G4YSS:GM/CS-100 DUN COILLICH,15-06-24

G4YSS: GM/CS-100 DUN COILLICH, 15-06-24
(pse rprt errors)

Activation of DUN COILLICH GM/CS-100-2
15th June 2024 using G(M)4YSS. Unaccompanied
HF - QRO on 80-60-40-30-20-15m CW-SSB & 2m-FM
All times: BST (UTC plus 1hr, UOS as ‘z’)

EQUIPMENT:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier 80-10m with 160m capability
Link dipole for 80m thru’ 20m on a 5m CFC (carbon fibre composite)/ alloy mast
1m CFC end-sticks
One HRB 5 Ah Li-Po battery
J-Pole for 2m FM

Reserves:
IC-E90, 4-band, 5W VHF H/H with extendable 2m set-top helical for 4m FM (not used)
UV-3R 2W/ 2-Band H/H (top pocket)
QRO pack: 9.4kg (20.7 pounds) including umbrella, light down jacket & 0.25 litre drinks.

INTRODUCTION:
This was the first activation during our nine-night break at Lochs and Glens Loch Tummel Hotel from 13th to 21st June 2024. A small hill was chosen due to unreliable weather and an easy start to the holiday.

I’m told that this hill is at the geographical centre of Scotland. I activated it in September 2023 as it’s handy for the hotel and again today with the same constraint. i.e. Heavy rain and thunder was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon.

EXECUTION and ROUTE:
I found out last year that I’d used the wrong route, so I used the wrong route again this time because it’s now familiar. (For a path all the way to the top, see ‘Accepted Route’ below).

Today and 2023: The parking place is just off the B846 at NN 7736 5400 – White Bridge. Pull off the road and open the gate to drive through the deer fence onto a level area big enough to park half a dozen cars or more. Don’t forget to close the gate behind you. There are reminders on the gates to do so.

I set off walking in clear conditions at 09:38. There is a narrow gravel path which heads out of the parking area to another tall gate in a second deer fence and over a small wooden bridge. You pass a notice board with a container for ‘brochures.’ These are supplied by the Dun Coillich Highland Perthshire Communities Land Trust and describe all the routes around this hill. A few more strides and you come to a ‘T’ junction at NN 7729 5401. Take the path going right. This is the path that circumnavigates the hill going anti-clockwise. It’s well defined and easy to follow between high vegetation, small trees and marked by green-topped posts, so I don’t need to supply too many waypoints: NN 7705 5414 and NN 7684 5410 apply.

At a post marked ‘14’ at NN 7667 5411 (450m ASL) you are starting to pass the summit rather than head up towards it. After this point the path starts losing altitude, going round Dun Coillich at a relatively low level. In 2023 I turned left off the path here and made my way up a heather-clad hillside taking a bee-line for the top. It’s rough and pathless via NN 7657 5411, passing young Rowan trees, bushes and conifers. The trees are soon left behind but it’s tussocky grass, interspersed with Crow Berry, Bilberry and heather all the way with the occasional hidden water course. A cairn at NN 76252 53643, marks the top. I used this for the descent.

Today, stupidly I failed to leave the path left at Post-14, instead electing to carry on in the hope of gaining an advantage, which I certainly did not. Quite the opposite; the path just continues to orbit the hill at a goodly distance, so by the time I got to NN 7609 5449 the top was even further away. Committed to uphill cross-country again going SSE and almost a kilometre of it, the bullet was bitten but it was very rough ground and tedious. I came across the official path just short of the summit at NN 7615 5371 which made the last few yards easy. Don’t go this way! See below.

Accepted Route:
The Dun Coillich brochure shows a route coming in from a car park further south along the B846 at NN 7689 5290. This gives access to the accepted route up CS100 but it involves somewhat greater ascent than the White Bridge approach. Just off this car park there is a WC and two store rooms used by the Trust.

In 2023, I met a Trust employee called Fred there and he filled me in about the hill in general and this route in particular. ‘A path leads off west, initially downhill to the Allt Glengoulandle watercourse and up through a gate. Follow it uphill but not to its maximum height. When you see a post with a white circle on it this is where you turn right onto the summit path.’

DUN COILLICH - GM/CS-100: 572m, 2pts, 10:33 to 14:40. 16C. 0 to 3mph wind. Sunny periods initially then overcast but no low-cloud. Heavy rain, hail and thunder from half way down the descent. Vodafone coverage 4G. LOC: IO76XP, WAB: NN75 – No Trig.

7.032 CW - 6 QSO’s:
Setting up was done at the windward side today but most of the time it wasn’t strong enough to ground the midges. Self spotting was available for this and all of the other sessions, 4G being 100% of the time on Vodafone.

In the log:
G4YBU Tim - Epsom; EI6FR Declan in Cadamstown; G4OBK Phil in Pickering; ON7GO Phillippe - Marke; GM4KGK Norman nr. Stornaway IO Lewis and DL5OAS Ben.

Power was 50 Watts throughout and the session spanned just under half an hour. All outgoing RST’s were 599 with return reports in the range 559 to 579.

7.160 SSB (WAB frequency) - 10 QSO’s:
The frequency seemed clear when I started but I learned later that it was being used for a SOTA activation in Spain. I was too far north to hear much of that but for stations in the south of England it caused some confusion for which I apologize.

Stations Worked:
G6LKB Dave in Ulverston; M0HEM John - Dagenham; G0FEX Ken in Leicester; G3VOF Martin at Torquay; 2E0FEH Karl – Saltash, Cornwall; F5PYI Larry - Maclas; G8VNW Nick in the Yorkshire Dales; MM3PDM Peter in Peterhead and G0FGI Tom N.Devon. The final caller was M0VZA Geoff saying, ‘It’s pouring down in Braintree.’ He was testing an old TS850 in preparation for an SK club sale. An offshoot of the Braintree club is the Stisted Contest Group of which Geoff is a member.

At times my 50W was showing as 59 plus 20dB on his meter but there was plenty of QSB around on all bands today. My reporting was between 57 and 59 with 55 to 59 received back, apart from a 44 from G6LKB and a 45 from Peterhead.

Where to next? I had a look on 18 MHz but the entire band was being wiped out by woodpecker, especially the upper end, where it was very loud indeed. This was a big problem for amateurs during the Soviet era and now it seems to be returning. It was then that I remembered my link dipole didn’t cover 17m anyway.

14.061 CW - 6 QSO’s:
By now it was starting to cloud over. ‘Must keep an eye on the WX.’

Logged:
OK1KT Vratislav – Hradec Kralove; SM0OEK/P Jaan S2S on SM/DA-049; OH3GZ Jukka - Toivakka; DF1BN Paul – Neuburg-Am-Inn; W2WC William – Mechanicville NY and Marcial, EA2WX/P S2S on EA2/BI-055.

I must say sorry to Marcial. I got it into my head that I was working Pedro EA2CKX and it took a while for me to realise I wasn’t. I’ll put that down to the QSB, hearing only ‘EA2….X. Well that’s my excuse anyway!

RST’s: All in the range 559 to 599 but to be truthful some signals faded to almost nothing at times. Power was still up at 50W.

14.266 SSB - 4 QSO’s:
Giving voice a chance I worked:
SP6KEP Lesnica Radio Club; DL6GCA/P Armin S2S on DL/AM-177; SA3SHN/M Hogan static mobile at 600m ASL in Northern Sweden and CT7AQP Luis - Felgueiras.

Power was the same but reports not so good. I got three 55’s plus a 57 from Poland, sending out 57, 56, 55 and a 59 respectively.

3.760 SSB/ CW - Nil:
I hadn’t heard Ken GM0AXY or Christine GM4YMM on 40m and thinking I might have been going over their heads in Edinburgh, I tried some CQ’s on 80. Nothing heard, so I had some lunch.

5.381.5 CW - 3 QSO’s:
What’s the next best thing to 80? Why 60 of course. Maybe I could bring some of the closer ops in on here. As for the frequency; I got that tip from Dave G0EVV a long time ago. 60m is not well understood by me any more so I tend to avoid it. That added to the fact that my long ago favoured channel called ‘FE’ (still in the rig’s memory) was in use today, forced me onto CW.

Despite a self-spot, nothing was heard at first but then Allan GW4VPX was calling me loud and clear in low noise. Sending 559 I waited for a reply, then realising it wasn’t going to be that easy I upped my operating techniques to ‘standard plus’ and the power back up to 50W. After a short while Allan dug me out of a trough and gave me 339. FB - Job done!

There quickly followed the Londonderry couple Ian and Esther who I met at Blackpool Rally once upon a time. GI0AZB and GI0AZA where easily logged at 599 both ways after a 559 from Ian initially. More CQ’s but no more takers.

21.051 CW – 4 QSO’s:
After setting the dipole for 40m, the SWR tested at around 2:1 in 15m.

Yet another spot brought in the following stations:
F6FTB Christian - Pasques; ON4ZD Leon in Lillois; OE6GND Gerard – Gamlitz and W4GO Matthew in Midland Virginia (VA). I got Gerard’s callsign wrong at first but he put me right with a G not a Z. All four outgoing reports were 579. I received 559; 529; 559 and 429 in that order. Despite my attempts to reduce it after worrying about my single battery, power crept back up to maximum again. QSO rate for this session was one per minute. For me, that’s racing!

21.320 SSB - Nil:
The SSB sub-band had very little traffic. Nothing more to say.

10.118.5 CW – 2 QSO’s:
For those who missed out in the morning on 40 or 20, here was another opportunity.

Stations Worked:
HB9HWI Matt in Bern 559/ 449 and LA6FTA Gudleik - Lena with 599 both ways.

145.400 FM – 1 QSO:
After packing away all things HF and relocating a few yards to the cairn, I had a look on 2m. There were strong signals on 145.550 and weaker ones on 145.400. On the latter I heard vague references to SOTA so I tail-ended the finish of the QSO. Back came MM7MOX/P Andy S2S on GM/SS-264 but it wasn’t easy to hear him.

After a couple of overs we had exchanged all the required information to the satisfaction of both parties. Reports were 33 both ways. I was using the FT817ND with 5W to the J-Pole on a 4m mast with adaptor. I spotted Andy immediately after the QSO but when I went back to look, he’d gone QRT. I hope he qualified.

Descent:
The earlier QSO on .550 had now ended, so after a few quick CQ’s on 145.500, 145.575 and 433.500, none of which were answered, I packed up and skedaddled with one eye on the sky. That’s perhaps the wrong verb. It was a slow and careful journey over uneven ground, tussock, heather and bog for the 15 minutes it took to regain the path at marker post 14. This was the way I’d done it 2023. Large drops of ‘lumpy’ rain began to fall on my head but half a minute later it was merely drumming on my zip-up brolly. A wet walk down to the car with accompaniment from thunder, ended at 15:14. It had been a good day!

ASCENT & DISTANCE:
2024: Ascent 235m (771ft) / Distance 1.7km up/ 2.7km down - 4.4km (2.8 miles)
(2023: Ascent 222m (728ft) / Distance 2x 1.7km (2.1 miles))
Start point at 350m ASL

CHRONOLOGY:
Drive from/ to hotel: 9min (4 miles)
Walk started: 09:38
GM/CS-100: 10:33 to 14:40
Returned to Car: 15:14

Walking times:
Ascent: 55min (bad route)
Summit time: 4hr-7min
Descent: 34min (2023 route)
Time Car to Car: 5hrs-36min

QSO’s:
6 on 40m CW
10 on 40m SSB
6 on 20m CW
4 on 20m SSB
0 on 80m SSB/CW
3 on 60m CW
4 on 15m CW
0 on 15m SSB
2 on 30m CW
1 on 2m FM
0 on 70cm FM (no spot)
TOTAL: 36

COMMENTS:
CS100 is a ‘half-day friendly’ hill and not overbearing in terms of ascent and distance. There is one caveat to that. The way I’ve been for the last two years involves, what is known on the North York Moors, as heather bashing. In fact it’s more varied than that and includes tussocky grass, bog and holes in the ground where hidden streams run. I know I said it last year but if I go again, I’ll take the more southerly option described above under the title ‘Accepted Route’ because there’s a path all the way to the top. Yes there’s more ascent required but the path trumps that.
The wind-speed was low enough for midges to fly today. I wouldn’t say they were up in the really vicious category found in July & August but they were nevertheless annoying at times. I had the highly valued Avon Skin-so-soft spray with me and it did seem to discourage them to a large degree, though I did have to reapply it four times in the four hours I was up there. I had this summit all to myself for the duration.

The log featured four S2S’s plus one /M. Apart from a callsign mix-up, all these got priority from me but also from the chasers; no calling over whatsoever. Band conditions were useable but there didn’t seem to be as many signals on 20m and 15m as you’d perhaps expect.

THANKS:
To ALL STATIONS worked and for the SOTA phone spotting service. A big thank you to the Dun Coillich Highland Perthshire Communities Land Trust for their hard work in improving and maintaining this lovely hill as well as allowing full access.

So far it’s been raining more than sunny but if there should be some more SOTA on offer it could be VHFM only, especially if I’m allowed by the WX to go high.

73, John G4YSS

Photos: 2-3-5-6-7-18-19-21-26-29-33-34-50


Above: The B846 parking place through the gate at White Bridge


Above: Taking the path which eventually circumnavigates the hill anti-clockwise.


Above: Looking SSE towards the summit. Rough country from path to summit. Not the way to go!


Above: Looking back


Above: The GM/CS-100 summit cairn with GM/CS-005 Schiehallion and its ascent path in the background


Above: Activation of GM/CS-100 and view down towards marker post 14 and path to the parking place


Above: Activation of GM/CS-100. HF inv-vee dipole & Mast


Above: Cairn & dipole


Above: No people but one or two baby frogs


Above: On the descent and rain starting. Rough ground behind me. The path regained at marker post 14. Turn right for the car.


Above: Torrential rain, hail and thunder


Above: The gate just before the parking place


Above: The Dun Coillich brochure showing routes. Today and 2023, from White Bridge on a path then cross country. Next time!! The accepted route from the B846 parking place at SE, to use paths going NW then N to the summit.

13 Likes

Fantastic write up and lovely photos, it was great to work you on 60M, the band conditions were just right for us when you called, many thanks from Esther and myself and enjoy the rest of your trip.

Ian GI0AZB

2 Likes

This one is part of a bundle of summits that I have set aside in readiness for the return to arms by Paul G4MD when he gets back in harness. The relatively short ascent should fit in nicely on the first day before booking in at Perth Travelodge. The higher start from White Bridge looks useful… provided a waypoint is entered in the GPS route to give us the nod as to where we should head up to the summit.

Hopefully you will get some decent weather during your stay. Maybe catch you on a summit or two… but no promises (life is currently busy busy!)

73, Gerald

1 Like

Thank you for persevering for the s2s yesterday.
I only got a couple of qso’s on HF myself but our qso on 2m was a complete for me on Dun Coillich.
I packed up pretty sharpish myself when a couple of rumbles of thunder got close.
Andy
MM7MOX

1 Like

TO ALL:

Ian GI0AZB
Hi Ian & Esther,
I can’t remember the last time I tried 60m. I know there’s good reasoning behind it and it is a gift in a way. I used it a lot in the old days then I lost interest when they changed us from a few channels to a complex collection of sub-bands that I simply can’t be bothered to remember. Then there’s the worry about falling out of the side onto somebody else’s property. It needs to be a proper band with two just edges. Maybe one day?

That said it created a bit of excitement on my part when I worked Allan and you two on this very useful band propagation/ distance wise, so thanks for the QSO’s. 80m was not delivering anything but 60 certainly did, just as it used to.

G4OIG Hi Gerald
I remember you saying something about that last September. Paul still not ready to run it would seem. I hope he’s back soon and wish him well in the process.

I’m a shocker for high start points. Seems I’ll sacrifice good walking for a few metres and stumbling around in an ankle turning no-mans land. I’ve done these silly things before too many times. Beinn Ime from the west is one I can remember and Pap of Glencoe from the north another but there’s been lots of other times I’ve fooled myself into thinking I’ve invented the holy grail of walking until I go and try it first hand. They all look great on a map. If I ever go back to CS100 I’ll TRY and force myself to take the proper path, though I’m told it’s boggy.

As for the weather. It’s mainly rubbish. I just packed the rucksack for another go at CS5 but tomorrow’s forecast keeps changing from bearable to ‘no thank you.’ I’ll have another look in the morning. You’ll notice I’m going soft in my old age! I can always take the missus out and wait another day (or two by the look of it?) but eventually you find you’ve run out of holiday. The most galling thing is ‘sunny all day’ on the drive back down.

Yes, we hope to link up but I’m tending to use VHF for the high ones and HF lower down.

MM7MOX
Hello again Andy,
Thanks for your comments. Yes I did wonder where you’d gone to but it seems you got the timing right while I left it late and got wet; well at least the lower half did anyway. No worries, the radios stayed dry. Just looked up where SS264 is. We were very roughly 30 miles apart and both on lowish hills so we didn’t do too badly to make a QSO, though only just.

If you got 2 on HF and me and the other chap before me on VHF then you must have qualified. Now I’m happy!

I’ll listen out for you again Andy. Thanks for the S2S and my pleasure to help with the complete. I like the callsign by the way. Very amateur radio.

Thanks a lot for the messages,
73, John

4 Likes

Hi John

Wonderful report and photos once again. My initial thought when I heard you was that this is not going to work. You were down in the noise with qsb. The flick of the switch made the difference and we made it. Thank you.

73 Allan

1 Like

Thanks John for your detailed report and photos. :+1:
A great read.

cheers: Geoff vk3sq

1 Like

Another comprehensive report. Hope to see u in the club quizz next week maybe.

1 Like

Outstanding report, John!

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GW4VPX Allan,
Hello Allan. Yes I started to doubt too so it was a relief when my report came back and yes the QSB did seem quite steep sided at times. It was worth trying 60. I worked three on there, all of which I knew and had met personally. It’s been a while; my 60m dipole links had collected a bit of corrosion! Many thanks for the QSO.

VK3SQ Geoff,
Hi Geoff. That’s good of you to keep reading. I hope nobody’s reading them in their entirety; it’s an ordeal. My son reads them but only the radio bits. He says the rest puts him out of breath. I know where he’s coming from. I’m always so happy and relieved once the ascent is behind me. I hate walking uphill!

M6GYU Dave,
I hope so too, or you’ll be without the trifles!!
Wonder if we’ll finally beat Hornsea? Maybe we could have a SOTA team? There again we won’t know much if Dave G0VXE is setting the questions - I know almost nothing about DX. See you there and we can finish the Mickle Fell conversation.

K6HPX Ken,
Hello Ken. Thanks for posting and welcome. You’re too kind!
………………………………….

Thank you for these further replies.
Apologies for the VHF only for CS5 yesterday and potentially on CS15 tomorrow, if I make it. Maybe there’ll be a chance for some more HF on Friday, WX permitting?

3 Likes