The Wiss hadn’t been on the air for a while so it seemed like a good candidate for activation with the advantage that Turner Cleuch Law is close by giving me the chance of 2x 2pts without having to drive between the hills.
Glorious weather so I was looking forward to this walk. For some reason I was ridiculously early so I stopped at the Gordon Arms Hotel (NT307249) and had a coffee with two retired gentleman bikers. Had a nice chat and admired their 07reg CBR 600RR and 56reg Ducati Sport 1000. After sitting in the sun for 30mins it was time to get to the start point, The Tibbie Shiels Inn (NT240205).
The area by St. Mary’s Loch was already busy, the campsite was busy, the inn car park was busy as was the sailing club. I parked just outside the inn where there is room for 4 cars. The inn car park is “For Patrons Only” but there’s loads of space if you park at the campsite.
My route to The Wiss was along The Southern Upland way from the inn to NT247199 where the Thirlestone Burn crosses. I crossed the burn and walked up the ridge to the South East and then East up to the boundary with the forest at NT258196. From there I walked along the fence towards the summit. There’s a sheep track by the fence but it’s a big boggy in places on this flat part of the summit. The fence diverges from the forest and runs all the way to the summit. The view back as I climbed up the ridge was fantastic, the sky was about 30% fluffy cloud, the rest lovely and blue. With sun and the stiff breeze walking conditions were lovely. Lots of photos taken looking out to Broad Law.
Activation from the summit is a doddle with a fence running NE/SW across, ideal for antennas. 5MHz played for me with S2S with Ken&Christine on Penvalla SS-145 and INKy on NW-061 and 15 other contacts. Peter ON3WAB reported me as 55 in ON, I qsy’d to 7.067 after 60m and tried but no contact. I had my sandwiches called for 10mins on 2m for no contact (typical!) and packed up ready for the walk to Turner Cluech Law only stopping to take a photo of the trig point and to wish it a belated Happy Birthday as it was 49 years old the day before
Now the obvious route off is down Moory Haas along the ridge to the farm at Altrieve, along the drive and then onto the B7009 Northward towards the path that runs up towards Turner Cleuch Law. However, Anquet said that would take far too long so I thought I’d just drop off the summit around the North of the forest by the cleuch and down to Hartleap and then straight up the other side. Wrong! To start with the North West side of The Wiss is manic heather and bracken. Walking down this was harder than coming up the other side! By the time I got to NT273211 I realised this was a bad move. So I then compounded my stupidity by trying to continue down to the burn and cross onto the other bank. I should have turned back and gone up and then across but I thought that would take too long. I crossed the burn and continued trying to traverse down. The bracken came up to my nose on this side. Now breaking trail through bracken is bad enough but when the slope is this steep it’s silly. I’d have loved to have an aerial video of me… beetroot red face appear out of bracken, move forwards, stumble into bracken, slip down slope a few feet, swear, pick self up and poke head out of bracken again! Repeat for 10-15mins until the slope eased off and I was able to walk normally. The walk down was easy, just a bit damp in places. Well it was easy till I found the ditch with both legs. The brown water just stopped short of the top of my legs. Wonderful, not!
A few minutes later sat by the road in the sun, drying out, I looked back at my tracks. You could see the trail of devastation through the bracken and the gaps where I had slipped down a few feet before emerging. Looking this way the slope didn’t look bad at all. It looked just like the photo I’d seen. Which was why I thought it was doable. Well it looks very different looking down! I did think about giving up here but a few more minutes in the sun and I was ready for part 2: Turner Cleuch Law an hour later than I expected. So much for shortcuts.
Opposite the drive to the farmhouse at Hartleap (NT283212) there’s a track. I knew it would take me part way up the hill. In fact it leads right to the summit. I thought it was a bit steep in places but that might have been me being tired. Anquet says it should take me 36mins to climb to the summit from there, it took me 45. Anyway, the summit was reached and another fence was ready to hold the antenna. Whilst setting up, I could see rain showers out towards Broad Law moving my way. The wind had got very strong now and even though it was sunny I ended up sat in both Goretex jacket and trousers. I’d been wet once on a dry day and I didn’t want to get wet again now I was dry. Luckily there were only a few spots of rain before it cleared up again. But it kept me warm in the wind. Conditions were still good on the air, S2S contacts with INKy on MW-018 and Mike GW0DSP on NW-070.
I packed up, removed the wet weather gear and walked back the way I’d come up. I’d checked the 1:25000 map and there looked to be some good rides through the forest towards the road out but after the exploits coming off The Wiss I decided I was sticking to obvious not possible route. The walk back was Southwest along the B7009 then off on a track through the forest at NT275201, then along there until it joins with The Southern Upland Way and back to the car. It’s 4.5miles from the summit to the car and the weather was fantastic. Most of the cloud had gone and the sun was beating down. Time for more sun cream! The walk back was uneventful but the section through the forest was tranquil with lots of nice shade but no breeze. The view at NT254190 when the forest ends and you look out is spectacular. But the sky was starting to look rather omnious that way too. I got back before any rain reached me, but it looked like very heavy showers only a mile away.
Back at the car, I checked the photos on the camera, 37 photos and there appeared to be some stunners in there. However, when I plugged the memory card into the PC back at home they had gone! I have no idea what happened, and having been programming computers for nearly 30 years, I do like to think I know what I’m doing.
So a splendid days fun. Three S2S contacts, a hill activated for the 1st time in 4 years, a salutory lesson in map reading and reading the ground before it’s too late and a photo disaster. I’m really annoyed at that and I’ll be giving the camera a damn good shakedown before I go to Staffa and Lunga later this week. I’ve topped up my tan nicely and my head isn’t quite beetroot colour anymore!
Distance walked 8.6miles, total ascent 561m.