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Shivermetimbers and there were many island trips to treasure during the busy hill-bagging year that was 2011. After a wait of over 40 years, I was able to use the phrase 'Arr Jim lad, land ahoy' to wake up Jim Bloomer before landing to tackle Beinn a'Charnain, the high point of Pabbay. Jim, like the other members of the famous five, was knackered after a busy time at Portree. This was followed by a 3.30am start on the Monday morning to catch the Uig to Tarbert ferry.
On arrival at Tarbert we decided to look at trying to get to Seaforth Island. Jim called at a cottage near the fish farm for advice and then ran off to catch two prawn fishermen. Jim persuaded them to take us to the island, so by 9am we were on the summit and, even better, the fishermen came back to collect us an hour later, leaving plenty of time to bag more hills on Harris.
Other island highlights included the small rugged island of Wiay for a trig and two P30s, Ann Bowker's final Submarilyn, Beinn Bhreac on Soay, Ailsa Craig in April, Island Davaar in August and best of all the 'Watson' with Chris on Eilean Fladday off Raasay.
It was quality rather than quantity as only 45 Marilyns were bagged in the year. My main aim for 2011 had been to collect as many Humps as was practical. I did reasonably well with 188 new ones done, leaving only 150 left to do this year before a Hump HoF entry attempt on Uldale Head in the Howgills, hopefully in October 2012.
Worst Hump of the year was Glendhu Hill which was done in horrible weather but splendid company as Martin Richardson completed his final Humps of England, Wales and Isle of Man.
Best accommodation was the B and B run by Mary McDonald, 6 Horgabost, Isle of Harris (01859 550215) as recommended by Jonathan de Ferranti. On my first night I was greeted with a large pot of tea and four lovely cakes. After my last breakfast there, I left my car at the B and B while Jim Bloomer ran me around to Aird Mhigh so that I could do a four-Hump route back to Horgabost. On trying to collect my car I was ushered inside for more tea and cake.
The worst accommodation of the year was again found on Harris at the independent hostel in Tarbert. At £15 per night it was well over-priced, with the running water to be found running down the breeze block stairs. It appears to be run by the local postman who only comes around for an hour each evening. Other than that, entry is by key code obtained from the tourist board. A sleeping bag is required to prevent contamination from the damp dirty bunks and other poorly maintained features. You have been warned.
The Wiay/Soay trip was also memorable for another reason. George Morl was a little late returning to the boat from Wiay which led to the abandonment of a landing on Oronsay.
The captain of the RIB encouraged some of us to keep the wettest seat for George as a punishment on the trip to Soay. George was well equipped but still suffered a bit of a soaking. On the return journey from Soay to Elgol however, Gordon Adshead rushed forward to grab this seat. Poor Gordon had no wet weather gear on and looked more like a drowned sheep when he scrambled off the RIB at Elgol. A Facebook status update in early August confirmed that Gordon had finally dried out.
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