The Englishman who went up a hill and came down a mountain – a true story

This is the story of a small village in Wales not far from the border with England. Just outside the village there is a mountain called Ffynnon Garw. There are lots of mountains in Wales so why was this particular mountain so important? It was special because it is the first mountain that you see when you cross the border from England. When people came to Ffynnon Garw they knew they were in Wales.

One morning in 1917 two Englishmen drove into the village. They were cartographers who were travelling round the country collecting information to make maps. Their job was to measure Ffynnon Garw. They told the villagers that their mountain wasn’t a mountain at all but only a hill. It was 984 feet high – 16 feet short of a mountain.


That afternoon as the Englishmen were enjoying a drink in the pub, the villagers had an emergency meeting. They decided to add 20 feet to the top of their “hill”. The next day was a beautiful, sunny day and while most of the villagers were carrying buckets of earth from their gardens and farms up to the top of Ffynnon Garw, others were trying to stop the two Englishmen from leaving the village. How did they do this?

They put sugar in the engine of the Englishmen’s car. The village mechanic tried to repair the car but said unfortunately they needed a spare part from Cardiff. The stationmaster told the foreigners that there were no trains that day. The landlord of the pub gave them plenty to drink. And then it started to rain. It rained so much that were floods on the roads and railway lines and then the Englishmen certainly couldn’t leave the village.

Like all good stories this is a love story. While the villagers were working hard and the rain was falling and falling, one of the Englishmen fell in love with a local woman. She asked him to measure Ffynnon Garw again. This time he went up the hill and came down a mountain. The second measurement was 1002 feet!