For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

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Friday, 26 April 2013

The last day

Thursday 25th April


Today I had three more Ms to do in the South Downs which would leave Haddington Hill (SP 890 089) north of London which I planned to do tomorrow with one more overnight on the way home. At that point I would be able to say that I had done all the Ms in England south of Cheltenham (or Cleeve Hill).

Browsing through Alan Dawson's book after today's sortie I came across an appendix showing 19 additions to the list since the list in the first edition was published, and three of these are in he territory I have already covered during this trip. As I know I'm not going to climb them all this doesn't really matter, but it would have been satisfying to draw that line. I tried to find a site near enough to stop off for Haddingon Hill but with no luck, so it's back home tomorrow.

Today was a brilliant finale. Delightful walking on the South Downs, and the best and warmest weather so far.

Ditchling Beacon (TQ 331 130) was only about three hundred yards from the road, and a popular, but unspoilt spot with good views, except that the lower lying land tends to be hazy.

Firle Beacon (TQ 485 059) was only another thirty minutes drive and a straightforward walk along another part of the South Downs Way.

Another thirty minute drive had me lined up for Wilmington Hill (TQ 548 034) with the top hidden from view by a circuitous route around a preliminary hill. I came across a guy flying radio controlled model gliders and chatted about that subject and also about his cycling Land's End to John 'o Groats.

On the way back my glider man had disappeared but had been replaced by two others, and more chat ensued. One was performing endless and very skilful aerobatics and the updraft meant that he could keep this sporty glider aloft for as long as he wanted. It seems that aero modellers are now flying on a different frequency which means there can be no interference from others. In the old days there were about twenty different channels and at a club you would take a channel number peg off a board and fly on that channel. The possibility of catastrophe was obvious if a mistake was made.

The unclimbed additions that I missed:

Swyre Head SY 934 784

Nine Barrow Down SZ 008 811

Cheriton Hill TR 197 396

Lewesdon Hill - ST 437 011 (I've just found this since I posted).

Also I climbed  Pilsdon Pen ST 413 011 which is shown as an M in Dawson's book, but does not appear on either of the website lists, so it must have been demoted.




Ditchling beacon at 8:25 am




On the ascent of Firle Beacon there is a figure of a man with two walking poles carved into the chalk hillside. This is a pathetic attempt to photo with theiPad. I have better results using the zoom on my camera





Nearing the summit of Thirle Beacon





Wilmington Hill



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Thursday, 25 April 2013

I don't do rest days

Wednesday 24th April

I had intended this to be just a day moving to the Caravan and Camping Club site at Crowborough. The journey was stressful with many miles of roadworks on the M25, and endless roundabouts and traffic saturation in urban areas. I have had enough of driving in this region south of the M25, and this mission is now reaching a conclusion which i will soon summarise.

I arrived at the site about 1:00pm and decided to polish off Cliffe Hill (TQ 434 107) which was only thirty minutes drive. Steep, cropped grass brought me near the summit and trig which turned out to be a golf course surrounded by barbed wire fencing with occasional stiles accompanied with notices indicating "the end of access area". The stiles were obviously for golfers to hop over from their "non access" to our "access" to find their errant balls which seemed a bit unfair. To redress the balance I ignored the signs and hopped over a stile and located the trig which by now was swathed in mist so there were no views.

Back at Crowborough I had to trespass again. This Marilyn, which is just called Crowborough (TQ 511 307) is near the centre of the town and has no semblance of being a hill. It is located in a residential area in an enclosure which is home to a water tower and a couple of those artificial covered reservoirs. I climbed over the padlocked gate and found the trig with. It is difficult to believe that it was ever able to serve its purpose surrounded by mature trees and old estsblished residential property. There is no view to anywhere nor has there been for many a year.




Cliffe Hill trig. The flag on the nearby golf green can be seen but visibility was reduced seconds later by mist or low cloud




Crowborough trig amongst the paraphernalia of waterworks and transmission mast. Reading my posts one would think that Marilyns have by definition an OS trig point, and whilst many do, it is not part of the definition, and some care must be taken to ensure there is not higher ground than the placement position of the trig.



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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Four Marilyns and two hundred and ninety two miles motoring

My intention was to have a day off and view Salisbury Cathedral, but invigorated after a good sleep I was back on the M trail again by 7:30 am.

Even after delays on the M27 I was up and down Chanctonbury Hill (TQ 134 130) by 11:30. Situated on The South Downs Way, with cropped turf, cloudless blue sky and warm sunshine it was an idyllic start to the day. I even removed my zip off legs and walked in shorts for the first time - what a feeling of freedom. A local, well educated guy of similar age to myself provided pleasant conversation on the top ranging from mutual wartime memories, the construction of dew ponds, WW2 aircraft, dog walking, and the advantages of walking alone amongst other subjects.

So far I have taken these hills one by one rather than having a fixed plan. Research established that Leith Hill (TQ 139 431) was only about 40 mins. drive so off I went. A steep ten minute climb through woods brought me onto a pine scattered plateau and a grand tower. I had a long chat with a cyclist who lived closer in to London and thrived on getting out into the country. The tower had a kiosk (coffee and shortbread for me). The lady told me the tower was built by a guy in the 1750s for his own visitations, not only as a folly. There were a few people about enjoying the glorious weather, and it is obviously a popular spot, but compared with recently visited Butser Hill which was like Blackpool, Leith Hill would have to be compared with Harrogate.

I was conscious of getting further and further east from my caravan, but reckoned I could squeeze in Botley Hill (TQ 396 553) because it was actually on the side of a road. It turned out to be about three metres from the road on the other side of a barbed wire fence which was easily straddled.

It was now decision time. North Downs (TQ 804 586) is the most easterly Marilyn in south England and logistically a problem. If I tackled it now it would probably save me a whole day later but it was a long way - not far off The Channel Tunnel !

Hard driving on the M25 and M26 eventually got me to this popular dog walking spot perched in the top of the North Downs.

More hard driving for over two hours saw me back at Salisbury and welcome beers, thoughtfully stashed in the fridge before departure, with accomplishment of the statistics shown in the title herewith.





Dew pond on Chanctonbury Hill





Chanctonbury Hill summit looking along The South Downs Way - I reckon that must be a good walk.





Approaching the tower and summit of Leith Hill






The kiosk in the tower can be seen





Botley Hill trig. The road is just on the others side of the hedge





North Downs summit and trig


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Isle of Wight Marilyns


Isle of Wight - Monday 23rd April

When I retired to bed last night I was pondering about the Isle of Wight trip tomorrow, and illogically started thinking in French as if preparing for a a Grande Randonnee trip.

I set off In good time for the 10:05 crossing and had the first time experience of driving through the New Forest. Here ponies and highland cattle seem to wander at will with potential danger on the roads. Arriving early I caught the 9:25 boat.

I felt I would regret it if I didn't try and seeThe Needles. I drove to the car park where they wanted £4, and the privelege of following a dreary looking tourist path to the view. The OS map inficated a good view could be achieved by a ten minute walk on the headland of Headon Warren starting at SZ 329 863, which proved to be very rewarding

By the time I had driven halfway to Ventnor for St Boniface Down (SZ 568 785) I had gained what I am sure will be my most lasting impression of this island - their roads are badly laid with erratically undulating surfaces scattered with serious potholes, and eroded edges with dangerous drop offs. It was like having a prolonged session on a faulty Waltzer at a fairground.

St Boniface is apparently the patron saint of Germany, but what the connection is I do not know. I was able to drive to the trig on a proper road. There is also a plaque commemorating a Dakota air crash in 1962 but I couldn't easily find a reference via Google (may try harder at home).

A cross country drive on jarring, perilous lanes took me to Brightstone Down and couple of miles there and back of pleasant heathland walking with skylarks which I have not heard or seen for some time. Unfortunately the Dartford Warblers boasted about on information boards were not apparent.




The Needles from Headon Warren






St Boniface Down trig. There is also a large mast which was part of radar defences in WW2 which was extensively bombed. It is now bristling with modern tech





Brightstone Down

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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Pic and Mix Marilyns

More tech has contributed to my trip. A booking for a crossing to the Isle of Wight for tomorrow was successfully achieved with the iPad. Then I found I needed to print out the booking confirmation received by email. I haven't printed from the iPad before, but had witnessed daughter Jill doing so. I knew my printer can work wirelessly. Having little faith in making that happen I decided to copy the email by placing the iPad on the printer bed, but it only printed a blank screen enclosed by a picture of the surrounding case of the tablet.

Plan B was pure triumph. I made the iPad recognise the printer and I now have a copy of my booking. This might not sound like much to some, but I feel very proud.

The first Marilyn today, Walbury Hill (SU 373 616), had the most extensive 360 degree view I have seen outside Scotland, but because the summit is a vast, gently rounded area it is not possible to convey the drama with my limited photographic skill. I did take a video, but even that does not do justice:  CLICK HERE


The next hill was a total contrast from the rolling downs. Black Down (SU 919 296) involved a dramatic 4 kilometre drive down a heavily wooded, single track, badly surfaced lane. A rough clearing at the end provided a makeshift car park with a remote feeling. The map indicated the road continuing as a white road (unsurfaced).

A steep but atmospheric path through a Scots pine wood interspersed with brambles and gorse eventually came out onto a plateau of thinned old pines and heathland. The trig, once again was partly hidden in the woods. Different woods, for me have different characters, and the old Scott's Pine seems friendly, warm and welcoming, especially when there are also extensive views and the sun is shining, and the sky is half bright white and blue.

Back at the car satnav told me to continue on the white road to my next destination, and I bravely obeyed. It turned out to be Tarmac and only half the distance to a proper road than the nerve racking single tracker I had arrived by.

What a contrast again for Number Three, Butser Hill (SU 717 203). Before I even arrived, having pulled onto the grass verge for an oncoming car the driver stopped alongside and gave me his partly used parking ticket. A few hundred yards further and I arrived at the car park which could have been for Disneyland. Cars, tripper visitor people, and dogs were everywhere. A hundred yards from the car park the crowds thinned as I made the half kilometre to the trig. Perhaps the rule here should be never on a Sunday (when the sun is shining).





Walbury Hill trig





Start of path to Black Down




As I was climbing the path I thought
that this would be a likely place for adders,
then this sign foir the Serpent Trail appeared.





Scots pines and heathland at Black Mount summit





Butser Hill summit from where I could see the Isle of Wight




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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Move to Salisbury

The caravan site at the pub was costing me £16 per night. I have now arrived at the Camping and Caravan Club site at Salisbury where the cost works out at £9.40. At the pub one could argue that you were paying a premium for peace, quiet, space and attractive surroundings. At Salisbury I am surrounded by other caravans, but there are immaculate toilet facilities with individual cubicles and many other facilities on site including a small shop. The surroundings are also attractive with a view across fields to Old Sarum, an Iron Age hill fort just north of the town. The weather is brilliant.

There are two Marilyns on the Isle of Wight, and if the weather looks ok for Monday I may take the car across. One problem is that you save quite a lot by booking in advance on line, but then you are committed, which would be dreary if the weather was bad.

I have plans for one, or possibly two other Ms for tomorrow.

Once you have a good 3G signal, which I have again here, Blog Press seems to work very well posting any photos you have on the iPad.




My caravan on the pub site at Lower Odcombe (bottom centre)





On the site at Salisbury. old Sarum on the horizon


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Friday, 19 April 2013

Out with the winter jacket.

Last night great entertainment was provide by the local canine agility club who have a field next door to my site with the usual doggy obstacle course. There must have been thirty or so members filling the pub car park and some overflow onto the caravan field. How those dogs enjoy themselves - it was all great fun.

My Paramo jacket is at last too warm, and I have taken to my RAB shell, just to keep the chill wind at bay.

An hour's drive took me to Dundry Down (ST 553 667) which turned out to be the most disgusting Marilyn summit so far. It is a general dumping ground and adjacent to a scrap vehicle yard, but that all adds interest to this project, and each top has its own surprises. Dundry overlooks the whole of Bristol to the north and the M4 bridge was clearly visible.

I am continuing to take photos for this blog with the IPad. The results are not bad, but I am doctoring them a bit with a Photoshop app I have on the pad. Holding the tablet still in a stiff wind is almost Impossible, and in any kind of bright outdoor light you can't see anything on the screen - you just have to point, and shoot in hope. Memory Map with its GPS is excellent, and I just stuff the tablet down my shirt front making it easy to get at and convenient to carry. I would have no qualms about carrying its extra weight on a backpacking trip.

Long Knoll (ST 786 376) in the Wiltshire Downs provided an enjoyable 3 kilometre ridge walk there and back. It seems that few of these hills have provided much extended walking so far.

That concludes Area 41. I'm booked in at the Camping and Caravan Club site at Salisbury tomorrow - Area 42.

Marilyns this trip - 17

Total so far - 303









Dundry Down scrap vehicles



Another one for my "Relics" collection




Looking back along the ridge of Long Knoll


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Thursday, 18 April 2013

In search of just a bit of adulation

Marilyn bagging has no kudos. I mean when you talk to people. Many have heard of Munros, and quie a few grasped the concept of walking the Welsh boundary, except for that frequent conversation:

"Where did you start?"

"Fishguard".

"Where will you finish?"

"Fishguard"

"Oh!"

But Land's End to John 'oGroats was instantly digested by all, leading to sympathy, goodwill, free camping, and many cups of tea.

Marilyns are a dead duck. Nobody has heard of them. Nobody understands when you try to explain, much less are they interested, so I've started saying I am climbing some hills on a list. Even I found it slightly difficult to get my head round when I first read about them, and I'm still not sure why certain very pointy all the way round hills are not on the list.

Having said that there are rewards a plenty in this pursuit.

Hardown Hill (SY 405 942) this morning gave me my first view of a slow worm, albeit it was dead. Views of other worthy looking surrounding peaks and through to Lyme Regis, and a backdrop of the sea made for a good start.

The journey to Pilsdon Pen (ST 413 011) was tiresome on a network of narrow country lanes with few passing places involving reversing incidents and a couple of near misses with hooligans driving too fast. The summit is a splendid classic cone with a well preserved Iron Age fort. The labour involved in digging the surrounding ditches must have been daunting. Certainly a worthwhile summit.

Win Green (ST 952 206) was a doddle. The road runs up to 260m, and a rough track, used by all in cars, takes you to within two or three hundred yards of the 277m summit. The viewfinder said you could see The Isle of Wight and The Needles but I think you would have needed a good pair of binoculars.




- Slow worm (late, dead or deceased) on the ascent of Hardown Hill





Lyme Regis just visible in the distance




Pilsdon Pen






Win Green summit




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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Two secretive trigs

Who said I was getting soft?

I've done three Marilyns today. I could have driven the half kilometre on the track from the road to the summit of Selworthy Beacon on the coast above Minehead (SS 914 480) with my trusty 4wd Yeti. I elected to walk! It was all nostalgia as I looked across to Dunkery Beacon, another Marilyn which I summited on my LEJOG trip in 2008.

The satnav has been invaluable, and it now took me to the tiny yellow sandstone village of Wootton Courtenay where I felt ashamed only spending a few pence in the post office to buy a postcard to send to granddaughter Katie. This was also a general store but there was nothing else I needed - how long will these little shops survive?

Periton Hill (SS 946 442) was a one and a quarter hour strenuous round trip. I was beginning to think the trig point must have been destroyed until I found it nestling in trees. They must have grown up since the triangulation was done, otherwise it's placement would have been a nonsense.

Another satnav triumph took me to Staple Fitzpaine, where do these names come from? A dead end yellow road continued on a track making a half hour round trip walk to find the trig of Staple Hill (ST 240 167). That was easier said than done. It was fifty yards off the track in dense woodland, and heavily camouflaged with moss making it almost invisible. In that situation its only sighting capability would be of nearby trees.

I am writing this on the iPad whilst dining in the Mason's Arms, my caravan site location - acceptable but not exceptional, apart from them their proud boast of an in-house micro brewery housed in a room 8ft by 8ft which I was allowed to go and view through a window. The beer I sampled was good quality real ale.




The track that I WALKED up to Selworthy Beacon




Selworthy Beacon. Dunkery Beacon on horizon



Staple Hill trig was fifty yards into this wood off the track



The reclusive Staple Hill trig



Micro brewery at The Mason's Arms, Lower Odcombe


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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Smart World Services Exeter - problem solvers

The caravan repair resulted in fitting a new mains charger in the van - £189. Whilst the cost was hard to bear I must compliment Simon Hodgson - Smart World Services in Exeter who agreed on the phone to see me first thing next morning. A friendly welcome and efficient service had me on my way by 11:30. Simon also told me about Stormfront situated nearby who are Apple agents, so I shot off there to burden them with the slow iPad problem. The guy removed the SIM card, cleaned it up and blew the dust out of its little cubby hole and all now seems to be working much better.

Yesterday I could not make the post including the pics with Blogpress. After much messing about I managed to do it by email, but it didn't go until this morning.

Just to see if Blogpress will post pics now here is one I omitted from the Brown Willy trip. This is a monument situated just downstream from the car park to Charlotte Dymmond who was murdered by Matthew Weekes in 1844. If you are interested there is more detail if you Google Matthew Weekes.





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I have now arrived at my new site in the archetypal English country village of Lower Odcombe near Yeovil.









My caravan can be seen at on the pub site at the bottom of the drive.


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Monday, 15 April 2013

The benefit of a good night's sleep.

Yesterday included a fairly strenuous walk (by my present standards), and a lot of intensive driving, and by the time I landed back at the van I as tired. The problem with the water pump loomed larger than it should have, and time spent trying to sort it cut into time I reserve for writing up the blog, preparing my meal, and planning next days activity, and I was decidedly ratty.

I slept more soundly, than for many a month. This morning dawned with a more positive attitude. I arranged a 9:00am appointment tomorrow with a caravan servicer in Exeter. The site owner put my battery on charge which later this afternoon proved to operate the pump again so the problem is narrowed down to failure of the battery to be charged from the mains electric when hooked up on site. I have also provisionally booked on a site near Yeovil, central for Area 41 Marilyns.

That last snippet should tell those who have been following closely that I finished Devon and Cornwall today with an ascent of High Willhays (SX 580 892). This has been the best hill day so far, a bit like being back on the Munros. A pleasant contoured path above the reservoir was a good start until it was barred by an impassable padlocked, deer fenced gate, necessitating climbing a barbed wire fence and earthen banking. Further on the footbridge was similarly barred at one end, but this had been fairly ruthlessly dismantled, but still difficult to negotiate with my dodgy knee.

A pleasant ravine lead to a strenuous thrash up pathless tussocky grass to Black Rocks and upwards again to High Willhays. Good ridge walking followed to Yes Tor with its trig point and remnants of military installations - this area has been used for military training.

A descent to the starting point ended a satisfying circular walk. For anybody interested, High Willhays at 621 metres or 2038 feet, is the highest point in England south of Kinder Scout.




Looking back to start



Black Rocks




High Willhays summit

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Three more Marilyns

Just a brief report. I got back to the caravan to find a fault with my water pump so I have spent ages trying to sort it, and then find a repairer on the Internet near Exeter to take it to . The iPad is unbelievably slow taking several minutes to open each web page and I have now reached the limit of patience.


I went back and did Brown Willy and conditions were not much better than yesterday. From Brown Willy I drove to Kit Hill (SX 375 713) and found I could drive right to the top. Some may say that is cheating, but as far as I'm concerned I have visited the summit which satisfies my own concept of what I am about.

Another long drive took me to the least inspiring Marilyn so far - Christ Cross (SS 964 052) where a transmission mast has been built on thes site of the OS trig point.




Setting off for Brown Willy




Bronx Willy summit



Kit Hill summit - my car is just visible to
left of trig




Christ Cross

Marilyn count so far this trip - 8

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Fwd:

Katie update








Sent from my iPad

Marilyn's rest day


I have said before that I can tolerate walking in the rain providing I am wearing good gear, and views, even if only intriguing glimpses, are possible.

This morning I drove to SX 158 800 the starting point for Brown Willy (please, no jokes - I've thought of too many unpublishable ones as a title for this post). Visibility was down to about a hundred yards and it was sheeting with rain. I hung around for nearly an hour sat in the car and then returned to the caravan.

Whilst I am motivated to climb as many Marilyn's as I can, I know I will never do all 2016, so there is not the pressure experienced with the Munros or the Corbetts when you know completion is attainable. I am pretty sure that if Brown Willy had been one of the last, say twenty Munros, I would have been up there walking on compass bearings and feeling heroic afterwards.

I am having difficulty posting with the iPad. I can' get Blogpress to work with photos. This is coming by email.
Sent from my iPad

Friday, 12 April 2013

Three Marilyns and a Cornish

The show was back on the road this morning. A ninety odd mile drive saw me on the north coast of Cornwall where I ascended White Downs (SW 420 357) with blue sky and rolling white clouds. This Marilyn overlooks Bosigran, one of the best rock climbing cliffs in the country, and the scene of the most terrifying experience of my life on a climb called Paragon about fifteen years ago. This was my second revisit to this venue as I had also walked past it on the coast path on my LEJOG walk in 2008.

A nostalgic drive up the coast followed and then inland to find Cammanellis (SW 696 364). I was worried about this one because research had established that it is on private land as well as being home to a large transmission mast. A short very rough track leads up to a house about half a kilometre off the road. Just before the house a track leads off to the trig point and mast, but it is guarded by a gate with FOUR padlocks, and all bounded by high wire fencing. I called at the house and explained to a friendly guy with a pony tail and all the appearance of a Cornish pirate. He was amused about my mission and suggested I should video myself at the trig and post the result on YouTube. He showed me a way round the gate, and then I found the wire fence had been broken down giving access to the trig point.

Since conceiving this trip I had been anticipating renewed acquaintance with a proper Cornish pasty, and at the rate I was going I would soon be out of Cornwall, so a short change of priorities ensued as I stopped off in Roche on the way to Hensbarrow Beacon (SW 997 575). HB is a dull flat topped hill amongst massive excavations over a huge area of what I think is china clay.

I am now feeling uncomfortably full in the caravan after devouring the Cornish pasty along with a tin of mushy peas.




From White Downs. A tiny white spot
above the top right corner of the trig
is Pendeen lighthouse with Land's End
beyond.




On the descent. Bosigran sticks
up into the sea.




Cammanellis. Trig to left of fence




China clay workings from Hensbarrow Beacon




The reward