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Peter Walker
2016-02-07 20:06:14
Walk of the Year 2015
Omitted from the annual due to lack of space / email incompetence / low quality / doesn't matter

I could have picked a springtime ascent of Errigal, if only from witnessing Indy the Tripod Dog’s amazing feat of blagging food from practically everyone on the summit…maybe I could bend others to my will if I had three legs too? Actually that would more likely result in government scientists performing experiments on me. But I digress. I’m choosing a summer round of the Owenglin Horseshoe in the Twelve Bens instead.

After 35 years of hillwalking most outings serve more to act as gentle reminders of feelings previously experienced in the outdoors, rather than providing a proper dose of the shock of the new. And the 15th August reminded me of the good old days of my youth when 3am alarm calls led to 4 hours drives before a whole day’s hillwalking and then a narcoleptic drive home. Plus I was back in a time where I found climbing mountains pretty easy…back then that was down to naivety and genetics, now it owed a hefty debt to a recent discovery of ketogenic dieting and carb loading.

But a healthy amount of the experience was new, and not just the 12 summits being visited for the first time or the completion of the County Tops after 8 years (I’m English…we’re predisposed to being disorganised). I’d never seen quite such a pageant of weather within such a short space of time as I witnessed on the ridge of Binn Bhraoin (blazing sunshine, mist, drizzle, hail, blazing sunshine, 90 seconds). And having been reasonably unlucky with wildlife encounters in the previous 3.5 decades it was a pleasant surprise to startle a fox and some cubs at very close quarters on top of An Chailleach…less idyllic was the revelation that they hadn’t noticed me because they were busy gorging themselves on a dead sheep. Nice.

Still, it’s still more memories than revelations. On the scrambly ascent of Binn Gabhar I experienced a slimy feeling on a distant handhold, one that grew more intense and manky and malodourous the more I brought up my centre of gravity, until the final revelation that yes, for the first time since 2004 in Cat Gill in the Lake District, I was climbing into a dead sheep. A different one, I hope.
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