Where only The Goats have tread GM/CS-027 & GM/CS-024

An Sgarsoch and Càrn an Fhidhleir

My son Callum (MM3ZUP) and his fiancé Charlie were coming up for the weekend. Mo and Charlie went off to do some pre-wedding stuff. That gave Callum and I a day in the hills. He picked this one from a choice of three. Only activated three times each, by Goats @GM4TOE @MM0YCJ and @GM0GAV , we would be joining a select club if we could pull this one off.

Planning & Kit
These two Munros are in one of the most remote parts of the country and it’s a 27 mile round trip. A bike can be used for around 14 miles of this. I was concerned about the lack of phone signal and inability to spot myself. That helped to choose the kit. I went “all in” as I didn’t plan on failing!

Yaesu ft-857d
40m/20m Inverted V
7m Spiderbeam pole
Yaesu ft-3d plus whip plus 100g collapsible yagi
4800mah LiFePo4
To save Callum bringing his bike up from Tayport,I lent him the SOTA bike - my Giant Carbon fibre 29er and I would ride my old Marin full-suspension 26" XC bike.

The weather forecast for for 26 degrees in the glens and a fairly stiff westerly wind.

On the Day
We left home at 0500z and set of from an already very full Linn of Dee Car Park at 0700z.

Setting Off

The ride in to Geldie Lodge via White Bridge is on decent, gently ascending tracks, which first follow the Dee and then the Geldie.

Between White Bridge and Geldie Lodge

We were making good progress and with around a mile and a half of the riding left, “BANG!”, the rear tyre on Callums bike exploded. It was not repairable.

Houston we have a problem

We left the bikes where they lay and walked on, confident we’d complete the two summits, however not looking forward to an extra 9.5 miles of walking!

A couple of easy burn crossings soon led us to the Geldie burn. This is often a wade, however the water was low and we hopped across the stones.

The Geldie Burn

The Land Rover track stopped at the ruins of Geldie Lodge, however we were able to follow a decent Stalkers path west across the foot of An Sgarsoch and onwards towards grassy and heathery slopes up the east side of Càrn an Fhidhleir.

A break at the Alt a Chaorainn before climbing to our first summit.

Peat hags and mainly dry bog below Càrn an Fhidhleir

We topped out onto the grassy dome of a summit into a gale at around 0945z, so 3 hours 45 mins from the car park. 15 minutes ahead of schedule despite the extra walking. We’d arrived just before three other parties who had all camped overnight nearby and I was glad that we’d bag the shelter first, however this was the worst I’ve seen! It was a crescent of rock, around 60cm high and would only shield us from the wind if we lay down.

Well we were here now and I decided to go for it. Callum was a great help with the mast and guys. I honestly couldn’t have done it on my own in that wind. We actually had to build a small cairn of rocks around the base of the mast as it was skipping about in the wind.

The station just about holding it together

I hadn’t even thought about how to get a Spot away, but thankfully when I looked at my phone - 4G! I’d rigged for 20m as I wanted to avoid the Russian contest (I always check the contest planner when planning a trip) and picked a frequency high in the band.

Between 1015z and 1030z I worked 13 stations and the band was in decent condition. The last two stations, PE1DUW/p and M7WOB were worked with Callum holding the mast as best he could, it having blown over at the start of my QSO with PE1DUW!

Well done Callum!

Between us we had everything split down and packed away securely in a matter of minutes and exited the plateau to the south with all due haste.

It was actually a nice pleasant walk down grassy slopes to the col between the two hills, with the breeze decreasing in strength as we descended.

Heavily distorded panorama of the descent towards An Sgarsoch

Lunch was taken at some dry peat hags at the bottom. Here we sat astride the watershed. Draining south into the River Tarf, then Garry, Tummell and finally Tay. Draining north into the Geldie burn and the Dee. The west side of the summit we’d been atop drains north into the Feshie and then the Spey. Quite remarkable, I thought.

The climb of An Sgarsoch wasn’t as fierce as it looked and we topped out around 1220z. The wind was as bad, I estimated a steady 45mph. The cairn was larger but offered no shelter from the wind whipping around it.

The station went together quicker and more securely (I hoped) this time and I was on air (on 20m) thanks to another 4G spot at 1235z.

MM0EFI/P An Sgarsoch radio station

This time the fading was deep. My log was a mess - full of half callsigns, callsigns with no signal report and various scribbles. However, 16 complete entries were made, with the surprise final QSO of the day from @GM0GAV Gavin. I well and truly had my summit brain engaged by this point. I couldn’t work out:
a) why he wasn’t /p and didn’t give me his summit reference
b) was it really Gavin? Maybe he was GM4GAV or some other combination
c) how on earth was a GM station working me on 20m? Never happens.

Anyway, sorry Gavin if I sounded bemused and didn’t ragchew!

As for point (c) Callum noted that there was a large gap in the high hills to our south east, to the north of the massive Beinn a Ghlo, through which he thought he could see the land around the Dundee area. So, 20m groundwave, line of sight it was.

We repeated the strip down operation and were soon heading off the summit, having first taken a rough compass bearing to make sure we were heading due north. Not the first time I’ve walked off a dome summit around 90 degrees off!

After a couple of miles of grass leading to short and then longer heather, with parts of path, and after topping up water from a burn, we found ourselves back at the stalkers path and followed this back east to the Geldie Lodge.

Geldie Lodge

Our Apollo 13 Moment
We’d had around 7 hours to come up with a plan for the bike repair, using what ever bits we had in our rucksacks, so when we arrived back there at around 1530z we got straight to work. I’d suggested cutting the ruined tube and using it to bandage the tyre and Callum suggested swapping this to the front to lessen the load. We’d secure the wrapped tube with our solitary cable tie, reinforced with medical tape from the First Aid kit.

Half-an-hour later and we had a fix. One which would either last 100 yards or 100 miles.

Bodge of the Year

Well an hour of gentle riding saw us back at the Linn of Dee car park, celebrating our amazing day, getting away with two activations in dreadful conditions, fixing the bike and most of all experiencing a trip through some stunning and really wild country.

Oh, and we were back on time. Somehow!

Callum pretty Happy to be back, and on two wheels

73, Fraser


Love the Defender which I presume is yours unless you’re picking a random vehicle as bicycle supports.



I’m unfortunate enough to own three of them (and also a Series IIa). That’s the diesel one. At least the other two are V8’s :slight_smile:


Many years ago, long before Sota, along with a friend, I walked the Ghru from the Linn of Dee to Aviemore. We had persuaded my wife to drive us round to the Dee at silly o’clock in the morning for an 0800 departure. All went well until we parked up. Then my wife noticed we had a flat car tyre, so the first task of the day was to change a car wheel. That done, we had a splendid 10 hr day in fantastic scenery. Your resourceful “Houston We Have A problem” moment was superbly executed, but pleasing to see that the activations took prescience!

I remember I was very impressed with the paths on the Eastern side of the pass. Gentle gradients and well graded pea gravel surface, I assume, by royal warrant, for the safe exercising of Corgis? Just the job for modern mountain bikes.

Well done, congrats.


Thanks for sharing your tale David!

The Marr Lodge Estate encompasses much of the land you mention. It was privately owned and mismanaged for years. Too many deer eating everything and Land Rover tracks up some big mountains.
The National Trust have had success in re-wilding. Many vehicle tracks are now paths (but still great for biking) and a huge red deer cull has seen the first Scots Pine growing for a long time. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be around to see them mature!


Very nice.

Straight after university, I spent 3 months touring India on trains and my travel buddy and I dreamt about buying a couple of Defenders and driving back from London to Delhi. Needless to say it never happened but I did eventually buy a US off road vehicle that occasionally has surprised me both positively and negatively.

Is the V8 the old Rover 3.5L petrol engine?



Yes. Detuned from it’s use in the car. 158bhp in the first installations in the Rover P5B, 165bhp in the Rover SD1, 135bhp in early Range Rover, 95bhp in the Land Rover.

I’ve had both P5B Saloon and SD1 V8 cars and their ability to consume petrol is quite awe inspiring especially considering how much it costs in the UK. The only car I’ve owned that was thirstier was my 4L Rolls Royce engined Princess. Today I drove out to the East Lothian coast to let the dog have a run on some nice beaches. Nice and steady never exceeding 70mph in my 3L diesel with 310bhp on tap and the AC blowing hard. Still managed an average 49mpg whereas the best ever in the SD1 was 25mpg without the benefit of AC!


Paul, One is. It’s an ex-Police remote command unit from Hertfordshire Constabulary, built in 1988 when Land Rover didn’t have a diesel engine good enough for the job of hauling 3 tonnes around. Was white, now green and our all weather, all road camper.

The other has a 3.9l Range Rover, fuel injected engine, mildly tuned to 200bhp.

73, Fraser


Hi Andy

Romping around East Lothian makes me home sick!

With my roof rack and two wrap around awnings (folded in when driving) my Jeep mileage dropped to 13 mph, US gallons are smaller than imperial but pretty bad either way.

The awning and roof rack separated from the Jeep recently (that’s a story for a beer) and gas consumption improved a heady 20%.



Hi Fraser

Very nice looking vehicle and the lights and winch add to its “don’t mess with me” look.

What’s in the rear shell? Camping space or stowage?

I was on break

neck tour of the North Coast 500 in September 2019 and saw this nice Defender near Durness.


HI Fraser,

Was pleased to get you in 027 with the benefit of short skip on 20m, especially as you were in a rare WAB square. It only gets activated when the SOTA guys get into it. Unfortunately the skip had deserted us for 024. Thanks for doing them.


Nice story with good illustrative pics. A pity you didn’t get one of a goat with treaded feet.



That will have better fuel economy than the 165bhp twin SU carburettor version!

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Yes, She’s a camper. AKA Dora (The Off road Explorer.)

Has some secret weapons.
40’ Clark pneumatic mast, with onboard V-twin pump
3KVA PTO driven generator. V8 electricity is the most expensive known to mankind.

Here’s a photo of her in her Police livery, back in the day.


Dora does around 13mpg

The Hybrid goes about 15mpg, as it weight 2600kg with the recovery crane plus recovery kit. It does around 18mpg when stripped. It’s also an auto, which doesn’t help.

“Hybrid”, because it’s a Range Rover chassis and running gear with some Defender body panels on top.

Callum sweeping a stage at the recent Argylll Rally, with me navigating.

Winched a very expensive rally car back onto the road and “suspend” towed it back out of stage.

I have too any hobbies. And too many Land Rovers.


Nonsense! :wink: I’m slightly jealous

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Thanks for the report, and yes most of us that would have considered a Defender before the were all gold plated regret not taking the plunge.

Good save on the bike tire, that’s some out-of-the-box thinking going on there.

Regards, Mark.

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Brilliant video - and many congratulations on the activations. :slight_smile:

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That would have been epic. I’ve driven from Scotland across the Libyan Sahara and back in a in a 1972 Range Rover, but that’s probably not for this forum!

Unfortunately N.African as well as Asian overland trips aren’t really possible these days.

73, Fraser

Thanks John. It was a special day. Don’t think I’ll forget it for a while!

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