Where to go and what to do for ISW (International SOTA Weekend)? Well my plan was to get out on Saturday for a SOTA summit, then down to my contest group in SW Scotland and play uwaves. Sunday stood the chance of nipping up a local 1pt hill to the contest site to boost the activator numbers if the weekend was going well. I looked for something that that hadn’t been on the air for a while with the potential takeoff to make 70cms/23cms down into England possible. There are a few 4 point hills down in Dumfries and Galloway that are still unique to me. Never mind lots of 1 and 2 pointers. So out the possibles Corserine selected itself. This has the advantage of a nice huge flat activation zone and is LOS to many LD and NP summits.
It’s a fair old drive across god-awful roads to get the start of Corserine. There just don’t appear to be any decent roads across Dumfries & Galloway, they’re all mince, twisty, badly surfaced and narrow. That means it takes a long time to get anywhere. It took well over 2hrs to cover the 83 miles from Livingston to Forest Lodge (Livingston, Abington, Thornhill, Moniaive, St John’s Town of Dalry, Forest Lodge). There’s a good car park with space for 10 cars but it was a squeeze to get in at 10.20am. The estate is privately owned but walkers are welcomed although there are a huge number of signs for walkers all over the estate which get a bit tiresome! The silliest being in the car park where it says anyone still parked here at 8.00pm will be reported to the police as lost on the mountains. Right!
The route starts in the car park and follows wide forest roads for the first 4kms. The WX was quite sunny on the way down with showers predicted for the afternoon. It was drizzling as I started but it soon brightened up to a lovely sunny day. The last few 100m of the track narrows down until you come to a style to cross the fence, the other side of which is open countryside. Now the signs have been banging on about a deer fence and so I expected an 8ft or higher fence. The fence is such a joke that a tortoise could leap it never mind a deer! Never mind. From here there’s no official path but there is a very obvious track in the heather. I had a quick breather as I plucked up courage to ascent the style and cross the fence whilst drinking in the view. It’s very impressive. Dumfries & Galloway has some splendid hills. The corrie I came out into would not have been out of place in the highlands. The only problem being that you climb 250m in the first 4kms which is trivial but you have to climb 300m in the next 1km followed by 100m in 500m. It looks steep and it sounds steep.
So I set off and the track was easy to follow. Not deep like a Munro trench but obvious. It meandered back and forth and I have to say the ascent was not at all hard. It took about 50 mins or so to reach the top and that’s with a bag that was heavier than usual as I had the 23cms gear with me. Surprisingly easy. Of course I remember from Cruach Ardrain about the power of the sun. So again I kept my hat in bag till it was too late. Lobster head again. D’Oh!
It’s hard to describe the huge plateau here. There’s no shortage of space. I stopped, had a drink and something to eat and set up on 60m. Conditions were not brilliant but so - so. First in was John GW4BVE followed by Helen M0YHB and Caroline G4WRW who were on SW-041. Next was Geoff G6MZX on NP-016. So Geoff qualified the summit for me and was the man who brought me to 502 activator points. Half way to goatdom. Thanks Geoff. It’s taken 29months to reach this level. I’m starting to run low on nearby small hills, there’s lots of 6 and 8 points hill to do though so possible I cover the second half of goatdom quicker. Who knows. However, 60m was slow going though after 30 mins I had 4 S2S contacts and 9 QSOs. Everyone kept telling me how dire 80m was so I skipped it and went to 40m SSB. A tune about turned up Dave G7SKR/p on SE-013 who was a huge signal. But nothing else was worked on SSB. 7.032 CW time.
The adrelin was flowing as not only was I trying out my newbie CW in Satan’s own lair but it was ISW and I was using a new club call so I could put a less commons GS3 prefix on the air. I can recognise my MM0 call so easily but this GS3 sounds very odd, I still have to listen for it. Anyway 1st in the log was Mike LA5SAA. Mike spotted I was rubbish at CW and sent some beautiful, easy to copy CW for me. I worked a total of 4 on CW (LA5SAA, G4ELZ, DK4KVA & G4WSX) by which time my head was exploding. Time to QSY to 70cms and 23cms. I called on 60m hoping to attract attention and get spotted but nobody heard me. Conditions must have decayed away.
I set up on 70cms but the HB9CV I had with me had “gone off” and the SWR was high. Over to 23cms. I hoped I might hear a contest station or that some chasers may be listening anyway but without notification of the QSY there was nothing but noise. Oh well never mind. I had the hill qualified on 40mCW never mind other contacts. I had a quick check with the dummy load sorry rubber duck on the 817 on 2m and John GM8OTI was LOUD*. He was back up on Scald Law SS-125. We managed a QSO, I had to hold the 817 just so and John could copy me OK. After that I finished off my lunch and took some photos and packed away.
There had been a steady stream of visitors to the trig point but only 1 group wanted to know what was happening. I don’t they were impressed. I did consider doing the loop which involves following the gradually descending ridge over Millfire and friends and dropping down to another forest track but it was over 10km that way and I wanted to get to the contest site. So I went back the way I came and tried to keep the pace up. I managed to get to the car for 5.00pm, got changed and headed off for the remaining 1+ hour drive to the contest site.
Not a bad day. Corserine is a lovely hill and quite an easy walk really. It was a bit wet in places and doing this on a cold crisp day would be a cracking treat. It’s hard to believe that this was only its 3rd activation, but then you have to consider than it would probably take me less time to drive to Timbuktu that here!
All in I had 15 QSOs on 3 bands (2m,40m,60m) and continued to scare the world with my CW. Shame about the failure on 70&23 but I was happy overall.
Total distance walked: 13.6km, total ascent: 762m distance driven: 168miles (assuming a there and back drive).
Pictures will be in the Flickr group soon.