Or to give its proper title….Beinn a’Mhanaich.
The Luss Hills one.
This first weekend of May is now the annual ISW (International SOTA Weekend).
This year Roddy 2QØIOB and myself decided each others company was boring and decided to work adjacent hilltops plus I think he gets tired waiting on me. The ideal candidates literally stare us in the face each day, Beinn a’Mhanaich and its sister hill across the glen, Beinn Chaorach. Both are four points on the SOTA scale but Roddy would have 11 ft height advantage over me from Chaorach HI.
This would be my fourth activation of this hill and I think I should get to keep it now but as it translates from the Gaelic as ‘ The Hill of the Monk’ I’ll pass, I have already related the story of this in a earlier blog post HERE, there is a strong ancient religious presence in Glen Luss within sight of the summit, the nearby ruins of St Michael Chapel and the farm of Edentaggart which has a religious connection in its name.
The usual preparation, an early Fri evening alert on the SOTA website and I printed off the usual route.
We arrived on the ‘new’ Glen Fruin road and after some pointing of fingers of this way that way etc. I got dropped off to continue my (lonely) ascent on well trodden (by me) ground. This hill hits you hard from the very start as it’s a mile long uphill slog alongside the ‘Keep Out’ markers following a rough quad track, the use by farmers of quad bikes in the hills is now a handy help of ascending on what were before featureless grassy hillsides.
The start and most of the ridge has warning signs to ‘Keep Out’, war games occasionally break out to the west of these.
Onward and upwards, pausing for breath almost at each marker when after 40 mins it started to ease slightly and soon I was on the ‘Strone’, a wide ridge track heading N.
I watched some live ammo target practice down in the glen to the west of me but headed on to what I know now as ‘the Pitstop’ where some scran and water is taken, I started looking back eastwards as I headed slowly upwards and kept an eye for Roddy whom I soon saw approaching the bealach between Auchengaich Hill and Beinn Tharsuinn. We were in contact via PMR radio on the ascent. I crossed the bealach before the next steep rise and for once, it was dryish ground.
Slowly but surely I neared the top of this second rise in height and just as you are about to top, the proper summit and small cairn come into view. A welcome sight as only a quick flat stretch with a short, sharp ascent and you are there.
As you head across the last flat section, you pass a flat, shaped stone I have often wondered that by its shape if it could have been an altar or maybe I am putting two and two together to make five.
A climb over the gate and within minutes you are standing on a relatively large summit plateau, I wandered over to the cairn and set up the station just to the lee of the summit to escape what was a coldish breeze from the North.
I called to Roddy on PMR as I saw him summiting just under two miles away.
I decided to try 4m first but after more than a few calls, nothing was heard and now set up the 2m station, I called and worked Roddy 2QØIOB on the adjacent summit for a STS (summit to summit) and then worked Bob AWV, Eunice UVL, Kai AUF and George YUI all portable in the Inverkip area..
Next in the log was another STS to Jack COX down in the East Ayrshire region on Blackcraig Hill. I next heard the STS call from Robin PKT who was on Chno Dearg just to the south of Glen Spean, a cracking contact.
I was next contacted by two Edinburgh stations in Christine YMM and Ken AXY before a chat with Alan XXP in Larkhall. I decided to have a break and just enjoy the views and sunny weather, I had seen a Geograph photo that shows Ben Nevis from this hill and on my previous trips I hadn’t seen this but today I could see Nevis bathing in sunshine through a gap over the Rest and Be Thankful area, sadly as I use only my mobile phone camera I couldn’t get a decent image but have linked to the photo in question (see below)
I started calling again and worked Allan MWX based just to the NE of Largs, a quick chat and then I was called by Billy, a 2IØ station who lives just outside Coleraine in Northern Ireland, conditions were not too good but we managed to have a quick chat. Just shortly afterwards, I spoke with Steve UAU in Greenock first on 2m and later on 4m. Fred GOV in Dunlop was next with an excellent signal followed by John OIN near Ayr with whom I had a chat about the local area. I worked fellow PARC member Stuart OXQ from Paisley followed by another Paisley station in Joe MTJ on 4m FM.
Contacts were quieting down by this time and I noticed a slight chill started so it was time to keep just slightly below the summit and work two more stations, the ubiquitous Brian HMZ a fellow PARC member and finally Terry VFC who was mobile to the SE of Glasgow. The wind has now swung to the SW and still had a sharp chill about it, I contacted Roddy and it was decided that it was time to head off the hilsl.
Quickly packing up all the equipment and a last check of the immediate area, I started to head off the summit returning the way I had ascended, I had looked at descending into the head of Glen Luss and walking down to the Auchingaich Reservoir but as the glen in this area is reputed to be soggy, I decided to descend the usual route.
I moved quickly down the faint track descending into the main bealach and finding the quad track, I reached the top of the first push and noticed a lot of activity on the road, police van, a motorcycle and an ambulance. I thought at first it was a sponsored walk but as I neared the start of my walk, I noticed it was military personnel.
Being nosey I asked one of the marshalls who told me it was part of training that they have to do 100 miles in four days and this was the longest day at 31 mile for them. I exchanged greetings with them as they passed. They had full kits so I was glad it wasn’t me!
On a signpost nearby was a warning sign ‘ Danger Marchers’, mmmmm, they didn’t look dangerous.
I must have looked a bedraggled soul as twice I asked if I was okay…I explained I was waiting on my lift home…
Roddy soon appeared and off we headed back to civilisation, a good day was had by all.
The quality of my photos is not as good as I would have liked due to my altering a setting…lesson learned.
This image below is showing Ben Nevis showing from Beinn a’Mhanaich ( see accreditation below)
Thanks go to the sites I have linked to, SOTA, Wikipedia and also to Geograph and Stan Campbell.
At one point you can hear live ammo being fired
Summit to Summit
|GM4COX/p||Blackcraig Hill||95 Kms(59 ml)|
|2QØIOB/p||Beinn Chaorach||2.8 Km (1.8 ml)|
|GM7PKT/p||Chno Dearg||80 Kms (50 ml)|