I’d been out on the bike over the earlier three days and clocked about 50 ml in the process. Not much but the legs had felt it as I’d done some off cycle track work but I’ve still got to pedal the distance.
I’d debated after I had arrived back home on the Saturday lunchtime what Sunday was to hold. I’d passed the previous Sunday on a cycle ‘cache hunt’ in the area to the south of Ranfurly and Bridge of Weir and had thought the same for the Greenock Cut which I have promised myself for months now. I’d left it until early Sunday where the weather would decide what I was to do.
I rose very early and the first view across the water wasn’t promising with low cloud cover keeping my eventual hill hidden. I had a look about HF working a lone German station on JT65 whilst feeding my caffeine addiction and finally deciding it was Bowie a little after 8.30.
But before I start, news has just come in of this being seen at the weekend so who is responsible for accessing their summit of choice by ‘SOTAboyz’ pickup
now this is taking things too far but it’s your call…..admissions only in the comments..
Everything was charged although I did give the SLAb a little boost from earlier in case I did venture out to play radio.
The radio gear packed first then food, water and XYL organised and it was off out the door to find a smirr starting. I hummed and hawed and finally said ‘Let’s Go!’ and the further along the road we got it seemed heavier and Katie had said’ turn back if you are not sure’ but I laid faith on the Met Office forecast that it was to clear up mid afternoon onwards.
A turn left at the Arden roundabout on Lomondside and off along the Helensburgh road towards the Bannachra Woods where the excellent track runs to near the summit of Ben Bowie. I had loaded my GPS with the locations of 10 geocaches but would only do 7 of these, 5 on the ascent and two on the way back to the car. The 7 I found were a series in which a clue to the location of another cache with a clue in each one but as I ‘missed’ a couple on the ascent, I never got to find the main one plus I missed the other two as time was pressing on, I’ll look them up maybe on my next visit.
Back to the ascent, the track is a cracking forest track but today with the stillness made the ascent a very hot and humid one, the humidity was damp to say the least. I was glad to get on to the open hillside where a refreshing E breeze was most welcome.
You leave the track at NS 344827 and head along a very wet and muddy path and at the large gate you had to once climb over is a new gate which opens on to a cracking new path which heads towards Helensburgh. You previously had to stumble along an old dry stake dyke to reach the gate. I could see bike tracks, an idea for next year?
I headed W along the fence line following a quad track which takes you to the point where you have to jump the fence before the last final push to your choice of three summits of this hill, all summits are the exact height and funnily the hill to the E, Killotter has the same.
I was early than the time I alerted for so I got the mast and beam built up and on my first call, I worked Davy LGR who was to the S of me near Straiton, Davy was setting up a portable HF station. The next call would have been a line of sight call if the mist/cloud would lift but it occasionally only let me glimpse the Clyde and Craigendoran but nothing else. Brian HMV had called in from Dunoon. Next in the log was John OIN in Ayr, John usually has a booming signal but this time he was low but he told me he was sitting in one of the rooms in his house using just the handheld, a surprise to him that I could hear him.
The next call was from John who was sitting in his boat just off Newark Castle in Port Glasgow a quick exchange then I got called by Brian YUP in Clydebank.
I’d let the usual suspects know I was heading by text and Graeme 2MØGIL was heading to Cruach Tairbeirt but stopped on Lomondside to give me a quick call, I bade him farewell with the words ‘Move yerself”. Next to call in for the other side of the country was Colwyn YCJ who was on North Berwick Law so the first STS (summit to summit) of the day logged, a mere pimple as Colwyn frequents higher summits. My side kick and someone who must get rid of his hill rustiness before our 2013 SOTA Expedition to North Wales (did I make that too obvious ? ) Roddy 2MØIOB called in and we had a quick chat about the usual stuff before Iain WJZ called in from the nearby Arrochar Alp Munro Beinn Narnain and the second STS was in the bag, Iain was heading to Beinn Ime so I hoped I could catch him later.
Jack COX called in and we talked battery packs etc for use. I use the FT 817 with a 2 ah SLAb plus I have the internal backup battery pack which isn’t the most efficient. I was about to have some water and scran when Bob AWV called me from across the river in Gourock, Steve UAU from Greenock made his customary appearance and we had a chit chat about this and that. I had a break until I heard Robin PKT who was to the N of me on Beinn Odhar near Tyndrum and as expected full signal both ways. I had a chat with Robin regarding his activation the day before just S side of the Pass of Brander. The weather conditions had been much different 24 hours previous compared to the stillness of today. I left Robin to search around the 2m FM band and called on .500 when I heard a MW3 replying to my call. I asked Sean to move to another frequency and even with some QRM we exchanged calls and signal reports so a contact to Moel Tryfan, a HuMP (GW/HNW-053) near Caernarfon in North Wales was good..
Paul PJD returned my call and I spoke with him as he travelled through Glasgow heading home, I left Paul to head down the M74 when I heard a 2EØ station on Red Screes in the Lake District ‘drift’ in and out but only weakly, I tried on a few occasion to try and break in but with no success. I left and headed back to the calling frequency and was called by Gerald WML who was on the summit of Snowdon, a hill I hope to activate mid Sept. It was a good clean contact with no problem both ways, I’ll take the points and STS for this one.
I’d known that blog friend Neil 2MØNCM was heading N to the Lawers area along with his son Alan NLA but hadn’t heard how they were getting on and as I spoke with Gerald WML I got a text from Neil saying not long until the summit. I waited and worked Neil on his chosen hill Meall Nan Tarmachan, I left Neil to let him head to HF. I made contact next with Graeme 2MØGIL who had arrived on the summit of Cruach Tairbeirt, conditions were much the same on his hill as it was everywhere else but a few stations had made it a STS fest. I left Graeme and had my usual scan and next worked a station in the Yorkshire area, G4FZN was out working a portable contest, I gave him my details and postcode area and left him to work other G stations of which I heard a few.
I nipped back to look for Alan NLA and for a quick chat whilst Neil was on HF working and I left him talking to Graeme GIL whilst I looked and found Iain WJZ on his second hill Beinn Ime, I did his hills in two visits plus Iain had taken the direct route passed the Spearhead on his ascent of Narnain, me ? I’d taken the tourist route up the Coire. I left Iain to have a quick look around and got called on .500 by Rick CIN in Ayrshire so a QSY and a quick chat before I finally spoke with Bill DXT in Aspartria in Cumbria and his signal was showing classic signs of QSB, he was 52 then would rise to 58 then fall slowly to 52, I could hear the other station in Cockermouth at time but he wasn’t hearing me, oh well.
Finally I spoke with Andy GDE in East Kilbride when my battery(s) gave up and I finished the QSO with my handie. I then had a quick word with Roddy as he headed along the seafront towards the Cloch lighthouse. I was now being bothered with the midge, the first bites of the season being recorded.
It was time to head down and I managed to bag the caches I had ‘missed’ on the way up.
I was soon at the pickup point and back to civilization. I had spent just over 3 hours playing radio so a good day was had. The weather although miserable at first never really brightened up but a cooling breeze kept the beasties down until later. I wouldn’t argue with doing the same again.
The path I mentioned earlier is a continuation of the Balloch to Helensburgh path, I now wish I’d known about this and possibly had taken the bike over, who knows *wink*… the path link HERE
I must apologise for the images but as I had been here previous plus the clag which prevailed all day never allowed me any photo opportunities, I guess a good day radio and sunshine might have been an ask to far. 24 hours later ? boiling hot with temperatures in the 70s, it can only happen here in Scotland. Thanks goes to Roddy for the original video in which I spotted the ‘SOTAboyz’ thing and I’m sure HDBroadcaster.net won’t mind my use of their image. Thanks as normal to Wikipedia and Peakbagger.