With the decent weather around I just felt like a stroll up a “well kent” hill, no hassle, map not required and a leisurely activation on multiple bands in some sunshine. DREAM ON!
I parked at the Lock Muick carpark (£2 pay & display) and headed in on the estate track to meet the Army descending the hills with laden ponies – deer cull in progress, so any hope of wandering off the usual track was out the window. Halfway up the long haul in I met an Irish couple and their seriously hacked-off daughter (14 years old +/- and not happy with being on a hill and no mobile phone signal) who asked what the noisy birds were – Grouse. The other noise which was spooking the aforementioned teenager was the sound made by stags in rut. The path has been improved all the way to the view over Lochnagar and then some; the ascent of Jacob’s Ladder is now a series of well paved steps but for once I did not complain as the wind was gusting enough to blow me over a few times.
Reaching the summit ridge the clear path was easily negotiated despite the wind until I entered the clag at 1100m but from here it is an absolute doddle to follow the scar of a path to the summit even if visibility is practically nil. I found a suitable shelter boulder just off the summit to shield me from the wind, put on my duvet jacket to keep warm and then erected the HF dipole. An aside: I find it easy to keep an HF dipole in the air in strong wind and impossible to handle a VHF beam so I am bemused by those activators who manage VHF but cannot do HF because of the wind – what have I missed?
Switching the rig to 60m there was Jack GM4COX in full flow, basking in the sunshine and comparing suntans with all the chasers – you go off some people! I broke in so as to get my summit to summit and then changed channel to work my own pile-up. 17 stations later I announced my intention of shifting to 40m and GW0DSP kindly spotted me. This resulted in meeting up with some calls not heard for a while including EI7CC, but try as I might (including a qsy 1KHx LF) I could not confirm with ON3WAB who could not copy my 44 report to him although I had received my 43 report. Anyway 8 contacts on 40m SSB is quite good for this time of year. I tried 20m but despite 10 minutes of calling CQ no result. A brief shout on 2m FM from the handy produced nothing but then I was not going to stand around being buffeted by the wind in vain hope of a contact.
Once I dismantled the antenna the sun came out briefly and the cloud swirled away for about 30 seconds which gave me sufficient visibility to throw myself off the path in the face of an onslaught from 4 mountain bikers hurtling at the summit without any regard for anyone else.
The descent was via the route I came up, I couldn’t face the thought of the long trudge along the shores of Loch Muick in failing light. The big plus though was to spend some time at the head of Jacob’s Ladder watching a Golden Eagle soaring over the loch far below.
Many thanks to the chasers and to Alistair and Mike for spotting me.