Listen With Others

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Listener No 4706: Pedestrian Destination by eXternal

Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 Apr 2022

I can’t believe it has been five years since eXternal’s last Listener, although there have been a fair few Inquisitors from him in between (and a few collaborations). His last here was no. 4445, Strange Requests, with its theme involving fool’s errand objects such as stripy paint and glass hammer. That was a toughie, and I suspected the same here.

Down entries were Letters Latent clues with the extra letter dropping to the bottom row. (I lost a few minutes thinking that just a single letter dropped, rather than all of the same letter. Preamble oversight syndrome!) My initial view that this puzzle would be tricky was confirmed by my solving being quite slow and sporadic. Of course, sneaky wording like that’s amusing for LOL and helpful lodger for AU PAIR didn’t help!

It was only when I got to the end of my first pass through the across clues that the grid started getting a few entries. I was aided by 38ac German philosopher’s hesitance about housing unknown national (11) for NIETZSCHEAN [HESITANCE* around Z + N] helped by there being a limited number of German philosophers, but not helped particularly by it being right at the bottom of the grid.

Anyway, without dwelling on my slow route to the finish, time for my favourite clues:

  • 14ac Pass water diviner, ignoring splendid fellow (4) for PEER — PEE + DIVINER – DIVINE
  • 21ac Mostly kick around circular object for sport (6) for DISCUS(s)
  • 32ac One might turn red and possibly scream blue murder, losing scrambled broadcast (7) for REMUEUR — (SCREAM BLUE MURDER)* – SCRAMBLED*
  • 11dn Obscene video finally leaves, to be replaced by adult shop (5) for GRASS — GROSS with (vide)O replaced by A, definition shop

And so to the endgame. We were obviously somewhere in South America, LAKE TITICACA in the bottom row being on the border of Peru and Bolivia, most likely Peru since the route we needed wended its way northwards up the grid. A bit of googling had confirmed the existence of the 2ac CLOUD FOREST, but at the time, I didn’t read any more about it; it would have confirmed our Peruvian environment.

We had to change one letter in each row and column to spell some way to reach a location which needed to replace an entry in the grid. Everything would leave real words/phrases in the grid and there were a lot of non-words currently due to the dropped letters latent. I had a stab at some changes, starting with FORESY to FOREST, INTRNT to INTENT, SMPI to IMPI and AURSE to NURSE plus a few others to give T?E ICCA TRAIL and all was revealed.

The following is a full list of changes:

  • FORES[a]Y to FOREST
  • [i]RAQ[i]s to RAHS
  • INT[e]RN[e]T to INTENT
  • S[a]MPI to IMPI
  • A[cc]URSE to NURSE
  • MUS[k]RAT to MUSCAT
  • P[i]ECE to PACE
  • JUN[t]A to TUNA
  • SE[a]SIDE to RESIDE
  • SO[cc]ER to SOAR
  • FE[tt]LE to FILE
  • CAUD[l]ED to LAUDED

A bit of googling confirmed that the Inca Trail ends at MACHU PICCHU, and replacing the Cloud Forest enabled the trail to come to an end and give seven more word changes in the grid.

Thanks for a cracking puzzle, eXternal.

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