Saturday, 30 January 2016

The History of Welsh Hill Lists

The History of Welsh Hill Lists – Part 13

The Early Years

1956 – Arthur St George Walsh

In 1956 a half page article, which was, in fact, a letter to the Editor of the Wayfarers’ Journal, appeared in that publication.  It was entitled ‘The 2000 Footers of England (and Wales)’.  The sender of the letter was Arthur St. George Walsh.

Arthur St George Walsh, photo dated 1980's (photo courtesy of King's School, Chester)

The intervening years between the publication of his 1950 article and this 1956 update had seen Walsh strike up a correspondence with Ted Moss and continue his investigative 50 foot re-ascent work on the ground.  This resulted in “A few corrections have been made, partly through the kindness of friends, notably Mr. E. Moss who has generously added private information to the basically important lists he published in Rucksack Club Journal.”

The revised totals for Wales now stood at 155 definites, an increase of one over his 1950 total.  The doubtfuls had increased from 59, in 1950, to 62, whilst the 92 definitely nots in 1950 had increased to 97.  The overall number of points investigated in Wales was now 314.  When combined with Dartmoor and his Lakes and Pennines areas the revised totals amounted to 373 definites, 139 doubtfuls and 366 definitely nots.  This meant a staggering 878 points had been investigated.

The 2000 footers of England and Wales.  Arthur's article in the 1956 Wayfarers' Journal

In his 1950 Wayfarers’ Journal article Walsh posed a number of questions, two of which were, “Finally, I shall be grateful to anyone who will send me the answers, or any help thereto, to these questions –”.

(1)   “Was Elmslie the first person to do the 2,000 footers of England, and if not, who?”

(2)  “Who was the first to do the 2,000 footers of England (and Wales)?”

At the end of Walsh’s 1956 update he states : “Since my appeal for information as to the first persons to complete these exercises remains unanswered, may I help future researchers by recording that the late W.T. Elmslie finished his (somewhat different) list of 348 for England on 25/11/44”.  Ever the one for detail, Walsh thankfully lets us know that W.T. Elmslie was the first person to complete a list of the English 2,000 footers.  Elmslie, who was a Methodist Minister and a good hill walking friend and colleague of Walsh’s was killed in his London Church by a V2 rocket during the Blitz.  The half page article ends with Walsh telling us about his own completion: “My 512 finished with Snaefell on 31/12/53”.

With this all too brief an update, Arthur St. George Walsh’s participation in published articles concerning his hill list is at an end.  He will be mentioned, along with his hill list, in detail, but this will have to wait another seventeen years.  He, along with Ted Moss, led the way for all Welsh 2,000 foot hill lists that followed.  What is so remarkable about Arthur St. George Walsh is that his meticulous hill list compilation efforts are almost unrecognized.  With his ascent of Snaefell he became only the third person to complete a list to the combined 2,000 foot mountains of England and Wales.  Even this is now under debate, as there is evidence to suggest that Walsh had, in fact, completed the English and Welsh part of his definites sometime in the 1930’s.  If this is true, it would place Arthur St. George Walsh at the head of the list for the first full completion of the combined English and Welsh 2,000 foot mountains, this being based on a methodical and carefully checked list of tops with 50 feet of re-ascent on all sides.

Walsh has been described as a “Kind and cultured gentleman with an extensive knowledge of the hills”. I also suspect he was rather humble.  But perhaps, and hopefully, Arthur St. George Walsh should, and will, take his rightfully earned place where he deserves to be, and that is at the head of a list.

This is the last instalment of The History of Welsh Hill Lists that I have written.  If any future instalment appears notification will be given on the Mapping Mountains site.

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}

For Part 7 please click {here}

For Part 8 please click {here}

For Part 9 please click {here}

For Part 10 please click {here}

For Part 11 please click {here}

For Part 12 please click {here}

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