Imagine, for a moment, that you're sat in the little shelter on top of Moel Fan y Sgurrcrag Fell (South Top) with your egg and tomato butty in hand when a straggly, wild-eyed figure charges out of the mist, touches the trig and exclaims, with a fist thrust victoriously skywards, “Yes! Thirty-three!” And without pausing long enough strip the wrapping off a mars bar, he's disappeared once more into the drifting clag.
You have just witnessed a peak bagger's thirty-third Nuttall tick of his annual two weeks holiday. Meanwhile his not-really-suffering-at-all-any-more wife or loved one is sitting on a sunny beach in Aberllandovery flirting with a muscly surfer, while multi-tasking her way through a pile of Mills and Boon paperbacks and a bag of chocolate mis-shapes. She is a Bagger's Widow. Annual holidays have been this way for several years now.
And, even more meanwhile, our poor benighted peak bagger is dashing along the ridge looking for Point 745, unaware that the actual summit of Moel Fan y Sgurrcrag Fell (South Top) was demoted to sub-Nuttall status last week and, in any case, is 250 metres west of the trig point and not at all where he thought it was. Addicted summit tickers have to keep up with all the latest developments, you see.
There's no doubt he's a Daft Bagger.
Is there any hope, I hear you ask?
So, what are these Nuttalls and Ticks and just how addictive are they?
For your information, and protection, I offer you this short guide to Things That Can Be Ticked In The British Hills – in other words, Peak Bagging. I will also provide essential information on definitions, overlaps and legalities.
Here goes, then.
Ensure you are sitting down fairly comfortably.
Class C Peaks
These are legal but prescription-only.
These are listed by Alf (Where's me Pipe?) Wainwright and are arranged neatly(ish) around the edges of the Lake District in a fairly random fashion. They are intended only for the elderly and infirm – those who are no longer capable of climbing Grisedale Pike without a GTN spray and a waiting ambulance.
The rules are therefore simple. There is a lower age limit of seventy-six. If this doesn't apply, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Addiction factor: Low.
Anything in England and Wales with a height of between 500 and 610 metres and 30 metres of drop (ascent) on all sides. Many of these are easily achieved. Others are a heathery nightmare. If you have nightmares about heather, you'd be well advised to stay clear.
They are legal, except for the ones where you have to trespass. Tickers may be subject to some sections of the Mental Health Act and, whilst the situation is less than clear, discretion is advised.
Addiction quotient: Low. You'd have to be either desperate or mad. Just be careful not to tell anybody.
Class B Peaks
If you are caught in possession of the 'appropriate' guidebook or a ticklist of any kind, you may well be subject to a Caution. If you have two or more 'appropriate guidebooks' in your possession, you may be suspected of dealing and could be expelled from a Youth Hostel, B&B in a National Park or similar.
There are 214 of these listed by Alf Wainwright, all in the Lake District. There is no logic at all and whereas some big hills are listed – eg Scafell, Great Gable, Pillar, other odd places on the shoulders of hills and in the middle of slurpy bogs are also in the books. Some may consider that it's the routes that should be ticked and not the hills. This would mean that they're not Peaks to be Bagged at all, which can't be right.
Bagging Wainwrights is thought to be relatively harmless although the addiction quotient is high. There seems to be some kind of Wainwright fan club where people can talk about Wainwright all the time and go around grumbling and insulting women.
Wainwright did other stuff too, such as The Pennine Way and the Howgill Fells and Yorkshire Dales Limestone areas and some Wainwrighteers also think they can collect these walks too. This is not Peak-bagging, though and is just a bit obsessive.
Addiction quotient: Very High. (DANGER – People have been known not to collect only Wainwrights and to keep doing round after round of them. There is no hope if this sets in and even confiscation of guidebooks would be ineffective because the victim would eventually carry all the relevant information in his head.)
Percy Donald, a pal of J Rooke Corbett, but a bit middle class for Huge Munro, listed all the 2000 foot tops in Scotland south of the Highland Line with a complex but probably mathematically sound system of defining the hills.
This is a very specialist area. Very few people have heard of Donalds and consequently there aren't many Donaldists.
Use of Donalds for ticking appears to be tolerated.
Class A Peaks
This is the hard stuff. Possession of a guide or ticklist could have dire social consequences. You could have a seat to yourself even in the busiest city pub. This is because your conversation will centre around whether or not Calf Top is a Hewitt or just a Dewey and the safest approach to Upper Park without getting caught by the gamekeeper. Many people think they can handle just the one ascent of Snowdon or Gable, but often, this leads to disaster, wrecked marriages and the expense of many pairs of boots, socks, waterproof jackets, maps, and even ...(whisper it) camping equipment.
Just say No.
Nuttalls and Hewitts
I've linked these two together because there's so much overlap. Nuttalls are hills in England and Wales over 2000 feet with 15 metres of drop and Hewitts are the same, but with 30 metres of drop. There are more Nuttalls than Hewitts and they're generally easier to climb – except for the fact that to complete the list you have to get yourself to the top of Pillar Rock. This involves actual rock climbing. This means that only a few Nuttalleers actually complete the list and those that don't remain unsatisfied with a deep longing that can only be temporarily sated by starting the list again.
Hewitteers, whilst working just that bit harder for each tick, don't have to bother with Pillar Rock because the drop isn't big enough and so, are more likely to finish the list.
As I have indicated, all of this is serious stuff. I mean you could fall off Pillar Rock.
Addiction quotient: High. There is no hope.
Munros and Corbetts
'Huge' Munro of Lindertis listed 3000 foot hills in Scotland with no logic at all to their definition and his pal J Rooke-Corbett listed those Scottish hills between 2500 and 2999 feet.
People who collect Munros often go on to collect Corbetts, or they do both at the same time. The SMC regularly alter the number of Munros and Corbetts when they need to sell more guidebooks.
Both lists have hills which are dangerously scary – The Cobbler, Aonach Eagach, Liathac, anything on the Isle of Skye. There are lots of contours and the weather is usually rubbish. And you might have to camp overnight to be able to bag some of these.
Addiction quotient: Very High for Scottish people, High for Sassanachs. Must be genetic or something. Many people do several rounds. There can be a lot of heavy drinking involved, which many people will consider to be one of the few positive details.
Marilyns and HuMPs
This is the really really hard stuff.
Seemingly some kind of bagger's in-joke about Marilyn Monroe, these are any hill anywhere in England, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man which has 150 metres of drop. So a 150 metre hill can be a Marilyn. This means there's even one in Lincolnshire. But in general, the lumpy bits of Cumbria, Scotland and Snowdonia have lots of them. It's all about orogenesis. (Look it up, but as a clue, it's nothing to do with Phil Collins.) But there's a few in places like Kent and Sussex and this general spread means that there's often a Marilyn near you. This easy supply of ticks probably adds to their popularity.
Marilyns though, due to their height, often have their summits on private, non access land. This enhances their highly illegal nature. Sometimes, the highest point of a Marilyn will be deep within the thickness of a bit of forestry, a cabbage field or a well protected pheasant-rearing wood. There will be attentive bulls, barky farm dogs and surly Welsh sheepfarmers. Successful Marilyn baggers soon develop special skills in avoiding being spotted and an experienced Marilyn bagger will be able to creep through a farmyard full of excitable geese without disturbing the insomniac farmer or his dangerously psychotic collie, Gyp. The skills of the Marilyn bagger are currently being studied by special forces throughout the world.
Baggers should also consider that five Marilyn are on St Kilda which costs a fortune to get to, and when there, the bagger will discover that a few are actually 500-foot high sea stacks covered in Fulmar vomit. In addition many of the scary Munros and all of the Corbetts are also Marilyns, so this is not a list to be taken lightly, even though it might include such pussycats as Great Orme or Dufton Pike.
One Marilyn is in somebody's front garden in Kent so the strategy here is to wait till they've nipped off to Tesco's for the weekly shop. They go on a Thursday, apparently.
You can nip in through the front gate and touch the concrete fountain with the fishing gnome at the highest point. Don't touch the gnome though. That's just wrong.
HuMPs (Hundred Metre prominence)
The same as Marilyns but with just 100 metres of drop. That's fifty metres fewer. So, they're really little Marilyns. There are more of these, obviously, and there are often obstructions such as electrified barbed wire entanglements guarded by enormous hunger crazed guard dogs, dribbling for a chunk of your meaty thigh or the contents of your lunchbox. And locked gates. And signs in red paint saying “Priv Kee Ou” (it's an old sign). Despite the lower height, therefore, HuMPs may be relatively harder to collect than Marilyns.
Addiction rating: Very high. Nobody has yet collected all the ticks available in the lists of Marilyns and HuMPs. At least, nobody still alive anyway.
Problems faced by addicted baggers, and what you can do to help
There's a lot of overlap between the categories. Thus a Wainwright may also be a Hewitt. All Hewitts are also Nuttalls and many are Marilyns and HuMPs. All Marilyns are HuMPs but not all HuMPs are Marilyns. Some Deweys are Marilyns, Wainwrights and HuMPs. So, it's possible on attaining a summit, to achieve several ticks at the same time. A bagger winning such a multiple tick will be witnessed doing some kind of joyous dance around the trig point. – A good place to wait to see this phenomena is, for instance, summit of Grasmoor – which is a Wainwright, a Nuttall, a Hewitt, a Marilyn and a HuMP – a Five Ticker. The bagger will be jumping around in ecstacy and may try to shake your hand or even snog you, so stand well back on his approach. Unless you like that sort of thing, obviously.
If you know a Peak Bagger, or you know somebody who has just been up Helvellyn and is considering what other Lake District hills to do, you can help by sending a small donation or a nice pair of Smartwool socks to the Mike Knipe Foundation for Daft Baggers. All the money will go to helping at least one Daft Bagger.
About the author and about the artist
Mike Knipe (left) is ... "an old (ish) codger, or veteran. I've been wandering about the hills since the 1960's (when I were but a lad). A Lancastrian, brought up in Yorkshire and now living in County Durham – so handy for the North Pennines, Lakes, Dales, Cheviots, Borders... I like to walk about a lot, both on the hills and, sometimes, underground. I'm, a TGO Challenge “Leg End” (Ten TGO Challenges), backpacker, bagger, and general outdoor addict with a proper beard and everything. See the blog! www.northernpies.blogspot.com - full of meaty goodness in Northern kind of way."
Illustrations are by Patrick Latham (right) www.3rdmancartoons.co.uk.
Patch is a freelance cartoonist and illustrator living in Oakham, Rutland. He's available for private cartoon and caricature commissions as well as book, magazine and web illustrations.
- Successful Long Distance Path Walking 21 Oct, 2011