The Angry Corrie 25: Nov 1995-Jan 1996
Hill informed (letters)
I thought I'd better draw your attention to a piece of far-reaching legislation now in force: it is now illegal to sell anything (except beer and milk) in imperial measurements. What has this to do with hillwalking? Well, although hills are now listed in legal metres, the definition of a Munro (and Corbetts and Donalds) is in illegal feet. Thus, unless Munros are officially re-defined as 914.4m, then the use of the term Munro will itself become illegal. Furthermore, anyone selling a book, magazine, list, software, whatever, referring, as its selling point, to hills over 3000ft will be contravening the law. Even Murdo's Tables, which use a metric re-ascent figure, will be outlawed since the stated definition is that they are over 3000ft (although this is qualified as being 914.4m, so a bit of editing may avoid prosecution). Only Marilyns, legally defined as being any hill with a re-ascent of over 150m, will remain. Few hillwalkers will be aware of this, but it could be the most significant piece of anti-hillwalker legislation ever! This could be the end of Munrobagging as we know it! Thousands of hillwalkers and guidebook writers could be imprisoned! (Good - Ed.) Only those who are uninterested in whether a hill is in a list will be able to climb them!
Andy "Prospect" Mayhew
Professor Warbeck's Venn diagram, (TAC24, p14) elucidating the complex interrelationships of the Marilyns, Corbetts, Grahams, Donalds and other stars of the Great Soap Opera That Is Hill-Walking is a fine thing. It particularly grips the attention because it contains an unlabelled region, corresponding to those New Donalds which are Marilyns but do not fall into either the Corbett or Graham category. This area therefore combines the finer features of terra incognita and tabula rasa. If a New Donald has sufficient reascent to qualify as a Marilyn, yet fails to meet the height criteria for Corbett, Graham or Murdo status, what can it be?
Perhaps a forthcoming TACit Table will enlighten an anxious public. Or perhaps it has already been published: at 0pp, for £0.00, with no publicity?
Dr Ben MacDoohey
The Angry University (formerly The Angry College)
Was I the only person to be vaguely taken aback by the BBC's Watchdog feature on the Eldon Hill Quarry in the optimistically-named Peak District? One proposal after another in the far north to extend Albion's already excessive road network and not a whimper from the keepers of the trendy national conscience. Dig a bit further into a pretty tedious landscape worn down by millions of ramblers year in year out and we're talking serious desecration verging on heresy - "Thou shalt not admit that Albion's green and pleasant land is generally anything but". Surely I do not detect the faintest hint of double standards here? It is, apparently, axiomatic that more roads must be built but the materials must come from far enough away for the national consequences of this orgy of tarmaccing to be hidden from a wilfully blind electorate. (Just like the nuclear "hide bombs on the Clyde / Mururoa rather than on the Thames / Seine argument - Ed.)
This probably sounds like a hysterical rant. That's fair enough. It reads that way to me, too. Still, it's surely no coincidence that the whole concept of transport - public and private - is evidently safer from attack than the obtaining of materials to build them and that nothing is made of the necessary link between the two. I may be going too far in thinking that the whole of the Peak District would be vastly improved by being superquarried (Er... - awkwardly-placed Derbyshire-born Ed.) - think of the vast numbers it keeps off the Scottish hills - but I couldn't help feeling that the whole Watchdog feature was symptomatic of a rather superficial NIMBY approach to two interlinked and rather serious problems.
Anne Bowker is a temptress! She has dangled eight tedious hills in TAC24, p6, which just nibble away at one's curiosity to hike up and test out their tediousness. However, not content with this she tantalises the artistically inclined by offering the starkly beautiful black-and-white kilometre squares. Finally comes the red rag to an arty carty ped (yes, that's me, an artistic cartographical pedant), of the gently throwaway final phrase: "I wonder whether these are the only black-and-white squares in existence...?"
So it was that this arty carty ped found himself standing in Waterstone's map department for an hour-and-a-half scouring the flattest areas of the British Isles for black-and-white or other interesting squares. I caught myself halfway through speaking to myself and saying "Are you really spending an hour-and-a-half you could spend working by seeking out black-and-white OS grid squares?" I then firmly justified it by reminding myself of how pure and artistically intriguing a black-and-white grid square is. I do hope there are no psychiatrists reading this, or I may end up with a white van outside my door doubtless with a black door handle at the end of the journey!
Anyway, eureka! My search was not in vain. It threw up something unexpected: (i) wandering electricity pylons, (ii) disappearing tracks and (iii) an OS plot to decrease the number of pure black-and-white squares!
The wandering pylons are on one of Anne Bowker's squares, SE8322, Sheet 106/112. From the 1st Series to the 2nd Series the pylons have migrated 100m east into the square when previously they were outside it. More worryingly, the number of pylons has decreased! Is this one of the newly-privatised generating companies' ways of increasing profits? Or are the OS trying to save ink, or have they started becoming more accurate?
The disappearing track from the same square now makes for a much more artistically pure square, which is doubtless why it caught Anne's eye.
The third unexpected discovery dashed one of my black-and-white square discoveries. SE7515, Sheet 112 of Crowle Waste or Moor on the 1st Series was covered with green on the newer 2nd Series! We will have to check our prized black-and-white squares carefully if the OS ever produces a 3rd Series.
Having lost that square, and on closer inspection rejecting a further square from Sheet 112 because it had half-a-millimetre of blue line, I've been left with two new squares: SE7217 from Sheet 112 and TF2117 from Sheet 131, so along with Anne's two discoveries I present these works of art for the public to peruse.
Finally, another grid square challenge. Are there any other alcoholic squares to add to this one from Skye?
Charles Swan's idea (TAC24, p19) of literally "bagging" Munros by overnighting on them in a sleeping bag revived my fantasy of being the first to bag all the Munros by moonlight. It has a pleasant alliterative ring to it, but might be tricky not to say cold.
My hopes of achievement rose when it occurred to me that the moon is often in the sky by day and presumably contributing its mite of moonlight then. Hopes were then dashed by the thought that if Hamish Brown reviews his multiple Munro bags in conjunction with almanacs for the relevant years, which give the times of moonrise and moonset, he may find he has already pipped me to the post.
Then I wondered about doing them (apologies to Grant Hutchison, TAC24, p4 - I of course mean climbing them) individually from sea level. Not an original thought, I'm sure, but that led me on to wonder which Munro is nearest to the sea, horizontally, and which furthest? A quick look at the Wallchart of Scottish Peaks over 3000ft suggests Beinn Sgritheall (under a mile) is nearest and Beinn Bhreac (about 39 miles from the sea east of Inverness) seems to be furthest. Any advances?
PS - My other half says if a mountain cannot be "done", how can it possibly be ticked off? He reckons, from careful observation of my behaviour, that ticking them off is the only reason for "doing" them. For the record he is resting, since 1992, on 11 Munros. Although approaching triple figures I am not allowed to forget that he "did" Lochnagar before I'd "done" any and that he has "done" it twice to my once. Can one start "doing" a second round before one has "done" the first?
Ed. - Yes, I would say so - although others, eg the Sic Munroist, insist on wiping the slate clean. But this is anachronistic in existential terms, and I, like all good students, read Sartre, De Beauvoir, Crompton et al many years ago. Incidentally, your other half is in good company, since I too have failed to climb a new Munro since 1992 (Slioch on 9th October).
The Murdos: a new Scottish record?
I recently received a copy of Alan Dawson's The Murdos and discovered that out of the 444 Murdos, together with my wife I had climbed 443 of them. The outstanding Murdo had to be ascended as a priority! This was rectified with the successful attempt on Stob an Duine Ruaidh (Ben Starav), 918m, OS50, NN124410 at 14:58 hours on Saturday 9th September 1995. My wife was 15 seconds behind me. Is this a world record?
Through your austere (surely august, even though it's November? - Ed.) publication may we claim the honour of possibly being Murdoists number one and two respectively? We still have three SubMurdos remaining though.
As there is no list of Murdoists, I am more than happy to keep an up-to-date list. Just send me usual details together with the dates of the first and last Murdos. This will just be an informal list rather than an "official" document.
Andy (and Val) Moffat
The Old School House, Leachkin Road, Inverness IV3 6NW
Ed. - Since contacting us with this information, Andy and Val have now been in touch with Alan Blanco himself to stake a claim for being the first to bag all 71 Relative SubMurdos - ie those hills which miss out on being full-blown Murdos by less than ten metres of relative height. This is almost certainly a unique achievement. As keepers of the Murdoists List, it isn't as yet clear whether they'll produce a tie and brooch, as have the SMC. Hopefully not.
The other day, whilst on my regular ramble up Sron Riach of Derry Cairngorm, I noted that numerous railway crossing barriers have been installed on the edge of all the precipices. What a good idea!
Now there is no chance of anyone ever coming unstuck on this particular mountain, and those lazy incompetents in the mountain rescue can finally be pensioned off.
With the nights fair drawing in and the cold winter weather approaching, now is the ideal time for punters to consider seeing how many of the sensible Mountain Code rules they can break. Readers could climb one hill without a map and emergency food, another hill in bad weather, another alone, and so on. In fact, we could have a competition and see how many rules can be broken in one walk. The ultimate would be to climb a hill alone at night whilst drunk and poorly equipped, in bad weather, then fall asleep at the summit. Extra points could be gained by leaving a route card detailing a route on an entirely different mountain. Last winter a friend of mine nearly managed the above, but unfortunately fell short of the full grand slam by having a sleeping bag and relatively sober company. Perhaps if any readers accomplish this feat they can write in and let me know. In fact, they won't need to, because we'll all read about them in the papers next day.
Keep on climbing,
It struck me, on the theme of extrapolating back to find the first Munro climbed (TAC20, pp14-15) that a similar technique might be applied to the more and more ridiculous records relating to how many Munros may be climbed in a particular period of time. Reading across a graph of such points we should be able to find a time when someone is on the summit of all 277 Munros simultaneously. Since the only way to do this would be to travel at the speed of light, we have a prediction about when we can expect to invert warp-powered electronic long-johns as per Lachlan McLoughlin. I'd suggest everyone stays off the hills that day just in case they get vapourised by the light-speed bagger.
Rupert PC Weare