It was a damp morning and the forecast wasn’t looking good, but it looked as though there would be slightly better weather further east, so the eastern Campsies became our target. There was some rain as we drove to the parking spot we had identified between Carleatheran and Stronend on the minor road at NS653923 just south of Bailie Bow’s Bridge.
It was dry as we set off climbing back up the road to the track for Ballochleam, passing the farm and carrying along the track through fields of cows and sheep as it first headed towards the steep northern scarp of the hills before bending right to ascend gently along the base of the scarp. We briefly considered trying to cut a substantial corner off the walk by heading up what looked like a faint path up the scarp, but decided that we weren’t sure we could cross the fence at the top, so stuck to our original plan. The gradient got slightly steeper as we started ascending towards the col between Carleatheran and Stronend at Spout of Ballochleam, and we were also fighting a substantial headwind which nearly blew us over at one stage. The Spout itself was largely hidden by trees, and we passed through a gate which brought us out onto the open moor with windfarm. We followed the main track until a fainter grassier (probably grouse shooters’) track headed left and ran approximately parallel to the scarp. It was still extremely windy, but it was now mostly a cross wind. We could see more cloud, some of which looked to be rain bearing in the distance to all of north south and west, with slightly better to the east. Thankfully the rain kept away during the long walk in: it was hard enough work fighting the wind. The track ended at a high point a little short of the summit, leaving us an area of rough ground and a fence to cross to get to the true summit
The summit trig was surrounded by a low but still useful shelter, and Caroline set up the VHF antenna on the trig and used the shelter. In 15 minutes Caroline had 6 VHF contacts. Martyn went a little lower down where there was some shelter for the HF antenna, and started with a good run of 15 5MHz contacts. Caroline took over with 16 on 7MHz, but 14MHz only yielded 5 contacts for Martyn. The long walk in and fight against the wind meant that our hope of also doing Stronend was soon abandoned, but it gave us time to try more HF bands.
It remained dry for the activation but the rain started as we were leaving the summit. We found a faint track heading from the summit towards the wind farm, so decided to return that way. The path took us to a wind farm track which we followed too far downhill. Having realised the wind farm track (not marked on our map) didn’t descend beyond the lowest wind turbine we backtracked to an anemometer where a path led to the older grouse shooters track marked on the map. From there we descended to the track crossing the moor, and then back past the Spout of Ballochleam. The rain got progressively heavier as we descended and we were rather wet by the time we got back to the car.
Nasty distant weather on ascent of Carleatheran
Carleatheran trig point
Carleatheran towards Meikle Bin
Carleatheran towards the Ochils and Stirling