Tap O'Noth GM/ES-054 10th Aug 2023

Being a fair weather activator, things have been a bit limited for me lately, with July mostly a wash-out, but at last the forecast up here showed no rain for a whole day, woohoo. Tap O’Noth is a 2 pointer 45 minutes drive North of my home QTH and one I hadn’t done before but needed for a Complete. The route up is blindingly obvious from Google satellite, departing from a small car park West of the small village of Rhynie. Mike, MM7MWL, has already posted details of the route up and some great background info on the hill fort that occupies the summit, which can be read here: Pleasant, but pointless, among the Picts
so I won’t repeat that.
Just an additional note of interest (from my background as a geologist), in that Rhynie is the location of an internationally important geological SSSI (site of special scientific interest), where a sequence of rocks called the Rhynie Chert was discovered in 1913. These are over 400 million years old, from the early Devonian period, and preserve an entire fossilised eco-system in extraordinary detail - plants, animals, insects and micro-organisms. Unfortunately there is nothing to see of this in Rhynie itself, as the rocks are buried under a field. For those interested in reading more, see:
The Learning Resource Site | School of Geosciences | The University of Aberdeen

The walk up took about 45 minutes and on the way I overtook 2 ladies, who were interested enough in my pack to ask what I was carrying. After explaining, they both promised to not talk too loudly at the top, so as not to disturb my transmissions :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
I set up inside the fort, well away from the trig point, which is the natural target of visitors. The 2 ladies stayed about 45 minutes and gave me a cheery wave on leaving. During the rest of the day, there were just 5 more walkers - a young couple with a baby, two (possibly German) lads who stayed about a hour and finally a chap in shorts and baseball cap who arrived while I was packing up. The weather was good all the time, although a stiff breeze picked up after lunch and I was glad of the shelter provided by the fort walls.

Delta loop with trig point in the background.

Equipment: 857d, Sotabeams linked dipole 40/20, delta loops for 17/15/12. Moxons for 10/6 (not used).

QRV at 1138 local, 40m was very quiet: just 6 in the log, all G-land apart from Aleksander S57S. Signal reports were good, just not many folk around, it seems.
My first foray on 20m was much busier,providing 6 S2S in the first 15 minutes and an additional 21 QSOs, all EU with SV being furthest DX.
17m was open but quiet,although I did hear a big-gun Stateside station rag-chewing. A spot yielded 16, again all EU with 2 S2S, the second one being a tricky one with SQ6OWM/P. Michal was right down in the noise when he first called but on the 3rd try his signal went up nicely.
Switching to 15m, I could hear YB2NVD at 59 but not much else. A spot eventually produced just 2 chasers, so thanks to Jan, SM5LNE and Rudi HB9MKV for making it worth putting the 15m loop up.
On 12m all I could hear was a blasting FT8, plus a PT2 calling CQ. A spot and 5 minutes of CQ brought nothing. 10 and 6 were dead so I went back to 20m.
This was easily the best band on the day and produced another 32 EU contacts, including a S2S with Ralf, TF/HB9GKR/P, on the East coast of Iceland plus some good short skip to G/GW/EI.
I called it a day at 1528 local and was back at the car a hour later.
83 QSOs, 13 S2S for the day. Thanks to all.

The 360 degree views from the top are excellent:

Looking down the access track to Rhynie village

Location of original Rhynie Chert discovery

Looking SSE - the hill on the horizon with the carbuncle is Clachnaben (non-SOTA), about 30 miles away.

Looking East at Hill of Tillymorgan (with comms masts) GM/ES-079

North West to Ben Rinnes GM/ES-021, Meikle Conval GM/ES-051 and Little Conval GM/ES-057

Presumably the foundations of the old fire-watch station referred to in MM7MWL’s report - I also noticed the electrical wires sticking out of the path on the way up.

Trig point with some OK graffiti