These two hills, Crock and Hare Cairn, are generally considered in the Marilyn newsletter to be near inaccessible – I do like a challenge! In fact both are readily achieved if you scrutinise the 1:25000 map and do not mind long walks (and show a healthy disrespect for the veracity of OS mapping in Scotland). Following these activations I can hopefully shorten the access route for both Crock and Hare Cairn.
There is ample car parking at NO224608 and the forestry track running NNW is an easy route which can be followed to a track through clear felling at NO225644 which meets a ride through the forest at NO228643 leading SW to the summit. There is no shelter on the summit and it was shrouded in cloud and hosing down – perfect SOTA weather!
I put up the dipole and then retreated to my bothy bag for the activation. Conditions on 5MHz were dire – the sky was broken – and it was a struggle to get the contacts but eventually I managed to confirm qso’s with 10 stations but it needed frequency hopping for some stations to find a noise free spot. Noticeably strong were G0HNW, GW7AAV and GW0DSP but G3OHC and GW0VMZ were uncharacteristically weaker than normal. If 60m was dire then somebody had stolen the propagation for 40m (except for the BC stations at the top end spilling over into the exclusive part of the band too). My plan was to take a direct line down the hill through the forest to reach the next track – no chance, this is unthinned planting with the Spruce no more than 4 feet apart and collapsed trees everywhere. So Plan B – read the map!
Heading back down the ride there is a wall running E-W at approx NO227645 and this gives very easy access down the hill to the forestry track which leads onto the road to Glenmarkie Lodge – of which more later. I planned to cross the river at the footbridge clearly marked on the 1:25000 at NO235629 but see my comment about OS veracity above! Luckily I had also spotted a road bridge closer to the lodge and used this joining the forestry track at NO240633 which leads back uphill to the wall that leads direct to the summit through the forest – this is very steep and overgrown but works.
Conditions on 5MHz were worse than the morning even if the weather had changed to blue skies and base layer weather. I struggled to get the 4 contacts eventually being saved by G6WRW, then it was easy and I was even able to have a ragchew with G3YPZ about his Elecraft K3 – sounds really good on sideband. Just 9 contacts and every one was a struggle – needless to say 40m had recovered enough for the CQ Test boys but nothing for SOTA.
I followed the track back to the road bridge and then followed the road back to my car. It would be possible to use this earth road for access for activation, I would suggest parking at NO232630 for Crock and using the wall handrail to the ride and on to the summit then park at the track end at about NO240636 where there is a motorway to the summit of Hare Cairn.
My thanks to the chasers, as ever, especially for struggling to get the contacts under far from ideal propagation conditions.