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My efforts during 2015 were concentrated on picking up as many as possible of the 72 Marilyns needed to reach the Upper Hall. I managed over half of them with three week-long trips to the Highlands and a three-day stay in Galloway.
The first two months of the year were written off by football and illness: the latter exacerbated by the former as a long day to London to watch one of the greatest cup upsets ever (Chelsea 2 Bradford City 4) left me with a severe chest infection. Early March found me sleeping in a four-poster in a posh pad near Penrith, courtesy of our great leader, and bagging a few Birketts. However, the journey home was a sad one as I saw Tony Rogers for the last time at his home in Grasmere.
The Loch Ken bunkhouse provided good accommodation in late April as I bagged six lowly Marilyns. The only Simm I attempted was Millfore, but I retreated from its east face as a blizzard moved in on me. Next up was the Marhof meeting at Ardfern, where I shared a house with fellow baggers and climbed 11 local Marilyns. A long day out to the Mull of Kintyre with Charles Everett will live long in my memory.
In July I shared a cottage in Poolewe with Alan Dawson and Iain Brown. I managed two Marilyns a day, including four Grahams, and only got one serious soaking. A final trip to Inver Lodge near Ballater, as part of a large group in October, yielded another ten Marilyns in dry but windy conditions. These took me just over the halfway point en route to the Upper Hall. They were quite hard work as I had to drive up to Tomintoul and beyond for five days running to find unclimbed hills.
The demise of Marhofn is a particularly sad event for me as I have been involved with its production for the past seven years. I had started bagging Marilyns seriously in 1998 before the first issue was published, but I did not notice it until 2000. I had a couple of Tips for the Tops published in issue 58.03 and then did a long report on the 2001 Barra trip in issue 84.04. Since then I have been a regular contributor with baglogs, Humphof reports and, for the past four years, the Hall tables.
Marhofn did not set me off on bagging Marilyns nor was it initially responsible for my getting involved with other members on bagging trips - the RHB Yahoo group did that. However, many members are not web-centric and it has been the Marhofn publication that has pulled everybody together over the past 18 years. It has encouraged us to pool our resources to arrange trips throughout Britain so that many of us have visited places we never thought we ever could. Mingulay, St Kilda, Foula and Fair Isle stand out particularly in my memory.
I have never really considered joining a walking group. I am no rambler, but the fact that only three of the 32 people who set off up Ben Lomond in awful weather for my last Munro were not Marilynistas shows that many of us are prepared to put aside our agendas to help others achieve theirs. It is to be hoped that some method can be found to carry this spirit forward into the future.
Q: How many sheep does it take to knit a Fair Isle sweater?
A: Do not be silly - sheep cannot knit
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