Petestack Blog

20 August 2015

Plotting the peaks

Filed under: Running,Walking — admin @ 8:16 pm

Some plotting going on here, but who knows in how many senses? For sure I’ve now got all the Corbett Tops, Grahams and Graham Tops from the latest Database of British and Irish hills plotted on my map, but am I plotting to do them all? Probably not…

It’s only when you see the great hinterland of East-Highland Corbett and Graham Tops stretching from the Monadh Liath to the Angus Glens that you realise just how extensively these things augment the footprint of their parent Munros, Corbetts and/or Grahams. And nowhere is this clearer than the Monadh Liath, where an apparently sparse population of Munros (triangles), Corbetts (five-pointed stars) and the odd peripheral Graham (six-pointed stars) suddenly spawns a family of endless Corbett Tops (diamonds) and Graham Tops (double diamonds) virtually smothering the area between the Loch Laggan road, A9 and Great Glen:

2015-08-20mainpeaks 2015-08-20alltops

So where do I stand on potential completion of this lot to go with my full set of Munros, Munro Tops and ex-Munros/Tops? Let’s take the full Corbetts (of which I’ve currently done about a quarter) as a given and possibly the Grahams (of which I’ve done far fewer) as well. Have to do at least some of the Corbett Tops to restore the original Corbetts with between 450ft and 500ft prominence, but after that it starts getting more difficult. In SMCJ 2010, Robin Campbell writes that:

It has become fashionable now to classify mountains purely in terms of summit height and net drop. […] However, Corbett aside, it has not been been our way.

And continues to argue in favour of drop-and-distance-based ‘separation’ methods as applied by Donald, (originally) Graham and (presumably) Munro. But Corbetts are Corbetts (whether based on the established 500ft drop or, as Campbell now believes Corbett intended, 450ft), so you have to tick those to be a Corbetteer. Likewise the Grahams (if ticking them) at their official 150m drop. But then I’m with Campbell in believing you can’t define worthy peaks by drop alone. Somewhere between the broad brush of those 500ft/450ft/150m drops and the 30m now accepted as defining their respective Tops you’ll find many attractive or interesting peaks that beg to be climbed and many less distinct ones that don’t. So the pragmatic thing is probably to do the Tops that either take your fancy or sit logically in/with rounds of the ‘full’, 150m-prominent peaks (and here it’s so useful to have the lot plotted on the map), though some have gone much further… like Ken Whyte and Iain Thow (both of whom I coincidentally know), who’ve amazingly done all of these and more in completing the Simms!

So why play the ticking game at all when some of the targets may not be that ‘worthy’? No doubt (and here are two good reasons from sound experience) it takes you to places you’d not otherwise have gone and gives you new perspectives on ones you know. On which note I thought I knew the hills after a lifetime spent among them, but really I don’t… ’twas all just vanity, though I’m not yet sure how well I want to know the Monadh Liath! :-/


  1. I couldn’t agree more with the last paragraph. Insight and humility. Could have been written by Shakespeare!

    Comment by Paul Brown — 21 August 2015 @ 10:28 am

  2. Thanks, Paul… no way Shakespeare, but thanks! :-)

    Comment by admin — 21 August 2015 @ 8:31 pm

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