ONCE UPON A TIME, a trig point was something our family dog was hoisted on top of for a photo opportunity. Then, in 1989, I decided to visit all the trig points in Surrey. That soon became all the trig points in the south-east of England, then any trig, anywhere. It was on Black Down near the Sussex/Surrey border - incidentally a Marilyn, although I was blissfully ignorant about that - that the infection really caught hold. I noticed the trig's flush bracket and that it had a number. The rest, if not exactly history, could be described as an obsession.
So much so that on a recent visit to relatives in East Anglia, after I had visited trigs along the way and explained about trig bagging, one of the more sane members of the tribe said, with a twinkle in her eye, "Oh Barbara, that's almost sad". And so it is.
Which brings us to the trigfest held in Edinburgh over the weekend of 28-30 March 2003. The term trigfest was coined by TAC's editor - the select group present called it a gathering - and it was the second such event, following Lancaster last autumn.
The first problem was getting the attendees together at the Old Bell pub at noon. David Stearne, our website maestro (see www.nmc-ramblers.org.uk/trig/index.php) and I strolled along from our B&B in Mayfield Gardens - although only after I'd spent a while looking for the B&B on Mayfield Road. Outside the pub we found Graeme Paterson, organiser of this gathering, together with Sue and Trevor Littlewood from Weardale. We were soon joined by Jess and Alan Milligan from Cheshire and by new boy Rob Woodall from Peterborough, fresh from a Marilyn binge in the Borders the previous weekend. But where were David Bratt, our coordinator, his wife Beth and our very active octogenarian member Jim Cain? Delayed by a trig or two on their way up from Cheshire?
At 12:20pm we could wait no longer. Into the pub we went and there were the missing trio, drinks in hand: they had slipped in without us knowing. Jim, incidentally, should really have been in Chipping Camden on his way from Land's End to John o'Groats, but his junior partner had injured a knee before departure day.
Drink, food and trig chat followed. There was talk of non-pillar flush brackets, of BsM types, of duplicate trig numbers - yes, there are a few - of high-fence scaling and of angry and friendly farmers.
After an easy-going business meeting at which important decisions were agreed - eg one trig one entry on the web list even if the trig is known to have had more than one flush bracket number - Graeme led us off on a trig crawl. First stop was Craigentinny golf course for the lowest trig - at 18m - in Edinburgh city. Then to Holyrood Park for the highest, Arthur's Seat, 251m, and a sighting of Dunsapie Tank trig, 91m, behind a new security fence. (As mentioned in TAC49, p7, the Dunsapie trig is an example of the In Pinn rule, whereby any hill-related list - in this case Landranger 66 trigs - tends to include one awkward customer. Dunsapie is even more awkward now, as anthrax-in-the-water paranoia has seen its already-fierce railings adorned with razor wire - see http://groups.msn.com/OSBM/trigpillarsthes3xxxseries.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=326 - Ed.)
Next it was off to Blackford Hill, 164m - and on the way down Graeme showed us a non-pillar flush bracket below one of the observatory domes. The evening was spent back at the Old Bell, where the young waitress new exactly what we were nattering about - not for nothing had she done her Duke of Edinburgh Award.
In the morning Sue and Trevor showed deviant behaviour and headed to the butterfly house. Graeme led the rest of us to Braid Hills, 208m, from where we reviewed much of the previous afternoon's bagging. On the way out to the Hillend ski slope we glimpsed the non-pillar bracket on a water supply works building at Fairmilehead. I left the party here to catch a bus to West Linton for a week among the trigs and Marilyns of the Peebles area. The rest went up Allemuir Hill, 493m, and later to Wester Craiglockhart Hill, 175m, before the trigfest came to a close.
Seven trigs and two non-pillar flush brackets with 11 out of 20 or so fellow travellers attending was deemed a satisfactory set of tallies for the weekend. Besides showing us around Edinburgh, Graeme opened our eyes to variants in the fonts and the size of the arrows on the flush brackets and also to variations in the lettering on the centre cap on top of the pillar. So now we have to look even more carefully, and things are sadder than ever - unless, that is, one likes that sort of thing.
Ed. - The number of trig pillars being vandalised and variously tinkered with seems to be on the increase, and both Graeme Paterson of the trig group and Lorraine Vincent-Piper, the control database manager with the Ordnance Survey, are keen to hear of trig-related problems. Graham is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org, while Lorraine is at email@example.com or by pigeon post at Ordnance Survey, Romsey Road, Southampton SO16 4GU (but note that she's leaving the OS on 19 December and no successor has yet been appointed). Anyone getting in touch should give a six-figure grid reference, including the two-letter prefix, for the pillar concerned.
TAC 59 Index