TAC 50 Index
The letter in TAC48 from Stuart Benn struck two chords with me. Knowing a Dutch person, I was able to quickly establish that TOEGANGSBEWIJS means, disappointingly, ENTRANCE TICKET. One wonders whether the ticket blew to Carn Ealar from Amsterdam (maybe with a balloon attached), or whether it was placed there.
The car with the FER 51T plate was spotted on 29/8/00 as I started round the Stob Coire Sgriodain / Chno Dearg horseshoe. It was outside a cottage in Fersit (at the end of Loch TRE 1G), and I presume the owner lived there.
This led me to thinking about mountain names as number plates. Ignoring the Ben, Sgurr etc part of the name, and only using 1 as I or 5 as S, I trawled the Munros and came up with: L1 ATH, CHU 1L, D1 AMH, CRE 15E, E1 LDE, MHA 1L, MHA 1M, NEV 15, WYV 15, A55 YNT, BHU 1C, CLA 15E, R1 ACH, C1 CHE, BHR 1C, C1 STE, E1 GHE, F10 NA, F10 NN. Also, with judicious use of the fixing bolt: S1.1OCH. Someone else can look through the Corbetts, Donalds etc. (CAN 15P is neat - Ed.)
Finally, how about the couple living on a certain small island, who could have one plate each: A1 LSA and CRA 1G? The cars wouldn't be a lot of use though. Has anybody seen TAC 1T?
PS - A car here has H19H PK on it.
Ed. - Convenient that TAC 1T should come up, as Roger "Pol Pot" Boswell has noticed something along these lines. "N914 TAC is on a Transit van spotted outside 3 Locheil Road, Inverlochy," he reports. "I knocked on the door and the wifey said, 'Yes, that is our van.' I said: 'I've got a pal whose initials are TAC. He may be interested in buying your registration, can I give him your address?' The wifey said 'OK'."
My letter in TAC44 (p17) related to hills in England and Wales close to 610m but apparently just below this height. One was Illgill Head, pre-viously put forward as probably ranking as a Hewitt. My first visit, reported in TAC44, had been in thick mist.
In July 2000 I returned to Illgill Head and, in good conditions, made some careful observations. Firstly, I am certain that the main summit is higher than the top to the WSW. Secondly, the main summit is not at the stone shelter, but about 100 metres to the south. (Many claimants may never have been to the highest point!) Thirdly, despite a thorough search, I found no trace of the location of the former trig point just to the NW of the west top. But assuming that there was such a point, and that it was 603m, then I am sure that the main summit does not reach the 610m (2000ft) level. (Research has shown that pre-trig era maps often marked spot heights with what we now know as trig symbols, when there was no pillar on the ground. Some of these symbols remain on modern 1:25k sheets, eg on Wetherlam and above Craig Leith in the Ochils - Ed.)
To support the first two obser-vations, I record that from ground level at the stone shelter the west top appeared just above the sea horizon, whereas from ground level at the actual summit it appeared just below that horizon. It was an excellent example of the sensitivity of such observations when one has a clear sea horizon and a nearby top in the right direction and of roughly the same altitude. The difference in heights between the tops must be less than 5.5m, though the exact figure depends on atmospheric conditions.
Finally, both the Illgill Head shelter and the cairn on Grike 12km to the NW were occupied by swarms of wasps. (My visits were remarkably brief!) What do they live on at such altitudes?
The piece by Jon Sparks (TAC49, pp4-5) was thought-provoking, but I think he missed a couple of important points about consumerism: it's a substitute for the real thing and is also aspirational. People sometimes buy gear because they can't go out as often as they would like - nip into the outdoor shop at lunchtime, take the trophy back to the office and imagine you're up in the hills using it. Reports suggest that city gear shops have been booming during the FMD outbreak. The aspiration side comes with the dreams: buying gear suitable for the Eiger for a walk in the Lakes because you'd like to be a mountaineer, and because you don't mind being mistaken for one.
Jon's points about photographs of empty hills that are usually crowded relate to dreams as well, I think. The emptiness is what people imagine they want, even though they know it's unlikely. Many would, I suspect, not cope with it either. People-free hill photos can be compared with those car-free roads in adverts.
Donald Shiach on the funicular (TAC49, pp10-11) doesn't seem to realise that the visitor restrictions on Cairn Gorm were imposed on the Cairngorm Chairlift Company to prevent vastly increased numbers of people damaging the plateau. It is crucial that the visitor management plan is enforced and that no one using the funicular is allowed outside the ski area. The CCC would love to let people go everywhere. And the saddest thing about the funicular isn't the polarisation between the ski industry and lovers of the hills; it's the building of the bloody thing. Personally I would rather have polarisation than compromise. The funicular stinks and always will. Nothing can make such a development right.
I was surprised to read (TAC49, p9) that The West Highland Way by Jacquetta Megarry was not for walkers but West Highland Wayers. Surprise surprise - where's Cilla?!
Why get a been-there-done-that, got the T-shirt person to review this guide? Surely a mortal would have done. The review was picky and shallow, eg I thought the cover was spot-on - the orange glow on Buachaille Etive Mor is wonderful and I have seen it like this many times. (Also, research suggests that yellow or orange covers sell the most books.) Miles, kilometres ... I found the conversion table (did the reviewer read it all?). I am sure my guests would be able to work it out, whether from foreign climes or home-grown. Kilometres, miles ... who cares really?!
Come on - the question is (as with tins of varnish): does it do what it says it does on the cover? In my opinion it does, very well, and is a good buy.
And yes, Jacquetta Megarry does know her target audience. And if anyone thinks they can do better then why do they not? Surely the moral is: you can't please all of the people all of the time, or even some of it. Please can we have some mortals reviewing for us non-superheroes?
Glenardran House, Crianlarich
Ed. - It should be noted that Ms Megarry submitted a right-to-reply letter which was lined up for publication. She then decided to have it out verbally, at some length, with the reviewer at the Angry Roadshow in April. Two bites of the same cake isn't on, so the letter was spiked. A shame, really.
A 43-mile drive from Glenfinnan to Creag Meggie for a decent walk raises the following questions about FMD:
Grahaeme Barrasford Young
Page 3 of TAC49 was obviously written in the earlier stages of the FMD outbreak. Subsequent events have shown that the NTS and SNH were acting in exactly the way suggested by your article in showing leadership in bringing together the voluntary charitable landowners together with representatives of the government agricultural and veterinary advisory services and others such as the NFU and the SLF. Following a series of constructive meetings, this led to the campaign to open up the countryside again in a responsible manner following the appropriate risk assessments.
This whole episode has demonstrated the way in which everyone has been able to work together in a responsible way.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the hillwalking and mountaineering community who generally showed commendable restraint in those early and frustrating stages of the disease where land was closed off on the basis of the best advice at that time. Much of Scotland is now re-open [sic] for business. If circumstances dictate we will not hesitate to act in asking people to keep away from Trust properties, but it is my sincere wish that this will not be the case and that everyone will be able to feel welcome once again.
Trevor A Croft
Director, National Trust for Scotland
Ed. - This was written on 30 March. It took until 15 May - after much lobbying and a reclaim-the-hills ascent - before Ben Lawers and Ben Lomond were "reopened" by the NTS. And even then, deep into May, access remained only partial according to the NTS (not that they publicised this). Also note that on 2 May, after 19 years' service, the other TAC resigned from his high- profile post with the NTS in sudden and rather mysterious circumstances...
TAC 50 Index