It looked as it could be a day to head out, catch some sun and cycle but no.
I religiously check the SOTA alert page every morning for any alerts in Scotland although I’m only interested in anything VHF. I knew that one regular would be heading out so after seeing his alert, it was on to the OS map to check where, the line back to here and if it would be better heading out to catch them.
The hill being activated in the only alert was Stob Mhic Bheathain, a new one for me to chase, in the Ardgour area to the west of Fort William. On a rough estimation, the Cruachan hills would block the path as obviously a 2,360 ft hill is much lower that the 3,000 ft plus summits of Cruachan. I thought Corlic, Scroggy Bank, Dunrod Hill? No.. I’d revisit Creuch Hill just off what locals call the ‘Old Largs Rd’ which heads SW from Greenock. Tracks loaded on to the GPS unit plus I thought I’d bag the geocache some kind(?) person has placed near the top of this hill.
I’ve blogged about Creuch before and it can be a slog up a pathless, ditch infested hillside with mix of heather, tussocks and grass.
I did intend to go with my full SOTA kit but with the late thought of this hill, I was unsure of my SLaB would be fully charged so the main radio was left and only handies would be carried.
I left mid morning and the single track road above Greenock was already busy, I could see golfers out on ‘medal’ day and wondered if they were going through the mental torment that bothered me when I played off the white tees, as one poor shot could throw the day and a lowering (slightly) of your handicap. I did enjoy it but not as much as being able to head into the hills albeit local ones. Two fisherman were casting a fly on Loch Thom which had a decent ripple.
We headed to the spot where I’d be dropped off not long past past the ‘Welcome to North Ayrshire’ sign at the Rotten Burn (lovely name), Katie waved goodbye and it was off along a rough track, over the gate and a left across a wooden sleeper bridge..
I could see the beginnings of the old track which just disappeared on my last visit but I was glad to see that something had travelled to one of the lower pylons where it headed down the other side and unfortunately not to the summit. I took the direct line from the pylon to the old ruined shielings but using the odd sheep trail I soon passed the ruins and headed across to the ruined trig point, I see OS have removed trig pint symbol as it lies now in a scattered pile of concrete bits.
An open summit but I found a spot slightly out of the strong south-east breeze and first, a call out on 4m FM as the hill has excellent VHF take off to the SW,W, N,E and SE, the higher North Ayrshire hills lie to the S. No takers, I did try again on a few occasions later, I’ll catch someone one of these days although I did hear a station in Northern Ireland.
I gave out a call for Roddy IOB and got a call back from Robin PKT who was almost at his summit so a quick chat and I waited on frequency for him setting up.
The hill had been the correct choice as I worked PKT easily, I had only expected one SOTA station but just as I was debating breaking down everything Colwyn YCJ appeared on Sgurr na Ba Glaise 20km S of Mallaig above Loch Sheil, contact made with no problem so one last check through the band and I heard Jack COX who had nipped up his local Dungavel Hill so more points in the bag…a chat with Jack before one last call on 4m, still nothing so the rukkie packed and off I headed back down the hill but I thought as it was such an excellent day I walk down to Loch Thom and arrange a pick up en route.
It is another one of these hills that images of the scenery do it no justice, the 270° views are excellent. An easy hours walk, it is worth a visit.
I had a quick look at a water work area which shows recent painting of a bollard(?), I know there is a water pipe that runs along the road in places so I’m assuming it is part of that system.
It just had to be cyclist after cyclist who passed me, didn’t it? Envious? you bet. I carried on and called home. The view as I walked down to Loch Thom was excellent as I could see the Luss hills, Ime, Narnain, the Cobbler, Vorlich and beyond. I soon passed Wenchly Top, one of the named small hills to my left, I had headed there many moons ago (just out of curiosity) but could see no connection. A cracking name for a hill plus we also have in the same area, the oddly named ‘Ferret O’Keith or Back of the World’, an old ruined farmstead. ‘Mount Pisgah’ is just downstream of this. Someone with an imagination I guess.
I was halfway along the Loch Thom road when Katie stopped for me, an extra 3 miles added.