TAC 27 May-Jul96

TAC 27 Index

Hill Informed

Dear Editor,

To feed your evident passion for numerological, legal and cartographical pedantry, I offer a comment on TAC26 Christmas Quiz answers, Question 9b.

The height of Mount (Andrew) Jackson, Palmer Land, Antarctic Peninsula (71° 21' S, 63° 22' W) is as indeterminate as that of many mountains in remote regions, but it is almost certainly not 4191m (or even the 4190m given on several older maps). The highest surveyed (intersected) point in British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is 2652m on a rock ridge of Mount Jackson. The snow summit is judged as being several hundred metres higher and is described in the US Board on Geographic Names (1980) as "A massive mountain rising over 3050m.

Despite some maps showing higher elevations elsewhere in the region, Mount Jackson is presently regarded as the highest mountain in BAT and is shown as 3180m on the British Antarctic Survey 1:10 000 000 scale map BAS (Misc) 7 (1993).

In terms of British law, BAT is considered a British dependent territory with its own legal system, government accounts and Commissioner. It would only cease to be one if the UK renounced its sovereignty claim. The Antarctic Treaty simply freezes existing claims; it does not and cannot change their legal status.

Thus the "correct" answer to Question 9b is indeed Mount Jackson, albeit with a reduced height to the one cited.

Best wishes

Christopher Doake
Cambridge, Albionshire

Ed. - For more on this and other quiz updates, see p9.

Dear Sir,

In a recent edition (TAC24, p4), your intrepid correspondent set off on a hike up Ben Avon and got lost. I am sorry that the direction signs that we erected were pointing the wrong way, but relieved that they pointed to the correct route on his return. Invercauld Estate have recently, with Planning Permission, constructed a new forestry road and we felt that visitors would prefer to use the new road rather than sticking to the old track in the trees, particularly as the new route offered a spectacular view of Lochnagar. A screen of native trees has been planted, so sadly eventually the view will be obscured again.

Your Editor recalled that he once spent a night at Gleann an t-Slugain, and he must have had a good lie-in as the shooting party that woke him can't have reached that spot until at least 9.30am.

You report in TAC25 (p10) that I was overheard in the Braemar Mountain shop enquiring after an ordered Mountain Bike. Surely this must be some mistake, as Factors don't approve of Mountain Bikes?

Yours sincerely,

JS Blackett
Resident Factor
Invercauld Estate

Dear TAC,

Your article in TAC26 (p2) about sheep interested me. I have never seen any published articles to this effect (presumably because TAC and Greenpeace would tear them apart), but I have heard it said that driving fewer and/or smaller cars will not have much impact on CO2 emissions because the primary source of such emissions is and always has been farting cows.

From the snippet of The Guardian you reproduced, I noted that a sheep produces 5kg of methane per year. I do not know how much CO2 per year a cow farts, but I guess the average ego-structured status symbol car burns about 3000 litres of fuel, from which, if my school Chemistry Studies memory serves me right, it would fart an annual discharge of about 7000kg of CO2.

Presumably the motoring industry spreads such twaddle verbally in order to reassure the consciences of the kind of fat cats who provide their extra revenue. They might argue that such tactics are justified on the grounds that "what is good for General Motors is good for America". Therefore what is good for the motoring industry is good for the world.

Perhaps any zoologists, animal nutritionists or AA Homestart employees amongst your readers might like to further debate these claims?

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan de Ferranti
Newburgh, Fife

Dear TAC,

Once again TAC leads in innovative ideas that no other walking magazine can match! No sooner than TAC26 has an article on bonkbagging (p7) than the National Trust in Albion have their wardens "looking out for prostitutes plying for trade among ramblers at Box Hill and other Surrey beauty spots" (The Guardian 20/3/96, lifted from the Leatherhead Advertiser of 29/2/96).

Aside from the obvious question about the existence of beauty spots in Surrey, it has to be asked if this is just a practice effort on a non-Marilyn, working up to harder stuff elsewhere (those who want to write a script for Carry on Rambling start here).

It's true that Mick Furey's article specifically ruled out "hill-hookers", but who's going to know, unless they open your wallet? After all, a tick's a tick to most baggers!

Does this mean that Blanco's Bible of Bens to Bag and Bonk On will only be allowed on the top shelves in bookshops from now on?


Pete Stanton

Ed. - Charles Swan also picked up on this, sending in an article by Iain Murray from a recent issue of Marketing Today (!): "One rambler, a 48-year-old industrial chemist from Southampton, experienced a first-hand encounter with this exotic new addition to Mole Valley's fauna.'My wife had bent down to do up a shoelace,' he recalls,'and I walked on. Suddenly, this blonde in a low-cut dress, carrying a mobile phone, asked if I would like sex at a starting price of #30.'"

And George Hill, spokesman for the RA, says: "The last thing ramblers want is to be propositioned by a prostitute leaping out from behind a tree." A matter of opinion, that.

Dear TAC,

I have been following the recent correspondence on meetings with famous hill people with interest. Since I have been going into the hills now for nearly 30 years, I got to thinking how many celebs I had encountered. They seemed to fit roughly into two categories - alive and dead, although sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. Strangely enough, the two who best fit the alive category both got a mention in TAC26.

In the beginning there was Walt Poucher - pointed out to me in the Kinlochewe Hotel. Then there was the night in the Clachaig when Ian Clough was in charge behind the bar and superb entertainment was provided by Tom Patey on accordion and later on the piano after the lights were put out to try and get us to leave.

Of course anyone socialising in Glasgow's West End bumps into Jimmy Macgregor fairly frequently, but I find it difficult to class him as a real hill-celeb. He was a couple of rows away from me when I went to see Braveheart (I heard he was there every night - Ed.) and he did not know where any of the hilly locations were - except for the "helicopter" shot of the Aggy Ridge!

Now for the real, live ones. Our club Yule Meet a few years back was on Ben A'an (the fine wee Trossachs hill) on a typically foul December day. Visiblity was less than 20m and it was blowing a gale - the plastic Santa blew off the cake! Through the murk we saw a purple glow approaching and as it got close enough we recognised the famous nose-like-a-blind-cobbler's-thumb topped by the equally famous knitted bunnet: Tam Weir. As he interrogated us, his eyes scanned the supply of liquid purvey, but he obviously reached the conclusion that the bottles were already empty or we were not going to offer him any so he and his pals disappeared again into the gloom.

But the encounter which has left the most lasting impression was with Spiky Muriel and her entourage on Ben Alder. She captured me at the summit cairn, stuck me in front of a monster lens, faced me straight into the sun, and proceeded to ask a string of daft questions about midges, hotels, trains, weans on hills, etc. So now "I" have become famous, or perhaps infamous, as ever since I have had to put up with accusations and pointy fingers in pubs - "You were in The Munro Show!!" Thanks Muriel.

However the most worrying aspect is that all the famed ones met on the hill are still alive while the ones in pubs are now dead, and the only times my fame has been recognised has been in pubs. It's a bit scary.


Graham Benny

Dear TAC,

Re Gary Westwood's letter in TAC26 concerning "famous people met on the hill", I've already written in an early issue of TAC (TAC5, pp19) about meeting not only famous people, but famous people with their film crews. (MPs Chris and John Smith, and Muriel Gray and her Munro Show team.) For people keeping lists, can I suggest that the presence of a film crew doubles the tick-value of each famous person met? Does Ross the Researcher count? (Only on the fingers of one hand - Ed.)

In October 1992 I was dazzled by my own powers of identification on meeting a well wrapped-up figure at the summit of Cairngorm in the first snows of that winter. All that could be seen through a zipped-up hood were eyes and a bit of nose, but since these were the only bits of this particular gentleman I'd ever seen in the glossy TGO, I got it in one: Chris Townsend, gear guru. And he was testing equipment at that very moment! I'd make the case for extra tick-value here too (for difficulty of identification) except that my real reward was the fifteen-minute talk on the intricacies of Gore-Tex and other new materials that we had there and then!


Dot Clark

Ed. - Is there anyone out there who hasn't met either Tam Weir or Muriel?

Dear TAC,

Has anyone invented the meta-list, ie a list of all the current lists, eg Munros, Murdos, super-Murdos, super-ninja-Murdos...? Not just that list, but the list of where the words appear in TAC. Such a list would be easy to tick (though hopefully not to bag and bin) and constantly growing (to satisfy listers). With no due humbleness can I venture to call this list a Chrysalis?

And what does the chrysalis become when it opens?


Chris Cant

Dear TAC,

A cursory glance at the TAC quiz answers reveals an appalling error. Are you completely unaware of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta? This (admittedly small) independent state has occupied two buildings in Rome since 1830.

The high point of the tiny nation is the Villa del Priorato di Malta, just off Piranesi's exquisite Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, on the Aventine Hill. Ah, how well I remember the moonlight on the cypresses, and how sweetly the nightingale sang! (If you are reading this, Ysabella, please contact me as soon as possible, for I still have the item you dropped in the flower beds when you departed so suddenly, all those years ago.)

But you will forgive the rambling of an old man. The point I wished to make is this: Folio 150 of the Carta d'Italia reveals that the Priory is no more than 42m above sea level, making the Sovereign Military Order the country with the lowest high point in Europe.

"Ah-ha," you will say (and I hear you clearly in my mind's ear), "but this pathetic little excuse for a country is not recognised by the British government, or indeed by very many other governments." But that, I say to you, is not the point. It is the duty of TAC to bring such matters to the attention of its bemused readership. You are in danger of making the quiz far too easy if you persist in excluding obscure and frankly invalid answers.

Let's have more ludicrously recherché answers to match "London, Paris, Banana, Poland".

Yours aye,

Dr Ben MacDoohey
The Angry University
(formerly The Angry College)

Dear TAC,

OS25 is a fruitful hunting ground for new islands which may not yet be listed in the TAC Independent Islands Catalogue. At least four have their defining point on this map:

1 A small lochan at 936261 (also appearing on OS33) has two outlets which creates a small island containing Dornie and the Marilyn Beinn a'Mheadhoin.

2 & 3 A very neatly bifurcating stream at 039321 creates Killilan Forest Island West which contains Killilan and two Corbetts, while the additional double outlet of Loch Mhoicean delimits its neighbour, Killilan Forest Island East which contains the Corbett Aonach Buidhe and a bothy.

4 By far the most significant discovery is at 976580, where the stream flowing out of Coire an Laoigh splits into two round a small wood. It is not clear whether this is a natural phenomenon or the result of affirmative action by Torridon separatists but the implications are obvious:

(a) all books which contain phrases like "Liathach is the most difficult mainland Munro" will have to be rewritten;

(b) it will be possible to control access to these overused mountains by a prohibitive toll on the bridge at Kinlochewe.

The implications for the Gairloch Independence Movement (TAC24, p10) are less certain. Will Torridon Island, which is larger and higher, accept rule from Gairloch? The parallel with England and Scotland is obvious. One can already hear the cries for devolution and the setting up of a separate parliament in Kinlochewe. A period of unrest is likely and tourists would be well advised to avoid this region for the forseeable future.


Ann Bowker

Dear TAC,

Looking at Blanco's dilemma (TAC23, p15) on discrepancies between Phil Babb (2:4) and Desmond Tutu (2:4), a sum-of-squares formula might be the answer - a sort of statistical tiebreaker. Using a formula of

(n being the total letters in the word and r the number of separate letters)

Obviously the ideal would give a succession of 12 s on the top line and an "ideal" answer of 1. So Tutu is better than Babb - a debatable point, I would have thought: perhaps further research would be a good idea.

Ross County (8:10), on the other hand, would give a figure of 1.183. So the "ideal" may be 1 but evidently the perfect answer is 1.183. Bobby Robb would be 1.85. Can anyone beat that, I wonder?

All the best,

Roderick Manson

PS - If Blanco does find a cure, I want to know. This is getting excessive.

TAC 27 Index