Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,991/Araucaria (Sat 3 Feb) – England’s Mountains Green

Posted by rightback on February 12th, 2007


Solving time: 30 mins or so, plus about another 10 with Wikipedian assistance to solve 1dn, 10ac and 2dn in the top left and 22ac and 18dn in the bottom right.

In stark contrast to Araucaria’s last prize crossword, the clues to this puzzle were mostly sound with convincing surface readings, some really good. In fact it’s hard to believe the two puzzles were by the same setter.

The thematic element was fairly difficult, because of the relative obscurity of some of the eight English hills or mountains clued without definition. I knew five of the names but not 1dn, 22ac or 21dn, but then it’s a prize puzzle so I’m not complaining about the need to use references. Definitely a crossword for the hill walker rather than the fell runner, but anything involving the Lake District gets my vote.

* = anagram.

8 BORODIN + O – this was all I could think of to fit the I-O ending, but I had to check with Wikipedia before getting anywhere with the rest of the top left. Turns out that the Battle of Borodino was part of Napoleon’s 1812 offensive in Russia.
10 A + SHY – really struggled with this, though I’m sure I’ve seen very similar clues before.
11 DE[m]ON + TO + LOG + Y – ‘record unknown’ is a dead giveaway for the ending, but I didn’t know this word.
12 MA(MT)O + R – Mam Tor is found in Derbyshire’s High Peak District. Collins supports Mt. = Mountain (see here).
15 S + KID + DAW (= Margery) – Skiddaw is England’s fourth highest peak, but there’s a motorway running straight up it. Blencathra next door is much more fun. I was held up on this clue trying to fit ‘Snowdon’.
17 S[oup] + CAFE + LL (= (L-)plates) – the first thematic clue I solved. Sca Fell is the second highest mountain in England, if considered as separate from Sca Fell Pike (so named because it was originally thought to be the smaller of the two).
22 PEN + DLE (rev. of ELD = ‘former times’ (Chambers)) – one of the two thematic clues I really struggled on, unsurprisingly as ELD is very difficult and I didn’t know Pendle Hill in Lancashire.
24 POP (= pawn) + E – according to Collins (here), ‘pope’ can mean ‘a parish priest’. I was unconvinced of this answer and as a result, with PENDLE also missing, struggled with 18dn.
25/4 INGLEBOROUGH; IN + (GLOBE)* + ROUGH – the second highest of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. Probably the most fun as well, if you do the route clockwise.
26 GO([b]ODKIN)G – a curious solution phrase. A bodkin can mean a large blunt needle.
1 HOG’S BACK (straight definition of ‘chine’) – this ridge in Surrey was the thematic clue that really got me. Having got ?O?? ?A?K I thought the second word was probably ‘bank’ and a bit of research unearthed Pole Bank, which seemed no more obscure than some of the other answers. Moreover ‘chine’ can mean ‘anything resembling a backbone’ (= Pole), or ‘a ravine’ (= Bank), or ‘the crest of a ridge’ (= Pole Bank), so I was convinced this was right and only began to doubt it when I couldn’t make anything fit ?E?Y at 10ac.
2 TO + NY (= New York) – I hadn’t heard of the Tony Award so needed references to confirm this.
3 KINDER SCOUT (cryptic definition) – no idea how I knew this name, a hill in the Dark Peak District. School trip to Edale perhaps?
5 E + SOT + ERIC
7 STAGES – I don’t get the second half of this clue (Coaches that may be easy (6)). Is ‘easy stage(s)’ a phrase?
13 TIDAL SURGE; (A GIRL’S DUET)* – I can’t find this phrase in any dictionary, but Wikipedia redirects to this page. Chambers gives ‘bore’ as meaning ‘a tidal flood’.
18 LILY + POND – I couldn’t get this until I found PENDLE to give the second L. Apparently a pond is the gravitational force on a mass of one gram.
19 A + BRIDGE – I can’t believe this took me so long to get, but I also can’t defend the question mark.
21 W[i]RE + KIN – ‘family’ = KIN was clear but the first half had to wait, as this was the third of the trio of thematic hills I didn’t know. The Wrekin is a Salopian excuse for a hill.
22 [o]PINION
24 PIKE – the second half of the clue, referring to Sca Fell Pike, doesn’t really make sense but the answer is clear enough.

3 Responses to “Guardian 23,991/Araucaria (Sat 3 Feb) – England’s Mountains Green”

  1. says:

    The pope is also known as “The Vicar of Christ”. Chess players will note that the word “white” is superfluous. The “e file” is the white or black king’s file.

  2. says:

    Araucaria is of course playing fair here by ensuring that “Vicar” has a capital V. Despite living quite close to the Hog’s Back, I nearly put “Dog’s Back” for 1 down until my mother, who is 90, corrected me. I’m not quite sure how “Chine?” can be characterised as a clue lacking further definition. It seems to me to be all definition and nothing else.

  3. says:

    Re 13, Wikipedia refers to a storm surge. The most famous bore in the UK is the Severn Bore and is caused by the shape of the Severn estuary and high tidal range – a storm is not necessary for the tidal surge:

    It is a spectacular sight, though I was not brave enough to canoe on it as my friend did!

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