The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Wrong Hill

Wrong Hill Illustration

The black arrow is where we parked; the red arrow is the wrong hill; the blue arrow is the right hill.

“How could you possibly have confused two different hills, three miles apart and in opposite directions?” asked Mick when I realised that I was on the verge of leading Mick up the wrong hill in Shropshire last week.

At a glance it was a truly ridiculous mistake to have so nearly made, but I do know how it came about:

I had planned the outing using OS mapping on my laptop (nice big screen, giving a good view of not just the objective, but also the surrounding area), combined with Google Maps for aerial photos and StreetView, which had allowed me to identify a Colin-sized parking area in Kempton. What I recalled from the planning was:

1) we were to park in Kempton;

2) we were to follow the Shropshire Way for much of the walk; and

3) the hill-top in question was marked on the map as a fort and surrounded by woodland.

On the day I was using OS maps on my phone, which gives a rather restricted view. Having found Kempton, I duly followed the Shropshire Way until I found a Fort marked. The hill I found looked about the right distance away and of a suitable height with a suitable amount of prominence, so no alarm bells rang and it didn’t occur to me that I should check to see if there was another (very similar looking!) hill in the opposite direction.

I’m sure that the wrong hill would have been a perfectly good walk (and it would have put a tick on the HuMP list – not that I’m collecting HuMPs), but from a point of view of embarrassing incidents, I’m very glad I had the last minute thought to mark the exact position of the summit on my map before we set out. I did that to avoid a repeat of Monday’s missed-summit-by-60-paces incident; in the event it saved me from missing my intended summit by 3 miles!


  1. Ooooh I feel so much better for reading this. Funnily enough I (I hesitate to say"we") did the very same thing a while back on the South Downs Way.

    There were signposts and everything, but having wiggled into a village and parked facing north, when I though I was facing south ... well, it's a mistake anyone could make!

  2. Genius!
    And I was just about to put pen to paper saying how Lord Elpus, 'Obbsy and I set off in completely the wrong direction when I spy that His Lordship has already fessed-up!

    An easy mistake...

  3. Following a canal out of Falkirk, it was a while before i noticed the sun was on the wrong side of my view.
    Cheers J.P.

  4. ....but what a beautiful area in which to get misplaced.