Leslie Lee’s Six Degrees of Latitude details trips she took to Scotland and Ireland between 2003 and 2018.
In her Introduction, Lee notes that she carried her writing journal and paint kit with her wherever she went. The book includes journal entries and her skillful watercolors and drawings of people, places and maps.
Lee notes that Scotland brought her a deep sense of being “profoundly at home.” Seen in this light, the first chapter covering the early land formations of Scotland and Ireland and the genetic history of their peoples makes sense. Later, Lee talks about her feet touching “the steps of the steps of my ancestors.”
Succeeding chapters memorialize four trips, all taken with friends or relatives. The first (2003), to Scotland, highlights Torridon, Port Appin, and Edinburgh. The second (2008) encompasses sites from Inverness, Interlochy Castle, and Edinburgh in Scotland and Carlingford, Newport, and Dingle in Ireland.
Lee’s third trip (2014) involves tracing down Pictish Stones. And the fourth (2018), a part-driving and part-cruising trip in Scotland, includes the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides. At the end, the author provides travel tips and historical timelines for Scotland, Ireland and the prehistory of the areas.
Lee is, by turns, thoughtful and amusing as she describes her adventures. The book is weighted toward food and accommodations, and she provides some evocative descriptions: “Our hotel was a former shooting lodge. It has a creaky, dusty feel about it, but a fire is always burning in the entryway sitting area…” Some landmarks and scenery, however, are given short shrift. The author’s description of Ben Nevis, for instance, is limited to five words: “the tallest mountain in Scotland.” Overall, the book feels more like a personal journal than one written with publication in mind.
Those looking for a detailed travel guide will want to look elsewhere. Still, the author’s genial voice, lovely descriptions and engaging illustrations may earn it a spot in some travel book collections.