I’ve not had a proper walk for a while. Last week the WX forecast was awful so I didn’t bother trying except the WX was quite nice. The week before was Blackpool and I bagged Hutton Roof Crags LD-052 (contacts on 2m FM, 70cms SSB and 23cms FM), before that a 1hr20 walk up Badandun Hill. The longer walk out and a second hill were abandonned due to the WX. So the last big hill was Beinn Dorain CS-008 4 weeks back. Time for a good walk.
It’s been very wet the last week so I wanted a walk that didn’t involve bog-snorkelling. Having seen the start of the Beinn Dorain/Beinn an Dothaidh path that was out. Farragon Hill presented itself however. There are 3 routes to this summit and all involve travelling for some considerable distance over estate tracks. This means you can cover a large amount of the walk without putting on flippers. Commonly this summits is combined with Meall Tairneachean CS-080. The route to Meall Tairneachean is trivial along the road to the Barytes mine. From there more road then about 1.5km of “god-awful” ground. Or you can walk along the estate road from Edradynate on the Edradynate Estate leaving about 750m of rough ground to the summit. There’s not really anywhere to park on the B-road and I was toying with asking the estate if I could park on their land. Decided not to have anything to do with the estate when I read of their reputation. (Google Edradynate and Raptor). The final route is along the same estate road but from Loch Tummel. The same 750m to cross but loads of parking at NN869595. The OS map shows Netherton, a farm but there is no sign of any building. That was my route then, park at the missing farm, up the track to NN849558, then across the heather at the beallach and up to the top. Easy peasy
WX was to be very sunny but clouding later, maybe rain by late afternoon. So I wasn’t surprised to get up Sunday and find it snowing! I now know my weather is often not Perth’s weather so I set off up North. A boring drive through the bridge roadworks, past Planet Amazon (a huge Amazon warehouse) and up to Perth. After that a quick dart up to Pitlochry on the A9. The WX got better and better and by Perth the sky was bright blue. Nice.
The south Loch Tummel road is a minor road that gives access to Clunie Hydro Power station and Clunie Dam. It runs along the side of the man-made Loch Faskally to the power station and then through the Linn of Tummel, by the side of the River Tummel, past the Clunie Dam and onto the enlarged Loch Tummel. The views travelling through mature deciduous woodland with shafts of golden sunlight filtering through onto the river cascading through the rocks made a vista I wont forget and I would encourage anyone passing this way to spend an hour or two and to drive around Loch Tummel. Also you can check out 3 hydro power stations and the biggest electricity substation you’ll ever see. They don’t detract from the stunning countryside. The dam is hard to see from the ground but these pictures show the scale: http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/search_item/index.php?service=RCAHMS&id=171431
I parked up and was booted and ready to go by 9.20am… which is rather keen for me. From here it’s 6.5km along the track, no thinking needed, just walk and admire the views. Not only did I have Loch Tummel to view but also some nice big summits which were all capped with fresh snow. It was Persil white in the strong sun having fallen since Friday evening! After 30mins I had to remove a few layers as it was warm in the sun although the wind was cool. Plod, plod, plod. I could see Farragon Hill getting nearer and that’s when I noticed the road went up the summit. That’s funny because it looked like a quick stroll from the track to the top. Consult map… view ground… consult map… view ground… swear out loud! That’s not Farragon Hill, that’s Beinn Eagagach. You’d think after 250+ summits I’d check the map carefully. Well I did standing at the foot of the steepest part of the track. I knew I had some descent to the beallach but I’d missed the great big lump of rock on the map and had a quick 150m ascent followed by a 100m descent I’d managed to miss.
Pah! Smiling through the extra effort I got to the top and noticed the change in the road. Suddenly everywhere I walked glittered. Gold! Gold! I’m rich! Actually it’s Iron Pyrite. The bulldozed track turned orange like the surface of Mars. I’ve never seen so much of the stuff. The mine further on is a major source of Barytes used in oil drilling. The top of Beinn Eagagach has a disused Barytes mine shaft and the spoil has been used for the road which gives it the colour. This Wikipedia photo shows the orange colour well: File:Abandoned baryte mine shaft at Ben Eagach near Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland.JPG - Wikipedia
From here I could see how much down there was before the up. There was plenty more up. 225m worth of up plus crossing of the beallach. That normally means awful bog ground. However, it was easy to pick my way through the heather and stay remarkably dry. From here it was just grind up the very steep slopes and walk between the rocks. Oh, and cop a look at Schiehallion CS-005 which was absolutely magnificent with a fresh snow cap. It was hard work after 2hr of walking but I reached the summit cairn after 2hr40mins. The views were so good I didn’t need a rest before setting up the station though I did have a good drink.
60m came first and after 5mins of calling an no contacts I self spotted. I was LOS to The Cairnwell and its masts, so the 3G signal was “giving me 5 cherries”. I managed to work David G3RDQ who was loud with me but not the other way around. I worked him on CW. More calling on SSB and CW and then Ken GM0AXY appeared very loud. I switched to SSB and had a chat. Conditions were not good but I managed 4 more including Jack GM4COX. 2 long skip QSOs and 2 short. After the very slow progress I switched to 7.032 and progress was very slow there. Lots of reports like 339 for me. Jack had told me Graeme 2M0GIL was QRV on 145.425 so I had the handy on. During a spell calling CQ on 40m the handy woke up. I stood on the cairn and worked Jack on 2m FM along with Graeme on SS-040 before his mast collapsed. Followed immediately by Iain MM3WJZ on WS-138 appearing. A bit of nattering and Robin GM7PKT popped up on WS-302. 3x S2S on 2m FM using the handy and its rubber duck. If only I could work one more… provided a few mins later by Jim MM0GLM on SS-067. That was my alternate 4pt hill for today. So Jim almost got an activation partner
4x S2S on the handy with all of us scattered about GM. Fantastic. I was now very pleased. Good walk, good views and something nice on the radio. Back to 40m, a self spot an a much busier band. When it dried up I switched to 20m. Conditions were much better into EU here and the pileup was big. As usual my chasers were well behaved but on a few occasions other QSOs were happening on my frequency. The cheek of these people. Having self-spotted I asked EU to QRX and there was Rich N4EX calling… not strong 339 with QSB. I tried for a few minutes to work him but it was a dodgy contact. Back to the EU pileup and 15mins later Barry N1EU was loud and bust through the EUs. After working him I called for Rich and there he was, louder and sent me 419 I’m sure. It would have been easy without the damn fool who started calling CQ over the top. Grr!
I worked everyone and was packed up by 2pm ready for the walk out. Down the steep slopes, across the beallach and then up Beinn Eagagach for the 2nd time in a day. I stopped for a drink and some energy bars at the top and set off back. A simple tramp back with nothing to do but contemplate some software ideas for work. The WX was still good but the blue sky was now clouding up. Though it stayed grand all the back to the car and for a good 20miles South before turning to grey. Back at the car I enjoyed the sun whilst having a drink and letting my feet steam for a few minutes. Then back down the A9 complete with 10 gazillion daytrippers. Oh, and a 55minute delay on the M90 to travel 2 miles through the road works.
Total walked: 16.5km total ascent: 938m total driven 170miles.
Pictures on Flickr. For those of you who had a wash out yesterday… revel in the blue sky in the pictures.