Tag Archives: Doune Hill

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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Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

(June) Radio Days 2011

Firstly, a cracking month radio wise on the SOTA front whilst on the home VHF front, the usual contacts made on 2m. I had posted last month about taking down the 4m antenna which I had placed in my attic space, the frame is still in place but I removed the wire but it will be a 10 mins job to fit it all back in place. I had intended to rattle up a Halo type antenna for 6m but due to my appetite for golf being rekindled it is on the back burner. I now have my Shack Sloth so the relentless pursuit of points isn’t so intense although on the third Friday of the month, I had ‘chased’ Robin PKT on Meall a’Bhuraidh just before midday and knowing that he was heading to Creise, I took my handie with its ‘helically wound’ on to the golf course with me ( a two-stroke penalty ?).

the 2nd ( my 'handy' trig point , mid left )

the 2nd ( my 'handy' trig point , mid left )

Roddy 2MØIOB had let me know Robin was on the hill but he was not be heard but in my search, I found Jack COX on An Caisteal, a quick call in and with a 30ft pitch and run for a birdie, I left Jack…

I bogeyed the hole….perhaps the gaining of an extra six points put me off. The handie placed back into the golf bag and off I went to play ‘army golf’. left, right, left, right yet again.

Activation wise.

a good month with my first 10 point activation, Ben Lawers bagged…read about it <HERE> and following that 10 days later, a return trip to Beinn Eich but this time I repeated my 2009 double activation with Doune Hill. An eight point jaunt ! read about the Eich/Doune trip <HERE>. One ‘story’ I never mentioned on the Lawers blog post, I was just over half way to the summit of Beinn Ghlas when I saw someone descending with a spade across his backpack. He stopped to chat and I asked if he had been forewarned about my impending doom, he laughed and said he had cleared some of the water run-off areas on the path. I did get a strange look though.

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

Ben Lawers from Meall Nan Tarmachan

Chasing….

First one was a summit to summit (STS) with Derek MIX who was on the summit of Knott in the Lake District area, I had come across Derek whilst I was on Lawers. Two days later, Alan TXY was working from one of my favourite hills Beinn a’Mhanaich along with his nephew Scott SWC, it was Scott’s first activation…also our fellow blogger Roddy 2MØIOB ably assisted by Mrs IOB on his activation of the Cowal hill of Beinn Mhor, Roddy’s blog report <HERE>. A busy Saturday indeed.

The following weekend was my dual activation and two STS’s with Robin PKT, one from Eich and the other from Doune Hill, Robin was on Ben Hiant in the Ardnamurchan peninsula, this hill is a ‘to do’ as the views from its top are impressive from images posted online. The other STS was with our old friend Neil who was on Beinn Bhalgairean south-east from Dalmally. One week later, Iain WJZ activated Ben Cluech, the highest summit in the Ochil Hills, I stayed at home for this one as the weather was not too good for ascending any of my local hills. Later that day, Caroline ZCB appeared on Meall Greigh which is one of the Lawers Munro hills, Caroline and hubby Martyn were up for their annual activation week in GM land. The following day, Caroline appeared on Stobinnean, I think I could have used the proverbial piece of wet string as its summit just peeks over Kilotter above the village of Cardross on the opposite bank of the Clyde from me, it only shows when the sun drops in the winter months when snow is lying.

Three days later, Robin PKT popped up on the same summit after I caught him on his first hill, the steep-sided Ben More, he then appeared on the summit of Stobinnean, I worked him both times on 2m FM. Later that day, Caroline popped up in the Trossachs on Ben Vane. I had a quick chat with Caroline as they were heading back south on the Saturday.

The next day, I caught the relentless Robin PKT on another dual activation, both over 1,100m in height, first the aforementioned Meall a’Bhuraidh but I failed to chase him on Creise. 4 10 pt’ers in two days, I did Lawers and was stiff for a week ( a bit less !). Finally that day, I got Jack COX on An Caisteal ( see previous reference to this)…a good month point wise.

HF..

A funny month propagation wise, it was dead to me most days but came alive most evenings with occasional forays on to10m thrown in. Nothing of much to report except a throwback to my school geography days when I saw the name Svalbard appearing, the operator was getting swamped by European stations, I did try but at that time, no chance. I had a look around the other bands when I thought time for a wee bit of SWL’ing and lo and behold the JW station was cq’ing, off went the ‘him to me’ call and voilà ! I had Svalbard, a new DXCC country, luck or what ?

WSPR

5 watts only

5 watts only

A few forays into modes, WSPR is excellent to leave running in the background whilst I do other stuff on the computer or laze and watch some tv. I tend to concentrate on the 20m band but have occasionally visited the 10m band on occasion.

ROS.

Daily look to see what is happening although I did have a surprise contact mid June, I was sending out a general CQ call on 20m ROS and noticed the 15m band had a few Euro stations calling, I tuned my dipole and headed to15m and had just sent out a general CQ and I saw I had been ‘picked’ up in South Korea albeit with a lowish signal, as an aside to this I had earlier that day updated the ROS programme to its latest version and was watching the screen when I saw the ‘GM7 de’ coming through onto the ROS screen and next came the DS prefix and then the programme ‘hung’, I quickly restarted said programme and immediately sent out more CQ’s on 15m but apart from a couple of Europeans nothing else ‘came’ back, I checked my eQSL account later and found a card from the South Korean station confirming our ‘QSO’, a bad time for it to freeze….it hasn’t happened since, dilemma DXCC or not ? This programme tells you who is sending out CQs and on what band, a bit DX clustery ? but you will get reports from who ‘hears’ you even if they are only monitoring the frequency and will upload to pskreporter.

For Ben Hiant photos, try Geograph

(December) Radio Days

VHF….

Last month of 2010 and still 2m is relatively quiet, I did have a few calls occasionally on 70cms, both FM and SSB but nothing. I had the usual occasional QSO on 2m.

SOTA…

No activations but a busy, busy month with two new Scottish Mountain Goat activators, first to reach 1,000 pts was Iain, WJZ who built up to reaching his points total with an activation on snow covered Ben Cruachan, a fitting hill on which to achieve the total. Later in the month after multiple December activations, Allan BJP also reached the magic total with a visit to Binnean Nan Gobhar, east of Loch Lomond. Neil NCM headed North late in the month to visit Tullich Hill.

Ben Lomond summit from the Ptarmigan Ridge
Ben Lomond summit from the Ptarmigan Ridge

My first points of the month came from Iain, WJZ who was on a snowbound Ben Lomond, one week later, Iain was on Hart Fell, this time I had nipped up to the trig point on my local hill, 650 ft ASL. Iain was on Earls Seat the following day whilst Allan BJP was activating Beinn Bhreac at roughly the same time of day.

The following Saturday, Allan BJP activated a trio of Luss Hills, Beinn Eich, Doune Hill and lastly Cruach an t-Sidhean, the weather at times on this activation sounded pretty uncomfortable but Allan had walked out through Glen Luss. The next day, Iain WJZ qualified  Ben Cruachan, a hill unusually not overly activated, his 1,000pts had been achieved.

Near the end of the month, BJP crept nearer the 1,000pts with a visit of Beinn Dubh.

Neil NCM finally headed north and activated Tullich Hill whilst 60 mins later that day, Alan achieved his 1,000pts on activating Binnean Nan Gobhar.

A great month for ‘chasing’ but also to see the fourth and fifth SOTA Scottish ‘Mountain Goat’ awards being achieved.

HF….

Nothing different from the recent previous months, basically roamed the bands from 40m to 12m. European contacts in the main, new DXCC in Corsica. A quiet month for me on HF.

WSPR..

I did almost no WSPR work in December although a look on occasion to see what was happening in the forum.

Odds….

Have a few irons in the fire , hopefully get these going in late January


Only one this time….

Last year I when I visited this area, I activated Beinn Eich and then headed along the ridge to Doune Hill. This time round, Eich was my only target.

I had posted the alert on the ‘SOTA Alert Page‘ whilst I packed all the equipment necessary, as always a double-check and just as I was ready to leave, I was quickly reminded I had a ‘date’ with Katy Perry, Ms Perry was quickly dealt with and off we headed the usual route northwards before taking the single track road heading west off the A82 near Luss at NS 357930.

I arrived at Glenmollochan farm where there is a small lay by at NS 331942. I got kitted out and waved goodbye as Katie headed back homewards down what is a very narrow single track road. The hill looked just as I remembered it, steep. I walked down the track over two stone bridges to just before Edentaggart where a signpost points the way.

The first part of this walk is the boggiest part and due to the recent wet conditions, the path showed well.

A long steady rising climb with excellent views looking back down Glen Luss towards the south basin of Loch Lomond. Glen Luss and Glen Mollachan are at each side of  the steep flanks of Eich, memories of Glen Mollachan the previous year and of the wetness of the glen floor.

Beinn Eich fron a'Mhanaich

Beinn Eich fron a'Mhanaich

As you quickly rise, views start coming in all sides, Chaorach shows to your left, Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill, the Glen Striddle Horseshoe walk, to your right and to the NW , Beinn Ime and the Arrochar Alps start to show.

I took a break after 60 mins into the climb to enjoy the views and to have a ‘scran’ break.

This walk gets drier as you rise in height, a false summit shows but when you reach this the going starts easing as you reach the summit, ground ‘collapses’ to your left show as you near the last stretch to the summit. I then spoke to one couple who were intending to head towards Doune Hill which is about 80 mins away (my time) from Eich’s summit.

The summit of Eich is a start of a grassy narrow ridgewalk , there is a stone cairn or to be precise, a heap of stones. If you carry on, almost immediately the ridge starts running downhill.

I decided to have some food before I set up, I guyed up the mast and attached the 4m JPole first, as this is my band of choice this year is 4m FM. I switched the Wuxoun handie on and the calling channel was in use, I broke in and explained my situation and got my first two contacts in the book, Chris in Alexandria and Duncan in nearby Dumbarton. Steve UAU was next in the log and I then returned to call again, next to call me was one of my regular 4m contacts, Alan XXP in Larkhall. The last call on 4m put me in touch with Clive FZH in the Isle of Whithorn area. I had worked Clive from Ben Donich earlier this year.

I took down the mast and removed the 4m JPole and replaced it with the 2m version.

I first had a look around 2m fm and heard two stations working each other in the Lake District, I waited and called in and worked Phil, a M0 station who was activating for WOTA on Great Calva LDW -095, Phil was using a handie with a 40cm helical antenna which made this contact a good ‘un.

It was then time to go to S20 as I was running around 45 mins behind schedule, Ms Perry to blame.

I called out and a breathless fellow blogger Graeme, 2M0GIL called back to me, Graeme was on the steepest part of Dumgoyne outside Glasgow.We ad a quick chat and I left Graeme to his ascent. I had found out Allan, BJP had activated Chaorach early on and I had literally just missed him, ces’t la vie, a STS and 4 points gone. Next call in was ‘Mr Tinto‘, Robert GUF in Biggar.  Andy USU in the Falkirk area called in. Stations now came thick and fast, AXY in Edinburgh, UAU in Greenock and next to call in was Roddy 2M0IOB who was mobile through the Cowal Glens, Roddy stopped at a high point and had a quick chat before heading on his way.

Another mobile station YEQ called in from the Clydebank area, next was another regular Brian HMZ from Howwood looking for points, it seems Brian and another station before mentioned have a friendly ‘chasing’ rivalry going on. Last two contacts were John, OIN in Ayr and Paul, DDQ who was visiting an old haunt of mine on the Isle of Bute, Kilchattan Bay.

It had been hectic, everyone had mentioned how they were bathed in sunshine, me ? a black cloud hung over the summit for the short time I spent there, the couple I met earlier who had carried on to Doune Hill had backtracked and decided to exit back to Glen Luss via Eich. A quick chat with them then I broke down the mast and antenna, packed everything away, had a quick biccy and some juice and headed back down the hill, I looked back and the summit was now bathed in sunshine, someone was trying to tell me something.

I ‘toodled’ back down the hill pausing to talk with another couple heading to the top, I had a break halfway down and watched the farmer rounding up his sheep in Glen Mollachan. Just as I was exiting the hill walk, more walkers were heading to the summit. A busy day for this walk I guess.

Back on the ‘black stuff’, I walked back to the start point whilst having a good look at the old stone bridges over the burns, there were inscriptions on them but too worn to make anything out. On another note, as I was descending I could see a shaped mound to the side of Luss Water, I have had a good search online for any information but I did notice there was an old chapel now gone, St. Michael’s in the immediate area.

The hill had been activated , twice probably is enough, I’m restricted to what I can travel to so who knows.

The climb had been a hard steepish slog in places.

The day over, I was picked up and headed back to civilisation.

Information Overload

Beinn Eich is 703 m ASL (2305 ft)  ‘the horse hill’

Total Ascent (approx) 563 m (1847 ft)

Round Trip of approx. 9.12 kms ( 5.6m)

Previous Beinn Eich blog post <HERE>

The rating for this walk….

Just as an aside regarding Glen Luss and St.Michaels Chapel:

There was a chapel in Glen Luss dedicated to St Michael. Not far from where St Michael’s Chapel was situated is a farm called Edentaggart, an anglicisation of aodan t-sagairt – the hill face of the priest. In Glen Luss also is Gleann na Caorainn – the glen of the rowans.  The local name was Glen MacKern or a variation. This may be a corruption from the Gaelic ‘gleann na caorainn’ .  The name MacKern appears on a document of 1429 as Glean Mackerne and is possibly an Anglicised spelling of Gleann mo Chiarain or St Ciarans Glen.