Activation report for GM/CS-026, CS-004, CS-001 and CS-010.
Thought I would share my wee trip I had on Thursday 8th September 2011.
I had been looking at this possible route for some time and as I was on holiday and there was a window in the weather between the heavy rain and the coming post hurricane I decided it was time to go for it. Usually this route is split in two with GM/CS-026 Meall Greigh and GM/CS-004 Meall Garbh done as one activation and GM/CS-001 Ben Lawers and GM/CS-010 Meall Corranaich done as another activation. As I have a considerable distance to travel to get to these decent hills I decided to go for broke and attack the four of them in one day.
I planned the route out using Google Earth, Bing Maps and the OS maps of the area. I scoured and studied the many photos and maps I found the routes required to traverse the ridge. Having the route sorted out I then had to decide what radio I was taking on my wee jaunt. As I worked out the route to be about 17km with a few big ups and a few big downs I really wanted to run light so I took the chance of just taking the Wouxon dual band handheld with me along with the 3 element beam and the pole to mount it on.
The day before I told, no asked, no right first time, told the XYL, Cat, we were getting up at 4.30am for leaving at 05.30am. You can imagine the look on her face – it was a picture. It’s alright for her, she just goes to sleep on the journey anyway. We got most of the gear and eatables ready on the Wednesday night which just left the flasks and the final packing to do in the morning.
04.15am, Thursday, the rain was stoatin doon but there wasn’t much wind, I was still optimistic about the weather and knew that it would clear up – hopefully! We got ready and packed the stuff in the car and was ready for the off at 05.35am – still chuckin’ it doon. Off we go, into the dark, the miserable and it was still dreich but I was still looking on the bright side.
Travelling up from Girvan, the A/M77 the roads were very wet, a lot of huge puddles everywhere, torrents of water flooding across the carriageways and still it rained. After a few aquaplanings we eventually got near Glasgow and we could see the sky was getting a bit thinner – but it still rained. After battling through the start of the rush hour traffic through Glasgow we were nearing Milngavie and by now the rain had calmed down to a drizzle and there was the odd patch of blue sky. Was my plan working?
We carried on towards Callander, usually we take the Loch Lomond road but due to the amount of rain that had fallen we came this way – bad choice, huge puddles in fact so huge they were nearly the size of a small lochan. We carried on regardless and made it to Killin and by now the skies had cleared with only the odd cloud about. I had planned on reaching the starting point for the walk just to the east of the Lawers Hotel for about 08.30 but we arrived 15 minutes late.
Having shown Cat the road that she had go to meet me on (she hates doing this driving somewhere else thing to pick me up) I got quickly booted up and set off from NN6800139959 on my long trek. The starting height was 174m and the time was 0850. I walked across the road passing the old mill which is now a workshop for crafts etc. and followed the farm road up past Machuim Farm. Here it is signed so you don’t wander through the farm itself. Following the well defined path through the soaking wet bracken I plodded onwards eventually emerging from the trees at NN6761241130. Over the stile you are met by two signs, one declaring this is Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, the other one asking “Are you equipped to go safely up these mountains?” I thought for a moment and said “Yes”, so off I went. Still following the path which basically follows the Lawers Burn passing through the old shielings to the point where the path starts to head back down towards the burn, this is where I took a bee-line up the increasingly steeper slops of Sròn Bheag.keeping between the crags of Sròn Mhòr. From here it levelled out slightly for a bit and then a wee bit steeper for the final push to the summit of Meall Greigh at 1001m.
Having taken 1 hour 45 minutes to reach here it was now time to find a sheltered spot for the SOTA shack. None, the wind up here was quite stiff, about 20 mph and it was cold, just over 2°C but when the sun actually shone on me it was a bit warmer. I found a wee spot just on the east side of the summit sheltered enough and unpacked the radio and attached the rubber duck and called CQ hoping that this would be enough equipment. Having got my first reply from Andy MM0USU in Falkirk I thought I would be better with the beam up. While Andy was putting the spot on for me I whipped up the beam and called CQ on s20 again and quickly got an answer from Ken AXY followed by Christine YMM. Roddy 2M0IOB and Bobby GM7GAX – two regular chasers up here, quickly called in for their chaser points. Two other stations were also worked giving a total of 7 contacts in 25 minutes. It was now time to pack up and move on to the next summit.
After a quick bite to eat it was NW for about 500m and then westwards for 2km before heading SW for about 600m to the summit of Meall Garbh. The top of this hill at 1118m had a bit more shelter from the wind which was still blowing about the same as it was on the previous summit. After the customary chat to the inquisitive walkers I setup SOTA shack number 2. Having reached here 1 hour 15 minutes I was now almost on schedule.
I called out CQ and Jack COX replied and after a bit of a chinwag and explaining to Jack I was now on the second summit and had two more to do it was back to business. The next six chasers who contacted me were looking like they were out to grab all the points they could for the day. These chasers were to be my companions for the day. Having made the seventh and final QSO in 20 minutes with Iain MM3WJZ it was pack up time again. Now it was lunchtime so I stayed for a bit longer to refuel.
Time to get on as I had set myself a few time limits to complete this walk and that was to be off the hill and in the car park in 10 hours. I descended down the SW side of Garbh to the bealach before An Stùc. I looked up at this massive lump of rock and thought - An Stùc, I ain’t going up there and shouting “AM STUCK!”. Some days I don’t mind a bit of a scramble but not today so I skirted round the northern side and climbed this summit from the easy side. From this 1118m top it was downhill to Bealach Dubh before the steep rugged climb over Creag an Fhithich and onwards to Ben Lawers towering at 1214m.
I was still keeping quite good time here and after talking to a couple from Wales and trying my hardest to tell them which mountain was which (they look different from this angle) I set upon erecting SOTA shack number three. Fifteen minutes from the first CQ until the last QSO, this included a surprise summit to summit with Richard GM1JTD on GM/SS-002 Stob Binnein it was now again time to make a run for it. A run for it was what it was or least a quick downhill joggy jumpy kind of descent of Ben Lawers. I was heading for the fourth SOTA summit of the day but made a wee detour up and over Beinn Ghlas before dropping down to the bealach at NN6208040773.
Crossing here was very easy as the ground was dry, very dry but if you ventured slightly off the path it was into peat bog so the path it was. I looked up the side Meall Corranaich and it was a bit steeper than I first thought but the path zigzags all the way up the side and made life a bit easier. Reaching the top in about 1 hour 10 minutes from Ben Lawers it was shack time again. I found a nice wee outcrop of rocks to shelter behind just to the west of the summit and called CQ once more. First in was Eric FSZ from my home QTH and the rest were made up with the days regular chasers. Last in the log for the day was MM1BJP and on that note it was time to pack up the gear for the final descent down to the pickup point at the dam on Lochan na Lairige.
35 minutes later I was now safely back down to the road, off the hill and thinking “Where is Cat?”. She had parked in the wrong car park so I had another 1.3km to walk down the road to meet up with her.
I must thank all the chasers for their support on this activation and making my day an enjoyable one. 36 activator points in bag for me and 5 Munros to boot and it boosted all their chaser points as well. I did have a look at doing another quick summit before leaving for home but I might just have ran out of daylight so it was time just to head home.
Distance driven: 260 miles
Distance walked: 17.5km (without the extra bit at the end)
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1757m, -1475m
Time taken: 10 hours 5 minutes
Points earned: 36