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2014 was a quieter year for us than 2013. Jen enjoyed her remaining English Marilyns and together we completed this set on Peel Fell in November. Other highlights included a fine trip to Helmsdale for the annual Marhof dinner, a superb trip to Barra in good company and the autumn Alwinton bagger meet. Lowlights were the missed trip to St Kilda, on two occasions, the first time after the week one party used up all the good weather.
In looking at numbers we managed 19 separate Marilyn bagging trips (down from 30 in 2013), starting the year on the west coast near Oban, climbing Tom Meadhoin by Loch Leven on the first day of the year, finishing up at Lochcarron for New Year 2014 climbing Biod an Fhithich at the foot of Glen Shiel, which had eluded us the previous year when the snows were too deep and the wind too strong. A good January birthday trip for Rick was to Inveraray where we completed most of our missing Argyll hills, then over the Easter break we mopped up our remaining Marilyns in south-west England: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Herefordshire.
Later in April was our organised trip to Ailsa Craig with sailings planned over March and April. It was my first real go at island trip organising; hats off to Mr Holmes. That said the craft in question is of debateable vintage and makes the 20km trip something of a challenge in poor weather. We managed to get two boats landed and one circumnavigation of the island without a landing. Thanks to all who got involved and their patience with weather, tides and organisation. The Craig itself was a wonderful landing and experience.
Helmsdale in June was a great trip. Nineteen Marilyns plus other tops, weather generally excellent. We got out to Ben Armine without having tyres deflated, and a five-Marilyn trip including Scaraben and Morven, long-held objectives. June finished with a foray into the Angus hills, camping in the foothills around Glen Isla. Then July began with a great trip to Barra, where we had fine weather out to Barra Head and the five Marilyns, with the whole of the rest of the week tramping around all the other Marilyns and bumps on the remaining parts of Barra and Vatersay. Thanks to Richard Speirs for organising.
In August we enjoyed Marilyns and Grahams around Loch Arkaig, again blessed with good weather. How come when it started so wet in January? But it was not to last, we came back from Crete for the second St Kilda week trip only to find the weather had broken so instead had to enjoy the good weather on the mainland, heading east for solace amongst the hills. This was a bitter disappointment after all the planning and preparations and the fine reports from the first week's boats.
Loch Lomond was next on the bagging front where we were fortunate to enjoy the weather and hospitality of Chris Watson's final Munro. A great occasion made memorable by all the stops Chris and his family pulled out. Good Marilyns were collected along the way including Ben Bowie and The Fruin.
Jenny did her penultimate English Marilyn on Shining Tor in more damp weather; however things brightened up for the Alwinton trip that she organised. More great company and on Peel Fell our final English Marilyn, a splendid hill.
We concluded the year with trips to mid-Wales, enjoying Welshpool and Builth Wells (great to see Iain and Moira Brown there) where we collected nine more Welsh Marilyns before travelling north for Hogmanay in Lochcarron, picking off Grahams as we went. So the year's targets of Grahams and Birketts did not quite work out: 33 Grahams climbed leaving 99 to do, 26 Birketts climbed leaving 22. Something to look forward in retirement from April 2015.
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