Fancy Beinn Mhor on Sunday?‘ An email drops in my inbox on a midweek evening..
Seconds later, reply sent ‘Aye’…no thought needed.
I’ve never been on any of the Cowal hills (I’ve cycled over a few!) so a trip to the highest and of course, the name Mhor was not to be missed. Sunday couldn’t come quick enough.
I got everything charged and ready, packed on Saturday, walking boots nixwaxed etc.
8.30 at Roddy’s, well…
I’d been up to the early hours following baseball and had slightly? Overslept, with a quick look out the window to check the Luss Hills across the water, mist to 1800 ft, it’ll clear they said. Saturday afternoon I‘d watched a spectacular fork lightning display just beyond the summits of a’Mhanaich, Chaorach and Banknock. I‘d followed the storm moving SW but the wind changed and we (locally) avoided any of the tremendous downpours or localised lightning. I‘d thought if it had reached Glen Masson, the place would be damp and alive with midges next day. I had prepared for this by wearing a merino mid layer long sleeved, of course and a pair of lightweight walking trousers and my regular floppy hat.
Off to tie up with Roddy and Gordon, our canine pal for the trip.
A sail across a flat Firth to Hunters Quay then off along the west side of the Holy Loch and a turn to travel up the single-track road in Glen Masson.
The Landy was parked in a designated parking spot next to a pool on the river, a 1.5 mile trek along the Glen to the rough track which would steer us up through the hillside pine forest en route to Beinn Mhor. After a leisurely walk, it was up, up then up whilst moving quick to avoid any of the flying insects, the path stopped and it was a 200 metre steep walk up a grassy break in the forest on to open ground where we followed a faint quad track to the left which led us almost to Sron Mhor, it made for an easier ascent to the summit via the ridge.
You could go directissma but in this heat, the ridge remained the more preferred option. I would say to take a grid reference or GPS waypoint as you come out the firebreak as any of the other breaks would be a difficult way back down. I used OS Locate (app) on my phone for an approx reading (I always carry OS mapping with me and a compass, in case). Roddy took a GPX way point.
The track can be faint occasionally but can be easily picked up again and there are occasional ancient metal fence posts heading to below the summit. Views west and south west to Glen Tarsan and beyond so it is worth stopping to take these in (and a breather). Horizon views were slightly hazy due to the day it was, sunny and warm, very warm.
We arrived at the summit with its views across to Inverclyde, the North Ayrshire hills, Old Kilpatrick hills but to the west, north and east, the panorama is superb. It had taken 2 and 3/4 hours with plenty of breathers to walk the 4.7 miles.
Countless hills to try make out, Ben Lomond, Lui, Beinn Bhuide, hills out Kintyre way and countless others I couldn’t place a name to. It would be worth a return visit on a crisp Autumn or Spring day.
We sat down and had some scran before setting up the radio equipment .
Roddy had the hill activated (SOTA – Summits on the Air), I‘ll explain we are both radio hams and the activation was a small part of the reason we ascended Mhor. I’d often thought Mhor would be an excellent hill for this.
I started off on 4M FM,70 mhz, and established three contacts within minutes, I had solely operated the handheld radio and small centre loaded antenna. I spoke with Jack COX in Lanarkshire, Andy GDE in East Kilbride and a new contact in Jim NTL in Sanquhar. Jim had just recently set up 4 m and I was his first contact on this band 105 kms away, good.
Whilst I had been calling, I‘d set up the main 2M 144-146 mhz beam and had attached it on to the pole, attached another handheld to it and I was ready to go (you can identify it in the video below). A quick break then I spoke with COX, John KSJ on the nearby Isle of Bute, Ken AXY and Christine YMM in Edinburgh, Steve XPZ in Greenock (also on 4M), Tony AIB who up in holiday at North Ledaig, a site I spent a few holiday breaks at over 30 years ago. Next was Peter HWB in Motherwell then Steve XPZ who told me Robin PKT was summiting Buachaille Etive Beag (Stob Coire Raineach) in Glencoe. It was back to 2M and make contact.
A few more calls with turning the beam but no more takers so it was time to break the equipment down and pack away the radios, etc.
I walked about capturing some photos and a panorama video, a lie on the grass, some sugary sweets and water then it was the 4.7-mile journey back down to the Landy back in Glen Masson.
I was glad of the breeze at the top and on the way to the forest where once again, there were no lengthy stops. Roddy had pointed out the forestry roads and their end points so I anticipate a trip across on Polly and a further explore at some point soon.
It was easier on the descent and soon back on the glen floor track back to our set off point.
Leg weary and knowing that a good day once again spent in the hills and thanks to Roddy IOB and Gordon. Another enjoyable day spent in the hills.
Where next? Indeed.
Click on any image to embiggen.