GM/ES-043 and GM/ES-028 It's Winter again!

The forecast looked pretty good with nearly wall to wall sunshine and moderate winds on offer. The chauffer picked me up well before nine and after a McD muffin outside Forfar we were on site just outside Forter clothed and booted up to start around 10:30 AM. Thanks to Andy FMF for the suggested route, up Glen Beannie to the saddle at 460m and then up Mealna Letter (also called Duchray hill). Back down to the saddle and then up heading north to the Monamenach and back around a bit of a circle to rejoin Glen Beannie.

The initial walk up the Glen was very pleasant necessitating the removal of a fleece and discard of hats and gloves:
Once up at the saddle it became clear that we had been very sheltered up to now, but it wasn’t so bad. The walk south to the top of Mealna Letter is quite steep to start with but not too bad, but we started to come across quite significant snowy patches:
looking back to Loch Beannie shows a very wintery scene with the loch totally frozen: .

The top was very convenient with a high stone wall to hide behind and some old fence posts to fix the mast to:

Turning the radio on the first thing I heard was gw6wrw/p calling cq! So a nice S2S ensued:

Here’s me talking to Carolyn wearing my stylish SOTA fingerless gloves (primark £4). A quick qsy and I was found by Ken gm0axy before I’d even spotted myself which was very handy! 40m was very productive despite the French contest. 20m less so and 10m yielded just one qso.

Over the next hour we became aware of a bit of an increase in the wind noise, but not until we started to dismantle and came out of the shelter of the wall did we realise how much it had deteriorated. I was even force to use proper gloves and silk inners (first time I think in the UK), and even vanished into my hood - always a challenge when wearing a bobble hat:

The descent was back to the saddle and we were even musing over whether to abandon summit 2, but once at the bottom it was a lot more sheltered so we continued. We found the walk up Monamenach more of a challenge. It’s made mostly from peat it seems. That means any stream can create quite a gully, some over 6 foot deep. These were all full of snow so crossing was tricky, going over a snow bridge can be a bad idea where you don’t know what is below and we were force to follow at least one stream quite a way before being able to cross.

that stream turns left, but I want to go straight on. damn.

Monamenach is only 100m higher but the weather was a lot more brutal and cold. Shelter was lacking and the activation was by necessity short! It was the most miserable top I’ve activated! By this time we were late and I had to plead to my minder to get a shot on 40m after starting on 20. If you hear an activator on a summit around 1600z at this time of year please be very quick as they probably should have already set off down! The wind was so bad now it snapped my pole during the dismantle!

The route down was again challenged by the conditions. We had to deviate around some significant snow fields that were boiler plate hard. The picture doesn’t do this justice, but I’ve paid good money to ski on smaller patches:

Just after this we saw 4 mountain hares crossing the patch in their winter white pelage!

You can see the shiny nature of the old snow: but the views were stunning: It all seems a distant memory as I look out at the blizzard in the garden - no hills today!

That small ribon of white at the left of the picture again posed a problem, that is quite a substantial burn that had to be crossed, but what lies beneath:
that looks a little stream, you could step across that… To put it in perspective, Ian is 6’2": Still, we lived, it was only properly dark after we got back to the car and in any case much of the walk down Glen Beannie is a well defined track. PS - just zoomed into that photo. see the wall in the background? that was the route up Mealna Letter - no wonder it seemed steep!

Thanks for the QSOs, sorry Monemenach was so short, I’ll be back there for sure. Total walk was 16.4kms with a total ascent just shy of 800m. All in all a grand day out.