GM/ES-056 and 063 - We're on a road to nowhere!

“Well, we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been”…

“I’m sure that when I stalked the Google “little man” that this was a proper tarmac road” I said, as we slithered along on wet slicked mud/ hard packed ice/snow. I am in debt of a car washing (we werent using mine). But we got there on the wee road north out of Kirkton of GlenIsla. Having left the car half on a snow drift (drive wheels on terra firma) we decided to tolerate the rather steep direct ascent of “The Crock”, 225M vertically in 500 horizontally doesnt do justice to the maximum pitch.

the short cut through a bit of forest,wasn’t

but eventually we found a summit and having descended the other side to hide from the wind set up the office.
This was to be the first (and last) test of my new aerial. A multiband “fan” dipole. It sort of worked, but the separation of the dipoles was too narrow and everything got tangled messing up the SWR. Nice idea to have an instant band change aerial but not practical in these circumstances. Still, 38 qsos 20 minutes. But, we have much yet to do! Sadly during the final ascent through the forest the last of any visibility vanished, a light snow started (and thankfully stopped) and the bit of blue sky we saw as we left the car became but a memory. We had to go fully onto instruments, just as well as without the compass we would have headed in exactly the wrong direction…

After a week of mild temperatures we reckoned these low(ish) tops might now be clear of snow, not so it seems:

shunning the route we’d used to climb for the descent as being too dodgy in the poor vis, we took the longer route round through the North and ended up on the track we’d rejected earlier (in preference for the straight up route):

just what it needed, a nice little drizzle to properly slick up that ice.

So,on we plodged to summit no.2 GM/ES-063, Hare Cairn, with gorgeous views over Blackwater reservoir, hahaha:

up there somewhere.

Due to the time we had to push up the pace but made it to the top to make just 8 QSOson 40 and 20, sorry for those who missed us here but we’ll be back for sure. Bit of a grind in the end, about 14km walk, which isn’t a lot, but the terrain was a bit harsh and the weather was grim (ish), at least it didn’t rain (much).

And we definitely decided that this game needs the institution of “Apres-Sota”:


p.s. Putting the dissapoinment of the fan dipole behind, on sunday morning I ran up a simple multiband “link” dipole. Of course, it needed testing so as GM/SS-192 is just 15 minutes drive away and a safe easy walk up it had to be done. 76 qsos in 90 minutes with most in the first 60 validated the build and nice to get decent reports back on 40 at last. Sadly the visibility became even worse than yesterday, AND, it felt much colder. I think it’s the chilliest I’ve felt for some time.

At least you can’t got wrong on the route. (the road serves all the commercial installations but isn’t accessible to the public). But the fog remained all the way down.

1 Like

Pleased to work you on 2 of the 3 Andy. I hadn’t realised you’d be doing a second summit yesterday. Signals certainly were better on the link dipole today. Getting up to change the links does take time, but I often find that I welcome a stretch of the legs between bands… must be getting old!

73, Gerald G4OIG

funny, and I thought it was just me…

Although on SS192 I had a lovely deep hollow to hide in and climbing out of that into the wind to bring the antenna down to change links was a bit grim!

For Crock you normally park at Freuchies in the vistor car park and walk up the track till you reach where there is an area of clear fell and go up the gentle-ish slope. On to the original clear top and you’re at the summit in a few minutes. You can get to Hare Cairn but it’s far too much like hard work and not fun. Back to the car and drive to Backwater Reservoir visitors car park and follow the track by the reservoir to the “magic hidden gate” in the forest, Through the forest, up around the back and along the ridge to the trig. 1hr 25 for Crock and 1hr30 for Hare Cairn.

Surprising amount of snow there, I was up in Carsphairn Forest today and whilst there are patches, nothing like that and that’s at 700m ASL.

FYI, Creigh Hill and Corwharn are best approached from the Backwater Reservoir road. Cat Law has a track to the summit from Balintore Castle grounds. Mount Blair is easiest from the Cray-Forter road. Monamenach and Mealna Letter can be done as a pair from Glen Beanine off the road from Forter to Auchavan. Badundan Hill is served by a track that starts just across the bridge on the back Forter-Brewlands Bridge road. Ask if you want routes etc. no point reinventing the wheel :wink:

Hah, that’s cheating :slight_smile: I couldnt resist the lure of trying both in one walk, it was because in one trip I doubled my points total! But I agree it was a bit like hard work!

Thanks for the inside scoop on the others, you must have the place bugged, they’re all high on the agenda. Will be back in touch when I’ve exhausted that list!

Oh boy did you take the wrong route!
I tried coming down that way en-route to Hare Cairn and sanity prevailed after less than five minutes!

Barry GM4TOE

I have a rough idea where you live, I see where you have been activating and you’re a SOTA newbie. From there it’s straightforward to think “what would I do next?” :wink:

After you’ve hoovered up the easyish stuff and got fitter (maybe you already are an SAS slab-faced killer!) you can look at the comparatively trivial Glas Maol (11pts in Winter for about as much effort as Crock) or Carn a’Gheoidh (9pts in Winter) But for god’s sake if you haven’t done Winter stuff be careful on those, they’re not hard but 950m and 1050m with snow and ice, a few kms walk , maybe some mist and a cold wind is a world away from 500m summits.

Last season I skied 1200kms with 200,200m vertical descent over 32 days. But that’s woosie tourist stuff where you get pulled upwards with no effort to yourself so it doesn’t really count towards serious fitness. Recent years I’ve done a lot of “flat” walking, plus a yearly trip to do some decent walks in Greece, but much to my shame got out of the habit of doing many of the hills on my doorstep!

I’ve walked Glas Maol a couple of times, once in impending winter, but would shie clear of such “extreme” summits during the ski season as I know what they can be like, they’re serious in such mantle and need proper technique. I’m not officially trained in winter mountaincraft, but have enough exposure from way over 70 weeks skiing in the alps and uncountable days here to know that our little scottish hills have serious teeth, so be assured I will be careful in pushing the limits! SOTA is new to me, but hills aren’t, God knows, why its taken me so long to do this!


I think you’re referring to the way up! The way down we took the easy way, north till you hit the path that leads down to the track! Going up that way was OK, wouldn’t be keen doing it down!

Correct. Trying to descend that way and having to re-route (there is an alternative) put my timings for the day completely out. Then to my eternal shame I tried a shortcut to the next hill to take advantage of a a firebreak direct to the ridge of Hare Cairn - bog!!!

With advancing years you do expect a modicum of sense to take over - wrong! :blush:

Barry GM4TOE

haha!! I know exactly where you mean. You should have seen the withering look I got when I suggested it…


Hi Andy

I did a write up on the fan dipoles I used regulary without any problems, I will go back to them when 80m is reliable again.

For bands above 40m I’m exclusively vertical. If you want to see why have a look at my SOTA logs.

Have fun and be safe on the hills.


Thank you for still hosting it Andy (fmf)


Can you run down the details of your Vertical again ?, I know you covered it in a previous post of which I can not remember the title. It would be interesting.


We all say that Andy. I was introduced to SOTA by Richard G3CWI at the very start of the scheme, yet it took me four years to take it up.

Had the same on Craigenreoch SS-135 on Monday afternoon. In getting up and moving into the wind I instantly realised that I had been sitting on some snow that I had accidentally kicked up onto my tarp which had melted and wicked through my waterproofs. :frowning: