Tag Archives: Ben More

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.

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That Was The Year That Was ’11…Pt 1

2011..a rewind pt 1

Another busy year…..

The first 10pt summit Ben Lawers, my first English activation Skiddaw and a visit to the Isle of Mull to activate the islands only ‘Munro’ Ben More are among my highlights of this years in pursuit of both activating’ and ‘chasing. Each summit reached and every contact made valued, 1pt or 10pt and the chance to talk to those who regularly are out on the hills or in their shack makes it all worthwhile. I have tended to make trying to chase more from the local hills, I have ‘chased’ locally from Corlic (now a HuMP), Hillside Hill, Cruech Hill, the trig point at Lurg Moor and the golf course trig  at my back door.  Handy places for chasing those out on the summit. Being oot’n’aboot adds a little more fun to it. A new name for this is ‘Extreme Chasing’….groan.

View to the Gareloch

View to the Gareloch

There has been an increase of VHF activity mainly on 2m in this past year and this is in thanks to new activators and the regulars. I occasionally head out myself to activate averaging one per month over the year.

It has been great fun in all aspects…..and a cracking year ( yet to finish !)

We’ll start with my Jan – June Activations..

No rest for the holidays as SOTA devotees decided that a VHF Fun Day was being held on the 2nd day of the New Year. Roddy 2MØIOB had suggested a joint activation so it was a hill within easy reach and a good lift off esp to the South.

Beinn a’Mhanaich was the choice, my third visit to this hill. The day promised dry and snow free so that was a good start at this time of year and we duly activated with 4m FM contacts to Wales, Northern Ireland, England and of course, Scotland. An excellent day and 6 summit to summit contacts, apart from the STS’s the memorable part of the day was how quickly the ground froze under our feet, a cobweb clearer.

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

I did a second activation in January on my first ever SOTA hill, the Hill of Stake, a hill no one else seems to like but I’ll be returning again in 2012, best to do this in frosty conditions. Only contacts were localish..

My next activation was a trip with Roddy IOB to a claggy Ben Venue, on a March day where the views were just not seen. The visit  topped by top quality guiding by Roddy which led to us both sinking to our erses in snow on the descent.. A good day out. I worked mostly 4m and 70cm where the latter band surprised me with more contacts than before achieved on 70cm on SOTA duty. The day finally started to clear as we finished the day.

A UHF Fun Day  proposed for late March so another hill with good take off south chosen, Ben Donich..I will recommend this to anyone who has never graced this hill. Please visit on a clear day as these views are exceptional. Mere words or photos cannot not describe these views, read my blog post HERE and click on the images. It was good to say both the Fun Days being well supported by so many fellow Scottish stations… Whilst we were descending Jack COX called out and a first in the fact that we could see Jack  across the glen on the Cobbler summit, it was not a STS but the chaser points were still most welcome.

The following weekend had a first for me, an activation on the East coast. The hill in question was Kings Seat, one of the highest tops in the Sidlaws overlooking to the east, Dundee. It was a relatively easy climb going via an unconventional route from the west. The wind was blowing strong and it was a chore keeping the 2m beam pointing the way intended. Nonetheless I worked Iain WJZ who was on Corserine in the Galloway Hills approx 110 miles away, mention also must be made as I worked Steve UAU back in Greenock on 4m plus Jim FVM in Berwick area on the same band. A hill worth returning to.

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

The SOTA International weekend was the first one in May and another trip with Roddy IOB  made to the 8pt summit of Cruach Ardrain, wx wise the day was excellent, my choice of hill ? let us just say memorable, I had fallen for the words and advice of a charlatan, you know who you are. I struggled on this one but TBH on reflection it was an exciting day. Roddy IØB had activated the hill with 4 STS before I stumbled/dragged myself to the top. A long day..

One month later was my surprise CS visit, my son Euan had chosen unknown to me the top of the list Ben Lawers and I tried on the ascent to post an alert but no internet. There were so many people ascending it looked like a conga line heading to Beinn Ghlas, only 5 contacts and disappointingly none on 4m but a STS to Derek MIX who was down in the Lake District on Pillar. My first 10pt hill..

June was a busy month for me as I followed this with a dual activation of Beinn Eich and Doune Hill in the Luss Hills, I had done this before in 2009, the weather this day was excellent and is memorable for trying to figure out where the couple who had been just in front of me totally disappearing on the first part of the descent into Glen Mollachan, I looked and looked and finally looking back saw them appearing from what looked like a cave, strange..

That finishes what was a busy six month activation period for me.  I’ll soon finish the rest of the year in pt2 and cram everything else into it (hopefully)..

For the blog posts on each of these activations and of my earlier ones, follow this link HERE 

Thanks for taking the time to read this first part and I hope that it wasn’t a total bore..

You can now again click on each image to see full size in a separate window.

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

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)

Map HERE

Peakbagger Info HERE

Total return journey was 5.34 miles