From record breaking fell runs to record breaking rainfall, 2015 was an eventful year in the hills. Here's our pick of the milestones.
Film maker Terry Abraham's lavish documentary Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike gets its first airing on mainstream TV. The critics love it. 'I hope that whoever watches [it] ...will be inspired and enlightened not just to the delights of the Scafells but our countryside in general' says Terry. 'Such landscapes are not a playground for action movies. They're places to cherish, conserve and admire! If my film goes someway in helping on that front, then I'll be a very content man.'
For more on the film see our review here
Outcry greets the announcement that Stickle Tarn in the Langdale Pikes is to go up for sale, along with several other properties owned by the cash-strapped Lake District National Park Authority. The waters are later muddied when local groups manage to get it classed as an 'asset of community value', giving them the right to bid for it. 'I want the National Park to go back to the drawing board on this stupid plan to sell off their assets' says local MP Tim Farron.
It's way beyond our walking remit; but no mountain news in March was bigger. In the year that marks the 20th anniversary of the death of the extraordinary climber Alison Hargreaves on K2, her equally remarkable 26 year old son Tom Ballard climbs the six classic north faces of the Alps in one winter season... solo.
The month starts with news that the Inaccessible Pinnacle has lost its precariously balanced top block, a height reduction that bumps it from Munro status. There's some suggestion that mountain biker Danny MacAskill is to blame for posing on it with a bike. On the slim chance that anyone actually believes this April foolery we then feel obliged to admit that we made it up.
After decades in which the location of bothies is kept a bit hush hush it comes to light in the course of an article on UKH that someone's finally working on a comprehensive guidebook to every Scottish bothy. Edinburgh-based Geoff Allan has been making a 'slow, meandering attempt to complete a round of all the MBA bothies in Scotland', using his trusty old bike wherever possible. We're expecting more news on the book in the spring.
Eight of his favourite bothies by bike are covered in this article
Runner Jez Bragg sets an impressive new record of 18 hours 12 mins on the Ramsay Round. Covering 24 summits in Lochaber over a distance of about 58 miles (and 28,500 feet of ascent), Scotland's classic sub-24-hour hill round is no ordinary challenge. Yet it is only one month later that the record is broken for a second time when Jon Ascroft knocks it off in a staggering 16 hours 59 mins.
Wild land campaigners celebrate when the Scottish Government refuses the Allt Duine wind farm after years of deliberation. The controversial proposal would have seen a huge wind farm built in the Monadhliath mountains immediately next to the boundary of the Cairngorms National Park. 'Like many other organisations and individuals we worked hard to seek refusal of consent for this development' said David Gibson of the MCofS. 'We hope this is evidence of a firm and consistent commitment by the Scottish Government to the protection of wild land and Scotland’s mountains from similar massive industrial scale developments. That would demonstrate that it understands the value of wild land and the need to protect its special qualities for the benefit of all.'
The poor summer has been great for one thing - snow patch survival. It's been the snowiest summer since 1994, according to expert Iain Cameron, who conducts an annual survey of the wintry remnants that can survive through the season in the Scottish highlands. On 30th August he filmed some friends skiing on (and poking about underneath) one of this year's many remaining patches on the Feith Buidhe slabs above Loch Avon. But thanks to the recent warm spell, snow cover has if anything reduced since August.
Ultra distance fell runner John Fleetwood completes an epic high-level traverse of the whole of the Alps from Slovenia to Monaco, walking solo the full distance and with only infrequent valley support. Over his 1800km journey John reckons his height gain at around 125,000m, including ascents of a number of peaks along the way. In two months of hard slog he has only two rest days.
These two short films give a really good feel for the trip:
Long awaited confirmation of huge new extensions to the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks is hailed by landscape campaigners. The news concludes decades of unfinished business, ensuring top-level protected status will finally be granted to hills that richly deserve it, including the Northern Howgills, Wild Boar Fell and the Orton Fells. As a result the Yorkshire Dales will grow by nearly one quarter, and in future the two National Parks will meet at the M6.
By way of compensation for a dank disappointing summer the weather belatedly comes good, off and on, in late October and early November. Warm dry rock, T-shirts on the hills and summit cloud inversions: It's all a distant memory now of course.
Next thing we know, storm Desmond is wreaking havoc across the country, bringing devastating flooding to the Lake District. The UK's 24 hour rainfall record is broken, with 341.4mm of rain falling at the Honister Pass; meanwhile over in the Yorkshire Dales Malham Cove becomes an impressive waterfall for possibly the first time in centuries. Several weeks later the tidy up work is still onging. Damage to homes and livelihoods naturally dominated the news coverage, but the floods made a mess of the Lake District's trail network too, with many path surfaces and footbridges washed away. The National Park Authority are offering detailed information on the affected routes in this online Rights of Way Map
- Walking for Mental Health - The Health Worker and ML 6 Aug
- REVIEW: Highland Scrambles South 27 Jul
- REVIEW: Rab Mythic 200 Sleeping Bag 20 Jul
- REVIEW: Osprey Exos and Eja Packs 3 Jul
- Walking For Mental Health - The Adversity Adventurer 18 Jun
- REVIEW: Petzl BINDI Headtorch 15 Jun
- REVIEW: Luci Inflatable Solar Powered Lights 29 May
- The Big Routes: South Cluanie Ridge 25 May
- SKILLS: The Dos and Don'ts of Roadside Camping 17 May
- REVIEW: Exped Seal Sleeve Waterproof Cases 15 May