Marhofn 269.15 - May 2013

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Michael Earnshaw (+196=1530)

Starting the year at 1334, it felt as though the wall was coming into view. I listed hills which might be barriers, and so were top priorities for 2012:

No new Marilyns were bagged in January or February. I concentrated on Humps in Wales and southern England, before heading to Ireland in late March to work on Hewitts, Kirks, county tops and P400s.

Scarba from Jura (photo: Michael Earnshaw)

Scarba from Jura (photo: Michael Earnshaw)

My first Marilyn of 2012 was Benbeoch - an early start on 22 April after travelling from Larne to Cairnryan the previous evening. The coast was clear at 6am for an easy ascent from NS489068, but the mine roads were already busy on the way down at 6.45 - on a Sunday. This was the beginning of three weeks in Scotland, blessed with good weather and dry ground most of the time. Highlights were a boat trip to Scarba and neighbouring Hump islands, thanks to Alison Fox for organising it; a week with Jim Bloomer in Appin, Moidart and Morar; and An Stac from Glen Pean. There were fine views from nearly every hill, with lots of unexpected gems such as Meall nan Each. The weather broke shortly after Jim went home and storms sent me back to Surrey soon after, three Grahams away from completion but with three of my top priority hills in the bag.

Tidying up was on my mind for trip two to Scotland. It started well with completion of region 28 on the long drive north, Cowal a couple of days later, then Kintyre. Three unexpectedly easy days on Jura finished region 20, with region 27 following soon after to complete south of Stirling before heading north to Inverness. A pleasant bike ride past Loch Glass took me close to the dreaded Beinn nan Eun; a splendid hill in remote country, with no GOMLs around this time. This left only Carn na Coinnich and its twin between me and Graham completion. Foolishly, I had booked accommodation elsewhere, so had a grim trudge in rain and cloud over the twin tops and numerous neighbouring summits of similar height on the only spare day for it. This was a sign of things to come, as the next month's walking had no dry days. I did manage to complete on the home side of the Great Glen, and finish my priority hills on a visit to Durness. The bus driver dropped me off at NC311704, leaving a short walk over the three Marilyns back to the ferry. On the journey home I reached 1500 on Ben Clach. Completing in various parts of the country brought mixed feelings - satisfaction, but a sense of loss too. What next? Low altitude Scottish Humps are a list too far for me. Thankfully I have plenty of Munro Tops still to climb. After those, the 2000ft Humps could be the answer.

My third and final big trip of 2012 started with some Humping in west Wales before a fortnight in south-west Ireland to finish the Irish Hewitts, Kirks and P400s, joined by Jim Bloomer for the second week, and a further fortnight in Scotland - another convoluted way of avoiding the drive north from Surrey to Scotland. The Beara peninsula in Kerry is well worth a visit - rugged hills and terrific views over the sea back to the Iveragh peninsula. The ground was boggy, even by Irish standards - the warden at Dingle YH claimed it had been the worst summer in her lifetime. Some places had given up by mid-September and closed for the winter.

Jim and I decided to nip up Ben of Howth, Dublin, before catching our ferry home, using only a road atlas. Do not ask for directions to the summit as there is a viewpoint, well away from the summit, known locally as The Summit.

My poor run on Skye continued with another spell of wet and windy weather. The north end of Raasay was a revelation - almost good enough to take away the painful memory of the price of the ferry.

Much of the remainder of 2012 was spent working on a permanent solution to the problem of the drive from Surrey to Scotland, resulting in moving house to Cumbria.

Low points of 2012:

Other highlights:

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