Tag Archives: An Caisteal

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

(June) Radio Days 2011

Firstly, a cracking month radio wise on the SOTA front whilst on the home VHF front, the usual contacts made on 2m. I had posted last month about taking down the 4m antenna which I had placed in my attic space, the frame is still in place but I removed the wire but it will be a 10 mins job to fit it all back in place. I had intended to rattle up a Halo type antenna for 6m but due to my appetite for golf being rekindled it is on the back burner. I now have my Shack Sloth so the relentless pursuit of points isn’t so intense although on the third Friday of the month, I had ‘chased’ Robin PKT on Meall a’Bhuraidh just before midday and knowing that he was heading to Creise, I took my handie with its ‘helically wound’ on to the golf course with me ( a two-stroke penalty ?).

the 2nd ( my 'handy' trig point , mid left )

the 2nd ( my 'handy' trig point , mid left )

Roddy 2MØIOB had let me know Robin was on the hill but he was not be heard but in my search, I found Jack COX on An Caisteal, a quick call in and with a 30ft pitch and run for a birdie, I left Jack…

I bogeyed the hole….perhaps the gaining of an extra six points put me off. The handie placed back into the golf bag and off I went to play ‘army golf’. left, right, left, right yet again.

Activation wise.

a good month with my first 10 point activation, Ben Lawers bagged…read about it <HERE> and following that 10 days later, a return trip to Beinn Eich but this time I repeated my 2009 double activation with Doune Hill. An eight point jaunt ! read about the Eich/Doune trip <HERE>. One ‘story’ I never mentioned on the Lawers blog post, I was just over half way to the summit of Beinn Ghlas when I saw someone descending with a spade across his backpack. He stopped to chat and I asked if he had been forewarned about my impending doom, he laughed and said he had cleared some of the water run-off areas on the path. I did get a strange look though.

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan


First one was a summit to summit (STS) with Derek MIX who was on the summit of Knott in the Lake District area, I had come across Derek whilst I was on Lawers. Two days later, Alan TXY was working from one of my favourite hills Beinn a’Mhanaich along with his nephew Scott SWC, it was Scott’s first activation…also our fellow blogger Roddy 2MØIOB ably assisted by Mrs IOB on his activation of the Cowal hill of Beinn Mhor, Roddy’s blog report <HERE>. A busy Saturday indeed.

The following weekend was my dual activation and two STS’s with Robin PKT, one from Eich and the other from Doune Hill, Robin was on Ben Hiant in the Ardnamurchan peninsula, this hill is a ‘to do’ as the views from its top are impressive from images posted online. The other STS was with our old friend Neil who was on Beinn Bhalgairean south-east from Dalmally. One week later, Iain WJZ activated Ben Cluech, the highest summit in the Ochil Hills, I stayed at home for this one as the weather was not too good for ascending any of my local hills. Later that day, Caroline ZCB appeared on Meall Greigh which is one of the Lawers Munro hills, Caroline and hubby Martyn were up for their annual activation week in GM land. The following day, Caroline appeared on Stobinnean, I think I could have used the proverbial piece of wet string as its summit just peeks over Kilotter above the village of Cardross on the opposite bank of the Clyde from me, it only shows when the sun drops in the winter months when snow is lying.

Three days later, Robin PKT popped up on the same summit after I caught him on his first hill, the steep-sided Ben More, he then appeared on the summit of Stobinnean, I worked him both times on 2m FM. Later that day, Caroline popped up in the Trossachs on Ben Vane. I had a quick chat with Caroline as they were heading back south on the Saturday.

The next day, I caught the relentless Robin PKT on another dual activation, both over 1,100m in height, first the aforementioned Meall a’Bhuraidh but I failed to chase him on Creise. 4 10 pt’ers in two days, I did Lawers and was stiff for a week ( a bit less !). Finally that day, I got Jack COX on An Caisteal ( see previous reference to this)…a good month point wise.


A funny month propagation wise, it was dead to me most days but came alive most evenings with occasional forays on to10m thrown in. Nothing of much to report except a throwback to my school geography days when I saw the name Svalbard appearing, the operator was getting swamped by European stations, I did try but at that time, no chance. I had a look around the other bands when I thought time for a wee bit of SWL’ing and lo and behold the JW station was cq’ing, off went the ‘him to me’ call and voilà ! I had Svalbard, a new DXCC country, luck or what ?


5 watts only

5 watts only

A few forays into modes, WSPR is excellent to leave running in the background whilst I do other stuff on the computer or laze and watch some tv. I tend to concentrate on the 20m band but have occasionally visited the 10m band on occasion.


Daily look to see what is happening although I did have a surprise contact mid June, I was sending out a general CQ call on 20m ROS and noticed the 15m band had a few Euro stations calling, I tuned my dipole and headed to15m and had just sent out a general CQ and I saw I had been ‘picked’ up in South Korea albeit with a lowish signal, as an aside to this I had earlier that day updated the ROS programme to its latest version and was watching the screen when I saw the ‘GM7 de’ coming through onto the ROS screen and next came the DS prefix and then the programme ‘hung’, I quickly restarted said programme and immediately sent out more CQ’s on 15m but apart from a couple of Europeans nothing else ‘came’ back, I checked my eQSL account later and found a card from the South Korean station confirming our ‘QSO’, a bad time for it to freeze….it hasn’t happened since, dilemma DXCC or not ? This programme tells you who is sending out CQs and on what band, a bit DX clustery ? but you will get reports from who ‘hears’ you even if they are only monitoring the frequency and will upload to pskreporter.

For Ben Hiant photos, try Geograph


If Donich is a 10 then Cruach Ardrain is a 7

Aye right !!

Activation of Cruach Ardrain GM/SS 004 1/5/2011

Activation of Cruach Ardrain GM/SS 004 1/5/2011

ISW or International SOTA Weekend was looming and the hunt was on for a summit, a few possibles were looked at and finally, Cruach Ardrain was the choice with a backup of a lower hill just in case of weather problems. The usual palaver of pouring over maps, checking for routes in the Scottish walking forums but as a couple of fellow bloggers had already ‘climbed’ this hill so email was duly fired out for advice, Graeme had made his way from the South from the Braes of Balquidder whilst ‘baggingBeinn Tulaichean on the way in. Neil (of whom the title of the post refers to) had accessed the hill from the A82, this was the route chosen as it seemed the easier of the two.

Once again the activating team of 2MØIOB (or 2RØIOB this time) and myself headed swiftly northwards to find the parking spot at NN368238 which was busy even at the early time of 8am. A quick look and the summit was viewable from our setting out point. A check of equipment and it was off over the stile heading to the railway bridge underpass which leads onto a rough track which had been driven into the glen possibly for grouse shooting.

Our track now veered off to the left and said goodbye to a couple of walkers we had met and who were heading on to An Caisteal. We now reached the rickety bridge which was gingerly crossed and then it was now into the serious stuff, a relentless upward slog over grass following a faint path along a forestry fence, the first scran break was taken just before the end of this section.

It was then upwards until we met the start of the ridge walk which would take us to the last uphill push to the summit. A quick rise to the top of Grey Height then a gradually rising ridge walk where the all-round views were improving the more height we gained, Crainlarich with its green valley and looking N you could see the recognisable shape of Beinn Dorain and to the west the summits of Bens Lui, Oss and Dubhchraig. The twin peaks of Ben More and Stobinnean were constantly in view to the E until we met the summit of the ridge walk which has Meall Dhamh to your left. We could see the summit cairn and thought ‘eh ? have we got to go there? we had to.

The summit from the top of the ridge walk

The summit from the top of the ridge walk

It was now descent time into the bealach 150 ft below then it was a quick up and over another lump of rock until it was time to strike up the last steep section, this was proving a bit of a hill too far for myself. Just as we struck out for the top, we worked Robin PKT who was on Gaor Bheinn (Gulvain) then relentlessly we drove on and the summit was slowly getting nearer but every time I checked the gps phone app, I swear the summit was moving further east or I was going in reverse. Roddy then pressed on but just at the point I was cussing under my breath at my stupidity, I met the path between summits and off I headed (slowly) to the left and after another up and over, the summit was metres away.

I first, headed to the summit cairn and touched it. Sadly there was no trig point (white or otherwise). Roddy by this time had ‘activated’ the hill. I had a quick scran break and although windy I put up the 4m JPole and proceeded to call out, 15 mins later and with no contacts it was down with the 4m antenna and the 70cm JPole erected in its place, nothing again until I made contact STS (summit to summit) with both Bob AWV and Eunice UVL who were on Duncolm in the Old Kilpatrick Hills, I tried again but no takers. A bit disappointing as I had thought 4m would have been good from over 3,000ft but it was a cracking sunny day and I guess most sensible folk would be out doing more relaxing things than playing radio.

I headed back on 2m and worked Dave TAP who was in the Selkirk area then STS with Neil who was on Kirkland Hill near Kirkconnel, next STS in the log was Barry XFM who was just to the E of us on the summit of Ben Lawers. Next was by fellow blogger Graeme 2MØGIL who was on Conic Hill near Balamha. Jack COX was out hunting STS, Jack was on Dungavel Hill in Lanarkshire, next in the log was Christine YMM from Edinburgh and finally, a cracking STS to finish the day was with Colwyn CYJ who was in the Wester Ross region NW of us on Beinn Eighe – Rhuad Stac Mor near Kinlochewe approx 150 km away.

It was then time to break down the station and head back of the hill, slowly but surely the steepish section was manoeuvred and it was time to climb up the 150ft to the ridge, this was painful but soon done and it a pleasant walk back down to descend off the Grey Height and now the relentless plod down the steep grassy slope until we took a break at the ricketty bridge before the last walk down the track to the parking area on the A82. The walk was finally done ( and so was I !)

A last look at Cruach Ardrain summit then it was off back to civilisation.

Would I do it again ? No…

Would I recommend it.. Yes !

A contrast in answers but the views from the summit cairn were fantastic, too many summits to name but the twin peaks of Ben More and Stobinnean were as if you could reach out and touch them, Ben Lawers showing through their bealach, the Tarmachan ridge, Ben Nevis with its patches of snow, the trio of Lui, Oss and Dubhchraig, Ben Lomond, the Trossach hills Venue and Ledi and an old favourite far on the south horizon, the Hill of Stake.

Rather interestingly, ‘Naismith’s Rule‘ was created during a walk on Cruach Ardrain on the way to Ben More, obviously my pace wasn’t taken into consideration.

My thanks once again go to Roddy as he suffered my slow pace etc. Funnily I’ve just received a text from him about a much lighter pack will be carried next time, I must be staying at home….

I’ll explain the title of the post..

I asked Neil his views on how ‘hard’ the ascent would be and that was his reply….I fell for it again.

Information Overload…

Cruach Ardrain means ‘Stack of the high part’ or some say ‘Heap of stones’…

it is 1,046m ( 3,462 ft ) ASL

is 87 in the Munro list

Geohack info <HERE>

Round trip of over 12km.

All photos of activation <HERE>


(November) Radio Days

Winter has now come down quickly upon us, at the end of the month, snow and freezing temperatures have carried into the start of December.


Nothing much, just the usual QSO’s with the regular stations plus SOTA work.


No activations this month.

A busy month when least expected. Iain, WJZ has moved back into the area and has started activating with a bang. Neil NCM is still active on occasions, the wintry conditions and the state of the roads have come into play, the clearing priority are the main roads which leaves many back or side roads impassable obviously this means access routes are often poor.

First ‘chaser’ points were gotten from Neil, 2M0NCM who activated Beinn Dubhchraig, see Neil’s blog post <HERE>. Quickly following, three days later was the same man again with a snow bound visit to An Caisteal, I caught him using my Puxing handie, I must improve the antenna situation as the supplied ‘rubber duck’ isn’t very efficient. Good to see that Neil managed another hill on his holiday break.

Iain, WJZ activated Beinn Buidhe, a Munro situated in Glen Fyne, an interesting hill to look further at for maybe next year.

The following weekend, Iain WJZ hit the Arrochar Alps with a dual activation, Beinn Narnain then on to Beinn Ime. I needed a snow report and it was ideal to ask Iain from his first summit, I think he may have been bemused at my first question, ‘How is the snow depth ?’, I waited and worked him later as he activated Ime. A snowy day for him.

The following day, Neil NCM headed north to Lomondside to tackle and activate Ben Vane, conditions were icy in parts of the ascent, Neil, as usual, sent me a update text of his position. It was freezing conditions at the summit then he headed back down the hill to Cat.

The next weekend was another WJZ show with an unexpected activation of two Munros in the Bridge of Orchy hills, Beinns Achaladair and a’Chreachain. The ‘alert’ had been posted but with the winter conditions affecting the roads plus fresh snow dumped on the hills the previous day, it was expected to be cancelled but Iain appeared slightly later than ‘alerted’ on Achaladair first. An excellent forum post on Walkhighlands on another walk that day on same hills is <HERE>

Thanks go to Neil and Iain for the ‘points’.

A cracking ‘chaser’ month in all.


Contacts made on all bands between 40m and 12m,  mostly European with the odd venture outside, all on PSK. The highlight of the month was probably a contact on 20m into the Madeira Islands. A quick look shows that roughly 30 countries worked. The problem here is that local noise levels are very high, a mix of electrical appliance and other unknown sources.


A lot less activity on this mode than last month but occasionally 40m through 20m were the bands of choice. I have included this snapshot of my activity on 20m on the 2nd of November, it would be best to click on photo for better detail. It shows how a good propagation guide this WSPR can be, there are other newcomers to the data scene, which may be worth looking at.

WSPR 20m 21 Nov 10


Nothing much to write in this section this month except it is time to get the ‘Happy Holidays’ greeting macro dusted down. Hopefully propagation will be good and steady over the holiday period. I may try to get out portable at some point.

I just would like to wish that all who read this blogpost, will have a ‘Happy Holiday’ and if you believe in ‘him’, I hope the man in red and white delivers all your wants.

(June) Radio Days

I know this is a bit late but it is holiday time, well you know what I mean…

A quick update, our fellow blogee, Roddy 2M0IOB has queried who Alex is ( see photo below) and about the padlock on the trig point.

The said padlock

The said padlock

He is a pal and work mate, the man who started the Ben Lomond expedition ( Expedition – a bit dramatic but hey, it sounds good ).

The padlock seems to be a mystery but see my separate blog post ‘Ben Lomond Trig Point Padlock’ <HERE>


Pretty quiet, spoke to 2M0IOB Roddy on occasion. I’ve not had radio monitoring S20 due to some computer project work.

SOTA activity for June.

Now this was a busy month as many stations took advantage of the dry conditions to activate.  I managed to activate Ben Lomond mid month, a pleasant ascent on a perfect walking day.

Alex at Ben Lomond Trig point

Alex at Ben Lomond Trig point

First out of the blocks was the afore mentioned Roddy, 2M0IOB who activated Beinn Mhor, a hill in the Cowal area, a virgin SOTA summit , no less. Later that day, I made contact with Bob, a local MM1 station who was activating Ben Lomond, Lomond has been busy this early part of ’10.

Activity was quiet until Neil, 2M0NCM, a well kent regular on this blog activated two hills in the Lomond area, as an aside, I can see both these summits from where I type this. Neil firstly activated  Binnean Nan Gobhar then Beinn Uird,  these hills have normally a wet walk in but with the dryish winter and spring this was an ideal time to activate them.

Later that day, it was good to hear Caroline, a (M)M3 station back holidaying in GM land with her other half Martin, a (M)M1 station. Caroline was on Meall Corranaich in the Lawers area.

Two days later, I next caught Caroline on Meall Ghaordaidh, a summit in the Glen Lyon area. 48 hours later, I caught both her and Martin on Schiehallion on 2m SSB. Many thanks for the contacts and the chasing points !! haste ye back.

The last week of June then got busy, firstly oor Roddy 2M0IOB continued his activation of Cowal summits with a trip to Sgorach Mor,  another virgin activation and later that day, Robin GM7, another blog regular activated Schiehallion. The following day,  our fellow blogger Graeme, 2M0GIL climbed and activated An Caisteal, Graeme had to suffer pretty poor conditions weather wise. Link to his blog below. It was a day for the regulars, Neil made his way north to Ben Lui, the weather conditions had improved later that day.

The last chaser points for the month were gotten from Robin, GM7 who activated both Ben More and Stob Binnean in one trip.

A busy month indeed.


Nothing great to report, mostly European stations with the odd outside Europe station. A few contacts into the south coast of England. The European PSK Club had  special event stations operating in all European ( and other) countries so a fair part was spent chasing the special calls.

New DXCC country was Jersey.

Blog links – Roddy 2M0IOB <HERE>

– Graeme 2M0GIL <HERE>