Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Summits | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

G4YSS: GM/SS-001; Ben More, 17-09-17

G4YSS: GM/SS-001; Ben More, 17-09-17

Activation of BEN MORE - GM/SS-001 - 10 points
GM4YSS/P and SSEG Clubcall GS0OOO/P
QRO on 80m-60m-40m-30m-20m. QRP on 2m & 4m-FM
All times: BST (UTC plus 1hr, UOS as ‘z’)

Second and final SOTA of the September 2017 holiday based at the Tarbet Hotel.
For Beinn Ime GM/SS-006, see the link after the photos at the foot of this report.

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier
Link dipole for 80m thru’ 20m on a 5m CFC mast with 1m end-sticks
Home-brew tunable loading coils for 160m (not used)
5 Ah Li-Po battery
J-Pole for 2m FM

2.2 Ah Li-Po battery
IC-E90, 4-band, 5W VHF H/H (used for 4m-FM contacts only)
QRO pack: 9.7kg (21.4 pounds) including food, Primaloft jacket, 1 litre drinks

This was the second SOTA activation of this year’s trip to GM/SS and the final day of a 10-night holiday at Shearing’s Tarbet Hotel from 8th to 18th of September 2017 (298 GBP per person - half board).

A week was spent on boat trips and eating scone-buns in various cafe’s, garden centres and at the Cruachan ‘Hollow Mountain’ Power Station, while I waited for a throat infection to clear up. Mountain weather and HF band conditions weren’t really up to the mark either.

The mountain weather forecast for Sunday 17th of September was about as encouraging as it had got this holiday. In fact it was going to be a really nice day apparently. Sunshine was forecast along with lighter winds and 5C and there’d be a good chance of views.

This time the hotel breakfast was relinquished in favour of a packed lunch and an early start. A straight swap was the deal and the arrangement - to collect it from the night porter at 06:00. The chosen start point was 30-minutes away by car which would give me plenty of time to turn it into breakfast on the way.

As happens a lot prior to SOTA outings, I couldn’t sleep beyond about 4am. It’s certainly not excitement. That doesn’t affect me - it’s more anxiety. What if this and what if that? The brain needs an off-switch like the eyes or the rig.

With packed lunch cum breakfast duly collected, I set off from the hotel at around 6am on the road to Crianlarich with the start point, one that I had marked maybe 15 years before, in the satnav. Despite that, I failed to find it. All that exists is an almost imperceptible gap in the tree line at the side of the A85; quite hard to see in the dark with less than a quarter moon.

Turning round at a layby down the road, to have another try I spotted someone in a parked car. This turned out to be an angler from Glasgow who’d been hunting a large pike all night in the nearby Loch Lubhair. Sadly he’d failed.

He was also a lorry driver so we talked CB (‘19 a copy’) and amateur radio after he’d noticed my two antennas on the car roof. My only problem was following what he said but this passed the time on nicely until it got light enough to go back and find the beginning of the path. In fact there is a small wooden sign “Ben More” which points the way and sufficient room to pull off the A85 with a bit to spare.

After downing a litre of cold water for a climb that has lots of ascent in a short distance, I got walking at 06:59. The day was still asleep; there was no wind at all and a low mist was hanging over the valley.

The start (NN 41442 25894) is a little awkward; down a ditch and at the same time under conifer branches. Noticed on arrival, one branch in particular is troublesome when you’re carrying antenna mast sections sticking up above the rucksack. If I’d been in my own car, it would have been a simple matter to saw it off but my XYL’s car is not equipped with a hacksaw. Next activator please note. Then you immediately cross a stile into a pool of deep mud which luckily had a bit of a crust on it today. Turn left and follow the track.

The route is about as straightforward as they come and after the zig-zagging farm track, the path goes more or less directly up the north end of the mountain. Unfortunately, after the track, it’s pretty relentless from the gradient view point, being steeper than 1 in 3 and very boggy for the first half. I passed a tent pitched at the side and at just past 7am, all was quiet but I was to meet the occupant on the summit later in the day.

At NN 41951 25545 you leave the track to find a wet, grassy path after crossing a ditch. It just gets wetter and more slimy by NN 42105 25397 and NN 42188 25279. I dropped off 250ml of water, hidden in the grass at NN 42325 25141, for use on the way down.

The path divides just above this point but joins back together at NN 42507 25006, before starting to look a bit more solid by NN 42624 24923 where you veer to the right slightly, to overlook Sloc Curraidh. At NN 42763 24839, you are walking parallel to a rock filled drainage ditch which looks more like a collapsed dry stone wall. It’s steep here but much better underfoot.

The final push is via NN 43025 24708 and NN 43141 24666, passing through craggy outcrop at NN 43257 24560 to what I recognized as the ‘lip’ of the summit at NN 43276 24515. After this the gradient decreases further and you’re at the top. I GPS marked the big summit cairn today at NN 43279 24455 and the trig point is a little further on at NN 43280 24410.

I arrived at the deserted but misty summit by 09:05, after 2 hours and 6 minutes of walking. It was cold and windy; disappointing after a good forecast but it was only 9am and there was plenty of time for improvement. Using the Vodaphine network (the unreliable EE had been left at the hotel) I phoned my XYL and also Roy G4SSH, telling him that it would take a while to select a good place to operate for the day. I didn’t want to be in the way of walkers but I needed some shelter from the cold wind. I also wanted a place not too far from the trig point.

The sun came out briefly at this point and I managed a few nice photos of Crianlarich through a gap in the low-cloud with my own shadow visible on it. I thought this brightness was a sign of things to come but it didn’t last long at all.

Setting Up:
Similar to the SS6 activation of three days prior, the dipole was set up a few metres from the summit cairn, behind a waist-high natural rock wall overlooking the eastern edge. Planning to be there all day, I took my time in settling in and arranging everything for convenience. It was a bit muddy but more or less Hobson’s choice and at least I had the luxury of a back rest.

BEN MORE - GM/SS-001: 1,174m (3,852ft), 10 pts, 09:05 to 15:26. 3C at first, 8C at the end. 25mph wind gradually reducing to 3mph. 99% overcast until 4pm. Low-cloud until midday. No rain. Vodaphone coverage (EE unknown). LOC: IO76RJ, WAB: NN42 Trig: TP-1287.

I put an advanced alert on for this summit the evening before but estimated the time wrongly by a couple of hours. I had allowed 3.5 hours to climb up but made it in just over two. Furthermore, because of insomnia I ended up starting the walk half an hour earlier than planned. No complaints though; I had a phone signal and the extra time came in handy today. Not so when the weather is a threat and you have no facilities to get a spot.

7.032.5 CW - 22 QSO’s:
After the near debacle of GM/SS-006 on the 14th, where the wrong filter was selected, I was careful to set the linear’s LPF to 40m and not 80m this time. I had to squeeze between QSO’s; in fact two stations sending ‘CQ Test.’ Oh dear, it must be the weekend!

When called, G4SSH did not respond. ‘Hey up,’ propagation difficulties again but it was only shorter skip that was affected. If I couldn’t get my friend in the log on 40m, another way would have to be found but that would come later.

Only one ‘CQ SOTA’ call was needed on here however, with Chris F6EAZ answering with 579 both ways. The ball was rolling.

Further stations worked: DL1FU (Thanks for the spot Frid); DL3HXX Lothar; EA2LU Jorge; DJ5AV Mike; PA1BR Pascal; HB9AGH Ambrosi; DF5WA Bert; GM0AXY Ken in Edinburgh; G4OBK Phil; OK1DVM Miro; EA2DT Manuel; PA0ALW Walter; PA0INA Frans; EA2BD Ignacio; F5OGJ ; G4RGV John; SA4BLM Lars; PA0SKP Sake; DL2HWI Dietmar; G3RDQ David and G4ELZ Jeff.

No outgoing report was less than 559 and most were 579 to 599. Coming back were a few 579’s and one 599 . The rest were either readability 5’s but there were six R4’s and three R3’s as well. Power was 30 Watts for all apart from four QSO’s which demanded 50W. A good solid start that took 47 minutes. I thought this might be a sign of things to come but far from it.

3.557 CW - 4 QSO’s:
As well as working closer-in chasers, this session was to quell Roy’s anxiety. I had called G4SSH in at intervals on 40-CW but he hadn’t heard me, though Phil G4OBK had. It must have been frustrating listening to all the others collecting their ten points but here was a second chance and I knew he’d by monitoring this one. In fact, immediately on switching down I could hear him calling me and at a good strength. Rushing to the dipole to change the links I soon had G4SSH in the log (559 to 579 QSB/ 339).

Not only that but Roy’s resulting spot brought in three more stations as follows:
G4OBK Phil; G3RMD Frank and PA0SKP Sake. Outgoing signal reports were all R5 but not so for my signal; I got 229 to 449 back. Power was 30 Watts and there was marked QSB.

G4FVH called in at the end but his signal was almost nothing. In this instance it didn’t prevent a perfect copy on my part because the noise floor was about as low as it gets. However no amount of calling back, even with the power increased to 50 Watts, could produce a QSO. I thought I could hear someone else, maybe with a figure ‘3’ and a letter ‘J’ in the callsign but nothing came of that either. Now, where were we? Oh yes, back to 40m to do SSB.

7.170 SSB – 1 QSO:
This was the first of two excursions to 40m-SSB. I had my sights on and had alerted for 7.160 but that had two stations on it. One was giving a GB callsign and the other was an overseas station. Evidently, they couldn’t hear one another.

Though there were no big signals, neither were there any really clear channels and ‘ten up’ was the best I could do. Of course no one would ever find me there so I phoned Roy for a badly needed spot and when it took effect I was called by Steve in Greenock MM0XPZ, 57 both ways. With no sign of anybody else we had a brief chat in which Steve told me that he had activated this very mountain as recently as May this year. I think he’d done GM/SS-002 at the same time.

Half expecting a repeat of the 42 QSO session on 7.160 from Beinn Ime three days before, I called CQ. Silence! I called CQ several more times without so much as a squeak in return. ‘Come back later’ I thought. Power was 30 Watts.

5.381.5 CW – Nil:
What more is there to be said than ‘Nil’ and that in spite of a phoned spot from Roy G4SSH. The 22 QSO’s worked on 40m-CW earlier, were beginning to seem like a dream but soldier on we must.

5.400 SSB – 4 QSO’s:
Using GM4YSS on the old channel ‘FE’ I was pleased to work four stations as follows: G0RQL Don with a genuine 59 both ways but he had a terrible cold. Don told me that he’d heard nothing from me on 40m despite his QTH of Devon.

Secondly, G8ADD Brian called, initially exchanging 56/ 48 but we amended that to 59 both ways by the end. Brian asked if I had plans to activate Ben More’s near neighbour Stob Binein GM/SS-002 but the answer was no. I’ve had that ambition for many years but hadn’t planned for it today; preferring an exhaustive HF/ VHF activation of one summit only. To me, that’s a summer thing. Judging by the speed (or lack of it) of this activation, which by now had more or less stalled, there would be insufficient time. Also I was carrying quite a weight, and it would have added 300m of ascent and significant extra walking.

Next in was EI3GYB Michael but for some reason I called him Jim. The exchange was 2 x 57. Michael gave his QTH as Co Mayo. G7MWW – John, Forest of Dean was the final caller on 60m but he was evidently having trouble copying me. ‘32’ was the incoming report. Power was 30 Watts again.

14.052.7 CW – 8 QSO’s:
Roy had alerted for me on 20m, both CW and SSB earlier but no one had appeared. I phoned him again for up-to-date spots; one for CW and one for SSB. It worked; well for CW at least.

First in was no less a champion than Jan, OK2PDT 579/ 559. There followed: SP9AMH Mariusz; GM0GAV/P Gavin S2S on GM/CS-015 (599 both ways); OH3GZ Lars; YO2BP Alex; HA8LLH Feri; EA3EGB Manel and OM1AX Vlado.

Reports were mostly 579 to 599 with 559’s from Manel, Alex, Jan and 55’s for Mariusz’s QRP QSO. Power once again was 30 Watts.

14.285 SSB – Nil:
Nobody wanted to talk.

10.118 CW – 3 QSO’s:
Without attempting to obtain a spot and more in hope than expectation, I thought I would try a cold call on 30m. I was pleasantly surprised when OH3GZ Jukka (Jack) came back to my second CQ for a 599 x 2 exchange. This attracted the attention of two other chasers namely: SM4BNZ Rolf also 599’s and DJ5PR Rudi - 579/ 559.

It was certainly worth re-configuring the antenna asymmetrically for the three extra QSO’s gained. Many on the bands were complaining of poor conditions and QSO’s were getting increasingly hard to come by. Power on 30m was 50W.

7.160 SSB – 4 QSO’s:
This was the second of two 40m-SSB sessions and I hoped for better luck this time. I’d tried listening briefly at 11:55z before the 30m session but the frequency was occupied by a station running 300 Watts and he couldn’t hear me. If I had managed to work him, I could have carried out the old trick of announcing a QSY freq. for SOTA/ WAB chasers at the end. This channel is one of the most frequently monitored spots on 40m.

By now (12:10z) the big station had gone and I managed to log: G0BKU/P Shaun in SU06 Wilts; G4IAR Dave in Loughborough; M3FEH Karl in Saltash and DL7UCW Ben (as I see it, one of the two keenest overseas WAB collectors) who is based at a campground in Finsterwalde.

Reports were poor however. Only Shaun could give my signals an R5 report but everybody was at least 55 to me. Power remained at 50 Watts but the main battery (a 5Ah) went flat and I swapped to the reserve 2.2Ah.

3.760 SSB – 5 QSO’s:
Again with low expectations 3.760 was tuned in. Surprisingly, I heard activity straight away but it seemed disjointed as if the people on there were not hearing one another.

I could hear Esther GI0AZA and she was on a summit in Eire and 55 to me. I tried calling her but she didn’t respond which seemed to confirm that I wasn’t getting the full picture. However things did work out in the end when I threw in my call, Peter MM3PDM/P in NK14 heard it and we worked with 56’s.

Five minutes later I was able to work Andy GM8OEG/P S2S on GM/SS-271 in NO55 and trig point TO-6617. Andy must have been well supplied with technology as he offered to put me on the SOTA and WAB spotting services. Thank you Andy.

Another five minutes passed whence I heard Esther again and we exchanged 55’s. This turned out to be a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ when Esther’s ‘other half’ Ian called in too. They were on EI/IE-054 in N79 square and so I logged S2S’s with EI/G0AZA/P and EI/G0AZB/P. We had a brief chat too.

The final HF contact of the day was with MM0XPZ Steve in Greenock 58/ 56. After we’d said 73, Don G0NES called in but frustratingly I was not able to get back to him despite him being easily readable at 55.

At 2pm BST I packed up the HF station and moved to a slightly better position for VHF. With the wind continually reducing in strength, there was now much less of a requirement for shelter so I went for comfort instead of damp mud and sat on a flat, dry rock. There were still wispy bits of cloud around but things were improving markedly and the views were getting better. I set up the J-Pole on the mast which was wedged between rocks; at the same time having a conversation with some recent summiteers.

145.575 FM - 3 QSO’s:
Using 5 Watts from the FT817ND to the J-Pole, this was a second chance to try for GM3PIL Ray in Nairn on the Inverness frequency but just like three days ago from Beinn Ime, there was no response. Jack, GM4COX later reminded me that Ray’s QTH near Nairn is on a north facing slope and for this reason, Ray was unlikely to hear me, despite the ASL at my end. However…

This was when GM7PKT/M found me. Robin was on his way down GM/WS-017 Meall a’Bhuiridh, a 1,108m mountain near the ski lift in Glen Coe and some 30km NW of Ben More. He was well down the mountain and completely screened from me by high ground. Nevertheless, enigmatic as VHF can sometimes be, we exchanged 55’s and managed a ten minute conversation with ease!

Robin has been targeting new hills of late and I was amazed to hear that there were any left that he hasn’t climbed! He GPS marked his current position for future reference regarding it’s ‘magical’ VHF properties, again expressing his surprise that we were actually working one another along a definite non line-of-sight path. He mentioned possible reflections but we couldn’t fathom how. Maybe it had something to do with the metalwork of the chair lift system which goes half way up the mountain? I think he told me that he was using a ‘rucksack vertical antenna.’

The second station to call was GM3YEW. Dave near Perth, was 59 (both ways) and using 25 Watts. When it was mentioned, he expressed an interest in 4m-FM, so I promised a QSY to 70.450 should there be time at the end.

GM4COX Jack called next from Carluke which was about 50 miles away but also 59 both ways. Now all three of us were up for trying 4m. Dave went off to prepare for it by connecting another rig and manually turning his beam, while Jack and I discussed the routes up Ben More and the neighbouring Stob Benein - both 10 pointers.

I knew in advance (and it was in my GPS) the route Jack had used to tackle them both way back in 2003 but I rate myself a little too ‘soft’ for that nowadays. I could list the ‘excuses’ again but will refrain. Jack said that he is now QRV on 13cm and concentrating on new hills with the aim of doing a GM/SS completion. I dread to think how many thousands of metres of ascent that will add up to.

‘See you two on 4m.’

70.450 FM - 3 QSO’s:
Now for the interesting VHF band. The FT817ND and J-Pole were retired; all I had with me for 4m was my IC-E90 four band/ 5W H/H rig and a rubber duck for 2m-FM. However the latter is modified to take a 2mm diameter x 24cm long welding rod at the top end. There is a 2.5cm long cap on the 2m/ 70cm duck which is removed when you want to do 6m-FM; whence you screw on a longer loaded section.

Antenna Mod for 4m:
My home-brew 4m extension fits onto the 4mm dia male thread which takes the above ICOM-supplied top sections. I was lucky enough to find a female connector from an aircraft pitot head that pushes perfectly onto the thread. The arrangement resonates on 70.450 and works possibly better than you could reasonably expect regarding distance. More to the point, it saves lugging up my home-brew 4m-band end-fed vertical.

Development was carried out using an approx. 40cm square aluminium sheet with a BNC jack fixed in the centre and a short length of coax to an MFJ-259 VSWR tester. You can test any quarter wave or loaded helical VHF antenna just using this simple method.

Of course, once you’ve got it to minimum VSWR you can use it in the field but the op becomes the ‘groundplane’ and you have to trust that you look sufficiently like an aluminium sheet to RF! That said, I have made plenty of rubber ducks and quarter waves via this method and they all work fine on handhelds. Sometimes I also use a quarter-wave counterpoise from the outside of the RF connector but not today.

Using 5 Watts to the extended duck and standing as high as possible, I re-logged Dave GM3YEW on 4m with 59 both ways and Jack GM4COX - 59/ 54. The rig was held vertical and above my head for Jack but needed to be fully horizontal to work Dave with his horizontal beam pointed my way. In both cases I tried to face in the direction where I thought the signal should be going.

At the end there was a bonus when I was called by 2M0TXR Sandy in Lourieston (near Falkirk) and this was another 59 both ways QSO. Apparently I had managed to equal Robin’s 4m-FM total of that day from WS17 but both of us had just failed to qualify our summits on 4m by a single QSO. There was time for a quick chat with Sandy but the descent deadline had been reached.

When I walked off at 15:26 (coincidentally, a leaving time identical to the SS6 one) there were just two of us left on the summit. Just before leaving I picked up a few more stones for later examination. Quite a lot of discomfort had to be accepted on the way as it is very steep and also boggy lower down. I was surprised to pass a handful of people coming up.

Mockingly, the sun came out with half an hour to go after which it became even more muggy with the lack of wind. I was thankful for the 1/4 litre of electrolytes, hidden on the way up. The pace seemed to be slow but I eventually made it to the car at 16:57 and the hotel by 17:45.

ASCENT & DISTANCE (Start point at 170m ASL):
Ascent 1,004m (3,294ft) / Distance 6 km (3.8 miles)

Left Tarbet Hotel: 06:00
Drive: 30 minutes
Walk started: 06:59
BEN MORE - GM/SS-001: 09:05 to 15:26
Returned to Car: 16:57
Drive: 30 minutes
Arrived Tarbet: 17:45

Walking times:
Ascent: 2hr-6 min
Descent: 1hr-31 min
Summit time: 6hr-21 min
Time Car to Car: 9hr-58 min

4 on 80m-CW
5 on 80m-SSB
0 on 60m-CW
4 on 60m-SSB
22 on 40m-CW
5 on 40m-SSB
3 on 30m-CW
8 on 20m-CW
0 on 20m-SSB

3 on 145.575-FM
3 on 70.450-FM

Battery Utilisation:
FT817ND, HF QRO & 2m-FM QRP: 6 Ah
IC-E90, 4m-FM only: 0.3Ah (est)

The route was chosen in the belief that it was the simplest and easiest but it was unrelentingly steep. It would be difficult to get lost outside winter on a mostly well-defined path, though it was less so lower down and very boggy. The only trouble I had was finding the parking place in the dark.

Some wouldn’t park on the side of a busy main road (A85) within a metre or so of fast traffic and I must say I had my reservations; being responsible for my XYL’s car and not my own old banger. I’m glad I took the risk as it saved 2 x 750m (nearly a mile) of road walking from a layby to the east (NN 4204 2634). Moreover after mine being the only vehicle there in the morning, when I returned I noticed two or three others had come to the same conclusion.

Only nine stations were worked on here but all except one would not have made it on 40m or 60m. The exception was MM0XPZ Steve in Greenock who was line-of-sight. Apart from Steve, most signals were low but from where I was sitting, so too were noise levels. In fact the noise floor on 80m seemed exceptionally low.

There was one anomaly in the form of G4OBK. Phil was 589 on the meter when he called me at 09:48z. The answer to this was probably the time of day and the fact that QSB was rife just then. No complaints about 80m however. Three S2S’s were worked on there!

This band did well at pulling in four chasers who could barely receive me, let alone work me on 40m SSB but there no callers on 5.381.5-CW. G0RQL Don in Devon heard nothing at all on 40m but we exchanged 59 reports on 5.4MHz only 30 minutes later.

Propagation on this band was markedly different in character to that of the 14th of September. Inter-G communications were badly affected. In other words, back to the old habits of the summer. From the morning CW session of 22 stations, just a handful were in the UK and all but one were two ‘S’ points down on most continental stations. Not so for GM0AXY Ken however, who was more or less line-of-sight at approx. 100km range and 59 both ways.

40m-SSB really showed the poor conditions up with only 5 stations worked in two sessions and a struggle at that. Where were all the SOTA & WAB chasers? It would seem that most were far too close to me for the prevailing skip. The few random stations I did hear well enough while tuning around were complaining about the lack of reliable propagation.

Worked on a whim 10.118-CW added another three to the tally from OH; SM and DJ. Signals both ways were strong and it proved that some do monitor 10.118.

On the second attempt I got a decent run on here with OK; SP; OH; YO; HA; EA; and OM countries worked. They were all easy copy with 599’s flying about like confetti. I also worked an S2S on 20m. GM0GAV/P Gavin on GM/CS-015 would be line-of-sight at 20km range, producing a 599/ 599 log entry.

I tried at least twice on 14.285-SSB but there was nothing doing. That said, has 14.058 become the new 7.032?

Once again there seemed to be no path through to our GM Top Band op Ray GM3PIL near Nairn but after that disappointment I felt I wasn’t as pushed for time compared with three days ago. There was time to chat with all three stations worked on 2m and all were easy copy, in spite of Robin GM7PKT being behind a large mountain.

A nice band and good to be on it from a summit again. With me it is always the last minute afterthought that mostly doesn’t get done. This time there were at least 20 minutes to spare before the descent and I was pleased to work three ops, all of whom expressed the special interest that I too feel in the 70 MHz band. My one regret is not remembering to ask Robin GM7PKT/M for a sked on 4m when I worked him on 2.

The QSO count of 57 was, in the circumstances, quite good but it took a six hour (plus) summit stay to log that many.

I got four summit to summit QSO’s and surely it would have been five had I realized at the time that Robin was up on WS17.

70% of the day’s QSO’s were made on 40m-CW in 47 minutes at the start of the activation. Because of worsening HF band conditions, the remaining 30% took the rest of the 6 hour summit stay and numerous QSY’s! Was it worth it? Yes, of course it was but without Roy’s help with spotting I would have been lost.

On SS6 three days prior, the WX had been better than forecast. Though the Ben More weather wasn’t what could be called ‘bad’ by any means, it was not as good as predicted by MWIS. All the people spoken to on the summit supported that feeling and I think many came up for the views which were non existent most of the time.

On the plus side I did get a brief clearance and 5 minutes of sunshine on arrival at 9am, the wind died from brisk to almost nothing by the end and the views did open up eventually. It was however overcast until 16:30 local time when the sun finally made it out for the last third of the descent.

Our ‘Touristy’ Days:
Cruachan ‘Hollow Mountain’ Hydro Power Station. Well worth a visit and not expensive.
Cruise Loch Lomond boat trips: One hour and a 90 minute Rob Roy trip. Their new boat (ex Loch Ness) is a beauty.
Arrocar Parish Church
Forest Lodges cafe, Ardgarton
Helensburgh & Gairlochhead
Treeshop Garden Ctr, nr.Inveraray. (‘Tea Pig’ Everyday tea bags!)
St Conan’s Kirk, Loch Awe

Summit Rocks:
By the way, the sheeny rock sample from the top of Ben More turned out to be Mica Shist from the metamorphosed micazone around a granite pluton. Not my words but those of a geologist friend, who examined it. I also saw quartz.

To ALL STATIONS worked. To G4SSH for his invaluable on-air and telephone spotting service. Also for his real time propagation advice. To the other spotters DL1FU; PA0INA and GM8OEG - thank you. Finally to Denise for the use of her ‘posh’ car. It covered 895 miles in all.

73, John G4YSS
Using GM4YSS/P (on 5Mhz) & Scarborough Special Events Group Club call GS0OOO/P.

Photos: 1-5-11-20-33-42-63-78-81-103-111-131-139-142-147-152
(Poor quality on a dull day)

Above: Start point for Ben More on the A85. 06:50 and not properly light

Above: The farm track and first stage of the climb to Ben More. Trying not to wake anybody!

Above: A poor and boggy path to Ben More and a long way to go before it improves

Above: A better quality path beside Sloc Curraidh looking back

Above: A cold and uninspiring introduction to Ben More’s summit. 3C and 25mph

Above: A little ray of sunshine at 09:20 with a fleeting view of Crianlarich to the east

Above: HF activation of Ben More GM/SS-001. Link dipole & 5m mast.

Above: A collie dog fixated on some of my rock samples

Above: Beyond the activator’s boots

Above: 2m-FM activation of Ben More GM/SS-001

Above: 4m-FM activation of Ben More GM/SS-001. IC-E90, 2m band rubber duck and 24cm welding rod extender with orientation required for GM3YEW Dave. GM/SS-002 Stob Binein behind.

Above: Start of the path down Ben More GM/SS-001

Above: On the way down Ben More GM/SS-001. A couple ascending

Above: Back down to the boggy bits. Farm track and A85 below

Above: Sunshine at last!

Above: A look back at Ben More from the farm track and the end of an enjoyable day

Beinn Ime report:


Thanks for the fine write up and enjoyable pics John,yes my cold started with a throat infection and although the throat is ok now the cold just wont go away.
When in Scotland I went to the Hollow Mountain power station also quite an interesting achievement.
73, look forward to the next time when 40/80 might play for us. Don G0RQL.

Hi Don,
Thanks for your response.
Yes, you certainly sounded rough; I could tell straight away that it wasn’t just speech processing. I have the reverse. I conquered the cold but can’t rid myself of the final 5% of a 3-week throat infection and a bit of asthma. It’s annoying but I’m a chronic bronchitis sufferer going back decades and you have to be careful.

Yes the Hydro power station was exceedingly interesting to me as an (ex) engineer but also from a SOTA activator viewpoint. As far as I can make out, it’s simply a gigantic battery which they charge up (pump up) at night and let go when our XYL’s finish watching the soaps. Just a bit big for the rucksack.

Conditions were a bit strange weren’t they? There again what’s new this summer? I’m used to working you 59 and was rather disappointed with a ‘no show.’ 60m saved the day!

Hope it’s not too long before CUAGN.
Get well soon,
73, John

Isn’t it just! I’ve done it twice, about 25 and 10 years ago. Like being on a boggy steep treadmill that seems to go on for ever.

Gosh, that’s a cheeky wild camp spot!

Great Brocken Spectre!

Off topic alert!
Try Dinorwig by Llanberis. Very similar to Cruachan, but much larger capacity. Was the worlds largest pumped storage scheme when it opened in 1984. Since exceed by several schemes in other countries. There is a tour from there too. I was lucky. I got to visit (sometimes officially and sometimes unofficially) when it was being constructed. My Dad worked on it. The two main halls hewn from the inside of Elidr Fawr were amazing to see before they filled them with all the generators and switchgear. The local quarry men said “you will never dig a single hall that big - it will collapse”. Well the tunnellers were from Switzerland and they did it!

1 Like

The existence of large scale pumped storage scheme indicate there are nuclear power stations on the grid.

…or coal.

Actually the main function for Dinorwig these days is demand smoothing, not just switching in for peaks. It picks up when the now more decentralised power production in the UK has a problem like an unexpected plant shutdown.

It’s not so much about “getting rid” of base production at night. With the “dash for gas” that excess problem at night has largely disappeared.

Yes, Economy7 tarriffs must be doomed in the next few years.


Gerald & Andy,
Thanks for the input.
I wasn’t aware of a similar thing in Llanberis and right inside a SOTA too! If I’d known we could have had a look at it in April. What a huge underground chasm. There would be a fair few deaths of navies working on both. Apparently the Cruachan teams, some Irish, other’s Scots and some displaced WW2 persons, were in competition to work the quickest and safety suffered accordingly. That was then of course but a similar scheme would take three times as long today.

Just an aside; I don’t like nuclear. Fission is not the sort of thing we should be allowing in this day and age. Just a nasty legacy for the World to come and nobody can guarantee nil accidents. Who knows, fusion may only be 50 years away. Surely we can bridge the gap. As for windmills, I love their grace. I wish we could get some in our back field instead of the 240 houses they want to build!

When I met him on the summit, the tent’s occupant complained of disturbance from sheep overnight and I noticed when passing that the tent had one guy line displaced, so lucky it was completely still. He said it took him 2hrs and 40 minutes to climb from there so I maybe didn’t do to badly after all. What a slog though.

You did SS1 twice Gerald but I may not be back to equal you. We’ll see? It was a long term ambition fulfilled but maybe a cop out not to have added SS2. I already did the other Ben more (Mull) in 1991 but would love to go back for SOTA.

Some say BS is rare but I have at least 4 photos of it since starting SOTA plus one ‘almost photo’ when it faded out before the digital camera was ready. You didn’t get that with 35mm!

73, John


I’ve wanted to do Ben More and Stobinnian (old spelling!) for a long time via the lovely horseshoe walk starting to the east on Stob Creagach, as a superior outing to the purgatorial ascent from Benmore Farm, but I guess I’m getting too old now (though having shed a couple of stone recently perhaps I’m too pessimistic!)

Thanks for the excellent report: brought back happy memories of when I activated it some years ago. We had good weather and rather better radio conditions: it was the first time I worked both the US and Russia from a summit. We looked at Stob Binnein but decided against it, though we took the longer descent down to the col with Stob Binnein and then down to the track down Benmore Glen.

Caroline M3ZCB.

You can have some of mine - horrendous qrm even onto 2m :frowning: