Friday, 30 May 2014

The History of Welsh Hill Lists

The History of Welsh Hill Lists – Part 3

The Early Years

1925 Carr and Lister

Up until 1925 no attempt had been made to write a comprehensive account about a specific British mountain district.  ‘The Mountains of Snowdonia’ remedied this, and weighed in with an all-consuming 400 plus pages.  Scattered throughout with foldout maps and black and white photographs, it was published by John Lane The Bodley Head Limited of London.  The book comprises four parts and appendices.  Part one deal with the historical aspects of Snowdonia; part two the scientific; part three has two chapters on literature; whilst part four concerns itself with sport.  Almost hidden away on page 385 within appendix two is a table to ‘The mountain peaks of Snowdonia – 2000 feet in height and over’. 

The table is split into five groups of which Snowdon is the first, comprising seven peaks; the Glyder group follows with eleven peaks; fifteen peaks make up the Carnedd group; seven the Moel Siabod group; and lastly the Moel Hebog group with nine peaks.  In all forty nine mountains are listed, twenty two of which had never appeared in a comprehensive hill list before, and remarkably all twenty two would, in time, qualify for Nuttall status (refer to 1989 publication).  Even more remarkably, nineteen out of the twenty two would, in time, qualify for Hewitt status (refer to 1992 and 1997 publications).  Welsh luminaries making their first list appearance include Yr Aran, Pen yr Oleu-Wen (Corbett’s listing was for two points on a lower ridge), Creigiau Gleision, Moelwyn Bach, Allt Fawr, Cnicht, Craig Cwm-Silin, Trum y Ddysgl and Mynydd Mawr.  Each mountain in each group is listed in order of altitude, followed by the peak’s name, English signification, height in feet, order in altitude and finally map reference.

The authors of this weighty tome were Herbert R.C. Carr and George A. Lister.  Carr and Lister state that in attempting to compile the list, they met at the outset with the difficulty of defining a mountain peak.  The basis of their chosen criterion was that a peak should only be included, if it rose by more than 100 feet above the lower ground connecting it with any greater height.  They go on to say: “Though we have been forced to admit one or two exceptions”.  Thus, although trying to apply a strict re-ascent rule Carr and Lister became somewhat arbitrary, take Mynydd Perfedd in the Glyder group; - this mountain is included even though the authors knew it had only 55 feet of re-ascent from its connecting col with Carnedd y Filiast.  The authors omit Bera Mawr, Bera Bach, Gyrn Wigau and Drosgl, all within the Carnedd group, as they are merely points on continuously rising ground. 

The outer spine of The Mountains of Snowdonia
As a whole, this book was a huge undertaking, and over three quarters of a century after its publication it can still be used as a source for detailed information.  The one page within the book that concerns this article breaks new ground in attempting to use a re-ascent criterion of 100 feet and lowering the minimum height criterion to one of 2000 feet, which to the present day is generally accepted as the lowest elevation of a mountain in Wales.  It would be another fifteen years before a comprehensive list to the whole of Wales was published using this height criterion.  Before we meet the instigator of this list we first have to acquaint ourselves with J.A.Parker.

Next installment due on the 30th July 2014

For the Preface please click {here}

For Part 1 please click {here}

For Part 2 please click {here}

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