The Angry Corrie 30: Jan-Feb97

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Year of the Blanco Part 5

Roderick Manson ends his year-long all-Saturday-consuming epic

November: Started well - a complete circuit of Culter Reservoir with a slightly less inspiring pop up Dungavel Hill as an encore. As for the Farragon Hills, it's a basic rule that any time I have a choice of estate track I almost invariably get it wrong. A barytes mine looked like a scene from Hitch-Hiker's and added to the general downbeat ambience which anyone familiar with Cowdenbeath will recognise. The next week saw the first of a series of disasters which plagued the run-in, as the road through Glenshee curved gently to the right whilst, in heavy packed snow, my car didn't. So southwestern Cairngorms got the push in favour of Sgor Mor in even deeper snow. Badandun Hill the next week was really a bit of a hangover, but the Dundee Mountain Film Festival with a Richard Else and Cameron McNeish three-hour feature on The Edge more than made up for it. 119 with one to go.

December: Started badly - Beinn na Sroine in mist combined with more Holiday on Ice spectaculars. And I must be one of the few to have sampled the Eildon Hills in a cloudbase of around 900ft. Then on the Beinn Achaladair traverse slush killed the legs, so that after misnavigating off the ridge and not having the strength to climb back up, I had to follow the estate track out to Auch in the dark. Hitching north from here on a black, cold night whilst clad head-to-foot in green goretex isn't recommended, since it takes nerve to stop and offer an apparently unattached right hand a lift. Having friends involved in running East of Scotland League side Edinburgh City led to taking in North Berwick Law before a complete circuit of the Holyrood Park summits from their new ground at Meadowbank Stadium. A pity, after all that, to have the game (against Spartans) iced off. The problem on reaching the end of a mad escapade like this, having inflexibly tied up every Saturday in the year, is finding new hills to go up and the will to go up them. Thus having failed to find the start for Duncolm before misdirecting myself back over the Erskine Bridge, I had to follow a deep-snow track up Corse Hill to attain the objective of at least one Marilyn every Saturday in 1995. What could be more fitting than to cap it off with a visit to an eerily empty Hampden (only 600 in attendance) for a 1-1 draw with Queen's Park? But to really finish things off in style took a 31st December ascent of Meall Alvie above Braemar with an exhilarating breakneck descent through steep forest and deep powder. That is how to round off a year, in a paroxysm of quasi-lunatic delirium. The agony, the ecstasy and the inspiration: never mind a full year, they can all be there in a single day. 127 all out.

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