8 to 1: round four - The Waverley Commonplace v The Alwych

by Amanda Fleet

At the beginning of October, I started a competition comparing 8 medium-sized notebooks.

Round 1: Life Noble v Leuchtturm 1917

Round 2: Clairefontaine Deco v Poach My Lobster

Round 3: Midori A5 v Palomino Luxury medium notebook

Today is round 4: The Waverley Commonplace book v The Alwych.

I've reviewed both of these before. Here's my review of the Waverley; here's my review of the Alwych.

The Waverley Commonplace Book

Stu has been getting in touch with his inner Scot and has found these beautifully made notebooks. They are made with cloth that's woven in mills in the UK. Paper is 80 gsm acid free from sustainable forests. There is an elastic closure, a ribbon marker, eight perforated end leaves and an expandable inner note holder. Included is a bookmark with information about the Caledonia tartan which has been used to make these notebooks.
192 pages
Left side blank, right side ruled.
21cm x 13cm 



The alternate blank and ruled pages make it especially useful for being a Commonplace Book - a scrapbook, essentially. An early version of 'bullet journalling'. The idea of a commonplace book was to store things - quotes, tickets, sketches etc., and the layout certainly lends itself to that.

There are some bells and whistles - there's a gusseted back pocket, with slots for cards in it and a decent-length ribbon marker. The cover is cloth (made in Scotland, by Kinloch Anderson) and the last few pages of the book are perforated.


The paper. It's not fountain pen friendly. Although it is lovely and smooth, my pen tests feathered, showed-through and bled-through, making the reverse side of the page virtually unusable. If you're a biro user, this probably won't be any issue at all, and of course, pencil is fine. The line-spacing of 5.5 mm was also a shade too narrow for me.

Flattability wasn't great, but it coped with some 'training'!

The Alwych

Alwych notebooks have a large following from people pursuring outdoor activities including mountaineers, potholers, explorers, archaeologists, gardeners, walkers, golfers, etc.
The flexible all weather cover helps to protect the notebook from the elements. There are faint lines printed on light cream paper which increases opacity and reduces shine through. The edges have a blue edging with rounded corners. With sewn pages welded into the cover, providing lasting strength and durability.
6 3/8 x 4" (162mm x 102mm)
160 pages
If it's good enough for Michael Palin, it's good enough for us, get exploring!



It's a robust notebook, and I like the blue edges to the pages. The cover is sturdy and the book certainly held up well to rattling around in my backpack while were were away in the Highlands and Outer Hebrides, earlier this year. Line spacing is 7 mm (which seems to be a sweet-spot for me). I've mostly written in pencil in my book (a combination of notes on walks we did, plus oodles of notes for a new book) and it handled that perfectly.


Well, Stu said that the paper was fairly fountain-pen friendly, as long as you didn't use a wet nib. I would have to say that the paper didn't hold up well to any of the nibs I used, with significant show-through and bit of bleed-through, though no feathering. Flattability is also limited, as the spine is very tightly bound (that said, it coped with being 'trained' to lie flatter!).

This was a much tighter match than some of the others have been. Neither book was especially good with fountain pens - my pen of choice - and neither lay particularly flat, either (though both coped with being 'persuaded'). I have to say that despite the narrow ruling, the Waverley just edged it over to the Alwych, but it was a close call. I think the cloth cover won it for it, as it's delightful.

The Waverley

The Alwych

Next time, it's the first semi-final: Leuchtturm 1917 v Poach My Lobster