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.
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..
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.
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.
‘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.
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