The Lone Stag

On my quest to complete the 18 summits in a 25km square of my house, the summit of choice this time was Meall Mor. GM/NS-058. 738m 4 Points.

Whilst i had chased this summit in the summer, i hadn’t really looked into it much until a few days before activating it. I decided that the route for me was through a wind farm that i had previously visited out of curiosity.

Parking for 1 car can be had in a lay-by at NH 735 583 approx. You then pass a small sign stating no unauthorized vehicles. The road is somewhat weathered you could say!! Passing right by someones house within inches then over a wooden bridge takes you to the start of the climb. I quickly came across locked gates that can be walked around, beside the gate is a huge stone with National Windpower carved into it. After this its a decent track that steadily climbs 300m in height, where you top off at 500m and see the wind farm in it’s entirety. 36 turbines spread out over 4 peaks.

Now as im walking along the seemingly endless path i started to wonder how “green” are they? 1st of all as far as engineering goes, turning something that’s free and in abundance into something that people want to pay for is quite clever. But on the other hand, the X miles of track that is cut in the process surely has a BIG dent on its greenness?? One to ponder also was would I have went to this summit should this track not have been here, probably not. So I’m in a bit of a moral minefield.

However getting back to it, once at the end of the track i was a bit shocked. There is a large section of deep peat bog’s that need to be negotiated. It must have took about 15mins of zig-zagging back and for to gain about 100m in the forward direction, frustrating but do-able. After a short while loch glass became visible and it looked a long way down!!!

This is where i came across the stag. He reared his head up about 150m away and it think we both thought the same thing…S***. I was thinking about my options, stand my ground and use my available weapons?? 15kg rucksack, my fibreglass pole or my 2 inch pen knive. Or do a runner?? I fear that had it came to that none of the above would have made any difference. Thankfully he decided to do the runner and i never seen him again. It was then that i contemplated my remoteness. Ok so i had left my plan with the other half but it was of no comfort to know that i was a 3 hour walk back to civilization or wait X hours for rescue. However the thought passed as I made it to the summit where it was bitterly cold.

It was showing +5 back at the car so with the wind chill it must have been a bit below 0. As it was this cold i opted for a smash and grab on VHF. Sorry for anyone that was waiting for HF. The usual suspects came back to me from Inverness and another from Elgin. Not much in the way of DX but 7 contacts secured the activation. The only thing of interest perhaps from the way down was that whilst leaving the wind farm there was the sound of gunfire bouncing round the hills. Sounded like something out of Helmand with continued rapid shots but i presume that it was a game shoot on a local estate.

It was a long day for 4 points but another one ticked off the list. With 7 hours and 22km from start to finish, perhaps a little bit to much of that was spent with the grey matter whirring away.


In reply to 2M0ETR:

I was surprised how easy some of my 20km-ish walks have been. More a case of ensuring the gain and loss of altitude is not too much rather than the absolute distance being covered.

Andy, M0FMF
(/P in IO83)

In reply to MM0FMF:
There is quite a few up’s and down’s on this one Andy. But about half of the 22km’s is a decent packed gravel track. So it’s a bit of a balancing act. You can do this one via loch glass i believe, which may or may not me shorter. But the side slopes looked pretty steep to me when i was there, so after my knees took a punishment on Ben Nevis last week i decided to go this way instead. Perhaps if i do it again ill look at the other path and suss it out.

Adrian /Cold in IO77

In reply to 2M0ETR:
Hi Adrian

Good report and well done on the activation.

On a slightly different note I was wondering how you got on with Ben Nevis last week? I am only asking as I was going to do the ben that day and seen the previous night that you had posted an alert for Nevis. It saved me a 4 and a bit hour drive to Fort William but I still had 3 hours to drive to my second choice GM/SS-004 Cruach Ardrain.

I was a bit later on the summit than your posted time and a few chasers from the central belt had mentioned that they had not heard you. It would have been nice to get the S2S which should have been no problem. I attempted Ben Nevis a couple years back and only managed to get 3 contacts in about 1 hour and as the weather was terrible and my two 20something sons had had enough it was time to leave. That’s why I had picked that day for Nevis, watching the weather all week (was on holiday) and always thought Saturday was going to be good.

Did you manage to activate the summit and how was the conditions that day??

Just curious you know!!

Neil 2M0NCM

In reply to 2M0NCM:
Morning Neil, the trip up Ben Nevis was a bit of a disaster. Right from the start when the parking ticket machine happily took my money but gave me no ticket. Thankfully another walker swapped a note for coins and used another machine. I made it up in fairly good time just under 3 hours. But I never even bothered taking the radio out of the bag. It was so wet and cold that I just had a quick bite to eat and some hot chocolate before heading back down. My knees were really giving me trouble it took much longer to get down, nearing 4 hours. I managed a quick qso with Robin PKT about half way down on the handheld.
I would have alerted the canceled activation if it wasn’t so wet as well. So sorry to anyone that was looking for me on the day.


In reply to 2M0ETR:

Interesting report Adrian! I must say I am quite jealous of your Stag encounter. I have only ever seen them from afar except for one incident up by Aviemore where I got a fleeting glimpse as a huge stag dived across the road in front of my car one night. I missed the thing by millimetres. It would have wrote off the car without a doubt. In my case fear would not have entered in to it, as I would have been too busy scrabbling about for my camera and standing very still so not as to spook it before I got the shot. Possibly not the right thing to do but in line with things I have done in the past such as petting a timber wolf that was nearly as tall as me and having my photograph taken with various enormous snakes draped around my neck. Not quite as bad as my brother who has pictures of himself walking three tigers on chains.

73 Steve

PS I hate those ugly windmills why can’t they make them look like the old Dutch ones?

In reply to 2M0ETR:
Hi Adrian,

That’s the wretched summit I activated for the SOTA weekend in May - you remember, the one where I was in clag and snow all day while you basked in sunshine not a dozen miles away!

I am glad to see that the weather has not improved (although you did get a view) and the peat hags are as bad as I remember.

A slightly better route starts at NH548690 and follows a track parallel to the windfarm road - maybe not as easy but at least your view is not abused by structures in completely the wrong place (I will keep my views on the worthlessness of windfarms quiet as the moderator is a fan of them - fan/windmill, like the pun?). It is worth descending and walking alongside Loch Glass on the way out - much better view!

Your report does raise the point - how many qualifying summits have windfarms on them? I can think of at least three which I have activated.


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:
“Your report does raise the point - how many qualifying summits have windfarms on them? I can think of at least three which I have activated”

Stacks down here Barry - and growing. Welcome to Scotland where you might be able to see some mountains if it weren’t for the fans!!



In reply to GW7AAV:

I’ve had a couple of close encounters with deer. The most impressive was when a party of us were driving along the road between Glencoe and Kinlochleven, a stag dashed down the bank and leaped right over the car before vanishing amongst trees by the shore of the loch - you don’t often get a good view of the underside of a stag! On the second occasion it was me dashing down a hill in that rather odd-looking gallumping action that gets you over the ground so fast. I came to the edge of a grassy hollow and nearly trod on a doe and a well-grown fawn. They scrambled to their feet and went over the horizon at a speed that left me envious…this was in the days when the Scottish pubs closed at ten and were strict about drinking up time, and I was thirsty!

Despite what Barry says, I am no fan of wind turbines, they are expensive, inefficient, unreliable, noisy, far from green and they slaughter migrating birds. At best they are an expensive stop-gap before more sensible technologies emerge…have I made your point for you, Barry, or can you add to the charge sheet?


Brian G8ADD

In reply to ALL:

I have came across and had the misfortune at hitting a deer a few years back. They are fairly common around my QTH, but never been that close to a stag. On a side note, we won a trip to edingburgh zoo to get “hands on” for a day with some of the animals so that could end up being very interesting. However back to radio, Barry i do remember our QSO for the SOTA weekend. I now have a better understanding of how hard you had it. I was lucky enough to take my 2 man pop up tent that day on Mount Eagle. I never mentioned it in my report but there was a good coating of snow on Ben Wyvis just on the other side of the loch SW ish. I heard there is a bit down in the cairngorms too, so time to pack the crampons for the next one perhaps??? The novar wind farm currently has 36 “fans”, with the digger’s in preparing ground for god knows how many more.

In reply to G8ADD:
"Despite what Barry says, I am no fan of wind turbines, they are expensive, inefficient, unreliable, noisy, far from green and they slaughter migrating birds. At best they are an expensive stop-gap before more sensible technologies emerge…have I made your point for you, Barry, or can you add to the charge sheet? "

Add in “Ugly” and “Blot on the landscape” and then I think you have rested my case!!!


Barry GM4TOE

In reply to GM4TOE:

Blot on the landscape? Indubitably. Ugly? I’m not so sure. Severely functional designs can have their own beauty, look at a cooling tower, simple mathematical curves, functional and beautiful but also a blot on the landscape. Beauty doesn’t have to be nice!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

And on the plus side when they get fusion power working we can melt them all down for scrap and all that’ll remain will be the useful access roads to the tops of the SOTA summits.


In reply to M0RCP:

Many of those access roads are “cheap and nasty”, they won’t last!


Brian G8ADD