The last Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago but the mountain landforms of Britain and Ireland remain as evidence. They may be low by international standards and grazed these days by sheep and deer not bears and mammoths, yet they still bear the marks of the ice that carved them from the living rock. With a bit of imagination and some photo fiddling, it's possible to create an impression of how they must once have looked.
That cliff; that ridge; the hanging cwm above the void; that pile of stones by the river's bend, and the grassy flats in the valley bottom: all are in some way the product of the ice
Having walked, clambered, run and romped – or more recently stumbled – over them all my life, I've often imagined how they might have looked in their icy pomp. Wandering in the vast corries below Ben Nevis, driving up the A5 to Llyn Ogwen or setting off for upper Eskdale, England's finest valley, my mind's eye has often squinted through the rain to picture how our mountains once were. That cliff; that ridge; the hanging cwm above the void; that pile of stones by the river's bend, and the grassy flats in the valley bottom: all are in some way the product of the ice.
I'm a teacher. Although the study of glaciation is retreating from the syllabus as fast as the glaciers themselves from the world's mountains, I never waste a chance to slip the subject into my Geography lessons. Fiddling around with Power Point one day, I tried to imagine Ben Nevis as it was. I was surprised how, with some subtle control of the mouse, I could make a fair stab at replicating couloirs, bergschrunds, crevasses – and of course the glaciers themselves as they tumbled out of Coire Leis and Coire na Ciste.
So I took a photo of The Ben's north face and started applying my new-found skills. The kids loved it: "Sick!" is the best compliment a teacher can receive these days. And they may even have learned something from my efforts. I know I did.
The next step was to find some usable and adaptable photos from around the UK and Ireland, and what you see here represents what I hope is a reasonable selection.
Of course this is only my guess at what our grand, old, now-naked but still-loved mountains may have looked like when only Cheddar Man was alive to see them - although he probably never did.