The Grahams in print

Alan Dawson

December 2015

The list of hills now known as Grahams has been published in print on at least ten occasions, by several different publishers:

- Cicerone Press, April 1992
- TGO, November 1992
- Fiona Torbet, 1993
- TACit Press, 1995
- Mainstream, 1997
- Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1997
- TACit Press, 1999
- TACit Press, 2004
- Alan Dawson, 2014
- Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 2015

Each of these is briefly described below.

Cicerone Press, April 1992

The Relative Hills of Britain (RHB) by Alan Dawson was finally published by Cicerone Press in April 1992, after several years of research by the author and extensive preparation by the publisher. This book listed all the hills in Britain and the Isle of Man that have 150 metres drop all round: the Marilyns. The hills now known as Grahams were introduced as Elsies, in this paragraph on page 243:

Lesser Corbetts
It seems strange that with all the attention paid to the 2000-foot summits in England, Wales and Southern Scotland, there is no tradition of climbing all the equivalent summits in the rest of Scotland. Perhaps it has been generally assumed that there are too many of them to make it a feasible proposition. This proves not to be the case. Remarkably, there are almost exactly the same number of Scottish Marilyns (222) between 2000 and 2499 feet as there are Corbetts. This group of hills may be referred to as the Lesser Corbetts, which can be conveniently abbreviated to Elsies. They include some of the finest and most distinctive peaks in the country, such as Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, The Storr and Ben Stack, as well as popular hills like Tinto and Ben Venue. A few of these are described in the Scottish Mountaineering Club guide book The Corbetts and Other Scottish Hills, but many of the others are in remote settings and must have been very rarely visited. Certainly the Elsies will present a worthwhile challenge to Munroists and Corbetteers, and will provide a good incentive to head off into relatively uncharted territory, with few paths and fewer people. A concise list can be easily abstracted from Chapter 4 (610 to 761 metres) though committed Scots will probably ignore those in Regions 29 to 42. Most of the 65 Elsies in England and Wales are well-documented and fairly well-worn but are still capable of providing enjoyable and worthwhile excursions.

TGO, November 1992

The Great Outdoors magazine, commonly known as TGO (published at the time by George Outram and Co Ltd), published a list of hills that it called Grahams, which was the maiden name of the list compiler, Fiona Torbet. She is referred to as Fiona Graham in the magazine. Although ostensibly covering the same area and height range as the Elsies, there were several important differences. The most significant of these were:

Fiona Torbet, 1993

Following publication of her list of hills in TGO, Alan Dawson contacted Fiona Torbet and suggested that the two of them work together to try to reach agreement on a single set of hills, in order to avoid there being two lists with similar criteria, which would cause confusion.

After several phone calls and meetings and the exchange of letters and interim lists, Alan Dawson and Fiona Torbet did reach agreement on a joint set of hills meeting specific criteria, and a verbal agreement was made to call that set the Grahams. Fiona Graham revised her list extensively and Alan Dawson kept his list more or less as it was. The one important change was the inclusion of Beinn Talaidh, which was listed as a 763m Marilyn in RHB, but Fiona Torbet had carried out research to indicate that the hill was under 762m high. It was agreed that the names of four hills in Dawson's list should be changed, along with the names of several hills in Torbet's list. There was no agreement on the structure of the list, where it was agreed to differ.

Fiona Torbet produced a revised and final version of her list in the spring of 1993 and sent a copy of it to about 50 people. Her brief introduction to this list was as follows:

'Revised list of all Scottish hills with a descent of 150 metres all round, removing other criteria, and between 609.6 and 762 metres in height. This list is copyright © Fiona Torbet 1993 and is not to be reproduced without permission.'

This list does not have the status of a publication but forms an important part of the history of the Grahams. It was still ordered by OS Landranger map number and has some differences in structure from Dawson's version of the list, but the hills included were almost identical to those already published in RHB.

Following the death of Fiona Torbet in July 1993, Alan Dawson continued to use the name Grahams for his version of the list in order to honour the verbal agreement he had made, and also in rememberance of a woman who had been looking forward to climbing more of the hills in the list she had spent a lot of time researching and revising. Fiona Torbet's version of the list was no longer maintained or distributed after her death.

TACit Press, 1995

In May 1995, Alan Dawson's revised set of Grahams was first published as a separate list in a 24-page booklet called The Grahams and the New Donalds. Owing to an error by the publisher, the name of the author was omitted from the front cover, although it was included on the inside cover along with the copyright symbol. One hill (Ladylea Hill) was added to the 1993 list, taking the number of Grahams to 224. The total remained at 224 until 2014.

Mainstream, 1997

The first guidebook to the Grahams was published by Mainstream in 1997: 'The Grahams: A Guide to Scotland's 2000ft Peaks', by Andrew Dempster. It included acknowledgements to Alan Dawson, the late Fiona Graham and TACit Press.

The names of 222 of the hills were the same as those published by TACit Press, with just two names different: Geallaig Hill was changed to Geallaig, and the Pap of Glencoe was changed to Sgorr na Ciche or Pap of Glencoe (though the author stated it was usually known as the Pap of Glencoe). Heights of hills were copied correctly from the TACit Press booklet, which the author explicitly acknowledged. Six-figure grid references were included but the two-letter component was omitted. There was an index of hill names in alphabetical order but no complete list of the Grahams and its structure.

Several section numbers were changed in the book and a Section 0 was introduced, replacing Sections 27 and 28, so that sections ran from 0 to 17 rather than from 1 to 28 as in the TACit Press booklet. The author justified this by stating:

'The geographical divisions used in this book are identical to those used in the SMC guides to the Munros and Corbetts. The obvious reason for this is to minimise confusion and create some continuity between this guide and the SMC guides.'

At this stage the Grahams had never appeared in an SMC publication so the question of continuity with them was irrelevant at the time.

The author did not seek permission to use any of the data published by TACit Press or to change the structure of the Grahams. This caused friction: at one point the publisher of TACit Press wrote a 3000-word letter to the author covering various issues of ethics, courtesy and copyright. Had the author contacted TACit Press before his publication was well advanced, he would have been given permission to use the hill data - names, heights, grid references, sections - but not to change it, unless by prior agreement with TACit Press.

Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1997

During 1996 some members of the Scottish Mountaineering Club were busy preparing the next edition of Munro's Tables. A decision was made by the SMC that the list of Grahams should be included in the Munro's Tables publication. Accordingly, in April 1997 Derek Bearhop of the SMC wrote to TACit Press enquiring whether this would be possible. Consent was granted and agreement was soon reached. The differences between the SMC and the Mainstream approach were clear. Close co-operation between the SMC, TACit Press and Alan Dawson meant that the details were handled quickly and smoothly. There were no formal contracts or legalities, as everything proceeded on the basis of trust, courtesy, attention to detail and professionalism.

When the Munro's Tables book was published later in 1997, its list of Grahams was almost identical to that previously published by TACit Press. The eight sections required to extend the Grahams beyond the 17 sections covered by the Munros were included. While Dempster had thought it desirable to change section numbers for the Grahams for continuity with SMC section numbers, the SMC themselves did not, though they did change four section numbers so that sections ran from 1 to 25. No changes at all were made to the names, heights or grid references of the hills. The SMC acknowledged that the content belonged to Alan Dawson with a clear copyright statement on the inside front cover, as well as including his name on the front cover as one of the main contributors.

Soon after the book was finalised the SMT publications manager, Donald Bennet, made a payment to Alan Dawson for the reproduction of his content, which comprised details of 224 hills and accompanying notes. This sum was based on the standard formula in use by the SMC at the time. There was no discussion or negotiation about this, it was simply a recognition of the value of the material to the SMC, even though less than 10% of the Munro's Tables book concerned the Grahams.

TACit Press, 1999

The second edition of 'The Grahams and the New Donalds' was published by TACit Press in February 1999. This was a much more complete work than the first edition. An extensive Notes section included details of changes from the first edition, details of alternative names and summit names (as distinct from hill names), reference for the first time to twin summits, and an explanation of hill names used but not shown on OS maps. References to the work of William Docharty were included. There were also notes about five hills that had not been included by Docharty in his 1962 hill listing: Ben Aslak, Biod an Fhithich, Corwharn, Creag Dhubh Mor, Ladylea Hill.

Details of twin summits and summit names were included in the Notes section rather than in the main listing in order to keep the list of hill names as clear and consistent as possible. There were a few changes to hill names, to reflect the latest Ordnance Survey mapping, and several changes to Drop figures, but the list of 224 hills and its structure was almost identical to the first edition.

TACit Press, 2004

In March 2004 the list of Grahams was published by TACit Press for the third and final time, in 'Graham Tops and Grahamists' by Alan Dawson, E.D. 'Clem' Clements and James Gordon. The Grahams list was supplemented by details of numerous other hills classified as Graham Tops. Two of the name changes agreed with Fiona Torbet in 1993 were reversed after further research in order to accommodate Graham Tops. Some changes to the structure of the list were introduced: the Feet column was dropped, the Explorer Map column was added, and the content of the Drop column was simplified.

An extensive Notes section included mention of two more twin summits, those for Carn na Coinnich and Beinn Tharsuinn. As before, summit names and the names of twin summits were recorded in the Notes section but did not form part of the name of any of the hills listed in the main tables. A section on Docharties and Grahams (by Dave Hewitt) was included, along with a list of 23 known Grahamists.

Alan Dawson, 2014

Like Fiona Torbet's 1993 version, this list does not have the status of a publication, but forms an important part of the history of the Grahams.

In 2006 the publications subcommittee of the Scottish Mountaineering Club approved the idea that the SMC should publish a guidebook to the Grahams and Donalds. A request was therefore made to Alan Dawson for permission to reproduce the list of Grahams in this book:

'I would like to ask whether you would wish to be involved by allowing us to reproduce the list that you compiled for our Munros Tables book....'

An initial sum was offered for the content, but as this was less than half the sum paid by the SMC for permission to reproduce the same content back in 1997, the offer was rejected and no agreement was reached for some years. Work on the guidebook continued anyway, but it was not until 2014 that agreement was finally reached, following encouragement by Noel Williams of the SMC and renewed attempts to resolve the matter.

In 2012 Alan Dawson had purchased state-of-the-art Leica GPS equipment for measuring the heights of hill summits and cols. Using this equipment and associated software, together with data from the OSNet network of base stations, it became possible to obtain heights accurate to within 5-10cm; some 30-60 times the level of accuracy available from the photogrammetry used for most spot heights on Ordnance Survey maps. At last it became possible to obtain precise data for the height and drop of Marilyns and other hills. An extensive programme of hill surveying began. Some of the Marilyns surveyed were also Grahams, so for the first time in nineteen years, changes were made to the list of Grahams.

Once agreement was reached with the SMC for reproduction of the list of Grahams in its guidebook, Alan Dawson naturally wanted the list published to be correct. He therefore gave priority to surveying some marginal or uncertain Grahams to ensure that the list of Grahams to be submitted to the SMC was as accurate as possible. Meall nan Gabhar was surveyed on 13 October 2014 and Ladylea Hill on 15 October, both specifically for the SMC guidebook. Once the data was processed, Ladylea Hill was found to be only 609m high and so was removed the Grahams list. The current list of 221 Grahams was extracted from the master database and sent to the SMC on 23 October 2014. It was laid out in a format suitable for publication, with the author's name and copyright symbol followed by the list of Grahams ordered by section, in a similar format to that used by the SMC in 1997.

Soon after this list was submitted, two name queries were raised by the SMC, with the suggestion that the names of two hills should be changed. After assessing the evidence available, Alan Dawson agreed that the name of Meall Dubh near Ullapool should be changed to Beinn Bhreac in the list of Grahams. After researching historical OS maps, the other name suggestion was not accepted and the name Creag Ruadh was retained for the 622m hill near Kinloch Laggan. There were no further queries and no further communications.

Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 2015

As the guidebook to the Grahams and Donalds neared completion during 2014, the Scottish Mountaineering Club announced the forthcoming book on its website as follows:

'Expected 2014 Donalds are all the hills in Scotland whose summits are between 2000 and 2500 feet above sea level, and Grahams are those Donalds that also have a 500 foot drop all around the summit. These subtle hills also make excellent outings, and this book will describe access and routes, taking you to parts of Scotland that you may not yet have thought to go." ('

By the time the book The GrahamS and The DonaldS was published in 2015, the SMC had changed the description on its website. It also changed the Grahams list that it had been given permission to reproduce. The differences were substantial. The changes were made without the knowledge or permission of the list compiler, maintainer and copyright holder. The main differences between the details of 221 Grahams submitted to the SMC in 2014 and that published in its guidebook (pages 319-329) are summarised below.

1. The organisation of the list was changed significantly. Hills in sections 18 to 28 of the Grahams list were moved elsewhere - some into a new section 0, some into section 10, and some into section 17. Other sections were combined into one, e.g. sections 5, 6 and 7 were combined. As section numbers were omitted from the listing, this meant that it was not possible to tell which hill was in which section. This introduced inconsistency between the SMC book and the Grahams list, and also inconsistency between the SMC's own books, as the sections used for the Grahams differed from those in Munro's Tables.

2. Eight hills that were not Grahams were included in the list on pages 319-323, although only four of these were included in the alphabetical version of the list on pages 328-329. One current Graham was omitted from both lists. The version published by the SMC on pages 319-323 included 228 hills, while the version on pages 328-329 included 224 hills, while the 'Index of Grahams' on pages 332-333 named 237 hills.

3. The SMC asserted (page 318) that the version of the Grahams list used in the book was from 1992. This was evidently not the case. Five of the eight hills added to the list on pages 319-323 were not included in the 1992 or 1993 versions of the list. The basis for the SMC version of the Grahams appears to be those published by TACit Press (1995, 1999, 2004) and that in Munro's Tables (1997), as the quoted total of 224 Grahams matches these publications. However, the SMC's 2015 guidebook introduced several differences from all of these.

4. Eighteen of the names of Grahams were changed in the SMC book. The changes took various forms:

Presumably the SMC felt the need to add geographical locations to some common hill names, as they had omitted the section numbers from the listings. An important function of section numbers in previous publications of the Grahams was to avoid the need for such geographical qualifiers in hill names, as the section numbers conveyed concise location information.

5. Accents were added to several of the Gaelic names in the SMC book. These are not part of the Graham names and never have been in any previous versions. There are good reasons for this.

6. Eight-figure grid references were included in the listing. While this might seem to be useful, these were not part of the data set submitted to the SMC and had not been validated by the relevant authority, unless they had been researched as part of a ground survey, in which case they were included.

7. The heights of several hills were changed. Heights quoted in the SMC book are not the correct ones from the 2014 list but neither are they from 1992 or 1995 or 1999. They are an unclear mixture from various versions and various scales of OS map.

8. The drop column was omitted from the listings. Unlike the Munros, the Grahams are a prominence-based list, so the drop figure is an important part of the listing as it allows walkers to see at a glance the relative height of each hill, a useful measure of its topographical significance. The drop figure was not included in the 1992 version of the list (a notable omission by the author), but was included in every version from 1995 onwards.

9. A numbering system was invented and added to the listing. Such a numbering system had never been part of the Grahams list.

10. Four of the hills listed in the Grahams table on pages 319 to 323 have never been included in any version of the Grahams: Meall nan Damh, Sidhean a'Choin Bhain, Cruachan Dearg and Uamh Bheag East Top. Some of these summits have at times been given the status of twin peaks but they have never been classed as Grahams. The SMC guidebook gives these hills equal status to the nearby Graham. This is misleading. In all versions of the Grahams list, the hill judged by the list author to be the most likely to be higher has always been regarded as the official Graham, has always been the one published in the official listing and has always been assigned a much higher drop figure than the alternative summit or twin peak. This is clear in the three TACit Press publications. In 2014 all of these hills were surveyed by the author and it was established beyond doubt that in every case the original judgement had been correct. Each of the former twin peaks or alternative summits was proved to be lower than the Graham. There are no twin peaks in the current list of Grahams.

Comments on The GrahamS and The DonaldS guidebook

The list of hills now known as Grahams was devised, researched and compiled by Alan Dawson in the late 1980s. It has been regularly checked since then and updated as necessary.

It is apparent from their guidebook that the SMC used a combination of various 1990s versions of the Grahams list (for reasons unclear) together with elements from the list submitted to them in 2014. The list published in the SMC guidebook is therefore not a list of Grahams at all but the SMC's own out of date and less-accurate list based on the concept of the Grahams.

The official list of Grahams is still owned and maintained by Alan Dawson, as stated on page 318 of the SMC book. The SMC list contains different hills with different names, in different sections and with different grid references. In practice the SMC appears to have treated the Grahams as though it were their own list. The book does not include the correct Grahams list, and is misleading for readers. The book has introduced confusion and inconsistency into the list of hills. This is precisely the sort of confusion that Alan Dawson and Fiona Torbet worked hard together to avoid in 1992 and 1993.

Updates to printed publications

As well as the publications described above that have included the list of Grahams in its entirety, updates and minor changes to the list were included in a series of ten update sheets to The Relative Hills of Britain book, published between 1995 and 2014. The purpose of these updates was to keep the list of Marilyns (including the Grahams) as accurate and up to date as possible and to keep all those interested fully informed about any changes to the names, heights and status of hills. In practice there were few changes to the Grahams in the period between the first TACit Press publication in 1995 and the surveys of Grahams in 2014 and 2015. Details of changes were also included in Marhofn magazine, published annually from 1999 to 2016.