Once again I better explain the blog post title..
50 not out ?
my 50th activated SOTA summit.
At last ?
The word ‘Last’ is the clue, a reference to a cobbler’s work tool HERE.
The hill is the iconic Cobbler also known as Ben Arthur..which I thought would be a good choice to celebrate the half-century.
As I do, I kept an eye on the approaching weekend weather as the week progressed and Saturday was looking good.
There was only one snag which was maybe putting a spanner in the works…a bath.
This was being delivered so on Friday afternoon, I received a text saying ‘between 12.00 and 16.00’ it was to be delivered. Brilliant as I then worked out drop off times but the phone rang early on Sat morning and the man says between 9.00 and 10.00…oh boy! not what I wanted to hear. It duly arrived and off we headed the usual route to Arrochar with the now obligatory police radar trap in Tarbet. I had noticed a motorway sign on Friday which had said the road was closed but a check on Traffic Scotland late Fri evening showed the road was open again.
Arriving at the drop off at the car park on the shores of Loch Long opposite the path, I quickly got ready then waved goodbye to the expedition driver, the long-suffering Katie. I headed up past the carved Fox at the entrance and headed slowly up the zig zaggy path chatting with others heading up to the Coire. After a mile I exited the forestry area on to the open Coire and at the wee dam I hunted and bagged a geocache HERE.
I found out that I hadn’t loaded the three caches I was intending to bag on to my GPS, my fault for faffing about late Fri evening with files on the GPS. I had referred to my hint on my notebook and the cache was soon found.
I headed up the Coire with a steady cool breeze in my face but the sky was blue with the occasional scuttling white cloud. I soon reached the Narnain Boulders where I fruitlessly searched for a cache, I did try the phone but it would not connect to the net at all, more on this later.
A quick scran and water break before heading to the top of the Coire, the path was busy with others heading on to one of the four main hills accessible from the path. I stopped for a short break before heading up the path to my objective hill. I saw steps and lots of them and those who know me well know how much I hate steps. I must say that those who did the back-breaking work on this and other paths deserve much thanks as they certainly stop the paths from suffering further erosion but they do tell on me.
Off at the usual steep pace I headed stopping to take in the views and watch other walkers heading up both Ime and Narnain. Luibhean had one hardy soul heading out across what looks like a boggy bealach.
I reached the break in the path and headed across some small snow fields before heading up the last stretch and summiting next to the ‘Needle’ which no I didn’t attempt. Next visit maybe ?
I was running late and was almost one hour late. I did feel achy legs on the last haul up for the bealach but I’ll blame the steps for that. I did rather sillily wear a pair of lined breeks in which I was very hot but the forecast had said not shorts weather.
A cold steady breeze blew down from the N as I set up the station, the beam assembled, mast erected and with the radio hooked up, a quick check of the SWR and I was off to first bag a couple who were on Torlum near Crieff, I first worked Vicky BWA then it was Rod JLA in the log. I next found and worked blog regular Robin PKT on Beinn Udlaidh just to N of me near Tyndrum. Three STS (summits to summits) to start the day off.
Off around the band and next logged Bob AWV in Gourock before snagging regular Steve UAU in Greenock, thanks for the spot, Steve ! I had intended to use Joerg’s App Backpack Radio Tool (Android) to ‘spot’ myself but again either the network was down or just a case of no signal..
Next in the log was Jack COX who was to the S of me on White Coomb and no problem signal wise, another STS. Next station to call me was Billy OBX/p not a SOTA summit but out wandering the Campsie Fells. I had missed my next contact on his first hill as the lump that is Beinn Narnain would have taken care of that but I got another blog regular Iain WJZ on the tongue twister summit of Sron a’Choire Chnapanich to the NE of Loch Lyon, I’m sure I would be just giving out the reference no. It was good to give the regular activators a STS as I normally just chase them.
It was almost mid afternoon and there were still stations about, Andy USU from Falkirk came in at full signal drowning out a Paisley station Stuart PAZ with whom I had a quick chat about Paisley Amateur Radio Club, the Club Blog HERE.
I left Stuart and was called by Brian HMZ who must have been under control of the ‘soupdragon’ as his contact was short and sweet and next was fellow activator Roddy 2MØIOB who was sitting with his feet up whilst yer man was out, a chat then it was off to Ayr to speak with Tom MOF followed by Duncan AHL who called in from Dumbarton. Andy GDE gave me a quick shout from the same area before I worked YUP in Clydebank.
A quick water break and to chat with a group from Greenock who had spotted my fluorescent yellow Morton FC tammy although I know it can be spotted from miles away, it is that bright ! I had more than a few queries about what I was doing plus more than a few strange looks flung my way but I was having fun and lots of contacts.This was the life ! Why did I stop doing this in the 80s ? I promise I am going to make up for it !!!!!!!
I spent more than a few mins trying attract the attention of Ron RWB who was on the summit of High Stile in the Lake District so not only a SOTA summit but also a WOTA chase to log. I spoke with Ron then I left to find Robert GUF whom I had earlier heard on Tinto, a quick word with Robert and I thought I’ll wait until Robin PKT appears as he was heading to another hill but meanwhile I spoke with two stations in Northern Ireland, Victor ONL in Bushmills, a SOTA HF regular and Bernie POC in Bangor. I was speaking to Victor when a sudden gust blew the antenna to the ground so a quick repair to the reflector and it was back in operation. I’ll run another check mid-week.
Finally in the log were two STS, Robin PKT had arrived on the summit of Beinn Bhreac-liath and Andy FMF who was to the SE of me on Penvalla near Peebles in the Scottish Borders. Two STS to finish off the day. I did try another couple of calls but no one returned so it was time to break down and head home.
Over two hours radio, 22 contacts logged, a bright breezy day on top of one of Scotland’s iconic hills and one cache bagged.
One blight on the day, I opened my box and my A4 maps flew away, a bad mistake on my part as I had intended returning the alternative route via An T-Sron to the dam earlier mentioned. It was to be back the reverse route with a couple whom I had met on one of my Hill of Stake activations, Alastair and Susie from Inverkip. I had tried to get a call home to arrange for Katie to pick me up but no joy and they very kindly offered me a lift home which was much appreciated. We sauntered down the Coire before I had to borrow Alastair’s phone to call home but Euan had said that his mum was on her way as he had noticed I had left the summit by tracking me on Endomondo. We headed back down to the forestry area where I said goodbye and jumped into the car and headed home on what was a most enjoyable day. It is worth the effort just to stand on the summits of these Scottish hills and enjoy the views which today included the summits of the Paps of Jura, Ben More on Mull, Cruachan, Starav, Lui, Oss, Ime, Narnain, Lomond, Ben More, Stobinnean amongst many others.
To embiggen all images, click on them.
I remember now why the radio stuff in the ’80s was a bit less fun, we carried car batteries up to the summits..
One last thing to add, I must give thanks to my long-suffering wife, Katie who without her help and driving my hill totals would be much less also my kids Euan, Lora and Ailsa who continually rip the ‘wee’ out of their Dad. Thanks also go to Roddy, Graeme, Patsy who have also suffered the Mhor on more than a few joint activations. (calm down Bob, its only 50).
I may add to this as I remember more so check back.
The Cobbler Fact Sheet..
also known as Beinn Arthur
in Gaelic – Beinn Artair
Height – 884m (2,900 ft)..
Hill categories – Corbett, Marilyn.
Further reading –
Climbing History and Geology HERE
Old Climbing article – HERE