Tag Archives: Isle of Bute

This Hill Is Becoming A ‘Habit’…..

The Red Danger Flag - 2013

The Red Danger Flag – 2013

Or more to the point, if I return to this hill I shall feel obliged to dress for the occasion.

Let me explain..

Beinn a’Mhanaich translates from the Gaelic as ‘Hill of the Monk’ . This was my fifth visit in as many years and I guess now the hill is mine to keep.

Can I just say at this point that I have used some images from earlier activations plus I have included some from this trip but will show the year in the image.

I must admit this hill although pretty featureless is one of my favourites although I am not too keen on the steepish uphill start but it has a broad ridge with a couple of quick rises to the summit cairn. There is a quad track which shows almost the length of the ascent. It is very deceiving looking from the S or SW as the summit is a largish plateau but falls off rapidly at the N end which leads you to the bealach between it and Cruach an t-Sidhein, another ‘Marilyn‘. I looked at the descent for the first time yesterday and was surprised how quickly the ground falls away although the higher of the hills in this area, Doune Hill falls away dramatically towards Glen Douglas MOD area. One notable feature is when visibility is excellent is that Ben Nevis is seen from this hill but in five visits I have only seen it once.

Looking SW towards the Firth Of Clyde - 2009

Looking SW towards the Firth Of Clyde – 2009

I keep more than an eye on weather forecasts as my job entails working outside so being prepared beforehand allows me to plan work to suit conditions. I had asked Katie (my expedition driver and nutritionist) if the weekend was free, it was and I was good to go. I do prefer getting any hill done on a Saturday as leaving it to a Sunday leaves more chance of weather not being suitable, remember now I’m a fair weather activator. Saturday proved a miserable day, Sunday it was to be. The forecast said sun, more on this later.

I had gone through the usual pre-activation ritual of getting things charged, double checking all necessities, connections and mapping  but I had decided that the FT 817 was going this trip but I only had a 7ah SLAb which is a bit heavy, I ‘picked’ up a 2.1 ah battery to try. The rukkie packed and only scran and water to be packed in the morning.

I had a quick glance out of my bedroom window at dawn and I could see a’Mhanaich, Chaorach were clear but Lomond had some cloud around 3,000 ft. Time to put the wheels in motion..

Doune Hill from aMhanaich - 2013

Doune Hill from aMhanaich – 2013

The roads were quiet as we sped towards Glen Fruin but Katie has thought it was the single track road to Eich and we flew past the turn off, two activations this year and two ‘fly past’ the turn off’s. I had a quick thoughts of Eich and Doune Hill but I quickly remembered that Glen(or Loch as I refer to it as) Mollachan would be literally afloat so it was back to the original plan.

We reached the base of the hill and I got all the equipment out from the car and as I waved Katie goodbye I headed up the  mile long first sharpish ascent. I made good time on the first mile noting I was 5 mins quicker than the last time and I passed the ‘pitstop’ and decided to take on some water and scran before I headed over the first snowfield and up the second steep rise.

Watered and fed I was glad to find the snow was hard underfoot so no problems on the three patches I had to cross and as I topped the second rise I could see two figures running up the ridge behind me in the distance, I had heard continual gunfire from the military range on the W side of the hill on my way up and wondered ‘ Fugitives?’ but I carried on and as I topped the hill at its cairn, the two runners appeared at the gate at the bottom of the last rise. I spoke briefly with them as they headed to drop down to the bealach then ‘up’ to Cruach an t-Sidhein. Keen ! Another lone runner appeared 10 mins later and panted a quick ‘Hello’ before heading back down the hill.

Heading Home -2010

Heading Home -2010

It was time to get going radio wise, I had taken just under 1 hr 40 mins (98) to get there and was pleasantly surprised, an hour improvement from my first ascent of this hill. Nice one !

I first caught Roddy 2MØIOB on my 2m handie before I set up the 4m JPole, a quick word then it was down to business. I called and called on 4m FM but eventually only Steve UAU replied to my call. I’m getting delusioned  with 4m FM as it is getting a struggle up here in Scotland, I may just start trying the 70cm band instead…..pity. Time to to throw up the 5 element yagi…

I kept threatening to sit and have some scran which in Bawb’s new healthy eating kick is home-made wholemeal bread, toasted of course. The contacts came thick and fast initially but after the first contacts I scanned the band checking for any distant SOTAists, I heard a station in North Wales on Moel Famau but all attempts to break in were being lost in the strong signals of his locals. I was to catch him much later, a good contact.

I mentioned Roddy IOB  earlier and Steve UAU on 4m, the next call in the log was Geoff AHO whom I later realised had given a talk at the Paisley AR club. I knew the callsign but didn’t realise until after he had gone. I got called by Ken AXY through in Edinburgh plus I was able to work his XYL Christine YMM later in the day.

I got called by fellow blogger Graeme 2MØGIL who was ascending Dumgoyne to the east of me, Graeme called in later from its summit. The next contact was a surprise, Jim GLM who I usually chase was turning the tables and was calling me from home in Dunfermilne, good to work Jim for the first time in ’13. The first STS (summit to summit) was Jack COX who was 76 km away on Cairnpapple Hill, the chat was short as Jack was having ‘breakthrough’ from the transmitters on a nearby hill.  Steve UAU called in from Greenock and then a contact with Tom FGI from Kilchattan Bay on the Isle of Bute, ah memories of weekends spent there fishing in the ’70s.

Looking down the Firth from BaM - 2013

Looking down the Firth from BaM – 2013

‘Mr Tinto’ Robert GUF called in from his home town of Biggar  and then a strong contact to John BOU based in Larne, NI. Tommy JOE in Darvel was next and Robin PKT called in for the second STS of the day from Beinn Chaorach 39 km to the N of me, I had spoken to Robin on his ascent.

Regular chaser Brian HMZ had driven to the Gleniffer Braes to catch the GM stations who were out, a quick word to Brian then it was off to Troon to have a quick word with Alex OAW who was mobile. My next contact decided to harangue me, it was regular activator Neil 2MØNCM with Cat CNC who was on the S side of Girvan, we had a chat before he started descending and possibly losing me, this was another role reversal as I usually chase Neil.

I had a short break for some water before working Duncan AHL for Dumbarton then it was off to Ayr to speak with John OIN. I had another go for the MW(Welsh) station I had heard, Steve UAU had called in occasionally to pass on any contact I might have a chance to catch. I eventually at the second attempt worked John BLV on the summit of Moel Famau in North Wales, another STS at a distance of approx 344kms. I worked Barrie KZX in Dumbarton before catching Iain WJZ who had headed N to activate Creag Meaghaidh on the N side of Glen Spean. Iain related the conditions which certainly were much different from mine and I was only ‘suffering’ from a high wind chill as the wind was whipping up from both Glen Luss and from Auchengaich Reservoir. I left Iain and worked Chris GPL from just SW of me in nearby Shandon.

I had headed down the band to check if any WOTA stations were about and I could hear an activation from High Rigg just outside Keswick but I couldn’t break through at all and as I called, Alastair BKQ who was on the summit of Skiddaw called me in and tried to patch me through but no joy, unfortunately. Another STS though.

It was time to call it a day and finally had some scran before calling home to arrange my lift home and as I got packed the sun appeared, typical eh ? I descended and just as i was about 200m from the road, Katie arrived so it was perfect timing.

Beinn Chaorach from a'Mhanaich - 2013

Beinn Chaorach from a’Mhanaich – 2013

A good day except for the wind chill and it was good to get out in my 3/4 shorts again.

All relevant information is in my earlier blog posts on this hill, links below.

2009 <a title=”Beinn a’Mhanaich SOTA Trip 25/7/09″ href=”https://gm7something.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/beinn-amhanaich-sota-trip

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Corlic…first visit in ’11

Having been in receipt of one of Roddy 2M0IOB’s 2m portable Yagi antennas, I had been waiting on the first opportunity to go ‘test’.

Shrouded in mystery

Shrouded in mystery

There had been two stations posting SOTA activation alerts  in GM land, a regular to this blog, Iain WJZ was to activate two hills in the Ben Lawers range and one station had ‘alerted’ for the biggie – Ben Nevis. What is a more tempting test than this ?

I had, of course, everything charged and packed and ready to go.

Firstly I waited at home to work Ian WJZ on Meall Corranaich as it was his ‘earlier’ activation, 8 points in the bag and it was then time to head into the local hills. I did what I call ‘the two golf course walk’ as I get dropped off 200m south of Greenock Whinhill and pass the Port Glasgow one on my way home.

The mist was thick as I started heading along a tarmac single track road which soon changes to a rough track as it passes the MOD relay station ( see photo) which then winds it way to the foot of Corlic.

I started the ascent of the hill, a rise of only 150 ft from the track which starts then to wind northwards and just as I was ready to make the summit I received a text message, it was Roddy 2M0IOB on the west side of Isle of Bute so I called on the handie and made contact just as I reached the trig point. I quickly set up the 2 element beam and returned to him with a much stronger signal, we ragchewed for a time then Roddy was disappearing to get some scran. He laughed at my lowly packet of crisps, choccy biccy and bottle of water ( perfectly chilled), I wished him heartburn……

Just a tweak to go!

Just a tweak to go!

It was back to checking the SOTA spots page on my phone when I heard WJZ on S20 calling from Meall a’Choire Leith, a Munro to the north west of Ben Lawers. Contact was easily made and then I listened to Iain working the frequency. The ‘alert’ for Ben Nevis was looking as if it wasn’t going to appear but I hung around for another 20 mins before heading eastwards and home. I did some ‘checks’ on some repeaters I had in my handie memory, all the ‘local’ repeaters were opened fine and I also could ‘open’ HI 85 kms away on the Isle of Mull with no problem. The 2m FM band around S20 was deserted, I made a few calls but nothing.

I headed down a very damp and marshy east face of Corlic, it was really mushy underfoot, occasionally I stopped to  check the SOTA ‘spot’ page for activity and had just made my way into a dip when I noticed a spot for Aonach Air Chrith, I quickly set up the beam and scanned around looking for the station but nothing heard. I was unfortunately in one of the only parts of the hill which din’t have a clear view to the N or NW. I later found out WJZ had made the STS with this station.

Ready to go

Ready to go

Back to my walk home, no more radio and within a short time I had reached the last field at the golf course car park, not far from home.

The walk ? approx 8kms long, mostly on track but 2.5kms through a boggy heathery yomp.

The fog had slowly cleared and the afternoon turned sunny but chilly with the light wind.

The beam had worked well, thanks Roddy.

This hill has now become known amongst those who know me as my 1000 ft tower…

the reason ?

the hill is 996ft ASL, the rest you work out.

Music supplied by Slade ( a bit retro this trip)



(October) Radio Days

VHF

On occasion to work the odd local stations or pre-arranged skeds but quiet otherwise.

SOTA Activity…

One activation this month,

A return trip to Beinn Eich in the Luss Hills area.

A blog post/ report is <HERE>.

Activated the hill on 4m FM with local stations based in Alexandria, Dumbarton, Greenock, Larkhall. Clive, FZH was the fifth and was also the furthest station contacted, he is based in the Isle of Whithorn.  I have made contact with him before on my Ben Donich activation. All other stations were then contacted on 2m FM and  scattered throughout the Central Belt as far as Edinburgh to the east plus another two in new locations for me, Roddy 2M0IOB, fellow blogee, was mobile through the Cowal Glens although when first contacted had just left the Colintraive ferry. Paul DDQ came back to my call from Kilchattan Bay at the south end of the Isle of Bute. The furthest contact was to Phil, a M0 station who was activating a WOTA hill Great Calve in the English Lake District, an excellent contact with no problems both ways. Phil was using a 5 watt handheld with a 40cm helical antenna.The occasional station worked outside Scotland is a bonus but thanks also go to those regular chasers who we meet on each activation. Mention must be made of fellow bloggee, Graeme 2M0GIL who called in portable from the steepest part of Dumgoyne near Glasgow, I knew instantly it was the steepest part he was at hihi.

Loch Lomond south basin from Eich summit

‘Chasing’…

First contact of the month was Bob, AWV who was activating my previous one, Ben Bowie, I had been out for a walk locally when Roddy alerted me. The following day, our regular activator and blogger, Neil, 2M0NCM was traipsing about the Cowal hills in all sorts of murk and mist. Neil had travelled the long way round to the Loch Eck area to activate Creag Tharsuinn and weather wise it was not a kind day. I have seen his photos of the descent off the east side of this hill, I’m only glad it wasn’t me. Another 2 points in the bag. Neil’s Creag Tharsuinn blog post <HERE>

Finally I worked Andy FMF on the last day of the month, I had headed to Corlic knowing a 60m GM activation alert had been posted, I took my Rybakov type vertical, Andy was on the Sow of Atholl in the Drumochter Pass area.

Due to commitments, I missed a few activations over the month. DOH !!!

HF…

Spent most of my radio time listening and working through the HF bands, I paid attention mostly to 40M and when open, 12M. The 12M band at present is ‘in and out’, it is a case of being in the right place at the right time. I had switched on one evening when arriving home from work and within 10 minutes  I had two eastern seaboard US stations in the log but as soon as I had worked them, the band died. Worth persevering with I think. Using the PSK reporter website, it has interested me in how you notice how ‘centralised’ some of the 12m contacts are when the band is open.

The winter season is almost upon us so I think 40M will be my listening band. Top band (160M) and 80M have high local levels of noise for to do any serious listening.

I haven’t been as active with WSPR this month but still occasionally set up the radio and let it run for an hour, mostly on 30m.

ODDS…

Royal Mail delivered another incorrectly addressed QSL card.

I have in one of my PSK  ‘macros’, I mention that I only QSL via eQSL or LoTW but will do ‘direct’ if the station contacts me for my home address, the language difference shows.

I visited Paisley Amateur Radio Club on a couple of occasions this month and was warmly welcomed, the first night was a ‘Natter’ night and the last visit was a talk on ‘Antennas’ by club member Jim UWX. A most enjoyable talk with a lot of  interaction from those present.

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.