Craig of Monievreckie SS-223

The WX was for essentially blue skies but cold with a strong Northerly wind. I was initially going to activate Ben Ledi but was a little concerned how much snow and ice there would be. I have crampons and an ice-axe but I’m a little out of practice for a nearly 900m summit in mid-Winter. Add the fact the windchill was predicted to be -25C at 900m and there is nowhere good to hide from a Northerly wind on Ben Ledi and I decided to tackle something less demanding. On the way to Ben Ledi is Craig of Monievreckie which is half the height but has marvelous views and is just a sweet hill.

I parked at Braeval and followed the tracks/path to open ground. There was ice and some snow on the way but nothing much. Across the open ground the snow got deeper and was about 8-10in deep at the summit. It’s not really a challenge and the 350m ascent in 2.9km took me 1hr10mins including several view appreciation stops. That pace didn’t result in a sweat breaking out.

Cold? Windy? Gordon Bennett. The wind was so cold it was unreal. I set up just to the South of the trig point as there is a suitable ridge running East/West. Ideal for long activations when the wind blows, especially as being on the South meant I got the full sun. When it did go behind a cloud it was damn cold even out of the wind. The plan was 14-cw/14-ssb/17-cw/17-ssb + other bands. I knew I could spend all day on here as the WX was due to be sunny till sunset. Only the cold was the limiting factor.

14-ssb had about 3 European/Russian contest running but the CW end was OK. I fired up the memory keyer and checked SOTAwatch… bonus result 4G coverage and I was in neither Edinburgh or Glasgow! I have no idea where it was coming from but my provider (Three) only offers 4G in limited locations. I needed to run the keyer twice, once gets Eric KU6J’s RBN gateway to spot me, the second is so all the people now listening can net on me. Bedlam erupted. I don’t think I have ever heard 20m CW so busy. It stayed like that for a ridiculous time. Normally there’s 10mins mayhem and it settles down to a constant stream of 1 or 2 callers. But this was serious stuff, looking at the log there was no respite from 1103 to 1157. I had to stop to let my brain cool. Back on at 1210 and it was the same to 1234. During my QSO with Mikel EA2CW the antenna blew over. It didn’t affect his signal and my own replies got to him, the SWR went up a bit. Finally there were no more CW stations and I moved to SSB which was also busy. A quick QSY to 2m FM bagged Ken GM0AXY, Christine GM4YMM and Jack GM4COX (for his completion of SS-223). Then 17m which was good but suffered from deep QSB. By 1350 it was getting cloudy and really cold. That was my limit and I packed up and walked back.

I didn’t hear Iain MM3WJZ who was attempt Ben Lui ( a serious mountain in Summer never mind Winter and snow) as I would have liked to work that for an S2S. I did get 4G at 3bars strength coverage which was a surprise. I also saw a Snow Bunting fly past and mooch about in the snow. These are Winter visitors to Scotland, I’ve never seen one before except in books/TV etc.

An excellent day. It was a day to go higher but not a day to go higher and play SOTA. I was QRV for 2hrs45 in total and that would not have happened on a higher summit. My best ever QSO tally at 80QSOs.

14-CW: CU, DL, OH, PA, OK, HB9, HA, SP, EA, LA, 9A, EU, G, RX, SM, F, CT, OE, I, OM
14-SSB: EA, G, ON, DL, OE, OH, OA, F
17-CW: OE, VE, EA, SP, DL, YO, HB9, I, LZ, UA, OH

ODX: VE2JCW, I also worked Phil G4OBK on 20m CW, his email when I got back said he could hear fine on backscatter, he was going to wait till the pileup subsided before trying to call. He had to wait sometime but we did complete.

Thanks to all the chasers, sorry if you had to wait, I can cope with 2 or 3 calls but today was scary.

Picture time…

Ben Venue GM/SS-058

Ben Ledi GM/SS-022

A cold MM0FMF shortly before packing up.

Ben Lomond GM/SS-011

Cruach Ardain GM/SS-004, Stob Binnein GM/SS-002 & Ben More GM/SS-001


Super stuff Andy. What a marvellous playground you have up there. I’m well jell. My 2015 SOTA activating year hasn’t really got going yet, with just solo visits to my local summits coinciding with RSGB contests. However, there is the next Challenge to look forward to, which will get me doing a bit, and a pass-out for me and 'HGY to go unique-bagging in GI at some point. It’s a bit more difficult now as Jimmy needs to book his holidays off work to match up with mine, while in former days we would just assume (by and large) that his school holidays and mine would match up!

Thanks for the report and photos.

Terrific pictures, Andy, there seems to be a lot more forestry than there used to be!

I listened for you on twenty SSB, you were there alright, but somebody 2 kHz below you had a signal that was a lot wider than high!


Hej Andy…soo exact description of the SS-223 and thank You for 2 CW QSO’s 20/17m.
Vy 73! de Rob.

Hi Andy,
agreed, excellent pictures and report.
I’m glad I did catch you on 20CW; your sigs were really consistent and easy to copy. Well done on your long stay.
This time weather in your side has been much better than here, snowing all day long!

VY 73 es CU soon.

Easily explained :slight_smile: I didn’t actually get to the summit. I’d gone up the east ridge? (the one on the left hand side of Coire Gaothach) but up near the top there was a wee craggy bit I didn’t fancy climbing direct, the option on the right was a wee rock chimney thing with an overhanging boulder at the top, decided after looking at it that I didn’t fancy that either. Going left took me onto the windslab that I figured would have sent me down the mountain fairly sharpish. It was a long way to down climb but it was definitely a case of “getting to the top being optional, getting home being mandatory”

Stunning day to be out though :smile:

Funny you should say that . There was a German Sota ( if memory serves me right) on 20m SSB had such a pile up, 1/2hrs laters still going strong, more chaos than anything. So do usual thing hang on till it quietens down and he;s gone. Must got fed up, to which one would have done. Never heard it so mad before, no patanice, call call call me me me me, if he did leave the freq one does not don’t blame him at all.

Did listen for you on 20 sometimes scotland comes in well here even from the southern parts but not today One will get ya another day. Some lovely winter photos there too. Thanks again.


Good decision Iain, specifically if you were there on your own.

I was keeping a listening watch on 500 & 400 and called ‘blind’ a couple of times just in case you were around.

And glad you are back safely. Don’t want to loose a promising ‘up-and-coming’ curler.

Cu Thursday for the Glaister.


Jack :wink:

PS: Cracking fotie!!!
PPS: Andy - es mni tks fer cplt …-.-

I’d expect to be able to work you at least 1/3rd of the time, if not more often, on 20m SSB Karl, you’re a fair distance away. Mike G6TUH is out in the South East and he is reasonably regular with me on 20m SSB, he was a good signal on Sunday. The problem was the band was very busy and I struggled to find anywhere for a QRP signal to fit in without disappearing into the hash and splash of all the other users. It’s hard to maintain your frequency with just 5W though judging by the number of stations on the band it would be hard with a few hundred watts! It was the other stations that limited Brian and I’m sure many others from having a QSO.

Good call. Ben Lui will be there next weekend (and so will the snow).

1 Like

Ain’t that the truth! I think sometimes it’s only the stronger signals from the chasers that maintains a clear frequency for us activators.

1 Like

Many thanks for another excellent report Andy. I have been looking at Craig of Monievreckie as a potential target from the Dumbarton Travelodge come the day when Paul and I have activated all the summits south of the Glasgow - Edinburgh line, with the exception of the long Kintyre trek of course. Well, you have to plan ahead!

73, Gerald G4OIG

Hi Andy another cracking report.I was listening for you and did try a couple of calls on both cw and ssb but my cw is rubbish and you were only just audiable with deep qsb 73 Geoff

I would have moved to 40m if 20m had taken the normal time so UK chasers could have a shot at the summit. But 20m was so busy with so many callers it lasted 3 times longer than typical.

After I got back to the car I decided I’d try some fun and games. I was in my HiLux so instead of coming straight back I thought Id’d take the scenic route over The Duke’s Pass to Callandar, no point having a TonkaToy and not playing with it… I got to the bottom of the ascent and there was a “road closed” sign which I expected but it was pushed to one side so I set off up. At a narrow section I met a SWB Defender on a 12 plate coming down. It was an immaculate black safari body with a row of extra lamps on the roof rack. I had a chat to the bloke driving and asked him if the pass was open. “Not really… I had to move the cones to get on it. It’s not bad at all but there’s a bit that’s icy on the other side. I needed diff locks on to get up it.” He looked at the tyres on the my HiLux and said “You’ll be fine in that, stick it low-4wd and put the diff lock on. It’s exhilirating, you’ll love it.” He said that with a huge smile on his face but his XYL’s face suggested maybe more exhilirating that necessary. I got as far as the GoApe car park and the cones on the road. I could see a sheet of ice extending a good 50m up the hill. That looked like far more exhiliration that my off-road driving skills are up to. I passed on the fun and turned round, respect to the Defender capabilities. 30years ago I’d have just driven on, I’m gettning very cautious as I get older!

Whilst I was turning about a guy in a Europecar hire car (Kia Ceed I think) stopped at the cones obviously a tourist was considering it, his passenger pointing at the map and out of the window at the closed off road. Yeah, good luck with that in a FWD hatchback. :smile:

He could always have gone up in reverse. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Well he’ll certainly becoming down in reverse… with all 4 wheels locked and all the passengers screaming!


Can explain this on 20m
One here 10W and me G5 wire
Mike, a lot more wattage and a Hex beam :smile:

I can recall a few contacts on 40 & 20 we’ve had Karl and the kind of signal I remember is what I’d expect with an average antenna and QRP(ish) power levels. Perfectly workable but not going to break a massive pileup unless you’re lucky. I know Mike certainly has a FLEX SDR transceiver so he’s probably 100W to your 10W but that’s only 1.5 S-points more, the Hex Beam will make a difference and also it depends on the height of your G5RV and how much feeder you have and the feeder quality.

Louis Varney designed the G5RV as a compromise antenna that worked OK and would fit in his garden. They can work very well but they do depend on how and where they are installed. I can remember having one for a special event station from a lighthouse in a sloping configuration, one end at 80ft and the other at 30ft above a tidal harbour, above either wet sand or salt water. It was, how can I put it, potent in that arrangement. :wink:

1 Like

Hello Karl,
Andy is right - the Flexradio 5000A PA is 100w. That said the PA on my one has the best output of 118w (tone, not PEP) on 10M band. I do not use a ATU on the hexbeam as the reflected power is minimal across all the bands except 6M where it goes to 1:1:3 which I am not bothered about as I rarely go there. I also agree about the feeder quality. The hexbeam normally ‘rests’ at 2.5 m above the ground but when up at 42ft it is a completely different antenna in terms of hearing. The G5RV is a versatile antenna. If you saw my antenna for 180/80 you would weep, end fed and sloped across a couple of apple trees but it works when the wind is in the right direction in terms of propagation :sunglasses: So perhaps just play around…

Ah my poor old H reg Defender 90, it has a green tinge to it because of the algae, lichen, moss etc. growing on it but it works very well, is roadworthy etc. The only problem is that when driving it you have to dress as though were outside in the open in the winter! Picture of Landy from its less greenish side.



Hmm using 15m RG213 up to the ladder line.

According to a calculator lose about .6w on 20m and little more on 10m
about 22ft high around garden in L shape. With ten from the rig. But being on top of this hill feel still does help.

But on a good day its does rather well for what one has.

1.5 on the scale hmm could mean difference being heard or not heard.

But end of day when the spider is up and running and tuned in proper like with out the ATU should push the signal a little better than before and directional will make some difference too. All being well be up in spring and chasing the Sota,s off that one.

May not have the bestest station on the planet but one enjoy,s it. Room for improvement when money allows.

Interesting discussion here folks



Hello Karl,
Just play around and see how it goes.

I suggest you get options in terms of antenna though. That is, for example, be able to switch from the G5RV to a vertical antenna etc…

Sometimes I have not been able to hear/be heard on the hexbeam but made it on the vertical or inverted V and the other way round.

Worthwhile checking out as with your 10w you need to fit in the right antenna for the propagation at the time - just a thought 8)

Now off to the forest with Bertie the greyhound before it goes -C and dark.

1 Like