The Angry Corrie 26: Feb-Mar 1996
Year of the Blanco
Forget obscure Norwegians trailing across the Antarctic or round-the-world ballooning. In the first of a new series,
After cartographical pedants and numero-obsessives, welcome to the Marilynocentric Universe. When I discovered Alan Blanco's epic (The Relative Hills of Britain) in February 1994, it transpired I had exactly 100 Marilyns under my belt. It was clear there was a bit of catching up to be done. I think the Bowkers (see p20) are safe, though. I promptly dragged my spindly carcass up 151 Marilyns that year, assisted by a few months between gainful employments. Could there be more, I asked? Then, reading the master's hallowed words yet again (am I overdoing it here?) [yes - Ed.], a thought occurred. If completing the Marilyns requires the equivalent of one ascent per week for nearly thirty years, why not take Blanco at his word and do just that for one calendar year? Just to make it more interesting, insist on one every Saturday, thus ensuring additional obstacles such as weddings add an extra element of zest to the challenge. Which leads us into...
I know 1st January 1995 was a Sunday, but tradition demanded a summit. So Ben Clach got the nod on the grounds that it was about the only day in the year I could count on the army being too smashed out of their brains to be shooting the place into next Wednesday. The next three Saturdays were evidence of my habit of marrying a hill to an epic footballing experience - aka a Ross County massacre of the mortals. Hence Dumyat followed by a 3-2 Scottish Cup mauling of Alloa; Craigowl by a 3-0 thrashing of Cowdenbeath (surely the most depressing ground in Scottish football); and Cairnpapple Hill combined with a 2-0 slaughter of East Stirlingshire in a mud-bound war of attrition. After that, the difficulties of driving through several inches of snow/slush to reach Creigh Hill were a bit anti-climactic.
Literalists like me, who believe that the highest point on a hill should be attained wherever possible, do not like artificial structures such as that on Hill of Garvock - a tower with several steps missing and a distressingly long reach to the platform at the top. A 1-1 draw with Montrose calmed my nerves, open-goals notwithstanding. Cat Law the next week was a nightmare in failing light and torrential sleet (what Whistler would have called a Landscape in Black and Grey). So much so that a return trip was necessary three weeks later to verify I'd reached the top - given that the trig point (678m) was outside the 670m contour line and that the actual summit is 671m anyway. The next weekend was spent visiting my ailing mother in Reading, so tedious south-Londonish bags with hard-to-find rights-of-way and barking Kentish landowners were the order of the day. Next weekend, Glen Roy: famed for its three Carn Deargs and two Leana Mhors, the latter deep in snow and profoundly knackering. I'll skip the rest of the weekend. It was worse!
Things were only marginally more entertaining this month. After forcing my way through the woods on Hare Cairn, a vast avenue opened up along the ridge all the way back. If you want to know how this feels, try driving your brother through to Glasgow Airport late at night in his car which then breaks down on the single most inaccessible section of road in Glasgow on the way back. 18 for 3: sounds like a cricket score - an Albion one, of course.
To be continued...