Marhofn 196.11 - May 2009

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Baglogs: Upper Hall:

Baglog: Iain Thow (+35=1100)

Stac Gorm (9B) and Ord Ban (8) were perhaps the best of the new hills, apart from the highlight of 2008, which was finally getting to St Kilda on the third try - stunning, especially the boat trip below Boreray and the stacks. Bagging-wise, a day on Beinn an t-Sithein in Glen Shira saw the finishing of a list of UK 2000-footers with 150 feet drop (P45s!), that I originally compiled in the 1970s as an excuse to play with maps and put off revising for A-levels. My snailworthy progress through the list is a result of getting too distracted by climbing, scrambling and general poking about. In October I finished a second round of Munros, with a truly revolting day on Beinn Challum, although an even worse one followed, on Beinn Dorain in 70mph winds.

By and large though, the north-west Highlands (where I spend most of my time) had a great summer for weather. I only had 12 wet hill days out of 144 between 10 April and the end of September! Fantastic days on Foinaven, Beinn Bhan and Bruach na Frithe stand out. Even Knoydart relented from its habitual deluge long enough for a brilliant day on Sgurr Mor and Sgurr nan Coireachan. A four-day trek around north Lewis, from Carloway to Tolsta, was another gem, with big winds and huge crashing waves. The Carloway to Dalbeg section is as dramatic as any piece of coast in Britain. Three days of sunny tops and cloud seas in Glen Tilt, seeing absolutely nobody, even in the distance, showed that isolation is still possible even in crowded Britain, while a trip to the Polish Tatra in August was at the opposite extreme - imagine Snowdon and the Glyders if they were the only hills in Britain. The peaks are amazing though, like the Cuillin sitting on the Cairngorms, with the Orla Perc like a giant Aonach Eagach involving 2000 metres of up and down.

Magic moments: a sea eagle taking off from a few metres away; watching dolphins and minke whales off Skye; climbing the amazing Mieguszowiecki Szczyt in the Tatra; sitting on top of Sgurr na Stri with the snow-covered Cuillin strung out beyond it, or any one of a dozen west coast sunsets.

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