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When I took seven-year-old Ian up Carn Fadryn during our summer holidays in 1982, it was his first and my 95th Marilyn. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. Hence the rest of the Lleyn Marilyns were left unclimbed for another 20 years or so whilst we both concentrated on Nuttalls, Munros and the like. Until he was in his mid teens we tended to climb hills together, but as he got faster and I got slower he found other companions at school and college, and our outings together were relatively rare. I managed to complete the Nuttalls and Hewitts about a year ahead of him in 1996, but by the time we bought the Purple Book in the late 90s and totted up our totals, he was a good way ahead of me in the Marilyn count.
However, once he started working and courting I managed to keep him in sight, and the arrival of granddaughter Emma in 2005 obviously clamped the brakes on him quite effectively, although it didn't stop him completing his Welsh Marilyns on the RHB Bardsey trip that year. As we were both approaching the 600 mark, the idea of a joint entry into the Hall seemed realistic, despite the fact that we were still rarely climbing together. At the end of 2006, I was on 581 and Ian was on 583. We had been neck and neck for a couple of years but I had never quite caught him up. A spring completion seemed feasible, but it took me eight trips around Britain to get to 599. Ian, typically, did most of his in one jaunt to Dumfries and Galloway, and early May found us poised to become the first father and son to cross the threshold together.
A total of 15 people plus two dogs met up at Wanlockhead on 5 May 2007 and took the easy stroll up Green Hill. Ian and I had travelled up through dreadful weather from Wallasey, and the Scottish contingent reported similar weather on the way south. Fortunately, it relented for a couple of hours, and there were more than sufficient HoF members (ten) on the summit to justify a chant led by the Chief Chanter himself, Lindsay Munro. I was only sad that Jennifer Thomson could not join Ali Wilson and Jill Adam, her regular companions at RHB events.
Since then I have retired, and the difference this has made can be seen in our end-of-year tallies. The trip to Shetland was the highlight of the summer until I got the Lerwick belly. I won't forget Fair Isle and Foula in that little plane. Ian and I did manage a quick trip to Aviemore to get him off the 600 mark, but he is too busy potty-training to do a lot. I reckon I'll have that 94-hill gap in place again by next Christmas.
As I look back over the past nine years, that investment in Alan's book has certainly given me a great return. Trips to the islands of the Outer Hebrides, Shetland, and many other places that I would probably never have visited otherwise, have been made possible by the organisational skills of many RHB members - although special mention must be made of Rob Woodall and Brent Lynam, boatmen extraordinaire. Getting to 1000 before I pop my clogs seems a realistic target, so I'd better stop typing and put my boots on. And finally, special thanks to Lorna, who rarely climbs hills but has supported me in this slightly barmy pastime for more than 30 years.
'We climb the mountain, feel the wind.
We climbed. To touch the stars.'
The KLF, White Room
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