The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday 9 November 2020

Record Keeping

One of the tasks I set myself during the spring lockdown was to catch up with logging my Marilyns on, having realised that I was four years behind. As of today, I am completely up to date.

Occasionally people ask me how many Marilyns I’ve visited and I very seldom know the exact answer. At times I’ve struggled to even guess at a rough estimate. Happily I now have an exact answer, and if I manage to keep my logs up to date from now on then maybe I’ll be better equipped to answer next time I’m asked.


So, for the record I have to date visited 469 Marilyns. That includes 146 in England, leaving me with just 29 to complete the country. Sixteen of those are in the South West and could, I reckon, be sensibly tackled in a single trip. The rest are rather scattered and include:

Crowborough – on a residential street so I’ll only visit it if I’m in the area;

Mickle Fell – legally permission from the MoD is required as it’s on a firing range;

Normanby Top – walked within 500m of it on our Lowestoft to Ardnamurchan walk and being a trig point in a field next to a road, it’s not worth a special trip to go back, so it’ll only get mopped up if I happen to be in the area (okay, so I may engineer myself being in the area, but I’ll have to find more things of merit to do nearby to justify the trip)

Swinside – on private land, and I’ve already made one aborted visit to its foot. I’ll only visit it if I can either get permission or if I’m nearby in circumstances that suggest a quick sneak up and down would be feasible.

As nice as it would be to complete England, given that I will never complete the entire Marilyn list, there’s no logical sense in spending significant resources on going far out of my way to mop up the last dregs. I do, of course, still have a significant part of Wales and Scotland still to go (99 to go in Wales; Scotland is full of Marilyns and I’m not likely to exhaust the supply any time soon!).

Sunday 8 November 2020

Hill-bagging in Herefordshire (and Gloucestershire): Part 2 - Wednesday 4 November

Cleeve Hill (SO996245; 330m)

The map suggests that a circular walk from the settlement of Cleeve Hill (to the north), making use of the Cotswold Way, would be a pleasing outing and everything we saw on the ground seemed to confirm that would be the case. We, however, suffered from an inexcusable level of laziness and parked in the car park nearest to this summit, giving us a stroll of about 3 minutes each way.

We did make the outing a little longer than that, looping around the common that was understandably proving popular on this cold but clear morning with wall-to-wall sunshine. I can only imagine it’s absolutely rammed with people on a warm summer’s day.

Gorgeous day for it!

Wandering across the common

Erica’s parked over by those masts. The car park was nearly full when we arrived and completely full by the time we left.

A fine view over Cheltenham

Bredon Hill (SO957402; 299m

The most contour lines of the seven hills on this trip

A journey on StreetView had identified a small pull-in alongside the road to the NW of this hill, so that’s where we abandoned Erica whilst we nipped up Bredon Hill. The estate clearly doesn’t want people wandering just anywhere and have thus installed plenty of waymarks across their fields, which is good. They have also, however, installed signs that suggest that some public footpaths are Estate Permissive Paths, which is not so good.

Having set out overdressed, the sunshine and lack of wind combined with the contour lines soon had us stripping off. This was the only hill on which either of us carried a bag; I’d picked up the bumbag just as we were leaving in case we overheated, and I’m glad I did. We just about managed to squeeze our jumpers and my windshirt in and I proceeded in just my baselayer, even though there were still pockets of frosty grass around us.

The modest effort of the climb was well rewarded as we reached the top of the escarpment from where (once we’d got out of the trees!) the views over the large plain below us were outstanding. It’s a summit with some interest too, with evidence of an old hill fort, plus a more modern tower.

The high point was within the fort, but a short distance from the tower, and I’m not sure why it’s listed a grassy rise rather than the boulder that is used as a reference point as to the location of the relevant grassy rise. Either way, I stood on both.

Atop the top, unless the top is really that boulder, but I stood there too

What a fine panorama there was before us

A friendly bunch at Woollas Hall Farm…

Despite having asked Mick to remind me to stop my watch from recording when we got back to Erica, we both forgot, and thus it was 68 miles later that I finally stopped it. Fortunately, the Garmin Connect App makes it easy to crop the route back down to its proper size, so I can report that on this hill we covered 3.2 miles with around 250m ascent.

What a fine bunch of hills that was, with the best weather window we’ve had in some while. I wonder when we’ll be able to get out again?

Saturday 7 November 2020

Hill-bagging in Herefordshire (& Gloucestershire): Part 1 - Tuesday 3 Nov

You’d be forgiven for thinking this blog long dead, with the last post having been over a year ago. It’s not dead, I’ve just not done anything that qualified for inclusion here* in all of that time. In case you don’t know and are interested, I have been wittering away at length on our other blog at:, including a whole series of posts about the conversion we’ve just undertaken to turn an ex-NHS patient transfer vehicle into a small campervan.

It was in that campervan (who goes by the name of Erica) that we nipped out for a quick hill-bagging trip last week. Not a single UK hill in over 12 months, then suddenly 7 tops in the course of 25 hours. Admittedly, they were neither big nor difficult; however, most of them had great views.

Seager Hill (SO613389; 272m);
Ascent = red; descent = green

Having realised in the nick of time that I’d programmed the SatNav for the wrong hill, we arrived to find the parking situation wasn’t satisfactory. Not wanting to leave Erica even slightly blocking the gateway, Mick was volunteered to stay behind and test out the comfort of Erica’s sofa, whilst I tootled off up the hill.

This is my least favourite type of hill, requiring trespass almost the whole way. Fortunately, it was only a total distance of 1.8 miles and without much ascent, so I took it at a trot. Some of the tracks I used had obviously seen vehicle use very recently, but I made it up and back without encountering anyone, although I did take a slightly different descent route so as to avoid passing a digger that had appeared and was moving some earth adjacent to my outward path. That took me down a track that wasn’t on my map, but I was pretty sure would take me back to my start point. It did, but at the cost of wet feet due to a waterlogged section only about 20m before the end.

Excellent views behind me.

I was back 20 minutes after setting out, ready to move on to the next hill and already looking at the clock and doing calculations as to whether it was going to be feasible to fit in five hills, plus the driving between them, before dark.

Aconbury Hill (SO505329; 276m)

After miles of muddy little lanes that left Erica with a covering of dirt we felt sure was only going to get worse as the trip went on, we arrived at the village hall in Little Birch, where public parking is permitted in return for a donation. There we ate a quick lunch…

first test of Erica’s cooking facilities

…before striding off towards Aconbury Hill.

Muddy path through the woodland

It was a muddy ascent through the woodland, but we managed to stay on our feet (and on the way down too!) to reach the trig point on the top.

Summit selfie

According to my hill lists App, the trig is the highest point of this hill, but I wandered over to a nearby point that looked higher. Often when seeing points that appear higher, when you get there they’re clearly lower. Not on this occasion, it seemed higher both from the trig, and when looking back at the trig, and I now see that there’s a comment on the entry in the database that that the land in question is at least as high. Definitely worth the small detour, even though neither this point, nor the trig afforded any views, being in amongst trees.

Spot the trig some distance behind me

This one was an even shorter outing totalling 1.25 miles with 60m of ascent.

Garway Hill (SO436250; 366m)

Of the five hills on the plan for Tuesday, this was the one that could sensibly be omitted, as I’ll have to pass it again at some point to access the hill that lays just over the border in Wales. On that subject: who could have foreseen, even at the beginning of this year, that there would be a scenario which would allow a visit to a hill on the English side of the England/Wales border, but would not allow us to cross the border to bag one on the other side?

A quick calculation said that there was still enough daylight remaining, and it wasn’t going to add a silly number of miles or minutes onto our day’s driving, so more tiny lanes, getting friendly with hedgerows and breathing in to squeeze past oncoming vehicles ensued before we arrived at a little pull-in to the east of Garway Hill. After walking up the track opposite, the decision not to drive up to the parking area at the top was confirmed as a good one. Erica has a lowered section running along her length (she was a wheelchair accessible vehicle) and the ground clearance would have been a bit tight for her on that heavily rutted track.

Mick wanders on ahead

Summit snap

As for the hill, it was quite lovely! A nice common of cropped grass and with excellent 360 degree views.

This hill was only a marginally bigger outing than the last, coming in at 1.6 miles with 100m of ascent.

Ruardean Hill (SO634169; 290m)

The most pointless hill I’ve done to date and I would have omitted it for that reason if it hadn’t been more-or-less on our way. We parked at a sports ground, walked across the road and then walked back again with another tick on the Marilyn list. About 30m of walking with 0 ascent and no views. Onwards to the next one!

May Hill (SO695212; 296m)

More tiny lanes, some with grass growing down the middle, took us to a surprisingly busy parking area to the west of May Hill. A popular place for dog walking, and understandably so, as it provided us with another short, but lovely, walk up to the top.

There we took the obligatory selfie at the trig point, before I wandered around the adjacent stand of trees to find what appeared to be the highest point. Meanwhile Mick educated himself as to the history behind the trees:

If we’d had a map showing all of the paths on this hill I’m sure we could have made a circuit of our outing, but in the absence of such knowledge we simply retraced our steps for the fifth time of the day, commenting as we went that in different circumstances it would have been nice to have spread these hills over three days and made more of an event out of each one. Ne’er mind, though; given that we’ve been confined to home for all bar three days of the last 9 months, even rushing up and down hills was a joy to do.

There were still two more hills on the list for this trip, but with the light now fading out of the day, they were going to wait until the morrow.

(*Not strictly true. If I’d known in February how the rest of the year was going to pan out I would probably have penned some words about the two hills we visited whilst in Spain. I also have a running post that I wrote almost a year ago, but intended (as I sometimes do with running posts that I want to record for my own future benefit, but that don’t really belong here) to hide retrospectively between more topical posts. As there have been no such topical posts, that post still sits on my hard drive, patiently waiting for publication.)