Tag Archives: Ailsa Craig

Do You Fancy A Fish Supper ?

I cannot remember the weather forecasts being so changeable although granted the weather has been the same.

The Fri and most of Saturday were a constant deluge of rain but Sunday was looking more agreeable if they were correct.

The hills to the north had some cloud about the 2,000 ft level although Lomond was clear most of the early morning.

I asked if I could be dropped off in Greenock at Roddy IOB’s favourite walking area , my first plan was to walk the ‘Cut’ then head homewards via Loch Thom, Garshangan and maybe taking in Corlic.

I set up over the ‘Waterman’s Road’, a rough aggregate track that is the standard surface for access to local reservoirs although there are more than a few in this area which now are defunct or more probably too expensive to repair their dam walls. I steadily headed up to Scroggy Bank which has a collection of microwave and other antenna masts on its high point. I took the right fork here and headed past the masts and towards Dunrod Hill, I normally would have ascended this hill from the Greenock Cut Centre ( I still prefer the old name ‘Cornalees’) but this was a first for me. The track now turns into a mixture of short grassy stretches and bare rock in place but after nodding ‘Hello’ to those who were taking part in more strenuous sport than me. I reached the end of this piece of track. There was once a reservoir here but it showed where it had been breached but nature is a quick healer and in a few years no traces will be here except another piece of moorland.

Ailsa Craig in the distance

Ailsa Craig in the distance

I crossed the breached area and headed over a gate and found the path which would lead me to the summit of Dunrod Hill, the going underfoot was pretty marshy at time but soon I was standing at the trig point. I had company, three donkeys ! I’m guessing these are wild as they are seen at various points on the hills.

I had contacted Neil NCM and had hoped to contact him down in South Ayrshire on 4m FM but even with the extra effort put in by Neil, no contact made. Ailsa Craig was showing in the distance but I had thought wrong. I turned to the easy way and called him by the miracle of mobile phone instead.

I heard Jim GLM working two Edinburgh regular SOTA chasers and waited my turn to call in, I was surprised to find out Jim was on Achnafree Hill to the NW of Crieff which I later checked to be approx 85 kms away, good contact on the 2w Baofeng. I had a quick qso with Roddy IOB who was just to the N of me, Dunrod Hill is nearer to Greenock but before Greenock spread westwards, the hill was considered to be above Inverkip. The nearby Cauldron Hill is named possibly for Auld Dunrod who was a local witch of repute who lived near the foot of this hill.

I left Dunrod making my way over to Hillside Hill approx 400m plus away where I stood and looked down on the fishery which looked quiet. I left and headed down the steep hillside making my way to the Greenock Cut Centre where I had a closer look at the Avro Anson engine dragged off the hill by pupils of my old school that I had just left when they achieved this apparently using an old Mini roof. The story of the aircrash is HERE. The other engine wasn’t too far off the path I had taken, I must have a look next time.

A look around and it was getting decision time, the Sheilhill Glen road has suffered a landslide and is closed but the single track round I would be travelling aside is still open and off I headed with the intentions of turning left and heading home.

Looking NW from Dunrod Hill

Looking NW from Dunrod Hill

The ranger I had spoken to on one of my last Corlic visits stopped for a chat and soon I was heading past a couple of fisherman who didn’t appreciate my cheery greetings of  ‘You need the sun to disappear’. I reached the road ‘T’ junction, the sign said Largs 8 ml….call me impulsive, I called home and asked Katie ‘Do you fancy a fish supper in Largs’, disbelief at the other end initially but ‘Why not’. I said I would call 3ml from Largs and arrange a tie up.

This wasn’t a good idea..

I had no money with me….

My phone battery was about 40 %

plus I was to find out, no phone signal for approx 4ml…

anyway impulsive as usual I headed slowly and steadily upwards passing a scarred landscape of where trees had been felled. Before long I was crossing into North Ayrshire and the single track rose slowly in height plus I was getting ‘buzzed’ by a Buzzard who must have had a nest just off the roadside and before long I reached what is the drop off point for Cruach Hill.

It was all downhill from here, the landscape is pretty featureless as you head down the road, grassy steep slopes to the East and slightly less on the West side. I soon passed the track which could take me to ‘Outerwards’ Roman Fort but that will be for another day. Outerwards is part of the (alleged) extension of the Antonine System which starts at Whitemoss near Bishopton and takes in Lurg Moor then to Outerwards. Dunrod Hill is derived with the meaning of ‘Fort Road’ so I wonder if it and Scroggy Bank would have been good lookout points.

Holy Isle in the distance

Holy Isle in the distance

Heading quickly towards Brisbane Glen which has an Australian connection HERE. I passed the Prophet’s Grave which I remember about reading in the Largs local paper when I stayed there in the 70s…I went down for the day in July ’71 and returned home six years later,  a long story..

The ‘Prophet’s Grave’ is best left to a local site to tell you more about it HERE.

I headed down past Middleton Fishery and the Noddle Burn which runs from Outerward Reservoir to the sea, The Noddle was (maybe still is) a producer of fine grilse and I honed skills at taking the odd salmon from it, legally ! I wonder how it fishes now with all the housing development which has slowly crept up the east bank of the river. What was then country lane then is now paved access to private housing estates.

I reached the top of Douglas St where I headed down to the main road where I was to meet Katie and as soon as I headed towards the town centre, I was more than relieved to find out she was just across the street waiting on me….

and we never had that fish supper…..



but I had finally done the reverse as I had walked back to Greenock over this road during the ’70’s…another long story.

It was good to do something I had thought about for some time now but had more planned it for a day in the future. It’s been done now and thoughts return to some more local areas I would like to revisit.

A good day with some radio work, great views and a long walk….


In the bleak midwinter…….

On a cold, cold  January day with the wind coming from the north, the ground solid with icy patches, the snow fields you have to cross are frozen solid, the hill temperature below freezing and not forgetting the wind chill factor.

What do you do ?

Easy answer !!

You choose a summit then go take part in a SOTA VHF Fun Day…and did I just say Fun ?

Roddy 2M0IOB ( Roddy’s Blog Post) had mentioned a joint activation when the VHF Fun Day was announced and had suggested another hill, I thought that his suggested hill would be declared by its regular activator ( I was wrong). I put forward Beinn a’Mhanaich, a hill I have now visited on three occasions plus it was within easy travelling distance being just under 60 mins away.

Every piece of equipment was charged up midweek in anticipation and as I repaired the coax lead for my 5 element 2m beam, this was getting serious. It was a good excuse to head on to my local hill a couple of days before to check if it worked.

Bob on a'Mhanaich

Bob on a’Mhanaich

Sunday arrived, it was still dark’o’clock when we set out, heading the usual route over the Erskine Bridge and then heading for the west bank of Loch Lomond then taking the road built to facilitate the heavy lorries which was used to carry materials to build our new nuclear facilities.

We reached the starting point at NS 270905 , equipment was unloaded, rucksacks on and we headed up the Strone climbing steadily for 1.5 km until we met the gradual ridge walk until our ‘scran’ break, if you take in the views at this point (NS 266929). Looking back, the Firth of Clyde runs SW towards Ailsa Craig and to the S, the North Ayrshire hills and Inverclyde are in view and to the west side of the hill,if you glance down to the Gareloch, Faslane Naval Base is in all its glory but after the break, you start heading towards the first bealach where you meet a quick 600ft rise in height and just as you make the top of this, the summit cairn shows in the distance letting you know, almost there. We passed a stone which strangely looks like a shaped altar ( the Gaelic name for the hill is ‘Hill of the Monk’ ),  a quick leap over a gate and it is a quick sharp short ascent to the  summit. The vista changes completely now, in a 270 degree view there are snow covered hills as far as the eye can see, whilst looking back in the direction we had come are the Arran Hills and Ailsa Craig.

Beinn a'Mhanaich one week later

Beinn a’Mhanaich one week later

The breeze was a northerly one and yes, it was chilly.

There is directly to the east of the summit cairn, little ‘nooks’ which are ideal in which to set your station, the hill itself was busy with a steady stream of walkers arriving, well into double figures. One trio had used the direct approach from the glen after travelling up from Auchengaich Reservoir, an interesting route.

A quick bite to eat and a welcome cuppa then it was down to business, Roddy had set up on 2m FM, I was on my starter band of choice 4m FM. First return call was from Steve UAU, our regular chaser from Greenock, a line of sight contact. Calling again heard a 2W station calling me back, it was Alun who at the time was heading up Moel Eilio , this was exceptional as Alun was using a  Garex 4m flexiwhip on his Wouxun 4m handie. We arranged to meet later for a STS (Summit to Summit) contact which funnily was made on 2M FM as I could not hear him on 4m. I later contacted Alun by email and the spot he had worked me on 4m had an outlook to the Irish Sea.

Next in my log was Marc, a GI3  in Belfast, I had previously spoken with Marc on my Goat Fell activation, a good strong signal report between us. I had a quick jog ( to heat up !) around the hill before returning to work John, a G0 station who was sitting /M in the cliff area near Whitehaven in Cumbria. I next called and spoke with Alan, XXP who was heading up on to Green Hill in the Lowther Hills area, I worked Alan later on the summit for another STS on 4m. Lastly I spoke to some relatively local 4m stations, Bill ELF and Colin LGB.

4m went dead for me so I joined Roddy on 2m FM and proceeded to work our fellow blogger Neil, 2M0NCM who was activating Craigenreoch, one of his nearest SOTA summits. We had heard him call whilst we were heading to our summit and had given him a call back but later we made the STS on a rather busy frequency in which eight activators were on at varying times. Next STS was Derek who was on Pillar, one of the highest fells of  the Lake District before working Bob, AWV who was mobile near Langbank. The next STS was with a dual activation in North Wales, Alun, who I had made earlier contact on 4m and Barry, a MW6 station who had for his first SOTA activation chosen a good ‘un. Next in was a blog regular Robin, PKT who was on Beinn Iaruinn 23kms NE of Fort William.

By this time, the temperature dropped rapidly with the grassy area now beginning to set solid under our feet, my left index finger tip had frozen solid even with a pair of gloves on plus the afternoon was getting on, it was time to break down everything and head back down the hill along the ridge back to where our car was  parked. We reached the car after 1hr 40 mins and the daylight then dropped if we had been any later we would have come off the hill in darkness. Everything  stowed away and off we headed back to home and civilisation.

My thanks go to Roddy, 2M0IOB for firstly putting forward the idea of a joint activation and secondly for the banter and keeping back whilst I did my usual leisurely stroll up a hill.

It was a great advertisement for SOTA and going by the response there may be further VHF Fun Days proposed.

An unassuming ‘Graham’ hill which gets overlooked by its more popular neighbours, it is worth the effort for its 360 degree panorama, Ben Nevis can be seen from this hill under the right light <photo>.

The hill is wrongly marked on the Ordnance Survey map as being in the MOD Danger Area, as you ascend the hill’s first 3 kms you pass warning signs every 50m telling you to ‘Keep Out’, military exercises take place there on a regular basis.

I haven’t included many photos of this activation as it was my 3rd yearly visit to the hill, for other photos, please follow the previous photo link below.

The photo of ‘Bob on a’Mhanaich’ © Roddy 2M0IOB

Information Overload

STS distances

to Robin PKT on Beinn Iaruinn- 97kms (60mls)

to Alan XXP on Green Hill – 101 kms (63 mls)

to Neil  NCM on Craigenreoch -103 kms (64 mls)

to Derek MIX on Pillar, Lake District – 207 kms (129 Mls)

to Alun and Barry on Moel Eilio, North Wales – 338 kms (210 mls)

Google Maps of  stations worked locations  <HERE>

Previous Blog posts




Picasa photos

2011 HERE

2010 HERE

Beinn Chaorach SOTA Trip

sotaimage55Finally, a 4 point SOTA summit activated !!!!. Beinn Chaorach GM/SS 062was the intended activation, we set out from the home QTH and enjoyed a pleasant run to the start point via Loch Lomondside, the temperature even at mid morning was hot, after being dropped off at the start point (NS 297 885) opposite Ballevoulin Farm, we headed towards the top of the first hill which is called Auchingaich Hill, the summit of Auchingaich is 546m (1693 ft ASL) , a rise of approx 1200ft in about 1.5km, a really steep walk, this took approx 105 mins for this first stage, from the Auchingaich summit we then headed north along a ridge towards Beinn Tharsuinn where we skirted the left hand flank of the hill, there is a quad track most of the way, it gets lost in the odd place but it can be found soon after, we then headed towards the fence that runs from Thursuinn all the way up and over Chaorach, this was a steepish ascent but we soon made the top, an hour had past since we left the top of Auchingaich so the whole journey was done in approx 2hrs 45mins. I’m sure that a regular hill walker would do this much quicker, the first section was the time consuming one.
Back to the activation, the mast and the beam were then quickly set up and immediately I got a call back on 144 ssb, I then worked some interesting stations over a two and a half hour period that we stayed on Chaorach.
Stations worked were a GM3, south of Ayr, two Yls on Moel Llyfnant, MW0/P Helen and GW6/P Carolyn my first contacts into Wales, next was a EI3 station, Jim who was 30ml south of Dublin, I then worked Robin, GM7/P who was on Binnean Mor, Roddy 2M0 who I speak with most weekends from Gourock, Brian a MM1 station from Howwood, GM7  Steve from Greenock,next was Alan 2M0 from Larkhall, next was Richard G4/P who was on Seat Sandal, Andy MM0 from Falkirk, John MM1 from Glasgow, next was a GM0, Ken and his XYL Christine a GM4 from Edinburgh, a mobile GM4 station Scott from East Kilbride, Barry, a MM0 station from Bathgate called in, lastly I worked Steve GM7 on 2m ssb and also on 70cm ssb.
The return journey took just under two hours. A great day, made better by the lovely views from the top of Chaorach, the Arrochar Alps topped by Beinn Ime, Ben Starav to the north, Beinn Eich and Doune Hill across the valley to our NE, Ben Lomond to the E and Ailsa Craig to the SW.

Facts :

Beinn Chaorach  ‘the hill of the sheep’ is 713m ASL (2338 ft)

Beinn Tharsuinn ‘ the transverse hill’ is 656m ASL (2151 ft)

Auchengaich Hill is 546m ASL (1790 ft)

Total Ascent : approx 548 m (1797 ft)

Total Descent : approx 548m (1797 ft)


Photos :

Top Left – Auchingaich Hill, the first stage of the trip in(from the start point)

Middle Right – Beam pointing south

Bottom Right – ME !!! with Ben Lomond in the background

Other photos from this trip HERE