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Highlights of the year included completing the English Marilyns on High Stile, at Easter in thick mist. No celebration on the summit as I was there all alone, but I felt exultant after finding my missing expensive polychromatic varifocals lying amongst the profusion of summit cairns. Having completed everything south of the Border, the next obvious area was region 28, and three trips to the Peebles vicinity ended on a very wet Cauldcleuch Head and Greatmoor Hill, having tramped through the forest from the north. Beinn Bhan (13B) in early May, with Tony Raphael and Alan Blackham, was a great day; a superb hill with magnificent views in all directions.
The big highlight was Shetland and completing 1000 on Saxa Vord. This has a brand new two-metre high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and radiation signs every ten metres. It is impenetrable, but there is an unofficial way to reach the trig point. A contact number on the gate is worth pursuing, as the gentleman concerned was extremely (unofficially) helpful, as he was unclear if permitting us access was within the terms of the Official Secrets Act. He said he may have to enquire at some time. Anyhow, thanks to him we gained access and were neither imprisoned nor exterminated as a consequence.
Shetland had one of its best summers in over 50 years, and the walking was generally straightforward, with the exception of Foula. Our pre-booked flight was cancelled due to high winds, and for the rest of our three-week stay there was nothing else available. Frustrating to bag 17 out of 19. Fair Isle was a delight, excepting the scrap-heap top of Ward Hill. Barbara had great fun avoiding belligerent bonxies and managed to perfect her imitation of puffin noises. She became very friendly with several puffins and exchanged addresses with two of them.
The lowest point, other than inaccessible Foula, was running out of light in thick mist on the innocuous Craig of Monievreckie above Aberfoyle. The hill is on the crease of the OS map, causing unprepared confusion, I approached it from the wrong direction and couldn't find the trig point for almost an hour in failing light. Having finally found it I got off the hill but then struggled to find a good route back and ended up on the wrong forestry track in pitch darkness, with head torch back in the apartment. Barbara was less than delighted when I returned to the car. There was none of her running towards me and throwing her arms round me whilst sobbing 'thank goodness you're safe.' More of a 'where the hell have you been, I was about to phone the police.' Nice to feel wanted.
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