Tag Archives: Creuch Hill

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…

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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>

A New Hill For Me…..

Hillside Hill…

not exactly an imaginative name although it being a sister hill to Dunrod Hill. It is part of the same hill group but is only 1m less in height ASL than Dunrod. A cairn adorns the summit which as I found out was exposed to the wind when it comes from the East. An excellent view can be had in all directions but unfortunately there was poor visibility but the main local high spots were visible, last week’s hill Corlic is to the E, Creuch Hill, the highest by far in the area at 1,300 plus ft was occasionally in cloud to the S, Dunrod to the west roughly 500m away.

I had set off with the plan of working both WJZ and Neil 2M0NCM who had SOTA declared. I travelled through Greenock and headed southwards along the single track road known as the ‘Old Largs Road’ and just before the road heads towards the ‘Back of The World‘, we took a right turn to take us to the Greenock Cut Visitor Centre car park mentioned previously in the blog.

Having left the car which then headed back home, I headed up over the stile and along a damp grass path until I reached the foot of the hill proper now it goes straight up but the track  zigzags to ease the ascent until you reach a gap which heads towards Dunrod Hill when you notice a slight track heading N to Hillside. A short climb and you quickly reach the summit.

A cairn marks the high spot whilst on the west side of hill, some snow was still lying, the wind by this time was racing through at a pelt. I found a nook and set up my mast just in case if needed. A cup of hot tea to warm myself first then off to look for contacts, Roddy IOB had called so we had a ragchew and later from the Old Kilpatrick Hills, ECO called in. I then monitored S20 and later than planned, Iain WJZ called from Ben Venue.

A move to 145.450 and another four chaser points were in the bag, his ascent sounded quite eventful. I listened and ‘tested’ the beam to see who and what distance I could get. Central Scottish stations through to Edinburgh were heard with no problem, the North Ayrshire hills were keeping signals for the S and SW from coming through to me.

I had texted and later phoned Neil 2M0NCM who was on Criffel nr Dumfries but this was not the day to hook up. I had previously on 11m worked Criffel regularly from my local hill but I had chosen this hill as a change today. I had heard Alan XXP call in to WJZ when he was near the top of Hart Fell, I eventually with the help of Neil NCM found him, the signal was weak both ways but contact made so eight points were the total for the day. I then broke down everything and after another cuppa I decided to head N and follow a faint path which descended and took me round the nearest hill and eventually joined a well-kept rough Water Board track. Scroggy Bank antenna farm was in the distance so after a good pace along the track, Scroggy Bank was passed. From the mast, it looks as if it is a microwave relay station.

It was now a downhill walk towards the start of the Greenock Cut, I had heard Roddy IOB calling me on S20 but never made contact until I reached a spot which gave me a view up the river valley, I headed down the track and started down towards Greenock, Katie arrived so I said goodbye to Roddy and headed home.

A walk of approx 6km done mostly on grass and rough track using paths I haven’t used before, the tracks were busy with Sunday walkers plus the local trail bikers were roaming the hills.

In true fashion, the weather started to brighten as I got in the car but still a good day out.

Where is Hillside Hill map <HERE>

Wikipedia article on nearby Loch Thom/Greenock Cut <HERE>

Photos below in the Gallery,

not the best day for photography as air clarity was pretty poor.

How it started….Part Two……1980s thru now

I look back on my initial hilltop operations in the early ’80s and have a wry smile, 27mhz FM (legal, of course, initially). Initially it was venturing onto my local hilltop (620ft ASL) with a Realistic 4w CB27/81 handie

The US version of the Realistic 4w CB 27/81 handie

then I started to attach a then, ubiquitous Silver Rod.

Today I walk to the top of Corlic Hill ( I travel from the E where there is no path) with all the  equipment I needcbhandheld

Then…it was much the same then as now, the next radio used was a Realistic 4W FM CB27/81 mobile TX , a 1/2 wave  Silver Rod type antenna with mast (aluminium poles 2 of ), a 12v 6ah SLA battery then eventually I graduated to the next radio – President Grant, a portable 2 ele Quad antenna ( I did build a 3 ele Quad but it was too much to carry), two 12v car batteries, aluminium poles etc etc, this, of course, meant there had to be two of us.

Corlic Hill was the main hill I operated from, I spent more than a  few 24 hour sessions there, Dunrod Hill, Creuch Hill and the Hill of Stake amongst others were regularly activated. It was later found that a spot on the Clyde estuary was the best to work worldwide DX although all continents had been worked from the summits mentioned,the quad had proved itself. It was amazing then that with a home made boom, bamboo canes, wire and balun you could work the world.

The hilltops gave some decent distance with only 4w on CB 27/81 FM, Tyneside, North Pennines, Southern Uplands, Lowther Hills,Pentlands, Fife, Aberdeenshire, Forfar and Dundee area, Oban and Bonawe area, Mull of Kintyre and regular working into Northern Ireland. It was good whilst it lasted, early starts to beat those who took great delight in ‘keying’ us out.

Nowadays, the equipment is much compact and with the internet, you can check where and if any SOTA activators are operating within your equipment capabilities. I have a SOTA beam which weighs virtually nothing, the mast which is a 7m fibreglass fishing pole, the battery I use, a 12v 7ah SLAB. I’m in the process of adding an HF antenna for future work but with so much choice, I haven’t settled on any given type yet.

The now advantage of having the radio amateur licence is the amount of bands available to the portable operator, I only presently work 2m and 70cms but 6m and HF is next.

If only there had been a SOTA type program then, I was then a president_grantmember of the Scottish Hillbillies who, at weekends operated from high points, in most cases, in cars or in some cases, portable on hilltops. Tinto was a favourite of a few of the lads. I was one of the latter, a disappointing weather forecast on a Friday or Saturday meant the car. The monthly meetings were held all over the Central Belt, as well as the radio , it had a great social aspect to it.

I was a member of other groups in those halycon days of CB 27/81, locally there was the IST (International Skip Talkers) also the PG Group, this was 8 – 10 of us sharing a local PO Box for QSL’s. I was lastly a member of the Scottish Division of AT (Alfa Tango), I was 108 AT 459 in those days, more memorable for the raffle prize haul I made at the 7th Annual UK Meeting in 1989…

Radio , laid back style then. It was fun.

1988-89, the years I studied for and passed my RAE (Radio Amateurs Examination), I set myself up with an HF+6m TX and operated on 6m only, I worked the few local stations and over the winter some aurora then I fell away and sold up my equipment.

This brings us back forward to 2008…

Applied and got my old callsign back and eventually got active again this year….