GM/ES-032 The Caterpillar Benefit summit

Such excellent weather conditions dictated a wander off into the hills and an attempt at another unique. This is a long drive from home into a really lovely part of Angus so it was up for an early start and off to Glen Esk.

There is parking for two or three cars at the telephone box at NO541790 just over the bridge by Millden Lodge. Follow the tarmac road up the hill past Mill of Aucheen (still with its waterwheel) and just after a house and farm building the track veers off to the right and is signposted Mount Battock. The route is obvious across the field to some woodland where it becomes “improved”! The estate has obviously had a Christmas present of a Caterpillar D8 or similar as the whole of the area has been covered with bulldozed motorways and it is simply a case of following one of them to reach within a short distance of the summit. There is a useful pony shelter at NO543827 and the motorway shoots off away from the summit at NO541836. The fence line is a good handrail to the summit but it is worth contouring round Wester Cairn using one of the fairly small tracks through the heather to pick up the fence at the beallach and follow it to the summit. The trig point and the surrounding area look as if they may have had a lightning strike in the past but the wind shelters are convenient and somebody has even planted a fence post to tie the fishing pole to right inside one of them! One hopes that the parallel electric fences are not activated otherwise the noise free HF bands will not be apparent!

I was earlier than my planned time on the summit – the pudding from the festivities in December has just worn off – so I took my time to enjoy the glorious weather before switching the rig on in time to hear GW4BVE calling CQ from his summit. It is a good job he was not relying on 60m for his activation because I was the only contact for him on this band, skip was really long. It was fine for me though and I was able to work a list of regular activators (11 plus John) before trying 40m. The skip here was incredible, southern Europe being the closest I could hear and, needless to say no contacts resulted. With a great deal of trepidation I tuned the rig LF to 7031 KHz and pulled the key out of the bag. After working out how to get the thing to key the rig it was time to try CQ SOTA (or a reasonably close facsimile knowing my keying skills with a paddle!). I cannot head-copy so pencil poised I waited for the first call of the inevitable pile up. Well, I am still waiting to lose my CW virginity on a summit! I tried for nearly 20 minutes then decided enough was enough and packed-up.

The route down was different from the route up the hill. I followed the fence SE to join a motorway on Hill of Saughs and a really pleasant ridge walk all the way back to the car, not retracing a single step of my outward route. This is a really easy hill and almost impossible to get lost even in bad visibility.

Can I now make a plea to all chasers; my last few activations have been undertaken with very long skip on 60m meaning that anybody inside the skip zone cannot hear the other chasers. This has resulted in stations calling while I have been trying to exchange reports with another station. I appreciate signals from the summit are weak but if you can hear me you should know if I am working somebody else, my manner of operating is now well known and I use callsigns on every over if conditions are bad or multiple repeats of the signal report followed by QSL? where the chaser has not received their report correctly. If you are not certain that it is you I am working please keep your call brief as I will almost certainly hear you (there is a lot less noise on summits) and will acknowledge that I have your call and will come to you as soon as the present contact is confirmed. If my CW debut ever occurs I would probably freak if several stations called at once!!!

Anyway, many thanks to all chasers especially those who have nothing better to do on a Tuesday than try to work me on a band with bad qsb! Wildlife collection was principally grouse, several rabbits and a young adder sunning itself (picture available if you have never seen one!)


Barry GM4TOE