Mile Hill GM/ES-076 Unique #494

So tell me Andy did you really drive a 3.5hr 156mile round trip for a 50minute walk up a 1pt summit? Er… yes, such is the power of uniques bagging :blush:

Mile Hill sits at the edge of The Angus Glens where the coastal plain starts to give way to the edge of the Cairngorms and Grampian mountains. There are plenty of bigger neighbours to it but whenever I’ve been bagging nearby I’ve not had the legs or desire to bag it. The bigger hills have been activated and now it sits with Hill of Persie and Turrin Hill as wee 1pt summits that need collecting. You drive past Hill of Persie and there’s a good parking place but whenever I’ve felt in the mood to add it on to something, the hill has been full of big beasts. Turrin Hill has limited parking and a really unpleasant farmer owner.

Thus the push to 500 meant it was time to do Mile Hill. I was up early as it was Easter Sunday and I had to be back for 4pm. So M8, Forth Bridge, M90, A94, Scone, Coupar Angus, Meigle, Alyth, Bridge of Craigisla, Dkyend, Balintore, park, walk, activate, home. Simples! Well previous vists to the roads around here showed them to be falling apart. Recent cash flow problems for the Councils and tremendous rains has made bad roads worse. There’s lots of repairs on ongoing but they’re dire in places. My SUV I drove when I last went to Balintore almost got swallowed by a pothole, I was a lot more careful in just a car with average ground clearance. So the ponies could only be unleashed on the A94 where they ran free, the rest of the driving was quite circumspect.

I’d checked Traffiscotland and no roads were shown as closed up here so when I found the sign “Road closed at The Auld Smiddie” I was not amused. And where the hell is the old smiddy? As long as I could get to Balintore Castle I’d be fine. The road is being resurfaced and large sections now have no tarmac or there are 4cms ramps on and off surfaced sections. Suffice to say the Auld Smiddie is at the other gate to Balintore Castle, where everyone parks for Cat Law etc. The bridge foundations were washed away in the rains that flooded Brechin and Kirriemuir (where AC/DC’s Bon Scott grew up before moving to Freemantle, Australia) and it’s no longer safe. I was able to park in the mud out of the way. Remembering the people who have been stuck in the mud in road cars recently and despite having full-time AWD, I was able to park by reversing up so leaving was down hill. Boots on I gingerly crossed the bridge and set off down the most easterly farm road.

So this is a grassy track that gently descends to the main track that runs across the estate. It’s really beautiful countryside and it’s nice walking past the woods. Sadly they took a pasting in Storm Arwen and lots of trees have been felled. And there’s the tip… maybe 20 old cookers, fridges, kids bike, scrap metal. Why it’s here I don’t know. Shame but such is life. Anyway you press on and once near the shooting club climb gently on to the track. From here it’s 800m to the ruins at Gairlaw where you start the climb.

Interesting sign which fails to comply with the Scottish Access laws in so many ways. Ignored as it’s not legal.

The ruins at Gairlaw. It was a lovely day as you can see but there was a bit of wind.

And here is our target, Mile Hill GM/ES-076. Hmmm, Fraser @MM0EFI was right, it’s rather steep! Please note the fences. All the fences round here have barbed wire at the top. All the new fences are just that bit too tall to step over. So tall fence topped with barbed wire. Oh and for s***s and giggles, there are electric fence wires twisted in with the barbed wire. This fence arrangement and the notice tells you all you need to know about whether walkers are welcome. They can’t stop you but they can make it awkward.

One of those wonderful moorland trees. They always look so lonely I feel compelled to photograph them to show the trees they are loved.

There’s a gate by the ruins and I could see gates in the other fences meaning you can get through to the hill proper. And when you get there you think, “gordon bennett this is a bit steep”. But by just putting one foot in front of the other I got to the top and the views for a 1pt 410m hill and 156 mile round trip made it worthwhile.

Mount Blair GM/ES-035 According to Barry @GM4TOE this is Scotland’s more boring hill.

Ah, now that’s more like it. Glas Tulaichen GM/CS-011 on the left, hidden in the centre Carn An Righ GM/CS-020 and An Socach GM/CS-038. I’ve done Glas Tulaichen 3 times and An Socach just once. Must do Carn An Righ but it’s a bit of a trek…

I think this is Carn a’Gheoidh GM/ES-030, corrections welcome.

And finally Glas Maol GM/ES-012. Well I think it is. I don’t normally get to see them from here.

Onto the air. My new plan during the sunspot maximum is to do 40m first to give the locals a chance, then 10m for fun and DX, then in a random order 20/30/15m. I should pay more attention to 15m, see later. So no WAB net which means I’ll need to spot and see what madness awaits. Well there was a contest on (WPX in fact) so 40m was busy but I found a spot and worked 9 mainly G stations. Now a few people seem to think it’s OK for them to start calling me when the last station is saying 73. It’s not, it’s rude and poor practice, I called out 2 stations for doing this. But in general no problems.

Now I have to apologise to M7WUK who was behaving perfectly, he wasn’t too loud, 53 but perfectly workable apart from the Goon. I’m part way through the QSO waiting for my report and a huge signal came over the top of M7WUK… “Oh Andy is that me you’re calling?” Well no it wasn’t because if you didn’t clearly hear me give your call you keep you schtumm. I asked M7WUK for my report and again "Andy I’m sure that’s me you’re calling " and some more waffle followed. Then someone said “XXXX, he’s working an M7 right now.” So what did the Goon do he starts having a chat with the guy and came out with the following priceless words "Well to be honest I can’t properly hear him, he’s never been better than 33 with me " and he continued to talk over M7WUK.

The guy, a G4 has been licenced nearly 50 years and you’d expect he knows how to operate. Obviously not. It was a perfect example of “entitled operation”. I was livid and unable to get Goon to shut up I expressed my frustration with some Naval language and QSY’d to 30m. Scott M7WUK, it wasn’t you, nobody would find fault with your operating and it was a good QSO. Maybe next time we can have a proper QSO.

So 30m and I was met with 10 gentlemen operators which was nice. Then 10m were contesting was in full flow. I tried calling 10m CW but nobody was interested :cry: but SSB and I started working the stations. Mainly Russian or Ukranians with a few Cypriot stations. It was hard work TBH but I found any loud contest station and called when they called CQ twice without a taker. During this I came across 4L2M for a new country, Georgia. Bored with calling busy contest stations onto 20m CW and some EU stations and W4JKC was ODX. More 10m, more 20m and then I thought hmmm, 15m I wonder if I can work JA as it’s lunch time.

Spot on and 3 CQs later there was JH1MXV. What a nice QSO, lovely fist and clear operating style. I was still annoyed with the selfish self-centred Goon on 40m and this super QSO was a perfect antidote. I worked a handful of EUs then back to 10m and I picked up EX9A for another new country on 10m Kyrgyzstan. All the time BY0AC and BX4IDT were good signals on 10m but I could not break their pileups. Neither could Tom @M1EYP who failed as well. But it’s a good example of how a contest is not always the harbinger of doom for SOTA activations… just work the contesters for 10m challenge points :slight_smile: After that it was getting on. I thought I may snaffle Meall Mor GM/ES-058 which is near and is only a 35min walk. But the road up to Brewlands Bridge where the bridge across the River Isla is located was closed for roadworks so I didn’t. I packed up and reversed the route out ready for the drive down bad roads and Easter Sunday traffic.

Cat Law GM/ES-044 just across the valley. I did it in pea soup thick mist so it’s nice to see what it’s like.

The flanks of Cat Law and Hill of Wirren GM/ES-045 is out in the right side distance. Interesting the different clouds, probably caused by the suddenly rising high ground out that direction.

Now this did strike me as a view to sell Scotland to tourists. Balintore Castle. It’s under restoration and you can stay in restored parts as it’s a hotel / B&B. I think the light was just right, only bright sun and snow would be better.

I should have photographed this earlier when there was a mirage making it look 3 times higher in the sky. Ben Lawers GM/CS-001 at 70k distance. The rest of his friends are in the murk, An Stac, Meill Gharbh etc.

Nearby easy 1pt summit Craigowl Hill GM/SS-192

Finally when I got to bottom of the steep part of the hill proper I sensed something behind me. I turned around to catch this chap with a fine crop of antlers emerging.

It was an expensive 1pt summit driving all that way but I got 2 new countries on 10m, another JA QSO, a 10m multiplier and 10m QSOs for the challenge and unique number #494. With Blackpool in a few weeks, I have 3 more summits marked out to pickup on the way down and back so #500 gets closer and closer.

We wont mention any more about the Goon other than he won’t be in my logbook for some time to come.


Not so sure about that. Cat Law has less going for it. Not even a cairn up there. However, I like them both because I have activated them On 2m SSB.

Mount Blair

I think you named all of the hills correctly in the photos. Good effort with the Ben Lawers photo from there. :slightly_smiling_face:


Nice report Andy (FMF)
Feels like I’ve had a tour of the countryside. The castle really pops out.
And your ever-changing callsign avatar picture always produces a smile.
All Best,
dit dit

Happy to work you again on your way to 500 Andy. Your beautiful pix and interesting narrative are a great way to start my morning - with 2 or 3 cups of coffee added of course.
73, Tom, W4JKC

Good evening Andy @MM0FMF. Many thanks for your report and the nice photos. Congratulations on another Unique, despite the long journey there. Thanks also for your patience. I could hear you quietly, but clearly and intelligibly. I had problems tuning my antenna to 30m and didn’t even try to call you. Then I thought, never mind, just try. Maybe he’ll hear me. And yes, you heard me. I was a bit weak (5w and badly tuned antenna) :upside_down_face:

73 Marcel DM3FAM

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The reason I heard you, 529 according to the log, was you waited till nobody else was calling. At that point it’s so much easier to hear there is a weak signal and once you know someone is calling you can work at resolving and copying all the details. But I don’t recall you being particularly weak, not as weak as SO6K was, that was 229-339 from the log. I’m so used to hearing DL, DJ, DK prefixes as one sound my mind is already thinking “German station, 1 number then 2 maybe 3 letters.” and so I am ready. But I hear so few DM calls it throws me out of my routine. It was like when Victor GI4ONL called me on groundwave on 17m last week… hearing GI on 17m and I froze trying to figure what it was before I realised GI… :slight_smile:


I do hope for the sake of your sanity that it starts to wear off after number 500. It hasn’t with me, but I think there’s no cure as far as I am concerned… :thinking:

Many thanks for another great report. One on my “return to joint activations” list - you know what I mean. Many of the single point ES summits are on that list and will no doubt get a bashing at some future date. This one is nicely en route for a stay over in Aberdeen which will be a suitable base for more of the same.

73, Gerald

P.S. 156 miles… err, it’s a 160 mile round trip to Paul’s QTH. Looks like you got a reasonable deal there. :wink:

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