Tag Archives: Isle of Whithorn

Derwent Water from the ascent

Anniversary Waltz ? Hang On, I’ll Nip Up Skiddaw First…..

I’ll explain the blog title first.

I have now been happily married to Katie for 30 years, 30 great years ( she’s behind me !).

We had planned just a couple of days away, first thoughts were in the Lora area at Connel near Oban, the second Fort William, both got shelved for a trip to the Lake District. We had spent a lot of time in the 80s in the Borrowdale area and I was to get to play radio.

SOTA Activation of Skiddaw G/LD 004 27/07/2011

SOTA Activation of Skiddaw G/LD 004 27/07/2011

Maps scanned and three hills chosen, first was Dale Head, next was Skiddaw and lastly Saddleback (or Blencathra). Maps were duly printed off.

I had mentally chosen Skiddaw as it is always better to bag the biggie first, I wondered if my old pegs could do more than one hill in three days.

Skiddaw it was then, we set off early heading through Glasgow then going south down the M74 on a blue sky day until we hit Gretna. Grey clouds mingled with blue sky but as we headed to Keswick, it started to brighten up.

I decided the ‘Tourist Route’ from the car park at NY 280253 which at midday was total chaos, why cannot people park properly, side on….10ft gaps between cars etc , moan over.

I looked and mmmmmmm, the start to the hill was along a grass field THEN it was up, up and up a steep stony path. I did my usual ‘stop / start’ routine whilst chatting with those going both ways.

I took my usual scran break after 60 mins and sat for 10 mins enjoying the views over Derwent Water.

Derwent Water from the ascent

Derwent Water from the ascent

I headed off up the steep rocky path until I found a signal for my phone and posted an alert for the hill although I initially posted for Helvellyn, oops !. I was giving myself a target of operating within 90 mins.

The path eventually started to level out and it was a welcome break strolling alongside the east face of Little Man until starting to ascend again in a gradual climb. This is when I heard strange noises behind me, mountain bikers 6 of then peddling furiously but not moving fast but they slowly ascended until the last gate which leads through on the last push for the summit. I reached the start of the ridge and headed along to the trig point. I had arrived in just under 2 hours 30 mins ( 2 mins less !!), I had allowed for another 30 mins, I was well chuffed. I touched the trig.Arrived !!

I had 15 mins before I had alerted for so I quickly erected the 4m Jpole and sat down and had a bite of scran before I called. It was tough getting the pegs in as the top has some grass but sparsely spread over rock.

4 m FM

First station to return to my call was Clive based across the border in the Isle of Whithorn area, we had worked before from the Luss Hills. A quick hello and chat and next in the log was Malcolm XAT in nearby Seaton, a strong signal as expected.

Another station in GM land answered my call, regular activator and chaser Mark MBP in Annan (thanks for the spots!) who had activated some Lake District Fells the previous week. A quick ragchew then off to call again, another station I had spoken to before Geoff WHA called in from Penrith, I had worked Geoff on my activation of Minch Moor in 2009. Note to anyone thinking of Minch Moor, use HF !!!!

The hill was now activated on 4m FM, good !

Next in the log was another Penrith station, John whom I also worked later on 2m FM. He had told me of stations out and about on the Fells for STS (summit to summit) on 2m. I  was called by Mike in Nelson, Lancashire, a quick exchange of details and finally on 4m FM was a cracking contact into Ramsey, Isle of Man, Iain BUE said I was his first contact on 4m FM, a good end to the first part of the activation.

2 m FM…

I headed to .500 where I heard John VCO calling from Arnside Knott, we tried to find an empty frequency which was difficult at first but made contact and quickly exchanged details and I headed off back to have a quick look through the band. I heard John JOH who was on Pillar, once again an exchange of details and then I  moved down frequency with Jimmy EYP who was on Slighty Crag in the Borders region, a good run of STS’s contacts.

I next hooked up with activating team Colin UXH and Heather UXH, confused ? A different prefix to the front of each call ! They had been on Walla Crag and were now heading down.

Next was another STS with Derek MIX whom I last worked from Ben Lawers, this was a welcome change to work some of these stations on their own patch. John TDM from Penrith was next followed by XSD from Frizzlington. A visit from Sue OHH from Lancaster was finally followed by a contact with Tony OAE in nearby Seaton.

The summit had been busy all the time I was there and now, I was the only one left but I could see more walkers heading my way. It was time to pack up and head back down. It was a quick walk along the stony ridge before a descent down from the summit then through the first gate and along the bridleway on which you could have driven a car, the path as most Lake District ones are was a good wide rocky walk, it was relief to find the odd section where I could walk on a grass bit. I had tried using my mobile phone on the summit but signal was not constant, I received one text and I thought words of encouragement ? No, your mobile phone bill is ready, typiske !

Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake

Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake

Downwards I headed until I arrived at top of the steepish section where I suffered slightly, not tired just the constant tramping downhill on stone, I’m sure you know what I mean, I used the grass where I could as the effects of walking on stone makes my ole knees rattle.

I saw Katie walking towards me on the level grassy walk from the car park so roughly 90 mins after I had left the summit, I arrived back at the car park. Not bad, I thought.

Seventeen contacts in the log, the hill got qualified on 4m FM which was pleasing, it was worth trying the band first and the contact in the Isle of Man was my first so a new DXCC into the bargain. A big thanks to all who made the activation of my first G land summit a memorable occasion, I was having to keep remembering to keep the ‘M’ out of the call Hi. It certainly proved much easier than my last GM land midweek activation.

Skiddaw is not the prettiest hill I’ve done but is one of the most rewarding as when I had my first look at the uphill path, the usual thoughts started appearing but I persevered and made my way to the top. Unfortunately the views were not at their best due to the heat haze and the scurrying cloud over the summit but occasionally it lifted but I was busy on the radio. I did see fleetingly some of the hills I have made STS’s with from GM land, Knott, Great Calva (WOTA) and of course, Skiddaw.

Saddleback, Helvellyn, Dale Head were among the hills within view but not being up to running on LD summit views ( see panorama link below) except some near 25-year-old recollections from the summit of Dale Head and other Fells such as Latrigg.

The waltz ? Only in my mind…

It was back to married life….until the next hill.

Click on photos for full size…

Information Overload…

Skiddaw means  ‘Hill of projecting cliff’ but there are numerous others around the web.

is the fourth highest hill in England.

Geohack Info <HERE>

Trig Point info <HERE>

Panorama info <HERE>

Once again… a big thanks goes to Wikipedia

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(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.

Ben Donich…at last !!!

I had worked one of our regulars, Neil, 2M0NCM on Donich last year. I had intended to activate it at the end of last year but if you are a regular reader of the blog, you know I never got there.

I had the chance of ‘activating’ on the Saturday and kept a watchful eye on the Met Office site, the weather forecast was looking good, misty in the morning but clearing in the afternoon, they got it correct.

The Scramble

The Scramble

My daughter Lora kindly drove me to the top of the Rest and Be Thankful and to the forestry car park where the Donich walk begins. I looked skywards and saw little, cloud and mist were skirting over the first part of the climb. I set off and slowly started to make height on a well made path which suddenly disappeared, quite possibly the top bit of the path has washed away. I passed through the gate which then let me on to the real stuff, the path is a classic hill path, showing in most places and occasionally disappearing, slowly I made progress, Neil had told me it was a moderate climb, for me? steepish in most parts.

I stopped and had a ‘food’ break after one hour of climbing, the mist was still skirting quickly over the hill. The top was not for showing this early. Ten minutes later, off I started uphill until I came across the ‘the scramble’, it is a drop down of approx 20 ft ? but with good hand holds it was no problem, I then rather foolishly took a short cut down a flattish rock,  I slipped and cut a finger, it looked nasty at first but once cleaned, I carried on.

The summit you see as you climb upwards here is a false one, near the top of this, I met a lone walker on his way down and after a quick conversation in which he had said ’10 mins to the top’ then at the top of this false summit, the path veers eventually leftward and through the mist I could see the trig point.

The Cobbler with Beinn Narnain

The Cobbler with Beinn Narnain

The going was relatively flattish by this time. Two notes of warning, there are many cracks and fissures around the path edges and if you misjudged one of these, it could be dangerous. Keep to the path but secondly, the path disappears in places on the last trudge to the summit so if coming off in mist, keep on the path once you find it. Steep drops abound on this walk.

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

I reached the trig point.

As I reached the top, the cloud and mist started to disappear slowly, the view was stunning, the list of nearby hills include Beinn’s Ime, Luibhean, an Lochain and Narnain. The Cobbler ( Ben Arthur) is just to the north, The Brack and Cnoc Connich, Ben’s Lomond, More, Oss and countless more are viewable. I could see my home area. The view down the Firth of  Clyde is stunning.

The mast was quickly erected and 2m FM tried first, I first worked seven stations, had a quick break and set up for 4m FM, I made four contacts including one to the Isle of Whithorn area in SW Scotland. I had another food break then on going back to 2m FM, I called and spoke to blog regular Graeme, 2M0GIL who was portable in the Whangie area then had another six contacts including a G1 station on Skiddaw in the Lake District then it was time to break down the station and head back down the hill.

Looking down the Firth of Clyde (Loch Goil in foreground)

Looking down the Firth of Clyde (Loch Goil in foreground)

I followed the path back and on reaching the ‘the scramble’, I sensibly kept to the path this time, climbed to the top and headed slowly down to the parking area. It was good to have done this hill, I was most surprised to complete the uphill section in just 2 hrs 17 mins ( my phone GPS told me I was only moving for 62mins hihi). A hill which I enjoyed after waiting so long to activate it. I was also surprised how popular a hill it is with walkers, a constant stream arrived and departed over the two hours I was on the summit.

If you look at the ‘Information Overload’ section, I have posted that the hill meaning is ‘the Brown hill’ but after some research, the Gaelic name for the hill has other meanings, I must explore further !

I will of course return to keep adding to this post . Be sure to pop in occasionally !!!!

Now for ‘Information Overload’…….

Ben Donich is 847m ASL

Ben Donich ascent is 577m (1,893ft) from NN 227069

Ben Donich in Gaelic is ‘Beinn Dòmhnaich’, its meaning is  ‘the brown hill (?)’.  Wikipedia article <HERE> (See above)

Ben Donich Landslip explanation <HERE>

Ben Donich Geohack Info <HERE> ( this is a cracking info centre)

Flickr photo set <HERE>