So, back to my Dawson, confident that within its covers I will find a subset of summits that could comprise my list. The author has divided the country into 42 regions bounded by natural or man-made features. If the number of hills in any one region became too unwieldy, he further subdivided it into sections. There are around 100 of these in total, two thirds of which I have already visited and my first thought was to list, then visit the remaining sections and climb a hill in each. The total of 30 would be a suitable target to be getting on with. It would give me the satisfaction of having, in my lifetime visited all parts of the UK that might remotely be regarded as being hilly and having climbed a Marilyn in each. Such a list would, like Caleb’s, be unique and would give me not only the luxury of choosing which hill to do but also the pleasure that goes with researching a new project. Also, if the medics were right in their prognosis, the plan seemed to be not over-ambitious and eminently doable.
Closer examination, however, revealed the downside of the plan. Almost inevitably the outstanding sections were those furthest from home and although I was handily placed in the middle of the country, it was still a long way to the South Downs and even further to the Shetlands. The logistics meant at least a couple of days per hill and in some cases three or four. The arithmetic suggested to climb 30 separate hills would occupy around a hundred days and nights and I had yet to factor in travel to the Outer Isles not to mention a troublesome trip to St Kilda. I enjoy nothing more than a good day on the hill but there are other things in life than careering up and down Britain’s motorways. It was therefore with some reluctance, I cast around for Plan “B”.
Rather than attempt to cover the whole of Great Britain, perhaps it would be better to concentrate on one self contained area and examine it thoroughly by ascending every single Marilyn contained within it. Once I had reached this conclusion, the choice became obvious – the ascent of every unclimbed Marilyn between a line roughly drawn between the Mersey and the Humber in the south and Hadrian’s Wall in the north. East and west would, of course, take care of themselves. This covered five of Dawson’s regions and with it the Peak District, Pennines, North Yorkshire Moors and, the jewel in the crown, the Lake District. His original list produced a total of 110 of which I had already completed 65. With the likes of Mickle Fell and Scafell safely in the bag, 45 seemed a reasonable target, especially as they were all at the lower end of the scale.
But my list was more than a matter of convenience. If that’s all it was, then why not Regions 30 and 36 in North Wales which were just as conveniently placed? I had done all the tricky ones and I had roughly the same number left to climb and if it rained I could always dig out my bucket and spade and sample the delights of Prestatyn or Rhyl. No, it had to be the North. I was born and bred there. I liked the place and I liked the people. Politically, socially and economically, and I have to admit sentimentally, I am at one with it and them.