A quick unique bagging session 17/18 Sep

I’ll be on a quick unique bagging run Tuesday & Wednesday this week. (17-Sep, 18-Sep). There may be more later in the week (Friday/Saturday).

The targets are nothing special but include:

Meal Alvie ES-055 (last activation 24/Apr/2010)
Craigendarroch ES-078 (last activation 06/Nov/2010)
Creag Ghiubhais ES-067 (last activation 13/Nov/2010)
Geallaig Hill ES-036 (last activation 19/Aug/2012)
Creag Bhalg ES-046 (last activation 27/Jul/2011)
Morrone CS-060 (last activation 08/Feb/2013)

Operation will be a mix of 60/40/20/17/12m CW & SSB, and because the purpose is bagging uniques, I’ll be in semi-smash&grab mode! Spotting for CW via RBNgate and I’ll leave the summit as ??-??? so you’ll have to listen for the reference! Spotting by SMS if possible.


In reply to MM0FMF: Don’t think ??-??? is very helpful.

In reply to PB2T:


EDIT: Now for the rest.

Tough because I can’t be sure I’ll have net access at any time until late evening. So for now the alerts are left vague. When RBNgate spots me, you’ll know I’m QRV. Someone normally spots the ref very quickly. Maybe I’ll be able to spot me as all the summits overlook a major road, A93 and that normally means viable cellular coverage. Tuesday evening/Wed morning I’ll update the next alert. But for now there are alerts covering all the possible and probable activations.


In reply to MM0FMF:

Well that was fun!

Despite assorted roadworks and traffic jams make the trip North much too hard, I managed to get Royal Deeside.

A full report to follow but a quick summary:

Meall Alvie ES-055: 40m SSB 18, 40m CW 10 QSOs
Geallaig Hill ES-036: 40m SSB 19, CW 24 QSOs
Craigendarroch ES-078: 20m CW 17 QSOs
Creag Bhalg ES-046: 40m SSB 22, CW 20 QSOs

Thanks for all the contacts. If there was more time to spend on the summits I could activate more bands.


In reply to MM0FMF:
Hello Andy,

I did CW squeak (11wpm 8( ) at you when you were on 078 but glad to have caught you on the other three.

You sounded quite animated and happy so getting out and about must be good for you 8)

Many thanks for the “bagging session”.

Mike G6TUH

In reply to G6TUH:


Despite an early start I was caught in the stop/start M8 traffic to Edinburgh before turning for the Forth Bridge. Everything flowed well till I was caught in more rush hour traffic in Perth. Then it went well till Coupar Angus where a porrly worded diversion suggested my road to Blairgowrie was closed. I took the diversion up the A94 to Alyth where the diversion said the diversion to Blairgowrie was closed. Aaaargh! Back to Coupar Angus and ignore the sign and then I was in Blairgowrie. Now about 40mins behind plan. Finally the wonderful corkscrew bend at Lair (road to Mount Blair ES-035) is being straightened. Another 5mins at the lights here. I arrived in the Invercauld Estate Car Park just across the bridge at Dee Bridge.

Meall Alvie ES-055

Car parking is £2.50 here, the money provides toilet/wash facilities with hot water all year round. Result! The car park was free today but no hot water in the toilets. WX was fresh. In fact it was b-cold for September. But it was 35% blue sky with a brisk breeze. Chatted to a real Marilyn bagger whilst booting up. Me: 236 uniques, him: 1400+. Respect!

Out of the car park at take the 1st right at the estate office and follow the track. Glorious mature Calendonian Pine everywhere. I enjoy walking in forests but most are plantations of regimented Sitka Spruce. Natural Calendonian Pine forest is something to savour. The trees are wide spaced so it’s easy to walk through and the smells are unbelievable. The whole are was carpeted in heather, mostly in bloom, along with Cloudberry and Blaeberry plants. Through in some sun and mountains and you have sensoreal overload of perfection. It doesn’t get much better in the UK. No wonder Her Majesty has her holiday home just up the road.

Follow the track as far as Falgie cottage. You wont miss it, a bright red roof and freshly whitewashed walls. Just opposite the cottage is a dry stane dyke. It’s badly collapsed here but you can see it clearly higher up the hill. If you look on Google Earth you can see the dyke in the trees. Turn right and follow the dyke to the summit. It’s that easy, dyke to the right, go up till you stop going up! There’s no path. Took about 50mins up and 25mins down. This is a real wild hill. Savour every moment of the ascent through forest which is probably 8000-10000 years old. Sublime. Even the 3 heavy showers could not dampen the spirit here.

Activation was on 40m. Mast wedged in the dyke, one end of the dipole tied off to a tree, other to a peg. 3g coverage was good and I spotted for 40m SSB. No man made noise and it was nice to work some old calls I’ve not seen these last 6 months as I’ve been working the higher bands. I followed this with a CW session. I could have spent all day here but I wanted to press on. Walking back I was trying to decide what to do next, too many choices. Back at the car a change into driving shoes and some fruit and energy bars and I was off still contemplating summits.

Geallaig Hill ES-036

This is approached from the Bridge of Gairn road off the A93 shortly before the turning for Balmoral Castle and the South Dee road. There is a huge car park opposite Breanaloin Cottage. This is a car park for the Grouse shooters. From the edge of the car park is the track. This landrover track passes umpteen grouse butts and runs all the way to the substantial summit shelter. Just as well, it’s exposed otherwise and by now there were no showers but a strong and cold wind. Easy walking following the track and it took about 55mins to the top and 40mins back down.

Th trig point top open and this supported the pole. Again I operated on 40m with the ends of the dipole supported by stones from the shelter. There were many showers passing between me and Lochnagar to the south but it was dry on top. Again, lots of chasers on 40m SSB and CW. 3g coverage was really poor. I started on CW knowing RBNgate should spot me. After 30mins or so I had a signal and could self spot for 40m SSB. After a while the WX cleared up and I got some photos of Mount Keen and Lochnagar. Compared to Meall Alvie, this is a bland hill with a scar of a track running over it. But it’s very easy and worth 4points. A bit rude to pass it up!

On the drive down, I got some good photos of the Cliffs of Lochnagar, something which are hard to see when you follow the tourist route up this excellent mountain.

Back at the A93 I took the South Dee road, you actually drive up to the main Balmoral Castle entrance then turn sharp left. I waived to the Policeman on duty outside. HM is up here right now. In some places, a Royal Palace would have significant armed fortifications with lots of troops on guard. The understatedness of the UK is superb, we had a bobby with a truncheon manning the impressive stone lodge and gates to deny access to people who shouldn’t come in. Yes there are royal protection dudes inside (with Glocks and Heckler&Kochs MP5 and SA80s) on the estate but you can’t see them. What you see as drive past is a classic British bobby on duty.

I drove past the access for Creag Ghuibhais ES-067. There’s space for one car by the gates. This is another trackless summit through woods. I looked at the time, worked out the time to get up, setup, play 20m, get back to the car. Then I looked at my watch, checked with my stomach and decided that it was time for a shower, beer, food, beer and more beer. Creag Ghuibhais will just have to wait.

My hotel was in Ballater, just along the road. Clean and comfy with a good shower and Cairngorm Brewery’s Trade Winds blonde ale on tap. I’m sorry to say that after a hot shower, a three course meal and several scoops of Trade Winds I was almost falling asleep in the bar. An early night followed.

More to come…


In reply to MM0FMF:


Woken after a sound kip I breakfasted with Craigendarroch framed by the window. After yoghurt, porridge, egg, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, haggis, toast and several gallons of tea I was prepared for the day. (Lodgings came to £65 for room, breakfast, a 3 course meal and several pints of Trade Winds). Craigendarroch looked superb against the blue sky and was just too hard to resist. It seems to rise vertically and is covered with Oaks and Scots Pine.

Craigendarroch ES-078

Parking in Craigendarroch Walk, I followed the marked path to the summit. It’s quite steep in places (187m ascent in 1.3km). Another wonderful forest to walk through on good paths. In a few places you cross a lot of stone so in winter you may well need crampons on a 400m hill. 24mins later and really rather sweaty, I emerged at the top.

There’s a big cairn, a bench and 2 viewpoint indicators. There’s plenty of space at the top and I thought I’d be on my own. However, not long after getting to the summit the scene changed to something like the film Zulu as wave after wave of walkers came to the summit. This ruled out any large antennas. I lashed the pole to the bench and set up the 20m vertical. With a single elevated counterpoise run off in to the scrub it was the lowest impact antenna I had. A nice run of stations on 20m CW followed. I was called by an EA4 and others. I called “EA4?? kn” and he called along with another. “EA4?? kn” and again an HB9 called. “EA4?? kn” and still the HB9 called. “HB9 IS NOT EA4 LID = EA4?? kn” and this time he kept quiet and the EA4 QSB’d to nothing. Hrrmph! :frowning: Anyway I’ll put it down to my poor procedure but the call is on my naughty list and I’ll monitor behaviour just in case!

I wasn’t going to have a majestic sunny but cool morning in another sublime forest spoilt. I finished off, explained SOTA for the umpteenth time to visitors (who all thought the concept rather good) packed up and took photos of the clouds pouring over the top of Lochnagar and down the cliffs. Back down to the car in just over 10mins. Apart from 25mins yakking to a nice couple who’d been visiting from Cornwall since the 60’s, climbing Craigendarroch every year.

Creag Bhalg ES-046

I blitzed my way along the A93 to Braemar and then drove the single track road to Linn of Dee. The scenary was initially set to “visual stun” along teh A93. But along the Linn of Dee road it is advance to “visual shock” increasing to “visual overload” by the time you get to the bridge over the Dee. There is a huge car park here as this is the start to several long paths including Lairrig Ghru via Glen Dee , Lairig Ghru via Glen Lui, Glen Feshie via Geldie Burn and Glen Tilt. Paths around 25-35km in length through some of the most gorgeous countryside in Scotland. My parking place was further along, just by Claybokie before my track started there is space for a single car. It’s 50m to the path start from here. Otherwise it’s Linn of Dee car park + £2.50 + 2km or Linn of Quoich car park + 3.5km. Some loony had to park in a passing place resulting in a quite significant traffic jam for a road that is a dead end to public trafffic. Fail!

The path is on excellent estate tracks again in mature and ancient Calendonian forest. The path zig zags up making the ascent easy. I followed it as far as the col and applied gators ready to cross the deep heather. It was hard work in such heather still I stumbled onto the ATV track from there it was a doddle. Hint: follow the path frpom Claybokie up and West, right at the 1st junction then left at the next. At the deer fence walk about 100m on and the ATV track is on the right. Simples! It took about 1hr of walking time to the summit but actually took 1h45 as it showered very hard many times. I kept diving into the trees and sheltering from the rain. I was a little annoyed at wasting the time but I wanted to arrive dryish at the top if I was spending some time where there’s no shelter.

There’s a wind shelter near the path but my GPS said it wasn’t in the AZ. There are 2 cairns to the right which are in the AZ. More cairn bodgery supported the mast and I set up for 40m. It took an age to send an SMS even though I could see the masts on Morrone CS-060 in the distance and had a good strength showing. Whilst working both SSB and CW several showers passed by. I didn’t get too wet but the wind was gusting and very cold. Most shows passed North or South of me and I was surround by rainbows a lot of the time. When 40m dried up I realised it was getting on for 4pm and I’d not had lunch other than an apple. This is a bit naughty for us diabetics, so I had an energy bar and another apple. The showers died down for my walk out and I got a good photo of the Cairngorm big boys, Cairn Gorm, Ben Macdui, Beinn a Chaorain, Beinn Mheadhoin, Beinn Bhrotan.

The plan at the car was to visit a cafe in Braemar for a pot of rosy but when I got there at 1710 the damn place was shut! So I had a can of Red Bull (diet) and drove home calling in the local takeaway 3/4mile from home. I shot up my evening fix (10ug Exenatide) in the car park whilst they prepared my kebab. It does cause some strange looks rolling up a t-shirt and whacking a syringe into the lardy belly in public. But it meant I could eat as soon as I got home! :slight_smile:

Some figures, 4 uniques, 9 points, 270miles driven, 9.6km walked, 1065m ascent, 43.5mpg, £108 fuel+accommodation. Enjoyment factor? Priceless!

Summits in order of “bestness”: Meall Alvie, Craigendarroch, Creag Bhalg, Geallaig Hill. I would recommend anyone who has the chance to do Meall Alvie to grab the opportunity if it’s a bit sunny. Autumn colours are best, but it will be good under snow.

Thanks to all the chasers. If only I didn’t have a touch of mild tendonitis I’d be out tomorrow in WS and SI land. Having seen Mrs. FMF in a cast with a ruptured Achilles, I’m going to take it easy and have some retail therapy in Edinburgh.


1 Like

In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks Andy - I always look forward to your reports when you are in ES as I can get a picture in my mind of exactly where you are. Pity about the showers but as you say, the scenery is so nice looking down the Dee Valey, it would be hard to spoil your day. 73 - Mike

In reply to MM0FMF:
Good report Andy and sounds like you had a ‘ball’ especially at this time of year. Tks for the Unique (ES-055) and the Complete (ES-036). Pity I missed you on ES-046 as that would have been a new one for me and possible Complete if I get a chance next month?

Possibly out on Sunday? - S2S??


Jack (;>J

PS: Told you you would enjoy the Cairngorm ‘hooch’ - hi!

In reply to MM0FMF:

Did you spot the Iron Age settlement in the glen to the north of you when descending ES-055? Not shown on the 1:50k map but it is clear as daylight when seen from a height. It is in an area cleared of trees some years ago - several enclosures or possibly the outlines of round houses.

I cannot find any reference to archeological excavations in this area so cannot elaborate. Nice hill though with the handrail to the summit.

You will not regret leaving Creag Ghuibhais alone - I reckon that is the hardest 1 pointer I have ever activated, the contours do not lie and the ant hills on the wooded summit will challenge your tolerance!!!


Barry GM4TOE