Solar epic on Rùm

When I first set eyes on Rùm some 25 years ago I was seriously impressed. A rugged island en par with Skye but less visited. It is blessed the difficult Rùm cullins a circuit of 5 mountains topped by Gabbro. It only took me 25 years to find the time to climb them … now was the time…

And it delivered one of the finest trips I’ve had…

The Cullins: Rum Cullins with the Skye Cullins in the distance

Plan was to get the ferry from Mallaig across to Rùm on Friday morning and walk-in to the Dibidil bothy, about 3 hours walk along the coast from the only village on the island, Kinloch. About 30 minutes before the bothy, I took a break and put up a HF wire for some hams who wanted to work my location. Little did I know this was the only HF contacts I’d make for the weekend.

HF antenna while looking at the Isle of Eigg

I did hear from a contact while on 40m that the solar wind was going ballistic and there was a good chance of an Aurora tonight.

At Dibidil Bothy with Shadow, Askival in the background

I arrived at the bothy, and setup for the evening. Considering its location, due east, and with the Aurora on my bucket list, I decided to climb a nearby summit at dusk to check… This took an hour and I waited on summit until about 10.45pm, with no aurora, allot of twilight and a bunch of ticks that Shadow and I acquired on the way to contend with. I gave it up for bad job and headed back to the bothy to join Matt, another walker, staying at the bothy. We sat down outside with a bottle of wine that Matt had kindly lugged to the Bothy and at about 11.30 we got the surprise of our lives looking east…

First glimpse

I could not have asked for more. We stayed up until 2.15am mesmerised by the show that was on offer with views of the spectacle mainly appearing due east and south, such was the strength of the solar event…

Looking directly up while the greens were on show

Greens dancing on the slopes of Askival

Matt with some blues, pink and greens

You could not ask or plan for a better evening, with dark skies in a remote location and a solar event of this magnitude. This truly was a once in a lifetime experience.

With such a late night, the decision was made for a late start on Saturday, so 8.30am I was out and onwards to the summit of Sgurr na Gillian where the views of the Rùm Cullin opened up. 30 minutes later I was on the summit the first Marilyn/SOTA peak: Ainshval GM/SI-014

Ainshval and Askival (Right) from the summit of Sgurr na Gillian

I had already decided that I wanted to try my best with 2m on Rùm and had contacted a number of hams via 2m while approaching Rùm, so I was straight up with the slim Jim and using a 5w Yeasu handie. I quickly got six in the log including Gordon @GM4OAS in Mallaig and a very nice Summit to Summit with Robin @GM7PKT on GM/WS-338. Job Done on 2m.

Ainshval from Trallval

I then put up the HF rig - I knew there would be a good chance that HF was going to be poor, but I didn’t expect radio silence on every band. It was incredible to see, not a single blip on the Xeigu’s waterfall. Nothing. I knew that the HF kit needed stay in the bag from now on… 2kg of dead weight in an already heavy pack.

Trallval from the Ainshval descent

Now the scrambling begun on the descent from Ainshval and the ascent of Trallval GM/SI-033. This was tricky and much harder than I expected with careful route-finding and the dog into his harness. Thankfully the hardest sections were on the ascent to the next SOTA summit, Trallval GM/SI-033 where you could pick out a route from below. Approaching the summit I could hear stations calling on 2m and was able to reply and make them aware I need help on a summit soon. Thanks - especially @G3YPQ who was portable.

2m Slim Jim on the summit of Trallval

On the summit of Trallval I was straight up with the 2m Slim Jim to get 5 in the log including a fantastic summit to summit with Graham 2M1GPR/P in the northwest on GM/WS-350. Time was getting on so I didn’t hang around, and onward to the main prize: Askival GM/SI-009

The descent of Trallval had yet more scrambling, with some tricky section to navigate. I was passing many parties doing the ridge in the ‘right’ direction and they all were asking about the Aurora - all missed it, tucked up at the village campsite in Kinloch ! Water was becoming a problem, so at the bealach I descended further to pick up another kg couple of water for my pack :sweat_smile:

Summit cone of Askival - some tricky scrambling to be had, I bypassed this challenge

The summit of Askival GM/SI-009 was reached by bypassing the main difficulty, I was tired and it was getting late. I knew the descent would have the hardest sections to navigate. On the summit I was straight up with the slim jim and qualified this summit by the skin of my teeth - 4 contacts with Jack @GM4COX on GM/SS-236 saving the day as the 4th contact ! Thanks Jack.

Shadow and the summit of Askival

It was getting late, so a bite to eat, pack up my station and onward down Askival onto the next summit, Hallival, This section holds some of the hardest route finding and scrambling off the summit. It was difficult and required great care.

Descent from Askival with Hallival on the distance. The hardest scrambling of the day!

I took it steady and was soon on the summit Hallival

Summit of Hallival, Final summit of the day!

That just left the long descent back to Kinloch to find a well deserved beer.


Thank You Rùm. You delivered one of the finest hill experiences I’ve ever had.

Thank You to The Sun - for kicking butt at this moment in the universe and delivering such a spectacle. I know you killed RF propagation, but it was worth it.

Thank You all the Scottish hams who called in on 2m, superb QSO’s, a fine bunch. Activating on 2m was allot of fun.

Thank You for some fine summit to summit QSO’s, @GM7PKT Robin on GM/WS-338 while on Ainshval, 2M1GPR/P Graham on GM/WS-350 while on Travall, @GM4COX Jack while on Askival.

Top Trip


Thanks Tim for sharing your experiences on what was obvious a fantastic SOTA adventure. One to treasure! Well done! :beers::beers::beers:


Great report Tim, I forlornly tried for an unlikely s2s from a G/NP summit… I was just hoping for a path out west, but it was not to be.

Those aurora photos and memories are very special!

You’ve made me want to get back to do the ridge after a failed winter attempt nearly 40 years ago. I now realise it was probably never on as a winter route in the loose powder snow conditions we had.


Thanks for sharing your report and amazing photographs Tim.


Oh, why oh why didn’t I stay awake longer…? Well done for the traverse and the blog. Its nice to know that my 8 contacts were not down to my kit or skills…



Brilliant photos and report…difficult activations but you came out on top with your ‘see an Aurora wish’ ticked off the bucket list…well done Tim.


Brilliant trip Tim, looks lovely!

I can add to Gerald’s failures also, went with pals and it was a wash out. Could not get to Dibidil, managed to get to Guirdil after a big detour to avoid rivers in spate.
You were so lucky with weather that weekend, as we’re we (same guys as Rum) up around Cape Wrath that weekend. Stunning Aurora!

Thanks for S2S yesterday and safe trip home

73 Gavin


Thank you all.

Thanks Gerald - Do it ! Its equivalent of the Pinnacles on Liathach or the horns of Beinn Alligin in sections. Dibidil to Kinloch took me 10 hours in these conditions, so imagine in winter with deep snow…

That is pretty impressive in itself ! I couldn’t get one on HF on Rum and on Monday while on Ben More the only contact i got wasa poor report from F4WBN who I am sure was using a multi-element yagi and lots of power !

I’m not surprised - I did feel the risk of the rivers on the way into Dibidil. The last burn in particular, Dibidil, looked very dangerous and impassable with not much rain. Someone has brought in sections of an aluminium “crevasse ladder” to cross this but that too has been swept into the river… The escape would be a very long detour probably up and over a bealach on Askival !


Very, very good Tim. You’ll be hard pushed to beat that one! 2m to the rescue too!


Great report @G5OLD Tim, the route you took looks awesome on paper, and the photos prove that! What a perfect time to pick to visit the island, no light pollution probably gave you some of the best aurora sights in the UK :ok_hand:

Well done buddy - an adventure and experience never to be forgotten!

73, Ben


I reckon that if you had twisted an ankle and been unable to get to the summits you would still have come back a very happy man. Free wine, company and probably the best visual aurora for many decades… what’s not to like?

Well done on the getting up those hills and carrying out the 2m activations. Pity about carrying dead weight with the HF kit, but I often do that the other way around using HF and not getting onto 2m for one reason or another. Such is life! :grinning:

73, Gerald


Now that my was a proper adventure. Beautiful scenery, the Aurora, SOTA fun, and your four legged partner to boot. Thanks for sharing!