The Angry Corrie 26: Feb-Mar 1996
Hill informed (letters)
I was surprised to read in TAC25 (p14) of your encouraging someone from NTS to write, given your footnote at the bottom of p20 suggesting that you have had enough of NTS. You did not make it clear exactly who you had written to in NTS. I assume it was not the Director as you would have had an accurate concise reply by return of post, if not sooner!
The position over the ownership of Mar Lodge is quite clear. It is owned by the NTS and will be in perpetuity with it declared inalienable, along with the majority of Trust properties. This means that the only way it could be taken out of Trust ownership would be by special act of Parliament.
There had been a suggestion, at an early stage in the acquisition negotiations, that some form of lease purchase might be used in the transaction. Clearly this would not have been an ideal situation for the Trust and it was quickly dropped. I presume however that this is where the misunderstanding you reported comes from.
It is quite common for donors to the NTS to wish to remain anonymous and this will be respected. I can say categorically however that neither the Royal Family nor Atholl Estates are involved. The remaining funding package came from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage and all this has already been made public.
The estate is run under the guidance of a Joint Management Committee which was established under the terms of a 25-year management agreement between the Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. This is a perfectly reasonable procedure and similar committees are in existence for other Trust properties with strong SNH interests such as National Nature Reserves, where there is a significant input. The body ultimately responsible is of course the Trust's Council, as with all its properties.
As you and all your readers so clearly support all the fine work which the NTS is doing, why don't you join and support its activities? That way, you would be able to influence the work we do and would also have received a members information leaflet explaining what is happening at Mar Lodge.
Finally, I take great exception to you using the initials TAC for The Angry Corrie. These are my initials and I hold copyright over them. However, in return for a large donation for the Trust, to be used for the exclusive benefit of Mar Lodge, I will refrain from taking you to court!
Trevor A Croft
Typical of humans, isn't it? All the recent yack and whining about the state of Glencoe and not a word, as far as I could see, about the wildlife there, condemned to lead a miserable existence in a manmade wilderness.
Why, I ask myself, doesn't the NTS grab the nettle by finding out what species thrived in the glen before the sheep, iron-founders and bobbin-makers came, then set about recreating the habitats in which they lived?
And if measures proposed to achieve this don't comply with Unna's edicts, the Trust should seek to overturn said edicts in the Court of Session if need be. For this problem was created by humans and it is up to humans to rectify it.
Wildlife is an essential part of the balance of nature and most creatures can't thrive in a windswept, treeless environment, grazed to the bone by sheep and deer.
Sheep should be removed from the glen when the present leases expire and be replaced by cattle which are now coexisting with woodlands in trials being carried out all over Scotland.
Of course, even sheep can be run reasonably satisfactorily near woodlands - if they are herded and folded as they are in European uplands. It's not all that long ago that Border shepherds were obliged by law to keep their sheep out of woodlands.
I can't believe that if Unna were alive today he would object to the restoration of the birch, rowan and alder which certainly clothed Glencoe.
The NTS has to get into tree- planting in a big way or Glencoe will lose out on the grants and lottery cash being snapped up all over the country.
Isle of Seil
Alan Dawson's idea of a serviced campsite below Clachaig (TAC24, pp16-17) has in the recent past been considered by the NTS, and presumably could be looked at again. The main problems with this approach are:
(a) It would encourage greater use of the flats for camping, and that growth could prove very difficult to control. As more people used the area, the "toilet block" would have to be improved and expanded, campers would insist on better services, parking facilities created, and before you know it, Ellis Brigham would be applying for planning permission for a shop. I also have a vision of an NTS ranger wandering about the flats asking people for money, or impounding tents - I leave you to your own vision of the consequences.
(b) After years of campaigning to get the Trust to move out, it might be considered by some as perverse to set up a campsite in its place.
The existing site charges are presumably set at what the operators feel the markets will stand. Local Authority subsidy would prove very difficult, and not all campsite owners would want it. I believe the Red Squirrel (Hugh MacColl) charges £3 per night per person, which does not seem unreasonable. I agree there are folk who cannot wrap their minds around the concept of Commerce and the Great Outdoors, but there is an analogy with the formerly free services available in many towns. Museums, Art Galleries, Gardens, etc are being pressed to charge admission fees to reduce public expenditure. We can deplore such necessity until we are blue in the face, but only Government can change it.
If there are 20000 free camping nights in Glencoe in a year, the cost of repairs to the fabric of the environment created by that use has to be borne by (i) those who do pay, (ii) the local ratepayer. Sometimes there is no money to pick up the tab, and the environment itself pays. Sometimes the managers of the land feel obliged to introduce sanctions to reduce their costs, which is why we are conducting this debate.
As to the suggestion that campers prefer to crap in toilets rather than by the old road, this is probably correct and may be borne out by the response I have received from the HRPB. They sampled the River Coe on 26th June 1995, and found no evidence of sewage pollution. However, they are concerned about future water quality if there is continued use of the area as a campsite, and commented on the refuse and old campfires littering the riverside.
Because of the rather disjointed approach to management of the Clachaig flats, I think there would be merit in having a round table discussion involving all interested parties, with the objective of producing a consensus view. I have already flashed the idea in front of the NTS, and perhaps you could use your columns to add weight to the idea.
Cllr Drew McFarlane Slack
Re the letter from the deep green German (TAC25, p7). Putting aside the rights and wrongs of the Brent Spar, the last thing we want is the Germans fighting for our countryside. Remember this is the country where rock climbing is largely illegal due to the influence of strong but ill informed environmental pressure, and they have already tried it on here through the Council of Europe. Herr Schmidt has got an answer to paths on Stob Dearg, ie keep the likes of us off it on pain of joining the Bar-L Virtual Hillwalking Club. Thanks Herr Schmidt but no thanks. (He's right about the forestry though.)
Congratulations on the introduction of such an egalitarian concept as the "MilliMarilyner" (TAC 25, p16). Although the text drivels on about people who have climbed 1000 of the damn things, this is clearly impossible. Such people, if they existed, would be "Kilo-Marilyners". The true Milli-Marilyners (among whom I am honoured to count myself) are those who have climbed a thousandth of a Marilyn: a cracking 150mm of reascent, or around six inches if my decimal ready-reckoner serves me correctly.
For too long has table-ticking been the preserve of the half-way mobile and moderately motivated. At last we have an achievement open to any somnolent sluggard prepared to get out of bed in the morning. In fact, getting into bed pretty well does the trick. It is this sort of lowest-common-denominator approach that has made The Angry University the seat of learning it is today.
Keep up the good work! I look forward to the first TACit Table dealing with the MilliMarilyns in due course. Perhaps you may care to issue it as a part-work, in a thousand volumes.
Dr Ben MacDoohey
The Angry University
Readers will I'm sure at some point have used OS sheet 36, Grantown, Aviemore and Cairngorm area. This map has some large blue letters to be found wandering lost in the mists of Ben Macdui (Beinn MacDuibh) plateau, namely NH, NJ, NN and NO.
I appreciate the need for these letters in conjunction with giving an accurate grid reference, but do they have to be written in such bold print? On OS36, the detail beneath is still fairly discernable, but I have since found this not always to be the case. Whilst visiting Ardnamurchan, I drove through picturesque Glen-borrodale. On OS40, the detail of this village is all but obliterated by an obtrusive NM stamped over it.
I have called squares NM6060, NM6061, NM6160 and NM6161 "A Muddled Hole". I put it to your fastitious readers, is this the most muddled of the Muddled Holes, or is there an even more muddled one out there waiting to be discovered?
Craichie, by Forfar
A thought occurred to me whilst reading the review of The Munro Phenomenon (TAC24, p14). The last paragraph refers to meeting Walt Poucher, and this set me thinking about an article you could run on "famous people met on the hill".
My contribution would be based on an experience I had in the late eighties on the Rydal / Fairfield horseshoe in the Pond District. There I was sitting in the lee of a wall on Heron Pike in thick mist, enjoying a drink stop, when a figure approached out of the gloom. We spent five minutes chatting and he ended up describing himself as a toy inventor from Clappersgate. I thought nothing of this at the time.
Later that day, in Elterwater Youth Hostel, I was explaining to the warden my meet with this mildly eccentric fellow on the fells. It transpired that I'd been in the company of Denys Fisher, who invented the Spirograph in the sixties, going on to fame as part of the Fisher-Price toy empire. This struck a chord with me as I'd spent many a childhood hour messing about with little plastic circles trying to make pretty patterns.
Not quite up there with Walt Poucher I admit, but he is the only famous person I've met. Maybe other readers have their own stories?
I have been an avid reader of TAC for some years now and have followed your topical debate on the cartographical excellence (or rather otherwise) of the Ordnance Survey from the beginning (well, nearly...).
Imagine my surprise when I finally discovered the ultimate reason behind all of the little (and big) gripes we have about OS Maps. The answer is tucked away in the newly-established WWW pages of the OS (http://www.campus.bt.com/CampusWorld/pub/OS/mainmenu.html).
Only now is the quasi-random scattering of Landranger sheets explained. The OS's London-centricity and the well-documented errors/ omissions become clear. Never again will we have to wonder why you can see Schiehallion from almost anywhere in the Scottish Highlands, even though it appears only on three OS Landranger sheets.The answer is simple, and now the OS have given the game away. In their WWW pages, the OS write:
Have a go at making your own map of an area near you - or make a map of an imaginary area (it could have all sorts of interesting things to find!) Draw your map and try to include some of the standard signs as shown in the pages above.
When you have completed your map, send it to:
Jim Page, The Ordnance Survey, Maybush Road, Southampton, Hampshire
The best maps will win a prize - and will be shown in this area - Get mapping!
Perhaps this plea for new maps indicates that the OS have finally exhausted (or made redundant?) their creative map invention artists and are now looking to the public for help with their upcoming revisions. After all, doesn't the Mapper's Charter strive to improve customer service by providing the customer with exactly the kind of map he/she would like?
Personally, I'm looking forward to plenty of old haunted castles, country pubs and craggy Munros - all clearly marked. Perhaps the site of old aircraft wreckage should be marked as well, for a bit of a diversion on boring hills. I'd have at least 50 summits per sheet with not a ski-tow in sight. I'll be submitting my revised Sheet 36 next week.
Alternatively, perhaps the OS are planning to extend their panel of available maps by bringing out an additional twenty-odd sheets showing selected highlights from the Landranger series. Again, we are left second-guessing the OS, but one thing is for sure: if the ground does not match what's on the map, you are either facing the wrong way, or you've picked out one of the new improved customer-oriented series of OS maps.
Ed. - Even more importantly, just what is the former Led Zeppelin axe hero doing working for the OS?
Dr MacDoohey (TAC25, p20) implies that while Helvellyn and the Western Highlands were wandering around the Atlantic Ocean, Skiddaw was simply lying around doing nothing. This is somewhat misleading, since it was in fact submerged beneath said ocean. The force of the impact as Helvellyn careered northwards towards the Highlands caused Skiddaw to rear upwards along with sundry lesser hills now known collectively as the Southern Uplands of Scotland.
Thus we see that if the fourth (time) dimension is considered, then Skiddaw is relatively the highest hill - ie it has grown faster than any other. If this growth continues, then barring further asteroid impact or interference from Scottish Nationalists (same thing, surely? - Ed.), in a few more million years Skiddaw may well become the highest mountain in Britain.
Yours potentially proudly,
Founder, President and current Sole Member of the Skiddaw Fan Club
PS - Re TAC24, p14. Is "Marilyn" sexist? Or "sexy"? Surely only in the eye of the beholder? What adjective would Mr Dempster have chosen had Alan Blanco called his hills "Matts"?
PPS - Re alcoholic grid squares, TAC25, p18. ALE: must be lots, but OS98 (Yorkshire Dales of course) 7286 is a good one. BEER: an easy one this in Devon, OS192, 2287 and 2389 (a double). And how about BRANDY Hill (a Marilyn), OS158, 2113; SHERRY Geo, OS5, 5934; and presumably RUM when the OS get round to deleting the superfluous H.
PPPS - We climbed Law Kneis on 16/12/95 (TAC23, p8), avoiding confrontation by wading the Rankle (!) Burn and approaching, quite pleasantly, along the ridge. A good thing we did as the track shown crossing the ridge seems to be a figment of the OS imagination! We were interested to note, however, on driving by afterwards, that the house at Deerhope is up for sale. Is this a sign of the power of TAC? Has the unfriendly owner been hounded out by angry readers?
Great news that you've seen the light and decided to take advertising at long last. Welcome to the real world, Dave! At last we can do some business and make some money - after all that's what it's really all about, right?
Now have I got some great deals lined up for you! I've been checking out my contacts in the beardie-weirdie (hey! - only kidding Dave) outdoors market - showing them your product and I've gotta tell you they just loved it. Just loved it. Now don't get me wrong here Dave - you're the editor, right - but we have some teensy suggestions to make about how to appeal more to those big-spending corporate advertisers. Now don't lose your cool Dave, we've gotta keep them sweet. After all, they pays their money and they takes their choice. And we've gotta make 'em pay us, right?
So first off, we need impact on the magazine racks, OK? It's no use holding your light under a bushel (or should that be 0.03637 cubic metres - hee hee, I made a joke there Dave!) We gotta make the punters (sorry Dave, yeah, readers) see us. So we're gonna need colour on the cover, right? Maybe a view from a hill or something. Sunshine ... a young woman smiling as she - what's the expression - yeah, "tops out", that's it. I'll phone Marcus and organise a photo shoot.
Now we gotta lose the sheep, Dave. OK so you say the sheep is part of the real experience of being on the hill - I'm a hill man myself, OK - but sheep don't sell Dave, they just don't sell. So we kill the sheep, agreed?
Now we gotta widen the audience, Dave, if we wanna get those corporate boys to cut us a slice. Who's heard of these "New Donalds", Dave? I'll tell you who - no-one, that's who. We gotta make it less Scottish. Let's do some stuff on the Dales or the Lakes. Took the kids there myself this summer. Great time, Dave, great time. You should've seen Junior trying to drive the power boat, he was such a scream! Pity those dinghy sailors couldn't see the funny side of it but I gotta tell you it was worth every penny...
Next, content. Now don't get me wrong here Dave. I understand all about editorial integrity. So who's telling you what you got to put in the mag? - I'm not, Dave, I'm sure as hell not. But let's just think what's gonna make those advertisers spend their bucks in our magazine. I'll tell you what - two things. Number One - glossy pictures of folks wearing product and smiling a lot. Number Two - favourable gear tests. OK, I'm just saying - if you want this project to work, you gotta think about these things, right?
Last up - the name. TAC - what does that say to Mr & Mrs Average Punter, Dave? I'll tell you what it says - nothing, sweet FA. So we gotta change the name. Something snappy - to tell the reader what this mag is all about - and to make 'em want to buy. Let me see... I got it, I got it - Outdoor Gear. It's perfect, Dave, perfect. Well OK Dave, but you just have a think about it.
Well Dave I'm glad we had this little talk. Now I gotta go sell some space. When you're next in town we'll get together - breakfast or something - and get this project on the road. Give my secretary a call.
Megadvert Co plc
As my father and I reached the summit of Drumelzier Law back in 1995, we thought we had finally done it. Finished off the Donalds. All 89 of them. Yes, that's right, we had even made a special trip up to Glen Artney to wander about in the huge peat-hags of Beinn nan Eun in the mist, following TAC's shocking discovery of the new Donalds.
13th May was decided on as the date the ascent would be made; this followed a casual glance in the log, where I noticed that this date would be exactly three years after I did my first Donald (Tinto). We sent off lots of invitations to all our friends to join us, although, as it turned out, only two other people could make it. (I have friends like that too - Ed.)
Okay, so we might have been tempting fate a little by setting the date as the 13th, but we didn't deserve this cruel, savage blow. I refer, of course, to your recent publication: The Grahams and the New Donalds. The existence of this booklet was first revealed in TAC23 - just after we had completed the Donalds, or thought we had. I will now have to tell all my friends and family that I actually have 16 New Donalds still to do. I suppose we could use the final New Donald as another excuse to eat lots of cake and drink lots and lots of champagne! I don't really mind of course; it will give us another reason to go and do some of the good-looking hills missed out because they were only tops; Carrifran Gans, for example.
Moving onto a completely different subject, I am pleased to announce the discovery of two new islands. The first is of little interest, being on the Plain; it's just up the coast from Holy Island. The second is of much greater importance, and is very close to the new Gairloch Island (TAC24, p10). It is also unusual in being an inland island. On close inspection of OS19, it can be seen that Lochan Fada in the Letterewe Forest has two outflows, both of which eventually end up in Loch Maree. This creates an island containing the Graham Beinn a'Muinidh, as well as the approach to Slioch from Kinlochewe. I should be very grateful if you could pass this information to the Gairloch Independence Group.
Whilst on the subject, I'd like to warn readers of an island south of Barrow-in-Furness, called Sheep Island. Could this be the secret retreat of Murdo Munro?
PS - Am I the youngest Old Donaldist at 14 years old?
Ed. - This unDonalding feeling is familiar to me also. Despite having thought I'd "finished" a round on 10/7/94, suddenly there were eight hills undone - oddly also including Carrifran Gans. I blame Blanco myself.
The other day, whilst descending the Sron Riach of Derry Cairngorm, I was startled to come upon this road sign:
I swiftly consulted my Highway Code, and on discovering the meaning of the sign I concluded that I was hallucinating. I carried on my way, and imagine my surprise when I was promptly run down by a diesel locomotive and a large quantity of rolling stock!
Have any other readers experienced any similar occurrences?
Ed. - TAC is pleased to note that, thus far, Jacqueline Greaves has not been lost in the hills this winter.