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Report: Deuchary Hill CS-108

I really didn’t know whether to trust the WX forecast or not this weekend. In the end the WX was much better than forecast. I also wasn’t sure whether to go for max points or just have a nice day out and play radio. As nice day out and play radio has been how I’ve selected many summits in the last years that was the way I decided to play things. So a unique was needed with bonus that would be at least 5 points with the chance of maybe another 5 pts or a 1 pt unique on the way back.

I’d spotted Deuchary Hill CS-108 was not too far, unique and the chance for a moderate walk. It’s just up the A9 a bit from Perth, just North of Dunkeld. Dunkeld is awfully posh, like Esher but with kilts. There’s no tartan tat shops like The Royal Mile here in Edinburgh either. There’s nae scum in Dunkeld! Anquet suggested 4.5km and 400m ascent, 1hr45 walking. Sounded OK to me and I could spend more time up there if the WX was OK and there were 2 uniques, Birnam Hill-King’s Seat and Newtyle Hill as possible bonuses on the way home. They’d be smash and grabs and to be honest, if I carry a bag of radios up a hill, I’d rather work more than fewer contacts, so I don’t like smash & grabs.

Duechary Hill is not far from some big stuff, Beinn a’Ghlo group, Beinn Vuirich, Schiehallion, Meall Tairneachan and Farragon Hill etc. So a 2pt hill that’s a bit of a walk is bound to be passed by when there’s big points on offer for not much more effort. It had only been on twice before, a joint activation by Steve and Helen GW7AAV/GW7AAU and INKy G1INK. Worth a shot I thought. A check on the intarwebs and tubes suggested a right bonny walk would be from the Guar road just off the A9 and that’s were I started from.

You take the road signposted for Guay off the A9 (take care if you turn right across the A9, I wouldn’t do that in the week, far too dangerous a road) and follow the narrow road to N0006495 where there is space for 4 cars to park. Up the track. Straight across at the junction and through the gate. Up to the next junction where you turn right onto a much wider estate track. Follow this to the next junction, sharp right, over the bridge and left at the gate through the deer fence. Follow the very overgrown track through the trees. Straight across the next track and follow the track / path right to the summit trig point. You cannot go wrong.

So back to the start, it was heavy drizzle and fog back home. I now know that the WX North of Perth is not always the WX South of Perth and the forecast was for no rain. So off I set in the fog. Fog to Perth. Thick fog after Perth and then suddenly blue sky. I was the 2nd car into the parking space and another arrived as I was booting up. No wind, quite sunny and not cold, about 2C. There was quite a lot of ice patches but the ground was ice free, although only the surface wasn’t frozen. Following the above route the walking is not really hard at all. The paths are good and not really steep. It’s easy walking.

Of course nobody told me just how stunning the countryside is here. Oh, I’ve driven past here so many times and never considered what lay off the A9. Well it’s a magic kingdom. Natural trees, Rowan, Scots Pine, Larch etc. No regimented rows of Sitka Spruce. Rough moorland with amazing crags. If it wasn’t for the number of trees you’d swear you were up North of Ullapool from the colours and the style of land. As I walked in it just got better and better. I find it hard to believe such an amazingly pretty place was so close yet unknown to me. What’s more, this is on the Atholl Estate, so you are welcome here. There are lots of signposts for the walks around this part of the estate. Walkers, dog walkers, mountain bikers all welcome.

I stopped at the bridge of the Dowally Burn to take the view. With a bit of sun and no real wind it was a joy to be out. Especially as every other walk so far this year has been in mist/ice/fog/wind and been very, very cold. There was lots of fog blowing about but it didn’t quite get out of the A9 valley to where I was. The path through the woods is sublime. Quite overgrown but not hard to follow. At the final junction on the map before the path climbs the most, I met a mountain biker about my age and we had a chat. He lived locally and said that 40 years of walking and riding around the tracks had failed to become boring or humdrum. It was truly beautiful. Onwards and upwards through the natural, ancient woodland. I like walking in forests, even Sitka, but this was special. Very special.

Then I stopped for a breather and looked behind me. A stunning vista of big snow capped mountains was now visible. Mainly the Beinn a’Ghlo group and out towards the Angus Glens and Glenshee. Wonderful. I could have sat here all day looking at them. More onwards and upwards and path emerges through a narrow cutting onto Lochan na Beinne. This was frozen solid. I didn’t think it was that cold but there was no sunlight falling onto the water so once frozen it probably required a long warm spell to thaw. And the fog caught up with me. I was about to scream if my 6th hill of the year was also my 6th summit in the mist. But it was wispy and tenous stuff that blew away.

Finally I was sure of which peak was the summit. 3 Roe deer were feeding and surprised to see me. They scarpered into the trees and then stood watching me before running away. This was really the only boggy bit of the walk. Easily avoided and then the final pull. This was fairly steep. At first I wasn’t sure how the path would go to get to the top. But up close it wasn’t so steep and the route was easy and obvious. Lots of places to shelter from the now stronger and really cold wind. The view from the trig was wonderous. All of the Glenshee summits were white and I could see from Drumochter round to the Angus glens. Glas Tulaichen was obvious and if Iain MM3WJZ and myself can coordinate ourselves a bit better, I’d have known he was going there (I almost did!) and was line of sight and I’d have turned the handheld on to bag a summit to summit. I’d have snaffled Colwyn and his shiny new full callsign too! Amazing. South, Perthshire was hidden under the fog. Loch Ordie was frozen solid too.

First band was 60m. Conditions were average. I worked 10, including a few on the key. I don’t think David G3RDQ would have worked on SSB, Mike G0BPU was much stronger and maybe would have been OK on SSB. Trivial in CW! With not much traffic I QSY’d to 40m CW. It was hard finding somewhere clear around 7.032. There was lots of CW and RTTY on the band. When I found a frequency and started working chasers it was a bit busy. Busy? No, BUSY! Not much from Europe but lots and lots of G callers. Lots of familiar calls and many new ones. It did seem hectic and I noted Phil G4OBK’s comments when spotting me that there were people calling me when I was TXing. You wont get in the log that way :slight_smile:

I can’t remember whether it was on 40m or 20m but I had to stop with simultaeneous cramp in my hips and fingers. I had a nice perch behind a rock out of the wind and had been sat motionless for sometime working the pileup when it hit. Just a quick walk about and I was fine. As 40m dried up I took the link dipole down and put the Buddistick clone up. This Heath Robinson contraption fascinates me that it can possibly function. But it does. 20m was a little slow to get going but when it did, oh boy. Serious fun. As I have already written, the 20m chasers get my deep appreciation for actually listening to me when I asked for only DX callers and for them all to standby. They all did, no cheeky quick calls, they waited and let me work Rich N4EX. He wouldn’t have got through without their help. Thank you.

Eventually the callers dried up and it was time to pack up. From the log, I was on the air from 1106Z to 1330Z, 2h24, my longest ever activation. That should suggest it was mild but actually there was frost on the ground still on the way back. In the end I worked 10 on 60m SSB/CW, 32 on 40m CW and 26 on 20m CW. The antenna for 20m can be a bit fiddly to erect and I’ve already built something the same yet easier to erect for next time. 20m does seem quite good fun!

The walk out was the reverse. It’s possible to descend the actual summit lump to the South East and pick a track to Riemond Lodge then follow the track around Loch Ordie and back to my approach route. But I was blissed out and went the way I came munching some energy bars and soaking up as much view as possible. I met 3 people at the summit and 4 more dog walkers on the way back. Back at the car I was early enough to smash & grab a quick summit but decided not to. I’d had a wonderful day so far, one of the best SOTA days for a long time and I was happy with my lot. I checked out the parking for Newtyle Hill on the way back, just to be sure. I think I’ll do it with pleasure of Mrs. FMF for company and we can have a nice lunch in Dunkeld.

Total walked: 9.6km, total ascent: 430m, total driven: 140miles.

This is one of those hills that will become a regular activation haunt. Some pictures are on Flickr. This is far too nice a summit to ignore now I’ve activated it and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who ever gets the chance.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:
Thanks Andy for your interesting report, a very enjoyable read! Not sure if you took any photos, if so it would be great if you could post them so we could all share the views you had.

It was a pleasure to work you on 40M. You were a good signal but it was hard to get in with all the Gs calling you! I could just about hear you on 60M down here in Hampshire but not strong enough to contact, my local noise level on 60M is somewhat high. I am thinking of putting up a low noise RX antenna to make it easier to contact SOTA activators on 60M.

Hope to work you again,

73s Andrew, G4AFI

In reply to MM0FMF:

Because we were stopping in a cottage on the estate we approached from the opposite side but it looks like we ascended the same way. I have to agree that it is a beautiful area, watching the deer graze from your window against the backdrop of the hills made our trip worth it alone. Not that the cottage was all that good, but as they say, location, location, location.

So you can see what it looks like in summer, my pics are here…

Steve GW7AAV

In reply to MM0FMF:

I’m still cursing that I missed you!

I agree, really seriously beautiful country around there. When my sprogs were quite small I had a weeks holiday in the area starting with a weekend of garden visits with a meet of the Scottish Rhododendron Society, and we loved it!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

Scottish Rhododendron Society! Surely not.

Rhododendrons were introduced to the UK during the 19th Century by the Victorian horticulturists and are now considered an invasive weed out-competing native species and monopolising local environment. A particular problem in parts of Scotland.

Rhododendron exudes phenolic chemicals into the soil around them to suppress competing vegetation. It is a particular problem invading ancient native woodlands which are fragile ecosystems which become unable to regenerate.

Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

That’s the purple “wild” one Steve. That is a pest, the rest aren’t. A trip to Dawyck Arborteum calls later in the spring to see their stunning collection. It’s got the oldest Leylandii in the UK too. Let’s keep all the bad boy bushes and trees together!

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to GW7AAV:

Totally wrong, Steve.

The first rhododendron was introduced during Elizabethan times, rhododendron hirsutum, the Alpenrose, it was considered to have medicinal properties. The rhododendron that you refer to is rhododendron ponticum, introduced during the late 18th century as an ornamental plant and as cover for game birds.

The reason that r. ponticum has made itself so at home in the UK and Ireland is that it actually IS at home. Fossil evidence shows that it was native to this country until the two biggest ice ages more or less sterilised the country. R ponticum was wiped out everywhere north of the Alpine/Pyreneean chain but survived in the Iberian peninsula, North Italy and Turkey, from where it was re-introduced. The fragile ecosystems that you refer to are in fact successor ecosystems, it will be impossible to control ponticum which is seeding itself at up to 1,500 feet now, and as it only grows on acid soil the other ecosystems will have to adapt to it and use the soils that it can’t use. Far from eliminating it we should welcome it as a returning native particularly well adapted to our climate on acid soils. I’m afraid, Steve, that you have swallowed some very one-sided and ill-informed propaganda!

There is an “on the other hand” - rhodophiles in Scotland and Wales regard it as a nuisance because it freely regenerates in rhododendron gardens and has to be controlled or it would overwhelm the less well adapted Sino-Himalayan species that we rhodoholics love so much. I am very much an outpost in Brum, I can grow Himalayan species but have an annual loss rate of about 5% due to drought. Last year I lost a r. falconeri which was over 3 metres tall and flowering freely, and a similar sized r. loderi “King George” the flowers of which scented the air three gardens away! Heat/drought encourages root rot.

Sorry, you pressed a button!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

That’s fascinating, Brian. Thanks for that, I too didn’t know about the (pre ice age) history of r. ponticum. I will treat it with much more reverence now!

Why do people not like change? :wink:

73
John GM8OTI

In reply to MM0FMF:

Top report, I’ve not been up Deuchary hill, have ridden and walked around it though and the paths/tracks around there are good and you’re right it’s a crackin wee area to wander round.

Bit of a late decision to go up Glas Tulaichean, (had a wander round the Kilpatricks on saturday, loch humphrey was frozen too) but after weeks of silly wind, silly low cloud and silly ice on the Ben Lawers road I decided I was chasing the sunshine - turned out nice.

Good shout on the Dalmunzie hotel mind.

Iain, MM3WJZ

Oh, and interesting comments on the rhododendrons, I’ve filled it away somewhere in my brain, hopefully for further use.

In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy,

I missed you on 60m as you were a little earlier than usual but it was very nice to catch you on 40m CW later on. I did call a couple of times but didn’t get through the pile up so sat back & waited for it to die down a little. You were indeed quite busy & at one point stopped sending & I thought I had missed you again, but after about 30 seconds you called again so I grabbed my chance to call you. The break must have been due to your attack of cramp.

Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF

In reply to G8ADD:

Thanks for the info Brian. I used to like rhododendrons until I found my way up several hills completely blocked by them. When I came home I read up on them and was surprised to find them listed as ‘invasive weeds’. Ill-informed propaganda! HM Gov would never do such a thing ;0)

I used to make Phenol at work and reading that rhododendrons leach it in to the soil is quite worrying. They have the ability leave the soil virtually sterile for hundreds of years, unless of course you grow rhododendrons there. It does explain why after I removed a rotten rooted rhododendron from me previous property nothing would grow where it had been, not even grass.

Amazing what you can learn from SOTA.

73 Steve GW7AAV

In reply to MM0FMF:

Cracking report Andy. Definitely noted that one for a future trip to Scotland, but probably won’t be staying close enough on either of our planned visits this year.

Caroline
M3ZCB

In reply to GW7AAV:

I even have doubts about these phenols, Steve, I have a collection of about eighty species and hybrids and it is a major task to keep down the weeds that grow on the root mats: they are very shallow rooted and the mat of fine fibrous roots spreads on the surface about as far as the branches spread. With fine surface roots you don’t dare use herbicides! The great curse of my garden is brambles, a previous owner let them get out of control and they keep sprouting even from right beside the trunks. My guess is that the great thickets suppress weeds by blocking out the light and using up the soil nutrients. After all, phenols tend to be quite soluble and in the high rainfall areas where the wild rhodos thrive you would expect them to leach out if they don’t oxidise first.

What really annoys me is landowners complaining about the rapid growth of rhodos taking over their property. For heaven’s sake, for the first few years a seedling puts on little more than an inch of growth a year, at its most vigorous it grows little more than 6" a year, a 10’ high rhodo has been growing unchecked for a quarter of a century, do these guys ignore their property for a couple of decades and then suddenly say “Whoops, where did all these rhodos come from?” They come from prolonged neglect! :slight_smile:

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to M3ZCB:

Cracking report Andy.

I’ll second that. I bet you never expected the thread to be hi-jacked by rhododendrons, but then on this reflector anything can happen… and does!

73 until we meet at the border on Sunday when you will find my passport in order. :slight_smile:

Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

Sunday looks like being a fine day, look out for me somewhere in LD after getting through the customs post at Gretna!

“but then on this reflector anything can happen… and does!” Indeed, just like an enjoyable ragchew!

73

Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OIG:

Well you’d better get up here smartish and enjoy yourself. You may not only need your passport but a Visa as well if things go badly :frowning:

There’s nothing in the alerts for you for an up and coming visit, any public plans yet? I was looking at a 18km walk around Loch Tummel this weekend if the WX is going to be good but as I have a veritable plethora of uniques to collect towards the border I could be tempted to turn right not left when I leave home! Of course if the WX is going to be very goof then Loch Tummel may still win. It also depends on me remembering any arrangements made and my memory is not what… er what were we talking about? :wink:

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to MM0FMF:

Paul and I will be up Sunday thro’ Tuesday all being well. Still tossing the summits in the air like it is pancake day. My current feeling is to activate Wisp / Pikethaw on Sunday, Green Lowther / Green Hill on Monday, Grange / Calkin on Tuesday. Could be a complete reversal with several other scenarios such as Colt / Wether, Cairnkinna / Cairn Hill also in the mix. Also have each of the Dumfries area single pointers mapped out and easy to slide into itineraries if needs be. I’m afraid we are spoilt for choice. Depends on the WX day on day, so keep an eye on the alerts.

No rush though… it seems you won’t be laden with a referendum until 2014. Plenty more ear ache on the issue to come in the meantime no doubt!

73, Gerald

In reply to G8ADD:

Sunday looks like being a fine day, look out for me somewhere in LD
after getting through the customs post at Gretna!

Remind me not to use you as a navigator!
By my reckoning the route from Birmingham to the Lakes goes nowhere near Gretna - unless you are in GM that is! (If you are just ignore me, I am insanely jealous of all this talk about walking up hills - soon though!)

73

Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:

Aah, bless! I shall have a small flask of Glen Moray with me, if I work you I’ll toast you with a swig!

73

Brian G8ADD