Tag Archives: Luss Hills

Baa Baa Bawb Sheep

I really must try to improve the quality of these blog post titles…

I must apologise as I had worked on other posts and had predated them and you guessed it, I boo-boo’ed…..and one appeared live whilst I worked on this.

I had arranged to head out at some point last weekend and activate Beinn Chaorach, the Luss hill. The weather for the weekend was encouraging with only cloud forecast but so why did the five weekdays earlier have sunny clear skies ?

I woke early Saturday morning to see the cloud level at 1,500 ft so after a bit of thought, I said to Katie we will try again tomorrow but to be honest I didn’t need much encouragement to call off as I been out late Friday night.

I didn’t totally waste Saturday as I saw both Robin PKT and Jack COX had alerted so the 7 element 2m yagi…Blog post HERE which has lain in its cardboard box was got out, it was time to tune and test this baby out. I headed to Lurg Moor and set up everything and oops! I forgot my phone so no camera therefore no photos of this ‘Heath Robinson’ session, black tape is sooo handy. In what was a strong breeze, the beam had a mind of its own so after working Jack on Meall nan Caorach, east of Glen Almond then Robin on Druim na Sgriodain in the Morvern area it was time to head back home. It worked although I think I may have to use the heavier SOTA pole plus make a strong support for to attach the boom to the pole / mast. I had used a pair of scissors in the top of the pole and used parachute cord to steady the boom, a first success. I will only use this for chasing as I’m more than pleased with the performance of the 5 element yagi (see image below -Beinn Chaorach N view) on activations. I headed home with thoughts of how to bodge up a support.

The start at NS 286890

The start at NS 286890

Sunday morning duly arrived and as the previous morning at the same time I looked N and saw the same cloud level but this time decided to head across the water.

I had everything packed ready for a quick off so off along the same roads I had travelled two weeks earlier. Chaorach and a’Mhanaich are sister hills on the S edge of the Luss hills and access is best from Lomondside via the Haul Road(or new Glen Fruin road). I arrived at the starting place but although I have now been on this summit four times, I have used three routes to the summit. The start of the ascent is not too far from where the Battle of Glen Fruin took place (see HERE)

I said goodbye to Katie and climbed over the gate to slog straight up a field which always seems chock full of sheep, Chaorach in Gaelic means ‘the hill of sheep’. I kept well to the right of them as at this time of year it is not wise to worry or panic the ewes. I soon headed along the quad track at the top of the field towards another gate next to the wood where you head into open country. I could see the top of Auchengaich Hill occasionally but the cloud hadn’t moved any higher. This was to be an ascent with no views.

I steadily worked my way up the first hill and as you top this a steady ridge walk upwards on a faint quad track into the first boggy area where the track disappears at times but if you keep an eye to it on Beinn Tharsuinn you can soon pick the track up again. I quickly reached the summit of Tharsuinn and at this time visibility was 50m at the best but just nearby to your right is the start of the fence line which takes you down to the bealach then to the summit of Chaorach. Take the east side of the fence and follow the grassy path all the way up to Chaorach. Once you see a small cairn on the west side of the fence you are almost at the top, at this cairn you will find the best views S and SW on a clear day.

Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn

Chaorach from summit of Tharsuinn – 2011

The trig point soon appears and I had made good time to the top. Views ? nothing. Visibility ranged between 40m and 30m the entire time I was there.

There is a fence which splits the summit from S to N so handy fence-posts to tie the mast on to. I moved 40m away from the trig point, linear not height! I quickly erected the beam and raised the mast and the 817 was ready to go.

A quick flick through and my first contacts were Colin and Heather UXH,  both have the same last three letters but different class of call. They were doing a WOTA summit, Hindscarth which I passed on my route from Dale Head to Robinson on my Lakes trip last Sept. A WOTA chase to start.

Next I found Colwyn YCJ who was on White Coomb to the S of me so a STS (summit to summit) was a good start and after I worked YCJ, Andy FMF called in from Dumglow, the highest of the Cleish Hills and another STS. I also spoke with Jack COX then it was off for another quick check then off to .500 and after a single call, I worked Steve UAU in Greenock, Bob AWV in Gourock followed by Roddy 2MØIOB also in Gourock and after a quick chat with Roddy I worked Stevie SUB just to NW of me in Garelochead.

Regular contact Ken AXY called me from Edinburgh, contacts were coming thick and fast now, Geoff WHA called me from his home town of Annan before fellow blogee Neil 2MØNCM called me from South Ayrshire from the summit of Auchensoul Hill which I later found was a HuMP. It was good to work Neil as we have a running joke that he keeps trying to play ‘Dodgebob’. Today he chased me !

I got called next by Vic VTB from nearby Milngavie and Colin XSD from Frizington on the western Lake District called in and told me that Liz EPW was heading to Dent in the Lakes as we spoke, I was later to catch Liz on the summit of her hill and she worked me using just her handie, nice one.

Beinn Chaorach trig - 2013

Beinn Chaorach trig – 2013

I heard Billy ETB in Coleraine and gave him a call, Billy had been in QSO with a station in Dublin, I could hear the Dublin station but I only spoke with Billy.

I had a quick break and next one in the log was Robin PKT who was NW of me on Cruach Mhor to the NW of Inverary, as expected a very strong signal. A quick chat with Robin before I headed to work Andy USU in the Falkirk area. It was getting busy today.

I always head down to the lower frequencies as WOTA and some southern activators use lower than .400 which is the freq used most in Scotland. I heard Terry VWP on a NP (North Pennines) hill and I worked Terry with no problem on his summit of Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales area and quickly followed this by chatting with Phil OBK and finally Nick OOE who were with Terry. A good contact which led me to believe a slight lift was on as I heard a station operating on one of the Mell Fells just SW of Blencathra but I returned later and he had moved frequency. I should have persevered.

The earlier mentioned STS contact with Liz EPW on Dent was quickly followed by Stan SXT who was mobile and had just joined the M90 at J5 in Fife, Craig HJV in Gourock then Dennis DNX in Glasgow marked in the log.

Jim GLM called me from Dunfermilne, Jim has worked me on my last three activations, hopefully Jim will make it back out on to the hills by mid summer. Tommy OJE in Darvel, Stu BSM near Stirling, Ray MTO in Glasgow then John YDC then answered my call, I was surprised when John told me he 5ml south of Middlesboro, a good next to the last contact app 280 kms away before my last contact for the day, Christine YMM from Edinburgh.

Beinn Chaorach N view - 2009

Beinn Chaorach N view – 2009

30 contacts brightened up what was a cloudy, damp day.

I was on air for over two hours and after some fruitless calls on 70cm it was time to break the station and head off the hill. I headed to the trig to set up the GPS for the descent and much as I tried I could not get a phone signal where normally it is no problem. I’d call home on the way down. I had got a text earlier from Roddy saying it looked like the cloud may clear. The one text that had got through.

Packed up so off I headed down in 50m visibility and crossed the bealach and ascended the short rise to Tharsuinn where I was greeted by clear views down the ridge, I looked back and a wall of cloud showed. the phone showed full signal so I called home. I can only guess that on Chaorach the signal possibly affected by the cloud and damp conditions. My text tone kicked in and about a dozen texts rattled in from those who had tried to message me on the hill. I looked back and briefly saw the summit appearing then it disappeared again.

Route

Route

The first sighting all day - 2013

The first sighting all day – 2013

I turned on the handie and spoke with Roddy for almost the entire descent from Tharsuinn and as I dropped down the steep final descent Steve UAU called in from above Greenock but I lost both of then as I dropped down the field to the road. I’d made good time on the descent and as Katie arrived I was 200 m from the start point.

A good day marred only by lack of any views. Another shorts day !!!

A hill which was my first 4 point SOTA hill and my fourth visit, as with all the Luss hills a steep start but a hill with good VHF take off. Where am I off to next ? No doubt my head will be stuck in maps all week.

I’m going through my regular hills leaving the later months for new hills ( I hope).

Previous Chaorach blogs are

2009 HERE

2010 HERE

2011 HERE

My thanks go to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and any other sites I have linked to.

As my a’Mhanaich post I have used earlier post images which if clicked on will embiggen.

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(Nov) Radio Days ’11

The regular monthly post is running rather late this month so here we go…

SOTA

One activation to report, Beinn Chaorach in the Luss Hills area. I normally do this hill mid year but due to so much else going on, I had hoped to try catch this hill at one point although not as late as this.

I headed to do this hill on a whim on an excellent day weather wise. Ben Bowie had been my original target. Blog post on the activation is HERE

A snowy Beinn Chaorach

A snowy Beinn Chaorach

Chasing…..

The first weekend of the month and on the Sat, Robin PKT was out on the summit of Meall Chuaich. The following day Graeme 2MØGIL headed to the Trossachs area to activate the highest hill in the area, Ben Ledi, Graeme’s blog post is HERE.

On the Monday, I caught Neil 2MØNCM on a line of sight hill, Duncolm in the Old Kilpatrick Hills, I spoke to Neil on both 4 and 2m. Later that day, Ian MXW was out on Cairnpapple Hill to the SW of me. Good to catch two contacts outside the weekend.

The following weekend, I headed out for a walk in the back roads and returned to the trig point at the top of the hill behind me and I worked rather surprisingly Iain WJZ, Iain was on the summit of the Merrick well to the south of me. Minutes later, I caught Neil 2MØNCM on Green Hill in the Lowthers, good to see Neil getting this hill out of the roadand again within minutes I worked Jack COX, Jack was on his regular hill, Dungavel to the south-west of me…a good haul especially as all contacts were made on the 2w Baofeng handie ( dual band duck)..

Duncolm from the South

Duncolm from the South

The next day, Neil was out further north on Beinn Odhar whilst Graeme 2MØGIL popped up again across the river from me on Ben Bowie, his blog post HERE. Robin PKT later popped up on Beinn Chlaonleud in the Morvern area just south-west of Fort William. I later worked Neil NCM on 10m ssb.

Finishing off the month, it was Neil’s turn to pop up on Bowie, a hill that is my nearest Marilyn.

A quiet month but typical November weather.

HF…

I spent probably too much time on JT65 and ignored PSK for most of the month. The usual European contacts interspersed with Asian and North American contacts but one lunchtime, I finally cracked South America with a contact into Argentina on 10m JT65, it took me long enough but that is the six continents finally worked, what next ?..

The Green Road (or Devol Rd) heading back home

The Green Road (or Devol Rd) heading back home

The rest…

Quite a few miles walked in the local area mostly to the south of me, I have a track nearby which takes me into the back roads of eastern Inverclyde. 15 mins from home and I drop down the other side of the hill but with the excessive rain the track is very muddy and puddly in places. It is good to head out and decide your route just before the bottom of the track.

One Sunday morning, I headed over the Green Rd early and had reached the top of the track where it splits the golf course, I looked down the 4th fairway to see if I could see any golfers. I saw none but surprised to see 9 ponies walking towards me……across the soft 4th green. Oh boy, not good…I contacted the greenkeeper and herded the ponies into an area where hopefully they would cause no harm. Unfortunately too late as a couple of greens got damaged on their walk to the top of the course. .at least I go to play cowboy, now where is me saddle ?

 

(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.