Wednesday 17th June: day 4.
We arrived in Glen more at the foot of the Cairngorm National Park, in the rain. At the camp site we took advantage of the washing facilities to properly clean and dry some of the things that had got wet.
Wednesday morning an we were greeted with more rain and wind. The mountains were obscured by low clouds which raced up the valley. I was not really in the mood to get wet again so soon after getting everything dry. After a very leisurely breakfast we decided to explore Avimore. The town of Avimore is not much more than one road with the usual array of hotels and shops catering for the skiers and walkers who flock to the area. One little gem is the rail station which is shared by the main line and a heritage railway. While in the town we took advantage of the sales that were on; along with a set of dry bags I had a new Berghaus coat and waterproof trousers and H had a new pair of boots.
During the afternoon the weather improved, the clouds began to break and the sun shone through the gaps quickly drying the pavements. On the way back to the camp site we took one or two out of our way diversions to look for geocaches eventually get back at 6-ish. By this time the clouds had lifted enough for us to see the out lines of the Cairngorms with white streaks of snow on their flanks and behind the site Meall a’Bhuachaille (GM/ES-027) dominated the skyline. The threat of rain had subsided so all our kit was put together for a walk.
We were camped in the Forestry Commissions park on the edge of Loch Morlich and across the road is the visitor centre which behind that is one of the main paths up to Meall a’Bhuachaille. The walk to the top is along well maintained paths which initially goes through forest leading to the open heather covered slopes. After a steady hour and a half climb we were at the summit and was it cold! The valley had started to warm up nicely but here on the summit the wind chill was not going to make things pleasant. The top of Meall a’Bhuachaille is rounded and it didn’t made any difference to where we were the wind whipped round. Wrapping up warm, including gloves, we set up the station, initially only the fan dipole. The bands didn’t sound in the best of conditions and not being in any great rush expected a slow activation. I started on 40 metres, it took nearly half an hour to get 5 contacts. I struggled with a couple of people which I couldn’t honestly say I had worked properly but those I did I managed more then the usual signal exchanges. H had better luck with a good run of 16 on 80 metres. While H operated I decided to erect my 20 metre vertical, when it was up it wasn’t actually vertical, the wind was bending it to quite an angle.
After H had finished I found a spot on 14.305 MHz and called to be quickly found by Barry (GM4TOE) who kindly spotted me; sorry we didn’t take you up on the visit. The next few contacts were at a far leisurely pace to what we would become accustomed with the highlight of the activation a long chat to another YL op, Galina (UA3QOS), helped along with 5/9+20 signals. I finished with only another 6 in the log.
It was now getting towards 10 in the evening and the sun was nowhere near setting but the temperature was still dropping and we were both getting very chilled and uncomfortable due to the lack of movement. Time to pack away, take a few more pictures and bask in the stunning scenery. On the way down we hoped the weather would improve but the forecasts were not good for the next few days, we had come here for a mountain far bigger.
Things didn’t get better…