This is one of my all time favourite hills. So much so that I could do a Tom and climb it every day and never get bored. The views are always lovely, the atmosphere, as you walk over the old drove road that Walter Scott wrote about, jumps out and grabs you. It’s just a really nice, not too long, not too hard, not too steep hill.
So with the sun cracking the flags I dragged Mrs. FMF out of bed and off we set. It was hard work getting to Traquair on time as all the traffic was crawling along even though the roads were clear of snow and ice. Still it was fair chilly, -6C according to the car thermometer and my windscreen washers only just thawed by the time we got to Peebles. Pulling into the car park it was a fresh -6C. Sarah was not best pleased as I faffed about, she was booted and ready to go in 30secs flat, the wait whilst I reset trip counters on the GPS, phoned a friend (Brian G4ZRP) with an expected start time and made sure I had stuff like radios and batteries just grated with her!
The path was frozen solid from the car park. Hard ice at the bottom and very crisp crunchy snow on top. It was like that to about 1/2 way up when the snow got deeper and deeper until the ice disappeared. There’s been no wind to speak of since the cold spell arrived and so there weren’t any drifts. Still in places the snow was over 70cms deep. Luckily this hill is popular so a good trail had been broken. Still it was hard work as the snow was so soft and powerdery. I found it hard work and I try to get out every weekend. Sarah gets out much less often and sheer ground her way up without moaning to much.
The final ascent from the Resolution Viewpoint to the summit was very hard going. At the top I was completely shattered. It’s the 1st time I think I could have justified owning snow shoes. Sarah arrived only a few minutes behind me, she already said she was going to have a sandwhich, cup of coffee then set off back. However, with no wind on the summit and the strong sunshine it was quite warm. Well not really, probably -10C if not lower. I thought we were too late to bother with radio and was happy to about face with me having touched the trig point. I didn’t want to go on so late in case I didn’t get 4 contacts and didn’t want to spend hours trying to get somewhere. But Sarah insisted I give it a bash and said she’d wait and do a David Bailey whilst I operated.
So at about 14:50 I was on air amongst the noise, data, carriers, and slow morse on 60m. Steve GW7AAV found me and we struggled to find any usable frequencies on 60m. However, we managed a contact and Steve’s XYL Helen came on to give me a 2nd contact. After that it was hard going to get attract any contacts. Not suprising as the band would have gone very long by then. However, I did manage contacts with EI7CC and G0BPU (Ipswich). I’ve never heard Mike so loud which confirms the longer skip as it was so late in the day. Luckily Roger G0TRB sneaked in for the fifth contact. A few more CQs produced nothing and as the sun had dropped into some cloud it was perishingly cold.
A high speed pack up and we were away. Except the camera had other ideas. Sarah managed to get some cracking photos but it was too cold when I came to take her photo at the trig. Shame as the light was really good. As we dropped down into the shaded areas it did get “proper cold”. Sarah was suprised when I set off wearing just a high wicking baselayer shirt and microfleece, she thought I’d be cold. Unlike me, she doesn’t have a few mm of subcutaneous lard. So I was plently warm on the way up and not so warm going down. Funny though, I didn’t need the big jacket at the top it was so pleasant without the wind. Anyway, we made good speed back to the car just as it was getting dark enough to really need a torch. I started the car to warm it up whilst I changed. It was now showing -8C.
The drive back was interesting. We could see thin fog starting to collect in the valleys on the way down and as we climbed out of Peebles the fog became binary. i.e. it was clear and then zap 20m visibilty and the just as fast clear again. The temperature also dropped, reaching a mind numbing (for us southerly UK types) of -12C. That was enough to notice the car heater was struggling to get hot, it managed warm. With all the snow that gets carried in on boots right now, the inside was quite moist and so even after 1hr25mins driving with the heater on there was still ice on the INSIDE windows at the very back of the car. It was only -7C back home, positively warm and balmy!
A shame we were late starting out and slow getting up and so I only had a few contacts. If we could have got up an hour earlier then more would have been able to work me. Still the views were some of the best winter mountain scenes I’ve seen. Those views and having the boss with me were more than enough to justify the climb, the 5 points being the cherry on the top! Photos uploaded to the Flickr group.