Beinn Mhealaich GM/NS-087, 592M, 2 SOTA Points,
I only decided to do this one a few days before the activation, but could not find an awful lot about it searching through T’internet, no routes, limited pictures etc etc. However it is only 40 minute drive from my QTH and thought id go for it anyway.
I turned off Scotland’s “Main Route North” the infamous A9 at Culgower, a small hamlet between Brora and Helmsdale. At NC975120 i parked just outside the gates of Culgower house, walked up past 3 homes to a path marked on the map. But once i came to the “path” it was very overgrown with gorse, and had to fight it all the way to the end. Much to my disappointment it ended at a tarred single track road at NC988124. I could have drove right to this point had i A, looked a bit harder at the map and B, not drawn a route on my map…Never mind.
So now starting again at NC988124 you simply follow the track past some old caravans full to the roof of white containers??? Then next you come through some gates to a lovely holiday home overlooking the sea. Going past their log pile i came to a fork, go right and not left!! Left takes you to the owners garage hiding behind some tall bushes!! On coming back and taking the correct path this time you come to another tall gate tied shut with rope but easily opened. On the other side is more gorse bushes but a bit easier to negotiate the way through.
At the end of this path it opens wide and i could not follow the path anymore. Some work on the electrical pylons must have taken place recently as there is fragments of broken ceramic insulators scattered underneath the one i crossed. Basically from here i took my own path up over the heather until i eventually found what could be considered a path. Very overgrown, to the point i didnt use it and walked along one edge to where it ended again. From here to the summit was very water logged. I pulled the HT out about 10 minutes from the summit to draw up a bit of activity on VHF, but whilst mid QSO and not watching my next step i fell up to my knees in a little gully. Luckily nothing injured and carried on to the summit.
VHF first and i got 3 contacts back to back within the first 2 minutes, then nothing for the next 5 to 10 minutes?? Checked over the rig, antenna, coax etc. Opened up a few repeaters next for a test and everything was fine. So back to .500 and i worked GM3JIJ in Stornoway, pretty sure this was this first contact to Stornoway even from the home QTH. Then started setting up the 20m vertical a few cq’s produced nothing and after spotting a nice little roll of calls came in. With the body temp dropping from sitting around it was time to pack up, a few more calls on VHF and it was time to go.
I wish i had taken a decent camera to photograph all the wild deer up here, between all the different groups there must have been 200 or so, quite a spectacular sight. This time following the path from top to bottom i lost it again 15mins walk from crossing under the pylons so i didn’t feel so bad that i could find it at the start. I decided it would be quicker to walk along the A9 back to the car and not take the gorse path, on doing so i noticed a nice big lay-by on the southbound side, just about 300m or so from the junction that isnt marked on my map. So this could be a good place for anyone else doing this one to start.
With 5 hours walk for a 2 pointer im sure it wont get a big rush of activators but i would recommend it if your in the area, the views out to the north sea and the east coast are stunning.