A Matter of Arithmetic GM/SI-167 & GM/SI-153

Monday 17th October 2022

I’ve not really been counting, nor have I been over-planning. I’ve just been enjoying getting out. Getting to 1000 points was likely to happen this autumn, however I’ve been busy with family and also building my Land Rover 110 into a Motorsport UK licensed “heavy” Recovery Unit. This has taken priority as I needed to get it ready for the Mull Rally.

sometimes we have to recover marshals, in this case the event radio engineer

Well, the Mull Rally has been and gone. It was excellent despite the wet weather. I’ve now caught up with my sleep and am ready to hit the hills, as we have the cottage for a week, but which hills?

I am sitting on 992 activator points. Tuesday looks like the best (only) day for great weather, so that really needs to be my Goat attempt. I want a meaningful summit for that, so Ben More it shall be (for the third time). That’s six points. I need two before then. It’s been raining. All day.

1pm and the Met Office revise the forecast. The rain is to stop at 2pm. My bag is packed. We’ve already had a walk around the lovely (when it’s raining) Aros park this morning and Mo is off to do some yoga. I jump in the car and head over to Glen Aros.

Heading even short distances on Mulls single track roads can take a while, but I know them well and I’m in the VW Polo gti. It was built for these roads and soon enough it has me at the parking spot below Tom na Fitheach GM/SI-167. It was 2.15pm and the rain had just stopped. Perfect. I parked in a reasonably new forestry turning circle near a metal bridge, right opposite the track I planned to take. I couldn’t find much information about this hill on the internet, so planned on taking this track on a rising SE traverse and then trying to head back NW up the ridge. I wasn’t hopeful of finding a trail.

parking spot, just off the Glen Aros road

the ascent route

Unfortunately the gap in the trees below the word “Larach” on the above map doesn’t exist, however the tree cover isn’t too dense and I was able to take a rising traverse to a grassy fire break which led directly up to open ground.

in the trees

Easier but tussocky and boggy ground led over a minor top and the target came in to view. I could see a gap in the trees and two tops ahead.

the summit to the far right of the picture

It didn’t take me too long to reach the upper slopes and I was soon established on the unmarked and exposed top. No rocks, so it looked like I was going to have to guy the mast for a change. Except I didn’t, because the PVC sleeve I carry went almost its full length into the soft ground.

quick mast set up

There’s a much improved mobile phone signal on the Isle of Mull these days. Back in the day it was vodafone or bust and that was only down the east side. On the west there was nothing at all. Spot sent and I was on 40 m ssb with the kx2 and a 41’wire.

the station

40 m was noisy with what sounded like atmospherics, but I managed to get nine stations logged in six minutes. When it died, I re-rigged for 2 m FM, but didn’t get any answers to my calls.

It was 1530 and I realised now that I should have time to do a second summit on the way back to our cottage, so I quickly packed up and headed down. I had spotted another firebreak on the way up, one that looked like it led directly to the cottage at Achnacraig. As I approached the top of it, heavy rain started. That made the decision for me.

at the top of the firebreak

The firebreak was grassy and it wasn’t long before I could see the road and cottage below. However, it soon steepened and got incredibly rough. Half way down I reached a small cliff which I circumvented to the left. The tussocks were enormous and much of the ground between was flowing with water. Then came the dwarf trees. Then the brambles. Finally the waist high ferns. Even as I approached the road, I was still fighting to make every step.

below the small cliff

When finally I was on the tar, it was a simple 300 m walk down to the car. The jacket came off and the heater went on full blast! My descent could be used as a short way up the the summit, if your legs are up for it.

It was a quick (15 mins) drive to my next stop. There is a car parking spot beside a ruined house on the Dervaig to Tobermory road. Easy to find as it is the only building for miles.

parking spot by the ruin

A simple ascent. I went through the gate by the ruin and followed the soggy path through the grasses and through another gate. Onto the hill and a boggier path, flowing with water. This lead to the rocky and grassy summit, which is on the edge of a small volcanic crater containing a loch. A twenty minute walk.

'S Àirde Beinn GM/SI-153

The summit rocks were smooth and without cracks or shattering, so I used three short guys, running the 41’ wire NE to SW, not for any directional purpose, but so I could drop off the summit a little to keep out of the wind.

on the 40 m band

Operation was the same as before, with 40 m ssb and then 2 m FM. I managed sixteen stations on 40 m this time and again failed to make any contacts on 2 m, although I did hear a female Irish voice all so briefly…

view out to the north and the Ardnamurchan peninsula, mainland Scotlands most westerly point

The descent was as wet as the climb but I was back at the car for 1740, it having taken just 1 hour 10 minutes for the ascent-activation-descent. A really easy one.

So, wall to wall sunshine and light winds forecast for tomorrow. Ben More GM/SI-003 should be a cracker!

Fraser MM0EFI


Many thanks for the great report and photos. I’ll try and chase you from Devon tomorrow. :slight_smile:

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Another comprehensive report, I could hear you at 1700, very weakly, from my non-sota location just outside Penicuik. Best of luck for tomorrow.


Great report with photos Fraser, well done :+1:

cheers: :beers:

Geoff vk3sq

PS how close now to M/G :smiley:

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Nice report and piccies Fraser…You’re one tough guy lol bad weather doesn’t seem to bother you at all, Anyway thanks for the contacts as always. Stay safe and well both you and Mo.
Best 73

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Well, there’s always the reports that those that have previously activated the summit to fall back on. Mind you, you did find our route to Tom nam Fitheach on your descent… and by the way, I still bear the scars! :joy:

Many thanks for the report. It was great to see the summits again and grab a contact with you on S’ Airde Beinn after I had missed you on Tom nam Fitheach by a few minutes. A Complete for me, though it would have been nice to have two! :grinning:

73, Gerald

Nice work on getting to 1000 points.
Odd place for the radio engineer to park… :slight_smile:

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Gerald, I searched on here. I found a report from a few years back which didn’t have any maps. The report mentioned your ascent, however that never came up when I searched. Anyway, there are many new vehicle tracks in Glen Aros due to the forest harvesting, so I thought I’d just try one of them and see what happened.

Kudos to you for ascending that firebreak, with no doubt 16 kg on your back!


John, You’ll not believe the work that these guys put in each year to get a Motorsport UK safety radio network working across the island. The geography of Mull makes comms. incredibly difficult.

They erect numerous repeaters for 81 Mhz and Management (hi band vhf). We also use a third “Scottish” authorised frequency on Mull, somewhere around 69 MHz. Annoyingly this entails a longer whip. I have antenna switches in the Units for quick changeover. Oh, and all of our radios needed to be re-programmed, including a lot of English guys that come up to marshal as well as all of the Rescue Units. The medics and doctors were all given Police Airwave radios for the event and the Chief Medical Officer generally carries a Sat. Phone!

Even with all of that there are still radio blackspots.

And yes, he was parked in a daft spot!

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No, I reserve the heavy backpack for S2S events. However, my minimum pack still seems to be around 11kg. I just can’t get it down from there and I do have a spreadsheet to help! :joy:

Apologies for the lack of a report from me on Mull. I had thought I’d posted one on the reflector, but maybe it didn’t get further than being prepared and given the thumbs up by Paul G4MD… or probably thrown out as being too long! I’ve sent you a copy via email. :joy:

73, Gerald


I can appreciate the amount of work involved by all concerned.
A lot of admin involved in swapping radio configs etc. But I didnt know that medics and doctors used Airwave or Sat phones.

I wasn’t sure if the radio engineer had reversed down the bank to park or tried to come up the bank from the other direction.

2.7t of Disco, wet grass and mud wont help the cause.