All the gear was still a bit wet after yesterday’s double of Pikethaw Hill and Wisp Hill, so I thought we’d do something a bit nearer and hopefully drier. Wrong!
I’ve done so many of the local hills that all uniques for me are starting to involve a longish drive. Cairn Table is about 40miles away and the roads aren’t too bad so Cairn Table it was. The pictures of the summit and path looked quite dry, of course I missed the caption saying “notice the duckboards for the boggy bits”. D’Oh! Common Hill is nearby and is an easy 1pointer worthy of being polished off as we would be passing.
OK well 1st apologies for not doing Common Hill. We were late starting out and that meant that by the time Brian and me had done Cairn Table and driven to Common Hill starting point it was 1630. It would be near 1800 by the time we had got up and set up the gear and sunset is 1824. With some social stuff on tonight, we simply didn’t have enough time to do this one. It was tempting though because both gates were open and we could have just tested my car’s 4wd capabilities on the track up However, walking is the game here with radio as a bonus so no Common Hill this time. Sorry.
Cairn Table has a nice car park at the start of the track in the village of Kames near Muirkirk. The wx was quite humid and warm but the summit was in and out of the mist during the ascent. The path starts off through a disused quarry and is quite obvious. To help mark the way white concrete posts are set in the ground. The gradient is very gentle and both Brian and myself made good progress. Unfortunately the path degenerate quickly and as soon as we exited the quarry area the ground turns to well churned peat bog. This is a popular path and with the soft wet ground and all those boots the result is a mess. There are duckboards over some of the bigger channels but around them the ground is really bad. Quite a few these are so badly churned that getting to the board without going knee deep in the gloop is a challenge.
The path starts to climb faster and we hoped the ground would improve. It did in places but every time the slope leveled out the ground was churned and very wet. A few places involved a detour some distance from the path to find solid ground. Brian repeated his demonstration of how to check the depth of a bog by placing his boot in it and filling it with water. “At least ankle deep” the reply along with several unprintable words!
Finally we reached the summit, the last part being less steep but still boggy and slippy. The county boundary runs right over the summit and near by the trig post is a solid iron fence post. We used that to support the mast and large stones to support the ends of the dipole. The antenna was stradling the boundary and we could move the FT817 and operator into either county if needed. Whilst we were having lunch and setting up we disappeared into the mist for 10 mins with some fine drizzle too. But in general the wx was good. Very mild for mid-October.
Conditions seemed good on 5MHz and most of the usual chasers were worked although the conditions did seem much better yesterday when we were on Pikethaw and Wisp Hills. We took turns operating and finsihed off with a good S2S chat with Jack G(M)4COX who was down South on a raiding mission rustling sheep and women to bring back North of the border! Brian was keen to chase Jack for 1 point from TW-005. I reminded Jack to shut and lock the gate when he comes back North. Also we were able to offer a new county for Don G0NES. He’d worked East Ayrshire before so I made sure I was in South Lanarkshire when we had our QSO.
Packing up is much easier with two of us and after a quick check for bits left behind we took some photos and set off down. Now going down is always easier than going up but it really did help to be able to look down onto the boggier bits of the path in order to plan the best route. We must have done something right because Brian didn’t need to check the depth of any bog holes with his feet nor did he demonstrate his renowned acrobatic ability to get his feet higher than his head followed by a splash and curses. Just as well as my set of score cards saying “5.9 5.9 5.9 6.0 5.9” are getting a little worn now!
All in all good fun but we could have done with a drier path today. I would only recommend this hill for those with webbed feet or after a prolonged freeze. And a long enough freeze to allow a good depth to go hard. As Brian said “tell anyone who is susceptible to trench foot to avoid this one!”
Distance walked: 4.8miles, total ascent: 353m/1158ft, distance driven 83miles.
Andy, MM0FMF (With assitance from Brian G(M)4ZRP)