We woke to another dull morning with clouds on the hills, but the forecast was for it to get better later. We decided to head towards the two summits either side of the Gortin forest park, and do the smaller more forested Curraghchosaly Mountain first In the hope we would get more views from Mullaghcarn later.
We parked in the wide track entrance at H479822: it was quite busy as there were lots of locals out, and the sun was trying to break through, but there is room for at least half a dozen cars. We headed up the forest track, turning left to ascend to the summit with transmitter station. The earlier weak sun failed to penetrate the cloud and we arrived at the transmitter compound at the summit in mist – no views. We wandered round the outside of the transmitter compound but decided that the best place to set up was by the top of the track in front of the compound. The area at the top had an odd appearance: boggy grassy area under barren trees – looked rather like the area had been burnt at some stage but the trees left standing and the undergrowth had regrown. Caroline set up VHF using a post by the side of the track with Martyn setting HF on the other side of the track in a wider area.
Caroline struggled on VHF getting just two contacts. Martyn found 5MHz slow, but qualified the hill with 6 contacts before passing the HF station to Caroline. 7MHz was also poor but Caroline 5 contacts at least qualified the summit. Martyn tried 14MHz while Caroline ate lunch, which proved to be the most productive of a poor set with 7 contacts.
With lunch eaten there were some signs that the cloud was starting to break, and as we headed back down the track we got some glimpses towards Mullaghcarn. The clouds slowly cleared as we descended and it was warm by the time we got back to the car. As it was already mid-afternoon on we moved the car a short distance to reduce the amount of time we needed to walk. We had thought of parking in Glen Gortin Country Park, but decided that the £4 entry charge to the one way forest drive was a bit steep, and instead parked in a 1 car layby at H486822. We set off on foot west along the road, entering the forest park by the car exit, following the meandering and undulating forest road by a pretty glen and through attractive woods. We left the forest drive for another forest track which headed past a felled area with the transmitters on the summit of Mullaghcarn visible against a now blue sky. We now picked up the transmitter track, getting good views from the top.
The trig point is a bit beyond the transmitters, and has a strange metallic construction on top, which Caroline decided ruled it out as a VHF antenna support, using a convenient fence post instead. Martyn popped over a stile to the next field for the HF antenna – the fishing pole bending alarmingly in the wind. Caroline did better in VHF, although it took half an hour to get 5 contacts. Martyn found 5MHz better with 10 contacts, but the other bands even worse than earlier, Caroline getting just three contacts on 7MHz and Martyn 2 on 14MHz, though one was transatlantic. Caroline even tried 80m, but just got the one contact Don G0RQL who we had worked earlier on both 5MHz and 7MHz.
We got more good views as we descended taking a slightly more direct route back following the Pollan Burn past the main parking area where lots of families were enjoying the now lovely afternoon, and by a wildlife area to leave the park by the car entrance.
Caroline M(I)3ZCB with Martyn M(I)1MAJ