GM Mountain weather forecasting - Ben Cleuch GM/SS-059 & Winter Resilience

I plan on putting @MM0FMF Andy’s theory that over-exaggerate their forecasted wind speeds and that have nailed it, to the test this weekend.

I’m in Edinburgh with work tonight and plan on being up and down Ben Cleuch GM/SS-059 tomorrow morning before the storm hits. It’s likely to be 2m FM only. ETA 1000z.

Then once things calm down, a possible activation of Carn a’Chlamain GM/CS-031 on a very cold and snowy Sunday. We’ll see…

I would have done Arthur’s Seat this afternoon, but the meeting ran on and anyway the Rangers Service didn’t reply to my email.


I’m glad you didn’t get to Arthur’s Seat this afternoon as I am in Leeds on business. Desperate to chase that summit for SOTA complete. Missed it for the last 19+ years. Just hope I’m in when you go there and use 60m for guaranteed propagation into Yorkshire!

73 Phil

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Phil, I am aware of your need for the Complete and would have let you know, and taken HF (60m) kit with me today had I gained permission. Having not gained permission, I just have the 2m handheld with me, the rest of my gear being left behind in the car at the Park’n’Ride.

I’m hoping I can hear you from the “office” and get a chase.


And hear him I did!

Thanks for the QSO. I knew Fraser was in a hurry so it was just a quick exchange of reports and I left him to work the others calling. He did say very windy so it will be good to see if comes up trumps. It was certainly accurate for last Sunday compared with the low level forecasts.

But that is Ben Cleuch completed and it only took 14yrs 5 months between my first activation and finally getting to chase it.


Glad to help with your Complete! I’ll stick a short report on here in a bit. That is if I still have electricity…


Power off for an hour now. Mobile network just came back up.

Unfortunately I uploaded the photos on to my PC, so the activation report will have to wait a little longer.

Thankfully we have other means of heating and light. Oh, and Malt Whisky.


Was that windy enough for you - tested the survivability of my (guyed) vertical :unamused:

We were very lucky here on the edge of the red zone. It was windy and gusty but nothing serious. That was at 165m ASL. I can imagine it was “exciting” on your elevated and exposed coastal location. The lights flickered a few times, that was all.

Thank you for thinking of me Fraser, just catching up here on reflector after a busy week…

73 Phil

Oh yes - trying to tie down the garden storage box was “interesting” and, despite being 80m above sea level, the windows are clatted with salt!!!

Well I just made it to work in Westhill. Chainsaw in the back of the Landie.

Power still off at home, since 1800 last night. No cell network for 20 miles from home either!

My 6m beam is still up though!


We got a couple of inches of snow in Brum this morning, more than we had in the whole of last winter! A few branches down but my antennas are OK. Time to get the dahlias up!

Its grim Up North…

We had very strong winds combined with wet snow and it has stuck to cables and pulled lots of mains ones down - and my doublet! Mains went last night, No network coverage, however our 3kW petrol generator has been pressed into service so we have cooking and heating from the Rayburn, and the optical fibre linking to the outside world is once again lit so have broadband. It is now -2 with about a 30 mph wind so I’m not fixing anything yet and there are enough spare watts to play radio … well QRP radio…

73 Paul


Finally - Ben Cleuch and other throughts on life in Aberdeenshire in the past week!

9 minute film

Thursday 25th November 2021
Long awaited work meeting at an Edinburgh city centre hotel. I hadn’t seen any of my colleagues for two years! They headed off to the pub at 2200. I went to bed and set the alarm for 0600h

Friday 26th November
Woke up 0735h. Turns out I’d set the phone alarm for Saturday. Not the first time I’ve done this. By 0800 I’m boarding a bus heading for the Hermiston Gate Park and ride on the western limits of the city and by 0910 I’m parked up in Upper Mill Street, Tillicoultry. I had to skip the hotel breakfast, but grabbed some protein on the way. It was chicken on a lollipop.

Why the rush? Well Storm Arwen was on her way. If I got up and down before lunchtime, I’d enjoy sunshine and stiff winds. Any later than that and I’d risk foul weather on top and the risk of not getting home (100 miles north).

I lived in this area for five years a while back and it was great to be back in one of the numerous glens that cut northwards into the Ochil Hills from the various “Hillfoots” villages that hug the southern end of the range. The glens are are all unique and worth exploring in their own right.

Mill Glen

Looking back south down the glen

The tight rocky glen soon gave way to steep, open grassy slopes and I was soon atop The Law. That’s when the full force of the north wind hit. The steep part of the climb over, I decided to layer up with fleece, shell, hat, gloves and goggles, before plodding along more gentle slopes for the last 1.5km to Ben Cleuch.

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Up to The Law

Ben Cleuch GM/SS-059

Looking south over the River Forth valley

Ben Cleuch has a great take off to the south, being on the edge of the Forth valley. Most of the entire central belt of Scotland is in 2m Hand-held range. For this reason, the Yaesu ft-3d was the only radio with me, however I had strapped the 2m/70cm half-wave to my rucksack and planned on using this to activate the summit.

The activation was brief! I worked five stations in a matter of minutes, wandering around the top, trying to shield the hand mic. from the worst of the wind. The ft-3d SD card was my log today, as it was too tricky to juggle hand mic. pen and paper in the wind.

Screenshot 2021-11-30 203613

The first station I worked mis-heard my QSY frequency, so I had to move to the one he was on and re-direct him, and probably a few others who’d moved there too, but apart from that it was plain sailing. I worked Andy @MM0FMF (for his Complete), who was casually in his back bedroom on his hand held.

Being pedestrian mobile meant there was no packing up to do and I was soon on my way back down the hill, following the route of ascent.

Ascent - 2.5 miles 1hr 10 mins
Descent - 2.5 miles 55 mins

As I approached the upper reaches of the glen, my phone pinged. Met Office Red weather warning for the east coast. 100mph winds, potential for loss of life. Snow for Aberdeenshire. Mmmm…

I was back in the car and driving at 1200h.

Now, there are three main routes back into Deeside (my home) from the south. Glenshee at 665m, 2200’, the Cairn ‘O Mount a 455m, 1500’ and the Slug Road, 260m, 850’.

Approaching Perth, I called my friend Charlie MM6CHN, who lives in Braemar. “Avoid Glenshee. Drifting snow.” The snow was to be worst in the west of Aberdeenshire and the wind worst in the east, so I opted for the middle route, The Cairn o’ Mount. This was in itself a calculated risk. It is a ‘B’ road, often isn’t ploughed, has nasty hairpins at the very top and I’d neglected to fit the winter tyres to my BMW X4.

1400h and I’m nearing the top of the “Cairn” road, the snow getting deeper as altitude was gained. I then came across a Porsche Cayenne straddling the lower hairpin. Like me, he was on the wrong tyres. I had to stop and knew that it was game over. I slithered round, headed back down and had to take the much longer route over the Slug Road to get back home.

By the time I was eventually home at 1500, snow gates had been closed on Glenshee, The Cairn and the Lecht, pretty much shutting Deeside off from most directions.

The power went off at 1800h. As did the internet. As did the mobile networks - all of them. We had the log burner going and a steady supply of candles, so no issues.

Saturday 27th November
Woke up and the power/phones still down. As the manager of a large business on the edge of Aberdeen, I had a duty to try and at least make contact with the team to make sure the building was at least still standing and that everyone was OK, so I headed off to work in the Defender 110 at 0900. Spare clothes, food, recovery gear and the chainsaw came with me. I had to drive for 20 miles before I could get a phone signal. Only when reviewing news websites at work (where all was OK) did I realise the full extent of the problem and that it could be a long time before we were back to normal.

Winter Resilience
If you’re still reading this, I thought I’d put down a few thoughts on our resilience.

Heating - no problem. Log burner and plenty of logs
Water - mains connected, so all good. Two full water butts (which we have had to filter and use in the past). Outlying homes have a private supply or well and water is pumped electrically. These homes had no water.
Cooking - all good. Double burner stove and gas bottle. Additional double burner cooker in Dora (Land Rover Camper). Small stove for cups of tea donated to the neighbours who only had a gas BBQ and couldn’t get the gas to flow in the freezing conditions.
By Sunday, Mo was using the wood burner as a slow cooker. The best Mince, tatties and white pudding ever!

Lighting - no issues. Old camping gaz lantern and multiple LED lights pressed into service. Head torches essential.

Home cooked Madras curry by gaslight

Log burner slow cooker

Communication - rather poor
Dual SIM phone useless
No internet
Internal phones are both DECT, so useless. We left the last landline phone at our last house move.
I run an APRS digipeater. It has a homemade SLAB UPS. However, it was useless due to the nearest APRS repeater being almost 30 miles away. So, no way to send or receive messages or emails over RF or through the internet using this. I turned it off.
Radio - the only battery powered radio(s) - amateur handhelds. We listened to Radio 2 and Radio Scotland on Saturday night using the FT-3d and a long extendable whip.
My small and little used shack is in a bothy in our garden. Sunday we lit the fire there and I hooked up my FT-857 to a LiFePO4 and connected it to the wire (W3EDP) antenna in the garden. The output was fed to an old Watson speaker for much improved reception and much improved audio. At least now we got updates on the outage and WX.

MKII listening set

Hygiene - water warmed on the stove and then a basin bath in front of the fire. Electric toothbrushes had a charge thankfully!

Transport - no issue, with four Land Rovers in residence. One pressed in to service to clear a road on Sunday (much free firewood gained).

Recovery crane used to lift trunk sections

four hours back breaking work with the chainsaw

Morale - plenty of whisky to keep us going. The Shackleton blend of Malts is nice and smooth, with an interesting back story.

Shackleton - one of a few Malts we sampled that weekend
Thankfully, by Monday night we had electricity. This meant the mobile networks were back up too. Home internet was restored a day later.

I have a 2KVA petrol generator, but didn’t bother using it.

Morven GM/ES-018, taken from the bothy on Sunday evening

Almost a week later, there are still many outlying properties to be reconnected and a few roads still to be cleared of trees. I think Deeside will remember Storm Arwen 2015, as it did Storm Frank of 2015.

Mountain Weather Forecasts in GM
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the weather forecast! I agree with Andy that the windspeed forecasts on are more accurate, as this website can tailor forecasts to a smaller and more specific hill, whereas is describing the worst case windspeed for an entire mountain range - eg SE Highlands. This area is vast. However, the text forecasts do a much better job of describing how the weather is developing across a mountain area. I find the visuals on the mountain-forecast website too simplistic, vague and inaccurate for serious use.

Mountain-forecast didn’t actually have a specific forecast for Ben Cleuch, the highest and most popular hill in the range, but it did for a couple of lower summits nearby.

So, going forward (for me) for the big picture and mountain-forecast for wind conditions on a specific mountain.
73, Fraser


My thoughts exactly Fraser, for the bigger picture and for better local conditions. Though the available mountains in there is a strange list with a few obvious choices missing.

I’m trying to remember where I had Shackleton… think it was on something like VHF field day. It went down well along with several other malts. Some of us were a bit slow starting the next day :slight_smile:

You get a :+1: for being a Husqvarna man and not a Stihl wallah.

Thanks for the complete.


Happy to oblige. S2S next?

Hi Fraser, great activation report and video. Thanks for sharing. :smiley: :beers: :beers:

Geoff vk3sq

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Thanks Geoff! I suspect it will be full on snowy activations from here on…

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We are planning a Saturday afternoon hike of GM/CS-053. Nice to know i won’t need my headtorch.

Or…Maybe is being a little optimistic with the amount of daylight!