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It was a good year in the hills and it brought the highest total of hill days we've yet recorded - 115. We were however into March before the first Marilyn ticks were scored, but that month brought a glut as the first of two visits was made to south Wales. We had a fine snowy day out on the peaks of the Radnor Forest, but elsewhere in the backwoods of Radnorshire we came across blocked paths and found ourselves removing four-year-old foot and mouth disease notices from Carneddau (31B). Before crossing the border into Wales, Herefordshire had yielded a number of pleasant and easy bags to get our English Marilyn totals moving.
The dreariest trip of the year was surely our March/April one based in Aberfoyle, where the sun showed for only a matter of minutes all week, but it did bring us the first Corbett of the year - Beinn a'Choin. Leaving the hill we came upon a mouse at the farm of Corriearklet. It was entirely tolerant of us, allowing me to approach to within a foot or so to take photographs. It was equally tolerant of (or oblivious to), the farm cat, which Sue had to ward off repeatedly. So what happened after we left?
The 'trigfest' of the year was in Pembrokeshire, so that had us spending a week in Brecon en route, collecting Hewitts and Marilyns in the Beacons and Black Mountains. Given its severe GOML reputation, our evening bagging of Myarth (32A) was especially pleasing, but perhaps the most interesting hill of the trip was Sugar Loaf, which we took in with Bryn Arw, where we met a couple who confessed they had climbed it partly as it was a Marilyn. They came from Hampshire and seemed fairly gentle walkers, so they're not likely to have designs on HoF membership, which made their knowledge of and interest in relative hills curious. (Surely not - that's the beauty of the Marilyns, you can just enjoy climbing the little ones, like my wife does. TW.)
We found as usual that our club's Scottish week at the end of May generated fewer Marilyn bags than we'd hoped for (unaccountably, other folk want to climb Munros), but as we were over the Aonach Eagach and Bidean again during the trip, we've no complaints. We stayed on beyond that week and used the Glenfinnan sleeping car as a base for one of the best hill days we had in the year - a traverse of the tops of Streap. Unfortunately the excellent weather of that day didn't last as we sailed from Mallaig to Inverie, where the weather was dull but the approach by Loch Nevis was very fine.
Three Welsh trips in one year must be a record for us. September's trip netted just a few new Marilyns but the climb to Arenig Fach (30D), after the ascent of Carnedd y Filiast, gave us one of the toughest pieces of going of the year. Another tough piece of ground had to be covered in the Forest of Bowland when we visited the remarkable trig point of Hawthornthwaite Fell Top (pictured, left) - how on earth does it stay up?
October was memorable for a mountaineering club meet in Norfolk when we bagged Normanby Top (formerly known as The Wolds) on the long drive down, and also for a week in the south-eastern Grampians where we accompanied Colin Green - a hill-going friend of over 30 years standing - to the summit of Mount Battock (7B), his 600th Marilyn. 'I believe we so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands on it.'
In November we had some splendid days out. We stayed near Hawick and collected a bunch of Marilyns, including two of the four that made up the difference between my collection and Sue's - Roan Fell and Blackwood Hill (28B). These were days of utter sunshine, wonderful visibility, frost-bound ground (and bogs), and descents to valleys in fading light. December was kind too, with benign if not strikingly good weather, although the 29th was magnificent with blue sky, excellent visibility and a few inches of powder snow for our 115th hill walk of the year.
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