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FionaOutdoors
FionaOutdoors

Cumbrian walker becomes first female Marilynist

The great outdoors inspires many people to take on amazing challenges and this month, keen hill walker Jenny Hatfield, from Cumbria, became the first woman to complete a list of 1,556 UK hills and mountains known as the Marilyns.

What is a Marilyn?

The chances are you have heard of the Munros, the 282 Scottish mountains that have a summit of more than 3,000ft. The Munros list was first defined by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. Walkers of the West Highland Way will spot many Munros as they journey the long-distance route, including Ben Lomond on the banks of Loch Lomond, Buchaille Etive Mor in Glencoe and the tallest of them all, Ben Nevis near Fort William. [caption id="attachment_20719" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Ben Nevis is the UK's tallest mountain and also a Marilyn. Ben Nevis is the UK's tallest mountain and also a Marilyn.[/caption] In the early 1990s another list of hills and mountains, the Marilyns, was defined by Alan Dawson in his book The Relative Hills of Britain. He describes a Marilyn as a summit with an independent peak – or prominence – of at least 150m. More than 200 Munros are also Marilyns due to their prominence and there are 1,218 Scottish Marilyns in total. [caption id="attachment_20718" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Hellvelyn is England's tallest mountain and also a Marilyn. Helvellyn is an English  Marilyn.[/caption] Of the 175 English Marilyns, the highest is Scafell Pike at 978m. In Wales, Snowdon at 1085m is the highest of the 158 Welsh Marilyns. There are five Marilyns on the Isle of Man.

Jenny claims title as first Marilynist

On September 25, Jenny walked into the record books as the first woman know to have walked all the Marilyns when she reached the summit of Cruinn a’Bheinn in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. At the same time, Jenny’s partner Rick Salter also ticked off his final Marilyn. Jenny and Rick became the first couple to finish a round of Marilyns at the same time. Just eight men had achieved the impressive feat before Jenny and Rick. [caption id="attachment_20722" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Rick and Jenny summit their final Marilyn together this month. Rick and Jenny summit their final Marilyn together this month.[/caption] After her last Marilyn, Jenny said: “It's a great feeling to have climbed all 1,556 Marilyns. There's a sense of relief after all those strenuous climbs, but also regret that such an amazing adventure is finished.” Jenny and Rick were joined by around 40 friends for the final summit.

Jenny’s four decade challenge

For Jenny, the Marilyns began 44 years ago, when she walked 950m tall Helvellyn in the Lake District during a youth hostelling trip with her sister. But it was only 15 years ago, when she bought Dawson’s book that she became more serious in her pursuit of the mountains. img_7012-2 She said: “I was attracted to the list because it covers the whole of the UK, with hills of all sizes and with a huge range of characters, yet the list did not seem so big as to be unachievable. It’s a long list but not so long that it seemed impossible to finish.” Over the years, Jenny, 58, has enjoyed ticking off the summits, many of which she has walked on her own. Ten years ago she met Rick while walking in Scotland and since then the Marilyns have become a common interest. Last October, Jenny realised she might become the first woman to complete the Marilyns after reaching two “crux” summits, the remote St Kilda sea stacks, Stac Lee and Stac an Armin. At that time she still had nearly 500 hills to climb but she thought it would make a great challenge for the next year. img_6518-1 She said: “I worked on the plan and realised that by devoting myself full-time to hill bagging I could aim to complete within a year, which would give me a good chance of being the first woman.” The push to complete the list has been physically demanding and has seen Jenny walk 3336 miles and climb 243,000m, the equivalent of climbing Everest from sea level 28 times. She said: “There was little time this past year for much else after the planning and travelling, then walking, eating and sleeping. There were times when the weather was really bad for days on end and it’s been a struggle against torrential rain and wind. But I have greatly enjoyed the goal.” After a short rest, Jenny and Rick now plan to walk all the 454 Irish Marilyns. Rick said: “Actually, we’ve already made a start on them – and we mean to bag them all as well.”

Walk a Marilyn

Many of the Macs Adventure walking holidays in the UK will journey past or close to a Marilyn or two. Just ask for advice when booking a trip.
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