The SOTA activation venue is…..

Ben Venue….

a hill in the Trossachs area of Scotland of just under 2,800ft in height.

Roddy 2M0IOB had offered an invitation to go activate another hill and the hill of choice was Ben Venue.

Activation of Ben Venue GM/SS 058 5/3/2011

Activation of Ben Venue GM/SS 058 5/3/2011

As always the weather forecast was watched closely from mid week onwards and it was looking as if fair conditions could be had. They got it completely wrong !

We left my house and headed the well-worn roads towards Loch Lomond, a run through Balloch then heading and bypassing Drymen then N to Aberfoyle before heading up over the Dukes Pass before dropping down in the Loch Achray area, in normal conditions, Venue would be showing to the SW but as the day would have it, the hill was hidden under cloud, the forecast had promised that this would clear around midday. We parked at the official car park at NN 506068.

A quick look at the notice board before getting kitted up, a last-minute equipment check and off we set, the start is through roughly pathed woodland until you meet the road which heads to Loch Katrine, where an alternative parking space with room for a couple of cars is at NN 500068 ( next time !!).

Setting off on the Water Board road until you reach the bridge over Achray Water, there are some good photographic opportunities in this area. As you follow the paths noting the blueish green markers, you criss cross paths until you reach open countryside and find the Venue path at NN499055, the path takes you through a scarred landscape of earlier tree felling until you reach forest proper again, steadily rising until you suddenly leave the forest and head on to open land following the broken path and avoiding as we did, the glaur.

At this part of the walk, we met a few walkers heading the same route, a group that we spoke to had mentioned to us that they had no maps or compasses, not a very good decision on a day when the mist was at best 40m visibility. We next met them at the top of the first scramble where they had decided to go no further, a wise choice as the mist was now closing down.

Regular checks of the GPS and Roddy’s OS phone app showed we were on the correct route and  slowly but steadily we rose higher but with no summit in sight.

It is up there somewhere

It is up there somewhere

The path then headed steeply and with conditions being damp, the rock was slippy as I later found out. Slow progress by me on the steep sections was also hindered by snow patches along the route.

There was still no sign of any of the twin summits until we came across the higher of the two, which is 2m higher but the lower summit with the trig point was roughly 300m away but we got no sight of it.

It was time to catch my breath and set up the mast with my antenna of choice, the 4m JPole.

I called and instantly I worked Duncan, AHL/m who was near Lenzie. Duncan was my first 4m contact on my previous activation. I kept calling CQ but couldn’t raise a whisper. A break for scran whilst listening to Roddy working stations on 2m, I decided to build up the beam and give the 70cm band a go. I could get a signal for my phone but no matter how I tried I could not get any data connection which would have let me self spot on the SOTA pages.

An enthusiastic Bob at summit

An enthusiastic Bob at summit

I called out on the FM part of the 70cm band and Fred GOV in Dunlop returned my call then and after a quick qso I was called by Brian HMZ from Howwood, an exchange of info and I then heard Roddy working Bob, AWV/P on Beinn Dubh, I also worked Bob who was on 2m FM so at least one ‘Summit to Summit’ was in the log. I then gave a call out on my 4m handie and Ray, NZI from the NW end of Glasgow came back and had a quick QSO with me. I tried calling again on 4m but nothing.

It was back to 70cms again, Paul, PJD/m who was heading to pick up Robert, GUF and then walk up Tinto and play radio, unfortunately we would be well off the hill by the time they would be on air. A call from Brian, XQJ near Falkirk was next in the log, followed by James, WER/p who was to the south of Paisley in a local car park. The next contact was the most distant one, Eric, FSZ from Girvan and finally, my last contact, one of eight on 70cms was Ian, ISM in Irvine.

Most surprisingly 70cms proved the best band to work today, I had expected 4m to produce more as the take off to the south was excellent, I think a spot on the SOTA spot page would have probably helped. I had decided on the 4m and 70cms bands and to leave Roddy to work 2m, ‘chasers’ can only receive points from one operator in a dual activation.

We even had a quick attempt by the sun to shine through but not to be. Time to get packed and head back down, we had noted where it could be easier to head down grassy sections as the rocks were slippy. Taking summit photos before we left, Roddy added a stone to the cairn. We descended slowly until we reached the level ground before working our way down the rocky scramble area, scramble may be too dramatic to describe this but in the wet conditions, care had to be taken.

Heading down the section which leads back to the forested area, the mist started to lift slightly and as we walked towards the wooded area, we could hear and occasionally see two buzzards on the crags. Once on the forest path, the glaur disappears, these paths back to the car park are in excellent condition. We stopped for a quick scran break then headed down, Roddy stopped at the bridge over Achray Water to take photos but I just headed back to the car and just before the last section, I could heard footsteps running towards me, it was someone jogging the last section, yep IOB was taking the mickey out of me…noted.

Jings ! it would be Roddy 2M0IOB himself

Jings ! it would be Roddy 2M0IOB himself

Back at the car park, the light was dropping quickly, our kit was stowed away and we headed back to civilisation.

Another great dual activation done with Roddy, who I must thank again for the invite and the gentle goading to get me to the top. Did I mention his snowfield escapade ? I’ll leave that to him. Roddy’s blog post of the trip is <HERE>

The hill ? conditions obviously were wet, in fact, very wet and it may be only me but I was disappointed I missed the views the hill gives of the Trossachs area. The hill was activated and the surprise of the 70cms activity was well worth the trip.

No panorama video this trip…

Sir Walter Scott mentions the hill in his piece about Loch Katrine

High on the south huge Ben Venue
Down on the lake in masses threw,
Crags, knolls, and mounds, confusedly hurled, The fragments of an earlier world…

Information Overload…

Ben Venue means ‘ mountain of the cave ‘

The Gaelic name ….. ‘A’ Bheinn Mheanbh’

Ben Venue is 727m  or 2,385 ft ASL

Geohack info <HERE>


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2 responses to “The SOTA activation venue is…..

  1. Another good one Bob, just a pity you had this hill on her dirty day but we can assure you it is a great hill on a good day and the views are fabulous.

    Until the next one 73

    Neil ‘n’ Cat

  2. I know the main purpose is to activate the hill but to me, a very big part of it is getting to see the surrounding countryside. Disappointed, yes but I have ticked this one off.
    I’m a fair weather activator..
    Roll on blue skies.

    Bob Something

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