Marhofn 153.08 - May 2006

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Baglogs: Upper Hall:

Baglog: Phil Cooper (+47=1113)

Cowal, Loch Awe and Lorn (19A and 19C) were selected for thorough exploration in July. Highlights included a cycle ride all the way round Bute from Rhubodach, swapping bike for boots for a walk up Windy Hill and nearby outliers. Carn Duchara and Cruach na Seilcheig (19A) were done together on an excellent walk from Turnalt in Gleann Domhain. Glen Lonan provided a beautifully peaceful camping spot prior to an ascent of Deadh Choimhead, an ideal miniature mountain, perfectly suited for a family outing and just an hour's return walk from the glen. The forest path was easy, followed by avoidable scree and a rougher upper section, still following a path to the trig point, which lay totally smashed to pieces.

An October trip to the sunny south of England enabled completion of the 13 remaining Marilyns in my home country: 430 miles of driving from Paddlesworth ('highest church; lowest steeple; poorest parish; fewest people'), near Cheriton Hill, to Minehead for Selworthy Beacon. I visited 34 hills and tops including SubMarilyns and some Marilyn revisits. The big challenge with these smaller hills is to arrange a satisfactory walk of one or two hours, resisting the temptation to drive up, so you can avoid feeling that you are participating in a motor rally. There is so much history associated with these southern areas, from Iron Age forts to newer features such as the Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge near Cheriton Hill.

Cheriton Hill, tempting bagging in the style of Brent Lynam rather than Phil Cooper

Cheriton Hill, tempting bagging in the style of Brent Lynam rather than Phil Cooper

What better way to sample the many scenic delights of the Isle of Wight than a day's cycle tour? I had previously walked up the road to St Boniface Down, but this time cycled up the forest tracks to the trig on Brighstone Down, the island's other Marilyn. With the charming villages, downland and coastal views, Wight is rural England in miniature. The best southern Marilyn is Swyre Head, with its superb views along the coast to Lulworth Cove and St Alban's Head. And when visiting Hardown Hill, be sure to include the nearby Golden Cap, another coastal hill with glorious views across Lyme Bay.

My final day of English Marilyn bagging started with Wills Neck in the Quantocks, from the well-named West Bagborough, followed by Periton Hill and Selworthy Beacon: what a travesty to drive up this one and claim it. The ascent via chocolate-box Selworthy village is followed by a woodland climb to the Iron Age fort of Bury Castle and the Acland Memorial Hut, with its moving poetry. There were wonderful views along the Somerset and Devon coastlines from the top. A cycle ride to revisit Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor completed this perfect autumn day.

I finished the year on 1113 Marilyns, the same number as the nights camped out in my camper van, which I have owned since 1992. This surely demonstrates a well-balanced lifestyle.

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