The Angry Corrie 20: Oct-Dec 1994
And they call it democracy...
TAC19 gave brief mention to the John Muir Trust's "Summit Sweep", and more details are now in. The idea, you may recall, was to climb and tidy as many as possible of Britain's 1554 Marilyns (hills with a 500ft drop all round). Thanks are due to all who took part, and also to Katie Jackson, Terry Isles et al at the JMT for supplying TAC with an amazingly comprehensive breakdown.
As of early-October, £10300 had been raised by 187 participants on 245 Marilyns. In the true spirit of Marilynism, there was a good spread of heights: from the Big Ben itself to 179m Billinge Hill near Wigan, the 19th weeest Marilyn of all (conquered by TAC subscriber and former quizwinner Brenda Lowndes). There was also a good geographical spread: from Walbury Hill in deepest Albion to Conachair, St Kilda. Many folk climbed just the one hill, many others went wholesale - including one worthy soul who ticked off fourteen in Argyll and the north west. Your editor did his own smallscale sweep of Lamington Hill and Dungavel Hill, as well as being party to an ascent of Roineabhal on Harris - tidied before perhaps being cleaned away for good by Iain Wilson and his quarryman.
Overall, the feedback has, unsurprisingly, been of most litter found either strewn at roadsides or crammed into summit cairns. Few returned with anything like as much as a binbag of trash, but the cumulative heap would itself doubtless be well on the way to Marilyn status if ever brought together. And the exercise did nothing to disabuse your editor of his long-held impression that much of the detritus on our hills is left not be careless daytrippers, but by landowners themselves. The Lamington / Dungavel haul - loops of discarded fence wire and spent shotgun cartridges - was an all too predictable booty.
Also mentioned in TAC19 were the protest / action groups organising against the Criminal Justice Bill. These, as far as is known, are continuing: the Edinburgh group can be contacted via ALP, 031-337-5442, whilst Glasgow's SACJB (Sou'siders Against the Criminal Justice Bill) meets in the Larkfield Centre, 39 Inglefield St, Govanhill, every Tuesday at 7.30pm.
Equally well versed in the toils and trials of protest are our many-pocketed friends in SCAPA - the Scottish Campaign for Public Angling. Recent actions include fishing the Tweed near Floors Castle in defiance of an Exclusion Order. The extent to which such orders are loaded in favour of the rich can be seen from the astonishing rates charged for "legitimate" fishing: eg o17000 - yes, o17000! - for a week's salmon fishing at Kelso. Bloody hell.
SCAPA contacted the chief executive of the Scottish Sports Council to point out that were ordinary punters deprived of, say, athletics or hillwalking by similar legislation and prices, the SSC would be the first to cry foul. So why are the lairds allowed to be treated differently? We are meant to be living in a classless society remember.
If you're partial to a day on the riverbank, or just support SCAPA's aims, secretary Derek Keith is at 18/5 Restalrig Drive, Edinburgh EH7 6JS, 031-659-5134.
TAC19 also included tell of how Glenfeshie estate failed to fall into the hands of a JMT / RSPB consortium, going instead to the English-based Will Woodlands Trust. Odd echoes of this can be heard in the latest chapter of the interminable Mar Lodge saga. Or not so odd perhaps...
The previous round of bidding for the Deeside estate foundered when another consortium - this time the JMT, RSPB and the World Wide Fund for Nature - were stymied by owner John Kluge's way-over-the-score price tag of £14 million. Now, with the price much lower, the National Trust for Scotland is very much in the picture. Except there is a problem: with a host of other properties already, the NTS are effectively skint.
Enter another shadowy "charitable" body: not Will Woodlands this time, but the even more mysterious Easter Trust. As to the ID of the anonymous benefactor pulling the purse strings, no-one knows for sure - some say Camilla's man - but whoever it is has enough readies to pump in £4 million via the NTS. Very good - except for another problem. The Easter Trust wants the NTS to run Mar Lodge their way: as a sporting estate. As Alan Partridge would say, Aha!
This, of course, would be completely at odds with Percy Unna's original NTS vision of unsullied, free-access landscapes. And hence the NTS, already owners of the Horns of Alligin, now find themselves on the Horns of a Dilemma. Do they play along with the Easter Trust and so absolve themselves of any real power over the estate, or do they refuse on principle, thus leaving Mar Lodge locked in limbo? All that can be said for sure right now is that whereas all manner of private enterprise "charities" can seemingly step in and snap up prime estates such as Mar and Glenfeshie, there is little chance, at least not under this government, of any real financial support for credible, experienced bodies such as the NTS and the JMT.
And finally, on a lighter note... In a letter to The Independent, 10th August, one Colin Harms of Kent railed and ranted against traditions of free access to the land. Take fishing for example (are you paying attention, SCAPA?) - "...members of the public who [are] not fishing should not be on my land since fish are shy creatures who take fright if they are not approached with stealth and caution".
As has been said once already, bloody hell.