Tag Archives: Marilyn

A Boomerang Hill

Hill of Stake

also known in SOTA circles as GM/SS 155 is a ‘Marilyn’ and is split between the counties of Renfrewshire and Ayrshire. It is the county top of Renfrewshire although whilst discussing this with Jack COX, I leant over the fence and spoke to him from Renfrewshire. I was of course in the Ayrshire side. Banality over.

The post title ‘Boomerang Hill’ ?

I activate this hill and say that is the last visit but I keep coming back..

This is the fourth successive year I have activated this hill SOTA style although I did more than once carry radio gear here in the early/mid 80s. This hill has many memories for me, I sat down early one Sunday morning in clag so thick in the middle of the swampy area just to the N of the summit and thought ‘Sod this, time for a cuppa’ and miraculously the mist lifted immediately then later, our antenna was halved by what was literally a full blown gale, all in 60 mins.

Four maps all printed ready to go, three ‘Marilyns‘ and one local walk sitting on my printer desk.

I’d given up hope of getting out this weekend due to snow levels and almost hourly changing weather forecasts. I grabbed the 3rd map for this hill, HoS, The Stake or Hill of Hell, Soggy Hill and many none too complementary names.

Mine heritage info

Mine heritage info

I had woken early and put everything on extra charge three hours before I had scheduled to leave. I decided to take extra clothing and for a change, the FT 817 so a larger rucksack was needed. This all added extra weight but I was hoping my regular walks would now pay dividends except I’d walked a total of 14 mls the previous two days including some off-road across the Side Hills ridge which was still boggy in parts.

Off through Kilmacolm until we reached the right turn which would take us the three miles on a single track road to Muirshiel Country Park Centre, the starting point. It was a crisp start to the day and the weather looked better than the forecast.

Katie dropped me off before heading back home, a quick ‘Cheerio’ then out the familiar by now ‘Mines’ track which rises steadily heading towards the ruins of an old Barytes mine, the track is excellent and with it being in regular use is easy walk-able. A steady pace passing the remains of an old water management system and crossing a newer bridge across the Calder burn. Just before this bridge is a path heading northwards towards Hardridge taking in the old Grouse railway remains, this is pencilled in for this summer.

Heading out you pass the remains of grouse butts which sadly now are more often only a single 4×4 wooden post, the moor was used for shooting parties which according to articles I have read, travelled up from down south to the big house that once stood near the Ranger Centre. Such luminaries as the Fitzalan Howard once owned the shooting rights to this area which is classic Grouse country and even Winston Churchill himself was a guest.

I was looking for a white post at the left side of the track which used to signal that it was time to head up the hill to Queenside Loch which I have fished before, cracking small brown trout chasing every gold bodied fly you threw at them, there was no size in the fish but allowed great sport on light tackle. The post sadly isn’t there any more but I do remember it was a fair haul to the ‘Queenie’ and the swarms of midges as you walked back down the track in the gloaming.

The track now descends slowly as you approach the mine area, the mine buildings became unsafe and were demolished a few years ago only concrete bases remain but there is still many signs of works activity. Sadly ‘Health and Safety’ has gone bananas with all sorts of fenced off areas and warning signs every 10m. Overkill ? you decide.

Looking down towards the mining area

Looking down towards the mining area

A metal ‘container’ (with a nest built just inside the door) is placed here so a welcome seat in one of the chairs for some scran then it was up a path along the east side of fenced off mine area. This is where it all starts, one and a half mile through marsh and knee-deep heather but I now head towards a top at NS 273638 then head across a marshy area then strike out for the summit along a fence, easier than going ‘direct’.

I received word from Neil 2MØNCM that he was on 4m FM so I set up my handie and made the contact but it was poor quality but there were more than a few high hills between us. I picked up my rukkie from against the top mine fence and headed slowly but surely and finally reached the top of my target spot, the summit of the Stake was now in sight, I walked across and joined a slight path which heads up the fence line and soon I was standing at the trig point. I had hopes of heading to the trig point at Burnt Hill to the west but I decided it would be better just to head home after the activation, I’ll do a lightweight visit out to this later in the summer.

I quickly set up the FT 817 and the 5 element yagi and sought out those who I knew were on 2m, I spoke with Robin PKT who was on the summit of Sidhean na Raplaich situated on the Morvern area north of Mull. Next in the log was Roddy 2MØIOB at home in Gourock, I had internet problems before I left and had to ask Roddy to post an alert for me, thanks !!

It was off round 2m FM and I snagged Neil 2MØNCM who was portable to the SW of me on Blaeloch Hill, another STS (summit to summit) was in the bag, I was later to have a good long chat with Neil.

Jack COX called in, I had worked Jack the previous day when he activated Beinn Dubh near Luss but he was home in the Lanarkshire area today. I moved back to S20 and heard an EI portable station calling so a quick swing of the beam and I worked Victor a GI station who had crossed the border and he was on Muckish Mountain in Donegal, a contact of approx 135 mls with no problems at all. A good one !!

Bob AWV called in from the Greenock Cut next then after quick words it was time for some scran then whilst looking for fellow Paisley club member, Brian HMZ I hooked up with Stuart OXQ in Paisley, Stuart was the third PARC member in the log today.

Neil called and I had a quick word with Cat, MM6CNC who was enjoying the sunshine while Neil worked away on the bands. Fred Eric FSZ called in from Girvan, apologies must go to Fred Eric whom I kept calling Fred.

Hill of Stake trig point

Hill of Stake trig point

I had pulled over a post and was using this to keep my rear off the wet grass, I was having a check through my log when I could hear the familiar sounds of a trail bike, I thought ‘local farmer’ but no, just to the S is West Girt Hill and I saw a biker arriving up at the top and another then another, the three sat astride, I thought ‘Bandits at 12 o’clock’, I stood up and felt my thigh for my trusty Colt 45, damn I’d forgotten it so it would have to be the SOTA pole used ‘Kendo’ style. I’m sure I could hear Ennio Morricone playing the theme from ‘The Good, Bad and the Ugly’. It was just like a movie, one by one they headed off the top heading to the Stake, I was wishing the Lone Ranger was with me…

The lads soon appeared and they had said they had travelled up from Largs, I fancy that as it would save a lot of effort but alas it goes against the ethics of SOTA.  I had a good chat with one about all the plane wreckage which lay in nearby hills (another thing to mark on my list).

I returned to the radio and spoke to Jim GLM who was to the NE on Carleatheran in the Kippen area, another STS in the log. I next spoke to Steve UAU who was nearby in Greenock, the HoS is my nearest Marilyn although I can see Ben Bowie from the shack window. Joe MTJ called in from Paisley and this was my last contact on 2m, S20 was busy with the EI and a couple of GM stations calling out.

It was time to try 4m FM, Neil had said he had tried 4m for a wee while and only raised 2 contacts so I thought, I’ll just use the helically wound ‘duck’, I called and Duncan AHL in Dumbarton was first to call and Fred Eric FSZ called in next, a quick word with both then I thought I better try to find Brian HMZ, I got Brian on S20 plus he was mobile in Gourock so not bad on my wee Baofeng handie and 2 watts.

The wind started to pick up from the NE and had a chill to it, it was time to think about heading home. I packed all the radio gear away and made sure I had left nothing behind as I had mislaid two bungee cords on my first HoS activation which were recovered by Roddy IOB some months later.

Static Cable Winder, I think

Static Cable Winder, I think

Time to head, Endomondo switched on and off to return the route I had come in and as I reached the bottom of the hill, I headed back across the marshy area heading for the previous named top when I saw a couple appearing on that top, I knew this time I had no gun. I met and chatted to them for a few minutes before heading downwards, I heard IOB calling on S20 so a quick QSO as I was quickly losing height.

I met the main burn and followed it down the side of the mine workings and reached the ‘container’ and a swig of water and a healthy(?) option sugar laden biccy and off along the track.

The weather had been excellent and it made for a pleasurable day, I walked back to the Ranger Centre and then headed home. The total distance from car park to hill and back was just under 8 ml, 5 mls on the mines track and 3ml of pathless terrain, great fun.

I’ve not done a wee history bit as the Clyde Muirsheil Park have excellent PDF files on-line and below are the three I would recommend reading, click on the subject.

Muirshiel Baryte Mines

Muirshiel House

Aircraft Crashes in the Country Park

I said I may make this my last activation of the HoS but who knows ? You either like the hill or you don’t, it’s a Marmite type of place. See I’ve said it again !

It was good to be back out giving STS’s back to those I chase, hopefully the start of more hills this year.

If you haven’t been, go…

If you right click any of the images they will open in a new window in a fuller size…

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(Feb) Radio Days ’12

Another month on…

No SOTA activations to report but with a new kid on the block, Summitbase’s ‘HuMPs’ Awards which brings me to Corlic, my favourite hill is now a HuMP with the title of GM/HSS 088. I activated the hill although this activation was unintentional. Blog post on the activation HERE.

First contact was a ‘mongrel’ summit to summit with Neil 2MØNCM on a SOTA ‘Marilyn‘  Cruach Tairbeirt, I had picked out Corlic to go and work Neil as I before had trouble working another station on the same hill on some lower ground a few weeks earlier, a hill surrounded on 360 by higher hills. I also worked local stations that day locally plus a mobile station going to Carnwath, good going on 2w and the IOB beam. Another hill related facet of our hobby which promotes activity.

Corlic Hill From Dam Wall

Corlic Hill From Dam Wall

SOTA…

Quiet month for me once again as this pounding the local tarmac and green tracks is taking me out of opportunities to work stations who are out, sadly not everywhere has good take off when I’m out. I do try to estimate my walks to take in higher spots but it never seems to work out that way. I’ll take what I can get until hopefully the summer months and lying toasting on a summit waiting.

First station worked was Neil 2MØNCM with the aforementioned contact then later that day I caught Bob AWV who was on the summit of Beinn Dubh on west Lomondside, I caught Bob from the wrong side of the hill as I was leaving the ruined farmstead area at Glenbrae. A good one to get considering location.

Two weeks later, I caught Iain WJZ from Beinn Narnain in the Arrochar Alps, I have promised a visit to this hill since I first worked Neil way in Sept 2009, I’ll get there. Later that day, Craig HCF kept up his recent activation run with my first ever SOTA activating summit, the much dreaded Hill of Stake, this hill is also my nearest Marilyn.

The following week, I headed out and caught Iain WJZ on Broad Law from the trig point just to the east of the local golf course, a regular chasing spot for me. The next day, I caught Bob AWV this time on Meikle Bin, his XYL Eunice UVL was making this a dual activation so two in the log.

That was another quiet ‘chasing’ month for me but I’m sure the miles being walked will stand me in good stead if I manage to get back out activating.

HF….

Not much difference in the previous two months, I’m still calling out but not as much as usual. I am mostly on JT65 or PSK as I’ve given OPERA a rest. I did spend some time monitoring for other modes such as Contestia and Olivia but the latter seems to be passing me by. Nothing exciting to report DXCC wise. I seem to miss the better openings.

I’ve trialed Multipsk more specifically for the HF Fax and Acars, sadly the Acars is a limited part of the program but at 20 quid for the full program it could be an excellent addition to my data programs. My present Acars decoding program is complicated to set up but there again it has its advantages over Multipsk.

One wee extra this month..

I came across this article here on Lifehacker HERE.

This is as lightweight as you may get for a wild camp in the wilds, I know you can sleep under the stars but I can’t because the midge family love dining on me….I had a one man tent in my earlier years but believe me, it wasn’t very light. I know those of you who know me personally will wonder how I could even manage to fit into such a small space then…Just read that a mosquito was found in a house locally…oh boy!

Bobby early 1980s

Bobby early 1980s

Which leads me on to a photo that Ailsa my youngest found whilst looking through some old photos, it shows a rather young Bobby Mhor. If I remember correctly this photo was taken on a trip oop north to the Glen Feshie area, the previous week I had done a week’s volunteer work for the RSPB at Insh Marshes, a thing I would say was a worthwhile exercise.

Unfortunately and happily for me, the image on the blog is actual size I scanned. What a beard though !

Once again, thanks to all those sites I have linked to, Wikipedia and others.

Summitsbase has recently started their ‘HuMPs’ awards and many have started activating mostly down south ( England and Wales) on both HF and VHF, the site itself is an ongoing work in progress and by becoming a member you can take part in this exciting venture, the site is one in which you can share your local knowledge for others to learn routes etc. I know some regular readers of this blog are contributors. If you are a Radio Amateur, go register and join in….any queries I am sure an email to one of the team will soon sort you out.

‘Hundred Metres Preference’ or ‘HuMP’

‘HuMPS’ ebook (pdf) HERE

Lawers is a 10, a 10 point ‘Marilyn’

My son Euan mentioned the previous week that we could ‘do’ a hill together so like a good father I sent him to see his mum for a wee loan of her car, it never fails. I have to say here that he drives and I don’t. I mentioned the weather wasn’t looking the best but we would keep an eye on the prospects toward the end of the following week.

The chosen hill ?

Activation of Ben Lawers GM/CS 001 2/6/2011

Activation of Ben Lawers GM/CS 001 2/6/2011

‘Just surprise me’ I said and so on the day we would leave home and we would head but he would not tell me the destination although I said it has to be a Marilyn for obvious reasons.

Thursday looked good weatherwise and I got all the equipment together but this time I was going to travel with the barest minimum. I debated leaving home the 4m handie but thought if any problem with the 2m stuff, I would have least 4m FM.

We decided, okay he decided a 8am start, I thought it must be local as I remember being told once by him that I wouldn’t be fit enough to ‘do’ Ben Lomond so naturally, I wondered where we would go. Off across the usual northern route, the Balloch roundabout was passed so we were now heading further up Loch Lomondside, I had a sneaking suspicion it would be in the Arrochar area but nope it wasn’t to be as we turned right at Tarbet. Heading further northwards to Crainlarich, I thought please no not Ardrain again !!! but soon we passed the Ardrain set off point and minutes later we arrived in Crainlarich, we turned right. More? nope, we passed and looked up the daunting relentless slopes of this fine hill. Onward then it became clear it was the Lawers area but what one ? Corranaich ? Tarmachan on a return trip ? nope, straight into the Ben Lawers car park. It was Lawers !!

Panic ? yep, I panicked…are you kidding ? remember my last time out ? I’ll tell your mum !! I’ll boot yer **** !!!

‘You’ll do it !’ he says casually, comforting words from the oldest in the family who will inherit my meagre pittance, I did text my youngest to tell her mum, HELP !!!!!

‘Move it, Bob’ he says and off we joining the merry throng who all seemed to set off at the same time….

My thoughts at that time ?

It’s just quarter after 10 so this looks like a 4pm activation, my mind was working overtime trying to remember the route as I had planned this at one point but after the last Munro, the idea was shelved.

It was pretty breezy as we headed through the Nature Area exiting through the last gate and on to the open hillside, the dress of some of the parties heading up was making my head shake with disbelief..

I’m not going to head off on a rant but it was like a walk along the beach for some. I spoke to one woman who was struggling and offered her a few wine gums(sugar fix), she said she had some chocolate biscuits and a near empty litre bottle of water. I think she retraced back just before Beinn Ghlas.

Off again I’m still ascending slowly as I do, a wee break then I walk more and a wee break. It works for me!

It was getting serious now and a constant ascent to the first Munro Beinn Ghlas, I stopped after the first 60 mins for a wee break and some scran ( for those gourmonds among you the choice(again) was Toast with mature cheese washed down with a cheeky little drop of Chateau Loch Thom (tap water)).

Our first target

Our first target

Off and upwards I headed with the mist and cloud rolling in, rather atmospheric I thought but it was that ‘smirry’ stuff which just clings to you, the one advantage was that the wind was almost directly behind me but even a hurricane cannot move me, I spoke to someone who was on the down and he assured me that the first summit was within easy reach. I headed upwards and soon heard Euan call me into a sheltered area, a wee scran break again.

Minutes later, another ‘Munro’ was bagged although it was pretty nondescript and unexciting but then you start heading down to the bealach, the ridge walk is good for the short time it lasts, a bit ‘airy’ to your left into the glen below whilst Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire Leith could be seen occasionally when the cloud lifted. I had thought Beinn Ghlas was only just over the basic ‘Munro’ height but my memory had failed me, it was 1103m.

Lawers was continually shrouded in scurrying cloud but I now thought that from the bealach I still had a 1000ft climb to the trig point although it was really a haul of approx 550ft which looked straight up. The wind was now strong and constant and I slowly worked my way up to the summit, the path was heavily eroded.  ‘Not long now, big fella, only 10 mins to go’, Aye, right, I’ve heard this before but no, there it was ‘The Trig (and the nearby Direction Indicator). I thought as I was getting nearer it was moving backwards but no, Euan appeared and I finally reached out and touched the Trig point or to be honest used it to hold me up. The wind was now pretty horrendous, Euan had found a slightly sheltered area where I could use the 5 element 2m beam, I thought no 4m FM today unless I struggled with 2m FM which I did.

Our ubiquitous fellow blogger and my sometimes joint activator, Roddy 2MØIOB was waiting on my call, ten points to you !!. I know ‘giving’ ten chaser points and mentioning CS/001 just sounded so good. I never thought I’d manage a ten pointer. One contact down with three to go and boy, I struggled.

Next call in the log was Denis YDN who was near Girvan, we had a good chat and finally, I thought I better go and try and find more contacts. I called on S20, nothing so off through the band I looked and came upon Derek MIX who was activating Knott in the Lake District and once our beams headed in the right direction, a strong signal both ways, I had a quick chat and the conditions weather wise in the Lake District were much better but I guess as I was nearly at 4,000 ft, it would be different.

Off now to catch the fourth contact, this one would activate the hill fully for my points, Steven TMS in Fife answered my call, a chat about SOTA and I was off once more to find more contacts, it turned out to be only another one, Iain, MIM in the Falkirk area. I had a further search around the band, I could hear with a strong MØ station but my attempts to ‘break’ went unheeded, I also heard a Welsh accent very low in signal strength but as it was getting on, I dropped the beam and mast which had a mind of its own at times.Sadly 2m was not in good use this day.

Looking back to Beinn Ghlas as Bob starts final push

Looking back to Beinn Ghlas as Bob starts final push

Packed away it was time to head off the summit, windblown and slightly chilly we descended towards the bealach taking care on the steep eroded sections. We discussed our plan to head down the lower path avoiding the climb back up to Ghlas as this path looked a steady but gentle way down. The path was excellent, no erosion and a steady descent. A thought for ascent if one wasn’t ‘munro’ minded. We could now see both Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Choire an Leith and the ridge between them across the glen.

A slow but steady descent and suddenly views of Loch Tay and the Tarmachan ridge came into view. We entered the Nature Area and soon we arrived back at the car park. Time to head home……

I had done it !!!!!! another victory for this ancient overweight lump, number 10 on the Munro height list, only 270 odd to do.

What a day although I must say to be honest, the walk to Lawers starts at 440m and this is a great help, the path over Beinn Ghlas is pretty much in bad condition as is the final ascent to Lawers but visitors to both hills must run into thousands each year. The return path into Coire Odhar which we used which skirts to the north side of Beinn Ghlas is in excellent condition and if you decide not to bag Ghlas then it may be a better thought to use this path on your walk in.

My pack was lighter this trip as Euan had kindly carried my mast and beam and my much lightened box of tricks. I had carried extra food, water and clothing. It certainly helped, I wonder my progress would have slowed much with the extra equipment, I thought maybe slightly.

In the grand scheme of things SOTA, a ten point hill is the pinnacle, I have achieved one. I know that those who visit the blog have been on these lofty heights but for me, it was an achievement.

Sadly the constant cloud meant I could not have a panorama view from the top, I think I would have struggled to stand in the wind as well. The mist and cloud did not help the photo opportunities either.

I have posted a very short scan of the summit area.

Information Overload…..

Ben Lawers ( Beinn Labhair ) is 1412m ASL ( 3,983 ft) and is the ‘Hill of the loud stream ‘

is number 10 on the Munro list

Beinn Ghlas is 1103m ASL (3,619 ft) and it’s Gaelic meaning is the ‘Grey-Green Mountain’

is number 47 on the Munro list

Ben Lawers Geohack Info <HERE>

(February) Radio Days

 

 

A slight wait to post this review of my previous months radio stuff, I have included relevant photos to the post but as a wee treat, these were taken last summer when the sun was at its highest and warmest. Oh for a lazy day or two on the hills, I may do some HF from some lowish one pointers this year!!!

VHF…

Been more active on these bands outside SOTA work. Mostly on 2m FM with an occasional shout out on 4m FM.

SOTA…

Another busy month on the ‘chasing’ front.

Steve INK was the first contact of the month, I caught Steve on Stob an Eas working 60m, I know HF. Next in the log was Bob AWV who activated Ben Bowie, my nearest ‘Marilyn‘ as the crow flies, this hill was to be activated a few times over Jan and Feb, the contact with Bob was on 2m FM. The next day, can you guess who activated the aforementioned hill, Steve INK had a quick call on 4m FM and  I caught him.

Looking to Arran from Ben Bowie

Looking to Arran from Ben Bowie

The following week I spoke to Iain WJZ from Meall Corranaich from my home location but I later headed to my 1000ft mast to catch him on his second hill of the day, Meall a’Choire Leith, both hills being in the Ben Lawers range.

The next day, Neil 2MØNCM activated a snowy Stob Coire Creagach near Butterbridge, a wet ascent with a snowy summit. A right dirty sounding day.

Next in the log was Iain, WJZ who activated Ben Lawers whilst later that day I worked Alan, XXP on Hart Fell from my regular perch on the hill above me.

The last weekend was busy with firstly, a catch of Bob AWV on Beinn Eich and the following day, I ‘chased’ regular activators from my 1000ft mast firstly Graeme 2MØGIL on Meall Gainmheich then followed by Alan XXP who was SW of me on Trahenna Hill, this QSO was on 4m FM and lastly to the north, Neil 2MØNCM who travelled to Beinn Chuirn in the Cononish area.

Ben Lawers

Ben Lawers

A busy month indeed with a good haul of chasing points achieved. Rolling on towards achieving the 1,000 pt.

HF…

Still working away on the bands between 40m and 12m, 10m has been opening occasionally but I have not been on air at the time but this augurs well for the coming months. European stations mostly with the odd trip across the pond. It will get interesting once 12m and 10m open more on a regular basis.

Trips out ( local)…

My 1000ft mast ( Corlic) was used to test out a 2 ele 2m portable yagi built by Roddy 2MØIOB, it was also used on my trip to Hillside Hill which is part of the Dunrod Hill area. I, as usual, headed up to the golf course hill, High Auchinleck (I’m assured that is its name) to catch the odd activation, it is more fun and rewarding to collect the points from outside the shack.