An After work Munro
I’d been working since 5am. A 1pm escape from Aberdeen into a breezy and overcast afternoon didn’t fill me with joy. Neither did the clouds blanking out the summits of Morven and Mount Keen on my drive west towards Glenshee. However, todays aim was to test my new radio on a hill. It would be a good test due to every number concerning the sun and likely band conditions being on the slide compared to a couple of weeks back.
Anyway, the weather looked to be improving as I travelled west. By the time I’d parked the car at the layby (NO138 831) on the east side A93, it was rather fine. An Socach is well hidden from the road. It’s a big lump of a hill, with a really long whale-back ridge. I love it for its views.
This was a 9-10 mile round trip. It has a decent Land Rover track for the first couple of miles. Not worth taking a bike for a day trip, but well worth it to save time on an afternoon jaunt.
Taking the bike through the full height “kissing gate” wasn’t the best start to the afternoon. However, I wriggled through, got pedalling and fifteen minutes later stopped. I was at the second water crossing and this was where the hill track headed west up the shoulder of An Socach.
Good progress was made up this, with nice views opening all around. I was on a mission, so most of my photos were taken on the way back down. There is a false summit of epic proportions half way up. It has a nice cairn and a view back down the glen.
The way to the plateau ridge was now clear
The east end of the long ridge to An Socach
Gaining the ridge and passing over a Munro top, it was soon apparent that my memory of this hill didn’t include the very, very long walk to the summit at the extreme west end of the ridge. It was just over 2km, but included everything from grass, stony path to quartz boulders.
The summit gained, I decided not to be a hero and set up station at the shelter. There was an east wind blowing and every shelter in Scotland is set up to shield from the prevalent south-easterlies. It was also rocky as hell.
An Socach summit 944m
I’d spotted a grassy rake 100m away from the true summit, on the south side, so set up home there, out of the breeze, in comfort and with some grass to guy my ropes with.
The dipole went up, I tuned the radio to 7.0875 Mhz SSB and was faced with S5 noise. I knew this was going to be tricky! The 4G spot went off ok and I called CQ.
I worked @EA2DT and @F4WBN. Manuel was a struggle, but Chris less so. However the fading was so deep that after a few more CQ calls, I decided to give up with 40m and move to 20m. (I’d chosen 40m despite the risk as I wanted to let some UK Chasers work me with the shorter hop.)
20m was a lot quieter and I wasn’t really sure that the band was open, although tuning around, I could hear a few other stations. Probably the Megawatt guys, I thought.
A 4G spot was sent. Calling on 14.280MHz produced a contact with @EA7GV fairly soon, along with a 5/2 report. Then nothing. I listened for a while and even resorted to calling CQ on my 2m HT, on the off chance. I needed that fourth contact!
Ten minutes later, I heard, “Any SOTA?”. It was @EA1DHB - we exchanged callsigns and reports, mine being 5/4. I worked OH3GZ immediately after, with 4/4 off the side of the inverted V.
And that was the end of that.
The views on the descent were not bad, despite the overcast sky.
Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ, both SOTA
Pretty soon I was back at the bike and it took me all of 10 minutes to ride back to the roadside. Hardly worth it? It saved me at least an hour off the trip.
Overall trip time - 4 hours 30 minutes
Ascent - 600m
Distance - 10 miles
A lovely afternoon out, easy hill to climb. Awful conditions on the bands, but the new radio worked really well, pulling weak signals from the noise. I received similar signal reports to the the FT-857d, despite running 10 watts instead of 25 watts.
Oh - the radio - well I’ve considerably lightened my SOTA kit. And bank balance.
I may as well get a SOTA tattoo now. I’m here for the long run.
PS No movie, but it was filmed and I may do something different with this one.