The Angry Corrie 23: May-Jul 1995
The An Stuc Controversy
Both Charles Everett and Richard Webb have written to TAC over recent months on what perhaps should be called the An Stuc Controversy. Their basic point is this: look at the SMC-published Munro's Tables, where Section 2 lists Ben Lawers 1214m as having two subsidiary tops, Creag an Fhithich 1047m and An Stuc 1118m. All other summits on the Lawers horseshoe are reckoned to be Munros, not tops. Now look at the latest OS 1:25000 sheet covering Ben Lawers (Sheet 322, or NN64/74). Moving north from Lawers summit, the first col has a height of between 1020m and 1030m, leading to the short rise for Creag an Fhithich. Then comes the Bealach Dubh, the 942m col south of An Stuc, with another of around 991m north of An Stuc. Then comes the rise for the Munro of Meall Garbh. All of which suggests that An Stuc is mistakenly attached to Lawers rather than Garbh - especially since the horizontal distances involved also show it as nearer to Garbh.
The precedence of drop over distance in these matters is indicated by the time-honoured testcase of Tom Dubh, the lonely Braeriach outlier which drops a mere 42m in 5.5km towards Braeriach and, as pointed out in TAC21, is horizontally nearer to six other Munros! Other wrongly-annexed tops include Toman Coinich, the watershed top between Fannaich Munros A'Chailleach and Sgurr Breac - much less of a reascent from Sgurr Breac, yet officially listed as an outlier of A'Chailleach - whilst Creagan a'Choire Etchachan (OS36/43, 012996) shares a higher col with Ben Macdui than with its official summit, Derry Cairngorm (although in this case Derry Cairngorm is nearer in terms of linear distance).
In these two latter cases, there is little in need of correction apart from the wrongful annexation. The An Stuc case is, however, a different matter, since the Munro immediately to the north - the Munro to which it should be attached - is also 1118m, ie the same height as An Stuc itself. Unlike the Corrieyairick Hill / Gairbeinn situation (see TAC20, p2), scouring of various current OS large-scale maps doesn't throw up any differences between the two heights. So we have to rely on pure logic - which states that since An Stuc and Meall Garbh are obviously not precisely the same size, it's 50/50 as to which is fractionally higher. And if Meall Garbh is indeed higher, then An Stuc could legitimately be its top. But if An Stuc is the bigger one, then Meall Garbh should be its top and the Munro would thus shift a kilometre southwestwards along the ridge. Or, of course - and this would be agreed on by most who have ever tackled steepsided An Stuc - both hills should be regarded as separate Munros, with the paltry Creag an Fhithich left as the only subsidiary top on the ridge.
All this is, to a certain extent, cartographical pedantry - but there are a lot of cartographical pedants among the TAC readership. And it's irritating when lists such as Munro's Tables, which are by their very nature pedantic, still don't get it right. Which is why everyone should write off today and order their very own copy of the (hopefully) error-free TACit Tables...!