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Although I managed five more Marilyns in 2014 than the previous year, I have come to accept that my progress towards the Upper Hall is likely to be at a snail's pace, at least until I retire in several years time. I am now running out of Marilyns in Scotland to climb within a day's return journey of my home in north Wales, and lengthier trips to the Highlands tend to be aimed at the higher hills where the daily Marilyn count is often reduced to one or even none. That is not to say that my hillwalking has reduced in frequency, as is indicated by a total of 60 new Humps and 175 new Tumps in 2014. My attempts to push on with completing the New Donalds, Deweys and Welsh Humps certainly helped to push up my bagging totals for the year.
The first new Marilyn had to wait till late February, when my wife and I took a bargain break in Dumfries. I was let loose to scale the various walls up onto the summit of the newly-promoted Killyleoch Hill. My next trip to Scotland was over a weekend in late April on my first failed trip to Ailsa Craig. On the afternoon before, I hiked the fine ridge up onto the elegant Grey Hill, followed by a bog-trot back to the car on the eastern side of the ridge. On the afternoon of the next day, once safely back in Girvan after failing to land on Ailsa Craig, Alex Cameron, Steve Gillians and I hiked up to the summit of Beneraird. The hike was longer than expected due to a parking GOML before we began the walk.
The pace picked up somewhat in May. A Munro-bagging trip at the beginning of the month added Meall Buidhe, Carn Gorm, Carn Mairg and Stuchd an Lochain to my tally, together with a quick hike up Dumyat on the journey south. Later that month a mad day-trip with Andy Tomkins and his son James to climb the Eildon hills added Eildon Mid Hill. These hills were particularly busy on the day as they were covered in charity walkers, despite the weather. The month ended with my second, and successful, trip to Girvan for an easy landing on Ailsa Craig in glorious weather. It was a truly stunning day, the memory of which made up for the news some time after I got back that Troweir Hill, which I had climbed on the evening before, had been demoted. On the way up to Girvan I had also climbed Craigenreoch, so at least I had one Marilyn secured on that day.
June proved to be the most fruitful Marilyn-bagging month, as Andy Tomkins and I were up in the Highlands for some days before the Marhof annual dinner in Helmsdale. On the way up to Ullapool a short detour off the A9 allowed us a hike over Cruban Beag. Next day proved to be really foul weather - the Tomkins-effect kicking in, no doubt - but we still managed to slosh our way up and over Beinn nam Ban. Next day was better, allowing us to go higher and further - Conival and Ben More Assynt in tantalising misty conditions. Fortunately, we were down in the glen again when I turned round to see lightning flashing in the thick cloud through which we had just descended. Heading east from Ullapool next day to Helmsdale, Andy and I managed two outings - over Meall Dola and then Beinn Dhorain - before the Marhof annual dinner. Before heading south on the Sunday we took a quick turn over Creag Thoraraidh before the long journey south. It was very busy with baggers.
I had to wait till mid-August before I was in Scotland again, this time with a friend who prefers the higher hills. On a trip to finish off the Monadhliath Munros (no Marilyns on that walk), we climbed Creag Ruadh on the way to our hotel in Newtonmore. The weather was particularly foul that weekend, so I am afraid the only bagging done next day was of the outdoor shops in Aviemore and Inverness (the remote Tomkins effect, I wonder).
A short weekend trip in September to top up my Munros yielded me Cruach Ardrain. This made up for the trip before, as we had a charmed day on these hills in sunshine when all around was shrouded in hill fog. It was very pleasantly strange.
The final burst of Marilyns occurred in October. Another short Munro-bagging weekend added the very fine Stob a'Choire Odhair and Stob Ghabhar in typical Scottish autumn weather. Towards the end of the month a week's stay at a croft near Gairloch on a family holiday enabled me to climb Beinn a'Chearcaill. This hill certainly took my 2014 prize in the category of 'best summit view'. A day on a family car-tour of Skye enabled me to add Bioda Buidhe as a quick outing from the top car park near the Quiraing.
The last Marilyn of the year was in December, in a desperate and failed bid to reach 25 for the year. Andy and James Tomkins joined me for a day-trip dash to section 27A. We only managed one hill - Corse Hill - due to parking difficulties that meant we had to walk far further than we had planned. I never thought I would say this, but this moorland bump is actually enhanced by the presence of the vast wind farm all over it.
There were also repeat Marilyns in the course of the year - ten in all. Snowdon featured, by its superb south ridge. I never cease to be amazed at how quiet this route up the mountain is.
Financial constraints in 2014 meant no foreign holidays, but I did manage some excellent Hump and Tump bagging while on holiday in Pembrokeshire, a region of my adopted homeland I had not explored before.
On the European hill-listing project, things have been rather quiet on sites.google.com/site/europeaklist/. A new page has been added for Finland, with a list of all the 1000m hills in the country to P30m. Hopefully some Greek hill lists should be added in 2015.
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