Chaorach on a crisp Autumn day

Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn
Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn

After such a wet October, it was time to try to fit in Beinn Chaorach before the end of the year, I have been to this hill in both ’09 and ’10 so I had to arrange my now annual visit although Ben Bowie had been more in my thoughts as I’m still even after the Ben More trip having some discomfort from my right ankle. I have clocked some miles on the local back roads trying to get my level of fitness up.

The forecast for the weekend had looked good since midweek and I sought (or begged TBH) for Katie to ferry me to my chosen hill. As I mentioned many times in the past all the handies  put on charge and the rukkie packed as light as it possibly can, I have given up carrying all the extras.

Activation of Beinn Chaorach GM/SS 062 5/11/2011

Activation of Beinn Chaorach GM/SS 062 5/11/2011

A quick look across at Chaorach at first light showed a clear sky with no cloud so back for a sneaky long lie.

I put up an alert on the SOTA Alert page before finally checking everything was ready to go. Cloud levels had been around approx 2,000 ft as we left home and within the hour we had arrived at the drop off point at NS 294887, there is a parking place just slightly east of this if you have to park up.

.Once you have climbed over the gate next to the road(carefully now Bob !), looking up the hill and slightly to your right you can see a gap in the top field reedy area, head for this and this sets you on the quad track which shows most of the way to Chaorach , climb over another gate and you are now in open countryside, slowly I headed up what is a steep unrelenting climb to the top of Auchingaich Hill. I had walked up to the Auchingaich Dam last time and headed direct to the bealach between Tharsuinn and Chaorach but found this a leg stretch too far so the decision was to follow the normal published route via Auchingaich, Tharsuinn then to the top of Chaorach.

Charoach means ‘Hill of the sheep’ and today they must have hidden as I saw none the entire journey up and down except in the starting field, I slowly made my way up the first hill and heard Roddy 2MØIOB calling me on 145.500 so I stopped ( willingly) and passed a few minutes talking to Roddy. I didn’t want to stop too long as I had estimated to arrive at 12.30 but I had plenty of time in hand as I headed along the ridge towards the rise to Tharsuinn, the going underfoot was pretty wet in places and as I reached the foot of Tharsuinn it got that I had to zig zag through the peaty bog areas.

Looking towards Allt a'Bhaile a'Mhuilinn

Looking towards Allt a'Bhaile a'Mhuilinn

The quad track gets lost in parts around this area so you have to pick your way through but it could have been worse. I headed briskly up the faint track and reached the cairn and grassy summit of Tharsuinn. I had skirted round the side of the hill on my first visit in ’09 but this was indeed the best way to travel to Chaorach. A small stone cairn marks the summit, I took the path across to the fence on your right and I met a walker nearing the top and as usual, a quick greeting and talk about the area, he advised sticking to the east of the fence as the bealach between the two hills is boggy in parts but to the east of the fence is drier and better walking.

The bealach reached it was time to climb to the top, the rise in height is just under 300 ft and before long you see a small stone cairn on the other side of the fence, this is the best viewpoint for looking down to the Firth of Clyde, the trig point now shows and it shows signs of being white in the past.

I reached the summit in just under 2 and a quarter hours, new PB for me. As tradition, I touched the trig point.. the summit was in and out of cloud so photos would have to wait.

I had arrived well before my estimated time I had posted so some scran first then it was time to set up the station, the beam built up and attached to the mast. There is a fence splitting the summit  so no need here for your guying kit.

I sent out my first CQ and a regular chaser, Alex WNR called me back from the north part of Motherwell, the usual pleasantries and reports then it was a quick QRZ,  Ken AXY and Christine YMM answered my call, I had my beam pointing south but signals to Edinburgh were still strong. It was eastwards that my next contact called in from Allan BJP was mobile in Dunfermilne so quite pleased to make the contact but I eventually lost him but reports etc were passed.

It was a day for regulars and Andy USU called in from Falkirk before Steve UAU boomed in from across the way in Greenock, 20 kms away as the crow flies. Thanks for the spot, Steve. A quick word with both then off to S20 again.

It was getting rather breezy and chilly when cloud occasionally drifted over the summit, I reminded myself it was November and not the usual spring visit here. Sadly I hoped to catch blog regular Neil 2MØNCM from South Ayrshire but not today.

Bob AWV called in from nearby Gourock and left me to go back to s20 where I made contact to Glenrothes in Fife with Jim TNP, stations in the east seemed to more active than those in the west and Glasgow today.

Glen Luss

Glen Luss

I next got called by Duncan AHL who stays just over the hill in Dumbarton, I normally catch Duncan on 4m but that was to be tried after 2m had gone quiet.

I knew that other GM stations had declared but there was no sign of them up to now, I next spoke to Roddy 2MØIOB who was on the west side of the Isle of Bute in Ettrick Bay, I know that when he is on the island he taunts me with images of home cooking and milk shakes knowing my ‘out’n’aboot’ scran consists of bananas. One word for him, cholesterol….I have offered to walk his dogs there when he eventually activates this hill and as payback it will be his treat.

Lastly on the beam I worked Julian KGB in Irvine as my intention was to now to move  to 4m.

4m was dead, I called and called but nothing but I had left my Baofeng handie monitoring 145.500 and whilst I had a quick drink, I heard Robin PKT and Andy USU so I followed them and I called Robin and made the contact to Meall Chuaich just NE of Dalwhinnie, this was approx 105 km away plus the hills of Ben More and Stobinnean were smack in the path but no problems were had so that a good contact on only 2 watt whilst using only a small dual band antenna. I left Robin and proceeded to break the station down. A couple of walkers appeared so I spoke and explained the SOTA system of working, pointing them to the website.

I took some more photos as the sun had suddenly appeared, time to head home, I called home and made arrangements so off I returned the same route I had ascended, the weather or more to the point the sun appeared and most of the localised cloud disappeared.

A leisurely walk over Tharsuinn and down Auchengaich and a steep finish down wet grass so time to keep an eye on foot falls. I climbed the gate and headed down the grassy field and waited on Katie. 83 mins it had taken me to descend, quite pleased with that although I tend to saunter down.

Looking back

Looking back

A good day, a bit on the cool side especially as the cloud scuttled over the summit but as I have said before  it is November.

One hour later, I was home….

Chaorach was my first ever 4 point hill and has been a favourite ever since, I can see the summit as I write this as it is line of sight 20kms away, I have had contacts into England, Wales and Ireland under flat conditions on previous occasions but only GM land today.

Handie (2M, 70CM and PMR) was on scan on both ascent and descent, activity was mostly on PMR bands, a motorcycle instructor and occasionally, a request for a numbered stock item plus a lot of yacht traffic, a marina ? quite possible from the various traffic. 2M and 70CM both pretty dead…

The Luss hills are grassy hills with slight paths but if you go off track, you may find them slightly tussocky but still easy to navigate, the main tops in this area are roughly in the same height range with Doune Hill the highest of them at 734m and today’s hill, Chaorach is 713m, a cracking set of ‘Grahams’ to wander about in.

As a historical aside, the Battle of Glen Fruin took place roughly a few hundred yards west of my start point…

Canmore Info HERE

Wikpedia Article HERE

Click on images for full sized photo….

Facts :

Beinn Chaorach  ‘the hill of the sheep’ is 713m ASL (2338 ft)

Beinn Tharsuinn ‘ the transverse hill’ is 656m ASL (2151 ft)

Auchengaich Hill is 546m ASL (1790 ft)

Map HERE

Peakbagger Info HERE

Total return journey was 5.34 miles

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