GM5WS on Creag Bhalg GM/ES-046 - Video

One of my December trips out as GM5WS was up Creag Bhalg 668 m GM/ES-046. Whilst it didn’t yield the highest number of QSO’s (that was Meall Mor GM/ES-058 with 88 QSO’s) it did get me some trans-Atlantic DX in the log, which was brilliant fun. I managed two hours on the summit in -15C windchill.

The ascent almost didn’t happen for a couple of reasons.

  1. A van nearly side-swiped me on an icy back road. He came round a bend far, far too quickly , lost control and slid sideways towards my Land Rover. I took to the verge, looking in my side mirror as the tail end of the van slid past me with inches to spare.
  1. I locked myself out of the Land Rover when parking up at the access road. All of my gear was still inside Thankfully, I got back in using my Swiss Army knife!

The route up to Creag Bhalg starts at the old gate house for the Marr Lodge estate. There’s enough parking for two cars there. The route crosses the bridge and continues up through the estate. A public road is crossed and a narrow track followed, which becomes better further up. I had difficulty in locating the final section of hill path due to the snow. As always, I found it on the way back. Just under 3.5 km one way.

my route to Creag Bhalg

Here’s the video

73, Fraser MM0EFI




Well done on another excellent video Fraser and a very productive activation. The aerial shots of you operating on the hill were particularly interesting. I will have add this one to my list of possibles for a winter bonus activation, subject to the weather of course as it’s a longer drive than normal and north of Glenshee. Isn’t that where the bad weather starts. :wink:

73, Gerald

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Hi Fraser,

Nice aerial shots of course noticed. And the down jacket looks very comfy.

I guess the virus of making YouTube video more interesting has got you. Which drone did you get? DJI Mini 3 I would guess? So far I have hesidated to get one myself. You know even more stuff :man_lifting_weights: to carry.

73 Joe


I thought Fraser’s route quite neat. When I did it I drove all the way to the Linn of Dee then all the way back on the North side of the River Dee as far as the end of the public road to check on parking spots etc. Then back to Mar Lodge to park. The road is narrow on the North side and there are passing places but few parking spaces. There is a space or two West of Mar Lodge but if they are in use it’s a long way either way to the next ones and a longer walk. Using Victoria Bridge and parking on the South bank is cute as the walk including the bridge is less than using the reserve spaces should the Mar Lodge spaces be in use.

Gerald, it is the far side of the ski centre but the road down from the centre till you drop down into Braemar is sublime. It’s worth the drive all the way North just for that bit of driving especially as the A93 up to the ski centre is narrower, bumpier and difficult to see much ahead due to the hedges and trees etc. After the ski centre the curves are wide open and flat. Did catch me out on one bend and there was much magic happening with the stability program and lots of flashing orange lights on the dashboard. I took a few thou off the tyres and I aged quite a lot at the same time. :scream:

The views are good. I had drizzle then it brightened up. Barry @GM4TOE took a fabulous photo of a stag there. I just got both ends of a rainbow.

The trees, ground and overall views are sublime.


Wow, Fraser—three antennas! You deserve 3X points for that activation. Wonderful report as always, and the drone shots were a treat.
All the best in the New Year,
—Jeff KX6I


Yes indeed a great video and now featuring the MM0EFI Air Wing!

Good audio too. Do you just use the microphone on the GoPro?

I was particularly impressed by your lack of gloves but could you not log using a stylus so a glove could be worn? :slight_smile:

Excellent activation, I look forward to our visit this June, my first time bringing my radios to activate a few summits.

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An excellent video, I don’t know how you carry all that equipment and still look like you have a smaller pack than mine !
I must confess I would have taken a shelter with me in that weather.

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I searched and searched to the point that I left the house 15 minutes late, but could I find my tarp? No. Of course, on my return I went straight to the shelf where it was stored. It wasn’t too bad up there. I climbed the hill with a base, hooded fleece and Paramo coat. When I got set up, I threw my ancient down jacket on top and settled down. Spindrift getting into the radio was a bigger issue.

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So do I Russ. You’ll have to keep us posted. There are a few of us that are active in GM/ES and would chase from summits.

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Cheers John! I actually got the drone last March. I did a drone only video on Mount Keen. I don’t think it’s been very popular as there’s very little radio in it. It’s only 3 minutes long. It’s more arty, but I quite like it.
The Lonely Mountain - Mount Keen from Glen Tanar. A bike & hike. - YouTube

Hi Joe, It’s a dji mavic 2. I went for the bigger drone because it can fly for longer and fly in stronger winds. I have used it in at least three of my videos, but as you say it is more to carry, so it didn’t get packed on my bigger trips last year.

Gerald, in all seriousness I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve crossed either Glenshee or the Cairn o’Mount roads from south to north in gloomy weather, only to be greeted by clearing skies and sunshine coming down the other side. Of course, in the winter we get it colder than anyone else, but that’s the price of living in this playground.


I think there’s software I wrote for DJI in that! :hammer_and_wrench: :helicopter::scream: :face_with_head_bandage: :smile:


Thanks for the info. I would go for the Mini 3. No intentions to have another licence needed to operate the drone :sweat_smile:. Below 249 grams is easy now in the EU.
Not sure how the rules in the UK are.


Joe, The rules are the same. I passed a test and have a license to fly.

John, Luckily I don’t often get cold hands. I held a hand warmer in my left jacket pocket on this occasion. You’ll see me stuffing my hand in the pocket in between logging.


Hence why I package mine as I do. I’ve swallowed a big bill for water damage to the 817 once and that was once too often for me. The KX3 won’t be going out under such conditions. It was touch and go whether I used it or the IC-703 in the last Trans-Atlantic S2S event.

FT-817ND on the left; IC-703 on the right

Indeed, I often look at the forecast and inwardly shiver when I see temperatures below minus 10C forecast for Braemar. I’ve activated in minus 10C, but had the benefit of zero wind. What you experienced on this one was far far worse.


Dear Fraser,
HNY to you! Thanks for sharing just another impressive video. :clap: I admire your endurance under these weather conditions and that you did set up such an antenna farm.

All the best for 2023! Peter DM7KN


Probably quite an impressive door lock on a landrover then - you could get into ours with almost anything, I think a 5p coin on one occasion. ( However driving it off would have been much harder with a very large number of security devices keeping it from being recycled…)

Thanks again for the videos, hope to catch you in the New Year - and am hoping to get up to the Cairngorms in 23!

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Absolutely brilliant Fraser, you are certainly earning your winter bonus points. My xyl was also impressed, she is from Aberdeenshire and has often commented on how cold it can get up there!


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Cheers Nick!

We lived on coastal Aberdeenshire for a while. That’s much worse than around here! It’s windy as hell most of the time and when the sun comes out in summer, it is often followed by the haar (sea fog). I’d take Deeside’s cooler winters any day!