Ben Vrackie GM/CS-065 (2019)

It’s nearly 11yrs since I did this summit. I was looking at the WX forecast for Sunday and Ben Vrackie looked to be where the WX would be good. The other possible was Carn na Caim GM/CS-039. Ben Vrackie won because it was more likely to yield a 13cms QSO. If I had chosen Carn na Caim I would have bumped into Martyn and Caroline M1MAJ/M3ZCB!

This is a very busy summit, I counted over 100 people on the ascent/descent or summit when I was there. There are now 2 car parks, 1 about 5mins walk from the old car park. There was space in the new car park and so I parked there. There was also space in the old car park. Both were packed when I returned. During the transfer of crud into my ruck sack ( HF dipoles, 13cms feeder, 13cms transverter, extra batteries) I managed to take my old glasses that live in the bag and leave them in the car rendering me somewhat blind when it came to using phones for spotting, hence the bad spot. I can still see the GPS just without galsses and the 817 is OK. My writing is worse than normal!

The path is impossible to lose or miss and you just follow all the other people on it. I forgot how steep this is, 600m ascent in 4km but really its 300m in 3km and 300m in the last 1km. My legs didn’t like the final ascent/descent, it’s hard work on the man made rock steps. WX was grey but dry. The report said windy and lots of windchill, in fact the windchill temp was meant to be -5C at 1000m. Well it felt like that at 841m! It was perishingly cold. T shirt + fleece + Belay jacket was not enough in the icy wind. I was cold for 2hrs. It was the cold that made me give up in the end.

Anyway, the ascent / descent is straightforward, follow the path. At the top I got out of the wind and rigged the gear so as to not block paths. Lots of people and their dogs came to find out what I was doing. Also lots of overseas visitors, Lithunania, Holland, France, Germany, Italy.

Setup was the 60/40/30 dipole to begin plus the handy on dual watch on 145.500/145.400. I’d alerted the gm13 group I would be QRV 13cms but had no messages suggesting people would be listening. I started on 60m and worked 9 on SSB. GM0EKM in Shetland was loud as was Michael EI3GYB on the Irish West Coast. Ken GM0AXY was loud but he couldn’t hear me and asked Don G0RQL to QSP to me to call him on 2m. 57/55 on the VX170 + rubber duck at 2.5W. I’d not heard any of the 13cms locals call me on 2m but did hear Jack GM4COX trying to chase someone on 2m but he couldn’t hear me. On to 40m CW and 7 worked with ODX being OH3GZ. 40m SSB had G stations and longer distance, F5JKK in Southern France, EA2CKX in Basque Country.

Danny GM6CMQ called in on 2m and we QSY’d to 13cms. Danny had his “big watts” PA in circuit so he was 59+++ and I was just 51. A few metres more height and a tweak of the antenna would have improved that but it was too windy and cold to muck about. The QSO was good and that was enough for me. Also worked Caroline MM3ZCB and Martin MM1MAJ on GM/CS-039 on 2m FM for an S2S and complete. Onto 30m to finish up and 1st was Guru EA2IF/P. Activity was OK but QSB was noticeable. I managed S2S QSOs with F/DL6CGA and then the rather splendid S2S with Gerald GM4OIG. He was only 181km away which is terribly close for 30m but we had a good QSO that was quite easy to be honest. But if anyone wants a reason why /P is worth sending this is it. I was cold and about to shutdown but heard some weak CW. I was not going to struggle as I had a load of gear to pack away and I was properly cold. I head the CW again and it ended /P so I sent ??? and heard ???OIG/P then GM4OIG/P. Now I knew he was going to Corserinne GM/SS-033 and I’ve been waiting 10 years to chase that. So we had a QSO and SS-033 was a complete as was my day.

39 QSOs
1x 13cms
5x S2S
2x Complete (GM/CS-039 and GM/SS-033)
4x EA2 chasers worked (An EA2 qualification :slight_smile: EA2IF, EA2LU, EA2DT, EA2CKX)

So what was a bit of a journeyman activation turned into something rather good. The sun came out once I started down the hill and it was lovely and warm back at the car. Typical.

Ben Vrackie in the distance, miserable grey skies during the ascent.

Ben Vrackie in the distance, lovely warm Autumn day on the descent.

Beinn a’Glho… 3 cracking SOTA summits Carn Liath CS-029, Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain CS-009 and Carn nan Gabhar CS-003

Ben Vrackie, grey morning from Loch a’Choire

Similar view in the afternoon with the lovely blue sky.

It’s quite amazing how everything changes when the sky is blue. Still even without blue sky this was a good day’s SOTAing.


Excellent report Andy. I had a good time on this one a few months back. Couldn’t believe how busy it was either, and how steep it was on the punishing stone steps.


Harder coming down than going up if I am honest.

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Nice pictures!
I remember Ben Vrackie very well. I activated it during a vacation with my family when we stayed in Pitlochry. This is a summit where there is really nothing to tie a mast to. This was a surprise condition for me. I did not bring any stakes or guy wires. My wife ended up holding the mast during my whole activation. Still grateful for her support!

I also have fond memorys of the Ben Vrackie Brewery at the foot of the mountain. I am surprised this does not show up in your report.

73 Heinz

The beer is fabulous from there. But since 2014 when the drink-drive limits changed in Scotland I have not had a drink and driven. It’s just simpler to keep off the sauce when driving. I’ve stayed in the hotel that owns the brewery and did try my best to drink it dry. I failed… they kept brewing more beer!

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That makes sense!

We stayed in walking distance from the brewery…


Vy nice pictures!

The Moulin is nice, in the 80’s my first employer always had their Christmas party here including an overnight stay. Many stories from these events, none suitable for this medium!
I did drop in for a half when I activated Vrackie, as much as I would have when driving.
73 Gavin

I note that you have logged the callsign used for this activation as MS0TA/P but you definitely said MM0FMF/P when you worked us.

Martyn M1MAJ

Force of habit Martyn. I write the call and summit ref on the log sheets now to make sure I send the correct call, but I’ve had that one since I did a Morse test in 2003 and it’s sort of stuck in my mind. Then I worked you and Caroline on the handheld and wandered back to the mast and HF gear and wrote them down in the log. Damage done by then because I wasn’t looking at the log when talking. Change it to MS0TA/P if you want.

I recall you mentioning Corserine was on your most wanted list. It must have been by divine intervention that I checked the spots before starting my 30m session and that our activations actually overlapped. I wondered… just maybe I might hear you. I found that I had no problem copying you and so I decided to give you a call. Now I need to activate Ben Vrackie to get my Complete. :grinning:

We had similar conditions on the day. The cold wind running across the summit had us seeking what shelter we could find and as you know there is precious little of that up on Corserine. I will prepare a report when my blood pressure returns to normal - it was 107/64 this morning. :grinning:

73, Gerald G4OIG

Of the three summits my wife and I hiked last October, Ben Vrackie was her favorite despite the driving rain at the top. We saw maybe 15 people the entire hike.


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Postscript to my earlier post:

I have just beaten the 10 year time slot with a contact with Graeme M0OAT/P on Peel Fell G/SB-004 which I activated on 6th April 2007. I still need Long Crag G/SB-008, so the period to “Complete” will be even longer when I manage to work that one… and not for lack of trying!

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Hi Andy,
Cracking report and the same for the photos. Yes, that does count as very steep! Great WX we’re getting just now. Pity it isn’t set to continue but you made hay…
73, John
PS: 13cm? What colour is that?

Such is the WX. Walking the dog today seemed like I was the only bloke not wearing shorts. Really warm and sunny. Poor old hound was panting like mad when we got back. I gave a handful of ice cubes to crunch, she loves them when hot. First time she had something so cold to eat, she spat it out and barked at it on the floor! Then ate it.

You should try and do all three Beinn a’Ghlo summits John, you’d absolutely love them. Fantastic views and walking and a chance to activate a 6, 8 and 10pt summit. I think it’s about 19km all in.

Brilliant route, but it does take a long time

.The full ridge and the walk along Glen Tilt is about 23 km, making a pretty full day!

Getting down from the final summit (without retracing your steps) is a bit challenging but so worth it. Did my first activation on a perfect day (weather & RF wise) but broke my spectacles on summit one (Carn Liath)! Sunglasses were perfect but the drive home “interesting” !!!

Incidentally, I started from NN907672 which is an alternative access with good parking

Getting back out from Beinn A’ Ghlo is a bit easier now. There is now an excellent path starting from about NN951709 heading south to meet the 4x4 track back to Loch Moraig. When I did it last year I dropped down the Allt Bealach an Fhiodha to meet the new path.

Really excellent day out and quite a challenge activating all 3 summits. Picture below is leaving Carn nan Gabhar and starting the walk out.

73 Gavin

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I was convinced I could see what looked like excellent paths from Carn nan Gabhar leading to the 4x4 track. It’s good to know a good path exists because for people like me who probably can’t do all 3 in that it may be possible to just do Carn nan Gabhar as a singleton. Sure doing several together is much better but I have to acknowledge my physical limits.