Tuesday 16th June, day 3.
The journey to our 2 night stop over at Jedburgh was uneventful. During the early part of Monday morning the clouds began to get bigger and darker. Even though we hadn’t alerted any of the summits we intended to activate in advance we had a schedule we wanted to keep to with a little flexibility and The Cheviot (G/SB-001) was on the list. Unfortunately we failed dismally.
At the beginning of the climb the weather was dry but the clouds were now very dark and threatening. Not long into the walk the first drops of rain began so out came the weatherproofs; undeterred (we had got soaked the previous weekend with Paul (G4MD) and Gerald (G4OIG)) we continued. Forty minutes in and the unmistakable feeling of water ingress began. The rain was now so heavy that viability was restricted and the “path” we were walking was more like a stream. Every now and then the rain reduced from torrential to very heavy and then the first flash of lightening. We looked at each other, getting wet is one thing being fried is not something we wanted to experience. By the time we had got to the camper a full blown storm was in progress. You often hear people say you can tell how far away the storm is by counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder; we didn’t get as far as counting one! After drying off we headed to the coast where there was no rain and spent the rest of the day caching on Holly Island (Lindisfarne) and further north in Berwick Upon Tweed.
Tuesday morning started better in as much as no rain. Tuesday was one of our “travel days” and next stop was near Avimore. Again a number of summits had been identified along the route but feeling the weather was going to change again a close summit was chosen. It was lunch time before we reached the hill though.
Eildon Mid Hill (GM/SS-214) is just South of the lovely little town of Melrose in the border region and as the name suggests it is the middle of three hills. The route is a steep and sharp well-walked path leading to a trig and toposcope. There were good views from the summit and looking towards The Cheviot it seemed to be still covered by angry black clouds. An operating position was chosen just off the summit and the antenna erected away from the path which crosses the hill. Propagation on 40 metres was not as good for NVIS as the previous activation but there was a longer skip into Europe. Ten quick contacts were made; 2 G, 3 Germany, 1 Ireland, 1 Switzerland, 1 Slovenia and 2 into France, before the band went quiet. H then called on 60 metres making 11 contacts before that band closed. I tried 80 metres but only managed to hear GM7UAU and G0RQL. 80 metres was suffering the usual summer doldrums, something we should’ve remembered a few days later.
Time to go, a long drive to our next stop meant there was going to be no more free time. The journey was through showers and we arrived in Glenmore, at the foot of the Cairngorm National Park, in the rain.
The weather was getting worse…