Another went the day badly on Windlestraw Law GM/SS-087

WX report was for sunny day clouding up later and 22C. So not a day for long steep walks. I thought I’d have a gentle stroll up Windlestraw Law. It’s not too far along roads you can make good progress on and whilst it’s a horror show when wet, after the dry spell it should be OK.

From experience, the quickest route for me is to get to Innerleithen then up the B709 just a few miles to park by Blackhopebyre Farm. So far so good. apart from the cycle race/event. OK I ride a bike so I know how to give fellow cyclists enough room. But sadly cycle events bring out the bike zealots and there were lots today. Now maybe it’s Darwinism in action but playing chicken when you’re on a bike and I’m in 1700kg of car doing 30mph is not going to go well for the cyclist. But I digress.

A few mins up the road and there was a child of about 22 in a Hi-Viz vest who was stopping cyclists and cars. “Road’s closed” he said and was surprised when I asked why. “Forest fire by the golf club, there’s fire engines coming down and a helicopter landed on the road to refuel.” My car GPS has real time traffic info and normally it’s the mutz with road problems but nothing was showing. “Can I go a bit up the road and turn around up there?” pointing to a clearing about 50m ahead “this car has a pish turning circle and there’s bikes everywhere”. Nope, no, no way. “Well do me a favour and watch my rear so I can turn without hitting anything please?” “No I can’t do that I was told just to stop cars.”

Normally jobsworths are as old as me or older. I’ve never seen an pubescent jobsworth before. But they are obviously born into the career.

I reversed back an managed to get out of the way of a Fire Engine, then I turned round and was slowly driving back against the melee of cars and bikes. That’s when I noticed our jobsworth was walking in front of me. I tootled melodiously with the car horn which caused him to jump spectacularly high. I felt better for this puerile action. I should say my car horn is as loud as Spongebob Squarepants Alarm Clock
( SpongeBob's alarm clock | Encyclopedia SpongeBobia | Fandom )

From here I now had about 60miles of around the mountains to get to the other end of the road so I could come in from the other end. Cue spirited driving around the South and East past Clovenfords and up to Heriot and then into another slighter older bod in a Hi-Viz vest standing by a Police Stop sign in. We discussed the fact there was a fire and hey I lied "I spoke to some goon at the other end who told me I could come round and get in this way. " There were zillions of bikes coming up the closed road. Remember it was closed not for bikes but for the fire. “It must be open or how are those bikes getting through?” He considered my logic and said “Well maybe they’re letting them through.”. At which point I said “well it can’t be closed and I don’t want to go as far as the golf club I want about 4 miles north of it.” At this point he let me in and I drove down the road against an onslaught of Kamikazee cyclists finally getting to the parking place 75mins late. :frowning:

Usual stuff, parked up, boots on, check we had radios, batteries, aerials etc. I didn’t want to get to the top after this much effort to find stuff missing. Then up the track. It’s easy. There is a track, hardcore, then grass then ankle deep mud to nearly the top now. There always was a boggy soft hell of a track but since Lunar Surveyor 3 was installed there is a huge brown slopfest with vehicle wheels and tracks in it. However, it’s been dry so the bog was dried out and was crispy on top and springy underneath. Full ascent/descent and I came back clean!

Despite being very hot there was a fierce wind blowing which cooled me down and I was at the top in about 1hr25. I thought, check DXHeat for 10m propergation or set up the 10m loop. No service so I left the phone on a fence post to see if it would find a signal and put the loop up. FT817 decided to tell me the PLL was unlocked on 70cms. But it was fine on other bands. A bit of swearing and button jabbing and it sorted itself out on 70cms. A tune about showed 1 weak Italian beacon and a very loud EA station on 28.500. Otherwise the band was dead. Well of course there were 3 million FT8 signals but as I find FT8 technically fabulous but as interesting as watching paint dry I took the loop down and put the 20m dipole up.

Much livelyness here. But no signal on the phone. Booger. There was a SOTA QSO on 14.062x so I tuned down a bit and sent a few ??? QRL??? etc. called CQ SOTA and was pounced by Kurt F/HB9AFI/P. Coo, old school SOTA without a spot. Much calling and calling and slowly I worked stations who were “tuning the bands” not watching SOTAwatch. This random calling and tuning about might catch on. But with a bit of perseverance I worked 7 stations in F, DL, SO, UA3, YL over a 40min period all 20m CW .

The wind was mad. One gust blew me off my feet when I stood up for a comfort break. By 1300Z the sky was darkening and I thought I don’t want to get wet. So I packed and set off down. Back to the car in 50mins just as the light rain started. I’d put sunscreen on and needed it. It was very sunny at times although clouded over when I took photos. The car said it was 22C when I got moving again. That’s hot for Scotland.

I was very pleased that old school SOTA operating works. Just a case of endless CQ calls near the centre of QRP activity did the job. Just like it used to before self spotting was a thing. But I could have done without a round the Scottish Borders drive to get to the start.

Lunar Surveyor 3 on Windlestraw Law

Actually it’s Borders Broadband wireless link station on 2.4GHz.

The real Surveyor 3 is still on the moon

This what the lovely ground looks like from 2/3rd up. Heather and Peat Hags. Surveyor 3 just visible on the summit.

The track after the vehicles. But it was lovely and springy and dry today. Going up…

And going down…

You can imagine what that ground is like after normal levels of rain. Hence, always do this hill after long dry spell or when it’s frozen solid.


It gets more stimulating once you have been successful deploying it in a SOTA activation.


I found the main SSB bands were packed with contest stuff this morning. I tried to tune in to a couple of GM activators on 20m from Cornwall, probably a bit close :slight_smile: but both were inaudible because of powerful stations talking over them. So I drew breath and tried 17m CW and had my first ever SOTA CW QSO. What a civilised place 17m was. :slight_smile: I later tried 30m which was a bit manic but had a S2S with an HB operator.

I’ll write it up in a day or so.

PS: I had a sunny day with no fires. :slight_smile:


I think I would be considering a different summit under those circumstances. :frowning_face:

Pleased to be hooked on Uniques. That track looks much worse than the sphagnum moss mess that I endured. Nice walk apart from that and the farmer is friendly too. :grinning:

There’s a surprising dearth of choice… Windlestraw Law, Blackhope Scar, Minch Moor & Deuchar Law. Blackhope Scar was also up the closed road, Minch Moor was done the other week when the belly dancers were out leaving Deuchar Law. I hadn’t checked if the church in Traquair was open this Sunday (the vicar moves among 3 or 4 churches) and if it was running then there’s nowhere to park. Bit of a Hobson’s choice :frowning: And anyway, it’s been dry for so long you may not find the track so dry again for some considerable time.

Good point… I remember the suction at every step. :grinning: