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White Top of Culreoch GM/SS-245 and a bit of 2m contesting


#1

It was 2m Trophy Contest time this last weekend. That involves setting up a contest station, camping in the field, general silliness involving lots of RF, drinking and also a local SOTA activation. Despite having been involved with our group for many a year, there are still plenty of SOTA summits for me to grab a unique. This time White Top of Culreoch won the draw, I was also going to bag Bengray as well, more about that later.

Parking is at NX610622. OK, here’s the bad news, the walk starts by following the white dusty forest road and descending 50m. At NX602624 there is a parking space and a culvert in the road and a few metres further there is a cattle grid and gate in the road. The climb starts at the parking space. If you go back a few paces from the culvert and climb the bank you’ll find 2 hidden gates and a track that takes you nearly all the way to the summit. But you wont find it till the descent! I went over the grid and started to climb through the edge of the forest which has been harvested. I walked up what looked like serious caterpillar tracks. The clear fell is old and well rotted so the harvesting is at least 5 years old yet the vehicle used has left tracks in the muddy ground which have remained.

Just go up following anything that makes life easy, you can see a fence running up to near the summit to the right. Now I have been visiting our contest site which was only 5km away for 10 years and this was the 1st nice weather ever. We’ve have snow in May so scorching sun and blue sky was a novelty. The wind was from the North and was cool though. I kept climbing till I reached trees and there was a path between the forest and the fence. However, as I climbed the bracken got worse and worse so I crossed the fence, crossed the stream and found a wonderful ATV track. Follow this up.

This photo shows the summit coming into view as this part was not planted although higher up was. The fence runs parallel to the old stone wall. Just keep climbing and looking at the fence, not far from here there is section of fence wire wrapped in white plastic sheeting. Cross here!

You can see self-seeded trees and having crossed the fence and wall arrange yourself to face straight up the hill, at 2 o’clock, 100-150m distant is a young tree, it’s just visible as the last tree on the right edge by the wall. Walk to that and when there turn through 90degs and continue. That’s the easiest route and there’s an animal track to follow too. As you get to the top there is more clear-fell debris. Just go up and try not to trip. You’ll see the summit and there is a big tree root at the top along with a wee cairn.

Admire the view. It’s great for not much effort made better by being out on a wonderful day. There are plenty of SOTA summits to see, Cairnharrow SS-191, Bengray SS-238, Cairnsmore of Fleet SS-065. This next photo shows Fell of Fleet SS-181 as the bare long hill on the left and Black Craig of Dee SS-170 in the middle distance. The prominent hill in the far distance to the right of Black Craig of Dee is Cairnsmore of Cairsphairn SS-038 with Windy Standard SS-071 immediately to its right. Just visible behind Fell of Fleet is the summit of Corserine SS-033.

OK, conditions were not brilliant but there were few people about. I only worked stations on 20m CW despite calling and being seen by RBNgate on 17 and 30m. I worked 15 stations in total. Sorry to Phil VE1WT who sent his call many times as I tried to figure out where on Earth 4E1 was located. Duh! VE1 :slight_smile: Also DXish stations were Rich N4EX and EU2MM. The WX made up for low QSO numbers. It was painfully hot in the sun and damn cold when the clouds obscured it. However, this was an easy walk and despite the heat I hadn’t got sweaty. This was important as there were no shower or washing facilities till I got home. I considered activating Bengray which was about 1hr walk from the parking place plus I had about 35mins back to the car. Plus the walk back again. I considered being a bit pongy whilst helping with the contest group and decided Bengray would be here next time we do a contest (maybe for UHF in October). So I packed up and went back to the car.

Back at the contest station things were bubbling nicely. It was 20C now which is the hottest I’ve known here. But by 5pm as the sun was setting the North wind was obviously cold. It would be a cold night. In fact it stayed clear and by 11pm the night sky was fantabulous. I haven’t seen the Milky Way so well for so long, Andromeda Galaxy was just a naked eye object. Plus there were Iridium flares and satellites a plenty doing North-South passes. But it was cold. I don’t mean cold but c-c-c-c-c-old! Shiveringly cold. The temperature dropped from 20C at 4.00pm to 5C by dawn. Such a change makes the cold feel worse. I had a restless night. Despite sleeping in a fleece plus hollowfill Belay jacket and sleeping bag it took ages to get warm enough to sleep. A comfort break by torchlight at 3.00am was anything but comforting and again it took time to sleep again.

On the off chance conditions would be good to EA2 we started operating at 630am. Well one of the crew started the generator at 630am and woke me up. He didn’t work EA2 either :frowning:

Here’s a shot of dawn across the contest tent and antenna, 0531Z, ridiculous time as there was no tea to start the day!

A “arty” shot of the antennas and feeders. M2 2M5WL 18ele main antenna, back 5 ele of another 2M5WL for backup/local stuff. LDF 4-50 feeder, the minimum for 2m. With the connectors the loss is about 0.7db.

Finally, a cold MM0FMF suffering from a lack of whisky the night before as it was far too dangerous to drink on a cold night, a lack of sleep and lack of early moring tea. However, when the sun got going at 9.00am I was smiling again!


#2

I’d be traumatised at the lack of a mug of hot tea in the morning.

Who forgot the stove and billy ?

73’s Nick


#3

We had an electric kettle and milk but no tea. The normal “chef” was absent and he normally is in charge of tea/coffee and bacon / sausage / egg rolls. None of the other guys are big tea drinkers so we only had coffee. It’s well known that the day starts with a pot or two of tea, then coffee during the day with tea maybe mid-afternoon and then tea during the evening.

We didn’t get any EA2 stations in the log but lots of F stations where worked during the early morning. I think ODX was 900km which is not brilliant but not bad for essentially flat conditions. I would expect things to be getting better as the high pressure dominates over the next days.


#4

A gentleman should have his pot of morning tea in order to start the day. A billy, a can suspended over a open fire, is the perfect thing for this.

Brewed coffee is nice but rather drunk somewhat later in the day.

As for conditions things are all over the place in this part of the world. This afternoon 20M was dead and even 40M for 300km local chats was very fluttery at times.

Think it will be like that for a few more days.


#5

That sounds about right to me. It’s a lesson for you - a few teabags wrapped in foil only adds a few grams to a rucksack!

That hill looks nice, by the way - not easy going but continuously interesting.

Brian


#6

Well if I had read the emails circulating I’d have been aware. As it was I only knew I was going 24hr before. Still it was a hoot to drive my TonkaToy off-road at the contest site and play with 4WD and 4WD-low and diff-locks. I don’t use the diff-locks at all and was a bit concerned they’d stuck on and I’d need trailing home but putting it into 2WD no diff locks and dropping the clutch on grass caused it to spin the wheels and there was a “clang” and the locks dropped out and the warning lights went out. Normal tail-happy handling was restored.

The hill, is again, a belting wee hill. Not much effort for much visual reward. In fact the road from Gatehouse of Fleet to Culreaoch is marked as a National Scenic Route and they’re not joking. Fairly wonderful views of late summer countryside. In fact there are a lot of BONA summits down there, Dumfries and Galloway ground excepted. Normally the WX has been terrible when I’m there. Cairharrow was done on a bleak and horribly windy day. Pibble Hill was done in May when it snowed. Merrick was a misty but warm day so I didn’t see much. Craignaw, oh Craignaw, a wonderful Indian summer of day but so much exertion to complete it I didn’t realise what a treat it was till later looking at the photos.

Craignaw: SS-096

Merrick’s Little Spear, Kirriereoch (soon to be a GM/SS), Shalloch on Minnoch SS-048 and Mulwharchar SS-076:

Merrick: SS-028 and Loch Neldricken


#7

Have to say the photos are stunning, such open remote places. Could get properly lost in that country.

Nick


#8

If you had read the reports before setting out, you would have found out which side of the fence you should have been on. This is the summit I activated just before we met up in October 2007. :wink:

I listened on 10MHz, but couldn’t hear you. I was hoping you might have a bit more wire with you to move down a band, but it was not to be. C’est la vie - the summit remains on the wanted list for Completes.

… and I agree, it is a cracker of a wee summit!

73, Gerald G4OIG


#9

I have 2x 10MHz capable antennas and TBH I’m not happy with either. One is a short vertical with off-centre loading coil. I don’t know how efficient it is. It works and is quite omni but I get lower signal reports on it. The other is a 30m inverted-V dipole, part of the 30/40/60 dipole. It’s noticeably directional and not DX-y. Both fit a 5m pole.

I’m looking something better for when we get further into the solar minimum doldrums. However, conditions would need to be “well up” to work you reliably on 10MHz. I have had 300km inter-UK contacts on 10MHz but when I do hear G contacts they are normally in Devon/Cornwall/South Coast/Sussex etc.and I’m 150km further North than Culreoch.


#10

Yes, it was purely an “on the off-chance” look on 10MHz. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. …

As far as antennas are concerned, over the years I have tried both verticals and dipoles and in my opinion dipoles definitely have the edge on 10MHz I usually set up “beaming” WNW to NW and work into the States when conditions allow. I reckon that verticals come into their own on 14MHz and above.

I like 10MHz a lot. There are not that many bands you on which you can work inter-G and DX side by side.

73, Gerald G4OIG