Short-notice trip to Glasgow, advice on local summits please

I’m flying up to Glasgow tomorrow (Monday) and returning Thursday evening. I’ll have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday free from 9am to 2pm (actually 3pm but I’m adding a 1-hour guard band).

I’m hiring a cheap car from the airport and will be based in Renfrew. I would be very happy if I could activate one summit per day. Factors are:

  1. End-to-end trip time must be 5 hours or less (so could trade drive time against walk-to-summit time)

  2. Easy parking and no unsurfaced roads [can’t afford even to scratch the hire car – it has a huge damage excess cos I refused to triple the total cost by taking extra insurance cover]

  3. Reasonable prospect of midweek daytime activation using only 2m FM 5W handheld with Diamond RH-770 or 5/8th dipole on 4m pole assuming prior alert and SMS spot at summit [there’s space in my carry-on backpack for clothes or my HF kit but not both – sorry purists! I’m even having to borrow a bothy bag in Renfrew rather than take mine on the plane]

I would have researched the reflector for answers but I only just got back from another trip yesterday night.

73, Andy

3rd party excess insurance for me and Mrs. FMF anywhere in Europe £36 as recommended by MoneySavingExoert Martin Lewis. Just for info.

Does your 5 hour limit include driving or exclude it?

Include driving. Basically, I have to do a drop off just before 9am and a pickup around 3pm. But I will be killed if I’m late, hence 2pm.

I’m reckoning: roughly an hour’s drive each way, roughly an hour’s walk to the summit and an hour’s walk down, 45 minutes for QSOs.

Hi Andy,
In that case, you need to do a very thorough inspection of the car, including bodywork, upholstery and all windows at the time you take it out. Insist that even the most minor scratch is recorded on the hire documentation so that they can’t accuse you later of having done the damage.

I once got caught out by that! Fortunately, I had taken the extra excess cover so it didn’t cost me for the repairs. It was obviously a ploy to get the repairs done on the insurance before they sold the car on!

Have a good trip … and wrap up warm!

Walt (G3NYY)

But first check your credit card from your bank, some include travel and car rental excess insurance. In some cases you need to have made the booking on the card, in some cases, as with my bank you don’t - it’s simply a “perk” of taking the credit card out though that bank. Part of the annual charge for having the card if you like.These can be VISA or MC cards.


Not much time there because traffic can be slow at times around Glasgow.

However, Blaeloch Hil GM/SS-220 is a possible. Google says it’s a 40-50min drive from the centre of Refrew to the layby for parking. Google also says it’s a 50min walk to the top. Most of it is on the windfarm access road with about 300m or so across the moorland to the true summit I activated on HF but I’d expect 2m into Glasgow to be trivial.

Hill of Stake GM/SS-155 is a long, long walk in over horribly boggy ground. Not enough time really.

Middlefield Law GM/SS-184 is 1hr drive away and about 40mins to the top. I can’t remember the ground but I think it’s a little wet at the start but good higher up. That does mean driving on the M74 and around Glasgow in the rush hour it’s eyewateringly bad and impenetrable. Don’t know what it’s like on 2m but the DB says it has been qualified on 2m FM.

All the others are probably to big a walk or I have no experience of them. Duncolm GM/SS-222 maybe viable.

Andy (with his GM AM hat on)

Thanks Andy for the detailed suggestions. Just arrived in Renfrew and it’s almost my bedtime. So I’m just gonna take the first one on your list, Blaeloch Hill, for tomorrow. I’ll review the others tomorrow night.

I was feeling a bit concerned about midweek daytime activation using only 2m FM after getting only 3 QSOs on Conic Hill in the snow last year. So I dusted off my 30-litre rucksack so I could pack my HF kit as well. Just hope it’s not too cold for my paddle fingers.

I have read quite a few reports on this hill and it seems to be a right trek. Definitely out of the question I would say.

Suggestions from me - Mendick Hill SS-195, Cairnpapple SS-254 and possibly Allermuir SS-171 and Scald Law SS-125 depending on fitness and how busy the roads are. Probably shorter drives and longer walks reduce the risk of delays. Conic Hill SS-239 must be a contender, though I haven’t done it yet. Ben Bowie SS-251 might be a possibility.

Middlefield Law SS-184 was easy access when I activated it with a quad bike track most of the way. I assume it still exists. I agree Hill of Stake SS-155 is a bogfest too far, though it was quite reasonable when Paul and I did it.

73, Gerald

P.S. I easily qualified Blaeloch with 1w from my handheld to a 5 element as I forgot to change the battery for my 817. Easy access from the north.

Getting from Refrew centre to the Pentlands is a 55min drive with zero traffic. I’d expect it to be quite a bit longer at 9am. The return to get to Renfrew for 300pm is not so bad. But as the M8 is only 2 lanes it only needs one slow large moving load or a small crash and the backlogs are there in no time.

Allermuir is a walk that is a few mins over 1hr and Scald Law is 55mins according to the computer. 1hr15 gives time for a breather and to put boots on. Cairnpapple is 5mins. Don’t leave you car in the car once it goes dark… I had a look at Duncolm on the OS map here… you’re right it does appear to be a bit of a trek and the computer said 1hr30 for nearly 6km walked.

Duncolm GM/SS-222

1 hour 25 minutes to summit with quite a few photo stops as it was a cracking day for photos with temp inversion.

A road all the way to the green dot (below) then quite easy going from there.


Ben Bowie should fit in my 5-hour window. 45 minutes drive from Renfrew. 50 minutes walk to summit.

Blaeloch Hill SS-220 was a success today. Was stuck at 3 contacts on 2m FM for a while but another 3 came before I got too cold. Cold windy but sunny after earlier mist so great views to the west. The access has changed since some of my chasers last activated it. Don’t park at the A760 layby as I did. I wandered both ways along that A road looking for a gap in the barbed wire fence - there isn’t one. Park 200m away near the entrance to sign-posted Clyde Crematorium. Plenty of parking spaces there by the kiss-gate at the start of the wind farm road.


Well that crematorium is very new, it only opened this June from a quick Googling. Glad you got one activated and qualified.

Ben Bowie SS-251 today. A canny Scotsman at the start of the walk from the A818 told me despite the early mist that there would be no rain, and he was right. By the time I had gone up a boggy ride and through the lines of trees to the summit, it was clear and sunny with great views.

Ben Bowie has two 313m summits close together. I chose the one with a lone tree on which I attached one end of my EFHW, the other end to 4m pole. I was snug sitting in the heather on the leeward side of the hill getting contacts on 30m and 40m. On 2m FM, chasers gave me poor reports on my 5/8th dipole but great ones when I switched to my Diamond RH-770. The former must have gone faulty.

Thanks to 2m chaser Jack GM4COX for chat on lots of topics including my problems of access once I left the gravel service road. Jack, I couldn’t find those clear paths from the summit you mentioned. I was using OS Maps app on my iPhone and confident I wasn’t in the wrong place.

The tree fellers have turned most of hillside north of the summit (Bannachra Muir) into a WW1 battlefield of tree debris and tractor-made bogs. Forget any tracks or rides shown on the maps - they’re gone. Difficult walking with 8kg pack and I went up to my knees in one bog, and had a bit of trouble extracting myself. I had to use lengths of tree debris to build a path across a very boggy tractor trail to reach safety.

But a good day overall.

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Sorry I missed you today Andy…wrong place wrong time…glad you had an interesting activation :slight_smile:

73 Allan GW4VPX

Third and final day: Tinto GM/SS-064. Easy parking at Wiston Lodge to take the southerly route to the summit.

Took longer to ascend than expected. Following the zigzag path up the steep section made sense but I got bored trying to find and follow the indistinct, scree-covered dogleg section to the west of the summit. In the end I made my own zigzag way directly up towards the summit. And I found out then there’s an easy route from the north. Oh well, no matter.

Tinto is obviously popular judging from the amount of litter in the stone wind shelters. The summit was too busy to put up the EFHW antenna without the risk of someone walking into it. So I stuck to 2m FM and just got the 4 contacts needed to qualify. More complements on the Diamond RH-770 antenna.

Another sunny albeit cold and windy day. I’ve been lucky with the weather. Thanks to all the chasers and those who gave me advice on this thread.

73 Andy

You like doing things the hard way! :smile: The northern route offers a 50 space car-park, a Formula 1 racetrack class path, 1hr to the top times and a tea-room when you return.

Here’s the view from Rob’s SOTA mapping site showing the path from Fallburn.

Operation is best done from nearer the trig as you can get away from the vast number of visitors. Glad it all worked for you on 2m.

Twisting the knife :laughing: