It’s taking too long to get to 500 unique summits. I started well last month but having done two more uniques I aggravated my 2015 slipped disc. Lots of continuous gentle exercise (dog walking etc.) got me sorted and I was able to activate Minch Moor over the Christmas holidays. So with good WX predicted I was looking for number 491. Duncolm is a round trip of about 115 miles but it’s a longish walk for 1pt so I always put it down the list. Well now it’s one of the nearest uniques which made it more interesting. I’ve plenty to do up around Luss, 2 and 4pt summits but I was unsure how much snow was laying. So a 400m summit made sense, I could check the hills to see how much snow was left etc. when in the area for the next activations.
There’s two routes. One from Old Kilpatrick (NW Glasgow) which is about 6.8km and 385m ascent. Or from the NNE near Carbeth at 6.2km and 270m ascent. I didn’t like the look of the car park from the pictures at Old Kilpatrick TBH, it reminded me of car parks in Liverpool where I used to live. The kind where you leave you car and come back 30mins later and just the shell remains on bricks! So I did the other route. There is a big Christmas Tree farm, farm shop, cafe, Kids Softball Play Pool etc. etc. with a huge car park. The only downside is the drive along the M8 with the awful commuter traffic. I did the M8 J3 to J26 and back route for 18months and I still have therapy to help me get over spending so much of my life not moving or crawling inch by inch to work I entered the destination into the car GPS and it said M8 all the way but I turned off onto the quieter M73 and let the GPS figure from there and it did a cool job.
I pulled into Eden Mills CYO Christmas Tree Farm at 9.15. I checked with a guy unlocking the play pool it was OK to leave the car and go for a walk. He was shocked someone asked instead of just abandoning their car and said sure. Boots on etc. I was away by 9.40 with my walking computer suggesting 1hr38mins. The walk starts on Tarmac roads so good time can be made. It switches to crushed rock forest tracks which were also easy to make good time. The final approach is on the bogtrack
Just over 3km in. The Tarcmac section is finished and I’m on to forest tracks. There has been a huge amount of harvesting so the track is extended compare to the 2014 OS map I have. First good views of Duncolm top tight.
I met a bloke with a JetBoil having a brew and his piece just after this photo overlooking Kilmannan Reservoir. We had a chat and he suggested the path after the hardcore finishes “is quite boggy”. Ha! That was understatement of the year. I did expect it to be damp. We’ve had record rains the last 6 months, lots of England is under water and here there are 9 Lochs and reservoirs feeding Glasgow. That means there’s plenty of water falling here and being caught. Anyway the track ends and there is a path through the forest.
It was wet. Like very wet. Heavily overgrown with moss and grasses but and obvious path through a wide fire break. How wet? Well my foot would sink in at least to the top of the boot rand on every step and sometimes a lot more. Oh yes. wet. But glorious in the woods with the sun and almost no wind.
Here’s the path and firebreak. Anyone who has walked in Scotland can tell exactly what the path was like from the photo. If you are subject to Trench Foot or your boots are not waterproof, avoid here! There’s about 1.25km of this traverse.
And here is our target. It was even wetter walking down to the fence and even the steeper slopes the other side were still wet and boggy. Crossing the style was a nightmare… sodden wooden steps that were greasy and sloping which meant my boots slid anywhere. I managed to cross on the 3rd attempt.
After that it was follow the paths on the slopes. I’d not really noticed any climbing till here. There are many paths to the top. Follow one to the trig point.
I had done much better than expected and was at the trig about 30mins early than I thought. I took some photos and then setup. No wind at the car park but quite a cold breeze blowing. Probably about 1-3C before the wind chill.
Duncolm has some damn views. It’s a bit of trek for 1pt but the views are good. Don’t go on a bad day. You get a fairly good view up Loch Lomond which I discovered last month is a wee bit pretty.
Looking NNE up Loch Lomond. Ben Lomond GM/SS-011 is the big hill on the right. Also here Beinn Uird, Conic Hill, Ben Bowie. At the top of left of the Loch are Ben Ime, The Cobbler and the other Arrochar Alps. Mist across the loch is obscuring the small islands.
Ben Venue GM/SS-058 looking rather fine.
The Campsie Fells with mist laying in the valleys I drove up. In fact the WX was just as predicted with mainly blue skies. But the drive over from near M8 J3 was miserable drizzle, rain and mist. So it was nice to see a small height gain got you clear of the mist. Kilmannan Reservoir looking Caribbean Blue, but not as warm
More lochs. Nearest is Lily Loch and Burncrooks Reservoir further away. The path is part of the John Muir way. It’s a lot less boggy than my path.
So up went the 5m pole, trapped EFHW but I was trying a new 1:64 match unit (3:24 autotransformer 100pf compensation on a 2643625002 #43 core wound like Owen Duffy’s (Thanks Jon @G4IVV), KX2, 10W and starting on 10m.
I managed 7 CW and 1 SSB QSO before QSYing to 7MHz. I’ve not done 7MHz for a while and Duncolm overlooks Glasgow so many do it on 2m meaning lots of UK chasers would like. it. I tuned to 7.160 WAB net and had a very civilised 15mins as I was run down the net. Inter-G was very good. Onto 40m CW and it was mayhem as already documented. I was close to QSYing until I managed to get the unruly back in line and waiting their turn. After that 15m CW with ODX being Fred WX1S who was SO loud. He said I was very loud too. Probably 15m was the money band but we don’t have a 15m challenge running. After 7 QSOs there it was back to 10m for 2 more QSOs until click and the KX2 went off. Yes the BMS on the Eremit LiFePO did its business. I put the reserve 18650 LiIon pack on and called for a bit more but it was now windy and getting cold. So I pulled the plug and had a leisurely chocolate bar then took some photos and packed up.
I did consider avoiding the boggy path and following the John Muir way. But better the devil you know so at 1415 I set off back the way I came.
Same view up Loch Lomond but the mist has cleared somewhat. The words are right… “Bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond”.
The Campsie Fells. The high point Earl’s Seat GM/SS-126 is visible
Looking back up to the top of Duncolm. It was only slightly less boggy on that slope than the level
A better view of the slope. Once up to that ridge the top is essentially flat with a huge AZ.
The view back. You can see the firebreak in the forest. So down to the fence, over the burn, into the proper bog, through the forest and around the loch. Then past the water treatment works and back to the farm complex.
About 750m from the car park this tree cried out to be photographed in the setting sun. Well I thought it looked jolly.
Back at the car it was boots off and into the cafe for a nice coffee. They had some fine looking cakes but I was trying to walk of Christmas Consumption not add to it. Then into the car and try to avoid as much Glasgow rush hour traffic as possible.
Analysis suggests the Eremit powered the KX2 for over 6hrs30 since its last charge. That seems OK to me. 44 QSOs on 10/15&40m and 10 activator challenge points and unique #491. No complaints from my back either.