The Angry Corrie 50: Jun-Jul 2001

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Dodge City: 10 tips for avoiding foot and mouth hassle on the hill

Aiming off
An outflanking manoeuvre handy when approaching a laminated sign reading: "No Access Due To Foot And Mouth" (or a handwritten sign reading: "No Excess Due Two Fot And Moth"). As you near the sign, leave the path in a diagonal direction, spend 15 minutes battling through brambles and a further five minutes crouching in green slime after hearing what you think is a tractor in a neighbouring field. Start again only when sure it was a Boeing 747 bound for Boston. Eventually emerge on open ground some distance above the sign. Your legs are covered in twigs and bits of moss, you have nearly put both eyes out, but your conscience is clear and the hill beckons.
Exposure
The ascent or descent of open ground in full view of farm buildings below. Comes in a variety of grades, with only a few Grade V routes ever having been achieved (none in Wales).
Relief
Once regarded as a method of shading maps, now an expression of one's mood when the sanctuary of a public road is reached at the end of a successful exposed descent.
MAFFnetic variation (also MAFFnetic north)
Similar to aiming off, MAFFnetic variation is the amount you need to twiddle the compass to avoid encountering farmland. Varies greatly between regions, and in certain counties (eg Devon, Cumbria, Perthshire) many walkers adopt the "wheel of fortune" approach and spin the compass dial randomly before stepping off the tarmac, convinced they'll get sworn and scowled at whichever way they go.
Back bearing
A cheeky form of relief. Once "safe" ground such as a road has been reached, the walker pauses, turns his or her back to the nearest Keep Out sign, and bares both buttocks. (Also sometimes known as Lark Descending.)
Triangulation (aka hiding)
In times of FMD paranoia only hills carrying large summit cairns or trig points should be attempt-ed in daylight (note however that nightcreeping is a skill worth honing). Anything smaller than a metre-high pillar leaves the summit dangerously exposed and makes a lunchbreak very unwise.
Tracks evasion
Bulldozed tracks up glens are among the most exposed of all routes, to be avoided if at all possible. Much better to take some contouring sheep track (never mind that this is used by sheep; the aim is not to spread FMD - walkers don't do that - but to avoid being spotted/caught). Also useful is any route which involves sneaking along a riverbed, while in extreme track situations it is prudent to dive headlong into a ditch the instant an approaching quad-bike is heard.
Dung dodging
A standard and sensible anti-FMD procedure, easy enough to perform on the open hill but much harder when some slurry-spraying, don't-give-a-shit John Deere tractor comes rumbling past on the road at the end of the day.
Col cull
An advanced form of tracks evasion, col culling deals with the problem that the most exposed places on any hill are the narrow connecting dips. It is here that a farmer is most likely to spot you, so it's worth eliminating cols from your route even if this means dropping an extra 100m and contouring across hellish slabs where no one has ventured since some orchid-hunting botanist in 1926.
GPS (Goat, Pig and Sheep navigation system)
Central plank of the Comeback Code and most useful of all modern navigation devices. Almost all GPSs allow for the setting of waymarks to plot a safe route through areas of live-stock, while the best models add the option of steering an optimum path to avoid shepherds, NTS wardens and Country-side Alliance rallies as well. GPS works by bouncing signals off orbiting satellites, and it is believed that within two years the Bush/Blair Stars Wars technology will allow infected animals (and straying walkers) to be laser-incinerated from 1000km up.

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