In 2002 I just missed reaching 800 Marilyns - that came up on 1 January 2003. In autumn I qualified for my senior rail card, and it looked as if I might end the year with a total of 60 or maybe 61 Marilyns. Either would have done as I was now in my 61st year. However I got ahead of myself and ended, on new year's eve, on 63.
The first two days of 2003 were spent around Builth Wells and Rhayader. Carn Gafallt was the 800th. In February we joined a party at Pen-y-Gwyrd for a long weekend. Poor weather kept us low but on the best day we polished off section 30B in sunshine, with snow underfoot, on the Glyders. On the way home we popped up lowly Mynydd Nodol, where we saw brocken spectres on light mist over Llyn Celyn. There was a 'fogbow'; a pale whitish arch in the mist, and framed by it we each saw our shadows with faint rainbow halos round our heads. Surely an unusual event at such a low altitude?
In March I was in Edinburgh for the unofficial trig point register gathering, and went on to camp around Peebles, with deep frost at night but a pleasing eight Marilyns in that area. Later in March it was to Aberdeenshire with the grandsons (to stay with their cousins), which reeled in a further five. Had a good day on The Buck with lots of hares dashing about. While enjoying a noisy picnic in the heather, the boys leapt up for a spot of rugby with a mini ball, and up jumped another hare a few yards from our picnic spot.
In May I went up to Torridon, camping and staying at the youth hostel. The weather teased me. On days that looked set to be poor the cloud stayed above the Munros. On better-looking days things were windy and wet with low cloud. Liathach and Beinn Eighe eluded me but I managed Beinn Alligin and had a very long day from Kinlochewe taking in Beinn Bheag and Groban. I saw a red deer calf that day and, oh dear, trod on a ptarmigan's nest and crushed the three eggs.
After a summer spent sailing in Sweden and Denmark, my autumn season began in early October camped above Spean Bridge waiting for a calm day for the Grey Corries. It never came but snow on the tops did. Contented myself with lesser things there and in Glen Roy before taking the train south for a week in the Lake District. The Rannoch Moor hills looked wonderful in the sunshine, with autumn colours and thick snow high up, but how jolly everyone seemed on the Lakeland hills compared with Scotland! And there seemed to be more females about too. Of course the weather was better, and maybe the hills are just that bit less daunting?
Plynlimon in mid-November, from the A44 to the south, proved a pleasant surprise. How come I'd imagined it a slog through the bog? David enjoyed it too, as well as others we did round there. And where was Waun Fach's summit quagmire in early December? Mist and wind on Fan Brycheiniog made up for it. Black Mountain had eluded me for ages. It gave in on a sunny but bitter day.
Finally came a post-Christmas jaunt staying at Corris youth hostel. Having met Chris Peart on Carneddau last new year's eve, it was no surprise to meet Richard Paul (discoverer of Nine Barrow Down in Dorset) at the youth hostel. Cadair Idris was splendid in sun and snow. Richard joined us for a couple of outings, including new year's eve for the minor threesome of Foel Cae'rberllan, Gamallt and Ffridd Cocyn. Thus the year ended on 860. Not so inappropriate, after all, for some one who celebrated their 60th birthday during the year.