Having been discouraged from attempting these two last week due to snow I decided that I’d try them again as a swansong for the Winter Bonus. No more 5 points for little hills after today, it will be time to find proper hills. Gulp!
I decided to do them the same as last year (where I remember being given a good seeing to by hard hail and snow.) The WX wasn’t bad although it was greyer and windier than I was expecting. I parked at Broughton Place walker’s car park and kitted up. There were lots of ramblers getting ready, mandatory equipment appeared to be gaiters. I only wear mine when there’s snow now, they make my legs too hot otherwise. I didn’t see any snow so I didn’t put mine on. Thus we were able to distinguish me from the ramblers. Also they were older, leaner, fitter and set off like a herd of scalded cats! Hmmmm.
40mins later I was at Trahenna. It’s a bit steep at first and then almost flat. Temp was around 8C but the wind was fierce. Now last time I was here the sky was broken. It didn’t appear to be working too well today on 60m. I struggled to get the contacts but managed to eventually. Conditions favoured long skip, GM4SLV in Shetland was loud for 10W (from a K2 which sounded nice) and Don G0RQL was huge. I had a banker in that I got 2 contacts from Mike GW0DSP using both of his calls but didn’t need to worry in the end. I was able to have S2S contacts with Steve G7AAV/P, Carolyn GW6WRW/P and Martyn MW1MAJ/P.
I could hear Ken GM0AXY calling but couldn’t get back. No matter, out came the PalmPaddle. First problem was I’ve been practicing with a Bencher at home and the Palm felt so different I couldn’t send well. Secondly the 817 wouldn’t key when I used the paddle. I mucked about but the VOX wouldn’t come on. D’Oh! I need the VOX on for CW on my TS570, the 817 needs the BK menu activating. So I tried calling Ken with the mic keyed and playing with the paddle. I think I kept sending GM0AXQ but no mind. Disaster! Someone who wasn’t Ken called me. Panic stations! After a QRS I worked out it was Dave G3RDQ. Now Dave is a clever chap, when I asked him to QRS he knew exactly what I wanted, he slowed down just a bit but correctly left bigger gaps between the characters. These oldtimer G3’s aren’t as daft as they look! I think we had a valid QSO. I got a report from Dave which I’m sure was 549 but I’m now thinking it was 519. Oh well, I hope he understood his summit ref and report. I had to operate without gloves to key the mic and send and I did try to send COLD HANDS but I think it came out as gibberish. Then Ken appeared 59+ so I chickened out and worked him on SSB. (Yeah, I know, I’ll never get better if I take the easy way.)
The wind was silly now and it took 20mins to pack up instead of 10. Along the ridge it was to Hammer Head. This is such a great walk with lovely views and is right on top of Edinburgh which explains why I met 5 people coming along who all complained about the wind. Then down the steep bit at the end and up to Broughton Heights. Ken warned me about the descent. I’ve done it before and know it’s steep and the ground is naff. It didn’t seem steep this time, perhaps I was glad to be out of the wind.
Up to the next summit is a bit of a slog especially as the wind was cold now. But 40mins was all it took. I set up just below the trig point and hoped for better conditions. They were and they weren’t. In fact I worked fewer contacts here than Trahenna. On both occasions, Robin GM7PKT could hear others working me at the start of my operation and had to wait for propagation. Again long skip was favoured in general and a nice QSO was had with David G0OOG/P. I again resorted to my tortuous CW to finish a QSO with Mike GW0DSP.
Then it was time to go. The wind had no abated and I had it in my face all the way back to the junction of the John Buchan Way and Clover Law paths. From then on I was in the glen and it was sheltered. Back to the car to find the last of the ramblers removing gaiters. I didn’t need mine, I wonder if they needed theirs? 35mins and I was home to shout at the kids and fall asleep on the sofa. I blame the wind for that as I’ve never come home and fallen asleep before!
Total walked: 12km, total ascent 697m, total driven 66miles.