A busy week indeed for yer man. Interspersed with a couple of bike rides to the east and south of the county, I had daily walks over hills and dales, one day venturing to my old stamping ground of Corlic, two reasons which were, I hadn’t been on the hill for a month or so and to catch Iain WJZ, doing an SOTA activation just to the north of Corlic on The Brack. A pleasant journey via Garshangan Rd and a direct route from the higher Gryffe dam whilst being entertained by a pair of Reed Buntings who seemed to follow me at a safe distance as I walked the grassy path up from the dam wall.
I headed down via the south-east moorland. Other walks were a trip to Largs, an on the spur moment, it depended on whether the Largs or Gourock bus arrived first if Gourock I’d have crossed to Kilcreggan but as the Largs one drew in, I was soon heading to North Ayrshire.
I got off just before the mouth of the Noddle Burn(apparently called the Noddsdale Burn) and walked the esplanade paths to out past the marina at its far end, I did some geocaching en route, 4 bagged and one to return to. Regular readers will know I stayed there for six years in the 70s, it was a trip down memory lane in a sort of way although I do have an occasional visit but mostly car, a few on the bike I may add but in warmer weather, The sun had disappeared but a slow steady pace kept me warm and there hasn’t really been all that much changed except as you approach the marina.
This once had been an excellent shore walk alongside a railway banking to almost Fairlie but now a shared used path is in place, I must head back down with the bike to explore. The hills of Arran were snow capped showing behind Great Cumbrae, the views to Ailsa Craig and north to Bute and Cowal were excellent. I headed back via the back streets to see some old stomping grounds and after a quick bite to eat, the rain appeared so it was off home…
On Friday, I had headed late afternoon to try to catch some SOTA stations to the east from the local trig point, I caught one on Cairnpapple Hill almost 70 km away, I waited on the other but no joy then I decided to head a different way home and as I started the walk back, I spotted a short-eared owl hunting in the expanse of grasslands to the west of me. I stood and watched it soar over the rough ground looking for its supper. It disappeared after 5 mins. I spent an hour the next evening in the same area watching but nothing.
I had been thinking of heading out for an SOTA activation and had looked at both my regular Luss hills but Lora had just bought a new pair of walking boots so a choice of Conic Hill at Balmaha was made. The boots were new and as Conic is a short, sharp rise it would be a good test. I quickly got everything ready for the next morning.
It had been six months since I last activated but everything was still packed in a state of readiness but a full check had to be done and handheld batteries charged.The usual double check just in case…
It was off mid-morning towards Balmaha, a return to Conic Hill which I’d first activated in 2009. The day was sunny, light breeze with a sharpness to it, excellent walking conditions. A stop en-route at a Greggs for a coffee and bacon roll and onwards through Balloch, Drymen and we were soon turning down to Balmaha.
The car park was now busy and a constant stream of folk heading out the forest path which soon takes you out onto open countryside. There has been great work done on the lower access path with wooden and stone steps being used to combat the erosion caused by so many walkers. It was busy.
We made our way up the final path and took the short sharp rise to the viewpoint summit, I’d thought of heading to the nearest high part to do my activation where it was less busy.
I threw up the antenna for 4m and gave a few calls, in between I built the 2m beam but 4m wasn’t a success so it was off with the antenna and quickly the beam was in place, I called and worked Jim GLM who was on Bishop Hill just east of Loch Leven in Fife, an STS start to the day, next was a station in Greenock followed by Neil NCM out for stroll with Cat CNC on the banks of Loch Bradan (or Braden?), a quick chat with Neil and next in the log were stations in Mauchline, Kilkerran, East Kilbride, Ayr, Shotts, Glasgow, Paisley and two stations on Cold Fell, one of the north Pennine hills SE of Carlisle.
Finally, I worked Brian HMZ in Howwood, Roddy IOB in Gourock and one in Milngavie. A total of 17 stations in just over an hour, a break for some scran then time to go back over to the busy ‘view’ hill.
The 270° views were excellent, the hills above 1,800ft were snow capped as if someone had drawn a line along them. A haze in the distance but I could still the Old Kilpatrick hills, the North Ayrshire hills, the hills of Arran and the south basin of Loch Lomond spread out below me. It really is a ‘must see’ hill. Conic is part of the Highland Fault Line which I’ll leave to the experts to relate to you HERE
Time to head down, a lazy saunter and not before long were getting ready to leave a now full car park.
A sunny day from start to finish, a cooling breeze on top of the hill, tee shirt weather..not bad for the end of February. A good week in all with lots done in good weather, it will take a lot to beat this in the following weeks!
Thanks go to those sites whom I’ve linked to…