Thursday, 25 September 2014

Starting the Second Half

The three Peak District Nuttalls lie some distance from the main groups of other 2000-foot mountains in England and along with Dartmoor and the Cheviot hills I’ve regarded them somewhat as “outliers”.  I had already ticked the two Bleaklow summits so a walk up Kinder Scout would complete the group.

Kinder Scout is also a TRAIL 100 summit and it would be my 51st tick, marking the start of the second half of this geographically diverse list of mountains.  But the remainder are mostly Scottish summits and the logistics to complete the list are going to have a significant influence on how I approach ticking the 49 outstanding summits.

I had never really looked forward to climbing Kinder Scout with discouragement due to the many tales of interminable bogs on the plateau.  I swore that I would only do it in the winter when the ground had frozen or after a significant dry spell.  But the first couple of weeks of September had been highlighted by the weathermen as particularly dry and with a forecast of light winds, sunshine and only a tiny chance of rain I decided that a quick excursion could be made to bag it.

I parked at the Bowden Bridge car park, underneath a plaque commemorating the Kinder Trespass in 1932 and set off on a relaxed stroll to gain the open moorland at Kinderlow End.  At the Edale Cross I left the main path and headed towards to plateau.

Bowden Bridge car park - memorial plaque

The trig point soon came into view and then the hunt was on for the true summit.  I’m sure that many assume that the trig pillar is the highpoint but a comprehensive survey in 2009 found a number of points in contention for the honour and managed to narrow it down.  I headed northeast to a point marked with some embedded rocks.  Although not the summit, it will become so if there is a change of terrain, not unlikely in this peaty expanse.

Kinder Scout trig point

Further northeast is a cairn with poles placed in it, and this has become known by many as the true summit – but it isn’t !  The actual high point is a peat hag 35 metres further on.  The hag is about a foot high, and measures about 4 feet by 2 feet.  If it ever erodes down to its base, the previous point marked by stones will become the summit of Kinder Scout.

false summit cairn - summit hag in the background!

the true summit

In mist, the plateau is a place to avoid and only exceptional navigation or a GPS would locate the true summit.  Also, the top is surrounded by many bogs, which were luckily fairly dry for me – I’d picked a very good day to tick this hill !

After visiting all of the points that are candidates for the summit, I headed due west to pick up the path skirting the edge of the plateau.  Walking north took me past some good viewpoints for the Mermaid’s Pool and eventually I stopped for lunch at a point overlooking the famous downfall.  Kinder Downfall is well known for its water travelling uphill in high winds, but today’s trickle wasn’t impaired by any such weather.

Kinder Downfall
I came away from Kinder with an better opinion of it than I had before.  It’s a better “mountain” than Bleaklow and the views along its edge make it a good objective for those seeking a summit that is not too challenging.  But despite that, I think that I’ll only come back to climb a frozen Kinder Downfall which has been an ambition for a few years.  There are bigger and better hills on my list that now need my attention !

Friday, 5 September 2014

TRAIL 1000 metre peaks – part 2

Following the publication of a new tick list in the June 2013 issue of TRAIL magazine;


I wrote a blog about its composition and some possible exclusions.

The list was linked to an article of Mike Cawthorne’s walk over the 135 Scottish 1000 metre summits as described in his book “Hell of a  Journey” I managed to separate Mike’s summits from TRAIL’s list, coming to the conclusion that Mike’s list was specific (see my previous blog) and that the TRAIL list has no specific link to it, other than a common “1000 metre” criterion.

Of the 141 summits in TRAIL’s list;
            135 are Scottish
            5 are Welsh
            1 is Irish.

The Welsh summits

The 5 Welsh summits are the four 1000 metre Furths as listed in Munro’s tables plus Glyder Fawr (itself a Furth summit) whose height is listed as 999 metres in the tables but has been resurveyed resulting in a new height given as 1001 metres.

The Irish summits

The exclusion of two Irish summits gives rise to an inconsistency.  If the Welsh summits give any precedent, the list should include the Irish Furth summits of at least 1000 metres.  These are Carrauntoohil, Beenkeragh and Caher.  But only Carrauntoohil is included.  Why?

Both Beenkeragh and Caher have a significant drop so it’s not as if they are insignificant summits.  There are quite a few Scottish summits in the list with less!

I have a theory that Carrauntoohil was included so that the list would be a “British Isles” list and whoever compiled it didn’t think to include the other two Furth summits.  Or maybe their research just wasn’t thorough enough.

The Scottish summits

The Scottish summits that make the list are the 1000 metre Munros as listed in the 1997 edition of Munros tables – except for two!  The two missing peaks are the lower Munros of An Teallach (Sgurr Fiona) and Liathach (Mullach an Rathain).

I’ve always found that TRAIL doesn’t seem to recognise that An Teallach and Liathach, both magnificent mountains in their own right, each contain two Munros.  And I’ve always wondered why.  Is it because they are both generally known as a single entity in the eyes of many?  I can’t think of any other reason.

The complete list

TRAIL’s list was published with no specific prominence criteria which means that it can be considered complete.  But it is inconsistent!

If I ever get around to ticking the 1000 metre Peaks of the British Isles, my list will have 145 summits!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

“Hell of a Journey”

Last year I wrote a blog about TRAIL magazine’s list of 1000 metre peaks in the British Isles and the accompanying article about Mike Cawthorne’s winter traverse of the Scottish 1000 metre peaks.  Mike’s book, “Hell of a Journey” quoted that this walk took in 135 such summits, but he didn’t specifically list them.

I managed to buy a copy of his Boardman Tasker award shortlisted book and as I read it I came to the conclusion that this is as good as any mountaineering book that I have previously read.  The title describes the Mike’s endeavour perfectly and I can thoroughly recommend it, particularly to Munro-baggers, winter-walkers, wild-campers and mountaineers.

But back to the list.

There are 137 Munros that are 1000 meters or higher and I wondered where the other two had gone.

Mike started his walk in November 1997 and the most recent edition of Munro’s tables was published in 1997 which implies that two are missing.  But Sgurr Breac in the Fannichs was the clue as it was detailed in Mike’s text as one of his 135 summits with a height of exactly 1000 metres.  But in the 1997 tables it is listed with a height of 999 metres!

This got me thinking – when was it likely that Mike planned his walk?  I came to the conclusion that he used the 1990 edition of the tables, before the 1997 edition was published.  Would the numbers now tally?

The 1997 update to the tables was a significant one with quite a four “new” 1000 metre summits being classified as Munros and one 1000 metre summit being demoted to a Top.  Some research confirmed that Sgurr Breac was listed in 1990’s tables with a height of 1000 metres; the 1997 update had demoted its height to 999 metres.  All of which explains the number of summits increasing from 135 to 137.

So clarity has resulted – Mike’s round was of the 1000 metre Munros (known as Metros in some hillbagging circles) as listed in the 1990 edition of Munros tables.