The Welshmen who went up a hill and came down a mountain

If it sounds like it could be the plot to a movie, that's because it was. Thirteen years ago, Hugh Grant starred in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, a comedy directed by Chris Monger about two English cartographers who try to downgrade a Welsh mountain to a hill.

In the film, set in 1917, villagers fought to ensure that the "first mountain inside Wales" was kept exactly that, despite the best efforts of Grant and his sidekick to change its status before heading back to England.

Now Monger's film has come to life – albeit in reverse – although Grant is nowhere to be seen. Walkers in Snowdonia have converted a hill into a mountain after taking their own measurements of one of their favourite peaks.

Mynydd Graig Goch was previously recorded as peaking at 1,998ft (609m), just two feet shorter than the required height to tip a hill into the category of mountain. But now three ramblers have measured the muddy peak at six inches over 2,000ft, challenging previous Ordnance Survey measurements and precipitating a formal reclassification.

Before their reassessment, Wales had three hills listed as being 1,998ft: Mynydd Graig Goch and Craig Fach, both in Snowdonia, and Mynydd Troed near Crickhowell, in Powys, central Wales.

A group of keen walkers, Myrddyn Phillips, Graham Jackson and John Barnard, were confident that Mynydd Troed's status was correct but they had their doubts about the other two. So, using equipment specially manufactured by the Swiss firm Leica Geosystems, the trio used satellite positioning technology to gauge the exact height of the Snowdonia hills to the nearest inch.

Their survey confirmed that Craig Fach was indeed a hill, standing at 1,997ft. But further research showed that Mynydd Graig Goch was six inches over 2,000ft. It is now hoped that Ordnance Survey will update its records, and in so doing bring the total number of mountains in Wales to 190.

"It's fantastic. Nothing like this had happened before," said Mr Phillips, from Welshpool, Powys. "We're very pleased our survey has proved that Mynydd Graig Goch is a mountain and not a hill. Ordnance Survey has agreed to update its maps on the internet straight away, but it might take a bit longer to correct the paper maps."

Mr Phillips pointed out that because Ordnance Survey's spot height measurements have a margin of error of plus or minus three metres, it is hard to argue that the original measurement was wrong. Nevertheless, improved technology and measuring techniques mean the reclassification of hills into mountains – and vice versa – is likely to become increasingly prevalent.

The three ramblers, who took the measurements on 11 August and spent two hours taking more than 7,000 readings on Mynydd Graig Goch, were hampered by the rough weather common to Snowdonia for much of the year.

"Winds of 40-50 mph made things quite difficult for us and it rained, but it was worth it," said Mr Phillips.

Paul Beauchamp, of Ordnance Survey, said: "Our involvement has been really just a matter of verification. We know the company that provided the technology very well and have worked closely with them in the past. We were very pleased to tell these three enthusiasts that the hill snuck in at just 6 inches, or 15cm, over the 2,000ft threshold, making it a mountain. Our digital data will be updated over the next few weeks. Our two commercially available books, the OS Explorer and OS Landranger, are revised on a cyclical basis, and you can expect the updated version to be released over 2009-10."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there