Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Quite tricky this week, a bit of nacht und nebel going on, with a poet who is normally associated with the Lake District and three mountains of the same height, two of which are also located there and one, the correct one, which is not. Near as I can figure it, this week, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. Llanberis

Q2. William Wordsworth

The initial clues place us at the Watkin path, on the slopes of mount Snowdon, in Wales. Sir Edward Watkin (b 1819) was a liberal mp and had a chalet in a place called Cwn Llan, near the village of Nantgwynant. Some references claim that the path was opened by William Gladstone c1892, who addressed a crowd of about two thousand people, from a rock, which indicates the start of the path and is now called 'Gladstone Rock'. Scenes from one of the best loved British comedy films of the sixties were shot here, the film was called 'Carry On Up the Khyber' and featured a battle between the troops of Sir Sydney Rough Diamond (The Third Foot and Mouth 'Devils in Skirts' Regiment) and the warriors of the wicked Khasi of Kalibar ( To British ears, a very funny play on words, Khasi sounds like the word kharzi, meaning toilet). Some sources claim that the film was made c 1968.

From the information given, the puzzle author most likely travelled north east on the A498, passing the Llyn Gwynant lake, before turning to the north west, onto the A4086 and heading to Dolbadarn castle, which is really beautiful and standing next to the lake, looks like where somebody like the king of Thule might live. A check on the references confirms that Dolbadarn castle was built c 13th century. A shade further on up the road lies the town of Llanberis, there was a branch line to this town and some sources claim that this closed c1932. The railway the writer is talking about, however, is most likely the SMR or Snowdon Mountain Railway, which operates by a rack and pinion system and ferries lardy boy passengers, who are not fit enough to ascend the proper way (ie by hiking), to a station at the top of mount Snowdon, which is known as 'the highest slum in Wales'

The 726 metre or 2382 feet high peak, which can be seen from the train, is likely to be Moel Eilio. There are two peaks in the lake district which are also 726 metres high (Clough Head and Hindscarth), which together with the reference to the poet associated with the area, can cause some confusion about the author's actual location (probably why that particular wordsmith was chosen, very crafty ;-) ). A check of the references confirms that there are two viaducts on the SMR which fit the clues given, these are the 'Lower Viaduct' at 166 yards with 14 arches and the 'Upper Viaduct'  at 63 and 1/2 yards and four arches. The poet who wrote of visiting the summit of Snowdon, on a "warm, breezeless, summer night", was William Wordsworth. The quote appears to be from a work called 'The Prelude' which was published c 1850.

Link to the competition:

Where Was I?

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