The Angry Corrie 47: Oct-Nov 2000

TAC 47 Index

Grid square bashing

RECENT discussion at TAC HQ, along with the merry flow of postings to the relative hills electronic newsgroup (rhb@egroups.com - contact alan@staclee.freeserve.co.uk for details) has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that there is considerable interest in the strange science of trig point bagging. Hardened trig baggers have long been busy in our midst, operating covertly out of bases as far-flung as Guildford (sheet 186, 34 trigs), Oxford (164, 29), Porthmadog (124, 24), Huntington (105, 15) and Coatbridge (64, 76 trigs but declining fast). These people and their allies know a phenomenal amount about the mysteries and often mysterious whereabouts of the fabled four-foot-high pillars.

TAC has already devoted space to trigs - read, for instance, Barbara Jones in TAC32 and Steve Weatherill in TAC34 - but a regular slot seems overdue. So for starters, and by way of showing that trig hunting on the map - let alone on the ground - is by no means easy, here are six examples that even the most keen-eyed cartographer is liable to miss if they so much as blink.

42m, at 324351 on sheets 46, 47 and 48. The boatloads of tourists tend to be too preoccupied with the cave and with Mendelssohn to notice, but Staffa is also home to a cliff-edge trig point, poised above the basalt at the island's southern tip. For years this was a relatively easy trig to map-spot, not least because Staffa is one of those rare locations to feature on three Landranger sheets. Now, though, the dreaded purple plague (see TACs passim, eg TAC38, p9, and p16 here) has overwhelmed the island. Staffa being managed by the National Trust for Scotland has made it look as though a Panamanian-registered iodine tanker has suffered a major spill on the rocks nearby. The whole coastline has been overwhelmed, and to a considerable depth, too: without prior knowledge you would struggle to know there was a 42m trig here.

See also: Ben Lawers, 1214m, at 635414 on sheet 51.

189m, at 392545 on sheet 54. Unearthed - almost literally - by Richard Webb, the Hill of Kirriemuir trig sits near the lip of an old quarry where for some reason the map's layering software has gone into reverse thrust, leaving the wee triangle to peek out partially and pathetically from behind the cliff-edge symbol. Throw in the distraction of a big blue arrow pointing to Kirriemuir's camera obscura, the inevitable splurge of purple and the dot'n'dash splodge that accompanies any track junction, and this is a veritable beggar of a trig to spot. So near to Hugh Munro's family seat, too. Trigura obscura.

See also: Corrie Common (!), 241m, at 206862 on sheet 79.

266m, at 862165 on sheet 55. Landranger 55 is a remarkable - and remarkably underrated - piece of paper. Featuring dozens of interesting and viewsome hills, threaded by lochs and dotted with a complex cluster of islands, it lacks even a single 600m summit despite abutting on to the celebrated sheet 56 (Arrochar, Cruach Ardrain, Ben Lomond et al). Sheet 55 is however home to some fiendishly invisible trigs, lost within Forestry Commission greenery both on paper and on the ground. None more so than this 266m Eleraig beauty, tucked away in an isolated crag symbol less than a kilometre from the Oban-Kilmelford road. Rarely visited by man or beast (but home to 1,762,884 midges).

See also: Corr Bheinn, 353m, at 978083 on sheet 55.

155m, at 825495 on sheet 72. "Here stood Milton Head, the birthplace of Major-General William Roy, 4th May 1726 - 30th June 1790, from whose military map of Scotland made in 1747 - 1755 grew the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain." Thus reads the on-trig plaque explaining possibly the only example of a commemorative/sentimental spot height. All very nice. Once you find it. Sure, the map gives "Birthplace of General Roy (site of)" as a clue, but the trig symbol is camouflaged into oblivion by a guddle of tracks and trees. The General would have had someone court-martialed - or at least cartographically-marshalled - for this.

See also: Hungry Law, 501m, at 746061 on sheet 80.

87m, at 320236 on sheet 104. Possibly the hardest of them all to spot, smothered by the thick red A650 where it crosses a cutting on the Doncaster-Leeds railway near Wrenthorpe, north-west of Wakefield. Whereas the nearby 79m trig at 334225 sits innocently out in the open, its neighbour is as furtive as David Shayler in a snowstorm. Yorkshire trigophile Charles Everett has been there: "In my hunt on a second occasion [TAC's italics] I felt sure it would be among the 'demolished to make way for new houses' category of trigs, but found that it still stood". Unlikely to feature as a route in TGO or Trail, though.

See also: Conveth Mains, 76m, at 726724 on sheet 45.

49m, at 261192 on sheet 110. Trigs near the edges of maps are often remarkably difficult to spot. You would think them easy, but peripheral blindness seems to come into play. Being on the edge of a map and lost amid the post-industrial clutter of railways, factory roads and the Calder and Hebble Navigation makes this one exceptionally well concealed. It's another Everett find. "A stunning location," he comments. Well, in a way, yes.

See also: Collin Hags, 255m, at 297800 on sheet 79.

174m, at 391313 on sheet 54. Dundee Law, as portrayed by the Ordnance Survey, is a prime example of a particularly mindless modern mapping technique: the blue sunburst viewpoint symbol. OS maps are generally great, but why plonk these messy things on summits which any-one capable of telling a map from a mop should, without prompting, be able to identify as excellent viewpoints? Semi-circular symbols are fine for scenic roadside laybys - eg on the Cadha Mor at the north end of the Struie - but they're at best subjectively random and at worst downright annoying on actual hilltops. It's hard to suss out the rationale, but you can almost hear some non-hillgoing mapmaker saying, at the end of a long week, "Duh, there'll be a view from that bump there, must give it a nice symbol". They might even get paid a bonus for slapping them on.

But the real problem is that blue is the colour of both the sunbursts and the far more significant trigs, so there's a danger of the latter being smothered into blue oblivion - as happens here in Dundee. On some hills, Ingleborough, for instance, the trig symbol is layered above the viewpoint and is plainly visible. That's fine, as are hills such as that carrying Crich Stand in Derbyshire, where the sunburst is slightly offset. But the Dundee Law trig might as well toddle off down to Tannadice for all the good it's doing. Any chance of a bit of reductive minimalism from the OS come the Third Series Landrangers? Probably not. A future full of cluttered "lifestyle maps" is more likely, worst luck.

See also: Arthur's Seat, 251m, at 275729 on sheet 66.

TAC 47 Index