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2008 was a year of speeding up to reach 1000 hills then forgetting to stop. It was in early April, with 988 hills completed, when it suddenly dawned on me that with my work commitments I only had four hillwalking days left in Scotland before a trip south when I hoped to climb a number of small English hills. I did not want one of these small hills to be my 1000th, so I had four days to complete 12 hills.
The first day I climbed four hills in section 9B, starting on Stac na Cathaig and finishing on Tom Bailgeann, which has a track heading up to the radio mast then an unpleasant array of vehicle tracks across the peat to the summit. On the descent I met fellow baggers from Edinburgh who must have been caught in heavy rain in the peaty area near the top. Ugh! On the second day it was three hills in section 15B off the Struie, and on the third day I completed a circuit of Beinn Mhealaich, Beinn Dhorain and Carn Garbh (16D), finally stopping off to climb Ben Horn on my way home. Total 999.
My 1000th hill was the Pap of Glencoe. This was my highest unclimbed Marilyn and I was saving it for a special occasion. The day was excellent with clear air, so the views were very good, and it was one of the best trips of the year.
I started and finished the year's hillwalking with good trips in the snow. The descent southwards from Beinn Uamha (1C) in January was very interesting due to the cliffs and the snow. I got to a point were it was stupid to descend, so I had to gain height and traverse to get away from a particularly steep section. Then in December I climbed Beinn Ghlas (1D) in very poor snow conditions but excellent weather. It was one-mile-an-hour walking due to the soft snow, but the views and the feeling of isolation were very good.
On my first hill day in Wales for six years I experienced a case of 'get off my land'. Rather foolishly I was attempting Upper Park (31A) from a track to the south-east. I was chased by a guy in a Land Rover who explained that he was trying to keep the hill private. Great to be walking in Wales again. On Moel y Golfa (31B) I came across the interesting monument to Uriah Burton (Romany Chell), which had an uplifting inscription, including the phrase 'he was never beaten in fisty cuffs from the age of five to sixty'. In complete contrast the monument on Bennan (27C) was depressing: 'On earth I wandered waiting to be free... no comfort save hope in heaven for me.' Why go to the effort to build such an impressive monument then deface it with such a depressing inscription?
On my trip to the south-east early in the year I climbed Botley Hill, if you can use 'climbed' to describe getting out of the car and climbing a fence to the trig point. Then I discovered the top had moved. So later in the year I went back for the new top. I was only walking for 40 minutes but met Colin Crawford, who was down from Glasgow for the same reason. It is a strange hobby that causes two people from Scotland to meet on an insignificant bump south of London. Other highlights:
For 2009 I hope to climb hills of quality and will maybe forget the quantity. I have 30 Grahams left, mostly remote, so these will be high on my to-do list. Also the Marilyn poll reminded me that I have only climbed one Scottish island hill under 600m, so I am looking forward to many island trips.
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