UKH

2017 - Landmarks of the Mountain Year

From record-breaking runs and epic walks, to a controversial camping ban, there's been plenty of hill news over 2017. Here are our stand-out events from the past 12 months.

Summit camp, Fisherfield, 206 kb
Will Copestake does all the Corbetts in one winter

January - Jim Mann breaks the winter Ramsay Round record

On 22nd Jan, Durham-based runner Jim Mann completes the Charlie Ramsay Round in a time of 22 hours 23 minutes, setting a new winter record for the round of 24 Lochaber peaks, one of the UK's 'big three' fell running challenges.

Shane Ohly, who was among his support runners, shot this short vid which captures the feel:

Jim had only decided to try the Ramsay Round a few days before:

"The weather looked good and an amazing team of runners was available and willing to support so I kind of thought well why not" he told us.

"It was the eve of my 40th birthday and I couldn't have spent it in a better way."

"Great company; some of the UK's finest hills; just enough excitement from the conditions but not so exciting that we couldn't move fast. It really was a perfect day out in the hills. Best birthday party ever!"

  • See the full report here

February - Jim Mann completes Winter Triple

photo
Jim Mann has a break on his winter BGR
© Shane Ohly

Not content with his winter Ramsay Round, Jim goes on to run a winter Paddy Buckley (that's 47 Welsh summits, if you're counting) in 21:37 on 11 February. And just 11 days later he completes a winter Bob Graham Round in a very respectable time of 20hrs 26mins, thus netting himself a winter triple - all of the UK's big three fell running rounds in a single season. Actually, he does the lot inside one month.

March - Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Extended Camping Ban Begins

overview of camping provision 2017, 172 kb

Seasonal restrictions on wild camping and the introduction of a permit system across Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park commence on 1st March (see here). The reaction is mixed, to put it mildly.

Introduced to tackle anti social behaviour and litter at roadside camp spots, the measures to control informal camping affect only around 4% of the park area, point out the National Park Authority.

"Camping is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy the stunning surroundings we have in the National Park and there is every kind of camping experience on offer here" says Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of the Park.

"The new byelaws do not change that... [T]here is still a wide choice of places to camp in the National Park. To support this we have opened a new campsite in the Trossachs at Loch Chon and are promoting some excellent locations to 'wild camp' with a permit."

However campaigners are up in arms at what they see as a threat to Scotland's access rights, and scornful of the new camping facilities provided by the National Park.

"We're disappointed that the park is going ahead with this plan" says Brendan Paddy, Director of Ramblers Scotland.

"It undermines Scottish access rights by providing too few tent pitches to cope with demand and by charging to camp in previously-free areas. Campers often won't get any toilets, drinking water or bins in return – and we fear the hassle, cost and insufficient number of permits may put people off visiting this wonderful area."

"While we don't want to see the byelaws renewed in three years' time, we are advising campers to heed advice from rangers or police, and let us know about their experiences either on social media or by emailing scotland@ramblers.org.uk" says Paddy.

April - Imperial system to replace metric measures on the hills

photo
But... why?
© Baffled of Tunbridge Wells

In a story about as believable as £350 million for the NHS, on April 1st we break news of an announcement that the Metric system is to be abolished and Imperial measures reinstated on UK mapping. The regression to Britain's traditional hodgepodge of miles, yards, feet and inches has, we claim, been hailed as a foretaste of the Brexit dividend long promised by fanatical devotees of the Great British Outdoors.

"We have taken back control of our walks!" brays Nigel Falange of the UKHills Independence Party.

"Kilometres simply don't belong in the English country-cide, but you know where you are with leagues and furlongs."

At least, we imagine that's what he might have said.

  • More on this complete load of nonsense here

April - Will Copestake completes winter Corbett round

On 30th April, Will Copestake completes his Coldest Corbett journey, a round of all 222 of Scotland's Corbetts in a single winter season. A crowd of 40 friends and supporters join him on his final summit, Little Wyvis.

There are worse ways to spend a winter, 135 kb
There are worse ways to spend a winter
© Will Copestake

Ranging in height from 2500-2999 feet, and with an all-round prominence (ie drop between it and the next summit) of 150m, a round of the Corbetts is generally considered to be as tough a proposition as the 3000-foot Munros, with summits that are wilder, less trodden and far more widely scattered. For the Corbett journey Will introduced a novel 'crowdsourcing' element, with an open invite to people to join him on any of the legs.

"Overall the weather this year has been milder than I expected, perhaps I jinxed the winter by calling my trip 'the Coldest Corbett.' In reality it was more of a temperate adventure this year" he tells us.

"When snow did arrive it seemed to come in short winter blasts, giving the conditions I hoped for in manageable bursts. This I saw as somewhat of an advantage and in the last few months I have taken to running. I wore trail shoes far more than my heavy winter boots and without much snow to contend with I have also spent a lot more time on my mountain bike than I first imagined."

  • Read our interview with Will here

June - Hazel Strachan climbs 100 Munros in one month

Accomplished Munro bagger and solo walker Hazel Strachan sets herself an uphill struggle for June 2017 - to climb 100 Munros in a single month, raising funds for Scottish Mountain Rescue. Despite already having eight rounds of the Scottish 3000-ers to her name, and her sights on a ninth (see below), she doesn't find it a walk in the park, when it turns out to be one of the wettest Junes on record.

Hazel on the summit of Aonach Beag (nr Ben Alder), 215 kb
Hazel on the summit of Aonach Beag (nr Ben Alder)
© Hazel Strachan

"It's been a month of joys, frustrations, tiredness, luck and a lot of days wearing waterproofs..."

  • See Hazel's account of the month here

July - Alex Staniforth completes 5000-mile 100-peak journey

Another walking century, this one nationwide, as Alex Staniforth climbs all 100 of the UK's county high points in a continuous self-powered journey. His final tick is Flintshire's Moel Famau.

photo
Alex in celebratory mood at the end of his 72-day UK odyssey
© Alex Staniforth

The 22-year-old began his Climb The UK Challenge on Cheshire's Shining Tor in May, before travelling by bike and on foot in a continuous round taking in the highest point of every county in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. With a journey time of just 72 days he is the fastest person, as well as the youngest, to have done the UK county high points.

"It feels surreal to have completed my hardest challenge to date" says Alex.

"Reaching the top of Moel Famau felt like climbing my own Everest, but even better because I've been able to share this journey with the hundreds of people who joined me along the way."

"I'm elated to have doubled my original fundraising target of £10,000 [for mental health charity YoungMinds] – but I'm so exhausted I'm just looking forward to being able to stop and not cycle anywhere for a while!"

July - World Heritage Status for the Lake District

View of Ullswater from Gowbarrow Park – this photo is included in the Lake District’s bid for World Heritage Status, 182 kb
View of Ullswater from Gowbarrow Park – this photo is included in the Lake District’s bid for World Heritage Status
© Lake District National Park/Andrew Locking

The Lake District becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site, joining 29 other UK locations. In awarding the label, UNESCO cite the area's natural beauty, farmed landscape and cultural inspiration. Speaking after the decision, Lord Clark, chair of the partnership behind the bid, says:

"It is this exceptional blend which makes our Lake District so spectacularly unique and we are delighted UNESCO has agreed... [W]e believe the decision will have long and lasting benefits for the spectacular Lake District landscape, the 18 million visitors we welcome every year and for the people who call the National Park their home."

Supporters of the bid hope it will boost the tourist trade. But others are concerned that awarding World Heritage status in part for its culture of sheep farming will be an incentive to freeze the National Park in its current over-grazed, ecologically denuded state, rather than seeking to improve biodiversity and natural tree cover.

August - Who can use the name Glencoe? We're none the wiser

Copyrighting place names; should it be allowed? We haven't the foggiest, 157 kb
Copyrighting place names; should it be allowed? We haven't the foggiest
© Dan Bailey

An apparent attempt to bully a tiny Scottish outdoor clothing manufacturer falls flat, after national media get wind. It emerges that, having bought copyright of the name Glencoe, the National Trust for Scotland has threatened Hilltrek with legal action for using it.

Hilltrek have been making a 'Glencoe DV Jacket' for 30 years, the firm say. And the name itself - which technically refers to the village of Glencoe rather than the glen Glen Coe, which the NTS own - has of course been around for centuries.

Business owner Dave Shand takes to social media to make his case:

"Is this how small Scottish businesses should be treated? Will our Kintail shirt be next? Come on NTS play fair"

In the face of general outrage the NTS soon backtrack, agreeing to leave Hilltrek alone. But in theory, could they still pursue other small businesses, such as guidebook publishers, who might want to use the name? If place names can be copyrighted then who should own them, and how can local businesses be protected?

"From the beginning we were reluctant to trademark our property place-names but felt we had no choice once it became clear to us that the authorities permit these place names to be registered by other parties" say the NTS.

"This means that anyone from any nation may be able to trademark our properties, quite possibly in connection with a product we don't want to be associated with."

"If the authorities across the UK and Europe, and the politicians they answer to, want to review the decision to allow place-names to be trademarked, we would wholeheartedly support this."

September - Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg win Glen Coe Skyline race

Kilian and Emelie, joint winners, 151 kb
Kilian and Emelie, joint winners
© Skyrunning

Back to Glen Coe again, where world hill running's wonder couple pull off impressive wins in Scotland's epic skyrunning race. Taking in two classic hillwalker's scrambles, Curved Ridge and Aonach Eagach, as well as most of the Munros flanking both sides of the glen, the 55km race this year attracts an international line up of pro mountain runners. Perfect weather conditions see team Salomon's top athletes Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg break the men's and women's course records with jaw-dropping times of 6:25 and 7:53 respectively.

"I'm really happy to be back in Scotland" says Emelie, "the mountains are super nice here, they're like a perfect mix between the Swedish and Norwegian mountains but with a different culture. The views were so beautiful on the course today, really, really beautiful."

  • See our report from an action packed weekend of racing here

September - Stoners spark big fat... mountain rescue

Not exactly big news, more a puff piece, but we can't help being amused when a group of walkers are helped off the hill by Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team after one of their number gets too high on cannabis to come back down without assistance. The group of four men are retrieved from Burnmoor Tarn, at the foot of Scafell, after they burn more than they can handle and find their faculties blunted. Cheap laughs aside, it's worth pointing out that the team, all volunteers, had to respond to five incidents that weekend alone.

October - Hazel Strachan bags ninth Munro round

Winter above Crianlarich - she loves the challenge of this time of year, 137 kb
Winter above Crianlarich - she loves the challenge of this time of year
© Hazel Strachan

Mega-Munroist Hazel is at it again, ticking off her ninth round of Scotland's 282 3000-foot mountains in October. It's a female record - and very few male walkers have done more.

"All my Munro rounds have been achieved when I've been working full time for the Scottish Government" Hazel tells us.

"I've completed rounds in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. A round of Munros takes on average 112 hill days over a timescale of 12 to 13 months. Where possible all my weekends, annual leave and extra days built up from working overtime are spent on the hills. Most of my free time during the week is spent drying kit, repacking and looking at weather forecasts ready for the next adventure. Climbing hills is all I've wanted to do."

...and we thought we were obsessed!

  • Read our interview with Hazel here

November - Mend Our Mountains aims for £1million

Mend Our Mountains, the alliterative fundraising drive which has already bagged £100,000 for path repair work, announces a new target of £1million for projects across the UK.

Running over the course of one year, the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal aims to make a positive difference in each of the UK's 15 National Parks, funding work on some of the country's most heavily used and eroded footpaths.

The collaboration of various groups, which is coordinated by the BMC and funded by its charity the BMC Access and Conservation Trust, is set up to embrace "a sense of collective pride and responsibility for looking after our best-loved landscapes".


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