Marhofn 106.06 - May 2004

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The case of the phantom wood

Eddie Dealtry

Follow me from Deuchary Hill to Creag nam Mial. Please bring Landranger 52, 1992-94 edition, leaving the 1989 edition behind. On our map, a boundary to a wood runs from Capel Hill almost to Creag nam Mial. Make your way north along the track for Capel Hill. Before you reach the ancient pines on Capel Hill, leave the track right to circumvent the drumlin and attempt to find the wood boundary. Shortly after floundering through into bog and heather you see a clump of trees a long way off. If you get out your compass, you will now turn right and follow the brand new fence, over the intervening double-topped hill, on a bearing for Creag nam Mial. In fact, the fence takes you all the way. If you're too lazy to lift your compass, you head for the clump of trees, believing them to be the edge of the wood on the map, and the 500m hill beyond to be Creag nam Mial. When you spot the bothy, if you're blessed with intelligence, you identify the bothy on the map as that alongside the track recently departed, determine that no wood exists, and take the second opportunity to turn right. A closer relative to the amoeba sees a brand new bothy and is further delighted when, converging from the left, a track appears. Standing in the middle of the track, looking up and down, wondering whence and where to, realisation dawns. The shame is awful. No 'mixed' wood exists as shown south-west of Creag nam Mial on Landranger 52 (1992-94 version). Except for the sparse clump of trees, shown accurately on the 1989 map, all is lank heather and bog.

We're just a few miles north of Birnam Hill. I can't believe some comedian at the OS moves a wood around map 52. There is a certain irony here, for someone who once thrashed through heather and bog to encounter the metalled cycle route on the top of Corse Hill and swore an oath to never again navigate with an out-of-date map.

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