"THE BEST SOLUTION for young offenders would be to put them in a remote place with a rucksack on their back and see how they get on with coming back."
- Sheriff Robert McCreadie, at Perth Sheriff Court, 12 September, offering some outdoor advice to Ryan Warden and Jak Wood. The pair had been convicted for assaulting Kinross man Darren Cuthbert, after he had confronted one of them about pissing in his garden.
"THE ORDNANCE SURVEY, which makes a colossal fortune out of the gullibility of Munroists and wannabe Munroists, is cunningly re-measuring every mountain just under 3000 feet to see if they can be persuaded to inflate themselves to just over 3000 feet. If any one of them can, then Scotland has a new Munro and most of the poor wretches on the Munroists list are no longer Munroists because climbing anything less than 3000 feet high is beneath what passes for their dignity. Therefore they will not rest until they have climbed the new Munro, and done whatever it is they need to do to ensure that their name will appear on the next revised list of Munroists, alongside the next revised list of the Munros with its new Munro. And, of course, they will need the new map with the new height of the new Munro, which is how the Ordnance Survey makes its millions."
- Jim Crumley, who is to Munrobaggers what Richard Dawkins is to the God Squad, in barnstorming form in the Courier, 11 September, page 12. Entertaining stuff - it's just a shame that Crumley hasn't quite grasped who is doing the resurveying (it's CMCR, not the OS), and that his knowledge of where the near-miss Munro Beinn Dearg is to be found is somewhat askew. "The tourist industry in Ardgour," he wrote elsewhere in the piece, "braced itself for an Indian summer of mountaineering's equivalent of mad cow disease."
"SO, BEINN DEARG is waiting to hear if it has joined the elite group of mountains known as the Munros. And though the peak above the Corrieshalloch Gorge near Ullapool will not have moved one foot, membership of the club will mean its fame, footfall and parking arrangements are never quite the same again."
- In an otherwise well-argued piece about the merits of lower hills (The Scotsman, 27 August, page 20), Lesley Riddoch also gets her topography in a tangle. What is it about the Torridon Beinn Dearg - does no one know where it is? And isn't just a nanosecond's application of logic needed to twig that the Ullapool Beinn Dearg, being 3556ft above sea level and the highest hill between the Dirrie More and Norway, is likely to have formed part of Hugh Munro's list since the very start? Come on, Les - you've got one of the great radio voices, you're a bit of a babe and you know that TAC's Ed is a big fan, has been for years. But get a grip with the Beinn Deargs!
"I'VE MADE IT, to the summit of Britain's highest mountain, though I still haven't seen that view. Today, we're on our own up here. We weren't passed by any fun-runners, or overtaken by a barrel of beer, but neither were we confronted by wild Highlanders."
- Griff Rhys Jones arriving on top of Ben Nevis with guide Mark Diggins in the third programme in the Mountain series, BBC One, 12 August. Except, Griff, you're not at the summit of the Ben at all: there's a clue not just in the lack of fun-runners but also in the absence of the trig, bivvy shelter and general clutter. It looks uncannily like you're at the 1214m cairn just north of Carn Dearg North-west, where Ledge Route emerges on to the plateau. Fair play for getting there by a rather unpleasant-looking wet-day scramble, but it's 130m lower than, and almost 2km distant from, "the summit of Britain's highest mountain". The equivalent passage in the book of the series says this: "I had gone as high as I could in the country of Great Britain, and it felt excellent." (Mountain: Exploring Britain's High Places, p109.) Note that the series was made by IWC, the parent company of which, RDF Media Group, was at the heart of the recent "Queen in a strop" re-editing story which led to Peter Fincham (BBC One controller and former Cambridge Footlights colleague of Griff Rhys Jones) and Stephen Lambert (chief creative officer, RDF) picking up their P45s.
"FORT WILLIAM, naturally, is as good a base as any for the keen Munro Bagger. From there you can head south to Ben Lomond, where you will be surrounded by a myriad of Munro opportunity!"
- An unnamed copywriter, in a full-page "advertisement feature" entitled "Munro Bagging" on page 87 of the August edition of Scottish Mountaineer, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland magazine. Just one of several curious passages, it appears to have been written by someone in an Indian call centre with only the most rudimentary grasp of what they're on about. ("Most hill walkers climb Munros in order to satisfy their need for climbing, or, as is mostly the case, to tick off the list of Munros they have climbed previously." Eh?)
This would have been embarrassing in an in-flight freebie, but to include it in a £3.50 magazine aimed at the grizzled end of the Scottish hill market is bizarre; the title might as well have been "Munro Bagging - let us patronise you". The other curious thing about the piece is the lack of any indication as to who placed the advert. The similar feature about Shetland a couple of pages later was at least clearly marked "By VisitShetland".
"THE NAME ITSELF is ludicrous, arising as it does from an obscure pun about a minor actress with much hyped mammary glands, and the subject matter even less exciting than the listing of Bolivian railway stations. I am still not convinced."
"Marilyn's [sic] are neither use nor ornament - their definition, based as it is on an imperial measure that was obsolete before the term passed into any form of usage, is an anacronism [sic]. I cant [sic] believe that anyone would actually get a kick out of climbing one of these geomorphological plooks."
- Someone with the ludicrous name Excalibur arguing on the Wikipedia Talk page, 2 and 3 June, that the Marilyns section of the online encyclopaedia should be deleted on grounds of pointlessness; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Marilyn_%28hill%29 Could Excalibur be Jim Crumley in cyber-disguise?
"A BAD PIECE of legislation, a code which is ignored by the more militant (and uninformed) of the public, along with the encouragement of the civil authority and NGO's [sic] is beginning to overwhelm land managers with ever increasing numbers of irresponsible and illegal access taking along with wildlife and stock incidents."
"This is reaching a point here where our business is being destroyed quite rapidly unless some management structures are accepted. It would appear to us that the Council Access Officers and its NGO supporter are happy to run roughshod over us to our cost, mainly for political and power dogma, rather than working constructively to get a reasonable and sensible balance to access and our operations."
"Our regular complaints to them are simply filed. Landowners against whom complaints are made are investigated and coerced. Most have worked very hard to comply with the new regime, but we are reaching a point where we are fed up and can go no further other than to take matters into our own hands to protect our interests. What I can say is that the general public have been generally quite helpful but it is the politically motivated and radical access taker who looks to squeeze out the last drop of new found freedom using the authorities as the tool. I am sorry that landowners and riparian owners do not get the same support which they are actually entitled to and pay for. So much for a democracy."
- Alastair Riddell, de facto boss of the North Chesthill estate - think Carn Mairg and the Invervar gate - in a leaked email, 4 September, to a couple of MSPs and various others following problems with hovercraft users riding up the Tay beyond the tidal limit. The hovercrafteers - http://www.hovercruiser.org.uk/ - do appear to have overstepped the mark (after having been given permission to launch downstream). That said, Riddell's eagerness "to take matters into our own hands" is revealing not so much because of his land-manager status, but because he's a member of the Perth and Kinross Council Outdoor Access Forum (OAF) and as such has a seat at the heart of the (allegedly) democratic process with regard to access provision in Perthshire.
"WELL, WE ARE CLOSING a number across the country, which is very regrettable because we're not in the business of closing hostels, but this is needing to be done to secure the sustainable future of the network as we know it"
- Keith Legge, chief executive of the Scottish Youth Hostels Association, asked by Mhairi Stuart on Radio Scotland's Scotland Live programme, 2 October, about the intention to close seven SYHA hostels: Armadale, Coldingham, Glendevon, Inverey, Killin, Kyleakin and Loch Lochy.
The discussion (full transcript at http://www.yhagroup.org.uk/archives/scotland-today-transcript#more-169) also involved various residents and community council people in Killin, none of whom seemed best pleased about the impending closure of their village's well-used hostel. Legge wasn't asked about how the closures might relate to last year's opening of a £10 million "international gateway" hostel in Edinburgh.
With regard to the SYHA's plight, here are two suggestions: (a) sell one or more of the big urban hostels (which must surely be prime pieces of real estate in the current property climate) and use the income to fund the smaller rural hostels. Or (b), accept that the dynamics and demographics have changed forever, and abandon the up-country sector entirely. Retain the city hostels but sell off all the rural ones to - if possible - independent hostel operators and/or community buyout schemes. This would be a radical and rather sad move, but it might be better in the long run than the current slow death.
"THANKS FOR ALL the comments guys. I can tell you that Julia is a really nice person and I teach her to base jump in a future programme, which should be on in the spring. PS - I am not gay."
- Tim Emmett, ace climber who guided TV's Julia Bradbury up the Old Man of Stoer, responding to questioning of his sexuality by various assuredly 100% hetero climbers on the http://www.ukclimbing.com/ forum, 20 August.
"WHAT IS GREAT about her is her passion and seriousness about climbing. You can really see the Catalan in her. She looks like she's been painted by Picasso."
- Mountaineering historian Audrey Salkeld enthusing about Catalonian climber and "much in-demand model" Araceli Segarra on the website for the ill-fated Triple Echo / BBC extravaganza The Great Washout Climb, http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/greatclimb/sec1_ pg4_6.shtml
TAC 72 Index