Tag Archives: SOTA

Looking towards Loch Scridain

Muile, Myl or simply Mull, the activation…….

Plans had been laid a few month earlier to visit the Isle of Mull, to activate Ben More the only Munroon the island….and one of only 5 Munros on the SOTA GM/SI (Scottish Islands) list.

Activation of Ben More, Isle of Mull GM/SI 003 2/10/2011

Activation of Ben More, Isle of Mull GM/SI 003 2/10/2011

The original dates we had booked were due to circumstances cancelled but we had shifted our booking a few weeks forward. In hindsight this was a godsend as the tail end of Hurricane Katia battered the west coast of Scotland and dropped almost half the Atlantic as rain, not camping weather I think.

The weekend chosen was the first one in October not known for its balmy weather but we arrived on Mull at Craignure on the Saturday.

We decided to recce our prospective route to More’s summit. We left our campsite and wended through the single track roads which are the norm on the island and arrived at the beach parking spot at Dhiseig (NM 494359). The hill strangely looked a bit less than its height, a quick run through the route and off we headed back to Craignure.

Ben More from sea level

Ben More from sea level

The weather forecast was not promising, there was possibly a weather window of no rain between 13.00 and 18.00 but this was to prove very wrong as the rain poured continuously from 1am until 6.30 am Sunday morning.

Equipment and scran were prepared and after a hearty brekkie, the Discovery was packed and off we set to our destination. The weather had dried but there was mist still showing on the tops as we headed towards our start point.

We arrived at Dhiseig and our summit was clear, time to get moving, I had called Neil 2MØNCM earlier to post an alert on the SOTA site as the internet connection had been a bit flaky so 14.00 UTC was the target.

Off we set and headed up a rough track and passed the keepers cottage and headed on to open hillside through a gate, the first part of the route kept us to the left of the Abhainn Dhiseig burn, the ground was boggy at times but slow progress was made and as I had badly sprained my right ankle four weeks earlier and was still not 100%, I had made a note if I felt any discomfort or pain I would just turn around and head back down.

The first mile was over rising grassy land and it soon changed after we crossed the burn and headed on to a much rockier and broken path. The pace was slowing down here as we picked our way up this path knowing the last steep push was looming near. Slowly but steadily we rose as there is not much respite as the climb is continuous. A scran break was had just below what was our last stage of the ascent, a steep scree filled area with a ridge leading to a steep final rise to the summit plateau.

As expected the views were getting better as we rose, a sunny day makes all the difference.

Off we trudged, slowly making up height with the usual encouraging words from those ascending, I had spoken to a lad heading down who said that a couple were drinking champagne to celebrate their completion of the Munro list. Ben More seems to be a popular last hill for many.

Plodding up and up the landscape turned from a grassy, boggy and rocky area into a rock strewn landscape with a path snaking its way upwards, I met the couple from Edinburgh who had boozed at the top and congratulated them on their feat, I still have 270 odd to do…after a quick chat and the promise of the summit within reach, I struck out for the top and within minutes, I arrived at the summit plateau and a few hundred yards away was the summit shelter in which the ruined Trig Point ( search and see the original Trig Point) still shows its base. Roddy had almost got his four contacts to activate the hill, Patsy soon arrived.

Roddy 2M0IOB in summit shelter

Roddy 2M0IOB in summit shelter

I had decided a 70s day, 4M FM and 70cm FM so the 4m JPole was set up but before I called out, I spoke with Iain, WJZ who was on Beinn Chaorach and Robin, PKT was on Beinn Lora. Two ‘summit to summit’ to start the day !

I called out on 4M and eventually raised three contacts, Angus BCA who was on South Uist, club member Brian HMZ who was in the Howwood area and finally using only a handie, Bill RBR on the Isle of Skye. I next nipped back on to 2m to speak with Neil, 2MØNCM who had driven to Ballantrae to try to catch us, it was good to return the points as it is generally us ‘chasing’ Neil. Jack COX was next to call in from near Law in Lanarkshire whilst my last 2m contact was Graeme 2MØGIL who was portable in the Mugdock area in the north-west area of Glasgow.

I was speaking to a couple who taken the ridge scramble from a’Chioch and they had mentioned the ‘airyness’ of the drop just next to us. I had a quick look and approx 1,100 ft below was the next stop after where we stood…I resisted the temptation to ask them to step back as I took some photos of them.

Sadly the weather over the rest of the country was wet and windy, there had been only a handful of activations down south so hopes of G and GW contacts disappeared but our weather was as if we had hand-picked it. After the usual round of photographs, we decided to head off the hill.

Heading slowly back down, it was more concentration on foot falls for me but after only one little slip on level ground, I eventually reached the set off point as darkness fell, I was in contact with Roddy and Patsy who arrived 10 mins later and yes, the weather window then closed, it started to drizzle first then rain lightly.

We drove back to Craignure, tired but elated.

One statistic I must mention, Ben More is the 7th highest hill in the UK as its prominence is exactly the same as it’s height – see table HERE

Please feel free to click on the images below for better size and quality pictures, the panorama photo was taken from near the junction of the A849 and B8035 (OS ref NM 544292).

My own take on it..

A cracking hill to do plus also to enjoy the delights of Mull, one hill not to be forgotten, it was busy as expected on such a glorious day, the sunny day had been the icing on the cake.

I had badly sprained an ankle trying to get some legwork and fitness up for the original trip and over the following four weeks, the ankle wasn’t healing as fast as I hoped. I guess in my advancing years things take longer to heal but after a lot of rest and a total last week of rest, my ankle held up although it still aches on occasion. It can rest now… GM/SI 003 is in the bag…

I’ll do another piece on the other things we done on Mull and the diversions on our trip back home from Oban…soon

Information Overload…

Ben More is the highest point on the Isle of Mull.

In Gaelic it means ‘ Big mountain’

It is 966m (3,169) ASL

Geohack Info HERE

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Goat Fell and the Brisbane Glen

Yomping Through The Heather…Creuch Hill

I’d noticed this last week that someone had looked at my earlier Creuch Hill blog post for route and hill information so I made a mental note, a trip on the first date available as it had been almost two years I last made the trip to this summit. Now I remember why !

The previous day, Saturday would have been ideal as more than a few of the regulars were out multiple activating but I had committed to start replacing our back garden fence.

I had hoped the weather forecast would stay true and like the last trip out to Corlic, the sun shone with only the occasional cloud in the sky, I had charged everything up as usual at the end of the week as Robin PKT had been activating throughout the week. Ready to go !

This hill requires a drive to Greenock where you head out what is locally known as the ‘Old Largs Road’ heading past the Whinhill Golf Course on your left before heading into open moorland on a single track road heading along Loch Thom before coming to a junction, Greenock Cut Centre (worth a visit) is the road to your right but you now carry straight on into a narrower single track but with plenty passing places and as you head into North Ayrshire at the oddly named Rottenburn Bridge, in the distance you will soon see pylons crossing the road, the parking place is soon after this on your left at NS 251678. Time to make sure you have all your equipment and head off the obvious track to the first gate. Keeping on the track you now come to the burn where you gingerly cross a patched up footbridge and now climb the gate into open but rough country.

Goat Fell and the Brisbane Glen

Goat Fell and the Brisbane Glen

There is an obvious point to aim at but this is where the old shielings are whilst the summit is to the north of these. There is an old track which disappears in places for part of the route but looks as it hasn’t been used in many a year as nature is reclaiming it, on my last visit there was a faint quad bike track but nothing this time, the track disappears not long before the first pylon, I now headed up working my way through heathery tufts, marshy areas and almost hidden drainage ditches, believe me it is that rough.

Not long after passing under the pylons, I headed eastwards to see if I could see the remains of a branch of the old Grouse Railway which ends near old grouse butts at the south east base of this hill but I saw no evidence. I now headed straight upwards skirting the old shielings ( these are not on the OS map) and head to the obvious wrecked trig. The trig point was demolished in 1987 according to T:UK. Sadly demolished on the spot and no debris removed.

It had taken me approx 45 mins to cover the 1.7 ml.

I set up my 2m handie to listen for any SOTA activity whilst I set up the station, first I set up the mast with the 4m JPole and called CQ but nothing, I had a scran break then tried again and worked a station in the Dumbarton area. I tried again but nothing although I did hear a couple of Irish stations.

It was time to put up the assembled 2m yagi and today it was just pointed north as the declared activators were as if they were in a direct line, first I worked Craig ANL who popped up on Ben Bowie which I could see line of sight. A quick word and the first point was in the bag.

The views all round were fantastic due to the excellent air clarity, Goat Fell and the north end of Arran, Cumbraes and Bute to the south-west whilst the vista from the Cowal Hills to the Old Kilpatrick Hills was stunning, Glasgow land beyond spread out to the east and as you looked south-east into the Lanarkshire hills and finally due south, the North Ayshire hills and its only Marilyn, the Hill of Stake. Superb views which my photos and panorama will do no justice, I think a return to here will be earlier than later, I last visited the hill in 2009, deep in the post list there is an earlier blog post.

Looking North

Looking North

I was monitoring .500 when I heard Iain WJZ calling, we headed down to S18 and made contact, Iain was in what I call my ‘Etive Triangle’, from Creise to the big Buachaille and in a triangle south, I seem to struggle although I did catch Iain on Ben Starav the previous day, Iain today was on Stob Dubh and had activated the hill for its first time, unusual in that area. I left Iain to go and wait on Graeme GIL and Neil NCM but I next heard Robin PKT who was out on Stob Ghabhar in the Black Mount area to the east of Glencoe. Excellent signal both ways and I had a quick chat with Robin before heading to check .500 again. I was as usual chatting on occasion with Roddy 2MØIOB who was walking around the circular Greenock Cut walk from Cornalees, the other stations worked today were Jack COX from his home qth and Brian HMZ in the Paisley area. I then heard Graeme 2MØGIL calling and spoke to Graeme for a time then he was off to look for the other summit stations.

I eventually got talking to Neil on the slopes of Ben Vorlich (The Lomondside one!) before another quick word with Roddy before I broke down the station. I had entertained heading over the hills back home but knowing I had more than a few miles of heathery stuff and bogs to tramp through I took the lazy option and got picked up at my drop off place, a sensible idea I think. Cruach is 5 mile as the crow flies to my home but the route I would take would add to that, the lack of any paths helped make my mind up.

I headed down the hill trying the direct route but this ended with me almost in a massive boggy area so a double back and head down through yes, more heather. I was nearing the track when I saw Katie drawing in the parking area which has plenty of room for when of you think of visiting.

Cruech Hill start

Cruech Hill start

A good hill with a great VHF take off for 270 deg but take off south is blocked by the higher North Ayrshire hills.  On a good sunny day, it is worth the 3.5 mile round trip just for the views alone. I’ve been on this hill a few times over the years and never have met or seen anyone, I can see why. On the short muddy track through both gates there were no footprints.

A good day ended with a quick word from home with Neil NCM heading back home and not much later, Craig ANL had the temerity to visit my fiefdom Corlic, I heard him call and whilst we were on Roddy 2MØIOB popped in.

Congratulations go to Iain WJZ who this week achieved his ‘Shack Sloth’, I presume there will be plenty of STS(summit to summit) chases in there, well done on slothdom.

Feel free to click on the images to see them in a fuller size

Hill info…

Creuch Hill  441m ( 1447 ft) ASL

‘Creuch’ is an old Celtic word meaning ‘mud or loam’

Drop is 87m

The highest point in Inbhir Chluaidh (Inverclyde)

Trig Point – TP 2584 more info <HERE>

possibly used as a fort at one point <HERE>

Route <HERE>

My thanks as usual goes to Wikipedia, T:UK, SOTA etc for all linked to material.

Map <HERE>

Kings Seat……

After last weekends trip to Ben Donich for the SOTA UHF Fun Day, I had thought my ‘activating’ would be put on the back burner for a month or so but Katie had asked if I wanted to head up the East coast on Mothers Day whilst dropping the unexpected bombshell, ‘Isn’t there a hill nearby you could walk ?’…..

Activation of Kings Seat 3rd April 2011

Activation of Kings Seat 3rd April 2011

An offer never to give to Bob….’I think there may be’ replied Bob coyly, knowing fine well that two qualifying one point Marilyns were within easy reach (I had previously checked both hills out and had made a mental note of prospective routes). I made Kings Seat in the Sidlaw Hills the choice as the other, Craigowl Hill is a mass of antennae. I’ll hopefully activate this on another occasion.

Kings Seat looked as if it would give good VHF take off south and possibly west. I proceeded to firstly, check the weather forecast and it looked promising, the wheels then went through the motions next charging the handhelds and gathering the odds and sods needed which were checked and double checked and packed away ready. This was all done 60 hrs before the time of activation, I was a bit more keen than normal as I normally pack everything the night before. All checks including the weather was done early Sunday morning then it was off towards the Carse Of Gowrie via Glasgow then heading towards Perth and finally to the country road at Balbeggie which would take us to my start point approx 6 mls from Newtyle, our eventual destination.

I got dropped off half way down a local farm track, waved Katie goodbye and headed up a tractor track passing a copse then over a stile and headed towards my first landmark through some very boggy areas and as the Donich activation, an odd shower of rain passed over, I had noticed on Google Earth that thick heather was the main covering on this hillside but I worked my way through and found gaps where they had cleared areas for the grouse when I eventually came across a good track which led me to just below the summit. Forty odd minutes after being dropped off I had reached the top which surprisingly has an ususual white trig point ( I had seen this on Geograph).

A white Trig Point

A white Trig Point

It was windy, very windy and probably the windiest situation I had activated or ‘chased’ in. I found a nook on the north side and preceded to erect the mast and then setting the 5 element 2m beam up. Neil 2MØNCM, our fellow blogger had driven to higher ground near Damellington plus Iain WJZ was to be active on Corserine in the Galloway area.

I found that the mast was bending double plus the beam was of its own mind so I tried lowering it to approx 8ft off the ground, this was not perfect but the beam stayed pointing south when I held the mast but when it was higher the beam was pointing at a 45 degree angle to the sky at times, not good.

I switched on and in between trying to tough the odd but quickly passing shower, I called and instantly spoke to Baz DOR who was mobile in nearby Blairgowrie, I thought I better go ‘look’ for WJZ and found him but I took three efforts to ‘break’ in, it was an excellent contact at 164 kms. I wished Ian goodbye and moved to S20 where I next spoke with TommyTCN  who was just out of line of sight in the Carse near Kirriemuir, I had mentioned to him that I intended to try 4m and we arranged a sked for later in the activation.

I returned to S20 and called CQ SOTA to which Barry TOE who was nearing the summit of Mealna Letter (also known as Duchray Hill) returned my call but as he was just out of the activating zone, I waited on him reaching the summit and then proceeded to make the STS (summit to summit) before letting Barry work other regular chasers who were by now calling him.

Looking towards to Dundee

Looking towards to Dundee

Another call and I was speaking to Ron YGI sitting in a supermarket car park in Perth, everytime I hear the word ‘Asda’ their fantastic breakfasts come to mind…Lastly on 2m, I spoke to John EOU who was at sea level at Cellardyke in the Kingdom of Fife, a good chat before I explained I was off to try 4m before heading back down the hill.

I quickly took off the beam and attached the 4m JPole and made the first call, Tommy TCN was first in the 4m log, we had a general chat about the 4m activity in the Tayside area and his going portable on the odd Tuesday evening to the local hills, I must take myself into Corlic or perhaps Creuch Hill on a Tues evening during the summer to try to work the Tayside regulars. Leaving Tommy, I returned and called on 70.450 and Jim, FVM from Ayton in Berwickshire answered, we had a general chat about 4m and Jim had mentioned he had read this blog quite possibly from a link in my profile in the Four Meter forum where I frequent, an interesting forum to monitor (or join!!) if you are 4m minded, have a look here first <HERE> Jim was 106km away, another fine contact. Finally the ubiquitous Steve UAU from Greenock called me on 70.450, the contact was made which I had thought possible but now means I can possibly work Tayside 4m stations from the high spots above Greenock. A note for my summer diary !!

Little had I know Steve had then ‘spotted’ me on the SOTA Spot page or I would have hung around a little longer but by now, I had been joined on the summit by a walking group from Aberdeenshire and was asked by one of them ’20 meters ?’, he then explained is a MM0 station from the Aberdeen area, he showed interest in the chinese handies I was using so after I broke down and packed everything, I had a chat about SOTA and the benefits of using a handie to activate when out these group walks, ‘four contacts is all you need’ was my last words to him.

Kings Seat is 377m (1237ft), a small hill on the SOTA scale but a well-known hill locally for its fantastic views, sadly the photographs and the panorama video I have taken does it no justice. I would recommend if you are in the area to ‘nip’ up the hill and activate whilst appreciating the view. I did get dropped off but there are parking places on the Abernyte road which the hill is easily climbed. The hill is sometimes climbed as a round walk with taking in Dunsinane hill fort ( unfortunately I missed meeting Macbeth by 950 plus years)before heading across to Black Hill and finally ascending Kings Seat then returning the same route.

I had preplanned this hill as I intended ‘doing’ it at some point but having all the info to hand in advance saved last-minute research. As I descended I now followed the track to a fence line which I then headed back to my first marker where I descended back to the pick up track. One more point in the bag.

On a funnier note, you may remember the ad on TV, the Aussie saying ‘I can see the pub from here’ ? Me ? I could just see the church where  I got married, not often you can say that on an activation.

Information Overload…

Kings Seat is 377m (1,237 ft) ASL

The meaning ? self explanatory…

Google Map <HERE>

Trig Point info <HERE>

Trig Point Article <HERE>

SOTA UHF Fun Day 27th March 2011

Just a reminder to those not aware of this proposed event taking place in the UK on the date in question. A VHF Fun Day was held on Sunday 2nd January and was a resounding success with stations on ‘Marilyns’ across Great Britain taking part. On 4m FM, I worked into Wales, England, Northern Ireland and of course, Scotland. Roddy 2M0IOB who was with me that day worked all countries also but with STS ( summit to summit) contacts in each.

Take a look at the SOTA website nearer the date and note where the ‘alerted’ stations will be situated, it may be an thought to head to your local high spot and try ‘chasing’ from there. You may be surprised at how far you may reach under normal conditions. If stuck at home, switch to 70cms FM and SSB plus others will be working higher frequencies of 23cm and above.

Put it in your diary as it promises to be an interesting day, weather conditions have of course to be suitable for the activators.

If I am out and about, be sure to say hello !

SOTA ‘Alert’ page <HERE>

Marilyn explanation <HERE>

My blog report on VHF Fun Day <HERE>

Roddy 2M0IOB blog report on VHF Fun Day <HERE>