With my XYL away and our dogs to look after, I could only manage an afternoon on this 4 pointer overlooking Braemar. I’d planned to go up it a week or so ago, but wimped out due to rain. No rain this time, very little wind with sadly no sun, but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
I parked up in Braemar Duck Pond car park at 1230 local, which was just about empty and headed up the track. A signposted single track then heads uphill.
Signpost at the start
The track is very clear and for the most part well-maintained. About 2/3 of the way up, 5 cairns have been built: River Dee in the background
With about 20 minutes to go, the comms masts at the summit come into view, which on my arrival were partly shrouded in cloud, but this soon cleared.
View north, with low cloud and some snow remnants
With the SFI having dropped to just above 100 and the sun producing a lot of flares lately, I wasn’t sure what shape the bands would be in.
I spent the first 30 minutes on 40m with strong signals from UK, including regular 59s from GM which is not always the case. EU tended to be a lot weaker, although Chris F4WBN was his standard 59. I could only just copy Manuel EA2DT. Lars SA4BLM and Jak OH3GZ also made the log, together with 2 S2S with GW0WPO/P and GM6PJZ/P.
20m was very quiet and a spot brought just 6 chasers, with Dinos SV3IEG being furthest distance.
I took a look at 10m and heard ZS1UOK at 59 working a string of UK stations, but a spot and 5 minutes of CQs brought no activity.
A senior moment.
I then set up on 2m for a schedule with Fraser MM0EFI/M to give him a Complete. When he called in though, I could barely copy him - " Terrible audio Fraser, I can barely understand you…" Then the penny dropped - I was still in USB mode. What a plonker! Switching to FM we quickly exchanged reports with my ears rather red. After Fraser went QRT I heard GM4OAS call me but after a QSY we lost each other, so I never got my report from him. Too much faffing around on my part, I’m afraid - sorry Gordon.
Going back to 20m, it seemed a bit livelier and I was very pleased to be called by JW9DSA from the team in Svalbard. OH3GZ then called in, followed much to my surprise by NW7E in Oregon who was easily furthest DX of the day and who I last contacted nearly 2 years ago. I didn’t hear any more US stations though and after a QSO with SV1RVJ I switched to 17m.
This produced an interesting mix: K2CZH, DJ5AV,VE9GWM, 7X2ET, KD2VJD, YO6FFB and EA3EVL. Things then went quiet and my battery started to show signs of weariness.
15m was open and a spot brought AE4FZ but no-one else.
Moving back to 20m, the band seemed to be now just open to EU and a spot brought a respectable run of 23 without too many CQs on my part. This included a S2S with Leszek and Wioletta, OK/SQ9MDF/P and OK/SQ9NOT/P.
Having to get home to our dogs, I packed up at 1700 local and headed down. On the way I met a chap walking up, who immediately asked if I was doing SOTA. He said he had a mate called Gerald in North Wales who did it, which is why he was aware. Could his mate be MW0MWL? The guy didn’t give me his name, but he was late 30s-early 40s, stocky, crew-cut and had a North of England accent. Over to you Gerald…
Further down I met a couple on holiday from Devon, who were most impressed that I had managed to contact Oregon. “Without relays? Wow!”
Looking down on Braemar on the way down
67 QSOs for the day, including 4 S2S. Thanks to all as usual.
PS For the dog lovers reading this, I did not leave them for 7 hours - they were walked (and fed) while I was up the hill
PPS Unfortunately I now have a sore knee, so may have to wait a bit until the next hill, where I hope to try a new 2m yagi that is arriving this week.