Beinn Dubh GM/SS-090 #499

Having got to 498 uniques I was keen to get to 500 but the WX had other ideas. I got chased off Scald Law on 3rd-May with heavy rain and thunder but just after I worked Andy MM7MOX for a 1st ever chase of Ben Griam Beg right up North. Since then It’s either rains consistently all day or been heavy showers or I’ve had to do other things. Oh and the Sun keeps playing silly b’s with flares etc. :frowning: Finally decent weather for the weekend and I was determined to get out.

Now I knew everyone would want to play outdoors so my choice of unique 499 was one where there would be plenty of parking. Beinn Dubh GM/SS-090 (ben doo - black hill) which rises above the pretty tourist village of Luss was the target. Luss in on the (bonny, bonny) banks of Loch Lomond and gets swamped with tourists but there must be parking for at least 500 cars. You have to pay, oh do you have to pay though. There’s no all day rate so I did what they intend you to do bought enough time with some extra just in case. £7.50 for 8hrs :frowning: I was the 4th car in the car park at 8.30. For once there was no traffic, no delays, no slow moving areas on the M8 through Glasgow and I arrived 45min ahead of schedule. There had been reports that the K index would rise from 3 to 6 by 1500Z so early meant I may be able to beat the CME arrival. As it was the ionosphere behaved a little.

Boots on, checked I had the midge net, Smidge, sun creme as well as the usual junk and I was off at 7.45Z (8.45 local). There’s a footbridge over the busy A82 road and then a path, style and great big signpost. Easy to follow but the well worn and wide path climbs quite steeply before you have any time to get into your stride. Then it’s just climbs and climbs. Sometimes requiring a little bit of effort and sometimes a doddle.

25mins of effort got me here with a murky but pleasant view of Loch Lomond.

The path is then very, very obvious. Sometimes worn to the rock and sometimes an obvious worn grass/muddy path. Reports say that it can be very boggy and easy to loose the path. Well there were a few flatter areas which were soft, boots sinking to the rand, but nothing that would swallow a foot and this is despite Monsoon levels of rain in the last 4 weeks. As for losing the pat, you can see it snake up the hill and is so obvious even Stevie Wonder would have no problem. It’s just a continuous climb but despite not being out for 4 weeks I didn’t think it was hard work. Never ending but not arduous.

Around 500m the fence appears. This makes a good handle to follow to the top. The slope eases a little too. Then after another 1hr30 of climbing you get to the summit of Beinn Dubh.

Except this isn’t the top. Well it is the top of Beinn Dubh but the SOTA summit is on a neighbouring unnamed hill and is known as Beinn Dubh(Mid Hill) and it’s another 2km and 50m descent and re-ascent.There’s at least 1 activation been done from here in error but it’s so long ago it’s probably not worth deleting it. It had been 40% sunny skies till now but as forecast it became 100% cloudy and there was a brisk wind blowing. I was still in a T-shirt but I needed thin gloves. There’s a gentle descent and as you walk further from Loch Lomond to the middle of nowhere you begin to feel properly remote. Well you would if there wasn’t about 8 people following me and 5 in front spread over 4km or so.

Again an obvious path and only at the col between unnamed hill and Beinn Dubh was it such you had to be a little careful where you trod. Then a hop skip and jump and I was at the top. Well there’s two cairns and the top is the second one, about 100m further.

Looking down from the col to Inverbeg on Loch Lomond some 550m below me.

The view across the loch to Ben Lomond… I expect it was heaving with walkers yesterday.

At the actual SOTA summit, the view back to Beinn Dubh proper. It’s an easy walk to here from there and it took me 2hr25m from the car park which I thought was OK. My map program said 2hr17m and considering I’d been doing no real exercise I was happy with that as included a few comfort breaks and photo stops.

Oh and the views are OK even though it was a murky day. Here’s the “enormous” cairn (well there are few rocks) and a lovely view to the Arrochar Alps, about 10 SOTA summits in this shot. The WX was improving again, as forecast.

I haven’t used my collection of dipoles for a while so I tried my 30/20/17m dipole to being with. I was concerned about an ever worsening K index so I was ready to run 2m instead. As it was things were OK, not brilliant but OK with 31 QSOs on 3 bands.

OK, let’s have another look at Arrochar :wink: Left is The Cobbler GM/SS-020 then Beinn Ime GM/SS-006 and then Beinn Narnain GM/SS-016. Some people are fit enough to activate all 3 summits in one day, not me. The hill in the middle distance is Tullich Hill GM/SS-103.

So 30m was OK, some signals were 599+ and others very QSB. There was often a few calling in the background not strong enough to resolve other than I knew they were there. Sorry if I didn’t hear you.
I managed GM,EA,I,OH,DL,OK and qualified the hill easily. After that 20m. Now I understand why Brian @G8ADD complains about getting up to change the antenna links. After nearly a year of using an EFHW and the KX2 ATU I had to stand to change the links. This is when I discovered my legs were no longer working. Hmm… and we have to descent still :frowning: 20m was the busiest with F, OH, HB9, DL, S5, LY, EA, I, SP, SM. ODX on 2m was EC8ADS on Gran Canaria (Africa) which was nice. Another groan to change the links for 17m and DL,K,I,HB9 and SV went in the log. 20m had periods of zero signals then they faded back. The QSB was faster and more pronounced on 17m but SV8SXF was a new prefix and K4DY was a 559/559. So that’s Europe, Africa & N. America when the ionosphere was a bit borked. CW of course mainly. Yes FT8 would do better but despite the fact I understand about 75% of the maths behind the signal processing and it produces amazing results, I’d rather do CW then voice.

I played with putting up the 60/40/30m dipole and adding the 15m tuning extensions to play there. But I also considered the time. It was 1300 local and it would take 15mins to pack up. I could either back track but didn’t fancy having to climb 50m to descend again or do the full Glen Striddle Horseshoe and descend down Mid Hill and take the Glen Luss tarmaced road back to Luss. My computer map says 1hr15 for a return or 1hr30 for the complete horseshoe. No climbing needed for the full horseshoe so it won. I still had 3hr30 before the car park ticket expired but I knew deep down I maybe slow on the descent. It struck me a better decision to leave now when I could relax and take it slower on the descent than rush. So it was pack up, photos, water, comfort break (again).

Beinn Eich GM/SS-068 just across Glen Mollochan. There are very few parking places for this summit and so many people include the 4km 180m ascent of the tarmac road to Edentaggart before climbing the hill proper. I was going to check out parking on my home but forgot. D’Oh!

MM0FMF 30/20/17 dipole and a view to Loch Lomond.

The descent is easy enough, I nice gentle-ish descent of Mid Hill. Then the true brutality of the path down to the road is realised. It’s just steeper than comfortable and the ground is just uneven or sometimes wet and slippy that every step has to be thought about followed by, in my case, my thighs screaming out “stop I’m on fire”. It seemed to be never ending. Finally at the track I took photo of the descent path.

Even allowing for foreshortening it’s a brute of a descent when you’ve not been out for 4 weeks. Or to use the old, chubby man technical description, a complete and utter b@st@ard. At the road I had 10 mins chill time then set off at a steady pace for the 3km back to Luss. Surprisingly it seemed to take no time as I plodded along. Back at the car it was water and a can or two of diet Red Bull. And the tedious drive home of all the traffic snarled up at 2 roundabouts on the A82, slow traffic to the Erskine Bridge, awful stop-start M8 traffic to J26 then the Kingston Bridge and central Glasgow. The last 25miles being free flowing. The jams on the M8 in Glasgow taught road planners that running a motorway through the centre of densely packed city is a recipe to create traffic problems and they don’t do build them like this now!

Total walked was 12km and 800m ascent.

Now when the WX is OK, the ionosphere is OK and my damned thighs recover it will be time for unique #500 :slight_smile:


Great report Andy. I assume that you will be holding off uniques now until you are able to activate Mullwharchar GM/SS-073 with Gerald @G4OIG so that you can celebrate both your 500th unique and activating all GM/SS SOTA summits south of Glasgow/Edinburgh (excluding Kintyre) at the same time?

Jimmy M0HGY

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Oh, so that’s what the views from the summit are like: we were in the clouds when we did it.
We didn’t use the expensive Luss car park because when we tried the machines weren’t admitting to the possibility of staying more than one hour, so we found a bit of the Old Military Road that was wide enough to safely park for free!


I thought about that course of action Jimmy. TBH we (me and Gerald G4OIG) should have done Mullwharchar by now but the WX has been so dire it’s delayed. It would be nice to have a summit like that for #500 but I’ve decided to just keep pushing on. I did #250 in 2014 so it’s taken 10 years to get to nearly 500. That sort-of makes sense as the more you do the further you have to travel to get to summits you haven’t activated. Even for some lucky like me living in Scotland. Also we had all those Covid lockdowns which limited getting outside and away from home. It took some mental effort to get back into the idea of travelling every weekend to find hills.

So I will push on. I was going to go out today to get #499 and #500 on consecutive days but my legs said no! If I avoid the hills to the NW of Glasgow then the nearest summits are

Creag na h-Eararuidh [Stuc na Cabaig]GM/SS-288
Hill of PersieGM/CS-116
Turin HillGM/SS-271
Sighty CragG/SB-005

But there are 6 on the Luss side of Loch Lomond and 6 on the Ben Lomond side of varying difficulty. And also Ben More GM/SS-001 which is on a 2024 bucket list anyway.

The important thing is not to give myself any reason to let up pushing on to 500 and beyond.