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2014 was a superb year for me in hillwalking terms. The highlight was undoubtedly the ascent of the St Kilda stacs. In addition I have completed all but one of my Corbetts and done 36 Ultras.
The St Kilda stack ascents on 13 October 2014 really were as fantastic as described. My strongest memories are of standing alone on the tiny summit of each with seabirds swirling around and calling hauntingly, looking out across a huge expanse of calm sea. The other isles looked familiar and spectacular but insignificant from my vantage point; a time to reflect and enjoy. Stepping on and off the dinghy to the stacks was my greatest concern, but after the first transfer to Stac an Armin went ok I was free to worry about the climbing on Stac Lee. I enjoyed creeping along the guano-filled ledges, realising we were one of the few in over 50 years to have been so privileged. It is hard to describe the feeling of elation when driving home the following day. I really could not believe I had finally done them; they had seemed so impossible when viewed from boats in previous years in conditions of higher swell. The careful weather watching had paid off and we caught a tiny window of mild weather with low swell and little wind. The delicate scent of guano lingered in the car for several weeks.
Richard and I had a memorable few days in Scotland in March: Buidhe Bheinn in clear skies and unseasonal sunshine amongst snowy ridges, and also Meall na h-Aisre in wind-blown spindrift which sparkled like diamonds against blue skies. We also went to the Lleyn peninsula in April and enjoyed two lovely days with stunning blue seas, bright green fields and the fairly recently re-designated Mynydd Anelog.
My main trip to Scotland was in the first two weeks of May in somewhat wet weather. Whilst Richard cycled across Scotland, I, with two friends, Graham Bromley and Dave Chaffey, backpacked into Knoydart where I had a cluster of seven Corbetts to complete. The superb views out over the peninsula when the cloud cleared were a highlight. Later that trip we cycled into the Attadale estate and unexpectedly met Colin Crawford on the first day of his cross-Scotland challenge. He then beat us up Beinn Dronaig (though it was not a race).
We returned home on a circuitous route via Glen Elg, where we ascended Sgurr Mhic Bharraich, and various other gems such as Beinn Mhiarlairigh, on top of which I recall eating bilberries, listening to cuckoos call and watching wheatears bouncing from rock to rock. We then drove to Loch Rannoch and treated ourselves to a night in a hotel after two weeks of camping and did the wonderfully named Sron Smeur, and finally went to sunny Northumberland and the new entry Lamberton Hill.
My new year resolutions for 2015 are to count up my Marilyns and complete my Corbetts.
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