Grey Hill GM/SS-256
The last hill of the expedition. Loads of routes exist up this, one route is from the East which starts quite high up but involves parking on soft ground again. My route was from the main road along the Ayrshire coast, the A77. There is a good sized layby just after the average speed cameras going North. Opposite the layby is a track leading to a comms mast part way up the hill. The downside is you start from sea level.
I spent 25mins dismantling the car looking for the map case. But finally accepted it was no longer with me. Boo! Hiss! After that I set off up the path. You can walk up the path to the end and then it's an easy walk over shortish grass and gentle slopes tiill you get nearer the final slopes. These are a lot steeper but there were plenty of sheep trails making it really easy. Then there was the last trig point. I'd made good time to here, I had nothing to do when I got back apart from cost up a mirror glass (and it's not cheap but not as bad as expected) so the only thing to make me cut short the activation was the WX. A bit grey and windy still but not as bad as previous. This meant I was able to operate 60/40 & 30m. Again no problems working plenty of people and I bagged both Helen MD0YHB/P and Carolyn GD6WRW/P on GD/GD-003.
Another nice hill. Nothing massive in the walk or technical but just nice views.
Looking up the coast to the town of Girvan. The boat to Ailsa Craig sails from the harbour here.
Final view of Ailsa Craig. I'm ever so glad Neil 2M0NCM organised the visit to bag this two summers back or it would be bugging me that I hadn't activated it!
The trig point.
Knockdolian GM/SS-267 with a wee shower passing over.
General view to the North West. There's not too much out this way making it nice and quiet. Sadly that means not much traffic and so the roads are a bit small and slow. It's quite a drag from where I live near Edinburgh to get here and one of the reasons why I've left these summits for so long.
Back to the car in 40mins. Boots off and I was able to hit Glasgow just for the evening rush hour. Grr. Back home and I picked a Chinese takeaway. Mrs. FMF wasn't due back till late the next day so I went into Brownie Points mode and ensured that by the time she was back I'd done all the washing from my holiday, cleaned up all the SOTA gear, put everything away and also done some hoovering and general housework.
Overall, this was the first time I came close to running out of summits. Normally my legs fail or so does the WX and so I have plenty of summits left over. This time, I was able to pick up 2 bonus activations that I thought I'd have to do much later. I was very pleased to get Mochrum Fell bagged as it is fairly awkward to get to. There are few summits to hoover up down that way still.... Fell of Fleet and Blackcraig of Dee being two 1 point summits that do have a bit of a reputation for "Galloway Ground".
I managed 10 uniques and that has made a massive dent in the remaining summits in my plan to activate all the GM/SS summits South of Edinburgh and Glasgow. I also hit activation number 500 on the activation of Beneraird. The remaining ones being:
Bengray (probably to be done when out contesting 6th May)
Blackcraig of Dee
Blackwood Hill (Arnton Fell)
Brown Carrick Hill
Cairnsmore of Carsphairn
Craiglee ( the other one )
Fell of Fleet
and, of course, Mulwharcher.
I need to get my mountain bike sorted as that will make a few of these much easier. I could drive up some of the forest roads in the pickup. Wear a hi-vis vest and hard hat and nobody will ask what you're doing! But biking does seem a more wholesome way of getting about. The easiest route to Mulwharcher involves a 12k ride in. It's getting so I can almost see the end of the task.
Anyway, none of this would be any fun if it wasn't for the chasers. I would really like to thank every single chaser for making the effort to catch these activations, without chasers, activating becomes a lot, lot harder. Sure you can tune about and find people to work, but having a bunch of people seeking you out makes it all so much easier. I haven't checked carefully but I think Don G0RQL worked me on every activation and I think he may be the only 100% chaser. In addition, due to the long skip and with Don being down in Devon, he was far enough away to be a good signal with me on either 60 or 40 and became an unofficial control station, holding the frequency when I need to fix antennas or change batteries for instance. Also Don placed plenty of spots for me for the QSY frequencies, things you can do yourself as an activator, but having a someone with a good station to help out makes life much easier. Thanks to Don and everyone who called in.
I need to disentangle all the routes from one big route capture in the GPS and I'll push them to the mapping site.
I normally take a selection of walking clothes, socks, boots, hats, gloves etc. I print out maps for all the summits at 1:25k beforehand. My Windows10 notebook has full UK OS mapping at 1:25k and can drive the GPS to upload and download routes, tracks etc. I have an aging Garmin Etrex Vista HCx GPS and recently saw one on eBay for £30 which I picked up as a spare (hard to refuse at that silly price). I have two 5m poles, one which has done probably 450 activations now. I took a 12v soldering iron and solder, a small pair of pliers and some bits of wire, enough to effect emergency repairs if needed. 2x 817 and some spare runs of coax. My satellite spotter consists of 2 boxes each the size of a Raspberry Pi. Finally I had 2 4Ahr LiPos and some 2.2Ahr LiPos plus a big box of USB and LiPo chargers. Considering I have enough handhelds to stock a shop, I only took my VX170.
Taking so much gear including spares/duplicates suggests some kind of OCD issues but it's just common sense. If you are driving a fair old distance specifically to bag a run of summits and you have spare equipment anyway, then why on Earth would you not take it with you? Most of it sat in a box in the boot of the car for the whole trip!
Now to plan how to get the rest of them bagged......