GI/AH-005 Agnew's Hill & GI/AH-009 Carnearny: 7th May 2016

Belated report from our GI trip in May.

The ferry had been late leaving Birkenhead and hence late docking in Belfast. The forecast was for early rain and it was drizzling as we emerged onto the deck to watch as the ferry docked at Belfast. The hills were in the clouds, and we debated what hill to do. With the late docking it was gone 8am before we left the ferry.
We decided to risk doing Agnew’s Hill, in the hope that the cloud would lift later. Within half an hour we were parked up at the car park in Ballyboley Forest. The rain had stopped, but cloud still hung on the hills. We first had the rest of our breakfast – muesli bar, yogurt drink and fruit, and then set off on the Ulster Way path through the forest, which was boggy in places. We emerged into a flatter area with the ridge leading to Agnew’s Hill just visible under the cloud in the distance, but Agnew’s Hill itself was still in the clouds, and sadly remained so. We followed the faint boggy path towards the ridge where we crossed a stile to ascend onto a rockier ridge with a cairn. By now we were on the edge of the clouds, getting misty views down the ridge, but nothing to the north and the summit. We headed along the ridge onto the flattish top, where it was difficult to determine the true top in the fog, but we decided that a post with a white top was the best bet. Although not entirely vertical Caroline used it to support the VHF antenna. Caroline got just 4 VHF contacts while Martyn was getting 10 on 5MHz including an S2S with Mal GW6OVD on SW-029. Given the early hour Caroline tried 80m, but only managed 3 contacts. A move to 7MHz was a bit more productive: 13 contacts.

Lack of views on Agnew’s Hill

We returned the same way, stopping part way across the flatter area to chase G1JTD/P on LD-013 The Old Man of Coniston. Given the persistent cloud and occasional rain we decided that we would go for the relatively short walk to the forested summit of AH-009 Tobernaveen, since there would be no views there anyway! We parked at the entrance to the track at J176923, where a notice said no parking 7am-7pm Mon-Fri due to forestry lorries: good job we were there on a Saturday! There was damp in the air as we headed up the forest track, taking 2 90degree right turns to a track which we followed to its high point where we headed on a faint path up through the trees, leading to a more open but bramble covered area with the trig point visible in middle. A fight with the brambles and we were at the trig point, discovering that there was a better path running NW-SW by it. Caroline used the trig point to support the VHF antenna, while Martyn struggled to find space to get the HF antenna in – having to fight mud, trees and brambles, and also using the trig point to support the pole.

Fighting the vegetation on Tobernaveen

This turned out to be the wettest activation of the week with intermittent rain: annoying but not a show stopper. Martyn managed just 9 contacts on 5MHz, while Caroline got 7 on 2m FM followed by 8 on 7MHz. We headed NW down the better path, which came out onto a track where a left turn took us back to our outbound route. We then headed off to our base for the week at the lovely “Pat Larry’s Cottage” in the hills to the north of Greencastle.

Caroline M(I)3ZCB with Martyn M(I)1MAJ