Hill of Stake….
Sixth visit on SOTA business, so how can I manage to pull another blog post out of this, I’ve covered all the history of the area in previous posts (see links below) so this one is just a quick ramble on about my day out and please note, I’ve left the weather thing out. Total visits to this hill? I couldn’t say but I’m sure it will be well into double figures and believe it or not, it’s getting easier as I think I now have the best route heading out from the mine area in Muirsheil Country Park.
I had put the GPX track on to my GPS which helps me miss out a lot of the wet, boggy tramp out to the hill, I still have some horrible bits to tramp through but this visit is a summer activation but I prefer to ascend this hill after a few days heavy frost as you can then just bounce over the frozen ground.
I’d made another late decision on Friday evening to head out and get back in to SOTA activating mode. I have been inactive since the previous Sept on Anglesey’s Holyhead Mountain and as I’d set myself a goal in points total at the start of the year so it was now time to get cracking on achieving this.
I had originally chosen an Arrochar hill but a family commitment (only told to me very very late Fri evening) had made me choose my nearest Marilyn, Hill of Stake as I could have plenty time on the hill and still be home quickly.
I charged all the equipment overnight and packed the rucksack early in the morning and once in the Chevy it was off towards Kilmacolm then the B786 towards Lochwinnoch and the turn off for the Country Park. I’d cycled this single track on my last visit and it is much easier by car, trust me. We soon arrived at the car park at the Ranger Centre and after checking I had everything, I waved goodbye to expedition driver and nutritionist Katie.
I never hung about as the dreaded midge were about but as I passed through the gate on to the mine track, a fresh breeze would keep the blighters away. I made good time along what is a cracking track before reaching the old mine area which is now a health and safety overload with fences and signs everywhere but I guess today’s climate ‘I’m only doing it to make sure everyone is safe but I’ll take all the money you can give me’ demands this sort of protection. A quick word with someone at the container which serves as a bothy to have a quick seat and break before heading up along a now familiar east fence line before stopping at the very top of the fence to get my bearing, I switched the GPS on and followed the breadcrumb trail until I reached the first height where I could see my target hill. Its only a mile and a half but the going underfoot is heavy through heather and boggy areas some of the time, a pathless yomp. Occasionally signs of very old quad tracks will appear but these go off on tangents which aren’t helpful and sadly are not long.
I was soon heading across the last boggy area until I met the boundary fence just west of the summit where it is a short sharp rise to the summit and it’s trig point. I had made good time and would be on the air earlier than my alert time.
A quick drink and some scran and I built up the beam , bungeeing the mast on to a fence post then everything was ready to go.
I’d noted who was out and first in the log was Robin PKT who was on the ‘Ring of Steall’ munros and Stob Ban in particular, a quick chat then it was off to see who else was about. Whilst talking to Robin, I noticed a sign of a plastic bag in what is now as a cairn (originally a shelter) so it was off to bag the cache so I signed the log and snuck it back into its hiding place. I spoke next with Dave RTY just to the NE of me in Dumbarton before catching Martyn MAJ and Caroline ZCB who were heading through Glasgow, more on them later. I gave out a call and hooked up with Robert RBR in Dunfermilne followed by Alex OAW in nearby Bishopton.
I was occasionally going through the band looking for other SOTA stations but I heard a familiar voice in Richard JTD who was activating a WOTA fell, Bleaberry Fell just SE of Keswick, I’d heard him talking to a station on the Isle of Man but the station must have scampered as I later searched for him. John OIN in Ayr and then regular chaser Brian HMZ called me. I next worked Allan VPX on Helvellyn in the Lake District and was to later speak with Barry IML on the same hill. Delighted with these contacts, I scanned around and gave the odd call and when I asked Tommy OJE to head to s18, I called to ask if the frequency was clear as is the courtesy, I got told by a Welsh GW6 that it was in use. I returned to try work this station but he had gone.
Eric FSZ in Girvan was my next contact and after a good chat it was off again in search and after chatting with the afore-mentioned IML on Helvellyn , it was Craig PHT who was to the NE of me on Beinn Chabhair, next was Jack COX who was on Beinn Uamha and more STS (summit to summit) were to follow, Dave EEV on The Saddle in Glen Sheil, Caroline ZCB and Martyn MAJ who had a quick activation on Dungavel Hill on their journey back south. Robin PKT appeared on his second hill of the day Am Bodach and a little later, Iain WJZ appeared on Aonach air Chrith just to the east of Dave EEV. Good contacts on a day where more than a few were out on the tops. It was now 3 hours since I first called and next in the log was Kenny ZUN in Glasgow, Graham GON in Helensburgh and finally on 2m , Roddy IOB as he headed up the M73 towards Glasgow. The battery then died so it was quick cheerio to Roddy and a quick dismantle of the 2m beam and the 4m FM set up thrown up and one and only contact I got was Andy GDE in the East Kilbride area and after a long QSO, I left and called several times whilst I packed away the 2m equipment but no more replies. I was happy getting one especially as it was mid afternoon a known quiet time VHF wise.
I had chatted with some people who appeared on the summit but sadly it was time to leave as now the weather was warm and fair not like the change in weather conditions just after lunchtime when it cooled rapidly with the odd light shower moving across. I could still see showers moving West across the Clyde valley which one or more led to my later commitment being cancelled around mid afternoon.
I was more than happy with the day’s work, 25 contacts with 10 STS and a WOTA chase to boot.
I headed down the hill traceing my route on the GPS and not long after I was walking along the burn which flows down the east side of the mine workings before I dropped down to the mine track, a quick break then it was off the 2 1/2 ml track to the Ranger Centre and Katie who had just timed it nice. I’d jumped in the car and as we left the Park, I could hear my Endomondo woman telling me I’d covered the last mile in ???, I’d forgotten to switch the phone GPS and app off but a quick edit at home and I uploaded the amended file. 8 miles of mixed route.
Previous blog posts
My thanks to all those sites I have linked to….