Review: The Cairngorms in Winter with Chris Townsend

Since the launch of this project via the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter in 2015, the outdoors community has been awaiting this film with great anticipation. Produced by filmmaker Terry Abraham who has achieved renown for his wild camping videos on Youtube and subsequently his work for Vango and Karrimor, The Cairngorms in Winter has become one of the most talked about projects amongst hill walkers.

This is Terry’s first feature-length film and will premier at George Fisher on 18 May 2016 as part of the Keswick Mountain Festival.

Terry and Chris have resisted the temptation to follow in the footsteps of those that produce high octane, adventure sports films. This film is very much about the Cairngorms themselves. Terry has vividly captured the grandeur and beauty of this rugged upland wilderness whilst also showing how fragile life is amongst the granite giants that make up the Cairngorms. Sweeping panoramas, breathtaking time-lapse sequences that capture the play of light on the snow covered mountains and ancient Caledonian pines reflecting in burns are just some of the visual treats.

The other star of this film is one of the best-known backpackers and outdoor writers in the world, Chris Townsend.

Chris guides us through the Cairngorms, sharing his experiences and eloquently describing everything from the stars he can see at his Glen Feshie campsite through to tips on backpacking equipment and snowshoes.
Chris says of his books and talks that he hopes to inspire people to visit our wild places but also to conserve and look after them. This he has certainly achieved in this film, also his first film project.

Chris’ easy, accessible and down to earth style left me feeling that I was on the journey with him, sharing his cuppa soup in the tent and gazing down into Glen Avon past the rocky, ice-clad crags of Hells Lum.

Not only is this film a celebration of one of Britain’s greatest wilderness areas, the majestic panoramas so stunningly underpinned by Freddiehangolers evocative score, it is also the representation of one mans very personal relationship with an astonishing subarctic landscape. Chris gently and enthusiastically talks about the landscape, some of his favorite spots on the plateau and in the glens. We see him exploring the Moine Mhor, Cairngorm and Ben Macdui on foot, snowshoe and ski touring.

He offers advice on kit, finding a good campsite, how to pitch in the snow, navigation, avalanche risks and even how best to melt snow in your stove.
Inevitably Terry and Chris encountered some very harsh conditions whilst filming including waist-deep snow, gale force winds, whiteouts, spindrift and extreme cold. In one of the sequences, we see Chris having to turn back from a planned walk into the Lairig Ghru. It is evident that a great deal of determination and bloody-mindedness has gone into the making of The Cairngorms in Winter. It was worth every moment.

A visual feast with a spine-tingling score and a narrator full of gentle authority. The Cairngorms in Winter delivers 96 minutes of breathtaking scenes in Glen Feshie, the Lairig Ghru, Loch Eanaich, Braeriach, Carn Etchachan, the Ryvoan Pass and so much more besides. I didn’t want the film to end.

It’s fitting that the film premiers during National Walking Month and I hope it inspires anyone who sees it walk in Britain’s wild places for as Chris says at the end of the film Without wild places we are nothing.

So, how can you get to see this film or lay your mitts on it?

The Cairngorms in Winter will be showing at Rheged, near Penrith from 22 – 27 July 2016.

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