Tag Archives: Chno Dearg

(May) Radio Days

Phew ! July already and once again I’m late with this roundup.

So without further ado here we go !

SOTA….

Two activations within seven days.

Firstly my annual visit to Beinn a’Mhanaich, a favourite of mine. The weather was just ideal for activating, cool and a light breeze. The following Saturday a trip to Duncolm, a one point high point of the Kilpatrick Hills, I had previously been here very early in my SOTA career and it was a welcome trip which I may as well make another annual trek. The wind this day caused me to pack up early but all contacts made and a few STS’s made.

Looking North from Duncolm

Looking North from Duncolm

Chasing…

A bumper month indeed.

Three STS (summit to summit) started on Beinn a’Mhanaich with contacts to 2MØIOB on Beinn Chaorach just across the glen from me. Roddy and I had travelled together and split up, his blog post HERE. The next STS was to Jack COX who was on Blackcraig Hill just over 100km away. Finally I worked Robin PKT who was 80km to the north of me on Chno Dearg.

The following day, Robin was back out on the ‘wee Buachaille’ Etive Beag activating both summits Stob Coire Raineach and Stob Dubh. Bob AWV appeared on Conic Hill near Balmaha to finish off the days chasing.

The next week saw me getting four STS from the summit of Duncolm, firstly Robin PKT on Sgiath Chuil then Neil 2MØNCM who was to the SW of me on Knockdolian in South Ayrshire, a 4m FM STS ! Iain WJZ called in from Beinn na Gainmh SW of Loch Freuchie before finally working Jack COX on Creagan nan Bienne which conventionally means I have now chased all the top 20 SS summits.

The following week I worked Jack this time on Cruach Ardrain, a hill I once toiled on. Three days later, Jack appeared on Beinn a’Choin but earlier I had worked Robin PKT on Beinn Squlaird. The good thing is that most VHFactivators in GM land try to make the STS’s and time their ascents to suit so this helps us chasers as well.

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

I headed to the Lurg Moor trig point with the equipment and firstly to work Colwyn YCJ who was about 140km to the NE of me on Carn an Fhreiceadain (Gaelic is such a tongue-twister at times). A good start and worth going out for. Robin PKT appeared on two hills in the Ballachullish area that day, the twin peaks of Beinn a’Bheithir. I only caught him on the second one, Sgurr Dhonuill. Next in the log was Graeme 2MØGIL who had travelled to the Great Wall of Rannoch area and was on Beinn Mhanach, a fine days chasing in fine weather, his blog post HERE.

Carrying on what was a busy month, fellow Paisley club member Craig, HCF turned up on Ben Lomond the following day whilst Robin PKT turned up on Beinn Lora, a hill I must visit soon, for a night activation to tie in with a VHF contest if I remembered correctly.

The following Saturday, Robin did two of the ‘Grey Corries‘, Stob Ban and Stob Coire Claurigh whilst on the Sunday, Bob AWV turned up on Beinn Eich and Doune Hill inn the Glen Luss area. A good contact made to Robin PKT who had travelled to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula to Ben Hiant, funnily enough I had worked Robin on his hill from both the hills Bob AWV was on the previous year. Finally to complete the month, Jim GLM turned up on Earls Seat.

Ben Lomond summit from the Ptarmigan Ridge

Ben Lomond summit from the Ptarmigan Ridge

A busy month indeed….plus it was good again with the two activations and visits to sit in sunshine on the side of a hill chasing.

HF…

A quiet month spent very occasionally on either PSK or JT65 but not with the intensity of recent months. I think a break will do me some good. Still working into Asia, N.America and of course, Europe wide.

I’ll check the state of the bands each day and see what is about but no extended sessions.

A lazy HF month ahead..

Other…

Nothing much doing, I’m still out doing local walks trying to raise my fitness levels but I guess a cut down in my main hobby food is needed. Plans are being laid down for the now annual SOTA DXpedition with the Lake District the choice this year. I hope to make the trip there for a short break in July or early August. Occasionally using the 5 ele 2m beam from my front postage stamp to chase, it takes about 7 or 8 mins to throw up and even less to take down. The difference between that and my loft based collinear is obvious so any hill which may be borderline, the beam goes up.

Once again, thanks goes to the sites to which I have linked to mainly Wikipedia and Peakbagger.

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The Monk’s Hill

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

The Luss Hills one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pitstop

The Pitstop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Altar stone ?

Altar stone ?

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

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

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

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

A Welsh yomp

A Welsh yomp

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

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

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

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

Previous blog posts on this fine hill are 2009 2010 2011

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

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

Ben Nevis showing...

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

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

At one point you can hear live ammo being fired

Summit to Summit

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

Hill Of Stake……first SOTA activation !


Finally made my first SOTA (Summits On The Air) activation today, made the long slog into the Hill Of Stake , which is GM/SS 155,  a 522m(1712ft) hill in north Ayrshire, my son Euan accompanied me and we both set off from the home QTH about 9am, arrived at the Muirshiel Ranger Centre near Lochwinnoch and set off at 9.40. The trek starts for 4km along the old mine track, a steady uphill gradient then after 3km it levels out , the old barytes mine was reached 50 mins later, we took and double checked our compass reading and set out to the SW, the ground leading into the hill is very wet and boggy, there is no path and we had to make a few diversions to avoid the worst of the marshy areas. The walk in to the hill is approx 2 1/2 km from the old mine and is a steady uphill walk until the foot of the hill which rises steeply. We arrived at 11.40 and took a breather, I set up the 2m beam on an adjacent fencepost.
I made my first call on S20 (145.5 FM ) and Steve, a GM7 station responded to my call, we exchanged signal reports, I next made contact with some relatively nearby stations, I then worked Eric, a GM0 from Girvan, this was my first long distance contact, then Iain, a MM3 station called in, Iain was activating a SOTA summit, Ben Lui, north west of Ardlui at the top of Loch Lomond, excellent signal as one expected. I worked more nearby stations then I next made the contact with a MI0 mobile station, who had stopped just outside Ballymena to respond to my call.
I next worked Gordon, a MM6 station from Troon, Gordon is a member of a ‘radio’ forum I frequent so it was nice to make the contact.
Next call in was Robert, a GM4/P station who was atop another SOTA summit, Tinto Hill in Lanarkshire, his incoming signal was end stopping. Next station to call in was Robbie, a 2I0 station from Newry, NI, Robbie gave me 5×5 and as he is on the border with EI, I pointed the beam that way but nothing from EI land appeared. I then made contact with a Falkirk station, GM0 who was using his radio club callsign. More local stations were contacted then I was told a G/P station had activated a SOTA summit in the Lake District, I qsy’ed to the frequency on the SOTA Spot page and waited then I called and made contact with David on Whitfell, signal report was 5×5 each way, David was on the SW edge of Lake District.
Spoke with other relatively local stations before I made contact with GM7/P, Robin , he was NW of Fort William on another SOTA summit, Chno Dearg, the fourth of four Summit to Summit calls, excellent signal reports both ways, 5×7 for him then spoke with another couple of relatively local stations, Andy, a MM0 station called me from Falkirk before I got ready to break down the station and head home.
We dismantled the beam, mast etc and headed back out towards the Ranger Centre, my XYL met us and off home we went , tired but happy the first activation was out the way, where next ? who knows.

Photos :

Top left -The beam
Bottom left – Looking west to the isles of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae