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Activation Report GM/ES-021 Ben Rinnes

I think I may have activated this hill more times than any other; it is close by (16 miles by road) and is not too challenging. I am not hill fit at the moment and this was the perfect hill to prove it!

Parking is in a small lay-by at NJ285360 and the ascent is via the obvious path through the gate. This track has been much improved recently to try to eliminate the erosion caused by so many boots on peaty ground. No problems but the wind in my face and the lack of fitness soon showed that this is not a hill to mess with. I had my younger Labrador with me and he was in his element lifting grouse into the air at the slightest excuse. I had the route to myself so it gave me a chance to admire the Arctic Hares in full winter coats, the Snow Buntings and near the top, much to my surprise as this hill is not really high enough, a flock of Ptarmigan. Actually, it gave me an excuse to stop walking and wheeze!

Reaching the summit the ground was frozen solid and the wind must have been gusting to 40/50mph but the lee of the summit outcrop gave some welcome shelter. The sky was blue with little cloud and so it remained all day. Putting the new pole up proved a real problem. The pegs just would not go into the ground, the slope of the hill was not conducive to a good layout and the base of the mast kept slipping when the wind caught it. Once up I managed to call CQ on 5MHz and there were two regulars G3RMD and G0HNW. Both had excellent signals with me but were obviously struggling with my signals and the qsb. Having exchanged reports Frank spotted me and was soon followed by Mike GW0DSP who managed to hear my flea power for a third contact. For a short while I thought I might struggle with a fourth contact but no problem and I soon had to handle a mini pile-up and was pleased with my first 60m qso with EI. I was having a chat with John GW4BVE when the mast collapsed demonstrating once again a real design weakness in all these roach poles – the collapsing sections blew the butt end of the pole out, the screw fixing is just too weak and flimsy and shatters. Out with the fibreglass repair kit this week and modify the base to withstand these sort of shocks in the future. I managed two more contacts on 60m before all went quiet. I then tried a qsy to the upper half of the 40m band – hopeless, the broadcast stations were in full flood and it was qrm wall to wall (how soon before they move away?). I tried calling around 7090 and 7060 but the skip was really long and the qrm incredible so no success. By now I was really cold, the ends of the dipole were not really high enough off the ground to try the 80m links so I packed up and tried 2m. A couple of local qso’s on the handheld was all I could manage so I decided to head along the ridge to the large outcrop at Scurran of Morinsh for shelter and lunch.

The descent was via Baby’s Hill at NJ246376 (quaint name!). On reaching the track, which has been bulldozed up the hill from where the building is shown on the OS map, I found some aircraft wreckage which may well have been bulldozed out of the peat. I have searched for some record of what plane this is but with no luck – any offers? The building is just the foundation so no shelter here in poor conditions.

The track back to the car contours round the hill, it was very boggy and icy in places but showed that it is possible to make this summit into a proper winter day hill walk. For the real ale aficionados I stopped at The Croft at Auchbreck NJ214294 for a pint of Cairngorm Stag before heading home.

My thanks to all the regular chasers for your efforts

73

Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:

I was having a chat with John GW4BVE when the mast
collapsed demonstrating once again a real design weakness in all these
roach poles

Barry

I suspect that the designer might advise that roach poles were designed for fishing, not doing SOTA activations!

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to GM4TOE:

“… the collapsing sections blew the butt end of the pole out, the screw fixing is just too weak and flimsy and shatters. Out with the fibreglass repair kit this week and modify the base to withstand these sort of shocks in the future.”

I assume that the thread on the bottom section of the pole is still intact Barry. If so then a standard plastic milk bottle top can be coarsely threaded on and secured by electrical tape. This solution has lasted longer than the fibreglass repair I undertook when it first happened to me. I take a few spare bottle tops and some tape with me to effect running repairs, but it has never been necessary. I also use the neck of a milk bottle with its screw top jumbo taped to the top of the bottom section of pole as a replacement for the rubber bung.

Your report was most interesting. I’ll certainly put ES-021 on my list of hopefuls, presuming I can get the XYL north of the border. I rather think that she would suspect an alterior motive for a week away so far north!

73, Gerald

In reply to GM4TOE:

I was having a chat with John GW4BVE when the mast
collapsed demonstrating once again a real design weakness in all these
roach poles – the collapsing sections blew the butt end of the pole
out.

Hi Barry,

The other alternative is to use a ‘put in pole’ instead of a telescopic. Exactly the same size and appearance, but starting with the top section, you ‘put’ it into the next section and so on. The individual sections all still ‘live’ in the bottom section, but the mast won’t collapse. They are slightly dearer, but I resorted to using one in the back garden for my ‘temporary’ 5MHz dipole because the telescopic one always collapsed when it got too windy.

Regards, Mike G4BLH

I suspect that the designer might advise that roach poles were designed for fishing, not doing SOTA activations!

I suspect the designer might have intended them to be collapsed back down after use. And it has always been that action that bust my end caps. Hmm, time for another milkshake…

In reply to GM4TOE:
Hi Barry,
nice report.Always good to hear about the wildlife and regarding the aircraft,i think it was a wellington bomber which came down on 14th nov.1943,it was based at lossiemouth and sadly killed all five crew members onboard.
73’s
Graeme 2m0gil.

In reply to 2M0GIL:
Hi Graeme,

Thanks for the information; these crash sites are not always well documented so I could not find out anything. Round here we have lots of aircraft wrecks, mainly from WW2, although some (like the two Americans who took a wrong turn entering the Lairig Ghru a couple of years ago) are completely cleared from the hillsides to prevent pollution.

Regards

Barry

In reply to GM4TOE:
Thanks for an interesting report on Ben Rinnes Barry. Sorry to hear of the mast troubles. I sometimes wish I had room in the pack for a big hammer and rawl-bolt chisel! It’s difficult to get even a half-inch mast in sometimes and rock-wedging becomes the only (barely satisfactory) option. Larger diameters must be a nightmare, especially when it continually slips sideways.

Looking at the map, the names are imaginative around there; As well as Baby’s Hill, there’s Roy’s Hill, Hangman’s Crag, Lady’s Chair etc.

I looked up your wreck in my copy of High Ground Wrecks by David Smith. As Graeme so rightly states, a Wellington is listed for Ben Rinnes but HGW has it at ‘255355.’ I have no detail regarding the crew but the crash date is the same as Graeme’s and it was from Operational Training Unit 20 (20 OTU). This outfit were based at Lossiemouth and the aircraft number is given as HF746. The notes simply say, ‘Small Pieces’ but way back in the mists of time, I have amended this to ‘Tiny pieces on summit.’ Just where the pencilled alteration came from is unclear and this list is over 30 years old. It may be true; occasionally aircraft hit, then bounce leaving a few parts higher up but that’s a long way to fly with ‘fatal’ damage. Whether that’s true or not, you have now found the correct resting place and your assumption about it being buried at the time is a good one, as it was quite commonly and done to prevent further reports from other pilots.

It sounds like you really savoured this outing with lunch in crags for shelter. Perhaps 80m would not have yielded that much from so far north, bearing in mind that as well as skip distance, it can be noisy and difficult at times to get established and found by chasers on there.

As I suffer from a sore throat, you have definitely turned my thoughts north of the border but with me, that has never taken a lot of doing!

Thanks & 73 John YSS.