Duncolm GM/SS-222 Unique #491

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 :frowning: :oncoming_automobile: 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 :frowning:

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. :frowning: 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 :slight_smile:

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 :frowning:

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.


There were a few choice words at my end when I realised you’d been on 40m. I didn’t see that band in your alert… or maybe my specs need cleaning. I wanted this one in the bag for a potential Complete. As you say, it’s mostly activated on 2m and that’s no-go from down here and an S2S is unlikely. Anyway, many thanks for the heads up on the route… I was considering the other option, but don’t fancy my alloys appearing on eBay.

73, Gerald


My apologies for not advertising 40m. I do remember as I typed the alert my browser offered a previous set of frequencies and I used them. 40 wasn’t on the plan till I was there and thought on. Also I wanted to see how well the antenna worked with the1:64 match. So it was a “hmm let’s try 40 now” that just jumped into my head.

I’m probably being very unfair on the fine people of Old Kirkpatrick bu something in the picture of the car park triggered internal alarm bells.


Indeed. I’ve a similar feeling about the lay-by used to access Cruach Ardrain GM/SS-004 (Neil’s route) and An Caisteal GM/SS-007 which has been putting me off doing these two. Maybe I just need to get on and do them, though Cruach Ardrain could be done from the east and I’d bag the HEMA summit en route. Decisions! Decisions!

Thanks Andy, I’d never considered getting to Duncolm from the Carbeth side, I’ve been up on the Kilpatricks countless times over the years but always from either Old Kilpatrick or Overtoun House. There’s also the option to get a “posh” coffee from the new coffee place next to the site of the old Carbeth Inn.

I think you might want to leave the Ferrari at home but otherwise your motor should be fine, historically I’ve parked at the gas station just off station road (pre covid - after which I suspect folks started “parking stoopid” in front of the access gates hence the newer metal barriers and double yellows, More recently I generally park at the “Kilpatrick Hills carpark” just off Mt Pleasant Ave, and I’ve also parked down on the road near the railway station (the only car park I’ve never used is the new "temporary - probably now semi permanent - just after the gas station. There’s generally a constant turnaround of folks going up and down the hill.

Even parking in Bowling village or behind the Esso garage on the A82 at Milton when I’ve been looping over the hills on the bike for a couple of hours (it’s a mean climb pedalling up from Old Kilpatrick).

The old 'WJZ Octavia parked at the “Kilpatrick Hill carpark” during the “beast from the east” ,2017, no alloys as I had my winter steels on at the time - there was enough snow to make it worthwhile having snow shoes and I’m guessing it’s not often you can say you’ve been snowshoeing over the Kilpatrick hills!



Hmm, you don’t make this one sound very appetising unless there is a drought which doesn’t seem too likely at present. I’m not surprised you found the bogs hard work as you were carrying a rather substantial wooden seat (how about this Helinox chair everyone is talking about? I saw it packed up in the Hay on Wye Rohan shop but didn’t like to ask themn to assemble it as we all knew I wasn’t going to invest in it) along with your traditional anvil.


Hi Gerald, probably much more of an issue and concern at the “munro” laybys on the A82 as the “tea leaves” know that you’ll be away from your car for probably 5-8 hours so they have plenty of time.

At Old Kilpatrick you get everything from folks walking the dog for 30 minutes up the first bit of the hill road to hill runners, mountain bikers going up and down and folks doing 2-4 hours on the hills over to Duncolm, the Slacks, Doughnut Hill and everything inbetween - so any “tea leaves” have less idea how quick folks will be back


Hi Andy what a great report and some very nice photos.
Well done 73
Paul M0PLA

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My namesake has recently invested in such a chair. He’s 10yrs older than me so that’s when I’ll probably buy one, in 10yrs time.

Precisely Iain and now I have a new motor (well, new to me), I don’t fancy having a bricked window. No doubt Audi charge £500 per square foot of glass! Neil’s blog gives the heads-up on the possibility of unlawful behaviour, but unfortunately I don’t have an equivalent to Cat to keep watch. Under the circumstances I think the eastern approach for Cruach Ardrain is best and An Caisteal will get another thought… maybe combine the two for a long hard day before the stalking season.

73, Gerald

Off topic (ish) but the stalking “season” oft quoted in posts on the reflector is very different in England and Scotland AND there is no overall close season; Roe Deer are always “in season”:

Shooting seasons in Scotland
Roe Buck 1 April to 20 October
Roe Doe 20 October to 1 March
Red Stag 1 July to 20 October
Red Hind 21 October 15 Feb

There are other species of deer in minor numbers which, yet again, have different shooting seasons but the main species found on hills are Red and Roe with, in the main, Red on the higher hills and Roe lower.

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I’m not personally aware of an issue at the classic layby for Cruarch Ardrain / An Casteill. It’s always mad busy with cars coming and going. I’m not sure if the building site is still there next to it for the run-of-the-river hydro schemes or if that’s done now.

I wouldn’t enjoy doing both in the same day. It’s quite a serious undertaking. One of them a day was enough. Though I had spectacular WX each time when I did the pair.