On Bagging and Hill Lists   21 comments

In the past 12 months or so I’ve rekindled my interest in hill lists. Not in an attempt at completing any, more out of curiosity and an effort to use them to discover walks I might never have been on. I’ve had some mixed results, mostly I found some pretty decent new spots with a few that whilst diverting, not places I ache to go back to. These photos are from one of the latter walks so I thought I’d pad things out with some words on what I’ve come to find a fascinating topic.

When I started my hiking journey back in my university days the list of the day was Scottish Munros. We were all pretty obsessive and between 1984 and 1998 I managed to pick up 200 (my first munro was Rudh Stac Mhor on Beinn Eighe and my 200th Ben Lomond in case you’re interested). Since then after moving too far south for regular trips to the Highlands that pace has slowed dramatically such that my grand total is still only 213 over 20 years later (although they took two off me in the last revision). I hope to complete them sometime before I shuffle off although I’ll need some help with the Skye ridge (where I’ve only done a few of the easier ones) and a whole heap of fuel and passion for walking in rain and bog!

The other big Scottish group are Corbetts. Only 55 of 222 for me due to the fact they are harder to tick off. The rule around what constitutes a Corbett is much tougher and strictly applied so they tend to be isolated such that more than one in a day is a big ask. Chances of completing them are zero not least because some are seriously dreary and uninteresting.

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The recent obsession was with Marilyns (any hill with 150m drop on all sides, strictly applied). How to find them was the challenge as there are quite a few, 1622 in fact in the UK. I discovered the well known Hill Lists App and it was a couple of quid well spent. Its devoured a good deal of my life recently as I populate with data from my memory banks and in poking around looking for new places to go.

It was the reason that this walk found its way into my life. Its Mynydd Twyn Glas, just above Cwmbran in the Welsh Valley’s. The forecast looked ok, sunshine and showers but the latter was the end result. This may be fine hill on a fine day but in ceaseless, cold rain it was a dreary and cheerless experience. Still another one ticked off I guess.

Long way to go though. I’ve only done 59 of the 158 in Wales, 68 of 175 in England and a paltry 227 of 1219 in Scotland. I suspect that completing the list is a big ask. Not because I’m not a keen hiker you understand, but some of them are seriously obscure and many are on private land and need some discrete trespassing. Worse there are some sea stacks in the list and some on St Kilda, not exactly easy to get to!

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I’ve also been poking around with other lists. Wainwrights are an obvious one and I’m at a respectable 143 out of 214. A few days in the eastern fells around Shap and I wouldn’t be far off completing them. I exclude the Outlying Fells as there are some seriously obscure ones in there.

Nuttalls was the only other one on the lists I recognised (England & Wales summits over 2000 feet with 15m drop all round). My proudest achievement is in here as I’ve completed all the South Wales ones. Sadly, not that much of an achievement really seeing as I live in the neighbourhood and only completed them on my next walk to post up but the map in the app looks good! I’ve done 113 of 189 in Wales (so plenty left in North Wales to get my teeth into) and 113 of 189 in England.

Humps are the other that fascinate me. Basically Marilyns but with only 100m drop (name stands for Hundred Metre Prominence). There are bloody thousands of them even more obscure and remote, 3100 to be precise of which I’ve done only 489, less than 20%. I might really struggle to complete these! Still nearly 500 summits of various heights and dimensions is not a bad reward for 35+ years of hill obsession.

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I’ve found it endlessly enjoyable and fascinating filling in the stats, looking at maps, trying to remember which one’s I’ve climbed and when, what route we took and which other insignificant (at the time) bumps and tops I’ve been over and can tick off. I’ve not become obsessed or anything, honest!

The Hill lists App is well worth a couple of quid of any obsessive outdoor types money considering the effort the creator goes to produce and update it and its very easy to use. It has a whole load of lists I’ve never heard of if you are so inclined (Archies anyone) and has a direct hook into MWIS which is very handy. You can backup and export between devices so you always have an up to date copy somewhere.

Hope you enjoyed my little reverie into hiking by statistic. Pictures of a proper long hike in the snow (with a new Marilyn/Hump/Nuttall summit thrown in) in the next post.

Footnote 1: I’m doing well in the TGO 40 best UK mountains list, only 4 left!

Footnote 2: All stats subject to a margin of error due to poor memory going back 35+ years!

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Posted February 27, 2020 by surfnslide in Wales, Walking

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21 responses to “On Bagging and Hill Lists

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  1. List bagging is an odd one. You lurch between achievement from bagging a load off the list, to cursing loudly as you’ve stupidly added a hill to a walk that really has no place on any list and certainly not on the walk you are doing. I’ve added more to my Dartmoor list to take it to 500, but I’m not going to add any more. I’ve seen lists of Dartmoor tors/rocks that are over 800, but the issue can be that with some of the outcrops, I’ve got more granite in my rockery than on some of them. At least the Wainwrights will never change, I’m on 163 of them!! Need to sort out my hill lists app again, I had it for a while and used it a bit but have neglected it recently and as you say it can take you to some fine new spots

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    • I was a bit munro obsessed in my earlier years. Over the years I saw what was blindly obvious that the magic 3000 foot mark didn’t necessarily make for a great walk especially in bad weather. I’ve been up some great hills in truly awful weather just to tick them off and ignored some lesser hills in great weather. Nowadays my primary objective is revisiting walks I like, exploring somewhere new or a new approach to a walk I’ve done many times. The lists are great for picking out something new. As an example it became obvious that I was missing a load of summits in the Northern Carneddau in Snowdonia. Looking at the map showed up what looks like a superb natural horseshoe walk that’s now high on my list. I would like to complete the Munros at some point but the other lists will never happen!

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      • I’ll be glad to get to the end of the Wainwrights to be honest. To get the chance to go elsewhere, like the Peak District or back to Snowdonia and as you say to revisit the best ones again

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        • Doubt I’ll ever finish the Wainwrights unless I move back North at some point. Of the “major” summits I’m only missing Haycock and Grey Friar. All the others are odd tops at the end of ridges I haven’t walked and stuff in the extreme NE, E and NW.

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  2. I definitely like the ‘getting out to visit new places’ aspect because sometimes you find unexpected gems – I would definitely include the outlying fells in that because many of them are well worth a visit (Scout Scar, Whitbarrow, the hills south of Eskdale and west of Harter Fell, Black Combe etc, etc).
    However, I’m not very good at the record keeping or single-minded enough to ever get near finishing any of the lists. (Having said which – I may be pretty close with the Wainwrights).
    As to retrospectively logging hills climbed in the past – there’s no earthly way, my memory is just not good enough.

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    beatingthebounds
    • I’ve done most of the interesting looking outlying fells referred to although a few round your way still left. At some distant point I logged at least an approximate date for my Munros in a spreadsheet. The Lake District is pretty easy to remember where you’ve been although exact dates are more difficult so most are a guess (I know we did Green Crag above Eskdale and Caw/Stickle Pike but I can’t for the life of me remember when). Same for Snowdonia and all the South Wales ones are recent. Looking back at photos where the date taken is normally recorded is helpful and I have mine all filed by year/month. Doesn’t really matter if you miss a few, I found it fun just revisiting mapped areas, vaguely remembering walks I’ve done and working out which summits I might have been over.

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  3. Quite an amazing record. I wonder how many miles you have covered hiking over the years.
    My hiking group adds up the kilometres hiked at the end of each year. In 7 years we have walked from Brisbane to the Gulf of Carpentaria. [ google road mileage]. I wonder if we will manage to circumnavigate Australia, in the hiking years left to us.

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    • I’m sure your group will achieve any goal you set yourselves. Its great to keep those friendships going and a love of hiking the outdoors is a wonderful bond. How many miles? Blimey, that would be interesting. I would hazard a guess on average over good/bad years maybe 800 per year so that would be about 30,000 miles!

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  4. Don’t give up on completing those lists, I’ve done almost half since my retirement. Keep fit and one day you will have more time (if less money)

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    • Hi Squiz – its been great fun playing with app and discovering new lists. I’ve really enjoyed the fact they have taken to me to areas I would never have otherwise walked and opened up some new horizons. My next post I’m writing up tonight is one of the best examples of cracking little hills I never knew was there until I found it on a list.

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  5. You’ve done pretty well there Andy! I think these lists are great things as they can take you to all sorts of unexpected places.

    For example there is a small bump on the landscape only a few miles from my house which is categorised and the small summit is actually a pictish broch. I know of another categorised lump where you park at the Korean War Memorial to begin the very short ascent. Obviously these “hills” are at the bottom end of the height range but the circumstances of their location adds another dimension to the walk. I have no doubt others here will have similar stories.

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    • There are lost of small obscure hills around South Wales and The Marches where I live. Quiet a number are on private land so a little naughtiness will be required. many of the wooded hills are old settlements with earthworks and ditches visible. The next post will on such hill and an excellent little hill it was. Mid Wales also has a huge collection of small hills I intend to explore once we can start hiking again.

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  6. I’m rather ambivalent about lists. They give you a target to aim for and ideas of where to go, but can make you obscessive. Forcing yourself to add in a hill just so you can tick it off a list can sometimes spoil a good walk. But, then, I reckon there’s a bit of a trainspotter in all of us!

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    • I used to be an obsessive bagger of summits in my youth but since I moved south I’ve been more interested in discovering new routes, paths, valleys, features etc. More recently I’ve been using hill lists to discover places I wouldn’t otherwise have realized had walking potential. Mostly successful but as with this walk some dreary stuff out there!

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