Jenny is a Marilyns record-breaker
Jenny Hatfiedl walked into the record books last month when she completed a full round of British mountains known as the Marilyns. I wrote about her story in my Sunday Mail outdoors column. Also see What is a Marilyn?
Jenny’s record breaking walk
Jenny Hatfield walked into the record books this week when she reached the summit of Cruinn a’Bheinn in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.
She is the first woman to complete all 1556 British mountains known as the Marilyns.
At the same time, Jenny’s partner Rick Salter also ticked off his final Marilyn, a title given to all hills and mountains in the UK with a prominence of at least 150 metres.
In so doing, Jenny and Rick became the first couple to finish the round at the same time.
To date, just eight other people, all men, have achieved the impressive feat.
After her last Marilyn, Jenny said: “I am thrilled to have finished the round of hills and mountains and very proud to be the first woman to do so.”
The Marilyns list includes all the highest summits of Scotland, Wales and England.
Many of the summits are remote and geographically widely spread.
There are 236 Marilyns on islands – and two take the form of hard-to-reach sea stacks.
For Jenny, the Marilyns started 44 years ago, when she walked 950m tall Helvellyn in the Lake District.
She said: “I was on a youth hostelling trip with my sister. I remember that it was misty – and deserted – at the top and we fed some seagulls with our sandwiches.”
She could not have known then that it would be the start of something much bigger.
The start of her Mariylns quest
It was only 15 years ago, when she bought Dawson’s book that Jenny began her more serious pursuit of the mountains.
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.
She said: “In my earlier days of hill bagging I tended to walk solo a great deal.
“Most of the higher Marilyns in Scotland and the north of England were done on my own.
“In the last 10 years I have walked all the hills with my partner Rick.
“I introduced Rick to the Marilyns soon after we met and they have been a common interest for us.”
The final countdown
Last October, Jenny realised she might become the first woman to complete.
She said: “After I climbed the St Kilda sea stacks, Stac Lee and Stac an Armin, a friend asked me if I might become the first woman to finish the Marilyns.
“At that time I still had nearly 500 hills to climb but it sowed the seed of possibility in my mind.
“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 remote and challenging Stac Lee is considered to be a crux in the pursuit of all the Marilyns.
In fact, one other woman has bagged all the summits, except for the Kilda stacks.
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.
“I had problems with energy levels, too, and I found it hard to eat enough to pack in all the calories needed for those big hill days, day after day.
“I had a lot of problems with sore feet for one reason or another, but I didn’t let that stop me from getting the hills climbed.”
With what will seem like a huge relief, on September 25 Jenny walked with Rick and some 40 friends to the 632m summit of Cruinn a’Bheinn on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond.
She said: “It was a great day with everyone there to walk with me. It feels good to have finished the Marilyns.
“I have greatly enjoyed walking the Marilyns over the years. I am now looking forward to our next challenge – to walk all the 454 Irish Marilyns.”