The Angry Inbox

Dear TAC

You might think that everything has been said about the November Glenrothes by-election ? and why would it be of interest to TAC readers anyway?

Read this interview with the new MP for Glenrothes, Lindsay Roy: www.

Mr Roy is continuing in the tradition of Labour politicians such as the late John Smith MP and Chris Smith MP:

What do you collect?

I bag munroes.

What is your most unusual hobby?

Cycling to outlying munroes and climbing them in a day.

Given that Mr Roy lives in Fife, perhaps an appropriate parliamentary question might be which ?outlying munroes (sic)? does he cycle to and climb in a day?

Regards, Neil Cuthbert, Edinburgh


Dear TAC,

Following our Elvis to Presley stravaig (TAC69 pp10?12), we were pleased to discover a picture of seven Elvis impersonators on Meall Buidhe (Glen Lyon) in the Munro section of the SMC website www. php?ID=3723 The Elvi were celebrating John Mitchell?s last Munro (he is Munroist no.3738) with a Three Ages of Elvis tribute. John and his chums (largely sporting the now-customary white-flared jumpsuit, shades and comedy wig) certainly cut a dash. One chap is wide of the mark with his headwear tribute, however. It is the Arctic Monkeys who sing Balaclava.

Also, a belated ?Uhuh? in the direction of Davie Balfour, who attempted (and just failed) to do Elvis?Presley on a bike in 24 hours last year ( enough_ for_ Elvis_fund-raiser.html). A decent cover version.

Finally, the good Dr Spedding has hit upon a splendid follow-up to the E2P. The Lennon McCartney will unite the John Lennon memorial in Durness with the Mull of Kintyre, taking in Strathpeffer?s Lonely Heart?s Club Band, Stornoway Fields Forever, Harris(on), Lucy in the Skye with Diamonds, Love Love Meall Dubh, Ringo Steall, I Feel Fyne ? you get the idea.

Those who sponsored us generously on the E2P will be pleased to know that the Lennon McCartney is at least two years away, which gives plenty of time for ?The Fools on the Hill? to plan the route and think up more crap puns.

Regards, David Gray / Nick Spedding, Aberdeen


Dear TAC,

I noticed in TAC74 (p12) that you were asking how many Munros Tom Weir hadn?t climbed. He wrote about this in his last My Month for the Scots Magazine in the May 1999 issue. Under a column headed The Modern Munroist, he said that ?I think it is unlikely that I shall climb the half dozen which stand between me and completion?.

I went to a Tom Weir talk in Gala many years ago and was able to have a few words with him. I was fairly new to hillwalking and asked if he had done all the Munros, unaware at the time of his pedigree in climbing, Himalayas, etc. His curt reply was ?No! ? I want to be the first person not to do them all?. Ouch!

He loved the hills of Scotland, but being a Munroist was obviously not at the top of his list of priorities. His talk was excellent, delivered in his own couthy style, and the slides were superb.

Yours, Walter Baxter, Galashiels


Dear TAC,

Mags and I met up with that infernal Lambeg drum on the Ben (TAC74 p16) on 31 May last year, when we did Tower Ridge. At the very moment I was descending into Tower Gap, my foot flailing for that faraway hold, the drum started up! It was quite an aggressive rhythm, like the drum-roll for the circus high-wire, with a bit of the Reverend Doctor from Ballymena thrown in. And not for nothing is the face below the Great Tower known as Echo Wall.

We were followed up Tower Ridge by a rope of 14 from Keswick MRT, including a lively chap celebrating his 80th birthday. And he wasn?t being dragged up, either.

I once asked Tom Weir about his incompleatness. He said that, after the war, he had become more interested in technical climbing. At the time this seemed a valid explanation, but looking back, it?s inconceivable that a Scotland-based climber wouldn?t suffer enough bad-weather days, or unwillingness-of-companion days, or declining years, to finish them off.

I will defend his multiple ascents of the Buachaille though, as a product of the number of great climbs there. I wonder how many different routes he took to the top, and indeed on how many of those ascents he didn?t visit the summit, stopping at Crowberry Tower or just at the top of his climb. From my time as a climber and on the edge of fell running, I know that the philosophies on repeating are quite opposite. The runner will always want to do their usual route a bit faster; the climber will always want to do something new.

Yours, Andy Heald, Bardowie

Ed. ? When writing the TAC74 note about Weir?s missing Munros I overlooked the man himself having commented on this in TAC33, in 1997. Asked about the then-recent changes to the list of Munros, Weir wrote: ?I speak as one who hasn?t done them all, though I have been standing within a dozen for twenty years. I just happen to like hills at all heights and seasons, being something of an old square who first climbed Ben Lomond aged 16, sixty-seven years ago; I have no desire to be the oldest Munroist in the list.?

Interesting to compare that ?within a dozen? with Walter Baxter?s finding of the ?half dozen? reference in Weir?s final My Month piece. Did he add a Munro or two in the 18 months between the comments? Weir was 84 when the final My Month appeared; he died aged 91 in July 2006.

Next question: which dozen or half-dozen Munros did he not visit?


Dear TAC,

Last year, enjoying a grand day out on Slioch, I managed to lose my beloved laminated copy of OS Outdoor Leisure sheet 8, The Cuillin and Torridon Hills. Annoyed though I was, I thought it would be a matter of popping into the nearest bookshop for another one. Not so. Although I can find a few second-hand copies on Amazon, none are laminated, and I would prefer to buy a new one anyway, if possible. Other online resources either don?t have it, or claim to have it, only to discover that they no longer have any stock. I?ve even had bookshops in New Zealand looking, with the same outcome.

I emailed the OS and got the following reply: ?Ordnance Survey replaced Outdoor Leisure 8 with Explorer 411 and 433 during 2002. There are no plans to bring back Outdoor Leisure 8 nor to reprint the map but you may be able to obtain copies from a second hand map specialist.?

Cynically, I can?t help thinking that the OS think they will make a few more quid by restricting the availability of maps of the more useful areas of the greatest mountains in Europe so that where previously one map would do, the punter now has to fork out for at least four. It isn?t just the availability that has irked me, however ? one of the better features of the OL yellow series was that the map didn?t look like a child?s colouring-book with splotches of various colour to denote ?access? or whatever, and had less in the way of not very useful tourist markings, etc, which tend to get in the way if you are trying to count contours or discern nuances of terrain.

I can?t be the only person frustrated by the withdrawal of this map, can I? Would TAC be able to get the OS to explain rationally why they withdrew it? More to the point, does anyone know where I can get a laminated copy of OL8 before next summer?! By the way, if anyone out there found my copy somewhere in the vicinity of NH014678, please could I have it back?

Yours, Simon Holt, Bristol


Dear TAC,

Readers may be interested in an ongoing access issue in the western fells of the Lake District. Both Wainwright and Bill Birkett describe a route from Lamplugh to Burnbank Fell via a lane running north of Wisenholme Beck. Just before Christmas, I descended that route as part of a circuit from Felldyke. As you leave the open fell (NY101206), the gate to the head of the lane is fastened with barbed wire. There are several notices saying ?Keep Out? and ?No Footpath?. Below the latter, it states ?Piss Off?. This exclamation does not appear to have been added by a frustrated walker as it seems to be in the same paint as ?No Footpath?.

As I was on my way down, I ignored the signs, climbed the gate and followed the clearly defined green road. Where this meets the right of way just outside Lamplugh is another cluster of signs instructing walkers not to use the lane.

The current Explorer Map confirms the green road is not a right of way and neither is it access land. However, I am amazed there is not some tradition of continuous usage and also that anyone would seek to prevent pedestrian passage along a track that can comfortably carry large farm vehicles.

Perhaps some public-spirited reader who lives in the area may know more or may wish to pursue the issue with the National Park Access Officer.

Yours, Andy Hyams, Knayton, N Yorks has recently seen a surprise outbreak of love and peace (sort of) between the Ed and Cameron McNeish, so it?s with goodwill and for general genial amusement that TAC feels compelled to highlight the use, in Mr McNeish?s blog, of the term ?cow-towing?. This follows in the grand tradition of his mangling loan-words (eg ?deja vous?, and treating kudos as plural), and it conjures up a rather sweet image.