I have a reputation for living my life by spreadsheets, but I’m not always that technical. My key planning tools for Marilyn bagging are an old road atlas and a notebook. On the road atlas, I note the approximate locations of the hills in which I’m interested and assign them a number (with a general rule that if I mark Marilyns on one page of the atlas, then I have to mark all the relevant hills on that page):Then in the notebook I list the hills on that page and make short notes as to how I might approach them:
very much scrawled on this example, not in my bestest writing
I can therefore see at a glance what hills are in a particular area (far more clearly than trying to navigate the Relative Hills of Britain (RHoB) book), and can record any research I do on those hills, even if I don’t get around to visiting them until a future trip.
It wasn’t until we were parked up last night and I was looking for yesterday’s hill in the RHoB book that I realised that I had gone against my general principle of marking none or all of the hills on any individual page of the road atlas, and was thus surprised to find that there was a Marilyn right by where we were parked (plus a couple more nearby).
A perusal of the map suggested that to ascend from where we were parked was not going to be the easiest option (too many field boundaries), so this morning we relocated ourselves to Clovenford, to visit:
Meigle Hill (NT466360; 423m)
“Are you doing the Marilyn?” asked the farmer tending a shed of sheep, as we passed through his farmyard at the start of this outing. A remarkable question, as usually when Marilyns are mentioned in the context of hill classifications, a blank look is received in return.
This isn’t the prettiest hill summit…
…but as one might guess from all of that infrastructure up there, there’s a track the whole way up, although, surprisingly, not a surfaced one.
The track made it a quick and easy bag, and just a bit over an hour after setting off, we were back, having walked 3.25 miles with around 260m of up.
Eildon Mid Hill (NT548323; 422m)
Like East Cairn Hill, which I visited on Friday, we have been in the immediate vicinity of the Eildon Hills at least twice before, if not three times, in the course of Big Walks. Perhaps it makes matters worse that the second time we opted to go over one of the hills and, because it was in our way, we chose the eastmost one. It’s the middle one which is the Marilyn, so today we returned to Melrose, abandoned Bertie in a public car park and toddled off.
Just below the ‘n’ of Dingleton Mains on the map above, a signpost told us to turn right. We opted to go straight on as there was clearly a trodden line that way and it looked a lot less muddy than the official route. Then we rounded a bend and found ourselves on the muddiest mudfest known to man, made worse by being on a very narrow path hemmed in by gorse. It was so bad that about half way along it I pondered out loud whether we had gone too far to turn back and go the other way. Mick opined that we had.
It would have been a miracle to have negotiated that path without either of us slipping over, and miracles weren’t with us today. As a result, one of us needs to have his trousers washed.
I’m not sure upon what I can blame the aberration which occurred at the col, when I was absolutely insistent that we were going up the hill to our left, whereas Mick was adamant that was the one we’d been up before, and it was the one to the right we were visiting today (I am always navigator on our joint outings, so, making matters worse, it was me with the map in my hand). He’s usually right in such cases and so he was again today. (I feel sure this aberration will never be forgotten, like my famous ‘there are two boxes next door and three just here, so that’s six’ incident at work many years ago.)
And then we went back down again, ready for a late lunch before moving on to our final objective of the day. This one had come in at 3.3 miles with 350m of ascent.
Black Hill (NT585370; 314m)
This isn’t the striking view of it, but I didn’t snap it from the other side.
I’m always a fan of clear signage of the path through farms, and you couldn’t get much clearer than the plentiful signs on the initial parts of the route:
The signs disappeared once I was past the farm, but at the next gate my way was clear: straight up the side, which looked steep, but thanks to well-grazed grass and heather, proved to be easy.
I think the Eildon Hills were behind me in this shot, but with the sun where it was, they’re bleached out
Mick opted not to join me on this one, as although the parking area was big enough for us not to block a gateway, leaving Bertie in a non-blocking position would have required leaving him in mud of an unknown depth. He didn’t have to wait for me for long as I was only gone for just over half an hour, with the outing coming in at just 1.3 miles with 180m of ascent.