A review of the film ‘The Cairngorms in Winter’

Chris Townsend, The Cairngorms in Winter

Abraham’s Café at George Fishers in Keswick is not quite the Odeon, Leicester Square, but it is a perfect venue as a leading outdoor shop, for last Saturday’s premiere of Terry Abraham’s film – The Cairngorms in Winter.  The film is presented and narrated by the long-distance back-packer, author and gear guru, Chris Townsend.

As one of the backers of this Kickstarter project I had already seen the film on my laptop and attended the film with Chris and Terry as part of our time together wild camping on the Lakeland Fells and attending the Keswick Mountain Festival.  It was good however to see the film on the big screen and watch the audience’s reaction to it.  I had also a brief insight into the making of the film as I spent a weekend with Terry while he was filming in the forests.



Most outdoors films these days are adrenaline filled with people ice climbing, jumping off mountains or snow – boarding at break neck speeds, with the scenery being secondary to the participants – if this is what you like then you will disappointed.

Terry’s film is different, much more about the majesty of the mountains and the peace of the forested glens and featuring a man – Chris Townsend, who is at one with his beloved Cairngorms.

The photography is superb and to my mind has the look of the grandeur of say BBC’s Yellowstone Park series.  This is Terry and Chris’ first full length film running as it does for 96 minutes, although the time passes quickly and you wish there was more to view at the end of the film.

What is remarkable about this film, is what has been achieved on a low-budget and by two men, plus an original music score by Freddie Hangoler.  Now I have a reasonable insight into the process of film making as I worked for a company that commissioned several corporate films to be made and I would be there during the filming to make sure it was correct from the company’s prospective.

We used ex BBC presenters, but behind the scenes there was a script writer, a camera and sound man, production assistants as well as editors after the film was completed. All of this has been replaced by two men and result is first-rate.

Chris is a natural at presenting, he speaks with what I call a film presenter voice, keeping the audience absorbed and entertained through his passion and knowledge of his surroundings as well as imparting his walking and camping tips. For this is not just a film about stunning scenery, it has a sound practical base to it as well.

Terry through his well honed skill and sheer determination to get the right shot has pulled off a film which others will have to be measured by.  He spent 50 days and many nights filming in what were very testing winter conditions at times.

Terry sets up for filming

Terry sets up for filming

I will not go into too much detail about the actual film itself in order to avoid  spoiling it for others yet to view it.  However the style and content will be appreciated by any backpacker or mountain walker who like me loves wild areas and want to become part of that environment, whether that is for a few hours or for days at a time. Set in winter it has that magical element that only snow and ice can provide.

For me the final part of the film was my favourite, with Chris Townsend on the Cairngorm plateau on an absolutely crystal clear mountain day surveying the wonderful vista all around him.  These are all too often brief moments that backpackers and walkers dream about and it does not get much better than that !

The film will be available in June from Steep Edge and will run for a week on the big screen from July 22nd at the Rheged Centre near Penrith.

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