When: Saturday 9 March 2019
Who: Just me
Distance: About 8 miles
Time: About 3 hours, including breaks
Weather: Clear, cold and pretty windy
Post walk drink: Chardonnay
Post walk watering hole: A pub near the station in Dover which I can’t remember the name of
Mishaps: The MWIS weather forecast (for Cumbria, not for Dover)
Saturday 9th March 2019: Kent was not where I was supposed to be. This weekend had been intended to be the first Wainwright bagging trip of the year with 2 nights booked in Ambleside. Plans had been hatched of various degrees of ambition depending on the weather and I was definitely looking forward to getting back into the hills. Then I looked at the weather forecast!
Oh dear. The long range forecast about 5 days out looked horrendous and over the next couple of days it proceeded to get worse. Now I know there is a school of thought that a ‘proper hill walker’ should go out no matter what the weather but I am not one of the people that subscribes to this school of thought! There is a point at which it becomes just plain unpleasant and a point beyond that where it is not just unpleasant but dangerous and a forecast of very strong wind and possible blizzard conditions, plus anticipated disruption to rail travel, seemed to me to be getting in to dangerous territory. There didn’t seem a lot of point in going up on the off chance and potentially not being able to do anything much and/or getting stuck, so after a call to my hotel to see if I could rearrange the booking for a later date (which they said was fine) that seemed the sensible option. Yes I have the gear to cope with winter weather but despite the adage ‘There is no such thing as bad weather just inadequate clothing’ there is no clothing I am aware of that can prevent white-out or being blown off a hillside. The hills would be there another day. Continue reading
Hills: Brown Willy
County Tops: Ditto
When: Wednesday 10th October
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Good, but very windy at times
Bog factor: Dried out (yay!)
Post walk drink: St Austell Proper Job
Post walk watering hole: Our cottage (does that count?)
It has been a very long time since I have put pen to paper, or should that be hands to keyboard, to write anything on this blog. In part, that has been down to sheer lack of anything remotely resembling walking, but has also been in part due to some health issues which I’m not going to go into on here but which have resulted in me having very little energy for quite some time. Things however seemed to be on the up, and we had a week booked in a cottage in Cornwall, so walking of some sort was a distinct possibility.
Are there hills in Cornwall? Well, it isn’t known for them – the best walking in the area is probably on the coast path and for the first few days of the holiday that’s what I did, as well as get plenty of rest. I saw some cracking coastal scenery on the Tuesday 9th in particular, when I walked from Land’s End on the coast path towards a bay called Mill Bay, with cracking scenery all round. I was pretty lucky with the weather which obviously didn’t hurt, although it was pretty windy. Continue reading
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
Hills: Detling Hill
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
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
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
Hills: Great Whernside
Ydiotts: (Yorkshire Dales ‘ills Over Two Thousand) ditto
When: 13 September 2015
Who: self, the mountaineering minion, and Ibex Mountaineering Club
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