Tag Archives: Ben Lomond

Left Or Right ? Ime Going Right !

‘Left or right ?’……..

Plans had been laid soon after I ‘conquered’ Beinn Narnain roughly four weeks previous for a return trip to the hills known as the ‘Arrochar Alps‘, I had looked at the Cobbler or perhaps if I was feeling fit, Beinn Ime.

If you read my blog post on the Narnain trip, you will remember the weather was not the kindest so the next jaunt in that area had to be excellent so I could enjoy the views from whatever hill I ‘visited’, a trip two weekends previous to this was arranged and due to the expedition driver having a longish lie, it was put off which in retrospect was not good as conditions were excellent later that day so I had just headed locally to the trig point area at Lurg Moor.

It was agreed that on the next suitable day that I would head out and the Arrochar area would be visited. Family matters came into play in the following days and finally the plan was scheduled and I kept scanning the forecast and it was pencilled in for the Wednesday, a top up of the handie batteries and a last check of the equipment and the rucksack was packed. Scran and water would be decided in the morning, the only blip was the mountain forecast for strong yep, strong sunshine, a hat was shoved into the rukkie as well as a midge net for when as any lack of breeze at this time of year would bring the ‘curse’ out.

Wednesday morning arrived, I checked out the view to the North West and although Ben Lomond had some high cloud showing. It was time to get going. I placed an alert on the SOTA website for (GM/SS 020) the Cobbler.

a'Chrois ,Narnain and Lomond

a’Chrois ,Narnain and Lomond

First stop was to fill up the car with petrol and finally we left Port Glasgow heading for Erskine Bridge then left to Tarbet on Lomondside where we then headed for Arrochar. The road was very quiet and good time made.

I got dropped off at the car park at Succoth and started up the newish zigzag track, I find that the route signage here is pretty lacking as it seems to follow the colour band system with no signs saying this or that way. I later spoke with a couple from Devon on my descent who mentioned the same and the conflicting literature available.

I headed up the rough track and I was actually passing others heading up the path, changed days as I was always the one being overtaken. After just over a mile you emerge on to open countryside and today a cooling breeze was coming down from the coire, I headed for just over two miles when I decided to have a quick break just before the Narnain boulders, I sat down and instantly the breeze dropped and I got ‘attacked’ by both ants and the midge. I headed and ate some scran on the run so to speak. Heading up the coire I could see the tops of the Cobbler to the left and to the right Beinn Narnain and I could see clearly the ‘Spearhead’ on Narnain. I was feeling good leg wise so thoughts of Ime started in my mind.

I was getting near the bealach where the path splits, left is the north path to the Cobbler and right is the path to Narnain and Ime.

Glen Kinglas

Glen Kinglas

I saw Ime’s double top and thought ‘It’s now or never’ and off I set across a boggy (in places) bealach and followed a path which tends to disappear in places but still keeping an eye on the gate where I should pass through. I reached the gate and saw the Cobbler had a few people on its summit today and I walked on slowly picking my way around wet and soggy patches, I could see the path snaking up the hillside and off I headed. I ascended at my usual speed with many breaks, I do not do very steep too well.

At this point I pondered the advice I had received from both Graeme GIL and Neil NCM as both had climbed Ime with different routes, Neil had recommended the short sharp route from Glen Croe whilst Graeme had climbed from Butterbridge, I had looked at these but decided the gradual but much longer ascent from Succoth would be my best bet with the near 1,300 ft height push from the Bealach a’Mhaim the last steep ascent. I do not do ‘steep’ very well.

Keeping a steady pace I was ascending the hill slow but sure and as I got higher the path tended to be drier. I had put my handie on scan when I left the bealach and just about a third of the way up, I heard a station activating Beinn Dubh which I could see to the south-east of me. I called in and had caught Kenny ZUN as he was just about to head back off his hill, two chaser points to start the day….I’ll take that.

I kept heading upwards and stopped to fill my water bottle with some fresh cold water. It was cold and refreshing.

Yer man himself

Yer man himself

I saw a distant figure emerging from between the two tops and soon he was telling me that I wasn’t having far to go, I was  feeling the heat by this time but armed with this info I headed quickly to the top and walked along a level path and there it was the summit shelter. I had made it.

I left the rukkie and antenna stuff and headed to the summit, the trig point is no more and only the iron base pegs still show. I stood and took in the view which was excellent, Ime is the highest hill in the local area and the views in all directions are stunning.

No time to stand about so I looked at my watch and I had declared that I would be ‘active’ at 13.00 UTC so I wasn’t that far out. I called Roddy 2OØIOB using the handie and asked him to place a ‘spot’ for me mentioning my change of summit plus he was the first contact in the log.

Next was getting the 5 element beam ready, there was only a slight breeze which hopefully was to keep all those biting critturs away. I called and Steve UAU called back, I later worked Steve on 4m FM which I intended to try but I ended up just using the 4m handie and the duck antenna with no more success.

Another Paisley club member Stuart OXQ was next in the log, Stuart was in the Ayr area and just to the north in Troon, I next spoke with Tony BAO.  Alan VTV from Greenock was next and I would imagine from his QTH it was line of sight and we discussed various radio related stuff before I broke off to find more contacts, regular chaser Andy USU from the Falkirk area was next in the log and after a short QSO, I called on .500 and hooked up with Kenny ZUN who was heading back to the Glasgow area after his activation of Beinn Dubh, it was his first activation so hopefully he will have been bitten with the bug and we have another keen VHF activator in the Central Belt area.  Finally on 2m was another PARC member  Brian HMZ who had headed just above Paisley to work me. It is good to have so many PARC members interested in SOTA either on the chasing and activating side, at last count 5 activators and slightly more chasers.

Looking N from Ime

Looking N from Ime

Contacts had been slow but steady but dried up after eight 2M FM contacts and one on 4M FM.

In between the radio work, I had stopped and spoke with the steady stream of walkers who made the summit. Mention has to be made of two Dutch lads who had hiked to the summit of Ime via Narnain, they had done the direct route over Narnain via the Spearhead dropped down into the bealach and then to Ime’s summit…with 25 kg plus packs!!! They had marked a spot just below the summit in which they were bivvying out overnight now that would have been fun. I looked across at the last rocky scramble I had done when on Narnain and noted how narrow the area I crossed to the summit was.

I had spent just over two hours on the summit playing radio and lazing when it was time to pack up and head back down the reverse route. It was a quick last look around then it was off down the occasionally slippery slopes to the bealach where I would pick up the path back to the junction at the head of the coire.

The path here is excellent and as I descended I spoke with most people I met. The before mentioned couple from Devon could not believe how beautiful this area was and I told them to wait and see what views awaited them from the top of the Cobbler their intended destination.

Luibhean and Beinn an Lochain

Luibhean and Beinn an Lochain

At the Narnain boulders I met a French couple who were looking for a camping spot on the Narnain side but everything was boggy, I told them of the other lads who were roughing it on Ime….. a walk too far for them I thought. The coire would be alive with the midge as soon as the breeze dropped.

Slowly but surely I made my way down the open hillside until I met the zigzag path again and made sure I wasn’t intending to stop for obvious reasons.

Two hours and a bit later, I spotted Katie and Lora waiting on me. The expedition backup had brought fresh orange juice but secretly I had lain dreaming of a cold pint of cider on Ime’s summit….someday eh ?

I’m glad I finally got Ime ticked off, the ‘butter mountain’ had always intrigued me. Will I return ? possibly but the Cobbler is next or maybe Luibhean which seems to be the forgotten hill in the area.

To finish what is a longer than usual post, I spoke with two obvious Munro baggers who ‘moaned’ about the boggy parts of Ime and when our conversation turned around to views from the top of the other local hills, I put forward Ben Donich as one of my favourites, ‘Is it a Munro?’ what else can I say…….

Click on post images for full size photo…

right click on Gallery images to go full size

Stats Overload…..

Beinn Ime is 1011m ASL (3.317 ft)

translates as ‘the Butter mountain’

Peakbagger info HERE

Just as a wee extra…

Beinn Ime climbing info HERE

Beinn Narnain climbing info HERE

the Cobbler North Peak info HERE South Peak HERE

Geograph images HERE

Once again , thanks goes to Wikipedia, GeographPeakbagger and UKClimbing

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(Dec) Radio Days ’11

Not a busy month due to the continuing bad weather. Here goes with the last ‘Radio Days’ for 2011.

SOTA..

No activations to report, the varied wind and rain that battered December had kinda blew any plans out of the water.

Chasing…

Adverse weather made this not a busy month except for the following.

First Saturday of the month, I managed to catch Iain WJZ who was on the Loch Earn area Ben Vorlich, the following week I heard and worked Craig HCF whilst I was on the Side Hills area near Kilmacolm on the Pap (see this blogpost) to be more exact, Craig was on Scald Law in the Pentlands. The following Sat, Iain WJZ activated a snowy Ben Lomond, I had spoken to Iain from the local golf course car park, a line of sight contact. Iain kindly sent me some photos of his day and you will see one on this blog post showing the snowy last ascent of the Ptarmigan Ridge to the summit. I’ve used the image in a previous blog post but cannot resist the opportunity to use it again…

Final approach to the summit of Lomond © Iain MM3WJZ

Final approach to the summit of Lomond © Iain MM3WJZ

Finally for what has been a quiet month, I had nipped up to the local trig point to catch Neil 2MØNCM who was on Corse Hill and whilst I was chatting with Neil, Jack COX popped in from Tinto and I caught Jack for an extra 4 points.

The weather made the holiday season a quiet time..

HF… 

Due to other things happening, I was not as active during the month as I would have liked. Conditions were variable from day-to-day and I seemed to miss the better conditions. JT65 and PSK was the main modes that I was using although I caught a DL2 station on Contestia whilst I was monitoring 30m data, a surprise and my first contact in that mode although for some reason I have a couple of eQSLs for the mode. Downloaded and am presently having more than a serious look at O_P_E_R_A, another data mode created in conjunction between a G station and the creator of ROS, a quick guide FAQ is here.

Contacts in Euroland, Asia and across the pond to North America. DXCC wise I finally managed to snaffle Andorra on 30m.

Other…

Still pounding the local byways and trying to catch the activations as I head out but unfortunately I’ve missed a couple as I have been on the wrong side of the hill, if I am out in the summer months, I have more than a few cracking high spots in which I can sit and wait providing the sun decides to pay us a visit. I live in hope….

Once again thanks to Iain MM3WJZ for the use of such an inspiring picture, it makes me want to treat myself to crampons, ice axe etc. The image is copyright of  Iain.

Thanks per usual to Wikipedia and other sources for information.

Whilst I’m here..

I was out tramping the local cycle track and came across this ‘Loop Antenna’ and as it would have it, it was pointing N which covers 90% of the SOTA activators I work, I wonder if it would be able to tune in ?

Loop Antenna

Loop Antenna

‘Go West,Young Mhor’……so I did

An Ice day to go for a walk..

Blue skies, freezing temperatures and one GM activation alerted for…

It was time to decide where to walk this time.. ‘Go West, young Mhor’ was the plan.

Leaving home I headed down sheer icy pavements plus the road wasn’t much better until about 600m from home  I joined the cycle track at NS 323740 as expected the track wasn’t much better but I crunched westwards along towards Greenock, I had been working in the immediate area the previous day but no icy conditions just soft snow.

Signpost

Signpost

I walked along the tree lined path when all of a sudden a roe deer showed itself, its white rump patch showing as it bounded up the steep hillside at an amazing speed, sadly faster than I could get the camera phone out. It was above what is known locally as the ‘public park ‘ and the track I was walking was once the a branch of the ‘Greenock and Ayrshire Railway‘ .

This line was a most important rail supply link during the second world war and the area I was presently walking through was where they ‘allegedly’ sat the trains which were carrying some of this countries ‘valuables’ to a safe haven in Canada during daylight hours and moved them to unload during periods of darkness. Armed guards were posted along both sides of the train. Greenock and the Firth of Clyde was a most important deep water anchorage plus as the shortest sea route across the Atlantic to North America was important. Many a GI and Canadian Forces soldier passed along this track on their way to their placements.

I left the track and followed the path which then rejoins the old track at Devol Glen which once was spanned with a majestic red sandstone 480 ft long nine arch viaduct, it stood 100ft high above the Devol Burn. I remember walking across this after the railway closed but sadly the Army demolished this local landmark in 1970.  It was built by Sir William Arrol. Arrol worked on some of the country’s most famous structures including the rebuilding of the Tay Bridge, The Forth Rail Bridge and London’s Tower Bridge, lofty company for this red sandstone viaduct.

You can still see the remains of some of the red sandstone support bases.

Viaduct pillar base

Viaduct pillar base

Rising back up to the upper level was rather tricky due to an icy path but once on the level, I headed and as I looked northwards, excellent views of the Luss and north Cowal Hills began to show, the snow covered tops and some cloud clinging to the odd summit. I walked along behind housing schemes until I came to a small bridge where as a young ‘un I used to walk under to a flooded area to catch newts and take frog spawn home, this area was filled in in the 70s and 80s as a local landfill site. It is on the OS map as ‘Woodhead Quarries’ but we knew them as ‘the Puddocks’.

Within minutes I came across a local park area where soon I would leave and head upwards along local roads to meet what is locally known as the ‘Killie Rd’, the B788.

I reached the road after a short steep walk up icy pavements. A quick break for water then off turning uphill and east and now heading for home. The views now were spread out to the west and north. I could see Iain WJZ’s intended activation hill Ben Lomond which at this time had a cloud clung to its west flank. I continued up the roadside until there was no path and walked carefully on the road listening for traffic.

I reached the parking viewpoint at NS 307738 and another quick water break and some photos. A northerly breeze was blowing so I warmed up by heading not over the Dougliehill Rd which was my original intention but heading south on the B788, a few cars passed but the road although well gritted it was relatively quiet, I was bathed in sunshine now and started to feel the heat. I knew that I can pick up 500mw PMR traffic from the Rhu area in the lee of the hill that I should pick up a signal from Lomond with no problem..Passing the Devol Moor sub station, a car stopped and I was offered a lift and if I had known the state of the side road ahead, I may have accepted. I headed downhill and turned into what is one of the back roads which can take you to Kilmacolm.

Final approach to the summit of Lomond © Iain MM3WJZ

Final approach to the summit of Lomond © Iain MM3WJZ

The road was a sheet of ice almost the whole way to my next turn off . I turned left into the Green Rd (also known as Devol Rd), I had walked on a snowy verge until welcome relief on to a icy but crispy snowy track to head up and over the hill and as I reached the top of the track, Ben Lomond stood covered in white. I quickly dropped down the track to the golf clubhouse area where I eventually slipped on my posterior luckily on a flat section, I had just picked myself up and then heard Iain WJZ calling CQ. I quickly I headed to the nearby car park area which has been handy for working SOTA contacts in the past.

I waited as Iain worked all the QRO stations before I called in with my 2 watts, I had heard Iain telling Roddy IOB that he had ascended by the Ptarmigan Ridge and had been caught waist deep in drifts, my route and icy problems were nothing to this. I said goodbye to Iain and headed down a very icy car park then down a side road to home.

A cuppa and a hot bath was needed.

Just under 7 and a half miles so a relative longish walk under terrible underfoot conditions. I think it may be enough for the weekend but there again, who knows.

The summit of Ben Lomond © Iain MM3WJZ

The summit of Ben Lomond © Iain MM3WJZ

I did head out on Sunday.

Neil 2MØNCM had declared for Corse Hill so off I tramped up the local Trig point to ‘catch’ and as a bonus I caught Jack COX who was on top of Tinto.

I couldn’t resist the walk to the south end of the Green Rd and back, I made the mistake of heading along the fields where it may have been icy but in places, they were a mudbath. I sensibly used the track on my way back just going on to the golf course to avoid the icy section I slipped on the previous day.

My thanks goes to Iain MM3WJZ who generously supplied me with some images of his day on Ben Lomond. Copyright of these images is that of Iain. Another two images are included in the Gallery…

Further Interest…

The plaque at the Devol Glen Bridge

“The plaque reads:

“NINE ARCHES TO NONE ARCHES

In 1870 the Greenock Merchants built this railway, with this viaduct of nine
semi-circular arches 480 feet (146m) long and over 100 feet (30m) above
the Devol Burn.

The railway closed in 1966 and on 31 October 1970 102 Sqdn(RE) blew the
viaduct up. The debris remains on the site to this day.

In 1979, the Lithgow Y.O.P. team built a simple footbridge in the Glen below
and on 22 December 1993 the last planks were laid across the 80ft (24m) Bailey
Bridge by Sustrans four-man team.

Plaque dedicated by Sir Simpson Stevenson 27 May 1994.”

For a photo of the Nine Arches viaduct the best I can find is on this forum thread HERE

Newspaper clipping of the demolition HERE

Geograph Article on the old railway line ( Port Glasgow section) HERE

Found this online…

Devol's Glen, a ravine, traversed by a brook, in Green-
ock and Port Glasgow parishes, Renfrewshire. Com-
mencing among hills 794 and 682 feet high, and descend-
ing 2J miles north-eastward to the E end of Port
Glasgow town, it is rocky, wooded, and romantic. It
is flanked, near the head, by a precipice, called Wallace's
Leap, over which Sir William Wallace is fabled to have
leaped on horseback; and it contains two beautiful
though tiny waterfalls, respectively about 20 feet and
about 100 feet in leap.

The word ‘Devol’ ( originally Davol) derives from the Gaelic word ‘Diabhoul’ which means ‘the evil one’

Scottish region of Sustrans Cycle Network

Autumnal snow on Ben Lomond

(Oct) Radio Days 2011

SOTA

One activation to report with a trip to the Isle of Mull to activate Ben More, the highest point on the island. The original plan was for a September visit but due to weather and other circumstances, we delayed the trip until the beginning of October, a good excuse for a 4 day trip. The weather certainly shone through for us on the Sunday, the activation blog post is HERE and the rest of the trip blog post is HERE.

Ben More from near Penyghael

Ben More from near Penyghael

Chasing….

This has been an excellent year for us chasers on the VHF frequencies here in Scotland and unless I’m mistaken activity on the hills has increased dramatically, I have accrued nearly 50% of my chaser points so far in ’11.( I only started in 2009).

October was quiet for me but the regulars were still out and about.

First out of the blocks for me was a Summit to Summit (STS) with Iain WJZ who activated Beinn Chaorach in the Luss Hills, I was to head there in early November and on the same day from the top of Ben More, another STS with Robin PKT was on nearby mainland hill Beinn Lora. We had glorious sunshine that day and both these hills are seen from Ben More but sadly not on our visit.

The following weekend I caught up again with Iain WJZ on the summit of Ben Chonzie whilst fellow PARC member Craig ANL later that day nipped up to enjoy the views from Conic Hill and to play radio. It was all weekend stuff this month for me, I headed up to the golfie trig point to work Neil 2MØNCM who was on Cairnkinna Hill whilst later on the same day, Robin PKT achieved the 5,000 activator point mark with a tour of the Lawers Round, I only managed to catch Robin on his final hill Ben Lawers but it was the hill which took him over such a magical total..I have 144 pts as I write this, a big difference you’ll agree but a fantastic achievement for him ‘5 Mountain Goatdom’. Dedicated and as always a pleasure to work.

The following weekend was my last ‘chase’ for the month, Colwyn YCJ activated Beinn Narnain in what was a wet and windy day, keen!

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill path

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill path

The quietest month so far this year but always glad to work those out and about….

The winter months are now upon us and it is time to get all organised for all the winter activities as hill height doesn’t matter and the basic survival equipment carried.

HF

Gave up on the V4 and concentrated mostly on JT65 with some PSK thrown in and with conditions being poorly over the summer roared back with a vengeance, 10m has been open mostly every day and some exotic DX has been noted. I didn’t spend so much time on the radio as I had been but still had a few CQs on most days.

The rest..

I have worked my winter plan for SOTA activations but as last year and the year earlier, we will see what I manage to do..

The weather turned wintry for a day mid month, Ben Lomond showed a fine layer of snow for one day, the tops of Donich, a’Mhanaich and Chaorach also had a little dusting, Donich more than the other two, the snow on the lower hills disappeared in no time at all then it was quickly back to the spell of mild weather we are having until as I write this.

A few plans over the winter antenna wise, I’m still wondering if I need a beam for 4m for the SOTA work, obviously it has to be portable but activity hasn’t been the best this summer on 4m when I have activated, Ben More being an exception.

Off into the final months of the year and with HF now alive and kicking, it is time to start hunting down some DX….

Click any image to see a full size photo..

The photo of snow on Ben Lomond was taken mid October 2011..

No animals were harmed in making of this blog post and music was provided by The KLF

Autumnal snow on Ben Lomond

Autumnal snow on Ben Lomond