Back on track in the Pentlands

Hills: Black Hill (Pentlands)
Classification: Sub 2000 Scottish Marilyn
When: Tuesday 5 February
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: About 7 ½ miles
Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Weather: Started cold and clear but clouded over
Post walk drink: Tempest pale ale
Post walk watering hole: The Hanging Bat craft beer bar
Mishaps: Transport

Tuesday 5th February 2019: the sky was blue, the birds were singing, and I was sat at Edinburgh bus station at the unearthly (for me) hour of 8am waiting for a bus to Flotterstone. 8am is not an hour that I often see when not at work unless I am planning a walk that for whatever reason requires an early start – or I have insomnia. This one was, I guess, a bit of both.

My regular readers will probably already be wondering where the mishaps are. Well I guess there were 2, although neither of them on the day of the actual walk. We were up in Edinburgh for a week mainly so Stuart could attend the rugby at Murrayfield and had rented a town house very close to the city centre; we had decided not to bring the car as my only real hill walking plans involved the Pentlands and were therefore easily doable by bus. The flipside to this is it required lugging a ridiculous amount of stuff across London on Friday 1st February and onto the train. Oh yes, the train! Mishap 1… Continue reading

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Cornish coastal wanderings – and a hill with an amusing name

Hills: Brown Willy
Marilyns: Ditto
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

Orkney: seas, skies and a sunrise

Hills: Wideford Hill
Classification: Marilyn
When: Thursday 4 January
Weather: Very cold, quite windy and at times wet
Low points: all the stuff on the summit
High points: the sunrise
Why: the sunrise
Mishaps: Transport

After my desperate attempt to make sure I did a hill every month by doing a local Kent Marilyn as December’s hill, I didn’t get any more walking done in December. I had thought about a last minute dash to the Lakes a couple of times but the weather forecast was never quite good enough to make it worth it and also work got unexpectedly busy in the run up to Christmas with me being more or less flat out until breaking for the festive period. I was back in work between Christmas and New Year but on the 29th we started a long journey due North. We were off to Orkney, via a night in Edinburgh either side. This was not, predominantly, a walking trip and therefore I deliberately didn’t pack much in the way of gear, but figured a coastal walk of some sort might be in order. We also wanted to see the archaeological highlights, a lot of which we had seen before on a previous visit but were definitely worth repeating.

Of course those of you that read my blog on a regular or even sporadic basis will know that something usually goes wrong. This time it was the plane. It was delayed for about an hour then about 5 minutes after taking off from Edinburgh airport something fell off the inside of the aircraft cabin, nearly hitting someone on the head on the way down, and (unsurprisingly) the captain announced we were returning to Edinburgh to see if they could fix the plane. We were decanted from the plane while they did the necessary and got back on about half an hour later. I can’t say I was that enthused about getting back on the same plane in case something more serious fell off this time but with no real alternative we got back on and ended up landing in Kirkwall about 2 hours later than planned.  Continue reading

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

Small but perfectly formed – Marilyns and Malbec!

Hills: various Marilyns
When: all over the place
Why: usually a plan B. Also, why not?

Anyone who participates in Scottish hill walking will know that it is always a good idea to have a plan B. Indeed, we have often had a range of plans ranging from plan A all the way through to plan Z… though plan Z usually involves finding a pub with a nice fire in it and a good selection of beer/ wine/ single malts (strike out drink which does not apply) rather than going anywhere near a hill. I’m not a fan of walking in poor weather, and although I do it from time to time, I don’t really enjoy it.

However, if the weather is not right for the higher hills, or one (or both) of us is feeling ropey, then sometimes there is a lower hill that will provide a day out and a decent leg stretch, or alternatively a quick blast. Stuart and I were staying in Edinburgh for the week in the run up to Easter, and had a programme of museums, bars and restaurants we wanted to bag. Needless to say though a walk of some sort would be squeezed in and for a ‘quick blast’ the Marilyns are often a good bet.

Continue reading