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Interview with Dan Bailey

  Dan Bailey is the author of Cicerone’s highly successful Scotland’s Mountain Ridges.

We caught up with Dan recently to find out a bit more about him, and what he’s up to at the moment.

Q. What has been your worst experience on the hill?

An unplanned night without bivvy gear on top of a fairytale 5000m rock peak comes fairly high up the list. That, and getting fried by lightning on the Cobbler (a mountain, not a body part)… in the line of Cicerone duty I hasten to add.

Q. Which is your most memorable route?

It’s so hard to choose just one. Maybe this year’s best memory is the Normal Route on Mt Kenya’s Nelion – a big, complex high-altitude rock climb in an unfamiliar country. It was mostly fairly easy, but with tons of exposure and some unexpected snow and ice for added excitement – what more could you want (in hindsight)?

Q. Future plans – so where next?

I’m looking forward to a bumper Scottish winter climbing season. Here’s hoping…

Q. What item do you always carry in your rucksack?

An SLR camera – it can be quite a pain at times.

Q. What would you not leave home without?

An SLR camera.

Q. Who is your ideal walking partner?

My wonderful wife – she’s everything I could want from a walking partner, or she would be if she could just quit that job!.

Q. What do you miss the most when you are away from home?

My wonderful wife, usually – unless I’ve been lucky enough to bring her along. I have to admit I pine for the cat too.

Q. What book are you currently writing?

A guide to the ridge climbs and scrambles of England, Wales and Ireland. It’s a companion volume to Scotland’s Mountain Ridges, and though it’s leading me a merry dance all round the British Isles, the dozens of superb routes that I’m getting to enjoy make the travelling worthwhile. All the classic favourites will be there, of course, plus one or two surprises for old hands who think they’ve seen everything.

Q. How did you get into guidebook writing?

Fear of doing a real job, and love for the mountains. I started with the odd magazine article, and it gradually snowballed.

Q. GPS or map, or mix of the two?

Map and compass every time; who needs high tech? I’ve never owned an oojimawhatsisname, and I don’t intend to start now.

Q. Little known fact about you?

I am addicted to chillis. I eat them for breakfast.

Q. Where is your favourite camp or bivvy site?

Aha, now that would be telling! Let’s just say it’s a bay on Scotland’s west coast: climb all day on some of the best mountains or roadside crags anywhere; hunker down in the evening among the dunes next to a white sand beach and glass-clear water; wow the missus with hand-caught fruits de mer; and if you’re brave enough, there’s always the sea.

Q. What is the best meal you can rustle up on your campstove?

Moules mariniere. Scrub and de-beard your mussels. Fry onion, garlic, black pepper and herbes de Provence (chilli is optional). Chuck in the shellfish, and lashings of white wine. Steam till they’re all open, then maybe add some cream if you’ve remembered it. Serve with crusty bread, and throw the shells at the seagulls.

About Dan

A Londoner by birth - if not inclination - Dan Bailey escaped the metropolitan gravity field, travelling extensively, and orbiting through Yorkshire, the Lakes and Snowdonia, finally coming to rest in Edinburgh.
His work has featured in Adventure Travel, The Sunday Times, Trail, High, The List, The Sunday Herald and Scotland on Sunday, among others. He has climbed and walked in North and South America, North Africa, Asia and throughout Europe and the UK. He's seen the rest, but still insists that Scotland is the best.

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