Marhofn 230.13 - May 2011

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Phil Cooper (+23=1268)

I started 2010 with 311 Relative Hills remaining on my list but ended the year with 1413 to do, having invested in the book 'More Relative Hills of Britain' by Mark Jackson. I would need to live to be 104 to complete them at the current rate of progress.

I had hardly been to the far north-west for some 30 years, so it would have been easy to be tempted by those popular classics such as Suilven, Stac Pollaidh, and Ben More Coigach when I arrived in Ullapool for the Marhof meeting. However, the lure of the unvisited Marilyns prevailed. I really enjoy a bike-in, and Jonathan Woods was up for the same on the Saturday, so we cycled up Glen Achall to Rhidorroch Lodge, locked up the bikes and did Cnoc Damh and Meall Liath Choire.

This delightful summer jaunt was in contrast to my last visit to Glen Achall in early April 1978, one of those years when winter dragged on into May. My occasional and less committed (normal?) walking pal Pete and I set off up Gleann na Sguaib from Inverlael to do Meall nan Ceapraichean, Eididh nan Clach Geala and Seana Bhraigh. Conditions turned worse than expected with increasingly cold winds, snow squalls and some deep wet snow. After dark, in the slightest moonlight, we reached Glen Achall and began the long walk out to Ullapool, covering some 23 miles in 13 hours. We had to return via Ullapool and not use Strath Nimhe as the only pubs are in Ullapool (CW: Of course you did, Phil). We sank an ale or two and the clock headed for half past eleven. Remembering we were due back at work at Nigg the next morning, I said, 'right, Pete, we had better start walking back to Inverlael, it's only seven miles'. Pete's reply was unprintable, and this remains the one day in my entire hillwalking career that I have had to take a taxi back to the starting point.

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