4 weeks until I go to the Isle of Mull with my son and nephew. The idea of the trip was a walking holiday in Scotland before the start of college in September, although it’s morphed into a jolly on the Isle of Mull! Given the amount of travelling involved, we’ll only have a few full days on Mull. The main priority will be given to getting to the top of Ben More GM/SI-003.
Ben More GM/SI-003
My son and nephew are both good hill walkers, my nephew did the national three peaks last year as a solo expedition, and my son has been accompanying me on SOTA expeditions this year. I took my son up Scafell Pike a couple of weeks ago and he did really well, he’s also done Helvellyn with me back in winter, so I feel that he’s more than ready to tackle Ben More.
It’s more than 20 years since I was at the top of Ben More and I can’t remember what room there is at the summit- can anyone advise, particularly with reference to erecting an HF antenna? I’m not sure what bands to do, I’m thinking that VHF might be pretty hard work. Is there a demand for completes? If so, I’m guessing the target audience will be UK based, so which bands/modes are required? WAB? Trigs? I’m conscious that my son and nephew aren’t hams, so I can’t really be operating for a long time.
I contacted the Ben More Estate regarding access during deer stalking season and I have been told that access to Ben More summit won’t be a problem.
My nephew hasn’t been to Scotland before, besides his crazy dash up Ben Nevis during his national three peaks, so my son and I would like to take him to Iona to show him just how beautiful it is. The Iona trip will swallow up a whole day I think, as it’s a three hour round trip by road from where we are staying. Is there a particular summit that anybody would like to chase? The initial idea of the trip was to do hillwalking, so another summit or two shouldn’t be a problem.
Radio wise, I have my FT817 and several MTRs, so I’m limited to QRP. I’d rather not carry my FT-817 as it’s heavy, but besides my single band (20m) Slop Bucket, it’s the only rig I have that can do SSB.
I activated Ben More last September in pretty atrocious weather so I missed the excellent views I had seen previously. There is a good path to follow to the summit and there is plenty of room for an antenna of any size. There is a large activation zone so irrespective of the number of people on the summit you’ll be able to set up an antenna. There may be midges on the summit in August so take some insect repellent.
I was successful using only 144MHz on a VX7 and a 2-element YAGI, but it was a Saturday so more hams are usually on air than midweek. I had my FT817 with me and planned to fire it up on 40m and 20m if needed but as the weather was poor I decided not to use it. To be sure of success I recommend that you take the 817. It sounds like your nephew would perhaps be fit and strong enough to carry it for you!!!
Have a good visit and it is a lovely island.
The thing I remember was the 2m chasers were from Northern Ireland and Wales. I wasn’t expecting that, but when you look at the map it is not too surprising.
Thanks Colwyn, that’s good info.
I have invested in midge nets and Smidge! Fingers crossed that the predicted wave of midges either misses us or gets blown away!
I love Mull, my FT817 was originally purchased for a trip to Mull in 2001! My FT817 was last on Mull in 2016 -
The FT-817 isn’t that heavy, at least not compared to lugging my FT-891 up hills. We’ve used our FT-818 on all of our Scottish activations and I think all were successful using 6w SSB only, even in some awful weather with it getting soaked, so I’d +1 Colwyn’s advice to take your 817 Maybe match it to a tuned linked dipole for 20m and 40m and you’'ll be fine I’d have thought - we usually have no issue finding chasers, even during the week/early in the morning.
I hope you & your group have a great time. We’re planning our next holiday to Scotland now, which might include some of the islands. The FT-818 will be coming with us for sure.
In the past month, I have been on summits on the way over to Applecross, Skye and Stac Pollaidh. On all those summits I had chasers from Lewis, Skye and Mallaig at 5/9 on 2m so it is worth taking that option to Mull. I was using my FT818 and doing some HF as well. Antenna is a home made flowerpot for 2m and a home made linked dipole from a SOTAbeams kit for HF.
I will be out on Harris this weekend trying some more GM/SI activations.
I just did HF, loads of space for antennas, fairly easy car parking and an obvious path!
My Goat Mountain! Been up there loads of times and by various routes. The “tourist path” from the shores of Loch na Keal is good path, then eroded path and sometimes wet path, followed by steep stony path to the top.
We got fooled by stopping at the power station and following someone who was much fitter they went right up the valley and round onto the summit. We gave up, so cut off up a steep bit then joined the main path to the summit. Return was on the main path.
Map courtesy of OS. © Crown copyright, Ordnance Survey 2023
Here is the guess prediction for 2m to 300km with about 10w Tx. It tends to be a bit conservative.
I’ve done it twice. The first time was on the route you describe above, via A’Chioch. It’s a nice easy scramble to finish onto the summit. Down the main path. In the early 90s.
Second was up and down the main path. Very straightforward.
Both a while before I was licenced and therefore pre SOTA (in fact the first predates the SOTA programme existing).
I did Ben More in 2001, I’d gone on my first solo road trip. I packed my tent and sent off in my Mk4 Ford Fiesta Ghia for 5 days on Mull. My friends thought I was crazy but I had a really good time, despite locals being wary of my Yorkshire (countryside) accent. It was the height of the foot and mouth disease, everywhere you went you were asked to disinfect.
Ben More summit, May 2001 - pre SOTA.
Arrived on Mull today, weather is looking OK, Ben More GM/SI-003 is definitely on the target list this week.
Say hello to Josie Jump and Archie the inventor.
Sounds like a plan Colin,
I transited the summit about 1990.
Lot more erosion since then.
I plan to activate GW/NW-004 and 005 on Thu.
30m and 60m plus 2m fm.
Good luck Colin. I’m green with envy having only done Ben More once and that was 1991 to look at the Beaufort aircraft wreck. I went straight up from the loch side on a nice day as I didn’t know there was a path. There was a trig point there then. Found a weathered pair of binoculars on the way which I’ve still got as two monoculars.
Beinn Talaidh C47 Dakota was good too but done in rain and fog. Hope the good weather continues for you,
We looked at Beinn Talaidh today, but it seemed a monster hike. We chose Dun da Ghaoithe GM/SI-016 instead, which in the end turned into a monster hike anyway!
Awesome views! We saw nobody else, all day.
Swarms of midges at the summit.
Ben More tomorrow (Thursday).
It’s a pretty flat approach followed by the steepest grass slope I ever encountered. Worth it for the views though!
Had a listen for you, but there was only the faintest hint you were there. Conditions were poor all round yesterday.
Congratulations Colin on your successful activation of Ben More today!
I wanted to chase you there, as for any other of your interesting projects, and I saw your alert for SI-003, but I had to go shopping with my father in law to the nearest town, some 11 km away.
I kept an eye on Sotawatch and was lucky to find you spotted on 14.062 just when I arrived back in our little village.
I ran to the attic where I have my Sota gear and fired the rig. There you were with good signals.
Once the pile got a bit reduced you replied to my call and I was pleased to greet and log you.
Thanks for it, wishing you, your son and nephew enjoyed the hike and the views, and hopefully not midges up there.
Here my indoor EFHW under the roof of a two store old house, ready to get you :
Tnx and GL on Mull Isl.
Really great to hear and work you dr Iggy! We had a fantastic day on Ben More GM/SI-003. Really pleased to have finally qualified that summit!
Really pleased to work Gerald @G4OIG too.
73 and thanks for the QSO!