TAC 37 Index
At risk of being Munrocentric, here's an idea for research/feedback. There's a lot of information and publicity concerning peoples' "final" Munro, with Ben More on Mull persistently popular. But what about the far more interesting topic (summitic?) of first Munros? Various hills dominate, through proximity to nearby cities, for Scots Munroists at least. A general trend of Ben Lomond for Glaswegians, Lochnagar for Aberdonians, and Ben Lawers (Hugh Munro's own first) or Schiehallion or Carn Liath for Edinburghers. But many folk must have started more unusually - eg TAC's Perkin Warbeck began as he meant to go on, on Bruach na Frithe. (And a recently discovered Marilyn Hall of Famer started his completed Corbetts with Beinn Damh, a cracker.) So how many Munros haven't ever been a first Munro? It would be good to narrow this down to complete Munroists, and see if there are still many - or any - omissions. Then, once gaps have been discovered, aspiring Munroists could be dragged from the streets, taken to the relevant hills, and made to start there. Tracking down virgin first Munros is like a combination of golf's eclectic round plus the fact of no-one having yet scored 289 in a first-class cricket match. If readers send in word of their first Munros, TAC will keep a process-of-elimination countdown every issue.
Whilst on this subject, now's the time to start noting any errors in the recent Munro's Tables. Such nitbaggery isn't to belittle the book - it's a considerable improvement in many ways - but should help make the next edition that bit better. So, after the manner of Corrections and Clarifications in The Guardian (which your Ed reckons is currently the easiest way to make it into print):
A'Mhaighdean is ranked as Munro 189 on p51, but as Munro 187 on p65. The latter is correct: Ben More on Mull is Munro 189. (Spotted by Iain Lee, Bolton.)
The Monadh Liath Geal Charn (p37) is relocated 100km north of its true position (to just east of Linsidecroy above the Kyle of Sutherland). It's given a grid ref of NH561987, when NN561987 is correct. (David Purchase, Bristol.)
Lost Lost Leader - Iain Cameron of Bristol is puzzled and disappointed that the traditional poem by "D.J.F." has vanished. Its place at the end of the Munros section appears to have been taken by the Furth 3000ers - yet, whilst this is a useful inclusion, it would be nice to have the poem back. Similarly dismaying is the subtle switch of subtitle from "and other Tables of Lesser Heights", to the less judgmental, but deadeningly prosaic "and other Tables of Lower Hills". TACit bookbuyers are however assured that Grant Hutchison's eventual follow-up to Munro's Fables is still almost certain to be called ...and other Fables of Lesser Heights.
Yet more on the mysterious comings and goings of the Maol Chean-dearg cross (TAC36, p17). Graham Bunn of Stockton-on-Tees reports seeing it on the summit on 12/7/88, which further narrows down the initial erection to 15/5/87-12/7/88. (This new date might also be seen to contain a subliminal religious message should Orange eventually put up a phone mast too.) David Shipton of Uppingham saw no cross on 6/8/96, five months before it returned for Innes Thomson's visit, but he did see a huge wild goat not far below the summit, and asks whether this could be the culprit? Maybe - goats are the very devil of course - and it does link neatly with something which TAC was intending to ask anyway. On a recent trip up Ben Vrackie (via the excellent and quiet southern ridge from Badyo), its fabled mega-goats were still in situ - as ever, they had to be fought with to retain control over rucksacks. Anyone who has climbed Vrackie in recent years will most likely have met these goats, which are both annoying and endearing: there's something nice about the way they just live up there, right on top, not bothered, sitting around, chewing high-altitude cud, occasionally rearing up on hind legs to have a training-ground scuffle, and even sometimes carrying on as if trying to outdo the much-hyped pair of homosexual swans. This latter observation - that they're both male - was made by a hill shepherd (although he admittedly hadn't seen them). But someone must know their history: presumably they're farmyard goats escaped or turned loose, but when, and from where? Your Ed climbed Vrackie on 20/12/86 and 3/12/89, and can recall no goats either time. But they were there on 10/10/92, and of course for the 13/3/93 ascent with the Hungarian architecture students (see TAC12, p20). So they've been on top of Vrackie for at least 51/2 years, and have never looked anything other than fully grown (although there's an undated picture of the white one in Roger Smith's 1994 HMSO guidebook, in which it appears younger and smaller). In fact, this recent time, they were starting to look a bit ancient and threadbare, which is perhaps why your Ed felt a wave of empathy rather than enmity. So: does anyone know any more about all this? Can we narrow-down earliest-sighting dates as with the Maol Chean-dearg cross?
In a Guardian preview of the aliens series Invasion: Earth, Eddie Gibb quoted some routine stuff re the Bonnybridge Triangle. (Should your Ed, who lives on the edge of said geometry, ever see anything strange, you'll read of it here first, be assured. Be very assured.) But what was more interesting was the following: "Over the next six weeks [Invasion: Earth] will tell of how an RAF Tornado pilot, scrambled from a Scottish airbase, disobeys orders and shoots down an unidentified craft which buzzed his plane. The army recovers the UFO and its occupant in a remote corner of the Highlands." Now, Invasion: Earth purports to be based on fact - ha! - and if anything like this did ever happen, one or more readers of TAC may have seen or encountered not any craft itself, but a military exclusion zone. So, has anyone been militarily warned off a hill in strange and puzzling circumstances? Such an operation might of course have been smokescreened as a standard aircrash or hillwalking rescue, but doubtless with a much more heavy-duty approach.
While we're at it, has anyone seen or heard anything strange in possible-UFO terms on the hill? Your Ed knows a very credible (as opposed to credulous) couple who spent time watching what appeared to be a large lit-up craft in southern Galloway. And he also once heard a caller to a phone-in tell of having been woken in a high camp on Slieve Donard by a scary-sounding flying/hovering thing.
TAC 37 Index