There was some overnight rain and it was a dull morning but with the forecast for better later. Our first stop was Omagh to top up our food supplies. We then moved on to the relatively small GI/SW-009, Mullaghcroy, at only 242m with only about 100m of ascent from the ample parking at the start of the track by the hall at H334806. We headed NW up the track noting new barbed wire to the right, and hoping we wouldn’t need to cross it, but passing through another gate to a grassier track the barbed wire fence turned away, but was replaced by a mass of rough ground, felled trees and branches. We could see the strange open metal construction on the top of the hill, in the middle of the felled area. We continued on the green track until near its highest point where we headed across a ditch and into the felled area. It was hard going, and at one stage we encountered an almost unbroken patch of gorse: very pretty in yellow, but not fun to cross. We squeezed through a gap with few scratches and made our way to the strange summit tower: a concrete base with open metal construction on top. It wasn’t going to make a suitable antenna support, so Caroline guyed the VHF antenna on one of the small grassier areas nearby, while Martyn had to fight the rough felled area for the HF antenna. Caroline might as well not have bothered setting up VHF properly as she got just one contact – in nearby Omagh. 7MHz came to her rescue with a good run of 21 contacts, after Martyn had qualified with 8 contacts on 5MHz. The terrain was sufficiently difficult that Martyn decided that he didn’t want to risk dropping the antenna to change the links for 14MHz, so we packed up to head for the second summit.
After lunch we managed to find a slightly better route back to the grassy track which at least avoided the gorse. Our next target was GI/SW-001, Bessy Bell, whose windfarm had been visible from Mullaghcroy. We parked at the start of a wide forestry track at H377805, and then followed the route of the Ulster Way up past areas of forest, felled forest and still standing forest, emerging from the forest into the wind farm, with good views. We passed the transmitter compound at the top to find the trig point, not far from a barbed wire fence. The views were now generally good with some sun, though misty in the distance. Caroline set up the VHF antenna using a fencepost, with Martyn setting up HF between the trig and transmitter station. This time Caroline did better with VHF: 6 contacts with the summit qualified in 10 minutes. HF seemed better than earlier in the week: 7 5MHz contacts & 12 on 14MHz for Martyn and 15 on 7MHz for Caroline.
It was a lovely evening when we descended, noting the primroses which decorated the hill. This was one of the few hills where we saw some other people – but only a handful and mostly with dogs.
M(I)3ZCB with Martyn M(I)1MAJ