Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Kintyre Expedition Reports


#1

Beinn na Lice SS206

Easily reached from the road to The Mull of Kintyre. A rather narrow and twisty single track road with 2 gates to open and close. I visited when it was windy and misty after a previous day of torrential rain. The ground was very wet. Park in the car park, room for 10 vehicles, at the end of the public road. Walk back up to the cattle grid and cross it then climb up steeply following the fence. You follow the fence for the majority of the short route. There’s an obvious change in grass colour at a flatish part of the route and this is where you strike east for 100m to meet the summit. Takes about 20-25mins if that.

I setup at the cairn/trig/wind shelter in the gloom. My new Hagloffs Barrier II Jacket did the business in keeping the cold and damp out. I’d picked most of the summits because they had trigs and are not activated very often. My idea was to offer rare-ish SOTA summits to SOTA chasers and trigs/rare-ish squares to WAB chasers. So I setup on 40m and started on the WAB net on 7.160. A nice brisk bunch of 26 WABbers and SOTA chasers appeared with some excellent signals. After that it was 40m CW where I worked another 11 chasers. I had my satellite spotting system with me as the coverage seemed extremely patchy down here.

With 2 more summiits to work on this day and after the washout of the day before I didn’t hang about once the pileups had been worked.

Beinn Na Lice trig point/wind shelter and cairn.

Improving WX on the way back, Ailsa Craig SS-246 (Christmas Pudding) standing proud.

Cnoc Moy SS-200

The next summit Cnoc Moy is back up the single track road then up Glean Braecairigh. I think it took about 25mins to drive to the turn off for this summit. I’d been in touch with the estate owners and had permission to drive up the private road to the abandoned farm at Glenahanty. This saves about 2km or so, just over 30mins walking. On a day when you’re trying to bag a few summits, saving 60mins walking is a good move. The road is a dirt forest track and is a bit rough in places. It’s probably passable with care in an average car but I doubt I’d get my silly sporty car through without grounding the exhaust in many places. As it was I was in the TonkaToy (Toyota HiLux) so it was trivial. Lever back into 4wd-hi and off I went. It didn’t need 4WD on the way there to be honest though the final 200m drops a lot and is rough. It certainly needed it to get up the hill, a RWD unloaded pickup has limited rear wheel adhesion. I did it in 4WD-lo because I could. I don’t get to play on any rough ground very often so I had to have a play when I could.

From the abandoned farm you follow the road down then up to Gartnacopaig Farm which is being rebuilt/extended. It will be a fabulous place to stay when finished. It’s about 900m of flat road then at a fence you turn off and climb up. From the road to the trig is about 1km and a height gain of 200m. It’s not very hard but was quite steep in places. Follow the fence all the way. ISTR the fence wire disappears near the top but the posts are a suitable handle. By now the WX was much brighter but the wind had got very strong. I setup in a peat hag to keep sheltered. Same MO as before, 40m SSB on the WAB net followed by a QSY to 40m CW. A total of 29 worked on SSB and 9 on CW. Again the single item that made operating easy in blustery and damn cold wind was the new coat. I was delighted with the performance so far. In the few showers there had been, the DWR worked and water beaded nicely on the surface and the brisk wind blew the surface dry almost at once.

Return was back the same way. I’d noticed a dead sheep on the way up and coming down I could see there were 3 all within 50m of each other, a little odd. They didn’t stink too much so had not be dead long. I reported this to the bloke working at Gartnacopiag, showed him where on the map and he said he let the farmer know. The drive out was more playing on the dirt track then back to Campbeltown to invest in the one item I had forgotten to bring, a toothbrush. After 30+hours without a scrub, it was wondeful to give the old gnashers a quick once-over on the way to the next summit.

Cnoc Moy SS-200 Trig Point. Beyond is the Atlantic, next stop Newfoundland!

Looking North to Macrihannish Bay and golden sands.

Bein Ghuilean SS-243

This rises up just to South of Campbeltown. I parked at the edge of a houseing estate before the road rises up to a cellphone tower. This was the longest of the walks today. Up the road, through the gate, along the track down to the reservoir. That’s when you notice that Beinn Ghuilean is a bit steep and imposing for a 1pt summit. Worse there are cows in the field with calves. I made myself looking suitably big and impressive and the cows ran away! The path climbs and climbs steeply through wonderful forest and eventually you pop out of the woods and there is a bench with a great view North over Campbeltown and the bay. There is a faint path leading to the woods. I’d considered trying the very imposing looking grass bank but the stream was in spate and it didn’t look easy to cross. I’d read this path was good for the summit.

The path meanders over rough grass and heather through mature trees by a very busy stream. With the wind making a real noise in the trees and the water tumbling down the hill along with the fact the sun was now shining, this was tiring but very enjoyable. You can see how steep the bank is in this photo. The path is the dark passage between the distant trees.

After a while the path dies out and you have to cross the stream (easy) and then it’s up. Here is the end of the path looking back in the direction of the bench.

After that it’s a fairly brutal climb on difficult terrain, lots of heather and long grass. This was taken by turning 180degs from the previous photo.

I just kept pushing up for what seemed like a lifetime but was about 20mins Before I came to a flatter part of the summit. Still plenty of knolls to climb and the ground was thigh length vegetation or heather. It’s only about 1km from the top of the trees in that last photo to the summit but I was feeling the effort now. I’d not walked far or climbed much but the lack of paths and the wind buffeting was tiring.

Then you have about 600m of bloody awful peat hags to cross, like so. Bogging awful stuff after the rain.

There is a trig but I’m convinced it’s not in the AZ. So I think you can activate the trig for WAB or the summit for SOTA. The summit won. I crossed the rubbish ground and setup for 40m SSB again. The wind was howling and I was surprised the pole could cope. I rigged the dipole element to take some wind load. It was early evening so there were few takers; 9 on SSB and 3 on CW. I packed up and turned about. The return was almost into the wind. I didn’t realise the wind had been a help on the way up.

Back at the car it was boots off, a nice big injection of Exantide and off to the chippy. Chips and battered fish are not ideal food for diabetics but after 3 summits of climbing and only a Toffee Crisp and a breakfast bar since breakfast I was sure my sugars wouldn’t suffer too much. The fresh fish and chips were amazing. I was unable to sit out and enjoy them looking over the bay as I was mobbed by many Gulls and Crows. I sat in the cab of the pickup!

A view of Cnoc Moy SS-200 from Beinn Ghuilean, it’s the furthest-most peak in the centre.


#2

Great report Andy. Brought back happy memories of a 2 week exped spent camping just below the summit of Beinn Na Lice back in the late 80’s with members of the RAF Finningley ARC. We were attempting trans-Atlantic 2m communications running a specially licensed high power beacon on 2m into a 4 x 14 ele tonna set-up. We had two army 12x12 tents laced together and at times had to manoeuvre our Land Rovers close to the tents to provide extra guying!!

Never achieved primary goal but managed plenty of great DX on 6M including CX.

Must go back there one day.

73 Glyn


#3

Well done Andy, I had a listen for you but you were either on while I was actually busy working or when I was at home and on unsuitable bands for the distance. Never mind I’m sure some other eejit (oh, did I type that out loud!) will venture down the nose of Scotland. Really, stare at a map and you’ll see it. :grinning:

I also notice you took the scenic route to Beinn Ghuilean - there is an easier way but no point telling you now. :laughing: At least you managed to achieve most or all of your goal.

Nice and peaceful there ain’t it.

73 Neil


#4

I realise there is the back route to Ghuilean and regret not taking it now. Hrrmmph! It’s nice down there and I have left The Slate to do another time as well as a few others (Sgridean Hill and Beinn an Tuirc) to make the drive worthwhile. Not that I need an excuse to visit again the B&B I found. Wonderful location, fabulous quality fittings, style and design, the most comfy bed I’ve slept in for ages and fantastic breakfasts. Best of all, the owner couldn’t do enough to help.

After a good day bagging 3 summits I had a drive of about 80miles up the peninsula to Knapdale where I had 2 targets.

Tom an t-Saighdeir GM/SS-255

(Pronounced Tom an ty jer) It took longer than expected to get here and whilst the WX was bright when I left if was overcast and damp when I got up to the road that runs down the West sde of the bottom of Loch Awe and the village of Dalavich. Some of the views were so good I did dawdle on the drive. Anyway, I have to admit miserable failure because I could find the start for this.

Here’s the 1:25k map with the GPS track overlaid. You can see lots of green blobs ringed in red as I tried to find the path. Very dense forest and nothing visible. This was after parking of the public road and noticing the ground as shown on Google Maps or Bing did not match what was there. I think someone has dumped a few gallons of BabyBio on the trees and they have grown very quick. I even drove up through the forest trying to match ground to aerial pictures.

Here’s Bing’s view. I parked at the big red blob (bottom right) and that view shows a very obvious path through the trees to the forest track. Not there, dense trees. I’ve put red dashes on where the paths should be. I drove round and actually did a U-turn in the turning area. That shows felled ground, well it was solid trees. I’m assuming this is an old view and there has been replanting and 10years growth.

Anyway after faffing about for 25mins it started to rain hard. I couldn’t match the map/ground and as this should only take 20mins from the car anyway I’d wasted too much time. The forecast was to get better in the afternoon so I decide to cut my loss and get to the next summit whilst it was wet and be ready for that.

Carn Duchara GM/SS-173

This was the last GM/SS summit to be activated. It’s remote from all the Scottish activators. I’d never drive this far in one day for a one point summit. But having done it now, it’s an absolute belter of a summit and if I could guarantee good WX would do it again.

This is one of the summits that is very heavily forested and without aerial views would be difficult to do. Robin GM7PKT did the week before I did and he gave me his route. Jack GM4COX has published his route and Robin said Jack’s was the better one. It wasn’t technical hard, either the walking or the navigation. The hardest bit was climbing the deer fence.

I parked at Lagalochan, there is a huge parking area here on the track that leads to the abandoned farm house. Follow the track down to the house, along the path and at the junction turn left. Follow this to the end. It’s a gentle descent then ascent. The WX was improving, more sun, even more wind and in the trees it was sublime. At the end of the path there is a big firebreak in front. You keep going the same direction for a few hundred metres till you hit the burn. Turn right and climb. It looks steep and of course there is no path. Wild walking in even more sublime countryside. I remember crossing back and forth for the best ground. It was joyous, it really was. Here’s another chance to see what it was like.

The ground eased off and the burn split like a letter Y. It started to hail then snow here for a few minutes so I loitered whilst trying to remember if I went left or right. Right looked best and that did work out. It was a bit soft and boggy in places but in a few minutes I reached the fence. Left would be good as well but I think right takes you in the correct direction more. We wont go into what a chubby bloke looks like crossing an 8ft deer fence, it’s not elegant. But after that it’s wild moorland and I just went generally up and kept the wind on my back. It didn’t take long to get to the summit, about 1hr35 in total.

Here’s the route to the summit.

The wind was very strong at the top but the amazing Hagloffs jacket did its magic and I set up. As soon as I connected the 40m antenna I knew there was something wrong. No increase in noise. I unplugged and replugged, no noise increase, a quick TX and SWR was fine. Yes, the sky was broken. There had been a flare or event and 40m was quite rubbish. I was worried I’d not qualify a summit that was a joy to have climbed and look around at the surrounding hills.

40m station and trig point looking NW

Looking NE.

Those views are not bad. Anyway I persevered and worked 6 on 40m CW then 5 on 40m SSB on the WAB net. For some crazy reason considering I was in the middle of nowhere I tried the 2m FM handy and there was Jack GM4COX at a good 58 on the rubber duck. We had a good natter and I told him his route was the ‘mutz nutz’. After than I moved to 30m CW where conditions were much better and I worked 8 stations with ODX being SM7DIE.

Time to pack up and take some more photos. Firstly, here’s one of the excellent Hagloffs jacket. You don’t need to see the name, it can only be Hagloffs if it’s a lurid colour! Looks like another snow shower behind me.

Isle of Scarba and Cruarch Scarba GM/SI-087 (still not activated after 12yr 11mn)

The Paps of Jura at 50kms distance.

The route back was the reverse of the ascent. Just after entering the forest I saw something move in the grass. It was a pair of common lizards. I don’t why they call them common, I’ve never seen a lizard in the UK in 50 years!

It wasn’t too long till I was back at my trusty stead. The advantage of driving about in this vehicle is that it will go anywhere and nobody questions you driving up tracks and lanes where my day to day car would look very out of place. Wear a hi-vis jacket and you can drive it any where. The only trouble is it has a prodigious thirst for diesel and it’s noisy. But nobody plays chicken when you drive towards them on a narrow road, they always give you a wide berth!

Finally here is Carn Duchara from the parking spot. It’s the highest point in the centre. Plenty of forest to walk through.

And a zoom onto the summit crag, the trig is about 30m beyond here.

I’m annoyed the propagation was poor because this is a moderately rare summit for SOTA, very rare trig and square for WAB and I’d have liked to work more chasers. Still it was a brilliant walk and I can recommend it to anyone and everyone. Special thanks to Neil 2M0NCM, Jack GM4COX and Robin GM7PKT for route advice.

Do it before it is spoilt: Eurasion Consolidated Minerals, an Austalian company, has permission to explore and extract Gold, Copper and Molybdenum in these forests and hills. It’ll never be the same after there has been mining.


#5

After Carn Duchara and the slow progress driving from the tip of Kintyre I thought I’d make for the last stop on the trip, Oban, find the B&B and then maybe activate another summit in the evening. On arriving in Oban I realised I didn’t actually know where the B&B was other than the address. Worse I didn’t have the streetmap options installed on the maps on my laptop, just the 1:25k, 1:50k and roadmap. However, the navigation option on my Android phone did me proud, I merely said the name of the B&B into the phone and clicked the “navigate” link and I got voice directions that took me to the door. Of course, that needs a phone signal but it worked a treat. I hit Oban after a shower looking for a meal and found the Cuan Mor bistro on the harbour. Excellent food, its own microbrewery (I can recommend Kiltlifter Ale) and a great atmosphere. I ended up in bed quite early watching the election results.

Next morning after a surprising set of results it was breakfast then ferry time. The ferry to Kerrera does a very early run before my B&B did breakfast so I got the next one. There’s plenty of parking space for the ferry down the narrow road a few miles from Oban. It was great day, hardly any wind, much warmer than the last few days and lots of blue sky.

Carn Breugach SS-279

This is one of two SOTA summits in GM which are not listed in the SI - Scottish Islands region. Don’t ask me why but it and Ailsa Craig SS-246 are SS regions summits.

Waiting on the jetty, Carn Breugach SS-279 just left of centre.

The ferry takes 5mins and I was off. There are a few routes to the summit on this pretty farming island. One is up the front and was recommended by Jack GM4COX. The other follows the main track on the island then cuts off at the highpoint with a bit of wild walking and was described on the internet by a few walkers. I thought I’d do a loop and suprise Carn Breugach from behind. Bad move! I quickly got to the high point and then cut in up a gully which was easy enough. What confronted me when I stopped climbing was about a km of thigh to waist deep heather or vegetation. The only place where the grass was short was boggy and full of bullocks. Bother! I struggled on and eventually picked up a track which made everything easier. Finally the summit was reached. Far, far, far too much effort for a 189m summit starting at sea level. But it was a nice day so it didn’t matter

I knew I had loads of time, I was stuck knowing there were limited ferries but I was still deciding whether I could sneak another activation in after this. Carn Breugach is a SOTA summit, WAB trig point, rare-ish square, coastal square, IOSA and IOTA. It ticks many boxes. It also had some pretty excellent views. If the sky was still broken I didn’t care. As it was when I setup on 40m SSB on the WAB net John G4YSS as GS0OOO/p was just starting on Ben Armine. NS-069, a seriously wild summit really in the middle of nowhere. He had the full attention of the WAB net but I was lucky to bag him just before the madness started. I was happy to wait thinking it wont take long for him to work everyone but the callers just continued and continued, so I chipped in an announcement I was moving to 7.150 and was found be Ken GM0AXY. After that I worked many SOTA and WAB chasers followed by a good few on 40m CW. When John had finished and I moved to 7.160, only few needed the QSO. I finished with 36 on SSB and 7 on CW. Propagation had returned after the problems yesterday.

After the rubbish route up I decided I was definitely doing Jack’s route back. Silly boy, I know that when Robin GM7PKT gives me a route I follow it without question. I should know by know that when Jack says it’s a good route it will be a good route. He’s told me about enough disasters he’s had crossing forests. I promise to listen from now on Jack!

Routes on Kerrera

I walked along the top to the obvious ATV track Jack told me off and followed it down. The edge of Carn Breugach is very steep but this route was easy. I followed the track (muddy in places) down to Ardchoirc Farm and then the track back to the jetty. It had clouded up a lot during the time I was there but it was still a cracking walk back. The birds were signing away and there were plenty of new lambs. I arrived at the jetty just as the ferry pulled in and he took me back to the mainland at once. 1st class service. The ferry is £4.50 return and has a website ( http://www.kerrera-ferry.co.uk ) detailing sailings etc.

Looking at Oban, Ben Starav WS-025 is the big hill in the distance.

Isle of Mull with Ben More (Mull) in the distance.

Carn Breugach SS-279 trig point.

Looking down the Firth of Lorn towards the islands of Colonsay and Jura

Ben Cruachan WS-013 with some fresh snow from the day before.

Looking North up Loch Linnhe towards Kingairghloch and the Morvern Peninsula.

This was the last summit on the expedition. I drove back gently through the Pass of Brander at the foot of Ben Cruachan looking up at what an enormous mountain it is. I was surprised that there isn’t a single tea room/ coffee stop anyway along the road from Connel Bridge to Tyndrum. But that did mean stopping at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum for a bucket of tea and a classic bacon roll. After that it was a well worn route back home. My HiLux managed 34mpg on these extended runs which is much better than around town where 25mpg is the norm. I never pushed it above 65mph though, faster than that and the handling becomes exciting :wink:


#6

Great pictures!
Thank you.