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A pleasant return to more normal times after 2001, with widespread trips throughout the year.
A long-overdue trip to the Isle of Man started things in March after more than 30 years of prevarication. Even delays with the ferry failed to dampen spirits (toxic gases from old Victorian sewers in Douglas near the ferry terminal). Weather was moderate but still enjoyable days, although the best was probably on North Barrule, a non-Marilyn. Snaefell was a bit eerie with buildings and transmission masts looming out of the mist in the last few yards.
A damp trip in May for the Cowal and Luss Grahams was followed with a trip to the north with changeable but cool weather in June, the highlights being a good clear day on the peninsula between the Loch Brooms. Beinn a'Chearcaill (13A) was also far more rewarding than its modest height suggests; tremendous views all round, especially Beinn Eighe's northern corries. The huge summit rock plinth was also a very impressive situation.
A third raid north of the border in August again met with disappointing weather. The exception was a day in Strathfarrar with the Muices and the round of Loch Toll a'Mhuic - marvellous situations without another walker all day, even on the Munro.
Weather improved on the way south and I managed a fine day for The Cobbler proper, having avoided the summit rocks on a windy day about 20 years ago when concentrating on the Munros, and having turned a blind eye ever since. Nowhere near as bad as anticipated, in fact I almost enjoyed the final scramble. Only Meall na Fearna left to complete the Corbetts; the first list of hills I'll have managed (except for the Welsh Hewitts), assuming I make it.
September saw excellent weather for the Shropshire hills and the Welsh borders. Again some very enjoyable lower hills, including the summit rocks of Stiperstones and Caer Caradoc Hill.
Finding the trig point amongst the vegetation on Burton Hill (38B) was the easy bit. The highest point was a silly walk through knee-deep brambles; difficult to decide the actual location but the GPS readings bracketed the grid reference. Give me The Cobbler any day.
Struck lucky in north Wales judging from previous Marhofn reports, as I only had one full day (a Sunday) but managed a trip to Bardsey Island for Mynydd Enlli in perfect conditions. The summit's a great situation with views from Holy Island to St David's Head, although little seabird life in September.
The rest of the year was spent with the usual re-ascents of the Cumbrian hills. Coniston Old Man now past the 100 mark and Helvellyn into the nervous nineties; pity they only count once as a Marilyn.
Now deep in planning mode for the year ahead - nearly as enjoyable as the trips themselves and about as time-consuming.
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