The Angry Corrie 35: Jan-Mar 98

TAC 35 Index


Alan Blanco: If the Editor can have a Baggerwatch column in TGO, he can hardly refuse an occasional Mapwatch piece ...

Now that the OS have stopped publishing 1:10000 maps, there's less scope for discoveries such as the Foinaven find of 1990. But they've been churning out lots of new 40x40 Landrangers in the past year, with the usual mishmash of good and bad. Having finally twigged to the existence of Munros and hillwalkers, they've started adding some names and heights previously missed, such as the An Socachs. They've also corrected various existing spot heights (Sheets 40 and 49 have done particularly well), but as usual it's a half-hearted effort.

Take the 1997 Sheet 56 for example. At last The Cobbler jumps from 881m to 884m, Stob a'Choin from 865m to 869m, and Cruach Ardrain from 1045m to 1046m. Fine, well done. Long overdue, but fine. Even some of the lower hill heights are corrected, eg Beinn Dubh drops from 511m to 508m. But why should Ben Vane, Beinn Luibhean, Beinn Chorranach and Creag Tharsuinn remain wrong? Why not get them all right for a change?

Worse than this is the introduction of a big new error for Beinn Lochain, which is 703m on my 1986 Sheet 56 but 697m on the 1997 edition, which has the 700m contour removed. The summit is still there on the ground; the 1:25000 map clearly shows 697m to be the height of a lower top. So someone has deliberately removed the summit height and inserted a lower one. This suggests undertrained and underpaid staff at work. Or maybe they're just born sloppy and need more spot training. (Or a conspiracy theory: all Beinn (an) Lochains get messed around - Ed.) There are also odd cases of apparently correct summit heights disappearing altogether, eg Beinn an Eoin (Sheet 19).

Numbers aside, the new maps are slowly catching up with the proliferation of forestry extensions (just in time for felling), but I've seen little evidence of new tracks being mapped. Certainly the mega scar up the south ridge of Carn a'Chlamain is absent from the 1997 Sheet 43.

Heaval Upheaval

The most striking changes are in recent maps of the Western Isles (Sheets 8, 13, 14, 18, 22, 31) where the OS has tried to correct previous errors and guesswork in Gaelic hill names. There's clearly been some policy initiative to try and tidy up the mess and bring in more consistency. Lots of -vals become -bhals, and a few extra vowels are thrown in here and there. The only obvious change for big hill baggers is the renaming of Clisham to An Cliseam, but for the connoisseur of lower hills the changes are extensive:

OldNew OldNew
ArnavalAirneabhal HeavalSheabhal
Beinn MheadhonachBeinn Mheadhanach Heishival MorTheiseabhal Mor
Ben CliadBeinn Chliad Husival MorHuiseabhal Mor
Ben CorodaleBeinn Corradail KearnavalCearnabhal
Ben RaahBeinn Ra LeosavalLeosabhal
Ben ScrienBeinn Sciathan MarrivalMaireabhal
Ben TangavalBeinn Tangabhal MealisvalMealaisbhal
Ben TarbertBeinn Tairbeairt MuaithabhalMuaitheabhal
BleavalBleabhal MuldoanichMaol Domhnaich
Cairn GaltarCarn Ghaltair North LeeLi a'Tuath
CaiteshalCaiteseal OrevalOireabhal
Caultrashal MorColtraiseal Mor RoinevalRoineabhal
CeartavalCeartabhal RonevalRoineabhal
ChaipavalCeapabhal Seaforth IslandEilean Shiphoirt
Cipeagil BheagCiopeagal Bheag South LeeLi a'Deas
ClishamAn Cliseam StulavalStulabhal
CracavalCracabhal SuainavalSuaineabhal
Crogary MorCrogearraidh Mor TahavalTahabhal
Crogary na HoeCrogearraidh na Thobha The HoeAn Tobha
EasavalEasabhal Tirga MorTiogra Mor
FeirihisvalFeiriosbhal ToddunTodun
ForsnavalForsnabhal UisenisUisinis
GriomavalGriomabhal Uisgnaval MorUisgneabhal Mor

Most of these changes seem fair enough, though I'm suspicious of seeing North Lee and South Lee disappear, as the new names seem to be dodgy homegrown translations rather than spelling corrections, and they look a bit stupid. I'm also not keen on the new names for Muldoanich and Heaval (I'm not saying they're wrong, I just don't like them). On the other hand, Beinn Corradail looks more plausible and authentic than Ben Corodale, and it's good to see the various Ronevals being sorted with a's and b's. (Should Muldoanich / Maol Domhnaich have special inviolate status due to being, at 153m, the lowest of all Marilyns? Probably not: we might end up with bloody Beinn Nibheis to balance things out - Ed.)

The ironic thing is that changing all these names makes it less likely non-Gaelic speakers (ie the vast majority of Scots, visitors, walkers, and map users) will say them properly. TAC readers may well know that "Feirihisval" should be pronounced "fiery shovel", but this seems unlikely to become common knowledge.

Another problem is that you just can't trust the OS to do anything properly. Stulaval wrongly becomes Stuabhal on both Sheet 13 and 14 (at least they're consistent), whereas Caiteshal stays as it is on Sheet 13 but becomes Caiteseal on Sheet 14. Sorry to ramble on, but it makes you wonder... Is there really any logic in changing Eaval to Eaval (Eabhal) instead of just Eabhal? And why does Hecla become Hecla (Thacia)? (Possible typo for Thacla? Thacia sounds like Ancient Greek - Ed.) At least the heights are mostly okay, though they've tried to catch us out by introducing a new 252m height for Airneabhal while leaving the 257m summit unspotted. Some of us are wise to that old trick by now.

Council Flaps

Back on the mainland, the only new hill I've managed to find recently is a twin peak on Sheet 17 - Cnoc Coir a'Phuill at ND046202 is now twinned with Creag Thoraraidh, recently demoted to 404m but still probably the higher of the pair. Don't all rush up there at once.

Down south, investigation of the big flappy yellow maps shows that Fan Brycheiniog has sprouted a second 802m summit. It's the cairn just north of the trig, so anyone who's been along the ridge will have bagged it anyway. More serious news is that a couple of Welsh Council Tops seem to have moved, if the boundaries on the latest 1:25000 maps are to be believed. The top of Carmarthenshire has sensibly shifted to the summit of Fan Foel (781m), while the highest Torfaen ground set off south from Cefn Coch but didn't quite make it up Coety Mountain, reaching a high point of around 575m on the east shoulder, then veering south before Mynydd Farteg Fawr (hill of the big eggy fart).

It's always seemed to me unlikely that anyone would intend boundaries to follow shoulders rather than summits, but then lots of paths do exactly that, so what do I know? However, if OS boundary cartography is as accurate as its spot heighting, then I'm a bit uneasy about some of the County Tops listed in TACit Tables. Anyone who thinks they know better than TACit or the OS, please get in touch. Maybe I'll take another leaf from Grant Hutchison's evergreen tree and publish official Table updates in a future TAC. However I'm definitely not going to get into Council bottoms. Got to leave some openings for others to pursue.

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