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Last year saw me attending a total of six completion events and entries into various Halls of Hill Fame. This included attendance at two of my own, which was a good idea, as they wouldn't have taken place otherwise.
The year got off to a slow start, as usual, due to poor weather and inability to get out of bed on dark mornings. I did manage a mad dash up north in January to bag the notorious Benbeoch. The combination of a bank holiday and an Old Firm match meant nobody was about. I even managed to add Craiglee in complete darkness before tackling the long drive home. In February I took advantage of a Travel Inn special offer to book a night in Kilmarnock and managed Hill of Stake, Blaeloch Hill and Brown Carrick Hill between bouts of heavy rainfall.
A short weekend trip up to Tyndrum in March brought me two new summits - Beinn Chuirn and Shee of Ardtalnaig. The first day was full winter conditions, but the next walk showed the first signs of spring - or at least the vast numbers of frogs and toads which we met on the descent must have thought so when their attention was diverted from their amorous frolicking.
On the long royal wedding weekend, I headed to the Isle of Man with a friend to bag the five Marilyns and as many other Humps as possible. It remained sunny all the time, but with a constant fierce wind that made progress at times a struggle. The best walk was at the scenic southern tip of the island taking in Mull Hill and Bradda Hill. On the final day we took the electric railway from Ramsey and did a long ridge walk back to the town via Snaefell and North Barrule - the first of my own completion events in the year. Later that month saw me on Mull for the first time for a friend's Munro completion on Ben More. Next day, in the teeth of yet another gale, we managed to stagger to the top of the tiny Carn Ban in conditions that made the earlier ascent of the highest hill on the island seem rather easy.
With all the Marilyns in Wales, England and the Isle of Man now under my belt, I began to turn my thoughts to my 600th. Before I did there was the small matter of finally getting up the In Pinn on the day before the June dinner. I am very grateful to Bob Kerr, Graham McFadyen and Louise Collins for their patient efforts with us on what proved to be a very long day. The climb rather sapped my willpower for further Marilyns but I still managed four others to add to my total. Later that month I returned to the Southern Uplands for an ascent of the notorious Law Kneis. No human GOMLs impeded me, but the weather quite made up for their absence. I could not have been as wet on this hill if I had jumped into a loch and walked along the bottom for a few hours in full walking gear.
A weather window late in July persuaded me to make a quick dash up to Oban for two Marilyns, the tiny Beinn Mhor (19A) and mighty Ben Cruachan. This left me teetering on the threshold of the Hall; however, it was early September before I got over it. I had selected Ben Cleuch for my 600th Marilyn (and 800th Hump). The day was fine and I was very pleased at the turnout of ten fellow baggers for the event. This rather surprised my wife and two of my sons who accompanied me.
I think they had believed that my ramblings about other Marilyn baggers were a complete figment of my imagination. My thanks go to all who turned up for a great day.
The rest of the year could have been a bit of an anti-climax, but, although I only did five more Marilyns, they were rather a fine bunch. To prove I am in fact crazy, Andy Tomkins and I took a day trip all the way to the Campsie Fells in late September for Earl's Seat and some sampling of the nectar at the local distillery. The month ended with my first trip to the Isle of Arran, to climb A'Chruach and Goat Fell. My Marilyn year ended on Wether Hill with Andy Tomkins, again on a snowy day in mid-December.
There have been other bagging days doing Humps and English Hewitts but that's another story. Lack of money rather curtailed our annual holiday to central Europe but a week away yielded a forested Marilyn in north east Poland - Szeska Gorá, 309m (P191) - and a Lithuanian Hump near the Belarusian border.
Work on the Europeaklist website has continued apace, (sites.google.com/site/europeaklist) with new lists covering Belgium, the Baltic states, Belarus, Malta, Faeroes, Hungary and Ireland. It is hoped that some of the Scandinavian and Balkan countries will be making their first appearance on the website in 2012.
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