TAC 30 Index
LONG-DISTANCE WALKING doesn't often hit the front pages of the tabloid press, but has in the past few years occasionally done so in the personages of two people with silly posh-sounding names: Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes and Ffyona Campbell. Fiennes is away across Antarctica again just now, dragging his worldly goods behind him in a sledge like Dick Whittington of the frozen wastes. But it looked like we had heard the last of Campbell, sometime whipping-girl of these pages. Wrong. Campbell was of course the self-proclaimed first round-the-world walker, much-hyped via various papers, a book and a "notorious" (but actually rather tedious) televised walker's tiff with Janet Street-Porter. In her care, walking was thought likely to become the new rock 'n' roll.
It all went suspiciously quiet until, just when you thought it was safe to go back out with your rucksack, Campbell suffered another attack of hype-tension. The Daily Mail and Daily Express (same thing really) screamed "Exclusive" over confessions of her having cheated by doing the 1000-mile stretch from Indianapolis to Fort Sumner in the back of the support team's truck. (Spookily, New Mexico's version of The Fort is pretty close to alien epicentre Roswell ... )
A revisionist Campbell walk-biog is now out (nicely timed for Christmas), and includes such as "Once you've lied about your achievements, you've created a burden for yourself which you can never, never put down. My lie almost destroyed me." Etc etc. Yawnsville Indiana. It seems the pressure of fulfilling obligations to her sponsors, Campbell's Soups (well-known worker-sackers) was a big factor in her heart-rending decision to jump aboard both van and bandwagon. Andy Warhol eat your heart out.
Anyway, in true festive spirit, TAC has invited several regular contributors to do a little attention-seeking / soul-searching of their own by exploding some rural myths. Also, TAC's newshounds have sniffed out various other famous-walker/climber stories of the "You might say that but I couldn't possibly comment" sort ...
Perkin Warbeck, TAC co-editor: I'm just back from the Lakes. What a brilliant time on Buttercup Scout and up Langley Dale. Then we all adjourned to The Nutmeg and Firkin for real ale; everyone still in their Rohan breeks and all. Highlight of the day was seeing a couple of willow warblers fluttering round the craggy top of the Old Man of Amblehampworth.
Sherpa Tenzing, joint-first up Everest (Er ... isn't he dead? - Ed.): I never actually made it up that last steep bit - we got there and Sir Edmund pulled out a contract on which was written "I hereby agree that this last steep bit of Everest will be known as 'The Hilary Step' in perpetuity, henceforth and evermore, accepted as holograph, I, Sherpa Tenzing of that ilk on the 29th of the inst", and he insisted I sign it even though it meant taking off my mitts. I told him where he could shove his contract, and we resorted to fisticuffs at 29000ft. But back home we kept quiet since it was the Queen's coronation and Edmund wanted a knighthood whilst I didn't want deported.
Hamish Brown, writer and first man round the Munros in the one go: When I say I'm not a Munrobagger, I mean it: I've never climbed a Munro in all my puff. Beinn Sgritheall, where is that anyway? And dogs, I hate them, horrible yappy under-your-feet things. And Morocco, it's a dump.
TAC Editor Dave Hewitt - who, like Ffyona, admits to "a string of lovers": Okay okay, so I'm a charlatan and a dilettante. The watershed? No I did not spend twelve weeks walking from the Border to Cape Wrath over a bloody endless succession of hills. Between Tyndrum and Rhiconich I was down the pub all the while. TAC? It's all just a moneymaking exercise: I'm off to St Kitts and Nevis just as soon as this damn thing goes to bed. And The Golden Cagoule? Top show.
Alan Blanco, TAC worthy and hill-list compiler extraordinaire: There are probably only 11 Marilyns after all, not 1573, but who cares and they're all crap Welsh things anyway. I agree with Andy Dempster on p143 of The Munro Phenomenon that Marilyns is a "rather trite and sexist name". And why oh why keep lists of hills in the first place?
Iain White, programmer of The Munros Through Windows and member of Mensa: The Munros Through Windows is what every hillwalker needs! It's a multimedia CD-ROM package which completely revolutionises the way we look at hills. All the information you need - to identify a hill, climb and record it - is here. And it's a snip at #79.
Grant Cornwallis, heid-bummer of Branch Bothidian crypto-fundamentalist sect: Personally, I never stay in a bothy unless it's absolutely essential to bag some nearby Munro; give me a five-star Michelin hotel any day. I'd really like to see all MBA members sent a regularly updated guide to all the bothies - maybe produced by TACit Press in fact. And just to show I'm for real, here are a couple of bothy gridrefs to be going on with: Stinky's Hut NM746935, Achnacaravan NG694346.
Paul Gascoigne, footballer: When Mr Smith brought me to Glasgow Rangers and I lived beside the Cameron House Hotel, there was nothing I liked better of an evening than to sail across to Rowardennan with my darling wife Shezza and stroll up the shoulder of Ben Lomond to watch the sunset. Then we'd hurry down for a swift half of shandy before bed.
Jacqueline Greaves, erstwhile rescue victim and Cairngorm trainspotter: I didn't do it for the money.
TAC 30 Index