Ettrick Pen GM/SS-074, Turner Cleuch Law GM/SS-140

It’s good to still be allowed out! I’m picking hills that I hope will be relatively quiet. Also, being professionally cheap, I don’t have a printer because there’s a brilliant A3 colour laser at work that is free to use. So when it comes to maps, print at work, use at the weekend, save in the map files for next time. Except there is no visiting the office at present This means I’m revisiting hills were I already have a map. It also means I’m looking at buying a cheap colour laser for home.

It’s 13 years since I last did Ettrick Pen. I remembered it as being a bit steep. I was 9months in to SOTA then and very unfit and fat. I’m less fat now but less fit due to being stuck inside a lot of this year. I’m also not in my mid-40s any more. Still the ascent was easier than expected.

I parked at the Potburn turning circle at the end of the public road in Ettrick Valley. Room for 8 well parked cars. Down the Southern Upland Way past the old abandoned farmhouse at Potburn which is being restored. Down to Over Pawthorpe Bothy which looked busy. Then off the Southern Upland way and up the track towards Ettrick Pen. There’s a finger board if you can’t spot the biggest hill in the area.

First good view of Ettrick Pen, the stripes are recently planted Spruce trees. Zillions of them. The modern planting stile too, dig a 500mmx500mmx500mm cube out of the ground, dump that by the hole, plant sapling in the pile. This allows the roots to drain. It also leaves loads of holes in the ground, climbing this in snow will be unpleasant. Lots of saplings, this could make this approach much harder in 5-8 years.

Go up (young) man. Basically go straight up. One past the saplings I found a track that wanders right to the summit. Easy. Computer said 1hr40 and I took 1hr25, pleased with that.

Up at the top I used the fence to support the antenna and did 30-40-60-20 in that order. Moderately decent signals. EA CW contest on 40 CW was a pain… just so many stations active. Noticed the power cable to the 817 felt wrong plugging in. Imminent failure coming!

WX was intermittent sun and cloud but it was windy and the wind was baltic cold. In mid July I ended up with a buff, fleece and hollowfill jacket and gloves and was still cool. In July :frowning: By the time I was proper cold the sun spent more time on show but it was time to move on.

White Combe GM/SS-030

Socially distanced walkers, Ettrick Pen summit GM/SS-074

Left hill is Croft Head GM/SS-100 and right is Capel Fell GM/SS-082. You should be able to see the now 15year old “new” path on the front of Croft Head up the ridge Cat Shoulder.

Wind swept and cold MM0FMF at the top.


A quick march back to the car then off to Turner Cleuch Law. Last year I bought a car with an automatic gear box and it has an economy mode were the throttle response is diminished. This is brilliant because driving my last car with a clutch in boots was a nightmare, jerky changes and no feeling on the throttle. This is a joy, can of diet Red Bull, bag in the back, jump in, ECO selected, drive sedately in big boots.

I parked at the access to Berrybush farm on the B709, loads of space here. Over the road and into the Berrybush forest. I followed what is known to me as Colwyn’s route after Colwyn MM0YCJ described it. So Berrybush entrance follow the track to the large pond, do a U-turn past the loggers caravan, up the inclined track to the very end. Then turn 90deg left and up the steep bank into the fire break in the trees. Up, up and thrice up the break. Stop the at wall! Turn left, up to the gate and out onto the summit. Simple 40min thrash for 2(+3) points.

Last time here the trees had grown so I used my folding pruning saw to make a bit of space. I managed to remember it this time and it was needed, not in the firebreak, that is still passible with ease for another 18+months. But the section by the wall was blocked and quite a bit of pruning occurred. First time ever I saw a farmer on a quad in the field, never seen anyone around here, I stopped pruning because I could get through and was being eaten alive by big flies… warm day in a forest in Summer means flies :frowning:

At the top the big change was the NEW ELECTRIC FENCE. No, no, no! After a quick romp up to the top you could tie the antenna to the old fence and e on the air in moments. Having to erect with guys makes this a 10+ minute setup and I was bushed. Anyway up with the 20m antenna, no noise from any fences. I remember there was always ropey phone coverage up here but I had a good 3g+ connection. (4G on Ettrick Pen but who knows where from.)

I did 20m and once I had 6 QSOs and was calling and calling I thought, nobody about and I’m qualified, time to go. Route back was a reverse through the firebreak etc.

New Electric Fence running some distance along the tops.

Guyed antenna using new fluorescent guy ropes from ASDA camping aisle. £1.5 for 4 with tensioners in a colour that will be hard to miss. No trig points used to support the antenna!

Complete panorama in 3 shots showing there is nothing man made to see! Well you can see Selkirk and Ashkirk TV/Radio broadcast masts but nothing else.

Path by the wall AFTER pruning… I was bushed and gave up further work once I could get past!

Slightly occluded entrance at the top of the firebreak… enter and descend.

My first time here you could walk a football team up 11 men wide and not touch the trees.

Most overgrown section, small branches I didn’t prune in 2016 now bigger.

At the bottom, a nice wide gap and easy to see from the track a 100m past the end of the firebreak.

Fine display of pink and white Foxgloves.

Felling across the road, all those stack cylindrical logs on a steep hill, what could possibly go wrong?

Back at the car it was boots off, another diet Red Bull and back home in a very spirited fashion. Legs, heart, lungs giving a good exercise. I’m stiff as a board today. Thanks for all the contacts especially the 7 or 8 S2S contacts on Ettrick Pen.