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2008 was my first full year consciously Marilyn bagging, although I remained distracted by Munros when in Scotland. Despite being close to Welsh and English Hewitt completion at the end of 2007, over 100 Marilyns remained to be visited in each country, so there was plenty to do on weekend trips from home in Surrey. Holidays were reserved for visits to Scotland. Hut booking duties for a walking club helped me to keep ticking over, with bookings in Bala, Exmoor and the North York Moors as well as the honeypots of Snowdonia and the Lake District. Heading for Swinside from the parking area north of Catbells failed to tempt others to join me in bagging it, but a visit to Meall na Suiramach on a poor-weather day on Skye showed what the lower Marilyns have to offer.
After tidying up a few remaining Welsh Nuttalls in January, including an unpleasant slither down greasy spoil heaps in mist on Manod Mawr, Marilyn bagging began in earnest with a day trip in February to the Isle of Wight. A cold Easter based at Pitlochry produced one of the year's high points (a snowy circuit of Beinn a'Ghlo) and a low point (crawling off Driesh, having failed to summit). The pace quickened in April, thanks to a productive weekend in the Welsh Marches, and stayed high until Welsh completion on The Begwns in late August. It was with considerable relief that the lower hills of agricultural Wales were in the bag. 'Walkers welcome' seemed not to apply in many areas. English completion followed in October on Peel Fell, after enjoyable visits to previously unexplored areas such as Purbeck and the Forest of Bowland. The year's bagging ended in late December, during a sixth visit to the Scottish Highlands, at the summit gnome of Ben Bowie (1E).
Weekend progress won't be feasible in 2009, as my nearest new Marilyn is now over 350 miles away from home. Targets for the year are Hall of Fame entry and Munro completion.
High points: Beinn Sgritheall plus a Graham and two Corbetts from Gleann Beag. Wonderful views, easy walking and three brochs all to myself; a sunny September morning on Clach Glas; ten out of ten days of fine weather in late May in NW Scotland - Slioch and the Achnashellach horseshoe were particular highlights.
Low points: arriving at Heysham docks at 1am after a 260-mile drive to discover that the night boat to Douglas had been cancelled; Sighty Crag in heavy rain and strong wind.
Celebrity sighting: Julia Bradbury on Cringle Moor (37). Evidence of Marilyn bagging tendencies perhaps, or a sign that a Wainwright coast-to-coast programme is on its way?
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