The weather was promising to be fine for Saturday and this summit, and its neighbour CS-059, was calling out to be activated for only the second time. I have never taken this minor road from Laggan before, following the Spey, and it proved to be quite delightful and different from the surrounding areas. The public road is shown as finishing at NN500953 and looked as if parking might have been a problem so I elected to park at Garva Bridge, NN522947, and take a reasonably long walk in. The route follows the long established Wade Road over the Corrieyairack Pass, although in places the modern route deviates from General Wade’s due to forestry planting.
Garva Bridge is quite attractive and the road continues over the bridge (through the gate on the west side) and onwards to the end of the public road – at least that is what the map shows. In fact the tarmac road continues all the way to NN463961 and it would be quite practical to park here; in fact I make the assumption that the public highway actually extends all the way to Fort Augustus although from this point on it is gravel and is washed out in places. Why have I made this assumption? The bridge at NN469961 was restored in 1985 and has signs telling anybody passing about this (it is in the forest on the original line of the road); just before the second bridge at Melgarve are signs placed there by Highland Regional Council (the predecessors of Highland Council) which, although faded state: DANGER, HIGH ALTITUDE PASS, EXTREME WEATHER POSSIBLE, VEHICULAR PASSAGE NOT ADVISED. In addition there is a sign advising of dangerous bridges over the Allt Coire Uchlachan which are “unsafe for vehicles and horses” and that “pedestrians and cyclists use upstream side of downstream bridge only” A short way after Melgarve (only two cottages not the three shown on the map) there is a chain across the track with a sign saying that it is Private with no vehicular access and just beyond this point is a beautifully preserved section of Wade road which delayed me yet again from my ascent!
From this point the route to the summit is off track, it is worth contouring round Meall Garbh Beag to avoid some peat hags, aim for an altitude of about 560m and join the SW ridge to Gairbheinn to minimise the steepness. It is quite a steep and unrelenting ascent on good ground and is worth seeking out and staying with the dyke of rock to find the summit. There are several false summits before reaching the top, all of which offer opportunities for “photography” before finally reaching the small cairn which marks the true summit. The weather was absolutely glorious and once again, like a lot of Corbetts, the scenery (and air clarity) was outstanding. There is plenty of space to set-up an 80m dipole and I was qrv on 60m a few minutes early.
A brief CQ brought GW4BVE who spotted me and then (quite surprisingly considering how close we were) GM0UDL. Contacts were quite steady from here on but it was obvious that I had all the benefit of a qrm free location while a lot of chasers had severe urban interference. Despite a qsy to Channel FL the only “got away” was M1MAJ who was a reasonable signal with me but just could not make the two way trip. 12 qso’s later I decided to give 40m and then 80m a shot. 7MHz was in reasonable shape with skip to southern G and Eu but once again no contacts despite a lot of calling on the advised frequency. 80m was as quiet as the grave (not so surprising for the time of day) and I tuned the whole band without hearing any signals even though it should have been excellent for inter-GM contacts. 2m FM was a better proposition and I worked several local stations (including GM0UDL again) and then Robin GM7PKT in Glen Shiel for a summit to summit on minimum power. Swinging the beam to horizontal I had a listen on 2m SSB, the NI beacon was about 54 and I did hear a couple of GW stations in qso with G’s but could not grab their attention with my 5 watts. After 3 hours on the summit I decided to pack-up and head for my car, with 10Km to walk out in perfect weather conditions just retracing my inward route.
My thanks to all the chasers as ever, sorry for the rambling report but this is a fascinating area for those of us with an interest in 18th century history.