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Last year, I bagged a total of 496 tops from the database which included 216 non-Marilyn Humps; 93 Deweys and 85 Birketts. Completions and kilometrestones:
The above facts show that I do let myself get a bit distracted. However I will mainly concentrate on the Marilyn side of things.
Over the new year I was slipping on snow and ice on hills around Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy. When I was back in Scotland in February tidying up everything between Spean Bridge and Inverness the snow was mainly confined to the higher ground, but still quite plentiful. There was major pipework construction taking place near Carn a'Chuilinn. As I walked down the track, I stopped counting after the twelfth time a passing vehicle halted and the driver asked whether I realised I was walking through a construction site. There was no way I was going to flounder through knee deep snow for several kilometres instead.
Tom Bailgeann has the dubious honour of being my most visited Marilyn summit in Scotland as I bagged it three times in two days. On the third descent I found, in deep heather, the motorhome keys that I had lost on the first ascent the day before and hence I was able to cancel the already booked tow home to Yorkshire by the AA.
In early March I nearly met Douglas Law on Mynydd Anelog. I had a nosey look in his car as I walked past and recognised a print-out from www.hill-bagging.co.uk. Later the same day I was bitten by a dog and the next day attacked by an unpleasant pheasant on Mynydd Eilian. It chased me all the way back to my van and stood guard until I drove away.
I had the good fortune to choose the early spring bout of excellent weather in April for a fortnight working my way through the islands from Vatersay to Harris. Days of brilliant sunshine and azure blue sea. It was like being on the Mediterranean without the hotels, the marinas, or the crowds. If the breeze had not been quite so vigorous I could have ended up sunbathing on the deserted beaches rather than hill bagging.
A few days later I managed to hitch a generous two-way boat ride off the only two inhabitants of the supposedly uninhabited Scarp so that I could bag Sron Romul during a golden sunset. Apparently Alan Whatley had done the same thing only a week before me. Unfortunately I was a week too early for the commercial 'Castaway' trip to Taransay but I did take advantage of a boat trip to the Shiants on the only overcast day of the fortnight. The sea eagles circling directly over my head made the other boat trippers quite jealous as they watched from a distance.
By May, the spring weather had sadly gone. It turned out to be a very windy time around Cape Wrath and Assynt. On Carn an Tionail, the wind was so strong that I was literally thrown into the air and was up there long enough to think about and choose where to land. The weather improved when we moved down to Skye to round up some Grahams missed on previous visits. On the day of the annual dinner, which also happened to be my birthday, I bagged Marilyn number 1000 (little did I know that Tony Rogers was completing his 1000th on the hill across the road). Mischievous Alan D made me (mis)pronounce my Upper Hall hill three times during his peroration.
There was a Birkett bagging weekend with a nephew and his Swedish partner. Apparently Swedes assume that lakes are for swimming in rather than just looking at, so I hardly had the chance to avert my eyes before she tore off her clothes and dived into Ullswater - much to the bemusement of other walkers on the lakeside path.
During the Scottish midge season I undertook two epic Hump bagging journeys around England and Wales - at one stage, island hopping from Isle of Wight to Isle of Man via mid-Wales. It now seems mainly a blur of impenetrable pine tree plantations, pheasant breeding woods and wind power stations. I will leave it to others to describe the conditions met on my final English Hump at the beginning of October.
It was not until later in October, after the brief Indian summer, that I returned north to bag some Scottish Marilyns, between Crieff and Killin. The weather was atrocious for much of the time and there was even some early snow. However it was great to hear the stags roaring in the mist. The best top turned out to be Deuchary Hill, as for once, the plantation trees were not unpleasant. Maybe it was because the sun actually shone that day.
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