On 5 September 2019 Vertebrate are publishing John D. Burns‘ new novel, Sky Dance, alongside new paperback editions of his previous two titles The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales – both of which were shortlisted for The Great Outdoors Outdoor Book of the Year.

John’s books explore the profound relationship between people and wild places and bring together over forty years’ experience in the mountains of Scotland. In Sky Dance, John returns to the Scottish hills to ask fundamental questions about how we relate to this northern landscape, now that wild land is threatened like never before. Current issues affecting Scotland’s wild landscape are explored including the reintroduction of the Lynx to the Scottish highlands, wind farms, over fishing, deer culling and the persecution of the Hen Harrier.

Sky Dance; Fighting for the Wild in the Scottish Highlands

“Bring back the lynx? Over my dead body!” A mutter passed through the crowd of environmental protestors, and Rory stepped forward. “Your hunting has destroyed our hills and left them treeless wastes, devoid of wildlife. It’s time that changed.” Lord Purdey’s lip curled in a sneer. “Listen, you lentil-eating cat lover, Scotland is owned by me and men like me. If we want to kill anything that moves and bulldoze your beloved hills flat, we will.” Someone from the group hurled a turnip. It struck Purdey a glancing blow and he crumpled slowly to the ground, just as the archaic class system he represented must eventually fall. Or so Rory hoped… In his first two bestselling books, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales, John D. Burns invited readers to join him in the hills and wild places of Scotland. In Sky Dance, he returns to that world to ask fundamental questions about how we relate to this northern landscape – while raising a laugh or two along the way. Anyone who has stood and gazed at the majesty of the Scottish mountains will know this place and want to return to it. Now, as wild land is threatened like never before, it’s time we asked ourselves what kind of future we want for the Highlands.”

The Last Hillwalker

“From somewhere out in the vast whiteness of the blizzard we hear a cry for help. Instinctively the three of us turn and head across the mountainside. We find two men and a woman, huddled together in the snow, unable to descend the steep icy slope between them and safety. The woman asks if we are experienced in conditions like this. My friends and I have tackled a few winter hills in the Lake District and bumbled up easy rock climbs, but we have never been in a full Scottish winter snowstorm. I laugh and assure her that this is nothing to mountaineers like us. Soon our hills will be empty and one day the last hillwalker will disappear over the horizon. In the 21st century we are losing our connection with the wild, a connection that may never be regained. The Last Hillwalker by bestselling author John D. Burns is a personal story of falling in and out of love with the hills. More than that, it is about rediscovering a deeply felt need in all of us to connect with wild places.”

Bothy Tales

“I can move only with the aid of barrels of anti-inflammatory gel, sticking plasters and real ale anaesthetic. Martin and I descend from hours of walking to the small town of Middleton-in-Teesdale. I walk, stiff legged, into the campsite office and a plump, middle-aged woman looks up from her desk and can see the old timer is in trouble. “Oh, what a shame you weren’t here last week,” she says, pity radiating from behind her horn-rimmed specs. “You’ve missed him.” I look at her, puzzled. “Elvis!” she explains. “You missed Elvis.” Oh God, now I’m hallucinating… In Bothy Tales, the follow-up to The Last Hillwalker from bestselling mountain writer John D. Burns, travel with the author to secret places hidden amongst the British hills and share his passion for the wonderful wilderness of our uplands. From remote glens deep in the Scottish Highlands, Burns brings a new volume of tales – some dramatic, some moving, some hilarious – from the isolated mountain shelters called bothies. Meet the vivid cast of characters who play their games there, from climbers with more confidence than sense to a young man who doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s letting himself in for…”

The Author

John D. Burns is a bestselling and award-winning mountain writer who has spent over forty years exploring Britain’s mountains. Originally from Merseyside, he moved to Inverness over thirty years ago to follow his passion for the hills. He is a past member of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and has walked and climbed in the American and Canadian Rockies, Kenya, the Alps and the Pyrenees. John began writing more than fifteen years ago, and at first found an outlet for his creativity as a performance poet. He has taken one-man plays to the Edinburgh Fringe and toured them widely around theatres and mountain festivals in the UK. It is the combination of John’s love of the outdoors with his passion for writing and performance that makes him a uniquely powerful storyteller. His first two books, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales, were both shortlisted for TGO Magazine’s Outdoor Book of the Year. His third book, Sky Dance, is published in 2019. He continues to develop his career as a writer, blogger and outdoor storyteller while exploring the wild places he loves.