Chapter 10 – Snowdonia
Throughout the 1970s I devoted my life to the production of a series of panoramas. The best way that I can describe this period is to quote an article I wrote for the Geographical Magazine.
Article published in the Geographical Magazine in 1981
In April 1971 I worked for the Snowdon Mountain Railway Company clearing snow from the railway line, so that the trains could get through to the summit. Throughout the winter, the Summit Hotel is boarded up with heavy iron shutters that are bolted on the inside, but there is a secret way in, known to the Station Master, which is used when the building is opened up in the spring.
For the next four months I lived in the hotel and worked on the soft drinks counter. When it was wet there was little to do, but in fine weather I was kept busy handing out cans, taking money and shouting prices as fast as I could to keep up with the incessant stream of thirsty walkers.
Since the previous September I had been working on a guide to the view, and this was the easiest way I could obtain the necessary slides and sketches. The guide consisted of four drawings, each representing a quarter of the view, with the thickness of the lines varied so that the nearer hills appeared bolder, and farther ones fainter, as they do in the actual view. About 500 mountains were identified, and a combination of Letraset and stencils was used for lettering. Blank spaces were filled in with paragraphs of incidental information about places that could be seen.
This was followed by a Guide to the View from Scafell Pike, and in the summer of 1974 I spent six weeks camping on the mountain in a light-weight tent. The ground was stony, but any stones I was unable to dig out I covered with moss. In the autumn I spent a further three months in Joss Naylor’s farmhouse at Wasdale Head.
In 1976 I published a smaller version of the Snowdon panorama in colour. Woodland was coloured green, lakes and rivers blue, and paths and roads red. In 1977 I published a panorama from Ben Nevis based on James E. Shearer’s drawing of 1895.
Throughout most of 1976 and 1977 I lived in a motor caravan, which I also used as a mobile drawing office, so that I could work on the drawings for one panorama while I was waiting for clear weather to take photographs for another. I found that the long periods spent in total isolation, far from the nearest building or main road, gave me a tremendous feeling of peace. In 1979, having covered the highest points in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man, I was free to select from hundreds of viewpoints the few that I found most interesting.
In order to increase output I had to make sacrifices in quality, but I found that I obtained the same satisfaction from my latest drawings, with their freehand lettering, that I got from my earlier work, when the thickness of every line was calculated to within a thousandth of an inch.
The result was that five new titles appeared in 1980: Glastonbury Tor, Arthur’s Seat, the Great Orme, Glyder Fawr and the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column – the same number as in the previous nine years. I also produced a new edition of the Guide to the View from the Summit of Snowdon, with lists of visible countries, counties, lakes and islands included for the first time, and a new edition of the Ben Nevis Panorama, with the Cuillin Hills and other distant parts of the view redrawn from my own slides. Some years earlier I had been fortunate enough to see everything that is visible from Ben Nevis, including Knocklayd in Ireland, 123 miles away.
I have given ten years of my life to the production of these panoramas, and now I have decided not to do any more. Unfinished drawings for the Wrekin, Dunkery Beacon and other places have been filed away in my archives, along with the many interesting letters I have received. I have filled a gap in the literature of the countryside, but at the same time I am aware of how many other views there are waiting to be drawn. Visitors to the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column can now buy their panoramas at the Column Keeper’s cottage when they buy their tickets, but visitors to Lord Hill’s Column in Shrewsbury with its view over the Shropshire Hills, or the Observation Tower in Liverpool with its views of North Wales, have nothing to tell them what they are looking at.
My work on Arthur’s Seat has introduced me to the possibility of urban panoramas. I once went up St Paul’s Cathedral and decided that there were so many buildings in view it would be impossible to draw them all, but I have since learned that if I drew in only a few of the more prominent and better-known buildings, and left the rest blank, I actually made it easier for these to be located in the view.
Now that the hotel has been completely rebuilt I can reveal how the station-master got into the building. Hidden away between the station and the hotel was a tiny door, below the level of the ground floor, which he opened with some plus-gas and two spanners. Even if someone got in there with a torch they would never discover that in one corner, over the top of a pile of coal, was the underneath of some stairs, and that one of these stairs could be pushed forward leaving a hole big enough to crawl through into the main part of the building.
In May, 1970 I drove my mother to Dolgellau in Snowdonia to visit one of her old school-friends and her husband. They lived at the end of a long narrow lane in a beautiful granite house with five stories including the cellar. Dolgellau reminded me of the older parts of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, where little lanes and granite cottages are arranged in a haphazard fashion. There we found a tiny terraced cottage at number 2 Love Lane, which was up for sale. It was in a perfect condition with all main services, and I bought it for £750.
Soon after I moved in I ordered some notepaper headed ‘Jesty’s Maps’, but the only work I produced bearing that name was a plan of the ground floor of the Grange for the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments. I finished it two days before I moved to Dolgellau. The work took 112 hours, and I was paid thirty shillings. As soon as I started working on the Snowdon panorama I changed the name to ‘Jesty’s Panoramas’.
On 14th November, 1970 I attended a public meeting, sponsored by the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales, in Dolgellau. The speaker was Wyndford Vaughan Thomas. There was also a distinguished-looking gentleman wearing a yellow waistcoat and long yellow socks whom I was told was Clough Williams Ellis, the creator of Portmeirion.
A week later I went for a few days to the Ffestiniog area, where I worked as an extra in a film version of Macbeth. The location was cold and wet and muddy. The director, Roman Polanski, didn’t do much, except very occasionally to run across the mud, move an actor a few feet and run back to the camera. It was the assistant director who did all the work. There I met some interesting people who talked about archery, fencing, climbing, caving, mining, steeplejacking and canoeing up the Mackenzie River. I thought how much more interesting their lives had been than mine. Afterwards I felt invigorated by the enthusiasm of the men from the film company and their determination to get everything right. Six years later I watched the film in a cinema. I couldn’t see myself, but I recognised my friend George. In one scene there was a castle behind us that wasn’t there when we were filming. So far as I know the film has never been shown on television.
At about this time I sent a letter to the Radio Times suggesting that the manufacturers of radios, tape recorders and alarm clocks should get together and invent a machine that could record radio programmes when we were out so that we could listen to them later on. The letter was never published, and no copy of it survives. I didn’t mention television programmes because I didn’t think that it would ever be possible to record them.
Throughout the 1970s I spent the summers working on the panoramas and the winters driving taxis in Aberdeen. I chose Aberdeen simply because I liked it better than Southampton. My greatest source of pleasure was the architecture of the old granite buildings, of which there is so much that only a taxi driver gets the chance to see it all. In 1977 I noted that the rate of pay was five times as high as it was in 1965, although the fares were only two and a half times as high. In 1973 and again in 1977 I revised the Geographia street plan of Aberdeen, and in 1997 I revised the Codair street plans of Barrow and Kendal, but my name did not appear on any of these publications.
In 1973 I told City Taxis that I was having difficulty in finding accommodation in Aberdeen, and they let me have the use of a large room in their office. It was furnished with two tables, a wardrobe, a wind-up gramophone, a mirror, six clocks, two penny farthing bicycles, a tandem and a velocipede. My front door was about five feet away from where I clocked in and out. From 1976 onwards I slept in a motor caravan in the taxi yard.
If ever there was a football match in Aberdeen the streets around Pittodrie would be packed with people wearing identical coloured scarves. I can’t understand why people get so enthusiastic about football, but no doubt they can’t understand why I get so enthusiastic about Hatfield Forest and early Austin Sevens.
One of the drivers, Ian Bryce, presented a television programme about castles. He gave me a copy of the first edition of the local magazine ‘Leopard’, including his article on Pitcaple Castle. In 1978 I submitted an article to the magazine entitled ‘The Little Lanes of Aberdeen’, but it was never published.
I once mentioned to a lady that her accent was similar to the Aberdeen accent but not exactly the same, and she said that she came from Peterhead, a town thirty miles away.
On one occasion I was one of several drivers picking up at the Station Hotel. I found my passengers and carefully checked the registration numbers of the black cabs waiting outside. Mine wasn’t there! I actually said to the passengers ‘I’m very sorry, I can’t take you: I can’t find my car’ before I remembered that my usual car was being repaired that day and I was driving a different car!
On another occasion I was picking up at the rank at Aberdeen Airport. Ranks are usually on the left-hand side of the road, but this one was on the right-hand side. A man came up to me and asked me to take him somewhere. I saw him open the door behind me. I heard the door close, and I drove off. After about a hundred yards I had a feeling that something was wrong. I looked round, and found that there was no passenger in the car! Then I noticed somebody at the taxi rank gesticulating wildly, so I reversed slowly back. What had happened was that the passenger had opened the rear door to put his case in and then walked round the back of the car to get in at the front.
Some years later I collected a passenger at the stage door of the theatre, where I knew that My Fair Lady was playing, and from his voice and his appearance I felt that he must be playing the part of Professor Higgins. He said that he was and that he was very pleased that I was able to tell.
On 8th December, 1970 went up Snowdon for the first time since I moved to Dolgellau. On the summit I came upon Peter Crew, who was working on a travelogue for the Snowdon Mountain Railway, and he started taking photographs of the view for a panorama to be published in the Llanberis Area Guide. When I told him what I was doing he took more photographs with a telephoto lens for my benefit. From 3rd April until 10th May, 1971 I stayed in his house Hafodty in the hills above Llanberis while I was working for the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Several times people called to ask his advice on the manufacture of climbing equipment. He once said to me ‘You can do anything if you put your mind to it,’ and he proved this by wiring up his house for electricity. He had ten cats and an enormous collection of travel and mountaineering books.
I knew him at his peak. His Travelogue and Llanberis Area Guide were published at about the time I was there; his Snowdonia Mountain Maps were published the year before; and his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mountaineering was published the year before that. In 1967 he was the climbing partner of Joe Brown on the televised ascent of the Old Man of Hoy, which was said to have been watched by fifteen million people.
At first I worked in the back of the café at the foot of the railway because the summit hotel hadn’t yet opened. The best part of my day was the walk from Hafodty to Llanberis. The first section was a beautiful woodland path along the crest of a ridge. This was followed by a zigzag path with magnificent views to the left up the Pass of Llanberis and to the right over Llyn Padarn. Finally, from the bottom of the zigzags to the café the mountains were reflected in Llyn Peris on the left.
Snowdon Summit Hotel
On 4th May I started working in the Summit Hotel, and on 10th May I started sleeping there. On 14th May the manageress arrived in style accompanied by a mountain of luggage, three dogs and a parrot. On 17th May I started working on the sweets and soft drinks counter, where I would be able to see Ireland if the weather was clear enough. I made out a list of about twenty mountains at various distances, and every hour or so I would make a note of which of these were visible. As a result I was able to work out that the odds against seeing somewhere double about every ten miles.
There was always something going on in the summit area. On 28th April, 1971 a helicopter landed and let off a great orange flare. On 12th June a geologist from the Library of Congress Museum came to collect fossils and found a rock crawling with them, although I had only been able to find small isolated specimens. On 13th June a train arrived at 6.30 a.m. bringing contestants in the Army’s Fourteen Peaks Race; teams of four set off at three-minute intervals to cover the fourteen Welsh peaks over 3000 feet. On 27th June a group of v.h.f. radio enthusiasts came up to take part in a competition. On 9th July there was somebody on the summit who was invigilating an attempt to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in record time. I didn’t find out until 1979 that this was Joss Naylor, in whose farmhouse I was to stay in 1974, and that he succeeded in beating the record. On 17th September a man from British Rail came up to make a documentary film. On 25th September the North Wales Mountaineering Club Dinner was held in the hotel and 66 people spent the night there. On 28th September some men came up to film a television commercial for Brook Bond P.G. Tips. Finally, on 3rd October a large crowd assembled outside the hotel at 2.30 a.m. to celebrate the harvest moon. They went down at about 7.0 a.m.
While I was there 38 people worked in the hotel, but there were never more than 17 working at any one time. The highest sustained wind-speed I recorded at the summit was 57 m.p.h. with a gust of 66 m.p.h.
Three weeks after I moved into the summit hotel I first saw the Lake District and Ireland in the evening. The following morning I went up to watch the dawn. I could see the Lakes and Pennines clearly. The Lake District looked like the edge of a sheet of corrugated paper. I took a photograph of the Pennines with my Instamatic camera. The photograph was too small to show any detail, but it showed the Lancashire coastline touching the summit of Glyder Fâch like a tangent to a circle, just as it does in the actual view, proving that it really was the Pennines that I photographed.
This was one of the greatest days of my life, made all the more special because it happened to coincide with one of those wonderful intervals between meeting a new girl and finding out that she doesn’t like me. In fact, I look on my encounter with Margot Sharp on that mountain-top as the most profound experience of my life. I remember one occasion, when I had been away for two weeks. As I was passing through Llanberis I saw her in a crowd of people, and everything was out of focus except for her face. I decided to dedicate the Snowdon panorama to her, and I resolved that I would never dedicate any future publication to anyone else because that would weaken the message. Wainwright mentioned this dedication in one of his letters, and the letter was quoted in the biography of Wainwright by Hunter Davies, so Margot’s name appears there as well.
After leaving the Summit Hotel I joined various schemes for meeting members of the opposite sex. The first person I met lived in Derbyshire, and we walked along Dove Dale together. I spent the following night at the Bat House Youth Hostel in Shining Cliff Wood. This consisted of a wooden hut half a mile from the nearest road. I followed the track shown on the map, but it petered out, leaving me lost in the wood in total darkness without a torch. It wasn’t until long after I gave up hope that I came upon the lights of the hostel. This was the first hostel I had stayed in that had three-decker bunks.
The person I liked best was in the publishing business, which was something we had in common, and I went out with her twice, which was very promising, but she decided that twice was enough. The second time I met her was in Blackpool, and on my way back to Dolgellau I went to stay at the Y.M.C.A. in Chester, but I found that it was full. Then somebody offered to lend me a tent. He found an area of level grass a few yards away that was completely secluded, yet with sufficient light for me to see what I was doing. He even put the tent up for me, and as I already had an airbed and sleeping bag in my rucksack I had a good night’s sleep.
In 1971 I applied for membership of Mensa. I was told that my I.Q. was 157, which meant that I was eligible to join. It was through Mensa that I met Lyn Fitzgerald, who lived at Higher Upcott Farm near Hatherley in Devon. Her sister said that they needed someone to work on the farm, so I offered to do so, but when I had been there for two weeks I was told that my work wasn’t good enough. I was told the same thing when I had Latin lessons at Daiglen in 1953, when I worked in Sudbrook Pulp Mill in 1962 and when I had typing lessons at Aberdeen Commercial College in 1964, and each time it came as a complete surprise to me.
The following paragraph may interest people who play bridge; others can skip it. The day before I left Lyn and I played her brothers Mike and Richard at bridge. On the first hand Mike bid one heart and there were three passes. Richard laid down 18 points with support in hearts. On the second hand Lyn bid one no trump and there were three passes. As dummy I had a look at her hand. She had 3‑3‑3‑4 and 28 points – four aces and four kings. Later on I had 3‑3‑3‑4 and 29 points, so, knowing the way they bid, I opened six no trumps and made it. In 2016 I read in the internet how to calculate the odds against having four aces in one hand. From that I worked out how to calculate the odds against having four aces and four kings in one hand. The result was over 500,000 to one.
On 25th January, 1973, for the first time in my life as a taxi driver, I went out with one of my passengers. Her name was Pam Roberts. I told her that up to now all my relationships had been one-sided, and she said ‘This time it’s two sided.’ It would seem that I was now experiencing something that had previously only happened to other people. She used to sing to me a song that included the words ‘people say that, that you’re a dreamer’, which is what my teachers said about me in my school reports. In 1972 I spent much of my time looking for a person and I ended up finding one that I would have met anyway, just as in 1969 I went all over the country looking for somewhere to live and ended up buying a house that I would have come across anyway.
We decided that we would go and live in London and look for work and share a flat. It was arranged that we would work for Manpower in Fleet Street, but before we started work and before we found a flat she said that she thought it would be best if we split up. I felt that all the flavour had been drained from my life. It was like drinking water from a tap and then drinking distilled water and discovering for the first time that tap water has a taste.
Three years later I visited Pam and her husband at their home in Milton Keynes. All the houses in the area were made of something that appeared to be black corrugated iron, and they were surrounded by a sea of mud and rubble and half-bricks. I asked her how she came to live in such a place and she said that it was because this was the only town in the country where there were vacant council houses. I looked at the mud and the rubble and the dog and the baby and I thought what a lucky escape I had had.
In the fullness of time Pam and her husband went their separate ways: the children went to live with their father, and Pam and I came to see more of each other. In 1980, we went to the South of France together in my motor caravan. I had learned from the past that it is impossible to telephone from France to Britain, but Pam was more persistent than I was. I made a note of the times she spent in telephone boxes and added them up: it came to five hours. After that time she got through to the house she wanted, but the person she wanted was out; then she gave up.
It was not only in France that telephoning could be difficult. I once tried to make a phone call from Dolgellau to London in the 1970s. I got unobtainable 42 times, wrong number three times (once in Newtown, twice in London), engaged three times and a recorded message telling me to check the dialling code with the operator six times. In half an hour I got through and found that the person was in all the time. It was by no means unusual for it to take as long as this.
I remember once going into a caravan site in France and looking for the office. I asked someone in my most exquisite French ‘Est-ce que le bureau est là bas?’ Back came the reply in broadest cockney ‘Yer, that’s roight, mate.’
From the South of France we went on to Brussels, where I was very impressed with the buildings in the Grand Place, and then to Amsterdam. It was here that we became separated. Pam made a note that the van was parked by the canal and went off on her own. Too late she discovered that there were canals all over the town. A day or two later I found her wandering in Dam Square, and we were reunited.
From 1972 to 1976 the panoramas were distributed by Peter Crew. From 1977 onwards I did it myself. From 1979 to 1984 I was helped by Pam’s sister Lynn, and I am sure that this resulted in an increase in sales.
In January, 1973 I bought a Praktica camera with a 300 mm telephoto lens, and three months later I took it up Snowdon on a very clear day. Among the places I photographed were twenty blocks of flats in Liverpool fifty miles away, and their positions were indicated on the second edition of the panorama. This brought home to me the absurdity of trying to produce a panorama without the right sort of camera.
On 21st July, 1974, after six weeks camping on Scafell Pike, I left the Lake District to sell panoramas to people walking up Snowdon. Here I experienced another spell of very clear weather, and I saw many parts of Ireland that I had never seen before, including Camlough Mountain, which would have been hidden by the curvature of the earth if it hadn’t been for refraction. My camera was being repaired at the time, and now I realised the importance of having a spare camera.
On 8th September I returned to the Lake District and enquired at the information centre in Ambleside about cottages to let. After suggesting some unsuitable places about twenty miles away from Scafell Pike they told me of one at Bowderdale only three miles from the summit. It was exactly what I wanted exactly where I wanted it, and my landlord turned out to be Joss Naylor, the well-known fell-runner. When I knew him he held the record for climbing 63 Lakeland peaks in 24 hours. The following year he increased this to 72. He also held the Three Peaks record (already mentioned) and the record for climbing the 14 Welsh peaks over 3000 feet. I was there for three months. In 2006 I received a copy of the Wainwright Society magazine Footsteps in which the first article was about Joss and the second was about me.
On 29th September, 1974 I came over Hardknott Pass at sunset and noticed that the Isle of Man was so clear that I was sure that if I had been on Scafell Pike I would have seen Ireland, so the next day I set off for Scafell Pike in time to get there by sunset. The Isle of Man was only moderately clear on the way up, but, as I neared the summit it became much clearer, and then, just as I arrived at the top, Slieve Croob appeared, followed a few minutes later by Divis. This was the only time I ever saw Ireland from the Lake District.
Once, on my way up Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head, I watched a bright twinkling light fall slowly into the sea from a great height, leaving behind a column of smoke. This was followed by another and then another. I have no idea what they were.
In December, 1974 I happened to meet Sian (pronounced Sharn), who worked in the summit hotel, at Crewe, and I accompanied her on the train to Shrewsbury. This was unlikely because I rarely travel by train. Two months later I met a policeman in Dolgellau, and it turned out to be Hywyn (pronounced Howin), who also worked in the summit hotel. This was less unlikely because Dolgellau is not so far from Snowdon, but I was more surprised because I just don’t think of my friends’ becoming policemen.
On 8th April, 1975 I started renting a caravan at Pontrug near Llanberis, and throughout the summer I organised the sales of panoramas to people walking up Snowdon by the various routes. By 21st July I had people selling on all six of the paths.
On 3rd September, 1977 I arrived on the Isle of Man to study the view from its highest point, Snaefell. For much of the time I was there I parked my motor caravan beside the Marine Drive near Douglas. This was one of the nicest situations I have found. Although it is conveniently situated for the town, the road is very little used after the end of the season because it doesn’t lead anywhere. Whenever I felt like a break from my work, I used to walk along the drive watching the waves crashing on the rocks below and the gulls drifting on the breeze. I got a greater sense of peace from this deserted stretch of road than I did from any of the wild and lonely places I have been to while I have been travelling.
On 7th September I could see the Mountains of Mourne, Scotland and the Lake District. Two days later I could see Anglesey, with the distant peaks of the Lleyn Peninsula appearing over the top of it, but the higher parts of Snowdonia were obscured by haze. On 18th September I could see the tops of these mountains rising above the clouds, and I was able to combine the slides taken on the two occasions to produce a composite picture. When I left for Wales on 2nd November there were still one or two distant places that I hadn’t seen , but I had obtained enough slides to form the basis of a panorama.
Here is some more information about the panoramas:
I mentioned on the panorama that 29 pre-1974 counties were visible from Snowdon (counting the Isle of Man as one), and I was disappointed that I never found this fact mentioned in any book or television programme about the area. I was also disappointed that nobody has ever sent me a photograph showing the Merrick from Snowdon or any other distant places that I hadn’t seen, and I have never found such a photograph in the internet.
The panorama from Scafell Pike was the same size as the large Snowdon panorama. It was a joint effort between Wainwright and myself. He drew in the mountains of the Lake District so that they appeared like the illustrations in his books, and I did everything else. Looking back, I think that it is surprising that he agreed to do this, because part of the skill of producing an illustration lies in choosing the viewpoint and framing the scene, and he had no control over these things.
Some people pronounce the ‘a’ in ‘Scafell Pike’ as in ‘scar’; others pronounce it as in ‘score’. I prefer the second alternative because that’s the one that Wainwright used. Similarly, the ‘a’ in ‘Glastonbury Tor’ is sometimes pronounced as in ‘lass’ and sometimes as in ‘glass’. I use the first variety for no better reason than that it is the one that is heard more often.
Snaefell is unique as a viewpoint in the British Isles because the sea is visible in all directions, and because England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are all visible fairly frequently. Even when it’s not clear enough to see these distant places the view is still full of interest because there is so much to see on the island. Most of the peaks are seen bunched together in the south-west because Snaefell is on a range of mountains running in that direction. The most beautiful aspect of the view is the pattern made on the landscape by different kinds of vegetation, and by agriculture and forestry. The region of the Ayres, for example, is distinguishable from the intervening farmland by its dull brown colour. The farthest point visible on the Isle of Man is Mull Hill, 18 miles away. The nearest point visible on land outside the Isle of Man is Burrow Head in Scotland, 29 miles away.
The famous water wheel at Laxey is visible, as well as the runways of Jurby Aerodrome, and numerous towers, lighthouses and TV and radio masts. The lighthouses at Point of Ayre and Maughold Head are particularly striking because they and their adjoining buildings are painted white. The Tower of Refuge, the tower of Douglas Head Hotel, the Derby Round Tower on Langness, Corrin’s Folly and the eleventh-century Round Tower in Peel Castle are all seen silhouetted against the sea.
The panorama from Glastonbury Tor was the first on which I used hand-lettering, and it is the least attractive of all my panoramas. On the other hand, the view is incomparably more interesting than any of the others. I found connections between Glastonbury and some of the earliest figures from history and legend, including St Patrick, St David, St Dunstan, St Bridget, King Arthur, Merlin, Edmund Ironside, King Edgar, King Caractacus and Old King Cole. I found that the River Brue, the Glastonbury Canal, the Huntspill River, the Whitelake River and the avenue approaching the Hood Monument are all aligned with the Tor, and the alignments are clearly visible in the view. Here are some of the interesting places that I was able to identify in the view:
Dundon Hill (Iron Age Hill Fort)
Brent Knoll (Iron Age Hill Fort)
Fenny Castle (Norman motte and bailey)
The Abbey Barn (built in 1330)
The ruins of the Abbots Great Hall (built in the 14th century)
Sharpham Park Farm (the birthplace of Henry Fielding)
The Walton Windmill
The Hood Monument
The Burton Pynsent Column (in memory of William Pitt the elder)
The Glastonbury Thorn
At a certain time of year the tents of the Glastonbury Festival can be seen from the tor, but there is no mention of this on the panorama for the simple reason that I didn’t know about it at the time. I later heard the event described as the biggest pop festival in the world.
Three times I received orders from places that I was able to mark on the panorama. These were Wellesley Farm near Wells and the villages of Barton St David and Middlezoy.
Among the features shown on the panorama from Arthur’s Seat are:
Craigmillar Castle (once the home of Mary, Queen of Scots)
The Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge
The Palace of Holyroodhouse and Holyrood Abbey
The Scott, Burns, Nelson and National Monuments
The clock tower of what was then the North British Hotel
The Royal Observatory and City Observatory
The McEwan Hall and the Royal High School building
The Hibernian Football Ground and Murrayfield Rugby Ground
A dry ski slope
Six volcanic plugs
Ten church steeples, three cathedral steeples and a ruined chapel
Twenty-five tower blocks
Three power stations
The slag heap and pithead gear of a coalmine
The Great North Road and the railway from Edinburgh to London
Marquess of Anglesey’s Column
The panorama from the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column was the same size as the small Snowdon panorama, but the scale was over twice as great because only the part of the view facing the mainland was drawn in detail. Prominent in the view are the Menai Bridge, the Britannia Bridge, Nelson’s Statue, Plas Newydd (the home of the Marquess) and the parish church of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantisiliogogogoch. Three of the turrets on Caernarfon Castle can be seen in the distance.
Sales of panoramas
From October, 1978 until March, 1979 I worked as a graphic artist at Chamberlain Studios in Holborn, right in the centre of London. From my window on the second floor I looked across at Staple Inn, the only surviving row of Elizabethan houses in the city. I later learned that my brother had once actually worked in Staple Inn.
At the end of 1979, when I left Dolgellau, I added a further eleven volumes to my scrap books. These related to the period 1967 to 1979, and became volumes 4 to 14.
Volume 4 consists entirely of items related to panoramas including 7 published articles that I had written myself, 30 published articles written by other people, 92 pages of correspondence, a copy of the original small Snowdon panorama, which was later redrawn because I felt that it was too crowded, a panorama of Snowdonia from Moel Famau for Mark Richards’ guide to Offa’s Dyke Path, a panorama from Soutra Hill near Edinburgh for the Soutra Hill Archaeoethnopharmacological Project, a list of 42 publications in which the panoramas were featured and a list of 73 locations, other than outlets, where panoramas were displayed.
Volumes 5 to 12 include 48 pages of photographs and 135 pages of letters.
Volume 13 is a quarter-inch atlas of Great Britain with all the places I have been to marked on it. The pages of Dorset, Essex and the Lake District are covered in a network of lines, but there are relatively few in the East Midlands and West Wales, and none at all in the Scottish islands. Everywhere I spent a night is marked by a cross.
Volume 14 is a notebook containing a list of my favourite tunes. On the first page I wrote that there is nothing more reminiscent of a time or place than a tune, and that all that is needed to recall a tune is its title or first line. I felt that there was more nostalgia in this little book than in all the other volumes. The earliest song is ‘Greensleeves’, which was composed in 1580 and the latest ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’, which was composed 400 years later in 1980. In 2015 the number of titles reached a thousand. When I started to compile the list I had no idea that it would be so long.