Highlands & Islands

Marilyn bagger from Peterborough scratches 22 year itch

A climber from Peterborough has become the first person to bag 1,556 hills named after Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe.

Rob Woodall started his quest to reach the summits of every Marilyn - hills in the UK and Ireland with a 150m (492ft) drop on all sides - in the 1990s.

On Monday, he bagged the last two on his list - formidable sea stacks in the remote Scottish archipelago of St Kilda.

Image copyright Pete Ellis

Mr Woodall started his venture to scale all the Marilyns shortly after hillwalker Alan Dawson's book on the hills, The Relative Hills of Britain, was published in 1992.

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Mr Dawson came up with the name Marilyn as a cheeky play on the word Munro, the name for 282 mountains in Scotland with a height of 3,000ft (914.4m) or more above sea level.

There are also smaller peaks dubbed Corbetts and Grahams.

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There are six Marilyns on St Kilda, which lies 41 miles (66km) west of the Western Isles and is the UK's only natural and cultural Unesco World Heritage Site.

The archipelago was abandoned by its last 36 human inhabitants in 1930 after life there became too difficult.

Image copyright Robert Kerr

Over the years, Mr Woodall successfully climbed four of St Kilda's stacks.

But Stac an Armin, above, and Stac Lee had until Monday been a challenge to him. They are the UK's highest sea stacks and to reach the top involves a hard and technical climb.

St Kildans - known as the Hiortaich - would climb the stacks to harvest seabirds and their eggs.

Stac an Armin is the tallest of the stacks at 643ft (196m).

Image copyright Robert Kerr

Stac Lee rises to 564ft (172m) above sea level.

Climbing the stacks during seabirds' breeding season is banned, so Mr Woodall had to tackle it this month, when the weather can be stormy.

Image copyright Robert Kerr

However, a window of fine weather allowed Mr Woodall and a group of other climbers to scale both stacks.

Among the other climbers was Eddie Dealtry, from Kendal, who became the second person to complete all of the Marilyns.

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