Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

An Socach CS-038

Bad weather and other committments meant I’ve not been out for 2 weeks. It feels longer as the last walk was a quicky, up Culter Fell and back, again due to poor weather. The WX on Friday was stunning, wall to wall blue sky and 25C here. Of course that wasn’t going to last and MWIS forecasts for Sunday started off saying “Beware all ye sinners for Satan walks the hills with snow and rain and low cloud and about 2C at 900m” but by Saturday it was down to “might be a shower but cloudbase should be 1100m and not too warm but not windy”. Anyway the forecast looked better the further NE you went which meant Cairngorms for me.

An Socach CS-038 hadn’t been on for a long time and that was the obvious choice, several routes, good views, decent walk and climb to make up for the long drive. There’s a hill or two in that area and just recently I’ve started taking extra maps just in case there’s a problem with access or whatever and so I had maps for Carn a’Gheoidh, Glas Maol, Morrone etc. but they weren’t needed.

It took 3 attempts to get out the house getting no further than 200m before heading back for 1) phone, 2) drugs, 3) GPS. This all stems from not having been out and getting out of the rhythm of getting ready. At least I remembered to charge up batteries for the camera and GPS. The fresh batteries immediately failed in the camera, then the next set. Finally the 3rd pair worked. Hmmmm. With all of that I was 30 mins late leaving and did wonder if it was worthwhile as spaceweather.com was showing a big geomagnetic storm running.

Spirited driving meant I arrived at parking spot roughly when I thought I would. In this case by the track entrance to Baddock Farm at NO138831 where there is space for 5 cars. Other spaces can be found within a few minutes walk on the A93 if that is full. All the big hills were clear of cloud but it was very overcast and about 7C. No wind though which was good. Booted up and kitted out with extra spare batteries in case the AA’s died in the camera and GPS I was away walking by about 10 o’clock.

The start is along the track for about 2.5km before you hit the Allt Choire Fhearneasg crossing the track. This may be difficult to ford when it’s in spate. It looked deep enough to go over my boots. An regular occurance as there is a track which looks like an animal track leading upstream. I followed this for 100m or so and came to an obvious crossing point at about NO121811. There are more further up if this is no good. On the other side there again was a well worn track in the heather which is easy to follow. This is the first real climbing and is steep for 200m then eases off. It was trivial to follow the track and until I saw varied boot prints I still wasn’t sure it wasn’t an animal track.

Onwards and upwards. The slope eases off and it’s a case of follow your nose along the track over a few soft and boggy bits. In general, despite the rain of late, the ground was quite dry. The path winds up to a big needle shaped cairn at around NO112807. There’s a wee dip down and then you do the proper climb. It looks very steep and there are many eroded tracks. The peat isn’t very thick here and being a Munro, the relentless boots have worn the ground down to rock. It’s a case of pick a track and follow it. It doesn’t take long before again the slope levels off a little and you’re on to the horrible stony surface. There’s a shelter at the first summit at 938m but this is not in the AZ. So you have a 2km walk along the stoney top before you get to the real summit where there are several shelters/cairns.

Part way along I saw my first Ptarmigan. These birds, related to the grouse, seldom drop much below 800m. As I walked along something moved. The normal summer plummage matches the stoney surface so well that when it stopped moving it disappeared. It saw me, well it couldn’t miss a fat bloke with a tomato coloured face, and immediately went into the broken wing dance. To distract predators from any chicks, the females stick a wing as if it was broken and then run along in front of you. You, the predator see an easy meal and follow it and just when you are about to pounce it flutters out of reach. Repeat until predator away from chicks. Except I thought “Ooo! Ooo! A Ptarmigan!” and tried to take a photo. It came back and then ran away and I just kept on the path. Until I nearly trod on the chick which was sat, of course, on the path. It ran away screaming and the mother flew at me and I had to duck to avoid it. It continued to do the broken wing lark as I walked on. Fantastic when you see it, nature at work. Apparently, Ptarmigan taste good too, remarkably like Swan!

At the top shelter, the summit was too stoney to bother with tent pegs so I used rocks to hold the guys in place with the pole stuffed into the shelter. There was no wind so this was ideal. The temperature was just fine for sitting about and the views, though lacking sunshine were good. The Cairnwell group were just across the valley, Glas Maol still had a snow in the NE choire. Carn an Righ, Ben Iuthern Mhor, Glas Tulaichen were big and wonderful looking. In the far distance Beinn a’Ghlo stood proud. Lochnagar’s peak was resplendent as were the big boys, Breariach, Cairn Toul, Ben Macdui, Ben Mheadhoin. They seemed to be quite close but were a good 20km North. They are, quite big! Still lots of snow on them.

Onto the air and I was worried whether there would be any propagation. 60m was very noisy with lightning crashes but I could hear someone on FE. With some difficulty I worked Colin G8TMV using mixed modes CW/SSB. He was using 30w from a Clansman which was why he was a repesctable signal compared to my 4W or so. 1 down 3 to go. A spot for FK and Steve GW7AAV was easy to work. I heard Martyn M1MAJ call but the QSB got him. I worked a few more on SSB and then Phil G4OBK, Martin GW4CQZ and John G0TDM completed the callers on 60m. Onto 40m CW and I was sure M0YDH called me on the key but no responce when I replied to that call. I worked 7 more though but only in G, DL and PA. I did lose my frequency. There were lots of walkers wanting to know what was happening and after explaining to one couple I found my frequency was stolen by some calling CQ TEST and 200 billion WPM. :frowning:

There were some breaks in the cloud which was nice as that warmed everything up and made up for the rising wind. So I packed up as nobody wanted to work me anymore and I was getting cool. The walk out was a reverse of the walk in. No more Ptarmigans but near the needle cairn a female grouse did the same broken wing trick. Mr. Grouse was in attendance and all of sudden the heather was alive with grouse chicks running in all directions. Apart from them the only wildlife I saw all day was a rabbit. Back at the car it was boots off and 10 minutes of endorphin enriched relaxation before setting off on a much more leisurely drive back home to the accompaniment of Bad Company, Duke Robilaird and The Nimmo Brothers.

Total walked: 16.6km, total ascent 733m, total driven: 195miles.

Nothing difficult about this, it’s a moderately easy 6 points. If you had 2 cars you could leave one at the Glen Shee car park and bag An Socach then drop down and cross the Baddock Burn, up the far slope and mosey on along to Carn a’Gheoidh for another 6 points then drop down to the car park.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

That was me Andy! I managed to send M0YHD (the iambic key caught me out by leaving off the last dit of the B; I got used to it after a few goes). It was my very first attempt at CW. I think when you came back to me there was QSB and someone right next to the frequency so I did not hear you properly. Then others called you so I waited then you were gone :o(

I will try again some time… at least I had a try,

Helen
M0YHB

In reply to M0YHB:

Well TBH Helen, I had written down “M0YHD / M0YDH??” in the log but assumed either I swapped the letters or David swapped them sending. Important lesson… write down what you hear not what you want to hear!

Shame the QSB got you / me because you were a good signal and obviously were sending OK. 40m and 30m are a bit daunting due to the sheer number of signals. True experts can cope without a narrow filter but idiots like me do need them.

So next time we can arrange a sked on SSB before hand and try somewhere away from the massed chasers waiting to pounce.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:
On five megs the massed chasers will hold the ring for you!

Conditions were weird with rapid fluttery QSB superimposed on slow deep QSB, the sun had left the ionosphere a quivering wreck!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to MM0FMF:

Thanks for persevering, I didn’t realise it was your first QSO of the activation. The QSB and the noise was certainly a problem at my end too.

I need to get a keyer sorted out for the Clansman, I’ve started building a kit into a box, guess I’d better get it sorted. I can only use a straight key for a very short time due to wrist and elbow problems.

Colin G8TMV

In reply to MM0FMF:
"…bag An Socach then drop down and cross the Baddock Burn, up the far slope and mosey on along to Carn a’Gheoidh for another 6 points…"

Done it, definitely not recommended. Once you find the only safe way off the side of An Socach crossing the glen involves avoiding numerous peat hags and the ascent is through shaggy heather and is steep!

Good report Andy, you obviously had better conditions (weather & RF) than I did on the two molehills on Saturday where I got very cold.

Barry GM4TOE

In reply to MM0FMF:

A bit OT, but when I heard you I looked on Spots and saw that you had been spotted, I then clicked on the summit reference and found An Socach, which confused me as the only An Socach that I knew at that time was at the west end of the Mullardoch group (WS-026)and not in CS. Of course, many if not most of the Gaelic names are descriptive (in this case meaning “The Snout”) and are endlessly recycled - look at how many Beinne Deargs (red mountains) there are - and in fact I have since found that there is a third An Socach just to the east of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan! I think that they are lovely names, but is there another language in the world with so many unnecessary letters in its written names? Ceathreamhnan sounds roughly like Kerranan!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to MM0FMF:

Another excellent report Andy. Unfortunately I couldn’t copy you on either band - noise levels here were just too high. Local industry is working at the weekends despite the poor economic situation.

Apparently, Ptarmigan taste good too, remarkably like Swan!

Ah, so the rumour isn’t true. You haven’t actually dined with the Queen. :slight_smile:

They are rather fiesty birds. A group of six of us had an encounter with a cock bird while walking near Ben Macdui many years ago and that was outside the breeding season. Apparently humans are fair game, 365 days a year!

Well done on the lengthy walk. You can’t be as unfit as you make out. No comment on the miles driven other than it’s little more than it takes me to get over to Paul’s QTH…

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to MM0FMF:
It is nice to be remembered Andy. No antennas up in the garden that day. Ann-Charlotte had insisted I do the weeding in the vegetable beds instead of any radio - a fair exchange for hanging around on the summits in the Preselis and helping with putting up and taking down the dipole.
It did cross my mind that the first SOTA CW chaser point ought to be with a recent convert to the mode.
Well done Helen. Those iambic wotsits do let fly at first. I rather like my Czech army straight key - handy for longer spaces in callsigns.

73
David M0YDH

In reply to MM0FMF:
Great write up Andy. The other thing I remember about the hills in this area are the number of Mountain Hare’s. They do go up and down in population though, so maybe not so many this year. Once saw more than a dozen in a day in this area.

The behaviour I find most unusual with Ptarmigan is what they sometimes do in winter. If the wind is blowing and they are on snow they sometimes curl up in a ball and roll away with the wind! I thought I was going mad the first time I saw it, but I’ve seen it a few times since.

Gerald
MW6AQU

In reply to MW6AQU:

Wow! I’ve never seen that, Gerald, although I’ve lost a few years of growth from them exploding from under my feet!

73

Brian G8ADD

Great report Andy.

Mention of Ben Macdui reminded me of when I was up there a few weeks ago and as you say, still plenty of snow and ice. Five of us went up from Derry Lodge and reached the summit in a howling gale with horizontal hail and very bad visibility. No one wanted to hang around while I got the rig out (and with the wind and hail I doubt if I could have heard it anyway), so it was a quick pause for the obligatory photos and back down to a safer place sharpish. Saw a couple of Ptarmigan near Loch Etchachan on the way up.

Keith G8HXE.

In reply to G8ADD:
"…but is there another language in the world with so many unnecessary letters in its written names…"

My late mother in law, whose first language was Gaelic, told me “She is pronounced exactly as she is spelled”

Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:

I’m with Brian here. If you want to say “Cairnwell” spelling it “Chuirn Bhalg” just seems like you want to make it difficult. :slight_smile:

I had the same problems with Romanised spellings when in Korea. But part of that was due to some of the sounds not existing in Western langauges. Still if you name a town Gumi pronouncing it as if it was spelled Kumi is just plain awkward.

There again look at Wouxun. Obviously said as “wooooo-ks-un”, except it’s “oh-shzeng”.

And we wont go into how the name of Britain’s leading skin specialist Raymond Luxury Yacht is pronounced. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyQvjKqXA0Y
:slight_smile:

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to GM4TOE:

In reply to G8ADD:
"…but is there another language in the world with so many
unnecessary letters in its written names…"

My late mother in law, whose first language was Gaelic, told me
"She is pronounced exactly as she is spelled"

Barry GM4TOE

No surprises there, Barry, ALL languages are pronounced exactly as spelled, once you know the rules - and allowing for conventions like “Chalmondley” being pronounced “Chuffley”! And of course this happens in Gaelic, too - we are told that a terminal “e” always sounds - except in “Etive”! I like to be able to say the names of places the way the locals would say them, and I do try hard, but sometimes Gaelic (and to a far lesser extent, Welsh) drives me crackers!

73

Brian G8ADD

Beinn Mheadhoin = Ben Vane

That’s just silly.

Ysgyryd = Skirrid

That’s just awkward.

Bring back Edmund’s Tump I say!

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Beinn Mheadhoin should be Beinn Mheadhain, Ben Vane is a poor anglicisation, it should sound something like Pane Vaa-hin meaning the Mountain in the Middle - makes sense when you see it!

Ysgyryd probably should be y Sgyryd, y meaning “the”, awkward perhaps in English as we have dropped “the” from the name, but sensible in Welsh.

I agree, though, I liked “Edmunds Tump”!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to M1EYP: But what about consistency? Several years ago I was activating a mid-Wales summit and was trapped in the middle of a heated discussion between a N Welsh chaser and one from S Wales about the correct pronounciation of the summit I was on. I had to QSY to continue the activation!

Tempy QTH in Brecon this weekend - hope the wx allows a couple of activations.

Regards, Dave, G6DTN

In reply to G8ADD:
Listen to a native and then the spelling makes “some” sort of sense - Beinn in actually pronounced as two syllables - Bay inn. “Mh” is a sort of “V” but is much softer, “Bh” at the start of a word is a almost a “B” unless proceeded by “a’” when it is modified to another sort of “V”. Don’t even start on Welsh!

Now how about a discussion about apostrophes such as in Edmund’s, Edmunds’ and Edmunds - that should drive our European mainland neighbours nuts.
For a start: neighbour’s nuts, neighbours nut’s, neighbours’ nuts !!!

Barry GM4TOE

PS: Has the silly season started yet?

In reply to GM4TOE:

Should such a pleasure have a season?

73

Brian G8ADD