Better than expected, more than we planned for
After yesterday’s damp trudge over Chno Dearg we needed a straightforward mountain to climb and preferably one with a path.
Creag Meagaidh it was then. We’d parked up there last night in Dora. Campers are welcome to use the National Nature Reserve car park for a donation.
8am, 0700z saw us loaded up and ready to go. Putting damp cold boots onto our feet turned out to be the least pleasant part of the day.
The first 5km of the hike was on well made path, which gently ascended up to the 500m contour. We arrived at the mist shrouded crags of Coire Adrair in around 90 minutes.
the long approach to Coire Ardair
From that point, the track became narrower, rougher and steeper. It eventually led up screes to The Window.
looking back through The Window
Under clearing skies, we ascended easier slopes and then walked along the grassy plateau to arrive at our cloudy summit. The sense of space was awesome and as the cloud moved around we were able to the that the complex plateau had a series of glens, ridges and corries across its length. Not a place to lose your bearings. The ascent time was around 3.5 hours.
Crossing the vast plateau
Clouds clearing, offering glimpses to the north
we had different views over the hour spent on top, but never a complete view
I got the mast, inverted V and FT-857d rigged I about 10 minutes. I’d planned on QRO working today but had forgotten to bring the link that would allow me to connect my common-mode choke between the radio and dipole. I restricted my power to 20 watts and got a spot away, calling CQ on 20m at 1100z. I worked 7 stations in as many minutes, with Spain and Ukraine making it into the log amongst others. When it went quiet, I dropped the ends of the antenna and linked it up for 40m. I wasn’t expecting great results here, given recent experience, however I was delighted to spend a further 12 minutes working English, Welsh and Belgian stations, capped off with a S2S with GW4TQE/p who was activating GW/NW-061. There was little QSB and strong signal reported were generally given both ways.
I called on 2m FM with my FT-3d and then packed everything away.
Far too much kit today
Our planned descent route was to follow our tracks back to The Window, down the steep screes and path back to the lochan and then take the nice path back to the car park.
Only one thing though, Mo had other plans. On reaching The Window she started to climb up the opposite side. There are two Munros (non-SOTA) up there that offer an alternative and high level return to the car park. They add around an extra 2km to the hike and fair bit more ascent.
We were on top of the first one in 20 mins and then spent an enjoyable hour or two walking across an interesting and undulating, mainly grassy ridge, in improving weather and with increasingly impressive views.
I still had the hand held tuned to 145.500MHz, as I always live in hope. That enabled me to give @MM0YCJ Colwyn the first contact on his second summit of the day, the spectacular Saddle GM/WS-051. I was ambling along the ridge as we spoke.
The Coire Ardair of Creag Meagaidh
Final summit of Cairn Liath in the distance
Colwyn, I’m waving. Can you see me?
Descending from the final top of the day was at first interesting, then tedious and finally extremely difficult! There has been amazing job done of re-wilding the entire area, with many native species of tree and shrubs growing along the lower slopes of the hills in the nature reserve. There is a path, but let’s just say I may take a machete next time.
To be fair the entire area is a pleasure to walk around and worth a visit even for an hour or two.
young trees growing, great to see
Rowan tree hanging with berries
We arrived back in the car park at 1545z, only 45 minutes later than planned, having taken in 2 extra summits along the wayl
finally back at Dora the Explorer
I was delighted with the activation, given recent poor conditions on the HF bands. Thank you Chasers for making it a pleasure!
I wasn’t so delighted to be carrying all of my heavy radio kit around two extra Munros, but glad I did.
Distance walked 14 miles 22.5km
Ascent 3865 feet 1180m
Summits climbed Creag Meagaidh, Stob Poite Coire Adrair, Càrn Liath
If you’re going to go all the way up there and you collect Munros, then it makes sense to extend the walk. Even if you don’t collect Munros, it’s well worth 20 minutes of effort to climb up to the first one in order to take in the views.
the outward route is the lower one
Hotel and shower tonight. Rest day tomorrow. More SOTA fun planned for Wednesday & Thursday, with the promise of good WX.