Thursday, 26 February 2015

Guest Contributor – Richard Moss


I have approached a number of people to write articles, but if readers would like to contribute an article please contact me. The only two stipulations I make are that the article has to be hill related and that I don't end up in court through its publication! Otherwise the choice of subject matter is down to the Guest Contributor.

Guest Contributor – Richard Moss

Richard Moss was a molecular Physicist by profession, on retirement he moved to Cumbria for the orienteering, croquet and fellwalking.  He is the son of Ted Moss; one of the most important of the early hill listers

Ted Moss (1907-1987)

Myyrddyn has asked me to write something about my father who appears in Part 7 of his blog on Welsh Hill Lists. As is often the case there are things he never told me and now it is too late to ask him.

Edward Moss, usually known as Ted, was born in Eccles in 1907. He went to Eccles Grammar School from 1916 to 1918 followed by Manchester Grammar School (Rooke Corbett had been there earlier) leaving in 1925; he was University material, but did not go as family support was not forthcoming. Instead he worked as a lab assistant at Shirley Institute, the textile research centre in Didsbury and went to night school at Manchester Tech eventually getting a degree in Chemistry at London University as an external student in 1932. His mathematics was also good and this seemed to run in the family as his great grandfather had published a book in 1848, “Cotton Manufacturers, Managers and Spinners New Pocket Guide” in which he extolled the use of the metric system.

In the war he was in a reserved occupation researching combat clothing among other things. He rose to head of the Mechanical Finishing Department at Shirley Institute but was made redundant in 1966 after the Conservatives had financed a new building but without making provision for its maintenance. He rejected teaching and without any formal training became a medical statistician in the Industrial Health Department at Manchester University. There he advised the researchers and gave lectures to industrial health officers; he was kept on after reaching 65 for a number of years.

In the late1920’s he walked in the Peak District and with friends started rock climbing learning from books until they met other climbers. He climbed in Scotland and on one occasion above Sligachan he met the ghillie John McKenzie who had been with Collie and after whom Sgurr MhicCoinnich was named. He had several visits to the Alps and among other mountains climbed Mont Blanc, but bad weather denied him the Matterhorn; the alpine ascents were guideless.

In 1930 he was elected to the Rucksack Club and he was devoted to it for the rest of his life. He was Outdoor Organiser for 10 years and I recall helping him compile a league table of meet attenders at the end of each year. I remember going on early meets such as the annual summer climbing meet at Cratcliffe and in particular the dinner meets on Kinder the day after the Rucksack Club Dinner which always started with coffee at Tunstead. In 1953 John Hunt was guest of honour at the dinner and my father pointed him out as he strode past the window. My brother Edward and I sprinted after him to get his autograph. In 1955 Neil Mather came round one evening before leaving for Kangchenjunga and I distinctly remember my younger brother asking for his autograph “in case you don’t come back”. Neil held the altitude record on Kangchenjunga for a day before George Band and Joe Brown summited. Ted’s advice was often sought, for example when Ted Dance was contemplating a continuous Lakes 25’s. His technical expertise was used when he designed a new knot for the Piggott stretcher and he was on the ropes committee of the British Standards Institute. In 1931 he was on an early mountain rescue involving Craig yr Ysfa and was an extra in a film about mountain rescue featuring a supposed accident on Tryfan which was actually filmed on the Carneddau. He was President of the Rucksack Club for 1958 and 1959.

I have been asked if Ted was on the Kinder mass trespass. I don’t think so. The Rucksack Club members in those days were mainly professional gentlemen, some of whom knew landowners. I gathered that outside the grouse shooting season there were understandings with some of them and through them, their gamekeepers. The Club was anxious not to jeopardise existing arrangements. Of course, that did not stop discreet trespassing in other parts and the illicit use of the shooting cabins.

Ted’s interest in lists must have started in the early 1930’s because he added a few 25’s to Corbett’s list in 1933. I assume he met Rooke Corbett, because he was also in the Rucksack Club, but he never mentioned it to me and I was remiss in never asking. Between then and 1951 he was busy ticking not just 2,000’s but also county tops. This was tolerated by his wife Deborah whom he married in 1936; she told me she first called him a bugger half way up Arrowhead ridge on Great Gable, where I believe there’s a big step across a gap. On holiday when my brother and I were young, he would leave the family to peakbag and I remember waiting for him to return on one occasion on a Pennine pass when we were on the way to the NE coast. I recall an Easter when he went to Devon with his bicycle by train to do Yes Tor and High Willhays. During the War the family car, a Morris 8 tourer, was up on bricks and his peak bagging was done by train and bike.

Ted Moss (right) with Keith Treacher at the 1982 Rucksack Club Dinner .  Keith completed Ted's lists and it's more than likely they were discussing 2,000fts.  Keith wrote the biography of  Siegfried Herford, a leading rock climber before the Fist World War

By the time he had completed the 2,000’s of England and Wales, and the County Tops, I was old enough to walk with him and I remember going up Snowdon, Tryfan and the Glyders. He also showed me how to find the top of Kinder Scout; from the Downfall, up the Kinder River, past Kinder Gates, turn off to find the Stockport Water Works rain gauge, resist temptation and use it as an attack point for the top. On a holiday in the Lakes we parked at Gatescarth, walked over Scarth gap, down into Ennerdale and up to Pillar Rock. He led me up the Old West Route and we descended by Slab and Notch, so I had ticked Pillar Rock almost as soon as I started peak bagging. Unfortunately he was then in bed with lumbago; back trouble seems to be a family problem and he can’t have been helped by Digging for Victory in his allotment. This was the last time he rock climbed and his walking was much curtailed after that, though his holidays with Deborah were usually in hilly areas. In 1981 he visited his last 2,000, Twmpa (Lord Hereford’s Knob), from Gospel Pass. As he stated in one of his Rucksack Club articles he then concentrated more on collecting stamps with pictures of mountains on them and also specialised in Gibraltar.

So my brother and I were both brought up to the mountains. We both worked as students at CHA guest houses leading walks, even in the Lakes in winter, with no formal training at all. Ted once came up to Seatoller to support the two of us as we did the Lakeland Seven from there.

His lists and articles together with a brief history of them can be found at

All Those Two-Thousands

By Richard Moss

(based on a 2007 article in the Rucksack Club Journal)

In the 1952 Journal there was an article with this title by my father Edward (Ted) Moss where he gave his thoughts on peak bagging. He had visited all the two-thousands of England and Wales that were on his lists and those of Simpson for the Lake District. It was about this time that I copied these lists into exercise books and started to tick them off. I like to think that my first two-thousand was Kinder on a RC Dinner Meet, but it may have been The Twmpa (Lord Hereford’s Knob) in the Black Mountains; we spent several summer holidays in the Wye Valley.

It seems that peak bagging was an early preoccupation of the Club, judging by J Rooke Corbett’s article in the 1911 Journal, in which he listed the twenty-fives of England and Wales; any point above the 2,500 foot contour line that appeared on a reputable map, such as Bartholomews’ or the Ordnance Survey one inch map was included. In the following year he added a few more and reported a discussion based on Gallt yr Ogof (2,499 feet) as to what could qualify as a twenty-five; the conclusion was that a jump of at least one foot would count as another tick. It was not until the 1929 Journal that Corbett published a revised list and a few more were added by Ted Moss in the 1933 Journal. An opportunity for revising the list had arisen with the publication of the one inch Ordnance Survey map Popular edition, which had a 50 foot contour interval, and all tops with a separate contour ring were included, together with a few special cases. This seems to be the origin of the 50 foot contour ring criterion, and of course it led to anomalies. On the ridge between Great Dodd and Watson's Dodd there is a slight rise with a complete contour ring; it became known as Corbett’s Pancake and it seems a pity that it has not survived in recent lists. Presumably some surveying was done from valleys and certainly it looks a respectable top from near Blencathra Sanitorium.  Corbett’s twenty-fives of England and Wales thus predated The Corbetts of Scotland by nearly twenty years, since the latter were not published (by the SMC) till after his death in 1949. Incidentally I was pleased to learn that not only did I go to one of the schools that Corbett attended in Manchester (as did Ted Moss and Gordon Adshead) but that I also went to the same College.

In the 1930’s activity increased. W.T. Elmslie published a list of the two-thousands of England and Wales in the 1933 Fell and Rock Club Journal using the half-inch Bartholomew map, which had 250 foot contours. He included any point with a height given on the map of over 2,000 feet, which led to the inclusion of Red Tarn on Helvellyn along with some other anomalies. Then in 1937 F.H.F. Simpson published in the Wayfarers’ Journal a list of the 2000's of the Lake District using the one-inch map and a 50 foot contour ring definition. This was soon followed by the Ted Moss lists (using the same definition) for the rest of England (1939 RCJ) and for Wales (1940 RCJ). In those days the OS maps did not include grid references, so the position of a top was recorded as being in a 2 mile by 2 mile square by a lettered and numbered grid as in many road atlases. It was in 1952 that Edward Moss reported that he had visited every summit in England and Wales in the article All Those Two-Thousands, which included some additions to the lists and he noted further additions in the 1954 Journal. Subsequently he listed and visited all the (then) county tops of England and Wales.

He collected the tops during the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s, during which time he was the Club’s Outdoor Organiser (1945-55). Train and bicycle were used for at least some of his trips, particularly during the war, when the family car, a Morris 8 Tourer, was up on bricks. I recall waiting in the car with my brother and mother on the way to a family holiday on the NE coast somewhere in the Pennines while he nipped up some missing peak. Also I remember Easter 1950 at home in Manchester while he was visiting the Dartmoor tops by train and bike.

Many other England and Wales lists have been published since his, starting with the 1973 book by Bridge, who acknowledged his use of the earlier research. Subsequent lists appear to be unaware of the original published lists and this has led to some notable omissions. For example North Star was added recently, but is on Simpson’s 1937 list as Honister Crag. In Wales the Guardian reported in 1988 that a group of pensioners had discovered a new peak in the Berwyns and it now seems that this is called Cadair Berwyn New Top although it is in Corbett’s 1929 list as Cader Berwyn S Top. A few new peaks have been recognized, not because earlier listers were not diligent in there searches, but because of failings in the maps available to them, with crag symbols often obliterating contours. More recent lists have refined the definition of a two-thousand, to a 50 foot drop all round rather than a contour ring. Hi-tech is now being used to determine if a doubtful top qualifies, sometimes with agonizing over whether a drop is 49 feet or 51 feet. It seems that to some the technology is of more importance than visiting a likely spot.

Over the years I added to my own lists the few new peaks reported, including rejects from other lists, and anything that looked interesting on the map. I left Manchester when I was 17 and spent student vacations working in North Wales and the Lake District, so by the time I got stuck working in Hampshire I had completed the Lake District list and the Carneddau, Glyders and Snowdon groups. Progress then slowed considerably, with orienteering becoming a major interest, but with in-laws in North Wales the rest of Wales eventually succumbed. It was not till retirement to Cumbria that I turned my attention to the Pennines and rapid progress soon had me thinking which should be my last top, since it should clearly be a significant one that I had never visited.

I had never been in Manchester for the Marsden to Edale walk, which is permanently on the Club calendar for early January, so early in 2007 I finished on Bleaklow. I was alone and sat with some red wine thinking of my father.

At the Club Centenary Dinner Jim Perrin spoke about how Members went on and on and on. I don’t think he had in mind anything like Kinder to Bleaklow in Over 55 Years, which could well be the subtitle to this article.


Phil Newby said...

Did you know they are available for GPS download or Hill Bagging tick list here...

Myrddyn said...

Thanks Phil, as ever Haroldstreet is leading the way with many historical listings of merit