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Beinn Dubh Airigh (19A) was Marilyn bagging at its best, a remote and obscure hill with interesting navigation, although not too difficult with so many lochans as markers. We went over Cruach Mhic Fhionnlaidh in case it is resurveyed and gets allocated an extra couple of metres.
Although the trig point on Beinn Mhor is not so dramatically situated as those on Noss Head and Biod an Athair, this hill has a similar atmosphere and similar cliff scenery can be experienced by approaching from Mull of Oa. Dun Athad is spectacularly connected to the mainland by a 'one man pass' and should not be missed.
Dubh Bheinn looked the most inaccessible of the Jura Marilyns so we decided to do it on our first full day on the island, with a beautiful morning. The going low down is quite appalling; grassy tussocks interspersed with boggy holes giving some of the slowest progress imaginable. Eventually we joined a rough vehicle track which led high into the upper corrie, from which it was an easy climb onto the 477m top of Dubh Bheinn, an ascent enlivened by the sight of two beautifully marked adders. The most striking view was the even remoter but slightly lower hill Rainberg Mor, which displays dramatically folded rock striations from this viewpoint.
We arrived in torrential rain on Monday morning, being rather surprised that the plane went at all. For once it didn't seem crazy to climb the hills in awful weather since it would have been even crazier to be on Foula and not climb them. We went over The Noup and across to The Sneug, seeing nothing but a brief glimpse down to the sea on the col between. Next day, in slightly better weather, we went round again in the other direction, incorporating Soberlie Hill and the Kame which is only a few feet lower than the St Kilda cliffs. It's most spectacular from the side as on top all you can see is the sea far below. Not to be missed! Nebbifield is the best viewpoint - complete with puffins. We were lucky to see it as we once again had mist and rain on the summits. Also spectacular is the massive cleft called Sneck o' da Smallie, not marked on the OS map but found on the north side of the col between the two Marilyns. Next morning the weather seemed a bit better but the plane didn't come because the wind was in the wrong direction. Eventually it came in the afternoon but by then we had missed the connection to Fair Isle! If we try again we shall go by boat to Lerwick and not book a Fair Isle flight until the last minute. It seems it can easily be done as a day trip on some days (preferably Monday).
Creag nam Fiadh (16D) must really come into the category of a hill which no sane person would bother with! The bog at the western end of Loch Ascaig is ghastly. We were very surprised to see another walker on the skyline but when he turned back to his quadbike we realised that we had not encountered another mad Marilyn bagger. Came back over Borrobol Hill where three men working on an aerial looked pretty surprised to see us. We have become so used to solitary hills that we would be quite amazed to meet another walker, especially on one like Creag nam Fiadh.
A bike is a must for Maovally (16E) as the hydro road is tarmaced to within ten minutes walk of the top. Worth a bit of pushing for the gorgeous run down.
Beinn Reidh (16F) is one of those worthwhile hills likely to be overlooked by those without access to the Marilyn list. If you like tracing half forgotten tracks then you will enjoy the approach from Little Assynt.
We finished the English SubMarilyns on Lundy where the hill is totally featureless but the coastal scenery is very fine. Well worth a visit and a day trip gives just the right amount of time to walk round. We then spent the weekend on Dartmoor, evading the military who don't fire at the weekend. Here we had a big surprise. Now deprived of English Marilyns we are after the 500m tops listed by Michael Dewey. We never suspected that anything would prevent us from eventually completing them all but we were wrong! On Dartmoor is a summit harder than the In Pinn! Great Links Tor has a trig point which is at the height listed by Dewey but alongside it is a tor several metres higher. We walked round this twice looking for a way up. Later we found a rock climbing guide in the visitor centre and discovered that the easiest route on this tor is VS! Ah well - another list destined to remain uncompleted! I think the overall drop around Great Links Tor is about 120m so fortunately the extra height will not bring it into the Marilyn list.
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