The Angry Corrie 34: Nov-Dec 97

TAC 34 Index

Give me the whole of England: The Harveys Mountain Chart of England and Wales

(ISBN 1 85137 233 4, #5.95)

Reviewed by Charles Everett

This is a grey relief map like the Scottish Munros and Corbetts chart, with pink triangles representing all 2000ft-plus tops with at least 15 metres (50ft) drop on all sides, drawn from the Nuttalls' books. The first observation is that it would have been helpful if one had had some way of distinguishing the major summits with a 150m drop all round. However, perhaps the most interesting thing for TAC readers (well, a certain type of TAC reader - Ed.) should be the English and Welsh Marilyns under 2000ft, as detailed in Alan Blanco's book The Relative Hills of Britain, and shown as orange circles. This is not specified, other than by the statement on the legend "The other hills ... are all over 150m (492ft)." True, but surely what they meant to say was that the other hills all have at least 150m drop all round between them and another hill. The legend also tells us that "This is a planning chart not a map intended for use in navigation." This is the most telling understatement on the chart and appears to be something they wish to revel in demonstrating.

After quickly scanning the 3000ft tops which are supposed to be outlined in bold pink, and noting the failure to mark Scafell's insignificant north top in bold, my eyes were inexorably drawn to the most recent Marilyns that I had walked up. Corndon Hill and Stiperstones are either side of the Welsh/English border, but looking at the chart brought immediate puzzlement. Heath Mynd, which I knew to be 4-5km south-east of Corndon, is way to the north-east on the chart. There followed a frantic attempt at orientation. What is the scale? Quick hunt. No scale. What?! - a map without a scale! Oh, I almost forgot, it's a chart. 10km grid lines perhaps? No gridlines. The Welsh border, nearby towns, rivers and railway lines also proved unreliable to try and fix what was wrong. I resorted in the end to plotting 10km grid lines along the north and south Wales coasts and drawing them in over a 70km wide band centred on the border. Finally I established the scale as approximately 1:650000, with Corndon Hill and Caeliber Isaf 15km south-west of where they should be. Consequently, the polyp of the border that protrudes into England around them is equally wrongly drawn by 15km.

This was like a red rag to a cartographically pedantic bull, as England now fought a losing battle with Wales in the error tally. While The Wrekin is missing altogether, all the new English Marilyns from Blanco's 1996 update are marked - but all Welsh ones are missing. England has two Marilyns marked but not named, to eight in Wales. Lancashire has Billinge Hill 3km north of the M58 when it should be 3km south. Don't rely, though, on any of the roads or railways. They're all quite bizarre, with the railway north from Hereford and from mid Wales meeting just south of Shrewsbury instead of 25km south at Craven Arms.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of info which the chart shows, and which even I, living in York, had failed to hear about, is the earthquake that shifted the land mass in the Yorkshire Dales and rent asunder one of its famous peaks. When I was last there, Pen-y-ghent 694m and Plover Hill 680m were 2km apart with a col between them at 620m, with the road, railway, and River Ribble gently meandering and trundling happily 3km to the west. Harveys are the first to chart the major earth movement that has left Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill 6km apart with the Ribble flowing proudly in the chasm between them!

If Harveys re-do this chart, and I certainly hope they value their reputation enough to want to, urgently, I'd also like to see the whole of England shown, to cover the further ten Marilyns in the east and south-east that can't be shown on this chart. A reprint would also allow the two 1997 Marilyns to be added.

The shortcomings of this chart prompted me to take a lightning look at the Harveys Munro and Corbett Chart, where a cursory glance at the northern tip found errors immediately. Many list enthusiasts know about Foinaven's resurvey at 914m and the tenuous "does it / doesn't it?" debate over which list it should qualify for. The most interesting issue of the debate, however, hinged on the fact that were it a Munro it would be the most northerly one, as its summit is a few hundred metres north of that of Ben Hope. With this in mind, it was disappointing to immediately see Foinaven considerably south of Ben Hope on the Harveys chart. On further checking, the five nearest Corbetts north and south were also out of position by a few kilometres. With eight new Munros announced this year, Harveys will need to re-do this chart sometime anyway. Let's hope they revamp the whole thing, as even the coastline around the Cape Wrath area on this chart has promontories and headlands where they don't exist or where there should be an island instead. It all seems rather sloppy.

Being a fan of Harveys maps, the inaccuracies on this chart brought a lump to my throat. I want to be as kind as possible lest they burst into tears. I suppose if I was writing a school report, the nicest way to put it would be to say, "Done some excellent work in the past. Could do an awful lot better here."

Ed. - For all the location-failings, I quite like it myself: nice pastel shading, looks soothing on the wall. And a good deal better than the Henderson Munros chart from 1996. Hence Charles' final point feels in need of re-emphasis: Harveys maps give a different take on the landscape than do their OS counterparts, and this doesn't simply manifest itself in terms of the slight difference in scale. I've long been a big fan of the drawing of rocky and grassy ground in different colours, the marking of almost all cairns, the diligent mapping of firebreaks in forests - for an arborophile such as me, this is a godsend, as is the clear distinction between the mapping of these and of forest tracks, unlike on OS Outdoor Leisure and Explorer sheets. Also, Harveys do seem to produce the only genuine mass-market waterproof maps around, no matter what the OS claim. I just wish Harveys would get a move on and produce a sheet of their - and my - local hills, the Ochils.

Late news: a new Harveys chart is due in November, showing Munros, Corbetts, Grahams, and Donalds, all based on the latest SMC changes, and with various other amendments - such as Charles' Foinaven point - taken on board. It's good to see Harveys being speedily responsive and flexible, very willing to pick up on comments and feedback. This is a crucial part of TAC/TACit's ethic too, and always good to see. The new chart is ISBN 1 85 137 289 X, and costs #6.95.

TAC 34 Index