The story behind Rob's epic quest and completion
On Jun 28th Rob Woodall completed the 2529 Simms of Britain, becoming only the fourth person known to have completed this hill list (and the first to also complete the Marilyns and Humps). The Simms are British hills that are at least 600 metres high with at least 30 metres of prominence. Michael Earnshaw was the first to complete the Marilyns and Simms.
15 fellow RHSoc baggers: Richard & Denise McLellan, Pete Ellis, Andrew Brown, Rick Salter, Jenny Hatfield, Gill Stephens, Dave McGimpsey, Dorothy Stirling, Jez Turner, Adrian Rayner, Dan Unwin, Maisie Hamilton-Unwin, Tony Jenkins and Jonathan Woods were there to celebrate.
Setting off from the Glenachulish car park at South Ballachulish we made our way up the steep grassy slopes of Creag Ghorm & then onto Creag Ghorm South Top. Here the ground was less steep & there were small pools & lochans. Onto Sgorr Dhonuill Far West Top & then the final Simm - Sgorr Dhonuill West Top (824m). We had a cake (baked by Denise) and whisky and apple juice to celebrate.
To make a day of it the group then went over the two Munros - Beinn a' Bheithir - Sgorr Dhonuill & Beinn a' Bheithir - Sgorr Dhearg.
The weather throughout the day was stunning, and the views due to the mountain’s coastal location were extensive, as far as the Cuillins to the N & Ben Nevis to the NE. An amazing way to end the Simms.
Maisie's interview with Rob
In her interview with Rob, 13 y.o. Maisie Hamilton-Unwin who was on the ascent asked Rob about his quest.
MHU - How long did it take to complete the Simms?
RW - Difficult question. My first Simm was probably Snowdon in about 1970 with my parents, so about 50 years! However, I started deliberately bagging the Corbett Tops, as the higher ones were then known, probably in the mid 2000s. Simms have only been a sideline until the last 2 or 3 years, though; prior to that, they were tacked onto other projects (Humps, etc).
MHU - What is your most memorable Simm?
RW - The first which came to mind, is one from this year, A' Chioch (Beinn Bhan, Applecross). It was unclear how difficult it would be - not very, as it turned out, but with cloud drifting in and out and superb rock architecture, together with its East Top, and A' Phoit (a P29.8m SubSimm nowadays), it made a memorable and not-too-scary outing.
Then my mind went back to the late 1990s and Bidein Druim nan Ramh, a Hump Simm on Skye's Black Cuillin ridge. Heading NE along the ridge, after its North Top (a P29.6 Subsimm) there's a downclimb where you can reach down, find a jug-handle handhold, and lower yourself down into the gap (I shouldn't be telling you this - it might give you ideas!). On one occasion I caught up with a group here. They started to follow me, then thought again and got their rope out for an abseil - I felt ridiculously smug! Equally memorable is Clach Glas (mainly because I often struggled to find the route off it toward Bla-bheinn - not so smug).
MHU - Any tips / advice for others wanting to follow you & complete the Simms?
RW - Save the best ones for good weather and enjoy them. Especially the higher ones - they are often the best (but in poor weather, the worst). If you enjoy wild camping, so much the better. Plan carefully too - it's fun working out strategies for the big groups, such as the Monadhliath and the Tarf/Feshie areas.
MHU - Was it by design or accident that you finished on Sgorr Dhonuill West Top?
RW - It involved a fair bit of thought. A completion summit needs decent parking, and to be interesting. From initial endgame planning in early 2021, I had a shortlist of two - an Arrochar Simm (convenient and reasonably interesting) and one above Glencoe (more dramatic but with a car park tending to fill up). Then the morning I set off to climb the Sgorr Dhonuill tops, it occurred to me that these had the advantage of a sea view - and good parking options. So I bagged the Glencoe Simm that morning and saved the Sgorr Dhonuill tops for completion day.
MHU - What is next!?!
1) Europe (hopefully this summer) - P1000m summits (Ribus)
At home -
2) I loved spending time on high hills this year, so I'll target the remaining hill-bagging summits over 900m, and Alan Dawson's High Hills of Britain (some overlap there).
3) P80m summits - I've done everything above P90m, and P80m upwards represents the 4000 most prominent hills in Britain (The P70s include some very serious stacks including P79m Old Man of Storr, so P80 seems a sensible break point).
4) There are plenty of interesting Tump subsets (island completions etc) for years ahead.
Maisie's own view of the day
My favourite part of the day was definitely the tops of the last two Munros - The views were just amazing and such a good way to top off an already great walk. We decided to come up as it is a great experience being there to celebrate when someone completes a set of hills. Carrying the cake some of the way up is something I won’t forget!! [ Dad says : we were in North Wales Saturday, so we were practically half way to Scotland when we set off on Sunday for the drive up ]. School had excused me off school for a day as they were very interested and, as it is all great experience for my hope to be an alpinist / mountain guide in the future. We got back to the car park at 6:30pm - Dad just had to drive back to Newbury! I slept most of the way as it was school as normal the following morning.
I started climbing mountains properly when I was five, in the Brecon Beacons. Since then, I have climbed mountains all over Britain, from the top of Scotland to the west of Wales. When I was seven, I went to the Alps & climbed the Gross Venediger with my mum & dad. Earlier this year saw me on the top of my 100th Marilyn. So far, I have climbed 548 Tumps & with 680 hills in total. As I live in Newbury we have also started bagging OS trig pillars & benchmarks. My top British Hills so far are Y Pincin Ben Nevis, via the CMD and A' Mhaighdean.