It was 2m Trophy Contest time this last weekend. That involves setting up a contest station, camping in the field, general silliness involving lots of RF, drinking and also a local SOTA activation. Despite having been involved with our group for many a year, there are still plenty of SOTA summits for me to grab a unique. This time White Top of Culreoch won the draw, I was also going to bag Bengray as well, more about that later.
Parking is at NX610622. OK, here’s the bad news, the walk starts by following the white dusty forest road and descending 50m. At NX602624 there is a parking space and a culvert in the road and a few metres further there is a cattle grid and gate in the road. The climb starts at the parking space. If you go back a few paces from the culvert and climb the bank you’ll find 2 hidden gates and a track that takes you nearly all the way to the summit. But you wont find it till the descent! I went over the grid and started to climb through the edge of the forest which has been harvested. I walked up what looked like serious caterpillar tracks. The clear fell is old and well rotted so the harvesting is at least 5 years old yet the vehicle used has left tracks in the muddy ground which have remained.
Just go up following anything that makes life easy, you can see a fence running up to near the summit to the right. Now I have been visiting our contest site which was only 5km away for 10 years and this was the 1st nice weather ever. We’ve have snow in May so scorching sun and blue sky was a novelty. The wind was from the North and was cool though. I kept climbing till I reached trees and there was a path between the forest and the fence. However, as I climbed the bracken got worse and worse so I crossed the fence, crossed the stream and found a wonderful ATV track. Follow this up.
This photo shows the summit coming into view as this part was not planted although higher up was. The fence runs parallel to the old stone wall. Just keep climbing and looking at the fence, not far from here there is section of fence wire wrapped in white plastic sheeting. Cross here!
You can see self-seeded trees and having crossed the fence and wall arrange yourself to face straight up the hill, at 2 o’clock, 100-150m distant is a young tree, it’s just visible as the last tree on the right edge by the wall. Walk to that and when there turn through 90degs and continue. That’s the easiest route and there’s an animal track to follow too. As you get to the top there is more clear-fell debris. Just go up and try not to trip. You’ll see the summit and there is a big tree root at the top along with a wee cairn.
Admire the view. It’s great for not much effort made better by being out on a wonderful day. There are plenty of SOTA summits to see, Cairnharrow SS-191, Bengray SS-238, Cairnsmore of Fleet SS-065. This next photo shows Fell of Fleet SS-181 as the bare long hill on the left and Black Craig of Dee SS-170 in the middle distance. The prominent hill in the far distance to the right of Black Craig of Dee is Cairnsmore of Cairsphairn SS-038 with Windy Standard SS-071 immediately to its right. Just visible behind Fell of Fleet is the summit of Corserine SS-033.
OK, conditions were not brilliant but there were few people about. I only worked stations on 20m CW despite calling and being seen by RBNgate on 17 and 30m. I worked 15 stations in total. Sorry to Phil VE1WT who sent his call many times as I tried to figure out where on Earth 4E1 was located. Duh! VE1 Also DXish stations were Rich N4EX and EU2MM. The WX made up for low QSO numbers. It was painfully hot in the sun and damn cold when the clouds obscured it. However, this was an easy walk and despite the heat I hadn’t got sweaty. This was important as there were no shower or washing facilities till I got home. I considered activating Bengray which was about 1hr walk from the parking place plus I had about 35mins back to the car. Plus the walk back again. I considered being a bit pongy whilst helping with the contest group and decided Bengray would be here next time we do a contest (maybe for UHF in October). So I packed up and went back to the car.
Back at the contest station things were bubbling nicely. It was 20C now which is the hottest I’ve known here. But by 5pm as the sun was setting the North wind was obviously cold. It would be a cold night. In fact it stayed clear and by 11pm the night sky was fantabulous. I haven’t seen the Milky Way so well for so long, Andromeda Galaxy was just a naked eye object. Plus there were Iridium flares and satellites a plenty doing North-South passes. But it was cold. I don’t mean cold but c-c-c-c-c-old! Shiveringly cold. The temperature dropped from 20C at 4.00pm to 5C by dawn. Such a change makes the cold feel worse. I had a restless night. Despite sleeping in a fleece plus hollowfill Belay jacket and sleeping bag it took ages to get warm enough to sleep. A comfort break by torchlight at 3.00am was anything but comforting and again it took time to sleep again.
On the off chance conditions would be good to EA2 we started operating at 630am. Well one of the crew started the generator at 630am and woke me up. He didn’t work EA2 either
Here’s a shot of dawn across the contest tent and antenna, 0531Z, ridiculous time as there was no tea to start the day!
A “arty” shot of the antennas and feeders. M2 2M5WL 18ele main antenna, back 5 ele of another 2M5WL for backup/local stuff. LDF 4-50 feeder, the minimum for 2m. With the connectors the loss is about 0.7db.
Finally, a cold MM0FMF suffering from a lack of whisky the night before as it was far too dangerous to drink on a cold night, a lack of sleep and lack of early moring tea. However, when the sun got going at 9.00am I was smiling again!