Bucking the Trend on GM/ES-039

The Buck of Cabrach 721 m - GM/ES-039

I was working all of the Easter weekend - Friday right through Monday. A busy time in food retail. Friends and fellow activators were posting excellent GM reports on here - @GM0GAV , @MM0FMF , @GM4JXP , @MM0VPM to name a few. I was suffering badly from FoMo*.

Sunday 9th April 2023
Into work early with the aim of an early finish. Westhill was dark and grey all morning. Mike @MM7MWL was activating Fourman Hill GM/ES-083 and posted pictures of low cloud on our WhatsApp. I almost managed to chase him from work using the handie, some 50 km to the south east of him over improbable terrain. I could hear him 3/1 when I placed the FT-60 on the steel roof of my car but sadly he didn’t hear me, so no complete. Westhill gets its name for a reason and unfortunately I was on the wrong side of it.

Fourman Hill to Westhill

Anyway, I escaped from work at 1245 BST and headed west towards Alford, then north to Lumsden, the weather brightening as I drove. In less than an hour I was turning onto the wild Cabrach road - one to watch in winter. It isn’t ploughed and can hold snow late into the year. Along with such challenges comes a high starting altitude and I was soon parked on the dirt layby that sits around 435 m ASL. NJ420 254. I stepped out of the car in to a cool, strong southerly wind.

The Ascent
I always say that The Buck should be kept for a crisp winters day or a baking hot summer. Unfortunately my two previous ascents have been on soft snow and on wet ground. Today would be the latter.

The route backtracks along the road and climbs the wooden gate on the right. Follow a rutted vehicle track looking out for a path through the heather off to the left (shown on the OS 1:25000). Follow this as it weaves towards a broken fence line. Then the fun begins. Walking through and following the fence traverses flat spongy and wet ground. Even when the track rises, it is still wet until it passes a spring near the upper reaches of the hill. It’s a direct ascent, “Route 1” if you like. There’s no way to get lost. On the return, it is easy to miss the fence crossing point due to the difficulty in spotting the return path.

Ascent route
Map courtesy of OS. © Crown copyright, Ordnance Survey 2023

It’s only 1.4 miles or 2.25 km to the top and this took me just over 30 minutes. The Buck is a bit of a heathery lump, but has a pleasing summit, with jumbled granite and a trig perched on top.

the initial ascent

The Buck of Cabrach GM/ES-039

The breeze was strong, blowing patches of mist over the summit slopes. I put on my RAB down and got to work setting up the station. I set about looking for the clump of blade shaped rocks that had a gap just big enough for my pole. That done, I stretched my W3EDP back towards the summit rocks, thankful that its great length took the feedpoint into the shelter of some boulders and a dry stone wall.

That done, I took out my Yaesu FT-60 handheld, attached the RH-770 whip and decided to brave the exposed trig for a try on 2 m. It was 1444 BST. I knew Mike MM7MWL would be listening. He quickly responded to my spot/CQ and reported no wind noise on the mic., so my cupping of the radio with my other hand with my back to the wind was doing the job.

I kept calling. Five minutes would pass before I had another QSO. GM4JOJ, to the east near Peterhead. Then another seven minutes. I was getting rather cold, exposed to the full brunt of the cold Easter wind. I worked GM0HLV - 59 from Helmsdale in the far north. then a flurry of contacts - GM0VGI, not too far away in Inverurie and then BOOM! - MM7UPP from the island of Orkney 59 both ways! He was 120 miles / 190 km to the north. A good path over the sea. Every now and again I’d cast a glance over my shoulder to see if the mast and wire was still up. Yup, the carbon 6 and rock jam was doing just fine.

good path

I bagged a couple more, with a nice handheld to handheld QSO with Garry @MM0XET who was on high ground near Kinnoull Hill at Perth, some 100 km to the south. Nice! With seven logged on 2m and me having stood for 35 minutes on the exposed summit, I decided to retreat to the shelter of the rocks and my HF set up.

Yay! Happy me, having Bucked the trend, with a flurry of 2 m contacts

60 m was quiet, but I worked a local, MM0TDS, who I’d also worked on 2 m. Then Esther and Ian called in - @Gi0AZA and @GI0AZB, although I was fairly weak to them, they were 5/9 to me.

I really couldn’t be bothered with Sunday 40 m shenanigans at this point, but I did spot that Ritchie and Robert @2W0LWF and @M0RWX were out on Welsh summits and were only 3 KHz apart on the 40 m band. I nabbed them both for a summit to summit, somewhat surprising Rithie, who had his finger hovering over the “OFF” button on his radio as I called in!

uncomfortable position, but out of the worst of the wind

That done, I quickly packed up and trotted/slithered back down to the car. I was home 35 minutes later. Bath then dinner. It was mince, neep and tatties followed by rhubarb crumble. Then a bottle of red wine and a movie. FoMo* put to rest and great delight in having sneaked in a fun activation with the limited time I had during a busy weekend at work.

Fraser MM0EFI

*Fear of missing out (FoMO) is a unique term introduced in 2004 to describe a phenomenon observed on social networking sites. FoMO includes two processes; firstly, perception of missing out, followed up with a compulsive behavior to maintain these social connections.


Well done Fraser.

Not sure if your hat is the cause of the cold weather or an attempt to mitigate the effects :wink:
I suspect the latter… “ne’er cast a clout” …



Well done Fraser. Good to get you in the log once again. I was using the FT3d and a signalstick antenna at 5w. We were out walking the dog and rolling easter eggs about half way up Kinnoull Hill.
Looking forward to the next outing :slight_smile:

1 Like

Well done Fraser on sneaking that one in. The holiday period was solely family time for me, but if passport control allow me access, I will be up in Scotland later this week. No doubt the weather is about to go downhill! :grin:


Excellent write up and photos once again Fraser, very well done and many many thanks for the contact on 60M, sometimes our compromised dipole for 60M works and sometimes it doesn’t, glad it worked on the day to hear you :ok_hand:

1 Like

Great report Fraser, and good to get the S2S with you. Yes you made me jump as the finger was on the off button as I’d called QRT. If I hadn’t been dive bombed by one of the Llandudno’s huge Seagull’s , trying to steal the chips the XYL had bought for me I would have missed you! lol

1 Like

I was, but back in the warmth and calm of the shack, slowly reheating after my efforts on Fourman Hill (GM/ES-083) earlier in the day in what was either low cloud or high fog! Think I got the best of it though! Definitely a mince/neeps/tatties Easter Sunday. Great effort by you. 73 Mike


Alan, I have so many Snowman Rally hats, when I stuff my hand in the hat basket, there’s a 10:1 chance one will come out!

You did well Garry. Dropped away slightly towards the end. Maybe the dog pulled you…

Cheers Gerald. Those are sometimes the best ones. The Buck always gives me a good activation. Previously I’ve had DX to the USA with a random wire and another time I worked loads of military ops on 60 m. This time 2 m stole the show!