The cover of The Hills Are Stuffed with Swedish Girls

The cover of The Hills Are Stuffed with Swedish Girls

Britain’s national mapping agency stands accused of losing its sense of humour after it launched action to have sales of a bawdy hillwalking book stopped.

Richard Happer’s raunchy tale of three young men’s adventures on the West Highland Way features a cover that mimics an Ordnance Survey Landranger map’s. Now, the Southampton-based agency’s lawyers are attempting to have online adverts for the book removed and sales halted.

Micropublishers Jones Cat Publishing say the move could put them out of business.

The Hills Are Stuffed with Swedish Girls is Happer’s tale of three university students who undertake the West Highland Way in the hope that, well, there are lots of nubile Scandinavian young women on the trail.

The book got rave reviews when it was published in June last year and was described by one reviewer as: “Three old uni mates walk the West Highland Way in search of birds, booze and adventure, and try to answer a few more challenging personal questions at the same time. It’s a bit Three Men in a Boat gone mad.”

A flavour of the book can be gleaned from the cover which is in the style of an old-style Landranger map, with a tasteful shot of Highland mountains overlaid with an equally tasteful shot of a denim-clad female backside, complete with miniature Swedish flag adorning the shorts.

Author Richard Happer: 'We're clearly having a laugh'

Author Richard Happer: 'We're clearly having a laugh'

In place of the OS’s initialled north arrow are the author’s initials and there are a few new conventional signs on the cover, including a bra, a tablet and a part-drunk pint of beer. The scale is described as one beer to one mile.

The sub heading of the book is: Walking Scotland’s beautiful West Highland Way in search of fun and fanny.

It’s clearly all too much for the mapmakers in Southampton, whose spokesperson told the Daily Record: “We have a brand which is more than 200 years old and it is our job to protect the reputation of our brand.

“People are very passionate about our maps. Families use them and we have to look at our core customers and if they would be offended.”

Happer's tale of horny lads on the West Highland Way has spurred OS's lawyers into action

Happer's tale of horny lads on the West Highland Way has spurred OS's lawyers into action

Richard Happer countered: “It’s a comic novel about three randy lads going up the West Highland Way in search of sexy Swedish girls.

““The book cover is a clearly a parody. Its elements have been exaggerated for comic effect: the book’s title, the words ‘fanny’ and ‘beer’, the comic icons – a pint, a bra etc – and the enormous picture of a girl’s bottom in hotpants are a pretty good indication of this.

“It’s clear that we are selling a comic novel, not a map. Their action is a waste of time and money which they would not have to spend were it not for taxpayers.

“There’s also the broader question of what the Ordnance Survey hopes to get out of this. The Hills… is the first book by JonesCat Publishing Limited and the company has yet to turn a profit. Its only assets are 1,100 unsold copies of the first print run and a logo. Even if this did go to court and even if the OS won, they’d have to sell the rest of the books to get anything out of us!

“Perhaps, then, they are trying to prove a point. But what point? That no-one should interfere with their trademarks? We contend that we have not done that. We were careful when constructing the cover image to only use common fonts – Helvetica, the most commonly used font in the world – and a different shade of pink.

“Plus, I contend that we have actually helped their business: I have been emailed by several dozen people who have read the book and either done, or are planning to do, the West Highland Way because of the story. Those people will all be buying Ordnance Survey maps when they hit the hills.

“As for me, I’m a keen walker and I have whole shelves of Landranger and Explorer maps. And I will continue to buy more in future: their sense of humour might not be up to much, but their maps are excellent, and I’m not one to hold grudges!”

“I think they have had a sense of humour failure.”

David Marsh, of Jones Cat Publishing said it was beyond belief that public money was being spent in pursuit of the case and said, if OS was successful, it would be the end of the publishing company.

Editor’s note: Ordnance Survey is a business partner of grough in the supply of mapping for its grough route system

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