Plan "B"

Turin Hill 252 m GM/SS-271

The Background
My mother-in-law is recuperating up north from a recent hospital stay. Mo and I have been checking on her house in Brechin, which is a 45 mile drive over the hills to the south of us. It’s become a bit tedious of recent times, due to the snow gates being closed and the long diversion that has ensued. The last time we visited, the gas boiler had no water pressure and the heating was off. Luckily she has a service plan. On Thursday, an engineer called to say he’d visit Friday. That meant I’d need to drive down there and be prepared to spend the day…

…or could I use my trip south to tick off one of my remaining eight GM/ES summits and still make it to the house if the engineer called whilst I was on a summit? I’m always up for a challenge! The nearest (un-activated) summit was Hill of Wirren 678 m GM/ES-045 and it was only half an hours drive from Brechin.

Friday 23rd December
I left home at 0700 and thanks to the mountain road over The Cairn o’ Mount being open again, I was over the other side in no time and approaching Glen Lethnot around 0815. I reckoned I could be up Hill of Wirren and QRV by 0915 and if an engineer called, I’d pull the plug on the activation and could be in Brechin within an hour. But that didn’t happen.

Without any warning, I came upon a steel site fence right across the road and road closed signs, with no marked diversion. (Glen Lethnot is a dead end glen.) An Angus Council sign stated, “Road closed from 17th November to 12th December for public safety reasons”. Today was 23rd December. So, if anyone is planning on activating Hill of Wirren any time soon, best check Angus Councils website in advance.

Deflated at the prospect of spending the entire day in a cold unheated house instead of on a cold unheated hill top, I turned the car round and headed towards Brechin. My other remaining GM/ES hills are all in a cluster near Glen Isla and that was too far away.

Then I remembered Turin Hill GM/SS-271

A quick check of showed it was the closest SOTA summit to Brechin of them all. Ok, it was in GM/SS land (Boo!) but it would at least get me out for a bit. At this point I recalled that Gerald @G4OIG was keen for a Complete and I promised myself I’d message him when I got there.

Turin Hill has access issues. There is no parking at the northern approach and rumour has it that the farmer who owns the land to the south is a right awkward character. I was approaching from the north anyway, so decided to take a look at the access road. A short road leads south from the B9134 towards some houses. Here it becomes a private farm road. There is no obvious parking or indeed turning area, so I went up and back, then took a chance and dumped the Polo GTi on the verge, hoping it would still have wing mirrors on my return. I love that car - don’t often get to drive it, but it’s great fun!

parking, with Turin Hill behind

I tip-toed past the houses in full stealth mode and was soon on the track. On the map the track becomes a path after a fence. In reality, this is just a mess of brush and small fallen trees. I soon gave up on this, slithered through the (electric) fence and took off across a cattle field, hopping across a further (electric) fence to gain the open hillside before finally crossing a dry stone wall protected by - you guessed it - an electric fence. Welcome to GM/SS Land! The hike wasn’t much more than 20 mins. I didn’t need to cross the final wall to activate the summit, however it provided a bit of wind shelter on this occasion.

route - red is up, blue dashed is return, avoiding the brush by sticking to the field

The Activation
I didn’t know how much time I’d have, so just kept it simple. I strung the W3EDP over the carbon 6 pole and connected it to my KX2 via a 9:1. I was QRV at 0923.

Simple set up on Turin Hill

Well, I enjoyed an incredible session on 40 m SSB. Propogation was moving all over the place, sometimes as far as Italy, Spain and Portugal, then much shorter. The locals couldn’t hear me at first, but were 5/9 later. At one point, Phil @G4OBK sounded like he was transmitting on FM, then he came back 2 mins later and we had a decent QSO, perfect both ways. Great fun! There was a bit of a pile up too and then another one about 15 minutes in. In all, I worked 54 stations in less than 50 minutes, 11 different countries. I don’t often work Denmark or Portugal on 40 m from eastern Scotland, but they both made the log. Oh, and I forgot to message Gerald, but thankfully he appeared for a QSO and Complete.

I was just past 1000 and after Esther @GI0AZA had gone and found Ian @GI0AZB and got him on the radio for a chat, I pulled the plug. I was back in the car in no time at all, and it was still intact!

I set off for Brechin and two miles from the town the phone rang. The heating engineer was just leaving Edzell and would be there in 20 minutes. “I’ll be there in 10”, I told him.

73 and a Merry Christmas!

Fraser MM0EFI


I was really pleased to catch you on this one Fraser. I was in the shack for once and when I saw you had changed the summit it was a case of locking and barracading the door to prevent any distractions. As you say, conditions were “wild”, but we made it okay.

I looked at the parking spot you used, but decided against using the verge, instead parking on the main road verge somewhere near the track to Carsegownie. This required an “interesting” route skirting arable fields to reach the track. That farmer to the south has a lot to answer for making us go to such lengths! :grinning:

Hope to speak to you again soon. In the meantime have a great Christmas and New Year.

73, Gerald

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Great write up and images @MM0EFI Fraser - sorry I wasn’t one of those 54 itl, you’re really not going to believe this……. but I was working! Haha.

Well done on your excellent reports and YouTube videos throughout the year of 2022, they certainly have kept me entertained and I can watch them to the end!!

I wish you and Mo a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year - look forward to maybe another joint big adventure in 2023 :grinning:

73 from the BML family :+1:

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Hi Fraser,
It’s interesting to read the back story to your activation yesterday. I was listening at home whilst convalescing from Covid (I knew I should have gone up a hill instead of going to the Christmas party !), and finishing off some WFH. The conditions on 40m did vary a lot yesterday, I could sometimes only hear you faintly and other times quite clearly, similarly for a lot of your chasers. I thought you had finished when the pile up died down and then another batch started again.
Thank you for the very full report of your day, Best wishes to you and familly for Christmas.
73 Andy

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