Marhofn 280.16 - May 2014

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Survey summary and commentary

Alan Dawson

After a nine-month gap from July 2012, my surveying resumed in spring 2013 and took off at the end of May, when a knee arthroscopy meant that I went looking for an easy roadside hill to hobble up and survey. This led to the promotion of Lamberton Hill (formerly known as Ayton Hill) near Berwick and renewed enthusiasm, so I ended up surveying 92 summits and 66 cols during the year. That's too many to report in full here, so I have summarised the results of Marilyn, Submarilyn and Hump surveys and only listed the changes arising from Sim surveys rather than all results. Surveys carried out in March and April 2014 are included along with those from 2013.

Marilyn surveys

Section Name Height Drop Grid reference Outcome
4A Cruim Leacainn231.1149.4 NN 1666 8074 Demoted
8B Creag an Dail Bheag863.0211 NO 1573 9815 New
8B Carn Liath861.5 33.1 NO 1648 9762 Superseded
27C Killyleoch Hill239.7151.6 NX 8785 8203 New
28A Lamberton Hill217.0150.5 NT 9444 5865 New
1A Meall Reamhar617.8154 NN 9220 3326 Confirmed
1A Birnam Hill403.8171 NO 0320 4017 Confirmed
1C Creag Mac Ranaich808.6213 NN 5456 2556 Confirmed
2B Meall Garbh1123.0198 NN 6443 4375 Detwinned
2B Meall a'Choire Leith925.5150.5 NN 6124 4388 Confirmed
3B Buachaille Etive Mor1021.4532 NN 2226 5425 Relocated
7A Corwharn609.1152 NO 2886 6510 Confirmed
10A Biod an Fhithich645.9154.1 NG 9508 1473 Confirmed
12A Carn na Coinnich673.3265 NH 3245 5105 Detwinned
17E Corra-bheinn704.9317 NM 5732 3218 Detwinned
17E Beinn Chreagach378.6194 NM 5198 2169 Pinpointed
17E Tom nam Fitheach275.4180 NM 4692 4844 Pinpointed
19C Sgorach Mor602.1429 NS 0968 8499 Detwinned
26B Uamh Bheag665.6325 NN 6911 1185 Detwinned
27C Blackcraig Hill700.9236 NS 6476 0640 Pinpointed
28A Sell Moor Hill423.8152.4 NT 4803 4446 Confirmed
31B Caeliber Isaf353.5169.5 SO 2116 9341 Pinpointed

The newly discovered Marilyns took the total to 1557 at the end of 2013, the highest ever, though this was reduced to 1556 with the demotion of Cruim Leacainn early in 2014 - another hill that was not listed in RHB but added later.

Several of these surveys confirmed that the currently listed summit is higher, though by narrow margins in some cases:

The separation of six metres between Meall Garbh and An Stuc was surprising, and resulted from the OS giving a spot height of 1118m for a lower top on the Meall Garbh summit ridge and no height for the actual summit. The summit of An Stuc was found to be a large rock about 25 metres from the cairn.

The survey results for Carn Liath and Creag an Dail Bheag were reported to the SMC and Ordnance Survey. The response from the SMC was:

"the issue of 'heighting' has become rather a prickly one... many find the chopping and changing of the List a bit unsettling, so my personal view is to leave well alone. Official SMC policy is that if the OS accept a new height then we will change our lists accordingly".

The initial response from the OS was predictably dismissive, but after polite persistence the Customer Services department referred the matter to the OS technical team, who requested further information and then (having been sent a survey report detailing the methodology) offered to process the survey data themselves. The satellite data for this pair of hills has therefore been processed three times, by different software and personnel each time, with the following outcome:

Carn Liath:
861.49m by AD
861.48m by GJ Surveys
861.47m by OS

Creag an Dail Bheag:
863.03m by AD
863.04m by GJ Surveys
863.02m by OS

The impressive consistency of these results helps confirm confidence in the accuracy of the survey process. The OS reported that 'the height accuracy of the survey is in the region of +-0.05m'. They also reported that they will be changing their maps to show Creag an Dail Bheag as 863m and Carn Liath as 861m (861.47m rounded down). This may lead to a change to the official Corbetts listing in due course.

Fort William and Loch Linnhe from Meall Bhanbhaidh (photo: Alan Dawson)

Fort William and Loch Linnhe from Meall Bhanbhaidh (photo: Alan Dawson)

Submarilyn surveys

Section Name Height Drop Grid reference Outcome
3B Stob na Doire1010.5144.0 NN 2075 5327 Unchanged
7B Hill of Goauch337.1148.7 NO 6630 9418 Unchanged
10D Meall Bhanbhaidh326.7147.1 NN 1157 7895 Unchanged
14B An Coileachan923.9148.3 NH 2417 6802 Unchanged
16F Sgorr Tuath587.5149.0 NC 1103 0749 Unchanged
17A Baca Ruadh638.3145.8 NG 4748 5755 Unchanged
17E Creach Bheinn491.6146.7 NM 4194 2912 Unchanged
17E Cruach Torr an Lochain347.7148.9 NM 5640 4027 Unchanged
17E Carn Mor343.1146.3 NM 3990 4886 Unchanged
27C Blacklorg Hill680.9148.0 NS 6538 0423 Unchanged
28B Cramalt Craig830.2147.4 NT 1684 2473 Unchanged

Hill of Goauch near Banchory posed particular problems, with several potential summit locations on a large tree-covered plateau, and a house surrounded by trees at the critical col. Two visits were needed to both summit and col, but the result was conclusive in the end.

The cols for Meall Bhanbhaidh, Cruach Torr an Lochain, Carn Mor and Blacklorg Hill were all difficult to survey owing to trees or extensive tussocks, with margins for error of up to 0.5m, but none of them were within a metre of promotion, so the results are regarded as conclusive.

Hump and Subhump surveys

Section Name Height Drop Grid reference Outcome
1A Milquhanzie Hill351.5124 NN 8944 2495 New
1A Stroness Hill351.4 77 NN 9131 2616 Superseded
2A An Stuc1117.0126 NN 6389 4310 Detwinned
28A Langlaw Hill368.7100.2 NT 1001 3822 Confirmed
28A Knowes Hill373.9100.6 NT 4373 3831 New
28B Lochcraig Head800.8108 NT 1666 1774 Relocated
28B Bodesbeck Law664.2101.3 NT 1699 1040 Reinstated
30E Foel Benddin541.9 98.7 SH 8536 1650 Unchanged

Owing to the closeness of the height difference between Milquhanzie Hill and Stroness Hill, a second survey was carried out the day after the first, which confirmed the result beyond doubt.

Sim surveys and changes

Section Name Height Drop Grid reference Outcome
1A Sron Mhor648.432.4 NN 6419 2724 New
1A Creag Liath598.229.5 NN 9136 3473 Demoted
1B Leacann Amarach753.629.2 NN 6158 1649 Demoted
1C Meall Sgallachd707.028.8 NN 5537 2598 Demoted
1C Meall an Lochain661.730.4 NN 5117 2371 New
17E Cruachan Beag600.934.4 NM 5782 3387 Confirmed
18A Sgurr Dhomhuill Beag677.429.3 NM 7438 7569 Demoted
28B Swatte Fell729.936.3 NT 1184 1138 Relocated
35B Gragareth628.032.8 SD 6888 7931 Relocated

The survey of Cruachan Beag on Mull confirmed that it is over 600m and also higher than nearby Maol Buidhe, which is only 599.7m.

Gragareth is the new county top of Lancashire, as Green Hill is 627.5m. A further 32 marginal Sims were surveyed in 2013 with no change in status: 17 hills were confirmed as Sims, and 15 as Subsims. One of those retaining its status, just, was Sgurr a'Bhasteir on Skye, with 30.06m drop, but it turned out to be 900.1m high, not 898m as mapped. Details of all surveys are available at

As well as the survey results, a few changes to the Sims list were made following further study of large-scale online maps:

Section Name Height Drop Grid ref Status
9B Carn na Criche87631 NH576009 New
10B Sgurr a'Choire-bheithe East Top877c 31 NG900012 New
11A Suie Dhu615c 29 NG999254 Demoted
12B Sgorr na Diollaid Far West Top713c 28 NH264359 Demoted

These changes bring the current number of Sims back down to 2530. The Sims Hall of Fame remains out of reach of most baggers, with no new entrants in 2013, leaving the table like this at the end of 2013:

Ken Whyte2530
Iain Thow2494
Colin Crawford2325
Andy Hyams2198
Rob Woodall2058

In view of the huge effort required to join this select bunch, and in response to comments from keen baggers, I am still resisting lowering the threshold from 2000, but have decided to open up a corridor leading to the Simhof. The initial version of this at the end of 2013 was:

Colin Donnelly1947 Michael Earnshaw1654
Alan Dawson1936 Jim Bloomer1636
Bert Barnett1797 Richard Webb1613
Alan Castle1763 Graham Illing1586
Neil Sandilands1710 Gavin Theobald1586

John Ward became the latest entrant to the Sim corridor early in 2014, with Richard Speirs poised near the corridor entrance. Anyone else with over 1500 Sims in their bag should get in touch if they have not already done so. Or better still, use the website to facilitate recording and retrieval of progress. Annual updates will be published online at

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