Tag Archives: Beinn Chaorach

(Feb) Radio Days

Late again, I need to get my act together.

The shortest month of the year, so how much did I manage to cram in to it ?

Lets see !

SOTA…

Activations ? Two, what I would call my now annual visits to first, Beinn a’Mhanaich and secondly the Hill of Stake.

a’Mhanaich I did on a cold windy day but I was kept busy with 24 contacts from Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Later in midweek I headed to the Hill of Stake in ideal conditions for walking in and out but I must add not for sitting about on the summit, this hill is best done in ‘cold’ conditions as some of you know fine well it can a boggy pathless ascent. ‘Crisp’ is what I would describe as the best attack plan. I made 19 contacts all in Scotland but nonetheless a good midweek total. I gave a call out on my 70mhz FM handie and snagged one contact to Steve UAU in Greenock but at the HoS, I decided to try 70 cm FM and made three contacts which for midweek was good. I’ll try 70 cm as 70 mhz seems to be quiet in the Central Belt but if S of the HoS, I will consider 70 mhz FM as I know a few stations in NI and some in the NW England area are normally about.

Looking down the Firth from a'Mhanaich

Looking down the Firth from a’Mhanaich

Chasing…

The month started with working Iain WJZ who activated Beinn Dorain, another of those iconic Scottish mountains. I had been out walking and waited to catch him from the local golf course car park about 400m W from my house. One done by handie.

On what seemed a slow start to the month, I caught Iain seven days later Schiehallion SE of Loch Rannoch this time I was at home. Iain had just activated two hills I have looked at very closely lately. The following weekend I ‘chased’ from Beinn a’Mhanaich and logged Iain this time from Creag Meagaidh well to the N of me near Glen Spean , Robin PKT who was Beinn Chaorach nr Tyndrum, Jack COX to the E on Cairnpapple Hill, John BLV who was on Moel Famau in North Wales and finally Alister BKQ whom I caught on Skiddaw in the Lake District, a good haul of contacts. I was down on HF when I get tipped the wink by Steve UAU that Colwyn YCJ was on Ben Clach to the NW of Braco, an unexpected one in the log.

On the last weekend of the month, I caught Robin PKT on Sgurr Mhic Eacharna then the following day on Beinn Leamhain both hills in the Morvern area and the last contact for the month was Bob AWV directly across the river on Ben Bowie. A reasonable month considering the poor weather at times.

Quiet but still a worthwhile time considering hill conditions.

Brr

Brr

HF…

Another month in which JT65 and to a lesser degree JT9-1 were my go to modes. I must return to PSK at some point as some interesting propagation has been showing lately. Nothing new DXCC wise although I’m trying hard trying to work grey line or monitoring bands as they open or start to close which seems to be my best chance. Right place right time I hope will pay off for me.

Odds..

I’m still playing about with the SDR dongle stuff but still not devoting the time that I should, I must try to source a box to fit the upconverter in as more a shield than anything else. It is remarkable how sensitive the dongles are for the price that you pay for them and with some excellent free software to run them with. I think the winter months will be spent trying some of the Softrock projects.

That’s been short and sweet for Feb, a month in which I crammed in so much but found I’d very little to write in this piece. If it seems a dry post, I may put that down to short memory hihi.

My post on Beinn a’Mhanaich HERE

Ditto …Hill of Stake HERE

73

Thanks again to all those I have linked to, Wikipedia, Peakbagger and others…

Advertisements

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.

Route

Route

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.

The Monk’s Hill

Or to give its proper title….Beinn a’Mhanaich.

The Luss Hills one.

This first weekend of May is now the annual ISW (International SOTA Weekend).

SOTA Activation of Beinn a'Mhanaich GM/SS 066 5th May 2012

SOTA Activation of Beinn a’Mhanaich GM/SS 066 5th May 2012

This year Roddy 2QØIOB and myself decided each others company was boring and decided to work adjacent hilltops plus I think he gets tired waiting on me. The ideal candidates literally stare us in the face each day, Beinn a’Mhanaich and its sister hill across the glen, Beinn Chaorach. Both are four points on the SOTA scale but Roddy would have 11 ft height advantage over me from Chaorach HI.

This would be my fourth activation of this hill and I think I should get to keep it now but as it translates from the Gaelic as ‘ The Hill of the Monk’  I’ll pass, I have already related the story of this in a earlier blog post HERE, there is a strong ancient religious presence in Glen Luss within sight of the summit, the nearby ruins of St Michael Chapel and the farm of Edentaggart which has a religious connection in its name.

The usual preparation, an early Fri evening alert on the SOTA website and I printed off the usual route.

We arrived on the ‘new’ Glen Fruin road and after some pointing of fingers of this way that way etc. I got dropped off to continue my (lonely) ascent on well trodden (by me) ground. This hill hits you hard from the very start as it’s a mile long uphill slog alongside the ‘Keep Out’ markers following a rough quad track, the use by farmers of quad bikes in the hills is now a handy help of ascending on what were before featureless grassy hillsides.

The start and most of the ridge has warning signs to ‘Keep Out’, war games occasionally break out to the west of these.

Onward and upwards, pausing for breath almost at each marker when after 40 mins it started to ease slightly and soon I was on the ‘Strone’, a wide ridge track heading N.

I watched some live ammo target practice down in the glen to the west of me but headed on to what I know now as ‘the Pitstop’ where some scran and water is taken, I started looking back eastwards as I headed slowly upwards and kept an eye for Roddy whom I soon saw approaching the bealach between Auchengaich Hill and Beinn Tharsuinn. We were in contact via PMR radio on the ascent. I crossed the bealach before the next steep rise and for once, it was dryish ground.

The Pitstop

The Pitstop

Slowly but surely I neared the top of this second rise in height and just as you are about to top, the proper summit and small cairn come into view. A welcome sight as only a quick flat stretch with a short, sharp ascent and you are there.

As you head across the last flat section, you pass a flat, shaped stone I have often wondered that by its shape if it could have been an altar or maybe I am putting two and two together to make five.

A climb over the gate and within minutes you are standing on a relatively large summit plateau, I wandered over to the cairn and set up the station just to the lee of the summit to escape what was a coldish breeze from the North.

I called to Roddy on PMR as I saw him summiting just under two miles away.

I decided to try 4m first but after more than a few calls, nothing was heard and now set up the 2m station, I called and worked Roddy 2QØIOB on the adjacent summit for a STS (summit to summit) and then worked Bob AWV, Eunice UVL, Kai AUF and George YUI all portable in the Inverkip area..

Next in the log was another STS to Jack COX down in the East Ayrshire region on Blackcraig Hill. I next heard the STS call from Robin PKT who was on Chno Dearg just to the south of Glen Spean, a cracking contact.

I was next contacted by two Edinburgh stations in Christine YMM and Ken AXY before a chat with Alan XXP in Larkhall. I decided to have a break and just enjoy the views and sunny weather, I had seen a Geograph photo that shows Ben Nevis from this hill and on my previous trips I hadn’t seen this but today I could see Nevis bathing in sunshine through a gap over the Rest and Be Thankful area, sadly as I use only  my mobile phone camera I couldn’t get a decent image but have linked to the photo in question (see below)

Altar stone ?

Altar stone ?

I started calling again and worked Allan MWX based just to the NE of Largs, a quick chat and then I was called by Billy, a 2IØ station who lives just outside Coleraine in Northern Ireland, conditions were not too good but we managed to have a quick chat. Just shortly afterwards, I spoke with Steve UAU in Greenock first on 2m and later on 4m. Fred GOV in Dunlop was next with an excellent signal followed by John OIN near Ayr with whom I had a chat about the local area. I worked fellow PARC member Stuart OXQ from Paisley followed by another Paisley station in Joe MTJ on 4m FM.

Contacts were quieting down by this time and I noticed a slight chill started so it was time to keep just slightly below the summit and work two more stations, the ubiquitous Brian HMZ a fellow PARC member and finally Terry VFC who was mobile to the SE of Glasgow. The wind has now swung to the SW and still had a sharp chill about it, I contacted Roddy and it was decided  that it was time to head off the hilsl.

Quickly packing up all the equipment and a last check of the immediate area, I started to head off the summit returning the way I had ascended, I had looked at descending into the head of Glen Luss and walking down to the Auchingaich Reservoir but as the glen in this area is reputed to be soggy, I decided to descend the usual route.

I moved quickly down the faint track descending into the main bealach and finding the quad track, I reached the top of the first push and noticed a lot of activity on the road, police van, a motorcycle and an ambulance. I thought at first it was a sponsored walk but as I neared the start of my walk, I noticed it was military personnel.

A Welsh yomp

A Welsh yomp

Being nosey I asked one of the marshalls who told me it was part of training that they have to do 100 miles in four days and this was the longest day at 31 mile for them. I exchanged greetings with them as they passed. They had full kits so I was glad it wasn’t me!

On a signpost nearby was a warning sign  ‘ Danger Marchers’, mmmmm, they didn’t look dangerous.

I must have looked a bedraggled soul as twice I asked if I was okay…I explained I was waiting on my lift home…

Roddy soon appeared and off we headed back to civilisation, a good day was had by all.

Previous blog posts on this fine hill are 2009 2010 2011

The quality of my photos is not as good as I would have liked due to my altering a setting…lesson learned.

This image below is showing Ben Nevis showing from Beinn a’Mhanaich ( see accreditation below)

Ben Nevis showing...

© Copyright Stan Campbell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Thanks go to the sites I have linked to, SOTA, Wikipedia and also to Geograph and Stan Campbell.

At one point you can hear live ammo being fired

Summit to Summit

GM4COX/p Blackcraig Hill 95 Kms(59 ml)
2QØIOB/p Beinn Chaorach 2.8 Km (1.8 ml)
GM7PKT/p Chno Dearg 80 Kms (50 ml)

That Was The Year That Was….Pt 2

Have you wakened up since Pt 1 ? don’t worry the end is nigh.

July – Dec……

SOTA activations continued..

Skiddaw near the end of July was my first activation in England, the Lake District to be precise. I was away for a few days as part of a celebratory 30th anniversary break and being based in the north-west lake area, a compromise was made as I don’t shop so I got allowed to play ‘radio’. Skiddaw was memorable more for the crazy parking area and being passed by mountain bikers just before the last climb to the summit plateau. I activated on both 4 and 2m FM with no problems and made three STS (summit to summit) contacts, two locally on Pillar, Arnside Knott ( the lowest ‘Marilynin England) and one to Jimmy EYP on Sighty Crag in the Border region.

Derwent Water from the ascent of Skiddaw

Derwent Water from the ascent of Skiddaw

Two days later, I returned to old pastures with a quick nip up to Dale Head from the top of Honister Pass, I first visited this summit in the early ’80 and was blown away with the view north to Skiddaw and yep, the view is worth the visit. I had intended to try to fit in the nearby Robinson but alas we had to head home early so one for the next visit. There is a convenient fencepost at the summit so off I called and worked the same friendly group of chasers I had worked two days earlier on Skiddaw. Only STS was again Jimmy EYP who was on Peel Fell. A quick activation then to Honister Hause and sadly off back home.

My English adventure was over and the next activation was two months later but what a doozy, Ben More on the Isle of Mull, I had worked Gerald AQU there earlier in the year and as I always do, I had a look at the hill etc and made a mental note that this would be a cracker and when Roddy IOB mentioned a trip, I was front of the queue.

The weather gave us a window of blue skies and sunshine and we took full advantage, 4m contacts to outside Glasgow, South Uist and Skye was surprising plus two STS to Iain WJZ on Beinn Chaorach and Robin PKT on Beinn Lora. As we descended and reached our start point, it started to drizzle. An excellent 3 days on Mull thrown in as well.

Looking towards Loch Scridain from Ben More

Looking towards Loch Scridain from Ben More

Finally but not least was my annual trip to Beinn Chaorach in the Luss Hills, another excellent weather day and only one STS but made not with the 5 ele 2m yagi but my wee Baofeng handie and its two watts(Nagoya 701 antenna), I was trying 4m FM with no joy and whilst I called, I had my handie monitoring s20 and heard Robin PKT on Meall Chuaich so I followed him and made contact at approx 105km with the twin peaks of Ben More and Stobinnean in the way. Another good day.

That was the last for 2011, 13 activations and plenty fun and tired legs along the way. Thanks go to Roddy 2MØIOB for his company and his suffering my snail pace and tales of yore.

Thanks also to anyone with whom I have spoken to over the past year from a summit.

2012 ? who knows…

Chasing highlights…

Leaving out the STS, all contacts are highlights as well as points!!!! It is possible I could work 95% of contacts from sitting here in the shack but a good day, sunshine, fresh air and the chance of a contact outside isn’t to be sniffed at. I have a selection of high points I use.

I achieved ‘Shack Sloth’ during the activation of Cruach Ardrain with an STS,  I only claim points after the activator posts his log online so looking at my chaser log it looks different date wise but Colwyn YCJ was on one of Beinn Eighe‘s tops and that when uploaded gave me over 1,000 pts. Over the year, I amassed at least 800 plus points doubling both 2009 and 2010’s total.

Beinn Chaorach from the Green Road

Beinn Chaorach from the Green Road

In conclusion…

My thanks go out to all those who were out in all conditions to activate and for the points I accrued from you.  I have promised to try get my golf handicap down in 2012. I said that this time last year and never.

HF…

Another year but I have not been as active as possibly the previous year but I still manage on most days for a call. In addition to PSK (I only use datamodes), WSPR and RTTY. I have also made contacts on ROS, JT65 and Contestia.

I experimented with ROS and V4 before deciding to give more time to WSPR whilst getting set up for JT65 which has taken most of my HF work lately.

A few new DXCC counties added to the list and in November, I finally worked into South America on 10m JT65. WAC achieved.

The outlook for 2012..

I’ll work away on HF mostly from 20m to 10m and have a more than close look at the other data modes I’ve not used. I had thought of looking more at WAB (Worked All Britain)this year but got bogged down elsewhere, next year ?

SOTA wise…

Hopefully to get my 150 activator points then cut back on both that and chasing.

The end of my inane ramblings for another year….I said that last year didn’t I ?

Hope the year 2012 is a good one for you in all radio and other contexts.