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You wait over six years for a new Marilyn, then two come along at once, just as they did in 1998, when Swyre Head and Nine Barrow Down were promoted. And just as in 1998, one promotion is the result of careful summit surveying, and the other of railway-assisted col reconnaissance. Let's hope both last longer than the previous pair of newcomers, Milk Hill and Abberley Hill, which like promoted Premiership clubs lasted barely a year in the top flight.
This was always a very close call, with its col lying somewhere between 310m and 320m contours cautiously estimated as 316m, and a 465m trig point giving a drop of 149m. It could have been called in 15 years ago and no-one would have quibbled. Last year research by Rob Woodall and Graeme Paterson revealed the trig to be recorded as 465.73m. Follow-up groundwork during the Aberfeldy weekend established the base of the nearby cairn to be at least 70cm higher than trig bench mark, giving a summit height clearly over 466m. There is no further information about the col, but one metre was all that was needed to make Meall Chomraidh the 1553rd Marilyn.
By contrast, the promotion of Arnside Knott as Marilyn 1554 is far more surprising and controversial, as it has entirely bypassed SubMarilyn status. There is no doubt about its height, as the 159.1m trig point is definitely on the highest point, barring trees and a few inches of grass, even though Landranger 97 shows a tiny 160m contour ring. The key to its status is the col, which appears to be between 8 and 9 metres. It escaped detection all these years due to the misleading contours, which are difficult to trace beneath the railway and the quarry. Contours on the current 1:25000 map suggest the col to be just over 10 metres. However, research by Jonathan de Ferranti (see page 25) prompted him to suggest closer investigation. This led to long-awaited access inside the vaults of the Ordnance Survey Digimap service. This service is very poor for pinning down cols, as contours are not shown at 1:10000 or larger scales. However, it does show some useful spot heights, notably 8m on the railway at both Black Dyke and Waterslack bridges, and 9m on the road at Silverdale station (which is at least a metre higher than the track). The railway between these points is very flat indeed, and slightly higher than the stream alongside. The evidence is not 100% conclusive, but it is strong enough to declare Arnside Knott to be the lowest Marilyn in England.
The hill has its own leaflet (25p from The Little Shop in Arnside) which describes it as 'the best value for effort walk in the area and probably the best in England'. That may be local bias, but AK is certainly a welcome addition to the fold.
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