Tag Archives: Ben Starav

Craignure station

Muile, Myl or simply Mull, the other bits…….

An t-Eilean Muileach

(written by Dugald MacPhail)

An t-Eilean Muileach, an t-eilean aghmhor,

An t-eilean grianach mun iath an saile

Eilean buadhmhor nam fuarbheann arda fountains,

Nan coilltean uaine, ‘s nan cluaintean fasail mountains.

(The Isle of Mull is of isles the fairest

Of ocean’s gems ’tis the first and rarest,

Green grassy island of sparkling fountains,

Of waving woods and high tow’ring mountains.)

Saturday

As explained in Pt 1, a trip to Mull to activate Ben More was proposed a few months earlier but remarkably little planning had gone into doing anything else in our near 4 day stay except we planned a day trip to Iona….

After filling Roddy’s Discovery, we left Port Glasgow heading to Oban and a date with the ferry just before midday. The weather was like the forecast, changeable as we first headed north then west along the Pass of Brander through Connal, past the Falls of Lora and down the hill into Oban and an obligatory visit to Tesco to stock up on some last-minute essentials.

As we stood on the pier, Mull was showing itself to the west standing proud over the nearby island of Kerrera, cloud obscuring the high points…

The car was booked in, tickets bought and as we parked inside the car deck of the ‘Isle of Mull’, we headed up to the upper deck to take in the sea air and say goodbye to the mainland for the next few days.

A non eventful crossing with flat calm seas and as we neared Craignure, our ‘camp’ site appeared high on the shore…the white ‘Sheilings’.

Our Sheiling

Our Sheiling

We drove off the boat and less than 5 mins away was the camp-site but as we were too early to book in, we decided a trip to Dhiseig to see and plan our route for Sunday.. If you have ever driven on Mull, you will know that single track road is the norm so a gentle drive through various hamlets(or is it clachan ?) with scenery going from lush green to barren hillside at every turn of the road. Roddy had visited Mull on many occasions so a running commentary was helpful to us two Mull virgins…

Driving through Gruline, we noticed an intriguing orange sign so we stopped and had a closer look at the sign which points to Lachlan MacQuarrie‘s Mausoleum, a bit of Australia on Mull.

A little bit of Australia

A little bit of Australia

I have mentioned the pre run in part 1 so I will skip that in this post.
We left Dhiseag to drive the long way back to Craignure, we stopped and marvelled at the cliff face above the road at Aoineadh Mor then as we drove into Gribun we stopped and looked across to Inch Kenneth and noted the large house on the island, later I Googled and found out the history of this island and found a short film with the remaining Mitford sister HERE. A place steeped in a much varied history.

Leaving Gribun and heading back through wild landscapes until we reached Loch Scridain and its Loch Beg where we stopped and took a look at Ben More from the ‘opposite end’. I have included the panoramic photo of Ben More and it’s sister hills in the Gallery below.

Heading back through Glen More we passed forest and high hills on both sides then passing the shores of Loch Spelve before eventually reaching Craigure and our ‘shieling’

Sadly I never took a photo of the view from the camp-site where you could see Ben Nevis, the twin peaks of Beinn a’Bhleither, Bidean Nan Bian, Ben Starav and to the east, Ben Cruachan. I had hoped to catch this view later in the visit but the cloud base was always low…

We spent Saturday evening on the camp-site exploring…firstly we headed down to Craignure station where the Mull Railway ran from, the station building preserved as it was, railway article HERE. Sadly or for the better, the railway is in the process of being sold and is possibly heading for Loch Lomondside HERE. We later settled in the ‘common room’ and whilst Patsy and I watched some TV, Roddy made contact with Robin PKT through the repeater at HI which was literally on top of the hill above us. A look on Google for mobile phone availability gave us a negative for most of the island but surprisingly we had signal on most of the island, Internet connection was pretty good except for my attempt to post an SOTA alert on the Sun morn but a quick call to Neil NCM soon sorted that. Thanks, Neil.

The view from our Sheiling

The view from our Sheiling

Sunday

The hill was activated, see earlier blog post for this HERE.

Monday…

The plan for Monday was a trip to Iona but we had woken to heavy rain and high winds but off we ventured taking the road to Fionnphort where we first headed down to Fidden where there are some fine walks, we headed back to Fionnphort and parked the car to walk down to the ferry pier. The sea was pretty rough and after a short look across to Iona it was into the local pub and had a coffee.

Heading back we reversed our journey through Bunessan passing through mixed farmland and moorland until we reached Loch Scridain, drew into a lay-by and looked at the mussel farm layout and the views once again to Ben More.

Passing through Pennyghael we noticed some amateur satellite dishes and antennas, the road was reasonably busy, the road manners were admired as each person would either draw in or beckon to the oncoming traffic, imagine this on the mainland. With Pennyghael passed we now turned on to the B 8035 and headed back to Gribun taking in the views to Ulva, Staffa and Inch Kenneth and beyond. Roddy and myself had noticed later in an article online that if you stand on the shore in the Gribun area, the sandstone rocks are the same sandstone which was laid down at the same time in history in certain Middle Eastern desert areas.Article HERE….The geological history of Mull is an interesting subject and if interested please just google ‘Mull Geology’….

Next stop was our previous day parking spot at Dhiseig and a quick look at a cloud shrouded peak before heading alongside Loch Na’Keal to the road junction at Gruline. At the junction we took the B 0873 road westwards taking in the views of Eorsa and Ulva whilst passing through varied scenery. The sea which had been glass like the previous day now was showing the occasional white top as the wind had strengthened overnight. Every corner, every turn of the road meant there was always something different to look at and finally as we turned NE at Ensay, the sight of waves crashing over rocks and cliffs at Calgary Bay was impressive, a quick stop to admire the views and to take some photographs

Breakers near Calgary Bay

Breakers near Calgary Bay

Calgary Bay has a white beach with machair surrounding it on all sides and is an oasis in such a rocky coastline. An excellent place to walk and take in the crisp sea airs and yes, there is a Canadian connection HERE Onward we headed inland again slowly rising up in height again to moorland interspersed with forest, passing through Dervaig before dropping down to Tobermory or Balamory it is more affectionately known due to the popular BBC children’s series.

Eventually we deciphered the cryptic diversion signs and parked the Discovery and went to find the well known Fish and Chip van at the pier and after a short walk looking at various points of interest, it was meal time and the reputation of this chip van was added to by having a freshly cooked Haddock Supper, excellent battered piece of fish and freshly fried chips, superb……

Balamory

Balamory

It was now time to leave Balamory and head to our base at Craignure, we left and within 30 mins we were back at our ‘sheiling’, it was time for a quick cuppa and to pack some stuff away as the next day, it was to head home.

Interesting note on our impromtu ‘Round Mull Tour’, Mull has 300 miles of coastline, poor Roddy had driven quite a few of them.

Tuesday

An early rise, breakfast then everything packed and stowed into the Discovery and off we set for the nearby pier.

The ferry left at 11am and I made my way to the top deck to have a last look at Mull as it disappeared behind us.

Farewell Mull

Farewell Mull

45 mins later we docked and disembarked to first go and fuel up in Oban, we had decided on a trip to see McCaig’s Tower which dominates the higher part of Oban, we made our way and parked then walked round what is an impressive granite folly with great views over the town and harbour of Oban.

McCaig's Tower

McCaig's Tower

We soon left Oban behind passing through Dunbeg then Connel, I had hoped to stop and see the Falls of Lora at Connal Bridge but the tide was wrong, next time ? and when at Taynuilt, we took the road towards the old Bonawe ferry pier. We sat and admired the Etive views and attempted later to visit the Iron Furnace but it was closed. Tourism at its best….

Leaving Taynuilt we quickly headed through the Pass of Brander, mulling over routes up Ben Cruachan whilst heading to what is a hidden gem in this part of the world, the B 8074 road through Glen Orchy. The recent wet weather meant that the River Orchy was at a good height for salmon to run the river and a few anglers were seen out trying to tempt the occasional grilse. I spoke to one angler who had earlier returned two fish of just under five pounds, we had stopped at the ‘shoogly’ bridge at Catnish. It was encouraging to see the anglers were fishing the fly and that the policy on the river beats were to return each fish to help build and preserve stocks.

Looking at the steep slopes rising from the glen floor, mist showed on these higher parts whilst occasionally a steady drizzle fell. A further stop at a man-made weir to see if any fish would attempt jumping but none were seen. We headed onwards to reach the main road, stopping occasionally to take photos or admire the views. The autumnal colours added to the scenery.

The road is a classic single track so allow time for travelling if you visit.

Shoogly bridge over the Orchy

Shoogly bridge over the Orchy

We reached the junction with the A82 and had a look at the mist covered tops of Beinn Dorain, Beinn an’Dothaidh, among others, we headed south past Meall Odhar and passed through Tyndrum, the weather improved slightly at Crainlarich where we turned on to the road to Loch Lomond, we stopped in the lay-by where we had in May left to climb Cruach Ardrain then it was off down Glen Falloch to familiar roads and home.

Four days and as you will see, we managed to pack in a busy itinerary which was made up as we headed along.

The weather was typical autumnal fare and the high point weather wise was the hours we spent on Ben More. We could not complain.

Please feel free to click on the images in the Gallery as they link to the original size ( except one or two)

Many thanks go to Roddy for the McCaig Tower photos…

Just as an aside, I found this intriguing page of the information about bare ersed walking….if interested, look HERE

I think it is one I’ll pass on

My thanks go to Roddy and Patsy for both their company and lastly, Roddy for driving.

If interested in the ‘Sheilings’, their website is HERE

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Look carefully for the outline

Roman On The Moor

Link of easy route to fort HERE (Google Earth KML file)

Corlic with a twist this weekend…

A perfect day for out walking so off I headed Greenock way and took the ‘Old Largs Road’ where I got dropped off at the start of the track into Corlic, regular readers know of a good tarmac then slightly rough track to the base of the hill with a sharp 150ft rise to the summit, this takes me slightly less than 40 mins walking in. The weather was sunny with a lot of white cloud scurrying over as the breeze was fairly brisk but got stronger as I neared the top. I found a different nook from usual as wind was coming SW and sat down to wait on Iain WJZ who was due to appear on Beinn Narnain in the Arrochar area. Another alert was posted for Ben Lawers but an earlier text from Roddy IOB had told me this was taken down.

After a quick scran, for once a healthy option, I heard Iain call. I only took the 2m handie with me but the signal was still strong and after a quick chat with Iain, I left him to work other stations but had a listen to see who I could hear. I later had a look around the 2m band but nothing so decision time, which way off today ?

Four options…

return the way I had come in

Head down the usual route via the ruined Harelaw farmstead

Head towards the Gryffe reservoirs then over the Green Rd(also known as Devol Rd on OS maps) home

The choice this time was to head north towards a specific fence then turn eastwards and visit the area of the Roman fortlet on Lurg Moor. I had partly finished a blog post which required photos and more to the point, a panorama of the excellent view that the Roman soldiers had.

The going was the usual knee-deep heather intermingled with wet boggy sections and with the recent weather, the boggy bits lived up to their name as I found out later in the walk. It is amazing what rubbish you find in the middle of nowhere, empty plastic containers, beer bottles and cans etc.

I followed the fence line which I met at NS291736, in hindsight it would have been a better idea to have backtracked and descended the hill the way I had come up and then to head northwards along the track at the base until I met a fence at NS288736 and then head eastwards along the fence line until you reach the fortlet area at NS295737. There is an excellent satellite view on Google Earth

The entrance and fort area

The entrance and fort area

I had a walk around the site which I have visited on previous occasions, I remember the first time I looked for the site, it was a misty early start I had come from the east via the Lurg Moor trig point which some wag had painted with satanic symbols which looked quite creepy in the mist and the ‘All Seeing Eye’ facing you. (This trig had also been painted with a red background to the symbols)

I followed the fence and it was when I was upon the site I noticed the 3/4 ditch around the site, the entrance was from the south and is clearly visible from which a road ran towards other fortlets in the defence line. It is almost 1900 years since the Roman army manned this outpost, I wonder what they would have made of the midge population in the summer and autumn months.

A quick resume….

The Lurg Moor Fortlet is long thought to be a continuation of the Roman small fort system which extended from the end of the Antonine Wall which then crossed the river at Dumbuck and from Whitemoss Fort near Bishopton it then extended westwards above Langbank until the known fortlet on Lurg Moor (video link) above Greenock. The Roman road which leaves the Lurg Moor Fortlet runs towards the north end of Loch Thom and onwards to Dunrod Hill ( Dunrod means Fort Hill or Fort Road).The Roman road ran to Outerwards and towards a reputed anchorage at Largs although more likely Irvine,  I’ve included these links HERE HERE to a more possible site for the Roman landing point.

I cobbled this together from varying places on the internet so fact and fiction may mix along the way.

I now headed towards home passing what may have been a  Damondii ‘Hut Circle’ at NS 297737 as you will in the image sadly misused for a twin electricity pole base.

Vandalism

Vandalism

I then had to pass through the boggiest part of the journey with diversions to avoid the wettest parts apart from one where Bob got mucky. My next port of call was the Lurg Moor trig point which the OS has as being on Knocknairs Moor, I used to come up here years ago and sit watch all the ship traffic moving up and down from Glasgow and around the docks at Greenock. It would be a good place to play radio from. I worked 11m from here in the mid 80s.Roddy IOB had let me know that Beinn Chaorach was to be activated later in the afternoon, it would have good to hang about but I decided just to have my handie at the ready on the way home.

Time to head back home, I soon arrived at the roadside and headed along the back road to home but took a short path which takes me to the edge of the golf course and I finally dropped down and arrived home five hours and 8 kms later.

A good day weather wise and an excellent change of route.

Links of interest

Roman Fortlet at Lurg Moor

Roman Fortlet at Outerwards

1970 Outerwards and related excavation ( pages 12-14 document pages not pdf pages !)

Lurg Moor – Largs road info

NS 2973 images ( courtesy of Geograph)

3D reconstruction of Lurg Moor Fortlet ( © uploader)

This is only a few noted pages etc, Google is your friend for further reading.

My thanks go to Wikipedia, Canmore and Geograph, these well run sites deserve your support. My thanks to the authors of the linked articles and video.

Videos can be watched in HD if wanted…

Ben Lomond

(July) Radio Days 2011

Another good month SOTAwise. I had two activations near the end of the month plus these were also my first ones in England (G land), I had visited the Lake District for a few days and reached the summits of Skiddaw and Dale Head.

On local VHF the local contacts were made on 2m FM whilst I did some SOTA chasing from two of my local hills, one was an activation of Corlic which now has the status being a HuMP and its official title is GM/HSS 088, which roughly translates as GM ( Scotland) H (Hump) SS (Southern Scotland) and 088 is its relevance in height total, the other local hill was Creuch which lies to the south of Greenock, I had not been there in almost two years but had frequented this hill during the old 11m days.

Chasing…

First logged contact was with on my Corlic (GM/HSS 088)activation ( unofficial as yet). Robin PKT was worked from the summit of Creag Meagaidh, approx 115 km away, a good one to start whilst Neil 2MØNCM was next on Beinn Mhor on the Cowal peninsula, I spoke to Jack on Dungavel Hill whilst waiting on Iain WJZ who I unfortunately missed due to conditions but finally working Robin again on his second summit of Beinn a’Chaorainn.

The next weekend was a quiet one due to weather but I still worked Colwyn YCJ who activated Beinn a’Bhuiridh in the Cruachan area, the following day, a single summit worked, Robin PKT was on Meall Nan Tarmachan, a hill I activated in 2010.

Meall Nan Tarmachan ridge

Meall Nan Tarmachan ridge

Robin was out and about for the next seven days, first was from the summit of Na Maoilean between Bonawe and Connal then two days later I caught him on Sgor Gaoith which under the conditions was a good contact, next was Beinn Euniach and Beinn a’Chochuill. On the second last Saturday Robin PKT was on Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig whilst I worked Ian WJZ on Ben Starav, a hill in my ‘Etive triangle’ and finally that day,Jack COX was on Ben Challum.

The next trip out for me was to Creuch Hill south of Greenock, a good day weather wise with cracking views led to contacts with fellow PARC members Craig on Ben Bowie, Graeme 2MØGIL on Ben Lui then Iain WJZ on Stob Dubh and finally Robin PKT on Stob Ghabhar altogether a worthwhile hike to Creuch.

The Lake District chases were all STS (summit to summit) on my visit. On Skiddaw I worked John VCO on Arnside Knott, Dave JDH on Pillar and finally, JImmy EYP in the Borders area on Slighty Crag. The last one for the month was a STS with with Jimmy EYP who was still in the same area  but this time was on the top of Peel Fell. The month wasn’t finished with on the last weekend, I worked Robin PKT on the summit of Starav and finally on the Sunday, fellow club member Brian MM1HMZ braved a wet and windy summit of Ben Lomond, well done fella !

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

A good month point wise considering the occasional rainy day, PKT was out in force and also good to see PARC members out activating.

HF…

Conditions have not been the best this month but I have been spending more time than usual on the lower bands, still mostly working psk31 but had a foray into looking at working some Olivia but I obviously was searching in the wrong places as I could not find any signals in the couple of sessions I had put aside for this, conditions mostly paid a part in this.

I have towards the very end of the month been looking another data mode JT65 using the interface programme JT65HF, initial results have been encouraging but more of this next month.

ROS ? due to the looking at other data modes, ROS has been lying on the back burner but I shall return to it soon. I still occasionally use WSPR especially when propagation looks out or I’m doing something else ( watching Baseball, mostly)…

Ahead…

Plans are being construed as we speak for a SI activation in Sept, I’ll need to try up my fitness for that one and let’s hope the weather will be good for it. If not a weekend away should be fun.

More ‘playing’ about with the regular data modes with a bit more time using JT65HF I think as some DX stations have popped up. I guess my SWL days have come back, the difference between then and now is considerable as you had CW, voice or RTTY only. Are we going away from the tradional methods or more likely, it is evolving quickly as the internet has taken hold of our pastime.

I must admit the information available on line regarding help with any installation problems etc really helps greatly.

If bored , go look at my two new pages with some of my boring old stuff on them..

‘My SOTA Activations’ and ‘Radio Days’….

As usual, I will probably edit and add to this, I tend to tweak a lot.

Once again, a big thanks to Wikipedia…

Goat Fell and the Brisbane Glen

Yomping Through The Heather…Creuch Hill

I’d noticed this last week that someone had looked at my earlier Creuch Hill blog post for route and hill information so I made a mental note, a trip on the first date available as it had been almost two years I last made the trip to this summit. Now I remember why !

The previous day, Saturday would have been ideal as more than a few of the regulars were out multiple activating but I had committed to start replacing our back garden fence.

I had hoped the weather forecast would stay true and like the last trip out to Corlic, the sun shone with only the occasional cloud in the sky, I had charged everything up as usual at the end of the week as Robin PKT had been activating throughout the week. Ready to go !

This hill requires a drive to Greenock where you head out what is locally known as the ‘Old Largs Road’ heading past the Whinhill Golf Course on your left before heading into open moorland on a single track road heading along Loch Thom before coming to a junction, Greenock Cut Centre (worth a visit) is the road to your right but you now carry straight on into a narrower single track but with plenty passing places and as you head into North Ayrshire at the oddly named Rottenburn Bridge, in the distance you will soon see pylons crossing the road, the parking place is soon after this on your left at NS 251678. Time to make sure you have all your equipment and head off the obvious track to the first gate. Keeping on the track you now come to the burn where you gingerly cross a patched up footbridge and now climb the gate into open but rough country.

Goat Fell and the Brisbane Glen

Goat Fell and the Brisbane Glen

There is an obvious point to aim at but this is where the old shielings are whilst the summit is to the north of these. There is an old track which disappears in places for part of the route but looks as it hasn’t been used in many a year as nature is reclaiming it, on my last visit there was a faint quad bike track but nothing this time, the track disappears not long before the first pylon, I now headed up working my way through heathery tufts, marshy areas and almost hidden drainage ditches, believe me it is that rough.

Not long after passing under the pylons, I headed eastwards to see if I could see the remains of a branch of the old Grouse Railway which ends near old grouse butts at the south east base of this hill but I saw no evidence. I now headed straight upwards skirting the old shielings ( these are not on the OS map) and head to the obvious wrecked trig. The trig point was demolished in 1987 according to T:UK. Sadly demolished on the spot and no debris removed.

It had taken me approx 45 mins to cover the 1.7 ml.

I set up my 2m handie to listen for any SOTA activity whilst I set up the station, first I set up the mast with the 4m JPole and called CQ but nothing, I had a scran break then tried again and worked a station in the Dumbarton area. I tried again but nothing although I did hear a couple of Irish stations.

It was time to put up the assembled 2m yagi and today it was just pointed north as the declared activators were as if they were in a direct line, first I worked Craig ANL who popped up on Ben Bowie which I could see line of sight. A quick word and the first point was in the bag.

The views all round were fantastic due to the excellent air clarity, Goat Fell and the north end of Arran, Cumbraes and Bute to the south-west whilst the vista from the Cowal Hills to the Old Kilpatrick Hills was stunning, Glasgow land beyond spread out to the east and as you looked south-east into the Lanarkshire hills and finally due south, the North Ayshire hills and its only Marilyn, the Hill of Stake. Superb views which my photos and panorama will do no justice, I think a return to here will be earlier than later, I last visited the hill in 2009, deep in the post list there is an earlier blog post.

Looking North

Looking North

I was monitoring .500 when I heard Iain WJZ calling, we headed down to S18 and made contact, Iain was in what I call my ‘Etive Triangle’, from Creise to the big Buachaille and in a triangle south, I seem to struggle although I did catch Iain on Ben Starav the previous day, Iain today was on Stob Dubh and had activated the hill for its first time, unusual in that area. I left Iain to go and wait on Graeme GIL and Neil NCM but I next heard Robin PKT who was out on Stob Ghabhar in the Black Mount area to the east of Glencoe. Excellent signal both ways and I had a quick chat with Robin before heading to check .500 again. I was as usual chatting on occasion with Roddy 2MØIOB who was walking around the circular Greenock Cut walk from Cornalees, the other stations worked today were Jack COX from his home qth and Brian HMZ in the Paisley area. I then heard Graeme 2MØGIL calling and spoke to Graeme for a time then he was off to look for the other summit stations.

I eventually got talking to Neil on the slopes of Ben Vorlich (The Lomondside one!) before another quick word with Roddy before I broke down the station. I had entertained heading over the hills back home but knowing I had more than a few miles of heathery stuff and bogs to tramp through I took the lazy option and got picked up at my drop off place, a sensible idea I think. Cruach is 5 mile as the crow flies to my home but the route I would take would add to that, the lack of any paths helped make my mind up.

I headed down the hill trying the direct route but this ended with me almost in a massive boggy area so a double back and head down through yes, more heather. I was nearing the track when I saw Katie drawing in the parking area which has plenty of room for when of you think of visiting.

Cruech Hill start

Cruech Hill start

A good hill with a great VHF take off for 270 deg but take off south is blocked by the higher North Ayrshire hills.  On a good sunny day, it is worth the 3.5 mile round trip just for the views alone. I’ve been on this hill a few times over the years and never have met or seen anyone, I can see why. On the short muddy track through both gates there were no footprints.

A good day ended with a quick word from home with Neil NCM heading back home and not much later, Craig ANL had the temerity to visit my fiefdom Corlic, I heard him call and whilst we were on Roddy 2MØIOB popped in.

Congratulations go to Iain WJZ who this week achieved his ‘Shack Sloth’, I presume there will be plenty of STS(summit to summit) chases in there, well done on slothdom.

Feel free to click on the images to see them in a fuller size

Hill info…

Creuch Hill  441m ( 1447 ft) ASL

‘Creuch’ is an old Celtic word meaning ‘mud or loam’

Drop is 87m

The highest point in Inbhir Chluaidh (Inverclyde)

Trig Point – TP 2584 more info <HERE>

possibly used as a fort at one point <HERE>

Route <HERE>

My thanks as usual goes to Wikipedia, T:UK, SOTA etc for all linked to material.

Map <HERE>