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Northern Scotland Activations August 2018

I’ll be trying to activate a few GM/NS summits next week (12-18th August).

Possibles include
NS-067 Morven
NS-083 Scaraben
NS-089 Ben Griam Mor
NS-107 Ben Horn
NS-113 Smean
NS-128 Beinn na h-Eaglaise
NS-133 Creag Thoraraidh

I have the all clear from the stalker on the Braemore beat for Morven, Scaraben & Smean. A few more checks to make still as it’s the Glorious 12th. (Start of the shooting season). Of course this depends on the somewhat fickle WX too.

Bands 60/40/30/20m CW & SSB plus 13cms for a few Northern uwavers.

Rough alerts in place to be refined as the week progresses.


Glorious 12th not v glorious in Teesdale with a big drop in Grouse numbers - so less shooting ( Whoch means that Son will have less money as much less beating ) but safer for Activators. Paul

Both stalkers for the Ben Griam Mor North and South beats are happy with my plans too. So the WX is last issue but that will be what it will be and is outwith my control.

What you do pick up on is how incredibly grateful the stalkers are when someone checks with them about access. The ability to access just about any land in Scotland is truly wonderful but with it comes responsibility. Part of that is to ensure you wont spoil stalking and shooting as this is how a lot of the estates make a lot of their money. Every single stalker I spoke to thanked me for making the effort to check that I would not affect their plans. They all said how they wished a lot more people would make the effort to check.

Right, I’d better go and wax my boots…


Glorious 13th this year - no Sunday shooting.

Weather has broken so obviously the season is just about to start :frowning:

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And reproof my Goretex :cry:

Agree it is worth checking as country sports are a significant part of the local economy and upsetting the keepers is bad for all of us. No doubt the broken weather will be good for the midges so it might be worth remembering the repellent too…

Midges love the rain, they hate bright sunlight.

Do you have tips for finding out who to phone? Looking at maps it isn’t obvious which estate a particular route will cross, and even with the estate who the contact is. My current interest is the hills surrounding the Angus Glens.

Enjoy NS land.


https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/hftsh is normally up to date for the more popular areas, it seems that most landowners have bought into this. You need to take special care on Hunt Hill, Hill of Wirren, Battock and the Glenisla Hills. Glen Ey & Glen Clunie have stalking frequently.
I can help if you cant find a contact.
73 Gavin

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Thanks. Unfortunately it doesn’t have info for any of Hunt Hill, Hill of Wirren or Battock: the latter two are on our to do list (Hunt Hill only if we feel up to it - looks to be a long and challenging walk). We’ve done most of the Glen Isla hills previously - Crock being the one left to do.

It depends on the hill. Some estates will try to put you off but anywhere with a popular Munro will plan their shooting around the common access. So in Angus, you can do Mount Keen by following a trench all the way to the top. There may be better routes, but that main path is like a motorway and you’ll always be fine on that. It tends to be the same for all the other Munros, keep to the trade route and you’ll be OK. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check anyway and it’s more so that you should check for “oddball” hills :wink:

Start with the replacement for the Hillphones website at https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/Practical-guide/public/heading-for-the-scottish-hills as that will give you lots of info. I’ve not found anything about the hills I’ve wanted to do at this time of year in that for the last few years. Then you have to start digging.

As I wrote earlier, because many people just ignore the fact they may stagger across shooting and stalking, the stalkers are always happy to help walkers who are trying to keep out of the way. Once you have a number for a stalker (say form hillphones) you call him and ask about a hill. If it’s not on his beat he probably knows whose beat it is on and will tell you the estate name or give you the stalker’s number. It’s a case of ringing, discussing and getting passed on to the next stalker. Repeat till you get to the right person.

Another way which has worked for me is to look at the map and look for obvious country lodges near the hills. For example Hunt Hill and Mount Keen. Looking on the map, Invermark Lodge shows up at the end of the road where you park for these two summits. Put it into Google and see what comes up. Invermark Lodge shows up on many places but the website for the Dalhousie Estate was up there. A quick shufti shows they do have stalking and grouse shooting. Is this the correct estate? I don’t know. But there’s contact info for the estate listed. So you ring them up and ask to speak to the head stalker. You then get his number and call and ask. If it’s the wrong estate ask if he knows which estate and the stalker. Repeat.

You can also search Google for stalking and Hunt Hill and see what comes up. I found some pictures from a walk a guy did and lo and behold, one picture was for a sign saying “Dalhousie Estate private bridge use at your own risk”. So that shows how useful it is to look for named lodges etc. on the maps then Google them. As that turned up Invermark Lodge which is on the Dalhousie Estate which has a website and phone number.

It took me a fair amount of persistence to do find out about these Northern hills. I had a number for an estate that went to answering machine. I left messages but nobody returned the call. More Googling “stalking Caithness” got me to a oldish looking page that had a number for a stalker. Called that and bingo…wrong stalker but he knew the stalker for my hills. I rang him, discussed my route (and I’ll stick to that route now) and his words were “Aye we’ll be out but you’ll be fine doing it that way and we’ll see you before you see us.” which was pretty cool TBH. I asked if he knew for another hill and I got the number. Rang that spoke to the stalker, wrong side of the hill but he gave me the name and number. He also said “If you can’t get in touch with him, ring me back and I’ll make sure we get something sorted for you. He’s out now so they’re stalking on his beat already.” Luckily I spoke to next stalker and he again was more than happy to arrange a route that would be OK for everyone.

It just takes a bit of effort, determination and sleuthing. And, there are 4 stalkers who know there’s at least one Sassenach who takes the responsibility that goes with open access seriously and they were all more than helpful.

Just seen your post… so Hunt Hill (one of Barry GM4TOE’s favourites) is Dalhousie Estate. I’d be surprised if Hill of Wirren (dismal place) was an issue, you can get to within 100m of the trig point on the estate tracks which are smooth enough that my silly car would have no problem. There’s lots more tracks on the ground than the OS map shows. Likewise Mount Battock has tracks to nearly the summit and a serious trench of a foot path to the final top. Only a problem if you want to go truly wild walking I suppose. Or checking on all the aircraft wrecks.


Andy is right, a bit of googling normally turns up some answers. Here is what I know:

Hunt Hill - that is Invermark Estate (part of Dalhousie) so use the same information published for South Mt Keen. Email and phone number. Quite a long walk in but well worth it, will add gpx to SotaMaps. I cycled up track to the crossing of the Water of Lee. Loch Lee well worth a visit, see below.

Mt Battock - Millden Estate if approaching from Milden in Glenesk. 01356 670217. That’s a grouse shooting estate so there will be shooting over next 3 months. They should put up signs at main access point on days they are shooting.

Hill of Wirren - Glen Lethnot estate if going in from Lethnot side. I disagree with Andy, probably the one you will have most issues with. Its a very commercial Grouse hill, hence the tracks and butts. I would ask two contacts above if they have a phone number for the Glen Lethnot keeper.

Crock - No issues here, with shooting. Forestry land. Trees to the west of summit have been cut, take a straight up hill from track. Full of stumps and branches, not nice! I will load a GPX.

Happy planning!
Gavin, GM0GAV

Looking towards Hunt Hill from Loch Lee

Crashed WW2 Liberator on Hill of Wirren

strong text

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I was there on a Sunday and out of season which helps. I met a gamekeeper on the way back and had a chat with him about walkers and we agreed that a huge number are only interested in Munros. His view was they all drive past to get to the Mount Keen car park which was fine by him.

It’s probably good for shooting but it’s a bland and boring place. The only redeeming features being it was a unique, I worked a random 13cms QSO and it’s covered in airwrecks, 5 I think.

I still need to do Hunt Hill. Your photo confirms what many people including Barry GM4TOE have said about it being very pretty and an excellent walk.

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Glorious walk on a fine day if on the long side. Worth making a circular tour of it (actually a letter “Q” tour being pedantic). First time I was there, traversing to the secondary summit, I met three gents in running gear practising for the local hill race - fit as fleas and none of them under 80 years old!
Best bit - sitting on the summit, playing radio and looking at the motorway scar up Mount Keen in the distance with queues of folks walking up it - just me and the dog and the sunshine. Bliss!


I agree with you Barry, Hunt Hill is cracking walk. I saw a couple of people at Falls of Damff, but nobody on Hunt Hill. That was a nice Sunday in April, car park full of people on Mt Keen. I was impressed with the falls, worth a visit in their own right.

I keep putting off Lochnagar, don’t fancy the weekend crowds! I will likely take the bike up Glen Callater and walk in from that side.

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Thanks Andy, Barry and Gavin for the information: that’ll keep my planning busy. I’m guessing it’s best to phone not too long before wanting to do (week ahead?). Hunt Hill might be going up the priority list. We are hoping to do Mount Keen as well as some of the hopefully quieter hills. Any tips for the Glen Prosen hills: Corwharn, Cat Law and Mile Hill?

Listened for Andy on Sunday, but nothing made it through our horribly high noise levels at home. :slightly_frowning_face:

Cat Law, I parked by the castle being restored and followed the track up to the trig. There’s a proper Land Rover track right to the top. Didn’t see much, brutally cold January day ISTR, windy, foggy and sub-zero. Corwharn is simple. Park in a reservoir visitor capark, along the road a smidge, up the big grass bank by the woods and that’s most of the climbing done. Then there’s a track along by the fence right to the Stone Man on the summit. Easy but there were lots of deer so I guess checking with the estate would be wise for the next few months. Never done Mile Hill, didn’t seem to be any easy parking. It stands out as an unactivated marker in sea of activated summits on my map.

I have added tracks for Corwharn, Cat Law and Mile Hill to Sotamaps. I used the same parking place for Mile Hill as I did for Catlaw. I took a cross country route up Mile Hill, there may be easier routes but I didn’t see any.
I have also added a track for An Socach GM/CS038 which is a pleasant half day off the A93 south of Braemar.
73 Gavin

I’ve seen references to http://www.whoownsscotland.org.uk as a source of information about who owns estates, but it is a subscription site, so I wondered if any GM activators had used it and thought it was worthwhile subscribing.

I’ve not managed to find out contact details for Mile Hill, Cow Law or Corwharn, and have seen reports of walkers encountering guns who had just finished on Mile Hill.

It’s a poor season, Barry will confirm, and so a lot of estates have no shooting as there are few birds. The nearest big estate I can find is Glenprosen. They have a webpage and give the headstalker’s contact info. Ring them and ask for the headstalker, talk to him and he should be able to tell you who to call if it’s not on his beat.

For Cowharn, I parked at NO256614 and followed the road to the woods at NO257618. Then up the hill along by the woods following the fence, then follow the fence along Midlewan Hill till you pick up the track. Not marked on the maps but I think there’s a lot more track than shown. The only real climbing is from the road to the first fence joint at NO267621. You could park elsewhere and follow tracks all the way.

For Cat Law, I parked by Burnside of Balintore and bashed over the ground till I found the track that leads to the summit. ISTR the road from Easter Coul up and round to Balintore was terrible, badly broken surface and lots of big potholes. I was in my Honda SUV at the time and I had to take it slow and carefully. That was a few years back, it may have been patched since.