2017: a year in review

Wainwrights done in year: 21
Wainwright total at end of year: 82
Munros done in year: 0 😦
Other new classified hills done: 5 (3 Marilyns, an Outlying Wainwright and a Graham)
Repeats: 1 (Arthur’s Seat, for the umpteenth time)
Trips to Scotland: 4 (including for rugby)
Trips to the Lake District: 9 (of varying length)
Hungover walks: 2 (plus a couple more when slightly fuzzy around the edges)
Beer festivals attended: 4 (2 in the Lakes, 2 in Kent)
Transport debacles: Too many
Trouser debacles: Same
Glasses of wine drunk: Don’t ask.

With 2018 fast approaching, I thought it was time to reflect on how 2017 had gone.

Compared to 2016, it was a pretty good year for hill walking: in 2016 I managed 13 new hills and one repeat and numerically this year was a lot better. I managed to add a total of 26 hills to my ‘bag’ of which the vast majority were Wainwrights; I also managed to climb a classified hill of some description every month this year for the first time, although it did require a bit of creativity in a couple of months by way of slightly artificial bagging runs to a couple of South Eastern England Marilyns. However, it was the first year since I took up hill walking that I did no Munros; this was largely a consequence of it having become increasingly more expensive to get to Scotland compared to the Lakes, with the sleeper train having priced itself out of the market under its new ownership (which will most likely only get worse once the new deluxe trains are introduced next year) and flight times having become increasingly inconvenient with Easyjet cutting the late night Friday flight to Glasgow off its summer schedule making weekend mad dashes north of the Border basically impossible. I hope to get back on the Munros at some point in the future, but will have to see what happens. Continue reading

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They have hills in South East England too, sort of.. Part 3

Hills: Detling Hill
Classification: Marilyn
When: Saturday 2 December
Weather: dry, cloudy and very cold
Low points: the summit
High points: the ruined castle
Why: read on….

They have hills in South-East England too. Well sort of if you are bagging Marilyns as there are a number on the North Downs Way, South Downs and so forth. I am quite definitely not bagging Marilyns (or Humps, Tumps, trig points etc). So why was I wandering around the pretty flat ‘summit’ area of Detling Hill on a rather cold Saturday at the beginning of December? There was a good reason, at least of sorts…

There will be a full retrospective of 2017 at some point. But the reason, in brief, was due to setting myself an unofficial ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to do both on and off the hill over the course of the year. As is always the case with these lists my success was mixed! I had not managed to climb a number of specified hills I wanted to do, have a massage at least once a month or lose a stone and a half (although I have managed to lose a stone, so am at least further forward at the end of 2017 than I was at the start of it). But one of the things on the list was to climb a classified hill on some sort of recognised list at least once a month. Continue reading

They have hills in the South East too, sort of.. Part 2

Hills: Leith Hill
Designation: Marilyn, County Top (Surrey)
Who: Just me
When: Sunday 27th August
Time in car to time on hill ratio: about 2:1
Time walking vs faffing ratio: about 1:1
Post walk drink: A rather nice shiraz
Post walk watering hole: My living room (does that count?!)
Why: see below…

They have hills in the South of England too. Well allegedly. My first attempt to see if this was actually true involved the undistinguished Botley Hill (highest point within the M25) on the way home from a trip to one of our offices near Gatwick. That was also a Marilyn and demonstrated pretty well what Marilyn baggers have to put up with and the lows of that pursuit compared with the highs (say Ben Nevis or Scafell Pike) or the OMG (the St Kilda sea stacks). I can’t help wondering if as many potential Marilyn baggers have been deterred by the boredom factor of climbing stuff such as that as much as the technicalities of the stuff at the other end of the British Isles.

So what was I doing on Leith Hill, a Marilyn and the highest point of Surrey (and therefore a county top tick and a BOGOF)? Well, for the first time ever I had actually climbed a classified hill of some sort in every month of this year so far, starting with 3 new Wainwrights in glorious winter conditions in the first week of January. I had then somehow managed to get a hill of some sort in every subsequent month with my best being 6 Wainwrights in June. This had involved a number of mad dashes of various sorts and unfeasible amounts of time on either public transport or in the car/ stuck on the M25, M6, etc as well as having to be slightly creative in July when an Outlying Wainwright, Orrest Head, was squashed in on the day of a beer festival in a fairly ropey weather weekend. Continue reading

There are hills within the M25? Er, sort of..

What do you do with a nice evening after work? The normal person’s answer might be to sit in the garden with a glass of wine, find a nice beer garden or some such. What did I do? I decided to see what the South-East has that passes for hills..

A few years ago, I realised after walking a section of the North Downs Way that I had passed a hill (of sorts) that is classed as a Marilyn, i.e. a hill of more than 150m with a drop and reascent of 150m to a higher hill. I had literally been about 200 yards from the trig point and not done anything about it. To be honest, I hadn’t realised that the South-East had any classified hills. So off I had pottered on the North Downs Way leaving the thing unticked. Continue reading

Great day on Great Whernside!

Hills: Great Whernside
Hewitts: Ditto
Ydiotts: (Yorkshire Dales ‘ills Over Two Thousand) ditto
When: 13 September 2015
Who: self, the mountaineering minion, and Ibex Mountaineering Club
Weather: lovely!
Distance & time: 8 miles, 4 ½ hours
Bog Factor: mostly okay, though pretty glutinous in parts

It’s been a long lay off from the hills, with us deciding – given the foul weather we usually get in Scotland in August – to dispense with our normal 2 weeks holiday to the Highlands in favour of two weeks in Egypt, snorkelling, looking at tropical fish, drinking cocktails and generally chilling out. However, before too long the mountains were calling; I’d arranged to go to Yorkshire with my London walking club (www.ibexmc.org.uk) and hopefully tackle a couple of the hills there. We were staying near Kettlewell in Wharfedale, a place I hadn’t been to in years but which I had been to many times on family holidays when I was younger.

Inevitably there is a transport debacle of some sort to contend with on my walks and this was no exception. The traffic on Friday night heading out of London was spectacularly bad and it was midnight before we got to the bunkhouse we were staying in. After a companionable couple of glasses of wine with club members it was nearly 1am before I actually got to bed. I then slept appallingly – I often do when Stuart’s not there and also when in dormitory accommodation. I can’t even blame it on snoring as nobody was! On Saturday morning, we awoke to torrential rain and although the forecast was for it to clear up late morning the idea of going up a hill did not inspire. I settled for an 8 mile flat walk with another member of the club, which was a nice walk with a pub stop en route and a good waterfall. It chucked it down until about 2.30pm at which point it finally did clear up, but we were soaking wet by that point and I was delighted the bunkhouse had a half decent drying room which was more than necessary! Continue reading