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The 2015 annual week in the Highlands was timed to follow a visit to the Edinburgh Festival. I am more arty-farty than you realised. Of course, August is not everyone's ideal time for west-coast bagging, but sometimes you just have to get out and go for it. The plan was to complete left-overs from the 2009 Strontian Marhof gathering in Sunart and Ardgour, Morvern and Kingairloch. Some rough sweaty stuff there, with the mercury up to 23C.
I enjoyed the round from the Ardtornish Estate Office near Lochaline. with a look in Leacraithnaich bothy (bagged) then tussocks in the rain to Beinn a'Chaisil and An Sleaghach. However, worth the effort for the superb views over Loch Linnhe and future son-in-law's original home island, Lismore. It is always good to feel you can squeeze in a final hill of the day in the last light of a beautiful summer's evening, so Meall an t-Slamain, the one overlooking Fort William across the loch, was worth a go. The 50-minute ascent was rewarded with a wonderful golden sunset, then the rush back to Stronchreggan before I was tripping over the heather in the twilight.
An afternoon walk from the Mallaig road took me to Loch Beoraid, one of those exquisite remote places where, even if you had travelled thousands of kilometres to get there, you would say it had been well worth the effort. Rough going again on Meith Bheinn and Druim a'Chuirn and back in the dark. Rain at Loch Arkaig, where the road was closed due to the work in progress on the local hydro schemes, so the 30km round trip up the less-than-superb Glen Mallie to Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean was achieved. This just left me with An Stac, which looks like a tough day out unless I rent a boat on Loch Morar.
Turning now to Marhofn, I would not say this magazine has influenced my hillwalking and bagging, but the RHB book certainly did since Dave Hewitt made me aware of the list in late 1998. My fell-walking became focused on doing the Marilyns, at a time when mass use of the Internet started, so the pleasure of improved communication and ensuing bagger dinners and meets has certainly added much to our hobby. However, my chart position has reduced from 21 at the end of 2001 to 36 at end of 2014, so 'keep up' should be my motto.
You may not know that I have a little job with the city council. On election days I work for 15 hours as a presiding officer in a polling station. Most elections are held in early May and I always enjoyed reading the latest Marhofn in between voter visits. I still possess the full set of 17 Marhofns, 1999 to 2015 (although I cannot find three at the moment), and they have a place of honour inside a cupboard.
The 2015 book Dull Men of Great Britain was a fun read. In this spirit, I once had a collection of 130 car number plates going back to 1935, had an extensive model railway, and collected model cars, engine numbers and bus numbers, and visited historical European Grand Prix circuits. Then I put all that behind me, started fell-walking at 21 and never looked back. Having had that many varied hobbies, maybe I am not as dull as I thought. Or perhaps I am.
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