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
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'