Anyway, enough ranting (for now). The main reason for mentioning that adventure was to return to a subject previously discussed in TAC: the status of not-quite-2000ft hills. Four such summits rear above Albion's Plain, of which three give scope for "promotion" to the ranks of the 2000ers. The four - each metricated to 609m (2000ft equates to 609.61m ie 610m) are Renwick Fell aka Thack Moor (Landranger 86/611462), Horse Head Moor (98/893768), Calf Top (98/664856) and Illgill Head (89/169049). These featured in TAC42 (p18), TAC43 (pp18-19), TAC44 (p17) and TAC50 (p17).
The mood in the house appeared to be that Renwick/Thack is definitely 609m, that Horse Head Moor or some bump thereabouts has a reasonable claim on regaining the 610m status formerly accorded its neighbour Birks Fell, and that Calf Top is a jury's-still-out possibility. (Both the Ed and Richard Webb are sure there is marginally higher ground across the fence from the Calf Top trig, but Alan Blanco remained unconvinced after an autumn 1999 visit. What hasn't been mentioned here before however is that a subsequent request to the OS for their most precise trig height produced 609.6m, which even allowing for it having been upwardly rounded converts to at least 1999.8ft, or around 1999ft 91/2in. And at risk of sounding like a dodgy email ad, an extra 21/2 inches can be easily found.)
But back to Illgill Head. Part of the confusion here arises from Wainwright's Southern Fells. On page 7 of the relevant section, entitled "The Summit", the old rascal writes: "[H]eavy sleepers should not so position themselves that they can slide down the gradual decline to the rim of the cliffs, 35 yards from the cairn [...] There is a lower cairn in a rash of stones nearer to Wasdale Head: this may be mistaken in mist for the true summit on the northeast approach."
Anyone arriving at the 89/169049 summit with both a copy of Wainwright and the map in their rucksack (as was the case on the editorial visit) could be forgiven for becoming confused, as the 609m spot is plainly a good deal further from the scree-edge than 35 yards. The answer lies in Wainwright's throwaway line about "a lower cairn", and in the height he gives for the fell: 1983ft. He thought the SW top (which carries a 604m spot - presumably the cairn - and a 603m non-pillar ground survey height on the cliff edge) was the higher bump.
There is no reason to doubt David Purchase's TAC50 observation - he was "certain" that the NE top was the higher - especially as Wainwright makes another summit-location error on Whin Rigg. But the question remains as to the precise height of Illgill Head. Purchase was right to say that "the main summit is not at the stone shelter, but about 100 metres to the south", but what is the height of this latter point, marked by a tiny cairn on a small outcrop? If the mapped 609m height represents the outcrop cairn then Illgill Head is definitely 609m. If it's the traditional summit (not to be confused with the Wainwright summit) then there might be scope for the number to be nudged up to 609.61m and so to 2000ft. It ought to be possible for some GPS fiend to ascertain which of these two adjacent points was "spotted" as 609m by the OS - and, if indeed it was the lower of the two, then levelling between them ought then to be easy given the short distance involved.
An anti-cartographic pedant asks: Does it really matter? Probably not, but it would be nice to know.
Speaking of Mr List, now's the time of year when Alan Blanco sits at his computer eagerly awaiting end-of-season Marilyn tallies from those who have climbed 600+ of the things - information that will form the basis of the next edition of Marhofn. The 88 existing Marilyn Hall of Fame members will know about this already, but anyone who qualifies but who hasn't yet been in touch can mail Blanco at: email@example.com
And finally, mention must be made of Douglas Legg, 64-year-old brother of long-time TAC subscriber Roger Legg. During 1999/2000 Douglas spent 500 days walking round the UK, an expedition forming the basis of No Fixed Abode (Colby Press, 39 Madeira Ave, Bromley, Kent, BR1 4AP, 320pp, ISBN 0 95420 510 3, £12 including postage.) NFA will be reviewed during 2003, but Douglas is already away again, walking round Ireland, raising money for Save the Children. Roger Legg is keeping TAC posted re his brother's progress, and also asks if readers know of any mountaineering asylum seekers. He's working on helping asylum seekers generally (particularly just now trying to raise college fees for a Kosovan student named Eliana Thaci) and would be keen to hear from any TACers interested in such matters. The address is as for Colby Press, above.
TAC 56 Index