get it delivered with free postage.