The Angry Corrie 23: May-Jul 1995
Fed up sitting at home watching in dejected resignation as the sword of Redlands Aggregates descends upon the hapless summit of Roineabhal on Harris? Anxious that the Iain Wilson and the Albion Roadbuilders Countryside Tour might not stop there? Fretful at the prospect of one of your all-time golden greats being turned into Lane 22 of the M25? Well, now you can do something about it. Play Fantasy Superquarry, a game for one to fifty-four million players, and choose the hills you really would like to see the back of. Screech with laughter as some of the most tedious, pointless hills in Britain vanish off the map. Sigh in wistful satisfaction as the OS have to revise another map (I know they won't, but we can always dream). Cackle with delight as clouds of dust rise several feet in the air and obscure every hill south of Birmingham. Wallow in blissful contentment as thirty-second-walk, two-hour-drive "bags" in the slough of Albion (which most of it is, really), vanish into the miasma of history. Consistency, rationality or logic not required. You can give the offending hill the thumbs-down for any number of reasons. For example:
Crowborough (Marilyn section 42)
Sorry, Blanco, but you just cannot take seriously as a Marilyn a "hill" which happens to be home to several thousand denizens of East Sussex. So send in Iain Wilson and the boys, point out to Jeremy Hanley that by redistributing the population he could secure quite a few Tory marginals, note that the materials only have to be moved 40 or 50 miles rather than the usual several hundred - and anyway, who'd miss it? I know it's an easy bag, but it costs a fortune in petrol to get there for a couple of minutes of moderate satisfaction. (A bit like sex - Ed.)
High Spy (Section 34B)
I haven't actually been there, but any hill with a name as corny as this deserves all it gets.
Cruim Leacainn (Section 4A)
I like this hill despite ascending it in horizontal rain and cold (as in very) winds, and not seeing any of the fantastic views logic tells us should be available from the top. However, the OS being what they are, the apparently correct 232m spot height hasn't yet reached OS41, where it's still down in the doldrums at 228m. In order to avoid further embarrassment, why not chop upstart hills like this down to their official size, and use some of the proceeds to top-up summits like Cat Law on OS44 - where the actual 671m summit languishes in the shadow of an official height of 678m?
Meall a'Bhuachaille (Section 8)
Spiritual reasons count as well. This was the walk where I raised my eyes heavenward on sighting stormclouds and fervently prayed "Lord, let there not be rain." My prayers were answered. S/He sent heavy hail instead. You can be too specific sometimes.
Largo Law (Section 26)
Any reason at all will do, no matter now esoteric. Despite three planned trips to ascend this Fife Marilyn, I haven't yet even made it to the bottom. This has put my projected magnum opus on the Marilyns of Fife (aka Michelles) so far onto the backburner that it's now several yards on the other side of the bothy wall. However, given that two of the three trips were to be in association with the third round Scottish Cup tie between East Fife and Ross County (in which a gross injustice was perpetrated upon the mighty Dingwallians in the form of a second half penalty), I've decided to exercise my inalienable right to apply chasmic logic to the situation and blame the hill, which lies only four miles or so from Methil. Iain Wilson, come on down!
Scoring system? Entirely subjective really. If you're happy to see the back of the blasted hill, you win. Game on!
I would like to see extraction of the minute amount of valuable material located right at the core of Ben Ledi. This would involve dismantling the whole mountain and rebuilding it a few hundred yards to the left. The resulting Ben Ledi Ur would provide an added bonus as it would be perfectly visible from my office window, a view which is at present blocked by a tree - and being an environmentalist I would of course not wish needlessly to damage a living wonder of nature. Also, if Ben Ledi were moved to the left then I would be less of a danger to other road users, as I wouldn't have to look so far to see if there was still snow on it. (If the same fate befell the village of Strachur, would this then be renamed Strachurur? - Ed.)
Gulvain is another obvious target. Getting rid of the second summit would obviate the need to carry two maps. It would also be welcomed by those of my acquaintance who, after an early morning start on a supposedly pleasant spring day, recently battled their way in ferocious conditions to the first summit. Having hung onto the trig point for several minutes, they made the Arthurian decision to turn round and go back again without reaching their target. Removal of the north-eastern summit would be a fitting reward.
I think I'll go for Mickle Fell in the Northern Pennines, so I don't have to climb it. About six years ago I found that I'd climbed all but two of the Corbetts in Englandandwales. (There are only 32 - pathetic, isn't it?) In 1993 I dragged myself up The Cheviot, which was unpleasantly glutinous, but at least it's partly Scottish. That just leaves Mickle Fell, but I can't be arsed to go down there and bag it. It's in the middle of a vast featureless bog and the Warcop (good name) artillery range. The only points of interest are old mine workings and unexploded bombs. "Danger Area" and "Shafts (dis)" are plastered over the map.
There are helpful notices saying "Do not touch anything - it may explode and kill you". Access is forbidden except on Mondays. The military and mining companies have evidently done their best to desecrate it. A superquarry would finish it off nicely and save me a lot of bother. (Much as I agree with all of the above, I'm afraid an unprecedented editorial veto is in order here. Superquarrying Mickle Fell would remove the only known cartographical feature named after my good self: a 551m bump at OS91 / 825208. So it stays, okay? - Ed.)
The Ponds (also known as "The Lake District"):
Safety: A few strolls in Lakeland will no longer encourage people to imagine that they are ready for the Cairngorms in winter.
Environment: The environmental impact of a Sellafield meltdown would be much reduced by conversion of the surrounding area to a superquarry.
Transport: It is clear that no parking facilities are available in Lakeland. Cars enter at Kendal, drive around for a bit, and reappear twelve hours later at Penrith. A simple quarry loop road, frequented by slow earth-moving machinery, would allow the same journey to be completed in half the time.
Renewable resource: The entire district has been recorded by Wainwright in tediously minute detail. Should a use ever be found for such an area, it could quickly be reconstructed by any half-way competent landscape gardener. It would, for instance, fit neatly on to Rannoch Moor if there is ever a perceived need for a Miniature Hill-Walking Course.
Pitlochry. With most Highland villages and towns one would be hard put to find quarrel. Some admittedly have their faults; half of them have got a bloody CJ Taylor shop or a lock of Bonnie-Prince-Chairlie's-hair-type museum, but in the main I love them all. Pitlochry, though goes beyond reasonable bounds. How many tartan and craft shops does any one town need? Since when do fish go up ladders? Why is it stowed out with inebriated Welsh Albion Rugby devotees when their team is playing 100 miles away?
But the worst crime of all committed by Pitlochry is of course to have a theatre. In the past TAC has fearlessly exposed the dangers of the theatre. One minute well-meaning intellectuals are exploring existential angst, the next they want Glen Coe bulldozed to make way for a Shakespeare theme park. There's a little theatre on Mull, but only well-meaning amateurs ply its boards in sub-Ayckbournean farce. Pitlochry Theatre on the other hand attracts the highest flying stars of the profession: Una McLean, the Krankies, Peter Morrison - oblivious to Ben Vrackie all of them as they lounge around in cravats.
Oh Mr JC Bamford get your diggers on that A9 to Pitlochry.