Colm’s Fort

Duncolm, the Fort of Colm (St Columba), the highest of three adjacent volcanic plugs and the highest point in the Old Kilpatrick Hills.

Yes, another ‘boomerang’ hill although this was the first return visit since 2009.

Activation of Duncolm GM/SS 222 12/5/2012

Activation of Duncolm GM/SS 222 12/5/2012

This was one of my early SOTA activations during the tentative ‘can I make the top of these hills’  days. It was brilliant sunshine on that day and I was accompanied by my son Euan. A day remembered for the brightness and the heat of the sun. This time ? I started in bright sunshine but with a slight nip in the air, alone.

I ‘cheated’ this time and got Katie to drop me at NS 464737 although not technically ‘cheating’ but good use of your vehicle although as I trudged up the steep first part of my walk in I thought that the usual car parking area at NS 470731 900m away might have been a better idea to ‘warm up’ my legs for the grind up this steep section.

I took it from the many signs staked to the side of the road that the Forestry Commission were doing major works in the area as a signposted walkers diversion route was in place but as one sign informed no Sat or Sun working so it was off up a recently scraped and relaid aggregate surface. It was busy as more than a few cyclists passed and struggled to blurt out ‘good morning’ as they attacked the steep incline. As you rise the views back to Glasgow and down the river to Langbank unfold, I can see why it is a busy area for walkers. I’ve added a extra video of the view from the ‘Braes’.

From the Kilpatrick Braes

From the Kilpatrick Braes

Heading through a gap where the old quarry is and noticed a new track is being cut into the right hillside, more coniferous woodland methinks. The track now starts to ease but still ascending to reach the top part of the road where Loch Humphrey and the Duncolm trio appear.

The track ends just after the dam area when you strike NW along a visible but very soggy track, I had to make more than one diversion to avoid some of the boggier bits but still making good time as I rounded the back of the smallest of the three volcanic plugs, obviously their names tell you everything  Little, Middle and Duncolm. The track narrows at the back of these hillocks and as you reach the target hill you notice a slight more direct track but I carried on and found the easier ascent track and within minutes I was standing at the trig point wondering ‘Where did that strong breeze appear from ? ‘. I was early really early as I had posted an alert for 13.00 (12.00 UTC) , I had used my previous walk in time but I had tried the direct route that day which was pretty boggy. Just over 80 mins to ascend, I was most pleased with that time !

I sat and had a scran break first but keeping my 2m handie on 145.500 just in the off-chance one of the other lads were early. I had literally just sat down when I heard Robin PKT calling from Sgiath Chuil so a call back and first contact was in the log. I found out on my walk in that Neil 2MØNCM was to activate Knockdolian near Ballantrae,I wonder if Neil saw a mermaid ? (story HERE).  My intention was to go on to 4m FM first, I looked around for a less breezy area but just erected the mast and JPole near the trig.

I called out and first, I worked Eric FSZ from Girvan then Steve UAU from Greenock popped in whilst I waited for Neil to appear on 4m. I built up the 2m beam in readiness, I was still monitoring s20 on the handie. Neil duly appeared and a 4m STS was in the bag and after a quick QSO, I headed back to next work Colin TFN in the Kirn area which was almost line of sight. The 360 views from this hill are excellent, the vista from the NE to the W are fantastic, I could see a coating of snow on many tops, the main summits are too many to mention but the Crianlarich two, Ben More and Stobinnean looked good with their white tops although sadly during the short time I was on Duncolm, two people lost their lives in a microlight accident on Ben More.

Looking North

Looking North

It was now time to head on to 2m so off came the 4m JPole and on with the 2m 5 ele beam. The wind had picked up slightly and I pointed the beam south. I called on s20 and next station in the log was Andy USU in the Falkirk area and whilst heading back to the calling frequency, I heard both Iain WJZ and Jack COX, I knew Iain was on Beinn na Gainmh in the Glen Almond area which when I checked the line from my home QTH was plumb behind Ben Chonzie so I swung the beam in his direction and noticed that Jack had started to come in stronger as well, I then found out Jack was on Creagan nan Bienne just south of Loch Tay. I first spoke with Iain and then Jack who gave me the hill I had missing from the top 20 SS hills. This made four summit to summit contacts for the day.

I next hooked up with Neil this time on 2m then Niall SXV called in from the Roseneath area quickly followed by Bob AWV who was in the Greenock area.

I knew fellow blogger Roddy 2QØIOB was out the east coast somewhere and would be looking for me and finally I worked him as he headed westwards on the A8 at the Kirk O’Shotts as soon as Roddy left, I saw threatening clouds and rain heading quickly my way from the west, the wind now picked up to more than a strong breeze whilst I spoke to Neil, Vic VTB popped in from just to the east and I decided with the short showers and strengthening wind it was time to head off. I broke down the station and packed everything away, a quick bite and drink and off I headed down the path to the base of the hill and started the walk out and as you would believe, the sun returned and wind dropped noticeably on the open ground.

I had seen a few walkers bypassing the hill on my time at the top but now a steady stream of walkers, cyclist and runners were ascending up from the dam. I think if I ever visit the hill again, I’ll maybe access it from the Burncrooks dam area.

I headed towards the dam and noticed  a couple of anglers fly fishing in what was a good ripple, the angling club has vehicle access but as I said in my last blog post on here, I had visited the area more than a few times in the old 11 meter days and the track up then was not an easy drive.

Looking East

Looking East

The knees were feeling the last section as I headed down steeply towards my starting point and with everything loaded, it was home across the bridge then right.

A good day out with 13 contacts on both 4m and 2m.

Duncolm is an old volcanic plug and you can see why its possible use as a fort to fend off the marauding hordes from the north, there is mention of a defence ditch just to the N of the summit, I had a good look at this area and I could see the reasoning behind this theory but once again, I saw that someone from the  OS ( I assume this means Ordnance Survey) thought differently. Having trawled through a lot of the local archeology stuff on ‘Canmore‘ and others, I see this happening on more than one occasion.

I also came across this intriguing information of Duncolm being on a PSA (Prehistoric Sight Alignment) and I had a further look as this on-line , I’ll refer you to read more into this plus the inference of Duncolm looking like a cousin of Ayers Rock (?).  This is loosely all referred to Glasgow’s own ‘Da Vinci Code’, I think I will read Harry Bell’s  pamphlet ‘Glasgow’s Secret Geometry’ first and make up my mind on this but it is a mystery worth looking at.

I had links here but the site now carries a Malware warning….take care if acccessing

Mary Miles Thomas’s interpretation HERE

An entertaining look at Glasgow’s Enchanted Landscapes HERE

Just use Google for more info… A bit off topic but interesting nonetheless !

Summit to Summit

GM7PKT/p Sgiath Chuil 54 Kms(34 ml)
2MØNCM/p Knockdolian 99 Km (62 ml)
MM3WJZ/p Beinn Na Gainmh 68 Kms (42 ml)
GM4COX/p Creagan Nan Beinne 65 Kms (40 ml)

Duncolm is 401m ( 1,315 Ft) ASL…

Info on hill HERE

Two videos again…

First is the panorama from the top of Duncolm, the second is showing the view from the Kirkpatrick Braes.


About gm7something

64, married, three kids......overweight, unfit, folically challenged, need I go on ?
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4 Responses to Colm’s Fort

  1. Iain 'WJZ says:

    Nice to the summit to summit I don’t think we’d have made it had you been at the home QTH, Ben Chonzie did a crackin job of blockin out most to SW of me. The Forestry still going with that work? They were on with that when I had a wander up the Kilpatricks there a few months ago and I got the impression it wasn’t going to take too long, haha.

    • gm7something says:

      Good to give something back in stead of me chasing, I did check the map beforehand and a trip to Corlic was on the cards but Mrs Mhor offered a lift so as Duncolm is easy to drive to I gratefully accepted.
      I think by the amount of aggregate piled up by the old quarry there is much more work planned.
      I think we picked the right day to be out .


  2. 2m0gil says:

    Nice to see the video footage from my old fishing haunts,a great hill with fab views although always seems to be blowing a hoolie.Work commitments prevented any call-in from myself on this occasion though im sure you will be back again to beat that 80 min ascent.

    • gm7something says:

      I was awfy tempted by the good ripple as I knew when the sun would drop, the trout would be rising plus of course, members have a key to drive up now that would be handy, it could be GM land’s answer to the Cloud.
      I’ll have to find some tougher climbs now HI

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