This will be a bit like a line for a beer advert shown in the UK.
“Possibly the best 2 pt summit in Scotland?”. Are you serious Andy? Yes I am.
Here’s a capture of the area around Bridge of Orchy. There are so many Munros, Corbetts, Grahams here, I got to 120 points and stopped counting. These are proper Scottish points (i.e. hard walking ) and many of the 1000+ m summits are climbed from sea level. There’s also Midges to strip your flesh and rain and damp ground to give you trench foot. Meal Tairbh is a wee Graham (sub 700m) and only 2 pts. It’s outlined in purple.
©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 018/21
Because there are many famous mountains around here with high scores Meall Tairbh gets ignored. It’s also quite tough ground for not many points and there are no paths.
What makes it the best? The views. It’s high enough to get you out of the grot and dross and give you a view and is surrounded by some very shapely and pretty big mountains. That is always a recipe for success. It also has a fearsome reputation for being tough ground that is a veritable bog fest for the first 2km from leaving the road. But we have had a very long dry spell and the ground is parched and the rivers are very much down in scale. A good time to do this one.
I wasn’t sure to do this or another in the area, Bein Suidhe (ben soo-ee) GM/WS-235. You have to cross the river and its tributaries, a there and back walk as doing a loop is hard involves 3 river crossings there and three back. A fairly big river followed by some hard ground and a very steep ascent. I wasn’t sure if I had the needful (as my Indian chums say) to do such a walk and climb. So I took the easy way out and thought I’d inspect river levels and try the ground out to see what it’s like by doing the considerably easy Meall Tairbh and maybe the neighbour between, Beinn a’Chuirn GM/WS-279.
It’s a 100mile drive so I was away early and was making good progress when I discovered one of Scotland’s best roads for hooning along trying to keep up with the big sports bikes as they go mad, the A82, has been neutered with average speed cameras from Lix Toll to Bridge of Orchy. I was almost in teers as we drove in convoy at 60mph. A tragedy.
Finally at Bridge of Orchy it’s off down the minor road that leads to Victoria Bridge where there is a bridge across the Abhainn Shira (River Shira) built in Victoria’s reign. There’s a big hunting lodge there and the whole area is deer hunting heaven. There’s not much parking, a car park at the bridge and some spaces at the Inveroran Hotel about a mile previous. The hotel was the best place to park for me. I made sure not to park in the hotel’s spaces as the owner is trying to make a living in Covid times from campers and motorhomes. Space found I jumped out to find the car thermometer was correct. 9C on Aug 1st and it was damn cold. I was concerned I was a bit on warm clothes but I had a fleece and Goretex Jacket so I’d be fine. As it was it warmed up nicely.
From the hotel you aim for the highest ground that keeps you West of the Allt Orain (the Orain Burn). The ground is awful. It’s uneven and there’s lots of grass, shrubbry plants and heather. Not too tall but enough to slow you down. It’s very uneven and just tiring to walk on. There’s 1.5km of this then it gets steep and just as unpleasant. There’s another 1.2km of steep ground. Then it levels off and there (I counted them) 6 false summits with much up and down till I finally made the top. The computer said 1hr45 but it took 2hrs10 due to the horrible ground. But oh what a 360deg view of mountains and nothing. Just a few very remote farms.
Onto the air and my plan was 30m, 40m SSB, 40m CW, 20m SSB, 20m CW and 18m. I noticed I was never spotted by RBN when using MS0TA/P. Reason is my bad keying. I tried an activation as MM0FMF/P using the memory keyer and I was picked up 1st call. Now having download the keyer manual and programmed another memory I tried as MS0TA/P. Again nothing at the time. Later I saw RBN was spotting me so just propagation at the time and the earlier fault was my sending. Despite being in the middle of nowhere there was plenty of EE and Three coverage but it was nice to see RBN work.
By the time I was at the top it was much warmer, the cloud was thin and lots of blue sky. By the end of the day it was hot. I did need Smidge when the breeze dropped as the Midges were out in force. Midge worked for me, YMMV.
30m was fine with ODX being UW8SM. Then 40m SSB which had plently of shorter skip and I managed all three TW-xxx stations on for Yorkshire day as well as M0NOM/P on LD-050 who was loud. Certainly being not-QRP helps as propagation is till a bit rubbish as the sun wakes up. One of the problems I see with 40m and short skip into the UK is it brings the people who cannot operate or more importantly listen out in force. I was calling for a station ending L, I called twice and the guy who called both times didn’t have an L. I know better than to say X1XYZ please standby because you know he’s going to hear a bit of his call and assume you want his life story and inside leg measurement despite the fact he can’t hear me. So I worked him and then a few more then the super goon appeared. A marginal but good contact in my book with him and I thought that was that and I tried to get the next call which had WM in it. I called for WM and got the WM station and the goon. The goon was determined to have another QSO as I called WM only and the goon came back saying he couldn’t be sure I was calling him. But the fact he couldn’t hear me wasn’t going to stop him transmitting and you can be sure that having heard a healthy number of stations calling he wasn’t going to shut up and listen to see if they were being worked and try when the pile up was gone. Nope the only reason I’d climbed a mountain was to have a QSO with him. Anyway 8mins of disrupted operation followed and I was close to quitting. I managed a QSO with MW0WMW/M (that’s guaranteed to bamboozle) in the end. A few more brought 40m SSB to the end and 40m CW was a pleasant break. It was nice to work Jonathan G4IVV for the 1st as he gets back into radio after a long break.
60m Volmet was loud so I tried there and did end up working Jack GM4COX on the key with him on SSB. That’s what I like about SOTA… working in cooperation with chasers to give them a QSO so I could activate a unique and Jack could work a new one for him as Meall Tairbh was last on air in 2007. I had a good chat with Victor GI4ONL and finally Geoff GM8OFQ on Hoy Orkney who was a crushing signal. So pleasant compared to 40m SSB. Hey ho.
Now I had thought of bagging Beinn a’Chuirn as well as I was a lot nearer it on Meall Tairbh than at the car. But… it was 4km further and a 270m descent and 160m ascent. That would land me about 10km from the car with some 200m of ascent at least, lots of horrible ground to cover and some awkward looking contouring around hills. I had only put 1L of water in with me and now it was hot trying this didn’t seem a sensible idea. So I wimpled out and did a longer activation here.
20m SSB was busy, 20m CW was fine and dandy and I managed 3 on 17m CW. A total of 47x QSO, 6x S2S, countries were ON, DL,OK, UW, G, OZ, GW, GM, GI, SM, EI, HB9, OH, SP, I & F. I was happy with as was seeing I was being picked by RBN. All the equipment seemed to work and the battery voltage had hardly dipped in 2h30 of operating.
I took plenty of photos and having packed up I spent about 25min sat on the rocky outcrop at the summit just looking at the views. One of the best I’ve had in the Summer. I’ve had some good views from neighbours of this in the Autumn when the skies are less hazy. But the seeing was good enough that The Paps of Jura could be seen at some 98km distance. Walk out was the reverse and was much easier going down than coming up!
Just some average Glen Etive munros. GM/WS-033 Stob Coir’an Albannaich on the left and GM/WS-094 Meall nan Eun on the right.
GM/WS-025 Ben Starav, 1080m climbed from sea level.
Looking North to Loch Tulla, it took a long time for the cloud to thin to the North. You can just see the Inveronan Hotel near the loch.
Panorama looking North from GM/WS-083 Stob a’Choire Odhair on the left through GM/CS-018 Beinn Achaladair , GM/CS-025 Beinn an Dothaidh and GM/CS-008 Beinn Dorain on the right.
GM/CS-018 Beinn Achaladair , GM/CS-025 Beinn an Dothaidh and GM/CS-008 Beinn Dorain and the Auch Corbetts
GM/SS-003 Ben Lui , the cone on the left to GM/WS-013 Ben Cruachan
Wow, the Glen Etive munros, GM/WS-076 Beinn nan Aighenan, GM/WS-025 Ben Starav , GM/WS-059 Glas Bheinn Mhor, GM/WS-033 Stob Coir’an Albannaich, GM/WS-094 Meall nan Eun, GM/WS-022 Stob Ghabhar and GM/WS-083 Stob a’Choire Odhair
GM/WS-094 Meall nan Eun with the tops of GM/WS-126 Stob Dubh just peaking over the top on the right.
GM/WS-033 Stob Coir’an Albannaich
Neaest hill is GM/WS-279 Beinn a’Chuirn with Choir Dubh Laich on non-SOTA Beinn Lurachan behind.
GM/WS-235 Beinn Suidhe , it’s at least 6km to get to the foot then you have to climb what looks very steep sides. Respect to those who have activated it.
The route up GM/WS-156 Beinn Udlaidh. A common route involves climbing next to the long Quartz outcrops which can be seen from the A82 going South. You end up at a long headwall upto 50ft high. There is a non-obvious route through that doesn’t need you to remove hands from pockets as shown by the orange line.
GM/CS-018 Beinn Achaladair , GM/CS-025 Beinn an Dothaidh and GM/CS-008 Beinn Dorain
Coire an Dothaidh. The path comes from the Bridge of Orchy railway station climbing through the coire finally reaching the bealach. You can see what thousands of munroists boots do the ground from the scar up the headwall.
GM/WS-022 Stob Ghabhar and GM/WS-083 Stob a’Choire Odhair with the 20m antenna setup
GM/SS-003 Ben Lui and the lovely Glen Orchy (Gleann Urchaidh)
Thos Etive munros never get boring
GM/WS-083 Stob a’Choire Odhair. When I did this I didn’t find it challenging, you can make out the munroist’s trench of a path. Now I think on I was 10 years younger when I did it so no wonder it was easier than summits are now.
Some female deer about 1km from the hotel.
After I was back at the car I drove up to Victoria Bridge car park to check the river level. This chap was wondering about the car park looking for walkers to feed him. He was completely unphased by my presence.
Hey who stole the river. Not much water in the Abhainn Shira.
What it normally looks like!
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So yes, probably the best 2pt summit in Scotland. Note I haven’t identified the person who did their best to spoil my fun by failing to think and listen to what was happening before mindlessly transmitting over and over other stations. If they want to “out” themselves it’s up to them.