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In the previous edition of Marhofn I speculated that going to St Kilda during a better and longer weather window might allow us to gain the island summits that we desire. By George Morl, we were extremely lucky with the weather so Dun, Soay, Boreray and Hirta were bagged during our three-day trip.
2014 did not start too well as in January I ended up in hospital with viral meningitis. This badly affected my memory and ability to exercise. I did not appear to make much improvement until I was treated for the possibility of chronic Lyme Disease. So I managed very little in the way of hill-bagging until early May. As I began to recover I enjoyed regular canal walks to build up my stamina and began a phased return to work in March. My memory still lets me down from time to time and at best is only 80% back to normal eleven months on.
Still, with the help of friends such as Martin Richardson, Iain Brown, Jim Bloomer and Richard Speirs, 2014 was a fantastic year in terms of hill and island bagging, with 59 new island high points bagged. Highlights include the eight-day trip to Barra, Tiree and Coll. Then there was the historic 12-day trip to Orkney where Pete Milne, Jon Metcalf and I got benighted by fog on North Ronaldsay. Pete was panicking that he would not get to work the following Monday, and this was only 6.10pm on the Friday. I was more than happy being marooned on a remote island with around 1800 sheep. It gave me more time to explore the island, its lighthouses, coastline and history. We were very well looked after at the bird observatory. The highlight for me was when the 9.00am plane landed on North Ronaldsay, I witnessed Jon and Pete sprinting for the airport, however the plane was off to Papa Westray before they got half way. Our return flight to Kirkwall was not due until 11.00am, which got back to Orkney Mainland in time for a ferry to get us down to Helmsdale by 6.00pm, so we did not miss the Marhof annual dinner.
I had a great trip to Dartmoor with Iain Brown at the end of August to bag Deweys and take a trip out to Lundy island to bag its Submarilyn and three lighthouses. Our boat left from Ilfracombe on a sunny morning. The two-hour crossing was very choppy and over 50% of the passengers were badly sea-sick. On the way back we were hit by a force-five wind and the ferry was diverted to Bideford. One wave hit the front of the boat and then struck the back of the boat to almost wash overboard a man and his six-year-old son.
A great spell of settled weather in September allowed me to complete my Marilyns on Harris and Lewis on either side of the St Kilda trip. I had two nights camping at Huisinish beach which was fantastic and great preparation for St Kilda.
In October and November I attended some great completion parties. Now it is really going to be difficult for 2015 to beat 2014, but I can only hope that it is almost as good.
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