Activation report GM/SS-052 and GM/SS-144

First, apologies for not activating Deuchar Law (GM/SS-144). The WX was attrocious and I seemed to be very drained of energy by the time I had packed up on Dun Rig (GM/SS-052). It’ll have to wait for another day.

Anyway, Dun Rig. I decided I’d park somewhere near Glen House and walk in from there. Glen House is a fantastic Gothic country mansion and it’s worth checking out their website (you can hire it for £14k for a weekend) and also checking the photos on Geograph. When I got to Glen House it was very obvious from the signs that this was a private estate. I was a bit miffed by this as I thought I’d have to park further away but I spotted an estate worker on a quadbike and told him I wanted to walk up into the hills and could I park anywhere. He said it wouldn’t be a problem and sent to a small car park at the back of a milking shed (NT296329). Fantastic!

The weather was attrocious, fairly heavy rain and the mist level looked like it was about 400m. Wonderful! The walk in is along a well made, but not metalled track to a small cottage at Glenshiel Banks. I was behind schedule but this path is so good I was able to make up the time I’d lost looking for a parking space.

The next stage was to test my navigation skills. I’m not an experienced walker by any means and I’ve been activating “easy” hills this winter to gain experience of being outdoors away from civilisation and also I haven’t done any walking like this for 25 years and there’s a lot of lard to get fit! This was the first hill I’ve climbed that there isn’t an obvious path to the summit. Also the mist was low and dense enough that I couldn’t see any features at all. I’d checked the 1:25000 map and there were some fences marked that met at the summit. A recent photo on Geograph shows the fences clearly meeting at the trig point. Also I’d had a play with Google Earth to get a feel for the shape of the land. But when you can’t see anything then that’s not so much use.

I took a bearing from the farmhouse to the summit on the map and tried to follow that. Now I knew that if I kept going up and North East I should hit the summit or a wire fence. So when I found myself at NT265302 I was suprised as that’s about 90degs off my heading. Navigation needs more work and I’ve decided to do a course later this year. I also knew that I just had to follow the fence to the summit from here. Experienced walkers are probably wincing at my error here but I think that as I knew there was a fence I’d hit eventually, I wasn’t being ultra accurate with my navigation. Still it’s best to learn how bad you are when it’s safe to do so rather than in a real wilderness where errors can have serious consequences.

Again every fence I’ve followed to date has always had a clearly visible path by it. Not this one. From where I met the forest up to about half way to the summit was wild heather. It was very heavy going and I think this was a big reason why I was so tired when it came to set off for Deuchar Law. When the hill steepened up a lot, a path of sorts appeared and that made progress much faster than the less inclined but pathless heathery section.

I don’t have Bog Snorkeling equipment with me when I do SOTA but I can recommend it if you attempt Dun Rig after a few days rain! The final section where the summit flatens out was bog-tastic. After a prolonged freeze it would be nice and easy but with the rain falling today and over the last days, I had to pick my way around to avoid the deeper bits.

Setup was trivial. I followed some advice from Jack, GM4COX, who said to try to make everything “doable” with gloves on. The FMF SOTA system is just about 95% doable with gloves. I thought activity was a bit down, but on reviewing the log I worked 22 people. Thanks to everyone who worked me. It was good to be on the receiving end of the new G4ZRP antenna. Brian has traded in his pea-shooter for a Panzer 88mm and he was S8 on the 817’s meter. 2x S2S with G1INK/P on LD-017 and G0MJG/P on NP-030.

I packed up and headed down. The rain was heavier and the mist thicker and for a moment I lost contact with the fence in trying to avoid going bog snorkeling. This time my compass skills did get me in the right direction. What surprised me was how far you can wander when you are concentrating on not treading in a bog and not trying to maintain a heading. When I dropped out of the mist I was able to see parts of Deuchar Law in the distance. It was only when I got back to down to NT265302 that I could see that the route to Deuchar Law was over about 1.5miles of the impenetrable heather that I wimped out and headed down to Glenshiel Banks.

By the time I was back on the track to Glen House, the mist had lifted, and there were sunny patches. Typical. If the weather had been better I’d have pushed on. But to confirm my wimping out was the right move, when I got back to the car, the heavens opened and the rain was quite torrential all the way back until I hit Penicuik, about 20 miles driving with double speed wipers needed at times.

So once more, sorry for wimping out. But I did see a much better and easier route up to Deuchar Law from near Loch Eddy. I’ll save that one for a nice day.

M0COP & G0MJG/P and thanks to all of them.