The weather was holding, and we had another nice morning. We had a wildlife treat before leaving the cottage: while preparing breakfast Caroline spotted a hare in the field beyond the garden, which then ambled into the garden and through the farmyard.
We headed west driving over half way round our target of GI/SM-004, Carnanelly, to the Goles Forest parking at H682941, and unusually there was another car in it. The sun was shining brightly and it was warm as we set off up the forestry track, turning right at a junction to head towards the edge of the forest, passing through a felled area with reasonably good views of the main Sperrin range to the north. We continued on the track when it entered standing trees, heading straight on up a damp grassy ride where we had to negotiate some fallen trees and the odd ditch. The grassy ride got narrower and eventually ended, and we headed straight on south finding our way through the trees which were reasonably spaced, until we came to an overgrown ditch with another grassy ride running east-west beyond. It was a fight to get through the vegetation, but once on the ride we headed west towards the forest edge, only to be greeted by a new barbed wire fence. Some scouting around revealed a barb free area of fence in the trees a little to the north, which enabled us to get out onto the open hill (though we had to remove rucksacks to get over the fence). We then just had rough ground to cross to get to the indistinct rounded summit.
Sawel from Carnanelly
There was again a useful fence which Caroline could use to support the VHF antenna, and plenty of space for the HF antenna. Caroline failed to qualify on 2m FM: 3 contacts over half an hour, while Martyn got 11 on 5MHz before Caroline moved to 7MHz to qualify with just 7 contacts: however the last was the most satisfying and most difficult – S2S contacts with Nick GM4OOE who was back on Ben Nevis, but now on 40m – it took several attempts for us to get his report (this time he was hearing us better than we were hearing him!) but we made it!
With lunch eaten we descended by approximately the same route, crossing into the forest at the same point, but finding a slightly less tangled route through the trees to the grassy ride with fallen trees. The weather was still good as we drove along the pretty Glenelly valley to our next parking spot in the picnic area at H521915: this was relatively busy with another car whose occupants were making use of the picnic tables, and a couple of bikers.
We set off along the minor roads crossing the Glenelly River, passing by the wooded valley with patches of bluebells heading roughly south to pick up a track which makes part of the “Craignamaddy Circuit”. We continued up the pretty gorse lined track passing fields with curious lambs to a crossroads where we headed left on a gently ascending track. We were looking for a track heading back right to take us to the summit of Craignamaddy, and decided that it was the second gate we came to. This was climbed and we proceeded along the increasingly overgrown and narrowing track until we found it blocked by a barbed wire fence. Having decided we didn’t want to try to cross the barbs we headed uphill along the fence over deep heather until we reached another barbed wire fence running east-west along the summit ridge. At that point we realised that the true summit was just the other side of the ridge fence, and we were now well within the activation area, so set up there. Caroline used one of the fence posts for the VHF antenna, while Martyn fought the heather to set up the HF antenna. Unsurprisingly Caroline managed just one contact on 2m FM from this relatively low hill among higher ones: neither 7MHz or 14MHz were in particularly good shape but they qualified the hill for her with 6 and 4 contacts respectively. Martyn got a reasonable 11 contacts on 5MHz.
Sawel from Craignamaddy
This was a hill where the walk was better than the summit, and we got further good views of the Glenelly Valley and the higher Sperrins as we descended in lovely evening light.
M(I)3ZCB with Martyn M(I)1MAJ