Tag Archives: Ben Venue

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.

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(May) Radio Days…..2011

Another month on..

SOTA activity..

One activation to report.

On the first day of the month, Cruach Ardrain was the choice on the second day of the now annual International SOTA weekend. An excellent day weather wise apart from 60 mph winds reported around the summits. Ardrain strangely wasn’t as tough wind wise. A total of 8 STS (summit to summit) contacts made as far North as Beinn Eighe – Ruadh Mhor and south to Kirkland Hill in the Galloway Hills.

I also achieved my 100th activating point on Cruach Ardrain, 27 summits now done in total. It was the toughest hill I’ve walked yet.

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Chasing…

A good start to the month as I finally achieved Shack Sloth status.

First into the log was a contact with Robin PKT on Gaor Bhein (Gulvain), this contact made on the ascent, the first contact on the summit was an STS with Bob AWV and Eunice UVL on 70cm, both were on Duncolm Hill. Followed by blog regular Neil 2MØNCM on Kirkland Hill followed next by a line of sight contact with Barry XFM who was nearby on Ben Lawers, another blog regular Graeme 2MØGIL had set up station on Conic Hill. Jack COX had taken up station on his local hill Dungavel whilst the last points came from Colwyn YCJ on the aforementioned Beinn Eighe – Ruadh Mhor approx 150km to the north of us. A good finish to a good day. Shack Sloth was in the bag !!!!

The following weekend, I worked Alan TXY on Ben Venue ( I hope he saw more than I did when I activated the said hill) and the same man was out the following weekend on Beinn Dubh, west of Luss. The next day I nipped up the golf course to work Neil 2MØNCM who was activating Black Mount, Neil was ‘activating’ other hills that day but unheard from my home QTH.

Finally on the last weekend of the month, Bob AWV popped up on Meikle Bin on what was a very windy day.

The weather had not been kind for May activations with high winds and rain dominating the month’s weather after such a fine start weather wise.

Activity…

Occasional monitoring of 2m FM, 4m FM locally has a lack of activity and I’ve taken down the 4m antenna I had in the attic and will replace it with a 6m one but not decided which one yet. HF conditions have been in and out but still managed a few data contacts on PSK. New DXCC country in Faroe Islands.

I had sent a few CQ calls on 17m to an apparently dead band and was surprised to see a JA station returning to me, contact made and the band returned to being dead, strange thing propagation. It is always worthwhile to call on an ‘dead’ band.

WSPR…

Had a few sessions on 30 and 20m bands and as usual, the mode returned some good results. Five watts can certainly travel far. Further info at WSPR.ORG

20m WSPR 13.20 - 14.20 UTC on 22.5.11

20m WSPR 13.20 - 14.20 UTC on 22.5.11

ROS…

Yep, I had a few days off work and decided to give another data mode a try. I chose ROS which is having a rather chequered introduction to the radio world, I downloaded the software and was working almost immediately. I’ve now made contacts into Europe although I must get organised at looking at the settings as I’m seemingly a bit deaf on receive…but the general interface is easy to navigate and I’ll be active occasionally…

ROS Info <HERE>

(March) Radio Days…2011

I thought I had posted this as ‘Latest Post’ on the wall but the post was hidden in the ‘Musings’ section…plus I thought I’d better add the year to the post title as it could get a bit confusing if you search for any of these posts.

Beinn Ime

Beinn Ime

I think the format of this monthly post as it is turning out to be a blow-by-blow account of my SOTA chasing for the relevant month. I’ve a few ideas rattling about in my mostly empty head and I’ll see if anything suits.

VHF….

Still spending some time on 2m and the occasional visits to 4m and 70cm.

SOTA…

Activations..

Two this month, a misty visit to the Trossachs and the summit of Ben Venue, most memorable for the antics of Roddy IOB and his crossing of a snow field and finally a jaunt up Ben Donich for the SOTA UHF Fun Day on the last Sunday of the month.

Chasing..

First points ‘chased’ this month were from Bob AWV who was activating Beinn Dubh near Luss whilst we were on the cloudy summit of Ben Venue. The following day was again busy out in the hills as first, I ‘chased’ fellow blogger Neil 2MØNCM who was out on Broughton Heights followed by Alan XXP who appeared on Black Mount and as is usual, I also worked Alan on 4m FM. Later that day, I worked a MM6 station who was on Duncolm, I pointed him toward the SOTA website but no points for this one.

In what was another good ‘chasing’ day, Robin PKT activated Beinn Odhar in the Tyndrum area and was quickly followed by another fellow blogger, Graeme GIL who was in the Campsies on the summit of Earls Seat, a busy day in which I got some contacts from my local summit and finished the day at home.

One week later, only XXP was out, I walked up to the top of the golf course to work Alan on 4 and 2m. Unfortunately I have approx a 200 ft tall solid lump of igneous rock to the SE and S of me. The hill itself is 659 ft ASL but is a quick, handy and easy summit to get to.

Ben Donich from Beinn an Lochain

Ben Donich from Beinn an Lochain

The next weekend was the test of Roddy’s 2m beam, we headed for higher ground on the border of Port Glasgow and Greenock. Iain WJZ had alerted for Schiehallion so that would be a good test for it and we also worked Jack COX who was on Culter Fell. The following day, Robert GUF was on Tinto and later, Neil NCM popped up on Nutberry Hill.

Finally, the last weekend saw the UHF Fun Day and as mentioned before, Ben Donich was the base for this one. First STS (summit to summit) was with Graeme GIL who was on Sgiath a’Chaise quickly followed by Robin PKT was further to the NE on Meall Ghaordaidh and to finish the day, I worked Jack COX who was across Gleann a’Chro on the summit of Ben Arthur better known as the Cobbler during our ascent off the hill.

A busy chasing month again and the quest to reach ‘Shack Sloth’ status continues.

HF…. 

Busy, busy month as propagation is picking up and more ‘exotic’ stations are popping up and being worked but not by me. The disadvantage of having a stealth antenna is just that but each contact is ‘worked’ for. Trips across the ‘pond’ and contacts in to Africa, Asia as well as the regular European traffic.

I never did any WSPR work this month, hopefully the higher HF bands may come more into play as the summer arrives.

‘Ben Donich from Beinn an Lochain‘ photo © Neil 2MØNCM…

The SOTA activation venue is…..

Ben Venue….

a hill in the Trossachs area of Scotland of just under 2,800ft in height.

Roddy 2M0IOB had offered an invitation to go activate another hill and the hill of choice was Ben Venue.

Activation of Ben Venue GM/SS 058 5/3/2011

Activation of Ben Venue GM/SS 058 5/3/2011

As always the weather forecast was watched closely from mid week onwards and it was looking as if fair conditions could be had. They got it completely wrong !

We left my house and headed the well-worn roads towards Loch Lomond, a run through Balloch then heading and bypassing Drymen then N to Aberfoyle before heading up over the Dukes Pass before dropping down in the Loch Achray area, in normal conditions, Venue would be showing to the SW but as the day would have it, the hill was hidden under cloud, the forecast had promised that this would clear around midday. We parked at the official car park at NN 506068.

A quick look at the notice board before getting kitted up, a last-minute equipment check and off we set, the start is through roughly pathed woodland until you meet the road which heads to Loch Katrine, where an alternative parking space with room for a couple of cars is at NN 500068 ( next time !!).

Setting off on the Water Board road until you reach the bridge over Achray Water, there are some good photographic opportunities in this area. As you follow the paths noting the blueish green markers, you criss cross paths until you reach open countryside and find the Venue path at NN499055, the path takes you through a scarred landscape of earlier tree felling until you reach forest proper again, steadily rising until you suddenly leave the forest and head on to open land following the broken path and avoiding as we did, the glaur.

At this part of the walk, we met a few walkers heading the same route, a group that we spoke to had mentioned to us that they had no maps or compasses, not a very good decision on a day when the mist was at best 40m visibility. We next met them at the top of the first scramble where they had decided to go no further, a wise choice as the mist was now closing down.

Regular checks of the GPS and Roddy’s OS phone app showed we were on the correct route and  slowly but steadily we rose higher but with no summit in sight.

It is up there somewhere

It is up there somewhere

The path then headed steeply and with conditions being damp, the rock was slippy as I later found out. Slow progress by me on the steep sections was also hindered by snow patches along the route.

There was still no sign of any of the twin summits until we came across the higher of the two, which is 2m higher but the lower summit with the trig point was roughly 300m away but we got no sight of it.

It was time to catch my breath and set up the mast with my antenna of choice, the 4m JPole.

I called and instantly I worked Duncan, AHL/m who was near Lenzie. Duncan was my first 4m contact on my previous activation. I kept calling CQ but couldn’t raise a whisper. A break for scran whilst listening to Roddy working stations on 2m, I decided to build up the beam and give the 70cm band a go. I could get a signal for my phone but no matter how I tried I could not get any data connection which would have let me self spot on the SOTA pages.

An enthusiastic Bob at summit

An enthusiastic Bob at summit

I called out on the FM part of the 70cm band and Fred GOV in Dunlop returned my call then and after a quick qso I was called by Brian HMZ from Howwood, an exchange of info and I then heard Roddy working Bob, AWV/P on Beinn Dubh, I also worked Bob who was on 2m FM so at least one ‘Summit to Summit’ was in the log. I then gave a call out on my 4m handie and Ray, NZI from the NW end of Glasgow came back and had a quick QSO with me. I tried calling again on 4m but nothing.

It was back to 70cms again, Paul, PJD/m who was heading to pick up Robert, GUF and then walk up Tinto and play radio, unfortunately we would be well off the hill by the time they would be on air. A call from Brian, XQJ near Falkirk was next in the log, followed by James, WER/p who was to the south of Paisley in a local car park. The next contact was the most distant one, Eric, FSZ from Girvan and finally, my last contact, one of eight on 70cms was Ian, ISM in Irvine.

Most surprisingly 70cms proved the best band to work today, I had expected 4m to produce more as the take off to the south was excellent, I think a spot on the SOTA spot page would have probably helped. I had decided on the 4m and 70cms bands and to leave Roddy to work 2m, ‘chasers’ can only receive points from one operator in a dual activation.

We even had a quick attempt by the sun to shine through but not to be. Time to get packed and head back down, we had noted where it could be easier to head down grassy sections as the rocks were slippy. Taking summit photos before we left, Roddy added a stone to the cairn. We descended slowly until we reached the level ground before working our way down the rocky scramble area, scramble may be too dramatic to describe this but in the wet conditions, care had to be taken.

Heading down the section which leads back to the forested area, the mist started to lift slightly and as we walked towards the wooded area, we could hear and occasionally see two buzzards on the crags. Once on the forest path, the glaur disappears, these paths back to the car park are in excellent condition. We stopped for a quick scran break then headed down, Roddy stopped at the bridge over Achray Water to take photos but I just headed back to the car and just before the last section, I could heard footsteps running towards me, it was someone jogging the last section, yep IOB was taking the mickey out of me…noted.

Jings ! it would be Roddy 2M0IOB himself

Jings ! it would be Roddy 2M0IOB himself

Back at the car park, the light was dropping quickly, our kit was stowed away and we headed back to civilisation.

Another great dual activation done with Roddy, who I must thank again for the invite and the gentle goading to get me to the top. Did I mention his snowfield escapade ? I’ll leave that to him. Roddy’s blog post of the trip is <HERE>

The hill ? conditions obviously were wet, in fact, very wet and it may be only me but I was disappointed I missed the views the hill gives of the Trossachs area. The hill was activated and the surprise of the 70cms activity was well worth the trip.

No panorama video this trip…

Sir Walter Scott mentions the hill in his piece about Loch Katrine

High on the south huge Ben Venue
Down on the lake in masses threw,
Crags, knolls, and mounds, confusedly hurled, The fragments of an earlier world…

Information Overload…

Ben Venue means ‘ mountain of the cave ‘

The Gaelic name ….. ‘A’ Bheinn Mheanbh’

Ben Venue is 727m  or 2,385 ft ASL

Geohack info <HERE>