Hamish Brown

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Hamish Brown M.B.E. FRSGS is a professional writer, lecturer and photographer specialising in mountain and outdoor topics. He is best known for his walking exploits in the Scottish Highlands, having completed multiple rounds of the Munros and being the first person to walk all the Munros in a single trip with only ferries and a bicycle as means of transport.

Early life[edit]

Born in Colombo in Sri Lanka on 13 August 1934, he lived in Japan for a time and then Singapore, escaping in 1942 as it fell to the Japanese. He lived in South Africa for two years as a refugee before returning to live in Scotland at the end of World War II. His family lived in Dollar and Hamish spent much of his youth exploring the nearby Ochil Hills which awakened his interest in the outdoor life. He was educated at Dollar Academy.

He travelled extensively in the Middle East and East Africa during the 1950s when serving in the RAF for his National Service. Between 1960 and 1972 he worked at Braehead School, Buckhaven, Fife and was in charge of outdoor activities at the school, introducing many of the pupils to walking in the Scottish Highland as well as other outdoor activities. After a spell as a County Adviser he decided to try to make a living as a freelance writer and photographer, specialising on "anything to do with mountains".[1]

Outdoor media[edit]

On 4 April 1974 he set off on his trip to complete all the Munro mountains in one trip. He completed the journey on 24 July, a journey of 112 days during which time he covered 1,639 miles, climbed 289 peaks and wore out three pairs of boots. He only used the Isle of Mull and Isle of Skye ferries and a bicycle as transport.

His 1974 journey was documented in the book Hamish’s Mountain Walk and this made him a household name among the walking fraternity, the book won an award from the Scottish Arts Council. He followed his Munros walk with the longest trip over the English, Irish and Welsh peaks, told in the book Hamish’s Groats End Walk. Brown also thought up the Ultimate Challenge (now called the TGO Challenge, after The Great Outdoors Magazine, not to be confused with the Australian series, which sponsors and organises the event), a fortnight-long endurance walk from coast-to-coast across Scotland – the book Scotland Coast To Coast is an account of a typical Challenge walk. Great Walking Adventure covered some of his more distant treks to Corsica, Norway, the Andes, Atlas and Himalayas.

He has continued to write books and contribute to outdoor magazines. He has written or edited over 30 books and written numerous articles, many of which have appeared in The Scotsman and the Evening News and a selection of these were published in the book Travels. He has also edited two classic poetry books: Poems of the Scottish Hills and the huge Speak to the Hills besides a volume of his own poems Time Gentlemen. Two of Brown's best known books about the Scottish Highlands, Hamish's Mountain Walk and Climbing The Corbetts were released as a compendium in 1996 by the publishers Baton Wicks.

In 1997 he received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letter from the University of St Andrews for his contribution to mountain writing and poetry. In 2000 he was made an MBE and a fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In May 2007 he was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University.[citation needed]

Brown did a lot of his walking with his pet Shetland Sheepdogs, firstly Kitchy and then Storm. Both climbed hundreds of mountains in his company, including completed rounds of Munros, the former dog credited as the first to achieve this feat.[2]

For many years Brown lived in Kinghorn in Fife and now lives in Burntisland. He spends several months every year in Morocco, a country very close to his heart, he first visited there in 1965 and has returned every year to walk in the Atlas Mountains. In 2006 he released the book The Mountains Look On Marrakech an account of a 90-day end to end trek of the Atlas Mountains. In 2008 Brown took a break from writing books on walking when he released The Scottish Graveyard Miscellany, a book about the design and art of gravestones throughout Scotland.


  • Hamish’s Mountain Walk, Paladin, 1978, ISBN 0-586-08332-4
  • Hamish’s Groats End Walk, Paladin, 1981, ISBN 0-586-08426-6
  • Eye To The Hills: Poems, Pettycur Publishing, 1982, ISBN 0-9508089-0-3 (With James McMillan)
  • Poems Of The Scottish Hills, Elseveir, 1982, ISBN 0-08-028477-9
  • Time Gentlemen (Some Collected Poems), Mercat Press, 1983, ISBN 0-08-030375-7
  • Five Bird Stories, Pettycur Publishing, 1984, ISBN 0-9508089-1-1
  • Speak To The Hills, Anthology of 20th Century British and Irish Mountain Poetry, Aberdeen University, 1985, ISBN 0-08-030406-0 (Edited with Martyn Berry)
  • The Great Walking Adventure, Oxford Illustrated Press, 1986, ISBN 0-946609-12-8
  • Travels, Scotman Publications, 1986, ISBN 0-902670-03-4
  • The Island of Rhum, A Guide for Walkers, Climbers and Visitors, Cicerone Press, 1988, ISBN 1-85284-002-1
  • Climbing The Corbetts, Victor Gollancz, 1988, ISBN 0-575-04378-4
  • Hamish Brown’s Scotland, Mercat Press, 1988, ISBN 0-08-036391-1
  • Scotland Coast To Coast, Patrick Stephens, 1990, ISBN 1-85260-229-5
  • Walking The Summits of Somerset and Avon, Pat, 1991, ISBN 1-85260-365-8
  • Fort William And Glen Coe Walks, Jarrold Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-7117-0571-2
  • Great Walks: Scotland, New Orchard, 1992, ISBN 1-872226-56-6 (With Rennie McOwan, and Richard Mearns)
  • From The Pennines To The Highlands, House Of Lochar, 1992, ISBN 1-874027-37-4
  • The Bothy Brew, Luath Press, 1993, ISBN 0-946487-26-X
  • The Last Hundred, Munros, Beards and a Dog, Mainstream Publishing, 1994, ISBN 1-85158-607-5
  • The Fife Coast, Mainstream Publishing, 1994, ISBN 1-85158-608-3
  • Exploring The Edinburgh To Glasgow Canals, Stationery Office, 1997, ISBN 0-11-495735-5
  • Fife in Focus (Coastal Photographs), 1997, ISBN 1-869984-08-0
  • 25 Walks: Skye and Kintail, Mercat Press, 2000, ISBN 1-84183-007-0
  • Along The Fife Coastal Path, Mercat Press, 2004, ISBN 1-84183-057-7
  • Fife: 25 Walks, Mercat Press, 2005, ISBN 1-84183-075-5
  • Seton Gordon’s Scotland, Whittles Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-904445-22-5
  • The Mountains Look On Marrakech, Whittles Publishing, ISBN 1-870325-29-X
  • The Scottish Mountains, Colin Baxter Photography, 2007, ISBN 1-84107-367-9 (With Alan Gordon)
  • The Scottish Graveyard Miscellany: The Folk Art of Scotland's Graves, Birlinn Publishing, 2008, ISBN 1-84158-676-5
  • The Oldest Post Office in the World, Sandstone Press, 2012, ISBN 1-90520-795-6
  • The High Atlas: Treks and climbs on Morocco's biggest and best mountains, Cicerone Press, 2012, ISBN 1-85284-671-2
  • Three Men On The Way Way: A Story of Walking the West Highland Way, Whittles Publishing, 2013, ISBN 1849950873
  • Tom Weir: An Anthology, Sandstone Press, 2013, ISBN 190873728X (Editor)

Hamish Brown has also contributed to:

  • Rough Guide to Morocco, Rough Guides, 2004, ISBN 1-84353-313-8
  • Rough Guide to Scotland, Rough Guides, 2006, ISBN 1-84353-666-8
  • Munros Tables, Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1981
  • The Corbetts And Other Scottish Hills, Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1990, ISBN 0-907521-29-0
  • The Munros, Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1985, 0-907521-13-4



  1. ^ "The Great Walking Adventure" Page 5 Gives the quote "anything to do with mountains".
  2. ^ "So the honour of being the first canine compleater still appears to be held by Hamish's first wee sheltie “Kitchy”" published Scottish Mountaineer Issue 27, June 2005, Irvine Butterfield, retrieved 27 August 2012