This tale starts the week before…
On 22nd June using the GM5LOW callsign, I activated GM/ES-012 Glas Maol and GM/CS-030 Carn a’Gheoidh, these hills lie either side of the A93 a road that reaches a useful 600+ metres in altitude, and a handy starting point from the Glenshee Ski Centre
G*5LOW is a callsign of the GQRP club who were having their Summer Sizzler activity week, so I worked it a couple of days, once on GM/SS-133 Minch Moor and then again as described here.
Glas Maol - an early start to avoid the traffic on on the Edinburgh bypass meant I was at the Glenshee at 0700z , time for some breakfast then a gentle trip up to the summit. I had thought that I’d be alone given the time of day, but was soon joined by a lad who said “Won’t stop to chat, I’m on a march” so off he went after the briefest of trig point visits.
I had the EFHW up and getting settled when the next visitor arrived, so we sat and chatted for a while in the shelter. He was on a “Wellbeing Day” from work, not sure how many of those he gets a year, but it sounds a fine idea to keep your head straight - what better way than get out and up a hill or two. He was going on the do a handful more that day.
On to the radio and I had a good run contacts - thanks all! 4 2m FM QSOs and 30 hf QSOs spread over 40m and 20m and taking about 2 hours in the sunshine, a splendid start. In there was a QSO with Ian @GI0AZB who was using GI5LOW S2S on GI/AH-007 Slemish.
Glas Maol summit , displaying the flag!
Back down the car, eat some lunch, quick stop at the “facilities” at the ski centre and off up the other side of the valley - this gave the hardest navigation all day, trying to find a route through the ski-tows and lifts to the track up the hill!
The “valley side” of the hills on the west of the road hold much of the ski lifts etc, so once up to the ridge and beyond, you are back in hills without all the pylons etc and the view improves a lot. This side was much more popular with many walkers out enjoying the day. A quick trip along the ridge took in the Munro Carn nan Sac to get to GM/CS-030 Carn a’Gheoidh. I set up a bit south of the summit in the sunshine aiming to avoid spoiling others’ visits to the top (as it’s also a Munro it get well visited). This didn’t work as a couple of blokes came to see what I was up to since I clearly wasn’t fishing from up there.
A shorter run on QSOs this time, with very noisy band conditions and no 2m this time despite calling - slightly lower and some big hills in the way blocking me out. 9 QSOs over 40m 20m and 17m with the final call being Esther @GI0AZA .
Carn a’Gheoidh in the sunshine
This cheeky wee chap seemed like my car, he walked around it as I open the tailgate and was not at all put out by my presence - perhaps he was feeling the heat and enjoying the shade the car gave.
So, there I was at home tidying all the gear away and Mrs VPM said “have you got any more days out planned?” - that sounded like a pass to me, so time to dust off the list of plans and see what would work…
I looked at the Met Office’s detailed forecasts for hill users (they include handy wind and temperature at various heights etc) and it seemed like there was a weather window for Thursday 29th in the east of the highlands here.
Having read Fraser’s @MM0EFI report of “5 around Glen Ey” I had it penciled in for doing some day.
Since I live somewhat further from it than he does, it morphed into a “cycle in the evening before, camp, activate, cycle out or camp depending on energy levels” affair.
According to my mapping app, this round results in 24.5km walking 1556m of ascent and 9h10m moving… that is following the route kindly provided by Fraser.
Food and gear all prepared , alerts posted and off I went - timed badly really as got caught in traffic on the way up. However all well and reached the car park around 1900 local time. Got the bike all loaded and started out along the 5 mile track to the ruined Altanour Lodge. This was reached and tent all set up, food eaten and off to bed.
Daylight starts pretty early here in the middle of summer, and I was up and breakfasting at 0430z.
The camp with north end of An Socach ridge above.
An Socach from the ascent of Carn Bhac
Some berries - not quite ripe yet, so I left them alone…
So the plan…
First hill of the day, GM/CS-036 Carn Bhac - bit of a rude awakening really as it seemed to go on and on , but we have had a very dry spell (for Scotland!!!) recently, and so there was good walking where it could have been very soggy peat hags/bogs in other months.
No takers on 2m but 7 QSOs in the log the first being a S2S with @DC8YZ Michael on DM/BW-851 who must have been checking for clear frequency at the same time but quicker at getting his spot typed in than me! A good start. 20mins later and aware of a long day ahead, I tidied up and moved on.
Ideal residence for someone who doesn’t want neighbours overlooking them… Fealar Lodge viewed from Carn Bhac descent. Many miles from any other dwellings.
The route to Beinn lutharn Mhor GM/CS-014 was the longest stretch between summits and covers ground that again was fine on account of the dry weather - would be truly awful after a wet spell.
Young Fraser seems to enjoy “North Face of the Eiger” style ascents, as his route here just went straight up the back of a corrie. This will recurr… I went up a bit and then contoured round to pick up a sheep track/descent route which landed me a bit closer to the actual summit.
Somewhere along the line, I managed to set up VK Port-a-log with the wrong summit reference, hence the previous “error in reference thread”.
11 QSOs here - all on 40m - a lot of static crashing and banging going on!
I can’t recall what hill I was on (and electric log hence don’t save partials), but Rod @M0JLA came in at 59+ then disappeared altogether! Not sure if you never heard my response, or something failed at your end, but I never heard anything other than your callsign given once ??
I note only 9 minutes on air here - I had a visit from a chap who had seen me descending from Carn Bhac as he ascended, then caught me up on the next hill but went away north to pick up the ridge to ascend rather than the directissma I used. We had a nice chat and then went our separate ways, he away back home and me on to…
GM/CS-020 Carn an Righ - there is a path that contours round Mam nan Carn, then a good path up Carn an Righ. I reached the top and was about to set up when I noted a nice shower of rain sweeping in. By this time the wind was picking up and obviously the rain wasn’t helping with it’s added airflow, so I sat for a while under a small bit groundsheet I usually sit on to avoid losing too many items when I activate.
A black Labrador appeared, shortly followed by it’s owner. We had a chat while waiting for the rain to stop. 7 QSOs here on 40 and 20m - again with plenty of static making things difficult for all.
Pack up after 12:40z and off to the next one…
It’s only over there, 2.8 km down and up, easy… apart from the descent to the valley in between and subsequent re-ascent of 450m - what!!!
By this time, my legs were not so happy about it all, what to do ? There is a path runs due east from the bealach that would give me an approach to GM/CS-011 Glas Tulaichean via it’s north east ridge - more distance but a bit less height to drop and regain over an easier gradient.
I managed to miss a path to gain the ridge part way along, so joined the ridge at it’s lowest point, so another km or so walked. The wind was picking up by this time and at the summit was strong and cold. The antenna pole was quickly lashed to a handy fence post close to the summit - this summit has no shelter other than the trig point and those aren’t very big, so I set up and operated lying down, trying to hide out of the wind behind my rucksack.
10 QSOs followed - the welcome voice of Don @G0RQL being first in the log here as indeed he had been earlier in the day.
A hasty retreat out of the wind followed.
On reaching the calm, I had a choice to make… Continue on with the grand plan and ascend GM/CS-038 An Socach or cut and run back to the tent?
Back to the tent it was, the hill will be there tomorrow and if I camped out again a second night, then there was the possibility of doing it on the Friday. I had brought sufficient food for this possibility.
As An Socach was pretty much the direct line to the tent, it was possibly just as hard to contour round a lower hill as it would have been to go over the top, however that’s what was done.
Food and sleep followed.
Next morning An Socach had low cloud cover and a poor weather forecast, so decision made at 05:30 to get away home. Strike camp (idea was to breakfast back at the car and then eat more at some cafe along the route). All packed up and away at 06:00. As the wind was behind, and the general trend is downhill, there was a very pleasant cycle out.
At about 0.5m from the car just about to go over the final crest, the pannier rack on the bike worked loose and dragged along the ground. "Bother " I said. Or words to that effect anyway. “no worries, I’ll just strap it up with this strap as it’s not far to go” “oh that strap that was holding the tent on… the tent that is no longer there”.
“Bother”, said I, a second time. Other phrases may have been uttered at this point too…
Nothing to be seen close by, so nothing else to do but go back and look for it. Remember the bit above about a following wind and general descent… well… sigh… back I went.
There are a few bumpy bits on the track and I found the tent sitting nicely in the middle of the track about 0.5 mile from the camp site, so ended up cycling most of the valley 3 times. I was kind of tired after that…
A bacon roll at the ski centre cafe restored a bit of humour and then off home. Saw a big owl out hunting in Glenshee during the day - must have hungry mouths to feed but nice to see it working back and forth.
The dogs gave me the customary welcome for having been out of sight for more than an hour. Mrs VPM decided I looked tired and hungry and took me out for a curry house lunch. I suspect that I’ll not be asked if I’ve any more plans to execute for a wee while…
Huge thanks to all who worked me and to anyone who has managed to read this far and of course to Fraser, big respect for your achievement on these hills!!