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Being able to enjoy a quiet winter hibernation has become a thing of the past since living with a year-round bagger. Early highlights Margriet persuaded me into visiting were the Falls of Unich, on the way to Hunt Hill in January, and scraping the Menteith Beinn Dearg on a March weekend where gales and blizzards made venturing above 450m a suicidal proposition. Snow and cold persisted well into April which was great for Ben Stack as the highlight of a Scourie week, but meant no puffins on Handa when visited as a diversion from hills one day.
Mull and Shetland could not have given more of a contrast in May, the latter being as arid and calm for Alan Holmes' varied island trips as the former was sodden days out of seven for hill purposes. Mull Marilyns were whittled away generally by 5am starts for the short dry window some days followed by afternoons over coffee and the papers while watching rain trace down the sun lounge exterior. Mull was still fun although high winds again made our visit to Ben Buie more of a series of uncontrolled lurches than a walk. Rain drops stung like bullets on the way down.
Shetland was more about islands than hills, but I did clear out all Humps except Sheep Rock and the three on Yell, which I cannot wait to return to after seeing golf-ball sized garnets this time. Colin Crawford's 2500th Hump at Fora Ness was another notable evening.
Talking Humps, Sonisphere provided an excuse to visit some of midland England during the days while waiting for Iron Maiden and Rammstein to grace the stage in the evenings. The Roaches deserve a special mention for representing all that is good about the Humps - great views, spectacular outcrops and all in a pint-sized package.
July and November both saw pilgrimages to Wales. Y Lliwedd was probably the scrambliest thing of the year (sadly no views to take my mind off imminent free fall), while the copper mine on the flanks and wild cherries at the foot of Y Garn made it one of the most interesting hills of the year. Six Marilyns remain before seriously embarking on Welsh Humps.
August's HOF meeting organised by Iain Brown at Giggleswick School was an enjoyable chance to catch up with many and allowed for some Dales bagging on God's own rock (limestone) and Borders Marilyn raids on the way home (while the former bagger known as Rachael read a book in the car). The management committee questioned my 100% attendance record at the AGM, but the scrolls from the one time I forgot to sign the book have since been corrected.
In October we used Roybridge as a base for some Corbetting. The Loch Arkaig road was probably more of a challenge to drive than Sgurr Mhurlagain was to walk.
November's mass cater at Harmony Hall was much more stressful than any of the related walking on account of the oven being too small for the pre-made lasagne dish. This proved as nothing compared with trying to do Christmas lunch later in the year with a bust oven. We closed the year with enjoyable romps up Lismore's Barr Mor and Kilninver's Beinn Mhor, at 194m a misnamed hill if I ever saw one.
Hills of the year were Moel Ysgyfarnogod's excellent series of summit towers, castles and outcrops, and the superb landslip block on the ridge of Shee of Ardtalnaig. Hall of shame candidate was Gamallt for unpleasant GOMLing to the south-west of the summit. Stick to the access land up the east ridge and this should not arise.
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