Friday, 30 January 2015

The History of Welsh Hill Lists

The History of Welsh Hill Lists – Part 7

The Early Years

1940 – Ted Moss

Ted Moss was a Textile Research Chemist during his years of list compilation.  With his 1939 publication the English list was now complete.  Moss then turned his attention to Wales, the result appeared one year later in the 1940 edition of the Rucksack Club Journal.  Entitled The Two-Thousands of Wales, it consisted of five pages and proved to be the first published comprehensive list of the 2000 foot mountains of Wales.  Moss used the same criteria as his 1939, and Simpson’s 1937 English lists, that is, all tops of 2000 feet and over marked by a separate contour ring on the one-inch Ordnance Survey Popular Edition map.  In addition, a few tops not honoured with a separate contour ring but which had distinct rises were also included.  This followed Corbett’s single contour ring criterion of 1929 but with one important difference, Moss followed his own 1939 English list where he divided the mountains into major tops and minor tops.  Of the 237 mountains listed, thirty seven were identified by Moss as minor tops; these were represented in their respective group listing in italics and inlayed from the text margin to separate them within the text from the other 200 major tops.  By doing this Moss harkens back to Munro with his separate mountains and subsidiary tops.

Front cover of the 1940 edition of The Rucksack Club Journal
After a half page introduction the listing starts with the name of mountain group and number of tops within each group, the latter being in brackets, followed by the mountain’s name, height and O.S. reference.  In all seventeen groups are listed, of which the Carnedd Group with twenty nine tops appears first, eight are listed as minor tops.  Making their first appearance in any published hill list are Carnedd y Ddelw, Drosgl, the northern top of Creigiau Gleision and Craiglwyn which is listed as Creigiau Gleision Point S (ii).  Next is the Glyder Group which comprises fourteen mountains, four of which are minor tops.  The Snowdon Group follows with the first list appearance of Foel Gron, Llechog and Gallt y Wenallt, Moss lists all ten tops as major.  Eleven mountains make up the Nantlle Group, of which one is listed as a minor top; Y Garn is listed for the first time.  The Festiniog Group comprises eleven major and three minor tops with new appearances in published form by Ysgawell Wen, its southern top which is listed as Ysgawell Wen Point S, Moel Penamnen, Graig-ddu and Manod Mawr which Moss lists as Clogwyn Candryll.  The first group that Moss opens up is the Arenig Group which he lists as having twenty five tops, only two points in this group had ever appeared in a published list before, one being Arenig Fawr, Moss’s group consists of fourteen major tops and eleven minor, entering a published hill list for the first time are Foel Goch, Carnedd y Filiast, Waun Garnedd y Filiast which Moss lists as Carnedd y Filiast Point N.E., Carnedd Llechwedd Llyfn is listed as Gylchedd, Arenig Fach, a top to the south of Arennig Fawr which is listed as Arenig Fawr Far S. top Point S (i), Moel Llyfnant, Gallt y Daren, Foel Boeth, Dduallt and Rhobell Fawr.  The third page of the article continues with the Rhinog Group comprising eight major and three minor tops, none of which had ever appeared in a published list.  Twenty five tops make up the Berwyn Group, of the sixteen major tops and nine minor tops the following mountains are all new published listings:  Moel Fferna, Cefn Dylif which Moss lists as Blaen Llynor Point N, Tomle, the southern top of Foel Wen which is listed as Foel Wen Point S.E., Mynydd Tarw, Godor, its northern top named Godor Point N.W. and finally Post Gwyn.  The ninth group is the most extensive with nineteen major tops and ten minor tops making up the Aran Group.  Only four of the twenty nine tops had ever been listed in a publication, all of the heather bound Hirnant hills were making their first appearance in a published list, other newcomers include Foel Rhudd, Llechwedd Du named Craig Ty-nant by Moss, Foel Hafod Fynydd listed as Craig Cwm-du, Pen yr Allt Uchaf listed by Moss as Drysgol Point S., Gwaun y Llwyni named Camddwr in the list and lastly Waun Camddwr which Moss lists as Camddwr Point W(ii).  The list continues with nine major tops in the Cader Idris Group, Gau Graig, Tyrau Mawr named Craig Las by Moss and Craig y Llyn all make their first entrance into a published hill list.  The Corris Group consists of what are sometimes referred to nowadays as the Dyfi Hills and Tarrens, Moss lists five major tops and three minor ones, none had entered a hill list publication before.  Moss’s next listing was to the Plynlimon Group, nine tops in all with just one listed as minor, none had appeared in a comprehensive published hill list.  The thirteenth group comprised the wilds of central Wales with both Drygarn Fawr and Gorllwyn receiving their first ever published listing.  Another four listings made up the Radnor Forest Group.  Moss now lists South Wales with thirteen tops within the Fforest Fawr Group; only one point is listed as a minor top and only one point, Fan Brycheiniog which Moss lists as Carmarthen Van had ever appeared in a hill list publication before.  The penultimate listing is to the Brecon Group which comprises eleven major and one minor top, appearing in published format for the first time are Y Gyrn, Fan y Big which is listed as Craig Cwm-oergwm, Craig Gwrelyg listed as Craig Cwareli and the hill often listed as Cefn yr Ystrad which Moss lists as Unnamed Top.  The last group comprises eleven major tops in the Black Mountains, except for Waun Fach and Pen y Gadair Fawr, none had ever been represented in a published hill list.

Double page spread from Ted Moss' 1940 list to The Two-Thousands of Wales
Nothing like this had ever appeared before.  No subsequent Welsh 2000 foot hill list compares with Moss’s comprehensive listing of so many new tops.  Huge tracts of land were opened up, the Rhinogydd group being an example, the mountain range extends for almost twenty miles from Barmouth in the South to the Afon Dwyryd / Vale of Ffestiniog in the North, not a paved road is crossed and it makes up one of the longest and toughest mountain range traverses anywhere in Wales, yet before Moss, no comprehensive published listing of these mountains existed.  No other Welsh 2000 foot hill list can compare in quantity to Moss’s 237 tops, but Moss’s chosen criterion means that many tops are rather inconsequential when found on the ground.  Moss rather humorously sums up the problem when he passes comment on the two Craig Berwyn tops:  “Of which it can only be said that they are not hollows.  Has anyone succeeded in locating both these elusive tops?”

Even though many peaks would disappear from future compilations, Ted Moss’s 1940’s list proved to be the first listing of the 2000 foot mountains of Wales to be published.

After completing Simpson’s list on the 2nd May 1947, Ted Moss became the first known person to complete his list of the 237 Welsh Two-Thousands, when on the 10th August 1950, his notes of the day record, he completed a six hour, ten mile walk incorporating 4000 feet of ascent over eight hills within the Fforest Fawr group.

Ted Moss on Kinder Scout.  Photo: Frank Solari
Ted Moss later completed his 1939 list and thus became the first person to finish the 612 combined 2000 foot mountains of England and Wales (614 when the totals of the two countries are combined, but because of the position of the border as it crosses the Black Mountains, Moss purposely included two mountains in each list), when on the 22nd July 1951 he completed six hills within the Swaledale and Mickle Fell groups, although, as with his Fforest Fawr walk of the previous year, his notes of the day do not confirm his 612th and last mountain.  The mountains visited are known but not in what order, the firm candidate for this honour, though, is Bink Moss.  Wouldn’t it be more than appropriate if this was so?

Ted Moss’s 1940 publication ‘The Two-Thousands of Wales’ is a fitting culmination to the end of the first part of the history of Welsh hill lists.  Already three important designated minimum height criteria had been used and a 100 foot minimum re-ascent value had been attempted.  Yet, what published list compilers had not attempted, but were working toward, was a minimum re-ascent value of 50 feet.  That is, until our next author and publication.  But this is another ten years away, and will be dealt with in the next part of The History of Welsh Hill Lists.

Next installment due on the 30th March 2015

For the Preface please click {here}

For Part 1 please click {here}

For Part 2 please click {here}

For Part 3 please click {here}

For Part 4 please click {here}

For Part 5 please click {here}

For Part 6 please click {here}

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