Tag Archives: Auchengaich Hill

Baa Baa Bawb Sheep

I really must try to improve the quality of these blog post titles…

I must apologise as I had worked on other posts and had predated them and you guessed it, I boo-boo’ed…..and one appeared live whilst I worked on this.

I had arranged to head out at some point last weekend and activate Beinn Chaorach, the Luss hill. The weather for the weekend was encouraging with only cloud forecast but so why did the five weekdays earlier have sunny clear skies ?

I woke early Saturday morning to see the cloud level at 1,500 ft so after a bit of thought, I said to Katie we will try again tomorrow but to be honest I didn’t need much encouragement to call off as I been out late Friday night.

I didn’t totally waste Saturday as I saw both Robin PKT and Jack COX had alerted so the 7 element 2m yagi…Blog post HERE which has lain in its cardboard box was got out, it was time to tune and test this baby out. I headed to Lurg Moor and set up everything and oops! I forgot my phone so no camera therefore no photos of this ‘Heath Robinson’ session, black tape is sooo handy. In what was a strong breeze, the beam had a mind of its own so after working Jack on Meall nan Caorach, east of Glen Almond then Robin on Druim na Sgriodain in the Morvern area it was time to head back home. It worked although I think I may have to use the heavier SOTA pole plus make a strong support for to attach the boom to the pole / mast. I had used a pair of scissors in the top of the pole and used parachute cord to steady the boom, a first success. I will only use this for chasing as I’m more than pleased with the performance of the 5 element yagi (see image below -Beinn Chaorach N view) on activations. I headed home with thoughts of how to bodge up a support.

The start at NS 286890

The start at NS 286890

Sunday morning duly arrived and as the previous morning at the same time I looked N and saw the same cloud level but this time decided to head across the water.

I had everything packed ready for a quick off so off along the same roads I had travelled two weeks earlier. Chaorach and a’Mhanaich are sister hills on the S edge of the Luss hills and access is best from Lomondside via the Haul Road(or new Glen Fruin road). I arrived at the starting place but although I have now been on this summit four times, I have used three routes to the summit. The start of the ascent is not too far from where the Battle of Glen Fruin took place (see HERE)

I said goodbye to Katie and climbed over the gate to slog straight up a field which always seems chock full of sheep, Chaorach in Gaelic means ‘the hill of sheep’. I kept well to the right of them as at this time of year it is not wise to worry or panic the ewes. I soon headed along the quad track at the top of the field towards another gate next to the wood where you head into open country. I could see the top of Auchengaich Hill occasionally but the cloud hadn’t moved any higher. This was to be an ascent with no views.

I steadily worked my way up the first hill and as you top this a steady ridge walk upwards on a faint quad track into the first boggy area where the track disappears at times but if you keep an eye to it on Beinn Tharsuinn you can soon pick the track up again. I quickly reached the summit of Tharsuinn and at this time visibility was 50m at the best but just nearby to your right is the start of the fence line which takes you down to the bealach then to the summit of Chaorach. Take the east side of the fence and follow the grassy path all the way up to Chaorach. Once you see a small cairn on the west side of the fence you are almost at the top, at this cairn you will find the best views S and SW on a clear day.

Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn

Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn – 2011

The trig point soon appears and I had made good time to the top. Views ? nothing. Visibility ranged between 40m and 30m the entire time I was there.

There is a fence which splits the summit from S to N so handy fence-posts to tie the mast on to. I moved 40m away from the trig point, linear not height! I quickly erected the beam and raised the mast and the 817 was ready to go.

A quick flick through and my first contacts were Colin and Heather UXH,  both have the same last three letters but different class of call. They were doing a WOTA summit, Hindscarth which I passed on my route from Dale Head to Robinson on my Lakes trip last Sept. A WOTA chase to start.

Next I found Colwyn YCJ who was on White Coomb to the S of me so a STS (summit to summit) was a good start and after I worked YCJ, Andy FMF called in from Dumglow, the highest of the Cleish Hills and another STS. I also spoke with Jack COX then it was off for another quick check then off to .500 and after a single call, I worked Steve UAU in Greenock, Bob AWV in Gourock followed by Roddy 2MØIOB also in Gourock and after a quick chat with Roddy I worked Stevie SUB just to NW of me in Garelochead.

Regular contact Ken AXY called me from Edinburgh, contacts were coming thick and fast now, Geoff WHA called me from his home town of Annan before fellow blogee Neil 2MØNCM called me from South Ayrshire from the summit of Auchensoul Hill which I later found was a HuMP. It was good to work Neil as we have a running joke that he keeps trying to play ‘Dodgebob’. Today he chased me !

I got called next by Vic VTB from nearby Milngavie and Colin XSD from Frizington on the western Lake District called in and told me that Liz EPW was heading to Dent in the Lakes as we spoke, I was later to catch Liz on the summit of her hill and she worked me using just her handie, nice one.

Beinn Chaorach trig - 2013

Beinn Chaorach trig – 2013

I heard Billy ETB in Coleraine and gave him a call, Billy had been in QSO with a station in Dublin, I could hear the Dublin station but I only spoke with Billy.

I had a quick break and next one in the log was Robin PKT who was NW of me on Cruach Mhor to the NW of Inverary, as expected a very strong signal. A quick chat with Robin before I headed to work Andy USU in the Falkirk area. It was getting busy today.

I always head down to the lower frequencies as WOTA and some southern activators use lower than .400 which is the freq used most in Scotland. I heard Terry VWP on a NP (North Pennines) hill and I worked Terry with no problem on his summit of Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales area and quickly followed this by chatting with Phil OBK and finally Nick OOE who were with Terry. A good contact which led me to believe a slight lift was on as I heard a station operating on one of the Mell Fells just SW of Blencathra but I returned later and he had moved frequency. I should have persevered.

The earlier mentioned STS contact with Liz EPW on Dent was quickly followed by Stan SXT who was mobile and had just joined the M90 at J5 in Fife, Craig HJV in Gourock then Dennis DNX in Glasgow marked in the log.

Jim GLM called me from Dunfermilne, Jim has worked me on my last three activations, hopefully Jim will make it back out on to the hills by mid summer. Tommy OJE in Darvel, Stu BSM near Stirling, Ray MTO in Glasgow then John YDC then answered my call, I was surprised when John told me he 5ml south of Middlesboro, a good next to the last contact app 280 kms away before my last contact for the day, Christine YMM from Edinburgh.

Beinn Chaorach N view - 2009

Beinn Chaorach N view – 2009

30 contacts brightened up what was a cloudy, damp day.

I was on air for over two hours and after some fruitless calls on 70cm it was time to break the station and head off the hill. I headed to the trig to set up the GPS for the descent and much as I tried I could not get a phone signal where normally it is no problem. I’d call home on the way down. I had got a text earlier from Roddy saying it looked like the cloud may clear. The one text that had got through.

Packed up so off I headed down in 50m visibility and crossed the bealach and ascended the short rise to Tharsuinn where I was greeted by clear views down the ridge, I looked back and a wall of cloud showed. the phone showed full signal so I called home. I can only guess that on Chaorach the signal possibly affected by the cloud and damp conditions. My text tone kicked in and about a dozen texts rattled in from those who had tried to message me on the hill. I looked back and briefly saw the summit appearing then it disappeared again.



The first sighting all day - 2013

The first sighting all day – 2013

I turned on the handie and spoke with Roddy for almost the entire descent from Tharsuinn and as I dropped down the steep final descent Steve UAU called in from above Greenock but I lost both of then as I dropped down the field to the road. I’d made good time on the descent and as Katie arrived I was 200 m from the start point.

A good day marred only by lack of any views. Another shorts day !!!

A hill which was my first 4 point SOTA hill and my fourth visit, as with all the Luss hills a steep start but a hill with good VHF take off. Where am I off to next ? No doubt my head will be stuck in maps all week.

I’m going through my regular hills leaving the later months for new hills ( I hope).

Previous Chaorach blogs are

2009 HERE

2010 HERE

2011 HERE

My thanks go to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and any other sites I have linked to.

As my a’Mhanaich post I have used earlier post images which if clicked on will embiggen.

Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn

Chaorach on a crisp Autumn day

After such a wet October, it was time to try to fit in Beinn Chaorach before the end of the year, I have been to this hill in both ’09 and ’10 so I had to arrange my now annual visit although Ben Bowie had been more in my thoughts as I’m still even after the Ben More trip having some discomfort from my right ankle. I have clocked some miles on the local back roads trying to get my level of fitness up.

The forecast for the weekend had looked good since midweek and I sought (or begged TBH) for Katie to ferry me to my chosen hill. As I mentioned many times in the past all the handies  put on charge and the rukkie packed as light as it possibly can, I have given up carrying all the extras.

Activation of Beinn Chaorach GM/SS 062 5/11/2011

Activation of Beinn Chaorach GM/SS 062 5/11/2011

A quick look across at Chaorach at first light showed a clear sky with no cloud so back for a sneaky long lie.

I put up an alert on the SOTA Alert page before finally checking everything was ready to go. Cloud levels had been around approx 2,000 ft as we left home and within the hour we had arrived at the drop off point at NS 294887, there is a parking place just slightly east of this if you have to park up.

.Once you have climbed over the gate next to the road(carefully now Bob !), looking up the hill and slightly to your right you can see a gap in the top field reedy area, head for this and this sets you on the quad track which shows most of the way to Chaorach , climb over another gate and you are now in open countryside, slowly I headed up what is a steep unrelenting climb to the top of Auchingaich Hill. I had walked up to the Auchingaich Dam last time and headed direct to the bealach between Tharsuinn and Chaorach but found this a leg stretch too far so the decision was to follow the normal published route via Auchingaich, Tharsuinn then to the top of Chaorach.

Charoach means ‘Hill of the sheep’ and today they must have hidden as I saw none the entire journey up and down except in the starting field, I slowly made my way up the first hill and heard Roddy 2MØIOB calling me on 145.500 so I stopped ( willingly) and passed a few minutes talking to Roddy. I didn’t want to stop too long as I had estimated to arrive at 12.30 but I had plenty of time in hand as I headed along the ridge towards the rise to Tharsuinn, the going underfoot was pretty wet in places and as I reached the foot of Tharsuinn it got that I had to zig zag through the peaty bog areas.

Looking towards Allt a'Bhaile a'Mhuilinn

Looking towards Allt a'Bhaile a'Mhuilinn

The quad track gets lost in parts around this area so you have to pick your way through but it could have been worse. I headed briskly up the faint track and reached the cairn and grassy summit of Tharsuinn. I had skirted round the side of the hill on my first visit in ’09 but this was indeed the best way to travel to Chaorach. A small stone cairn marks the summit, I took the path across to the fence on your right and I met a walker nearing the top and as usual, a quick greeting and talk about the area, he advised sticking to the east of the fence as the bealach between the two hills is boggy in parts but to the east of the fence is drier and better walking.

The bealach reached it was time to climb to the top, the rise in height is just under 300 ft and before long you see a small stone cairn on the other side of the fence, this is the best viewpoint for looking down to the Firth of Clyde, the trig point now shows and it shows signs of being white in the past.

I reached the summit in just under 2 and a quarter hours, new PB for me. As tradition, I touched the trig point.. the summit was in and out of cloud so photos would have to wait.

I had arrived well before my estimated time I had posted so some scran first then it was time to set up the station, the beam built up and attached to the mast. There is a fence splitting the summit  so no need here for your guying kit.

I sent out my first CQ and a regular chaser, Alex WNR called me back from the north part of Motherwell, the usual pleasantries and reports then it was a quick QRZ,  Ken AXY and Christine YMM answered my call, I had my beam pointing south but signals to Edinburgh were still strong. It was eastwards that my next contact called in from Allan BJP was mobile in Dunfermilne so quite pleased to make the contact but I eventually lost him but reports etc were passed.

It was a day for regulars and Andy USU called in from Falkirk before Steve UAU boomed in from across the way in Greenock, 20 kms away as the crow flies. Thanks for the spot, Steve. A quick word with both then off to S20 again.

It was getting rather breezy and chilly when cloud occasionally drifted over the summit, I reminded myself it was November and not the usual spring visit here. Sadly I hoped to catch blog regular Neil 2MØNCM from South Ayrshire but not today.

Bob AWV called in from nearby Gourock and left me to go back to s20 where I made contact to Glenrothes in Fife with Jim TNP, stations in the east seemed to more active than those in the west and Glasgow today.

Glen Luss

Glen Luss

I next got called by Duncan AHL who stays just over the hill in Dumbarton, I normally catch Duncan on 4m but that was to be tried after 2m had gone quiet.

I knew that other GM stations had declared but there was no sign of them up to now, I next spoke to Roddy 2MØIOB who was on the west side of the Isle of Bute in Ettrick Bay, I know that when he is on the island he taunts me with images of home cooking and milk shakes knowing my ‘out’n’aboot’ scran consists of bananas. One word for him, cholesterol….I have offered to walk his dogs there when he eventually activates this hill and as payback it will be his treat.

Lastly on the beam I worked Julian KGB in Irvine as my intention was to now to move  to 4m.

4m was dead, I called and called but nothing but I had left my Baofeng handie monitoring 145.500 and whilst I had a quick drink, I heard Robin PKT and Andy USU so I followed them and I called Robin and made the contact to Meall Chuaich just NE of Dalwhinnie, this was approx 105 km away plus the hills of Ben More and Stobinnean were smack in the path but no problems were had so that a good contact on only 2 watt whilst using only a small dual band antenna. I left Robin and proceeded to break the station down. A couple of walkers appeared so I spoke and explained the SOTA system of working, pointing them to the website.

I took some more photos as the sun had suddenly appeared, time to head home, I called home and made arrangements so off I returned the same route I had ascended, the weather or more to the point the sun appeared and most of the localised cloud disappeared.

A leisurely walk over Tharsuinn and down Auchengaich and a steep finish down wet grass so time to keep an eye on foot falls. I climbed the gate and headed down the grassy field and waited on Katie. 83 mins it had taken me to descend, quite pleased with that although I tend to saunter down.

Looking back

Looking back

A good day, a bit on the cool side especially as the cloud scuttled over the summit but as I have said before  it is November.

One hour later, I was home….

Chaorach was my first ever 4 point hill and has been a favourite ever since, I can see the summit as I write this as it is line of sight 20kms away, I have had contacts into England, Wales and Ireland under flat conditions on previous occasions but only GM land today.

Handie (2M, 70CM and PMR) was on scan on both ascent and descent, activity was mostly on PMR bands, a motorcycle instructor and occasionally, a request for a numbered stock item plus a lot of yacht traffic, a marina ? quite possible from the various traffic. 2M and 70CM both pretty dead…

The Luss hills are grassy hills with slight paths but if you go off track, you may find them slightly tussocky but still easy to navigate, the main tops in this area are roughly in the same height range with Doune Hill the highest of them at 734m and today’s hill, Chaorach is 713m, a cracking set of ‘Grahams’ to wander about in.

As a historical aside, the Battle of Glen Fruin took place roughly a few hundred yards west of my start point…

Canmore Info HERE

Wikpedia Article HERE

Click on images for full sized photo….

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)


Peakbagger Info HERE

Total return journey was 5.34 miles