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Last year was most enjoyable if somewhat quiet for new hills. My first summit of the year was the highest point of the Isle of Muck in the Inner Hebrides. Beinn Airein doesn't even qualify as a Marilyn, but is a great wee hill all the same and well worth climbing, with spectacular cliffs just below the summit.
I took a trip to the Lake District at the end of February and stayed in Keswick Youth Hostel for three nights, and managed to climb eight new Marilyns. If I could have kept up this rate, I would soon have entered the hallowed ground of the Upper Hall. But alas, day to day life got in the way, and over the rest of the year I only added another seven.
The Saturday was a reasonable day, and I did five small walks, picking up Watch Hill, Binsey, Lord's Seat and High Rigg, plus the iconic Cat Bells at the end of a very productive day.
Sunday was another great day although it was cloudy to start with as I left the car at the top of the Honister Pass. I ascended due north up steady slopes as the clouds lifted and the views south to the Scafell group opened up, showing a dusting of snow. I had a steady ascent to the summit of Dale Head which I had been after for quite some time. It didn't disappoint, a smashing summit with a great view north towards Skiddaw. Then along the ridge to Robinson as the weather cleared even more and the whole of the Lake District opened up. I returned to Honister Pass, over Dale Head again. I watched a helicopter land, and it was the owner of the slate quarry. I went in for tea and chips which was very nice, and was made most welcome in a very pleasant venue. A sad footnote to this was that the owner was killed two weeks later in his helicopter when it crashed on its way up the valley. I then went west, past Crummock Water to the western edge of the Lake District and climbed my 800th, Low Fell above Loweswater, which sits in a lovely remote and quiet part of this wonderful area.
Leagag at the end of Loch Rannoch at the end of March followed but then nothing till June when I climbed Ros Hill in Northumberland whilst staying at the nearby Chillingham Castle. If any of you are doing anything in the Cheviot hills, this is a wonderful place to stay. Watch out for the ghosts though, as it is supposedly the most haunted place in England.
I picked up three repeats in July, the highlight being a fantastic sunny July day on Ben Nevis when my sons made their first ascent. I then picked up Haddington Hill in the Chilterns in August courtesy of a fantastic deal from East Coast Trains - £25 first class each way from Perth to London Kings Cross had to be the bargain of the year.
My last hill of 2011 was Walbury Hill in Berkshire on a misty day in November. In fact, I found the trig points on Pilot Hill, Walbury and Inkpen Hill using my navigational skills, as visibility was about 50 metres. I was quite pleased as they are all in the middle of fields.
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