TAC 33 Index
First news of Peter Lincoln, who is attempting to trump Craig Caldwell and tramp round not just Munros and Corbetts, but Grahams too. All this despite being named after one of the flattest of towns: perhaps he's reacting against his upbringing. Quite how many hills his epic amounts to depends on which brand name you go for, but TAC reckons it's 284 Munros + 219 Corbetts + 224 Grahams: a near-jumbo-sized 727 bag. Perhaps Peter should finish on Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean, 727m high. However, TGO August, p5, reports the target total as 721, so it looks like he's not including the new Munros but is doubling-up on the extra "phoney" Corbett (Buidhe Bheinn). Hopefully he hasn't already trudged so far as to be unable to take in extra hills if desired: it's hardly a walk to repeat once finished - and the SMC may have done more goalpost-moving by then anyway. (If wanting to end with a 721m hill, Peter need look no further than your Ed's beloved Ben Cleuch; he could then come down for a cup of tea and a Tunnocks.) He wasn't physically spotted, rather his spoor was: Roderick Manson climbed 665m Beinn Mheadhoin in July and found a card reading "P Lincoln 2000-feet-plus challenge 1997/98". From what Roderick says, this was a calling-card rather than a Hamish's Mountain Walk type questionnaire. Further reported "sightings" will be of interest.
TAC has long sought correlation between football and hills, and recent World Cup qualifying results seemed, finally, to be producing a tenable thesis. Put simply: countries with mighty summits tend to utterly gub flat countries. We're not talking Switzerland 3 Belgium 1 here. We're talking Iran 17 Maldives 0; or Syria 12 Maldives 0, home and away. (TAC26 quizzers will recall the Maldives having a high point of only 3m, against Iran's 5604m and Syria's 2814m.) The Maldives let in 59 goals in six games, but little better were Macao (174m, Coloane Alto) twice beaten 10-0 by Japan (3776m, Fuji-san). And Indonesia (5030m, Puncak Jaya) putting eight past Cambodia (1813m, Phnum A˘ral) also fitted the thesis.
As did Celtic flattening FC Beatrix of the Netherlands 21-0 in a pre-season friendly. Then the beautiful theory re the beautiful game fell apart badly. Pakistan (led by K2) losing 0-7 to Kyrgyzstan (7439m) was understandable: a clash of giants.
But then table-toppers Nepal lost 0-6 to mid-league Oman (3035m, Jabal ash-Sh...m). Far worse was to follow, with a major shock: Qatar (105m, Qurayn Ab... al-Bawl) versus India (8598m, K...nchenjunga I) ... 6-0! By now, even likely-looking results failed to deliver: Australia 13 Solomon Islands 0 seems good - until it's realised that whilst the Solomons (27556 km2) may "sound" flat, they rise to 2447m at Mount Makarakomburu, whereas Australia (7692300km2) is only 2228m on Mount Kosciusko. Damn.
Then, just to round things off, Dundee Utd, (174m, Law Hill, same as Macao), put seventeen past CE Princepat of Andorra (2942m, Pic Alt de la Coma Pedrosa) over two legs in the UEFA qualifying. And all this without even mentioning the periodic recurrence of the worst of all results: Scotland (1344m) N, England (978m) N+1 (or +2, or +3). Transferring to other sports also fails, eg Sri Lanka (2524m) 952 for 6 wickets versus India. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.
Wearing two hats can prove awkward, especially when someone creeps up behind and nudges one of them out of alignment. Hence the parenthetical sentence in the third para of your Ed's Baggerwatch piece in September's TGO requires a mini-disclaimer. The bit which describes Grahams as "Scottish hills between 2000ft - 2499ft with 150m drop" is okay of course: not just because your Ed wrote it, but because it's true. The same can't be said of the second half: "first published in the pages of TGO". This appeared via some anonymous sub-editorial hand, and is less accurate. TGO, TAC, or any magazine quite naturally blows its own bugle from time to time, with the best of intentions; but it can sound less than harmonious if a bum note is carelessly hit.
So, for the record, here are some facts. The Grahams first appeared in Alan Dawson/Blanco's The Relative Hills of Britain, published by Cicerone in April 1992 (referred to as "Elsies" - LCs or Lesser Corbetts). There were 222 at that stage, the current list having gained two re-mappings, Beinn Talaidh and Ladylea Hill. In November 1992, TGO published a similar-but-different list compiled by Fiona Graham (aka Torbet). Fiona's list (of "hills between 2000 and 2500 feet north of the Highland line") was never meant to be complete or precise. Its 244 summits "having a descent all round of about 150 metres, or being the highest point all round for about two miles" included 55 hills lacking the now-standard Graham criterion of 150m drop, whilst 35 hills with 150m drop were omitted (22 south of the Highlands, 13 more simply missed). Fiona and Alan met and cooperated such that agreement was reached whereby his data was 100% retained (sensible: it was near-definitive even then), whilst the list bore her maiden name. When events turned tragic - Fiona was found murdered in an Inverinate guest house - Alan confirmed the Grahams name, now as a tribute.
All this is very old soil, and wouldn't need re-tilling were there not a (literally) pressing need to clarify matters. Andrew Dempster is in the latter stages of producing a Grahams guidebook, based on Alan's 1995 version of the Grahams list (published by TACit of course). Dempster's book will be reviewed in due course, but it's vital he gets his facts right in terms of accuracy of data and the list's history. There's been a persistent blurring of chronology here, perhaps in part because Alan's and Fiona's lists, although six months apart, both first appeared in 1992. Had the same six-month gap straddled two calendars (say Alan in November 1992 and Fiona in April 1993), things would be far clearer. Confusions also arise because her name applies to his list - not that there was an ounce of bad-feeling or bickering at the time: both were entirely happy with the arrangement. But given the impending guidebook, TAC needs to quash reiterated errors before they become adopted as "truth" - especially when they appear under its Editor's byline! And for those who fear this is inter-magazine or inter-publisher pedantry aimed at boosting sales of TACit's The Grahams and the New Donalds, think again: The Grahams ... has nearly sold out and is being adopted by the SMC anyway - plus its 750-print-run was, as stated on its first page, never intended as anything other than "easily affordable and easily replaceable", ie a method of giving potential users cheap, speedy, and accurate data.
Current worries revolve more around apportioning credit. Having done much undersung, underpaid work on hill-tabulation over the years, Alan is due bon-bons rather than the fudge which persists in being placed on the shelves.
TAC 33 Index