The Angry Corrie 4: Nov-Dec 1991
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My attention was drawn to the featuring of my name in the Murdo Munro cartoon in TAC3. Although the cartoon was a grand laugh I felt that the association of thoughts which led the hapless Murdo from Bette Midler to my own name was somewhat confused.
Nevertheless this is an ideal opportunity for me to advocate the carrying of the piano-accordion by Munro Baggers. The piano-accordion is a wonderful instrument and there is nothing to touch the sound of its beautiful music ringing out from the summit of one of our lovely mountains. Many impromptu ceilidhs have started in the swirling mists on the tops at the sound of my own playing. This is the true music of Scotland, as Scottish as heather and tartan. And if a piano-accordion is brought into a bothy, what a night of foot-tapping pleasure will be afforded its occupants. Some might question the weight and bulk of the piano-accordion and favour a lesser instrument such as the chanter or mouthie, but I can assure all Munro Baggers that the extra effort is rewarded manyfold by the pleasure to be derived. Alas in recent years I myself have been unable to scale the lofty heights, but I hope that others will follow in the example I have tried to set.
Last edition's references to various items of gear need a couple of comments.
Rohans: Very handy for long, hot European trails because they drip dry in no time. Nothing else does. Must be backed by overtrousers on Scottish mountains.
Goretex boots: Also very handy in hot climes. Waterproof enough for light showers and essential when your feet really have to breathe if you're not to empty every gite d'etape or refuge hut along the way.
Checked shirts: Canadians swear by them - not because of the check, but because of the materials that lend themselves to checked patterns. Also, the nice warm colours have a placebo effect, it seems.
Tents: Obsession with lightness causes problems. It's to do with foreign competition and 'the need to export'. No Californian is going to hump a cotton Vango 10 along the Pacific Crest, for example.
Result: The Designer Tent, conceived by architects or interior designers. Great to lie in, buggers to erect with frozen fingers or while being beset by clouds of midges. In short, perfect for sun-baked Auvergne, but unable to compete with the Vango 10 on snow-swept Braeriach or in midge-ridden Glen Etive.
Isle of Seil.
"Checked shirts: Canadians swear by them..."
I read with no little interest your fascinating Frontpoints feature concerning hill navigation, TAC3, which had me on the edge of my seat throughout with the most radical comments to date on that most venerated piece of origami, the Ordnance Survey map!
As a veteran hillwalker of two score years and two, I gasped aloud on discovering that Ordnance Survey was not the name of the chap who created this particular form of cartography, but merely quote 'The oddly formal, crypto-military name' unquote (sic) of the publication. I was completely taken aback.
I had previously always included Ordnance Survey along with other great achievers of past and present such as Edison Screw the inventor of the incandescent electric light bulb, Lilia White who gave us crampons, Ben Arthur who discovered The Cobbler and Ronnie Corbett (yes, you've guessed), the co-author of Munro's Tables. (Where, I hear you ask, do I find these astonishing snippets of serendipity?)
Last, but most certainly not least, allow me to congratulate all of those responsible for this most delectable little mag, and also (Sorry, no congratulations allowed - ungrateful Ed)
Alex H.M. Macadam
P.S.- Your interesting article on the Lake District gave rise to another valid point. On the day of your reporter's visit to Skiddaw Little Man, was it frosty?
(Implication being that Coniston Old Man and The Devil's Point share the same euphemistic etymology? - confused Ed)
I refer to Issue No. 2 of your magazine, and the impolite language used to describe Tories in paragraph two of page 20.
May I assure you that Labour politicians do not hold a monopoly of the appreciation of Scottish hills. Despite a busy schedule as Conservative Leader of Dartford Borough Council, I manage visits to Scotland at least three times a year. I remember a most pleasant stay at Nancy Smith's Hostel in Fersit, where I spent much of three evenings discussing the political situation with a young man who had previously been an unpaid researcher to John Smith and who was at that time a paid political assistant to Dave Wetzel, the Labour Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow.
I have been walking in the Scottish hills for nearly 20 years and I very much lament the growing popularisation of some mountains. Whereas in the mid-seventies one could guarantee a solitary day, often well away from the beaten track, provided one did not select one of the top twenty mountains, now there seem to be tourists in all directions and increasing signs of erosion and urbanisation in the most remote corners of Scottish Munros.
For this reason, I find the Corbetts and other mountains giving me increasing pleasure and I very much support the aims and philosophy of your Magazine.
I recall spending Hogmanay, a couple of years ago, at Alltbeithe (Glen Affric). As everyone else was charging off in a desperate rush to tick off Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, my friends and I enjoyed a leisurely and peaceful climb of Sgurr Gaorsaic. It was a beautiful sunny day and the final five hundred feet were under snow. Hamish Brown records that when he finally climbed Sgurr Gaorsaic it was on a foul day and the rewards were few. I can confirm that the rewards were many on that day and we enjoyed a tremendous panorama of snow capped summits during the fleeting hours of daylight. I understand that the summit of Ceathreamhnan was more packed that day than Piccadilly Circus. (Where? - poorly-travelled Ed)
On another occasion, I enjoyed a delightful climb of Carn Mor, the highest point in the triangle of land between Kiltarlity and Glen Urquhart, rising to a stunning 428 metres. We had magnificent views across Strathglass and into the hills of Strathfarrar.
This summer I spent some pleasant days at Uig in northwest Lewis, enjoying views of the distant Flannan Isles. How pleasurable it is to swim on a deserted silver sanded beach and within two hours to be enjoying a magnificent panorama across the moors to the distant mountains and islands from the summit of Suainaval. My companion on that summit was a Czechoslovak student and I commented to him that he will probably be the only Czech in his lifetime to ascend that peak. (Whoops! - almost succumbed to a tasteless joke about an overweight recently deceased Czech newspaper magnate - politic rather than political Ed )
Please keep up the good work with your Magazine but leave out the political bias. It has no place on or about the Scottish mountains.
Cllr. Kenneth Leadbeater
Leader, Dartford Borough Council
Your readers will I'm sure be delighted to know that once they've bagged all the Munros, Corbetts and Donalds, there is a new challenge for them. This is mentioned in the biography of Annie Lennox by Lucy O'Brien (see below):
'...monroes - hills or mountains over 700 feet'. I venture to suggest that to avoid confusion the name 'Marilyns' might be more convenient.
P.S.- I'm not a Munrobagger
(277 verses to follow...)
from Annie Lennox - Sweet Dreams are Made of This. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1991.
'Annie took advantage of this arrangement, first learning the piano with Mrs Murray, a conscientious, patient character who had a penchant for hill walking. Right into her seventies, the old lady would tackle 'monroes' - hills or mountains over 700 feet. She taught the piano 'correctly', providing Annie with a good grounding in theory.'
What a fine rag! About time, and funny to boot! I hereby enclose my top 15 celebrity hillwalkers (the pastime is becoming so popular that it's only a matter of time before names like these appear):
Eaddie the Eagach
All the best (bitter)
(Ed- Only 14 actually but there's no counting for taste. Anyone else got similar crap lists? Send them in!)