Marhofn 212.12 - May 2010

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Chris Watson (+68=757)

My largest annual haul of Marilyns, which is perhaps not surprising since it was my first full year's bagging since retirement. I also ticked off another 50 assorted tops ranging from Munros to Birketts, as my hillwalking strategy changed direction yet again. This was partly due to our decision to swap our static caravan in Tayport for one near Caernarvon. As a result I started to look at Deweys, which I had previously ignored. Having said that, I found that I had done over 130 once I checked the lists.

The year was supposed to bring a big push on Munros, but by the beginning of June a combination of bad weather and bad planning meant that I had managed only one. A few in Glen Etive were added leading up to the Strontian meet, but a planned blitz from a caravan base in Corpach was ruined by a bad back after getting back from Ardgour. As a result, a fortnight's holiday in Stirling and Corpach yielded one measly tick - Druim na h-Earba above Fort William. However, to avoid a painful drive back south, we decided to leave our caravan at Corpach for a full year. Since then I have been up for a week each month and, despite dreadful weather most of the time, managed another 17, leaving me tantalisingly on 199 Munros and 299 Murdos at year's end.

A lack of convenient Marilyns en route to Scotland also led me to consider the possibility of completing the Birkett tops in the Lake District, to go with the Wainwrights that I completed in 1986. I had already done about 350 but that left another 200 to climb. The majority of these are low-level tops and I managed to tick off ten in three short walks.

Having accompanied my son, Ian, on his English Marilyn completion in Cornwall in 2008, I was keen to climb the eight outstanding hills that I needed to emulate him.

I managed five in a February weekend and then revisited Botley Hill on a trip south in March. Sighty Crag was done en route to Corpach in September, which left Peel Fell as my final target. The Baggershambles weekend in November was the chosen date and Andy Tomkins joined me on the trip, which gave us the worst weather of what had been a terrible year. Thursday saw us driving through the River Yarrow en route to Stirling - the day of the Cumbrian floods - and Ben Ledi on the Saturday was little better. We hoped for a break as we headed down to Byrness youth hostel on Sunday evening, but it continued to bucket down. The warden at the hostel was surprised when we turned up and horrified when we said we were off walking in the morning. The forecast was fair but the weather was not. We climbed over Deadwater Fell and then splashed our way to the summit in horizontal rain. It was an appropriate hill to finish on as I have a soft spot for the Pennine Way hills that I was brought up on in the 1960s - and they have provided a lot of soft spots for me. Andy and I had a beer on top and then splashed our way back down, relieved rather than elated with our day's work. I was glad that nobody else had chosen to accompany us - it was no day for cakes and chanting.

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