Last week I was down near Gatehouse of Fleet playing UHF contests. It was cold, very wet and windy. We blew up the 13cms transverter, fixed the 13cms transverter, almost dropped a Discovery off the track into a big gully and had non-stop problems with the 23cms prime mover. It was too horrible to nip up Cairnharrow (nice according to John GM8OTI), Pibble Hill (bog snorkeling gear needed) or Bengray (not as nice as Cairnharrow). Sorrows were eased with the liberal application of Talisker and Monkey Shoulder!
This weekend the WX forecast was rotten. Best WX seemed to be in the borders. Given it was probably going to be rubbish sometime during the day I couldn’t be bothered going far. Messrs. Culter Fell SS-049 and Gathersnow Hill SS-077 offered themselves. I quite like Culter Fell, it’s better than Tinto yet the same distance. Quite trivial a climb and you can drop off the back and bag Gathersnow for only 200 or so metre of ascent. It’s not too often you can get to the summit of a 688m mountain for 40mins of effort. Also if you take the route to Gathersnow and the WX turns nasty you can abort off at Holm’s Nick and wander out.
I was up with the larks and parked up and kitted out by 8.50. Don’t know how I managed that! I did see lots of road closed signs and diversions for the roads around Elsrickle and that is near to Black Mount and Broomy Law that Neil 2M0NCM had planned. I saw him spotted so he must have got through. It was very grey, spotting with rain, windy and cold at the car park. On the way down Tinto (721m) had a cloud cap so that didn’t bode well for Culter Fell at 748m. But the cloud was quite high so I had hopes the real rain would hold off till I had bagged both and was on my way back.
I climbed Culter Fell my usual way, up Fell Shin and follow the trench. This was simply much needed exercise with a quick fix of radio at the top. Fell Shin is nicely steep and doesn’t half get your thighs singing! Just as well because it was diabolically cold. Just before the final flatish bit I had to admit defeat and put a bigger hat and my Goretex jacket on. The rain had started but it was really just a shower which soon stopped. It was nice to be windproof.
So there was the trig point coming into view and then the mist came in. Bottoms! Other rude things were said. This is the 4th time up this hill and every time, yes every time, the mist has come in and wiped out the view. Jack GM4COX has this as one of his favourite hills. It could be one of mine if I ever get to see anything from it! At the top the WX decided that if it was going to be misty it should also be windy and wet. I give up.
I set up on using the fence and went on 60m SSB 1st. It’s a while since I`ve been up a bigish hill so early and I was surprised to see 60m playing well. Normally by May it’s a pants band but that maybe because I operate around lunchtime when solar absorbtion is higher. Anyway no problems working many chasers. S2S with Mark G0VOF on SP-007 and I worked Don G0RQL for the 1st time in ages. Also I worked some serious 60m DX… Tom M1EYP. John GW3GUX on Ynys Mon was a good signal for a QRP station with an exhausted battery. He was using a long wire and I think a K2. Good copy for 7W or so. I had a good ragchew with Jack GM4COX about this hill before QSYing to 40m CW.
All the time the WX was getting worse. The wind was now officially “fierce” in strength and “gordon bennett” in temperature. Out with the Palm Paddle and on with the comedy show. 1st in the log was Roy G4SSH followed by G3XVJ and G4OOE. G3XVJ is one huge signal and Nick G4OOE isn’t too shabby either. I worked mainly G stations with HB9, DL & F being the only other countries. Appolgies to HB9CGA for being so mince at getting his call. My brain said HD6C?? first time and I was thinking what kind of Hungarian call is that. Only when I realised it was a 9 did everything start decoding. It’s not you, your morse was nice, it`s me, I’m a bit rubbish at it.
By now the rain was heavy, I was cold and I knew Gathersnow would have to wait. It’s a bit remote and even though there are quite a few activators in GM now, it’s three and half years since it was last on the air when I did it. I packed up double smart and was off back the way I came. On the way up the mist was really just at the top but now it was well set it. According to the GPS I dropped out of the mist at about 620m. My GPS had a fit saying I was 1600m ASL by the trig. Rebooting it for the descent got it thinking straight. The wind was so strong out of the mist that by the time I had got back to the car most things were nearly dry.
Not a total waste of a day. More CW chasers entertained by my pathetic attempts to manage a pile up. I got to the top from the car in 1hr15 elapsed and that included 10 mins of breaks on the way studying the grouse butts and looking at the incoming WX. And my new rear discs/pads are working FB. The previous set were only 25 months old and 28000miles on them but a floating caliper stopped floating on one side and the other managed to catch a something between the pad and disc. Grrrr! I was back home and showered by 2pm when I promptly fell asleep in the kitchen.
Next week will be Penvalla. as Mrs. FMF wants to visit the Dawick Arboretum (set up by Douglas of the Douglas Fir fame). Penvalla is about 2miles up the road so we can bag Penvalla (with bonus glamour points as Sarah will be with me) and then into the Arboretum for a butchers at their Rhoddodendrons and Fir trees.