Kirriereoch GM/SS-287

“Aye you’ll be fine as long as it doesn’t rain much before Saturday.”

Well it did! Lots and lots and lots… several cms of rain fell Friday till Saturday morning. :frowning:

Kirriereoch is a relatively new SS summit. I can remember when I saw it had been found and looking at it on the map thinking… that’s a bit of bugger to get to. Two common routes, first climb Merrick GM/SS-028 from Bruce’s Stone car park , 6.4km and 750m ascent but a decent path, about 2hr30. Then off down to the bealach and up to Kirriereoch, 1.6km, 150m descent and 150 re-ascent. Then you have to get back to the car. Or from Kirriereoch car park and camping area that’s 7.5km and 600m ascent and no path for most of the way. Well one day I’ll do it. When I look at who has done it so far, they’re all “a bit serious” in the distances and speeds they can walk at… not me… hmmm!

Well that day came and I was looking at this to nearly complete the SS summits South of the Forth and Clyde. Now Gerald G4OIG and Paul G4MD are a well know activating pair but they’ve been quiet together since Paul was ill and had some significant cancer surgery. Paul is slowly recovering and is not yet fit for this kind of thing. I thought that as this summit is just a bit more than a walk in a park I should ask Gerald if he was interested in doing it together. Yes he was and a plan developed, much more detailed planning than I do but it was sort-of in my backyard and Gerald had a 330mile drive. I say my backyard but this bit of Galloway is a serious pain to get to. For me the best route is not direct, that is a forever drive on cruddy single track roads, no down South to Dumfries then right along Southern Scotland’s coast to Newton Stewart then up inland to the never-lands of the Galloway National Park. Anyway we had dates which were good for all, all we had to do was pick something and hope for good weather.

We decided on 16/17 September and as the WX was OK I managed to find 2 rooms to stay, yes neither of us can really drive there, activate and drive home, so 1 night in Newton Stewart was booked. At a late date the B&B, relatively inexpensive but very, very good was full and so was the hotel I’ve stayed in 3 times, so we went to a slightly more expensive hotel. It was fine and the food and breakfasts were good.

The other week I was talking to Jack GM4COX from Ben Venue GM/SS-058 and he said he was doing Kirriereoch in a few days. I told him that we had it planned for a few days after him and we discussed Andrew G4VFL’s route and the fact that the gates were now locked and you cannot drive to the far car park. Bummer, it adds 3.2km and 45mins extra walk (and the return) but Jack was taking his bike. Anyway I spoke to Jack after he did it and he explained Andrew’s route was fine, the firebreak you walk down is obvious, follow the iron fence posts till you see the wall, follow the wall to the top. Simples! And that’s when he mentioned the river and rain etc.

The WX forecast can be variable down there as the WX blows in from the SW across a lot of water, often the forecast changes hourly. The forecast was for rain and a lot of it on Friday but stopping Saturday morning at 7am, then 10am, 11am, 7am, 9am, 11am. Every time I checked it was different apart from the volume. Damn, damn, damn! As I drove down Friday afternoon at times I thought the M74 was actually a river. It got worse the nearer I got to Newton Stewart. You have to be kidding me!. But I got to the hotel and bumped into Gerald in the car park. We spent time discussing the plan, timings and the WX. I don’t do wet weather activating any more but the hotel fees were not refundable… I had opened my Sporran wide to pay for this so wet or not it was on :slight_smile:

Breakfast was later than we hoped which delayed us a bit but no real problem. We decided just on one car so we loaded Gerald’s gear into mine, Gerald was used to this with operating with Paul so he knew what to take and to check he everything. Apart from the printed map which was on his car floor. I didn’t have one but I had a mapping GPS, a phone GPS with map, a backup phone with GPS and Gerald had a mapping GPS and a phone map and GPS. We should be OK but I still felt a little naked without paper! Paul had been in touch, he was looking at a small hill for a possible S2S with us or a chase from a /A location. That was good, he may not yet be well enough to come but he could join in the fun and games.

The Chuckle Brothers Mk2 as they complete what Gerald calls “faff time”. Or boots on, bags checked and GPS booted etc. We set off at 9.45am.

It was still raining a bit but was brightening up. What I had missed in checking the WX was wind, it was very strong. Winter is coming… fleece and bigger hat needed. 2 weeks back it was 23C 100miles further North. The good thing was the wind encouraged evaporation. So the rain fell and the wind dried. Despite it raining for the next 90mins I was only a bit damp in normal walking gear. But a little colder… walk faster then fatty :slight_smile:

3+km along a forest road and we got to where we wanted to park at 10.30am. I put gaiters on when I saw the vegetation in the firebreak. We had 300m gentle descent in not quite knee high very wet long Galloway grass. And moss. And boggy areas. And wet holes. Ah, Galloway Ground: it’s delightful. Then there was a moment’s confusion as we wondered where next… check the GPS! Gerald’s GPS64 has a fabulous display I could read without glasses. I need glasses now for my Vista HCx. I have an old pair of my varifocals for walking (expendable which are fine but have sun reactive tints). Great but when it gets colder they get darker and so in the winter they can be too black in the gloom :frowning: I need some cheap readers for the winter.

More soft ground and then we found The Nile… or the Cross Burn filled with 24hrs quite torrential rain.

We were prepared. We both brought sacrifice shoes, an old pair of trainers in my case, as we knew this was a possibility. We spent 20mins checking for the best spot as it was all around 30-40cms deep and very fast flowing. Then Gerald said “let’s do it.” Boots off and sacrifice shoes on and in I went. I didn’t fall (an FMF stream crossing trait) 3 points in contact at all time from feet and walking poles. And I was across. We’d put car keys, phones and stuff that must stay dry into dry bags before crossing and both checked our boots and socks could not fall off the rucksacks and get washed away. Easy!

Other side and it was socks and boots on. I had thought how to dry my feet but they were so cold I didn’t care. They felt warm and dry in moments. From here it was follow iron posts and we went up in a heavy cross wind. I didn’t actually think it was that hard. I don’t think I’m actually getting fit, I just don’t want to give up so easily any more. Gerald has a few turns more on the coil than me and whilst we both have a plethora of drugs in us for our chronic diseases, he is just a tadge slower than me. I made sure I stopped and waited for him so we never got separated too much. Hell you invite someone to come with you, you can’t race off and leave them on their own. I was only a tiny bit faster TBH.

We stopped for a longer break after we had been in the mist for a while. We wanted to let Paul know we were an hour behind. I had my home brew satellite spotter so I could post a spot with a detailed comment or we could text him. If we had cell service. Well Gerald’s phone didn’t like the cold and damp and wouldn’t stay on. I looked an I had 59+60 signal on my phone so I changed the alert time. Later on when Gerald had slapped his phone about and got it working, he had 59+++ on O2. Just ridiculous considering where we were. We pushed on with 1.5k and 125m to climb, Gerald told me to go on as he would be right behind me. Finally I was at the top and I had a drink and recce and Gerald was 4mins behind.

We were in the AZ but not at the summit… blow that, the summit is on a exposed top, the wind was howling, the mist was lumpy and there was a bit of a wall. We were 200m horizontally and 6m below the summit. Wall to shelter or absolute top? Wall won. We’d agreed bands at the car, Gerald 60m and 2m and I would do 40m SSB and some HF CW. No mutual interference. We also arranged for me to wander over and work Jack on 2m on Gerald’s kit. “Ah we need to add in Jack time on the itinerary” :slight_smile:

Bah another windy summit to try and hear that tiny KX2 speaker, grr! Up went a 5m Decathalon fibreglass pole and my 20/30/40 EFHW with an AA5TB matchbox. Good for 40/30/20/17/15/12/10, about 4.7m vertical then rest slopes down to a 1m pole. A 4m counterpoise sits under the sloper. Satellite spotter booted and KX2 powered up.

40m SSB first., out with a spot and within seconds a healthy pileup. Reasonably well behaved pileup too. I particularly put on 40 SSB to work Don G0RQL. Don is my most consistent chaser and has been chasing me since 2006. He did a proper CW test but doesn’t like CW so he misses out when I do CW only or go on 20m up. As all the previous activations were on 2m, 4m or 13cms this was a virgin summit for HF. And I worked Don who was a good signal. In fact 40m was in good shape for inter-G. I worked 21 UK stations and EA2CKX as well. After that it was 20m CW and RBNhole did it’s magic. Another big pileup followed. It was a bit manic at times and this is when you know you are working a competent chaser. Jan OK2PDT was working me but someone else was trying to at the same time. In the exchanges, Jan added his callsign to make sure I knew who was sending an RST etc. Likewise I added in his call rather than just his call at the start. It put a smile on my face that here was someone who knew what the activator end of the radio sounded like and wanted to be sure he was credited. :+1: I worked DL, EA2, F, OK, HB9, SM, OH, OZ, I & 9A on 20m.

Then 4 walkers appeared and we chatted for 10mins before I went to 17m. Now this trapped EFHW doesn’t not tune on 17m normally, so I added a link and it does now. Not many signals but SP5RI and CT2IWW were worked. Then link in and onto 15m and SV2 and 9A worked for with big signals, 599 both ways. I was cold and fed up being buffeted so I thought “time to pack up” but as any activator knows you just do one more CQ. Out it went and boom! Fred KT5X in Santa Fe, NM came back, he was 599 and gave me 339. 7400kms will do for 10W and a bizarre antenna. Fair made me whoop with delight. In fact so much so I had 2 chocolate bars to celebrate. Well they have been shrinkflated to what was once called “bite-size” :frowning: After that I packed up as it was 5hours since we’d left the car and I was cold.

Of course I forgot to get a photo of my setup so I photographed Gerald by the “wall”.

I had a chat with Jack on 2m FM but first worked MM0KJJ then MM7DCD/p who was no longer in the AZ for GM/SS-222. Never mind. After than a good 5mins with Jack and the tale of the water crossing and the pish poor WX we were having. I’ll leave Gerald to report on his QSOs either in this thread or his own. Gerald packed up we checked nothing left behind and we set off as the mist started to thin. Typical!

As we descend we dropped out of the mist around 625m ASL. Ailsa Craig GM/SS-246 appeared

Improving WX with Loch Moan in the distance.

So this is what we climbed… the summit of GM/SS-287 is about 150m up and 1.5km into the mist.

Once you leave the wall it’s back to following the iron posts and it gets a lot steeper. Amazingly remote bit of Scotland… there is little around here but commercial forests, moors and some sheep.

The river on the left is the Kirshinoch Burn, the one on the right is what we forded, the Cross Burn. They join to form the Kirriereoch Burn which joins the Water of Minnoch and they all feed what becomes the River Cree. Kirriereoch Loch and Loch Moan visible too.

Two hours later we were back at the Cross Burn. We had hidden our sacrifice shoes by a fence. Boots off, shoes on. Gerald volunteered to be photographed doing the crossing.

It was easy because we had planned it and took time in the execution. I have to say I wouldn’t have fancied doing this on my own. Certainly not for the first time. YMMV

Kirriereoch GM/SS287. What you can see is about 1/3rd of the distance to the top and 1/2 of what you have to ascend.

It was shoes off, layers off, big drink, boots on and 50mins later we were back at the car. A slow removal of boots and layers and we were ready to drive Gerald back to collect his car. We got back to the car at 6.45pm, 9 hours after we left and got back to Gerald’s car at 7.25pm. It was noticeably getting dark. I had a 130mile 2hr30m drive home. Gerald had other plans having come this far.

This was a fabulous adventure. I really enjoy my own company on many activations but now and then a joint activation is great. I’ve done about 7-10 with Paul M0SNA/W6PNG this year. My first with Gerald and it was a real pleasure. It was absolutely champion. I got ticks (the nice ones) in many boxes. It was pricey however, I reckon about £41 per point earned. But the price was cheap for the enjoyable time in Gerald’s company and working New Mexico for the first time on 15m.


Well done both of you!
Thanks, Andy, for the contact; I was very lucky to see the spot and hear your opening CQ even if you were not quite ready :wink: I usually only chase potential Completes - when I can hear them through the local noise but unfortunately this one will never become a Complete for me :frowning_face: We spent some time on those hills 40 plus years ago and even then found them hard going.
Good luck with completeing GM/SS.


What a great read with fantastic photos. Thanks. :clap:

cheers to you both :beers: :beer:

Geoff vk3sq


I was just digging around seeing where I had been spotted to help trace where spots maybe coming from into a cluster. Now I was pleased with New Mexico on 15m on Saturday, but I have just found I was seen by BD8CS in the centre of China at 8300km with a 13dB report!


I should have spent more time on 15m :wink:


Have you seen BD8CS’s antenna…


That’s not very big. I was expecting something enormous.

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Shooter boom I would say and much lighter than the German Optibeam 11-5 (11 ele X 5 bands) I used until I moved into a bigger house in Nov 2017 with a smaller garden. The Hexbeam I use now is OK and better than other wire antennae here but no comparison to the over engineered Optibeam.

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Who knows though - BD8CS’s SDR Receiver may have been using the multiband vertical to the left side of the photo…

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Interesting, I worked KT5X and was heard by BD8CS. On a great circle map, KT5X is about 310degs and BD8CS is 60degs. They’re not on the same great circle. So that suggests to a bear of little brain like me that the majority of the radiation was from the vertical section of my Inv-L and was omnidirectional (for various definitions of omnidirectional).

If only the sky could talk…


My bit…

Kirriereoch GM/SS-287, Saturday 16th September 2023… cor, out at a weekend for a change. :grinning:

As Andy has said, what a splendid day out. Not an easy one, but it never was going to be that. Getting to the summit from the parking spot is probably twice as difficult as Ben Lawers GM/CS-001, which I ascended last month… but for 40% of the points. Well that’s the way it is. We are all free to choose our summits, so no complaints. Both Andy and myself are just a few summits short of completing the GM/SS summits south of the Edinburgh – Glasgow line (with the exception of Kintyre) and both of us needed to activate this one, so it made sense to do it together.

As I set out from Northampton at 09:20 on Friday 15th my wife remarked that I was over six hours late. I usually “escape” around 3 a.m. for most outings and enjoy relatively quiet roads. Actually I did wonder what I was doing tackling Britain’s lousy motorway network at such a late hour. Indeed true to form the need to cram 3 lanes of traffic into 2 lanes on account of bridge works on the M6 to the north of Preston delayed me a whole hour. Thankfully the new motor is a breeze in traffic jams, having a 7 speed auto gearbox so avoiding that left knee-knackering clutch work. When I eventually touched base with Andy, I was at Tebay services he was just about to set out. I made an estimate of his ETA at Newton Stewart and decided that lunch could be a relatively leisurely affair. Even so I reached the hotel almost half an hour before him.

Once we were both at the hotel and settled in, we sat and had a chat for a while before relocating to the bar to avail ourselves of some ale… and more chat. Since it was absolutely hammering it down outside, we had booked a table in the restaurant for 7.45 p.m., so cue some more alcohol to accompany the food. It was 10 p.m. by the time we went to our rooms to get some kip, with breakfast set for 7.30 a.m.

At breakfast Andy asked a member of the hotel staff whether we could leave a car at the hotel while we were out walking which was very kindly granted. We set off in his 330 BHP flying machine at 8.52 a.m. and reached the parking spot at NX364870, 16 miles from Newton Stewart, just 25 minutes later… and the track bit was done at snail’s pace. No, it’s totally untrue that my knuckles were white, though they might have been had the road not been damp!

GPS check at the end of the track

The track section was walked at a reasonable pace and the descent down the wide forest ride wasn’t that bad, but at the bottom it was a case of look for the coarse grasses and use the clumps as stepping stones to get across the quagmire. By the burn the ground was more solid, so we were able to get our footwear changed on a relatively dry spot. I must say that the crossing went easier than I thought it might. This is my first “walk through” of a burn – previously I have found a narrow place to cross with the help of walking poles, but no such opportunity here.

Ascending the section alongside the rusted metal fence posts was quite challenging. At times the wind was deflecting our walking poles as we lifted them to place them while moving forwards. A number of sections were quite steep, which I usually like as height is gained more rapidly, but I am now finding that I am suffering from arthritis in my hips. By the time we reached the more gently sloping long section of ascent to the summit, I’d had aches from both hips. This certainly slowed me up and I took regular stops to ease the aches. On the final section I told Andy to go on and I’d be up as soon as I was able, which surprisingly wasn’t that long after he arrived.

Andy had estimated 2 hours 30 minutes to get to the summit and had posted an alert for 11:00z. My more conservative estimate was for a 3 hour ascent, but I went with Andy’s timing. Breakfast had started half and hour later than planned and the burn delayed us another 30 minutes (darn it, we should have allowed for that :thinking:), so technically we should have been activating by 12:00z, or in my estimation 12:30z. It was 12:15z when Andy arrived at the summit and 12:40z when he placed his spot, so do I get the prize for the most accurate assessment? No, I get the blame for being too slow.

I was actually on 60m SSB at the same time that Andy started on 40m. I’d received a text from Paul G4MD to say he was listening on 5.3985MHz and he came back after a couple of calls. Signals were reasonable and we chatted for a while, but then someone started keying a carrier over us, so we decided to call it a day. Surprisingly no-one followed on, so to avoid the QRM I moved to 5.4035MHz and self-spotted at 12:58z. I had just 4 more contacts on SSB – Allan GW4VPX, Don G0RQL, Mal GW6OVD and Michael EI3GYB. Then I moved to 5.3545MHz CW and was called by Nick G4OOE and Phil G4OBK.

I set up for 2m SSB to find an S9 noise across the band… what the heck out here in the wilderness? After checking the antenna, cabling and even linear / preamp, it dawned on me that I was charging my phone from a LiPO and the electronics create hash at VHF. Unplug and voila!… a totally quiet band with the Kent beacon fully audible. I put on a self-spot at 13:39z and Don G0RQL appeared on frequency a couple of minutes later. Signals were actually better than they had been on 60m. Damien M0BKV down in Cornwall followed with a short contact. There was no more from the south (hmm, once upon a time), so I turned the beam north and had a chat with Jack GM4COX. Steve MM0XPZ was next to be followed by Colin GM0HBK on the Isle of Skye, Robin GM7PKT near Fort William and finally Gordon GM4AOS in Mallaig. Gordon was initially very weak with quite a bit of QSB. He asked me to hang on a bit as there was a flight coming over and within minutes we were enjoying extremely easy copy courtesy of aircraft scatter. His signals peaked at s8. I really enjoyed the first-hand demonstration of this mode of propagation, which though experienced many times before, was the first time it has been “orchestrated”. It certainly made my day. Just 14 contacts made overall, but what I would call a quality log!

Having packed up his kit, Andy wandered over to see how I was getting on. I told him I had “booked” a contact for him with Jack on 145.400MHz FM, so Andy settled down in front of my kit while I started to pack up my bits and pieces.

My set up with Andy on the mic.

Time was running away with us and it wasn’t until 15:00z that we set off down back to the car. I must say that going downhill was much easier than going up – well, it usually is! 2 hours and 42 minutes for the descent, 27 minutes adrift of my estimate, but crossing the burn took up quite a bit of that.

Like Andy, I really enjoyed this outing – not just the walking and radio, but the social as well. I am really looking forward to our hopefully joint attempt to crack the fearsome summit of Mullwharchar GM/SS-073 next Spring… fitness, hmm must try harder for that one.

Many thanks as usual to everyone that came on to work me. Activating on 60m and 2m gave the more local chasers a chance of working what is still a fairly rare summit, while Andy did his bit for those further afield on the higher HF bands. All in all, I think we did good! :grinning:

73, Gerald G4OIG


Thanks for the report Gerald, just planning my next escape and was deciding between Galloway and Tayside. Given your comments Tayside sounds a better choice, but how much I’ll do will depend on the legs, but possibly GM//CS-001, 010 and 015 but on three separate days with a possibility of adding 004 after 001 and and 041 after 010. Again your comments when you activated Ben Lawers very helpful. ( I have done them pre-sota but I think it was after my 2nd Year exams 39 years ago and it is all a bit vague…). Thanks again for the reports. 73 Paul

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Hi Paul,

I activated Stob Binnein GM/SS-002 after Ben More GM/SS-001 - maybe you meant this pairing. Cruach Ardrain GM/SS-004 is best tackled from another spot, though I’ve not done it yet.

I think you mean CS-010 and 041. I was planning to do Meall a’Choire Leith GM/CS-041 after Meall Corranaich GM/CS-010, but was scuppered by deep snow in April… maybe December if there is no white stuff and it’s not been too wet during the period before I go, otherwise they will remain on my list.

All the best for whatever you end up doing.

73, Gerald

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Sorry a bit of a fat finger issue… I was thinking of GM/ CS-001 and then going on to CS-004 which may make more sense!

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Excellent double activation/report, almost a year to the day since I was up there. It won’t be much consolation but I’m sure I got over that burn by boulder hopping/use of poles without getting my boots submerged :wink:

Reminds me it was cold and windy last year too - had all my layers on, although I sat out on the hill away from the wall as I had a nice view over to the Merrick.

73, Iain

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Yes, though Meall Garbh GM/CS-004 works well with Meall Greigh GM/CS-026 and avoids the pain of An Stuc… hence why I decided on doing it that way and did Ben Lawers GM/CS-001 coupled with the adjacent HEMA summit for a bit of added VFM. Meall nan Tarmachan GM/CS-015 would make a good “starter” summit to ease the legs in. I really enjoyed that one, indeed it was a brilliant choice for the Trans-Atlantic S2S event in April 2022.

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A shame I hadn’t taken the 2m SSB gear up GUN on Saturday as that would have been a nice summit to summit. Peter wanted to try out his FT-891 (no vhf) rather than take the 857 and I packed my pack with rolls of wire with only a handie as backup. radio. I’ll keep an eye on the alerts for the next time :slight_smile:

Looks like a good fun day out.


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Great adventures guys - thanks for sharing them in detail with us from the far south!

73, Markus HB9DIZ

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Great stuff, that creek crossing looked very cold. That is some beautiful country up there.

73 de VE6JTW

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Yes I remember our contact on 17m! It’s been really exciting to complete the QSO with 119 report both sides. If I understood correctly, you’ve used an external speaker of KX2? Then I envy your fine ears, as I was barely able to hear a faint signal in my headphones, while casually operating from friends garden with an ATAS120 mounted on a spike in the ground! And now after reading about river crossings & wind howling, I have even more appreciation about it.

Thank you and I hope to meet you again on the bands, Andy.