Goat Fell, though, insists on what Skiddaw ignores. These two are intervisible! “Are they really?” became the burning question.
One answer, the easy one, is, “No!” (seen that somewhere before!) Even on good days the “weather” won’t allow it! True! Oh, how true!
That ain’t the point, though, is it? “No,” is the correct answer! It becomes an academic “thingy“.
Well, before “academic” kicks in, “common sense” has “a go“. “Fair enough,” It says, “How far is it?” and “What’s in the way?” Bloody good, common sense. Isn’t it?
In this case, though, it’s eclipsed by, “intuition”, and intuition says, “Rubbish! It’s got to be too far. And there’s a huge mass of intervening high ground called “The Southern Uplands“.
Now, all mountaineering Clever Dicks, like Gene and Graham, know that the highest point in the Southern Uplands is The Merrick, which isn’t as high as either Goat Fell, or Skiddaw, but, of course, they also suspect that the Earth isn’t flat. If they’re right then sphericity will have its say. It also has its say in the “too far” issue. “It isn’t,” it says!
All this is a way of disguising a string of complex mathematical calculations performed by two brilliant men in pursuit of the answer to the aforementioned question.
The Skiddaw-Goat Fell separation of 105 miles is well within the 133 mile theoretical, (refraction ignoring), limit. Super! Pencil and ruler out! Line on map! Looks good, a fluke allows a peek right down the line of the “trench” of The Glenkens! Just need to clear up the teeny-weeny probs caused by the “opposing” shoulders of two hills over which this “peek” passes. Problemissimo! Thickness of pencil line turns out to be several orders of magnitude greater than resolution required, so, don’t draw line, calculate it using OS Grid. Not good enough! Go to spherical coordinates, latitude-longitude, Great Circles! Blood and Sand!
The answer is: Skiddaw and Goat Fell are not interivisible. It’s close run, but a shoulder of Knockower gets in the way, although Big Hill of Glenmount does its best to interfere too!
Trouble is, Goat Fell still insists otherwise. It must, therefore, be a phenomenon linked either to alcohol (C2H5 OH), or to “bendy” light.
At this point Gene contacts the Ordnance Survey who dive in fascinated and confirm what the Clever Dicks have calculated. But, (ah ha!), OS knows how to do the sums for “bendy” light. On the right day, they tell him, clear air and refraction will make the view possible. So, if you happen to be on Skiddaw on that day, look over the Solway. Goat Fell will appear over the summit of Maidenpap, (or one Scots smidgeon to the left, to be precise!)
But what about Croft Farm? Good question; deserves good answer! Which is: The Goat Fell-Skiddaw Great Circle passes right round the Earth embracing lots of amazing places as it does so. Plumbland is one of them. The line of sight between Gene's two mountains lies one English smidgeon, (c. 200 metres), from Croft Farm, and OS kindly did the calculations for the house’s position. Gene made the plaque in cast aluminium and, with Diane and Martin’s help, placed it on the front wall on 30th August 1993, since which time it has featured in every treasure hunt that has driven through Plumbland.
When Gene retired in 2003 his colleagues didn’t tell him to get lost, which was a possibility. Instead they ensured he never would by presenting him with a posh GPS whatsit for his rucksack. He first switched it on at Croft Farm and guess what? The OS were right!