Not Hunt Hill

Plan B

On a day when one weather forecasting app was forecasting summit winds of 45 mph and another was talking of driven snow and gusts that would lift you off your feet, I canned my plans for Hunt Hill.

I still needed some exercise though, so decided on my local lump - Morven GM/ES-018 (872 m). Mo would drop me in Ballater on her way to work ad I’d walk back home over the hill, using a “new” route. The strong SW would push me along. I can survive Morven in about any weather. Sometimes the summit can be wild, but once on the eastern slopes, it is usually calm. Morven was my lockdown hill and I’ve climbed it many times, from all directions. I’ve activated it twice and one of those was this year.

I managed to find a new way up on the map. It starts on a track that leads off the Pass of Ballater road. No parking at the end of the track, but there is some a little further along the road. It’s shown in orange below, coming from the south. All of the other ways I’ve walked or biked over Morven are in blue.

Leaving the warmth of the car at 0900, I headed off through woodland on a gently rising Land Rover track. All was calm. Soon I was out on the moor, still heading up on an easy grade, but with the wind picking up a little. The views opened up.

leaving the trees behind

A pair of Red Kites soared effortlessly above. Further along the track a solitary kite tracked me as I walked up the track. It hovered perfectly above me, perpendicular to the track, drifting upwards as I climbed.

Lochnagar GM/ES-008

Just after a T-junction with a track that runs west to east along the shoulder of Morven, I turned up an earthy ATV track which eventually led to steeper slopes and the summit. A few patches of this weeks snow, the first of winter, remained.

Morven GM/ES-018

It was 1100. I’d brought my handheld, a short mast and a slim-G. I’d alerted and posted on WhatsApp. To be honest, the radio was just for fun as this was a “pointless” one for me. I was so casual in my packing that I’d neglected to bring anything to support the mast. Thankfully Morven has a solitary fence post at the summit, complete with rusty fence wire still attached. A loop of this wire did the job. Oh, the wind wasn’t too bad - a steady 30 mph, but windchill felt like minus ten.

casual summit set up

Simon @GM4JXP came straight back to me and we had a brief chat. Then nothing. For ages. I thought that may be my sole contact but kept calling for a bit. I then moved to 145.550 MHz and re-spotted, as some Aberdeen hams listen here when they are at home or mobile. Kit GM4EXP/m was just heading home to Peterculter in his car and answered. Satellite Guru Peter 2M0SQL responded (from Elgin way) and then messaged his mate Charlie GM1TGY, who I’ve been after for ages. He’s recently retired, so we managed our first QSO. Four contacts. Felt good, although no points. Still, no calls came from Aberdeen. Getting cold, so I turned the radio off, had a banana and then packed up. I was walking about to warm up when I spotted Morvens resident Ptarmigans, already in their white winter plumage, despite the lack of snow.

terrible Ptarmigan picture - there were three more birds just below these two

As I set off down the hill, I turned the radio back on, not because I was expecting to hear anyone, but just to make sure my APRS digi-peater at home was picking me up. @MM0RFN and GM0NRT were having a conversation - about me! They knew I was up Morven and Hibby had heard me call QRT. I managed to break in and worked them both while just 50 m from the summit and using just the whip. They were both in Aberdeen, some 40 miles east of me. Happy Days.

Atmospheric conditions at the top

As I set off again, biting hail blew across from the SW, thankfully hitting the side and back of me. As predicted the wind eased as I dropped onto the eastern slopes. A steep descent lead to the tarred road and I was back home an hour and a bit after leaving the summit and four hours and a bit after setting off from the car.

It was a day for hot home made soup and that is exactly what I had when I got home!

73, Fraser MM0EFI


Great report and images Fraser - the best photos are normally taken on a nice autumn/wintery day! I saw your second spot appear on my SOTAgoat app, so presumed you were having difficulties qualifying on just 2m FM. Nevertheless, as you say the radio was just for fun, I find the walking/hiking just as enjoyable :ok_hand:

Catch up soon buddy!

73, GW4BML. Ben


Thanks Fraser for this interesting report and map - particularly helpful as we are in the very preliminary stage of planning a possible stay in the area in May 2023 and wondering which, if any, of the hills (that we are fit enough to reach!) are likely to give me at least one VHF contact. We had just found Morvern and put it on the possible list and will be contacting you soon, possibly by PM, to look for other candidates. Please continue going up the local easyish hills to give us ideas (and pictures - liked the ptarmigan. They weren’t as white

as yours on the summit of The Cairnwell in June but they were a lot closer as they obviously thought that no-one else would be up there in the wind and rain - and they were right as we quickly fled!
73 M6BWA Viki


I can’t say I’m sad because I want to chase you on there and wasn’t able to get out that Friday. I live at 165m ASL and the wind here was much stronger than the 17mph average that was forecasted so I knew it would be wild on a 700+m summit and I was sure you’d cancel or swap for another.

Now I can chase you next time ready for when I do it for the compete :slight_smile:


Great pics as always.

Your title reminded me of a pair of summits north of Wellington, ZL. ZL1/WN-018 - Oriwa, and it’s neighbour to the south, officially named on maps as Notoriwa.

I can also attach a pic of the ZL’s Lochnagar (ZL3/OT-032) for comparison. Both the lake and the summit (left on skyline) share their name with your GM peak. Maybe you could try and activate both the worlds Lochnagars (or all the Ben Nevises for a more globe-trotting challenge).


That’s a fairly impressive view Matt. And it’s only 18640km from here :slight_smile:

1 Like

Matt, I was aware that there were various Nevis, Cruachan, etc etc peaks in the New World. I am sure as time progressed they may return to their aboriginal names, but who knows? Not intended to offend or to be PC, but as an example, in Wales, the highest peak Snowdon is to officially be called Yr Wyddfa, as has already been reported on here. And I’m sure we all know that Everest was named after a Victorian surveyor who never actually clapped eyes on it. I digress.

Fancy a summit to summit? Nevis to Nevis?

1 Like

I’m thinking next week - Thursday.

1 Like

Hi Viki, You are welcome to pick my brain. PM or email (qrz is good).

To be successful in qualifying a GM/ES summit on VHF you need one of the following, in my experience:

  1. to be on a 10, 8 or 6 point summit, ie a Munro. Height is might and will carry your 5 w far and wide.

  2. to be on the east coast summits, with a great sea path to NE England, Edinburgh, Fife.

  3. On lesser summits, phone a friend. Thankfully there are plently of us on WhatsApp, email etc and I’ve finally worked out that Aberdeen and Shire hams listen on 145.550 when at home and mobile. No one listens to the 2 repeater, GB3GN, which you could lift from just about every summit east of Ben Macdui!

Even 1 and 2 will benefit from a bit of pre-publicity on here, email, twitter, whatsapp. It’s like microwaving. :wink:


I get my wife back tomorrow after she has been away organising a funeral and then sorting out what to do with a house. That means I don’t have to dog sit on Thurs/Fri/Sat which I’ve been doing since end of September. Which sounds good but I have a meeting in Edinburgh with my pensions man on Thursday. Followed by some Advent shopping.

If Thursday is the best day for you then don’t worry about me but thanks for the advance notice.


March-April equinox, on a full moon. Maybe.

Problem is our Ben Nevis is quite remote - needs days walk in/out to a valley camp at the base of the peak to ascend/descend from. So would need confidence we were going to succeed to make the trip in again.

So a challenge:
I’ll descend 1000m of scree by torchlight from an evening grey-line activation of our Ben Nevis if you climb your Ben Nevis by dawn!