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A total of 27 new Marilyns was not very good, although I did manage 69 Humps. There is an explanation. With only seven English Marilyns left to do, I decided to climb as many of the SubMarilyns as possible to ensure that my last English Marilyn, Pillar, would remain my last one whatever the surveyors got up to in the future. I had only done 15 of the English Subs while doing the Marilyns themselves, so I spent the first two-thirds of the year driving the length and breadth of England, climbing not only the remaining Marilyns but as many Subs as possible.
I started with a weekend on the Dorset coast in March and bagged Nine Barrow Down on a dire day, more than compensated for by a long walk next day along the South-West Coast Path and over Swyre Head in sparkling weather. In May I had a weekend on the Isle of Wight where a pleasant round of St Boniface Down was followed by the not-so-pleasant Brighstone Down. The SubMarilyn, Tennyson Down, was definitely the best hill on rather a dull island.
In late May I managed to acquire a leg injury after a charity event on Snowdon; not on the hill but getting out the car when I got home! This put paid to my attending the meeting in Ullapool - the first I have missed since 2003. By late June I was fit to head south-west for my first hike on Dartmoor. I enjoyed my walk over High Willhays immensely. The next day I failed to climb to the highest point on Great Links Tor, but it gives me a good reason to return, perhaps armed with a ladder. In July I was in Northumberland where the sun shone for the ascent of my penultimate English Marilyn, Shillhope Law.
I had originally intended to do the Mosedale horseshoe in company for my completion on Pillar, but a short weather window early in September persuaded me to take a week day off to savour my English completion on my own.
Scottish walks in the latter part of the year were mainly on my own or with Andy Tomkins. The exception was a weekend in Skye with other friends in early October. The ascent of Marsco was one of sunshine, fierce winds and views to die for. The sun was still out next day for our ascent of Garbh-bheinn and Belig.
Our family summer holidays were mainly devoted to the Czech Republic and, yet again, Poland - a country for which I have a great affection. On the way out we stayed at Maastricht, from where I hiked over St Pietersberg (171m), one of only two Dutch Humps. We then headed east for the Jeseníky Mountains in the north-east of the Czech Republic. I was let loose by the family for a day over the two highest in the range (1464m Vysoká Hole and 1491m Praded). The day started very wet but improved enough for some moody misty views from the summit of Praded and a descent in sunshine through the attractive forest.
We then moved on to Zakopane in the Polish Tatra (again). Our stay there was very wet indeed and made the high peaks out of the question. I was keen, however, to add to my growing collection of 1000m summits and thought I had a weather window on the afternoon of our last day in Poland. I was dropped off for a short hike over an innocent-looking forested summit in the Tatra foothills (1038m Kurasówka).
All began well, but halfway up the hill the heavens opened and the most violent thunderstorm I have ever experienced struck suddenly, and went on for many hours. I made the summit, but the descent proved very tricky. By this time all the flanks of the hill were one big waterslide, with some of the trees being washed away, roots and all. When I reached the bottom of the hill the trickle of a stream that I had crossed on my ascent had become a raging torrent that was far too dangerous to cross. I resigned myself to a wait of many hours when I saw an old man on the other side of the torrent pointing downstream. I made my way with difficulty in the direction he was pointing and found a bridge high over the torrent below, and so escaped. However, the village I was in was cut off by mudslides and flooding. The old man invited me into his house, where his wife fed and watered me and gave me some dry clothes to wear. I have little Polish and they had no English, but we got by. I learned that this was the worst storm they could remember, and they were in their sixties. Eventually, the floods subsided and one of their neighbours drove me down to the valley to meet up with my worried family. The hike was the most dangerous I have ever done, but the kindness and hospitality of the local people turned an unpleasant event into a very pleasant memory.
On the way home we stayed a few days in the beautiful Salzkammergut in Austria, where I managed a hike over the Hoher Krippenstein (2108m) in the Dachstein group, though a cable car took the sting out of the ascent.
Back home, my work in expanding the hill and mountain lists on my website www.sites.google.com/site/europeaklist has continued, ably aided by David Stone. New lists for Slovakia, Catalonia, Spain and the Faeroes are published, whilst plans are afoot for further lists covering Poland, Hungary, Scandanavia, Greece, Montenegro and Belgium. My main aim for 2011 is to reach the Hall, but I will just have to see what life throws at me before I enter by those hallowed doors - so no promises.
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