Sunday 10th September 2017 - GM/CS-123 Burgiehill & GM/CS-121 Hill of the Wangie
The forecast was for bands of heavy rain swirling round a low, but there looked as though there might be some breaks in the middle of the day further north. It was raining when we got up, but had eased to drizzle by the time we were packed up and ready to leave. We decided to stick to our plan of heading north towards Forres to do the pairing of Burgiehill and Hill of Wangie, starting with Burgiehill as it would be a complete for us, and if the rain forecast for mid-afternoon came too soon we might have to abandon the second hill.
It was dry when we parked carefully in the wide area at the start of the track at NJ102569, but rain started just as we were ready to start off, so we re-arranged ourselves into wet mode with waterproof and rucksack covers. The rain eased as we headed down the circuitous access track for the antenna farm at the summit – straight, then right then half right twice. At that point the summit antenna farm came into sight across a felled area and the track headed downhill, so we decided to make our way over the felled area to the antennas, discovering it was a replanted area with small saplings. Near the summit we re-joined the track that had taken a longer route and looked for the trig point. It was elusive, but we knew it existed from the photos Tom and Jimmy Read had taken. Eventually we discovered it among bushes and young trees on a small spur off the main antenna track. Space was tight for HF among the trees, so Martyn set up the HF antenna running along the main track with the other leg down the spur, while Caroline headed into the open woodland and found a tree stump about 6 feet tall which she could bungee the MFD to. Martyn took a contingency VHF contact from Caroline’s station before starting on 5MHz. HF was better than previous days, but still not good. Martyn got 7 5Mhz contacts while Caroline had got 4 2m FM contacts (3 via 145.575, one via 145.500) and then eaten her lunch. It had rained on and off while we were at the summit, and was in a wet phase when both Caroline and Martyn had run out of callers, but Martyn still had lunch to eat so Caroline tried 40m, with moderate success, getting another 9 contacts. By the time callers had run out the rain had stopped, making packing up easier. We headed back along the track: getting decent views as we dropped down with Ben Rinnes in the distance.
Burgiehill hidden trig point and some of permanent antenna farm.
Burgiehill HF along the forest rides
Burgiehill VHF in the trees.
It was still dry when we got back to the car so we decided to try for the second summit, taking the somewhat circuitous road to the parking for Hill of Wangie at the start of the track NJ118546. From here we had good views back to Burgiehill, and loads of cattle in the field opposite came to investigate us. Given the forecast Caroline put on her Paramo, but this proved to be a mistake, as the sun came out as we headed along the forest track, through a field and back into forest and she was soon overheating. At around NJ126539 a minor grassier track forked left, and we headed up it to the main ridge where we joined a rough grassy ride along the ridge. This was rough and often wet, starting off fairly flat with a felled area to the left, before ascending gently through a heathery ride where the sun brought out the colours of the heather. It was pretty but hard work. The sun was also bringing out lots of insect life – thankfully mostly benign, with lots of butterflies including Peacock and Red Admiral. Where the ride flattened out we started looking for the trig point which appeared through the trees, up a narrow ride to the left.
Hill of Wangie Heathery firebreak in the sun
The trig point was surrounded by trees but had a convenient hole in the top, which Caroline used to get the MFD at its maximum height with the centre point at about 2.5m. Martyn set up HF about 15m away with the dipole legs down the main ride. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind more rain bearing clouds, and we had to ensure radios were covered up. Caroline was pleased to get 5 2m FM contacts given the surrounding trees, while Martyn got just 5 5Mhz contacts to go with 2 2m FM contacts he grabbed from Caroline’s station. Despite the rain Caroline again had a go on 7MHz getting just 5 contacts. Thankfully the rain eased so we could pack up without getting everything wet. We reversed our route: there was less sun, but it stayed dry, so we could load the car in the dry.
Hill of Wangie Trig point
Hill of Wangie HF along firebreak