Or Yet Another Tinto Activation!
I though I was fully Tinto’d up. I’ve done it in OK WX in October, godawful freezing fog in January and in a blizzard with the boss in April. I didn’t think I had another ascent of it in me. However…
The WX forecast or this weekend wasn’t brilliant, lots of heavy showers predicted. So I didn’t fancy a long drive and soaking just for some points. I did fancy a walk and spent most of Friday and Saturday considering what to do. The WX on Saturday was awful, I haven’t seen rain like this for months and months. So I didn’t exect to get up early on Sunday. As it was the sun was cracking the flags but there were lots of fluffy white clouds and dirty grey ones. By 10.00am I’d decided that I would do Tinto, 'coz it’s easy and it’s there. I also decided that I would now roll my activations of Tinto onto a 13month cycle. I did it last April, so this May is OK and if I’m spared till June 2010 well that’s when I’ll do it again!
I lobbed the SOTA gear in the car, grabbed 2 bananas and a Mars bad for lunch and set off only to get stuck for 25minutes in resurfacing works in Carnwath, grrr! Mental note was made to come back via Biggar. Anyway soon I was passing the turn off for the Tinto car park. It looked like an IKEA car park. Busy? I should co-co! However, I kept on and went around the back of the hill. The western approach to Tinto looks interesting and is further to walk so that was my route.
In the end I parked at NS925330 by the house but not blocking anything. From there a fine track leads up onto the western ridge the only problem being it ran through a field full of cows and the calves. I don’t like beasts this big, you can’t trust them. I know I could have sheep and win, especially if it came to arm wrestling. But cows? Dodgy if you ask me. Anyway they were more frightened by me and ran off when I came close. Not like the hairy coos on the way to East and West Cairn Law. They’re hard blighters who stand their ground. Anyway I was soon past them and ready to start the climb proper.
At the top of the track there’s a gate which you go through then immediately leave the track and follow the fence up the hill. This fence (and drystane dyke) runs right to the summit, an ideal navigation aid for doing this route on a pea-souper. The ground is really steep here and stays that way for a while. But the day was nice and the sun was getting hotter. I’d driven through a serious shower on the way but you’d never have guessed looking at the sky now. Anyway onwards and upwards. Considering the rain over the past few days I expected the ground to be worse than it was. There were a few soft bits on the flat sections but nothing to cause me to route around them.
I was following the fence and at times the path disappeared but at others there was a nice ATV track to follow. You can’t see Tinto for the first part of the climb as the view is blocked by Lochlyock Hill. (Pronounce that anyway you can, I strained my tongue the first time I tried!) From here there’s a gentle downwards bit followed by the final ascent. Now you can see Tinto which was looking nice and red as its name suggests in the sun.
The col was a little damp and after that it was a trudge to the top. It showered a bit but nothing much and after what seemed like a lifetime of trudging the cairn at the top appeared. Along with what looked enough people to make you think the entire Chinese Red Army had the day off. Boy was it busy. And there was an aerial visible.
An aerial? I’d booked this hill this morning (on the alerts page). How dare someone come and play on it! I put on a stern face and walked up to the perpetrator. I was going to enjoy this, enough busy bodies have demanded to know what I was up to over the last 120 something activations.
“Who are you?”
“Are you must be wondering about my amateur radio gear,” came the reply.
I moved my position so the fishing pole was more obvious and the interloper recognised me for being on the same side as him. Then I smiled and we exchanged callsigns. It was Robert GM4GUF out playing on 2m. We spent a good 10+minutes chewing the fat as he had just about finished. After that I wandered off the cairn down to the fence to attach the HF antennas whilst Robert packed up. By the time he came down to see how I was doing I was up on 60m SSB (note how I have to give the mode now I can murder the airwaves with my Morse!) There was a lot of QSB on my signal making it hard for some chasers as Robert looked on with interest. He told me he’d never used the band so was intrigued with how I was doing.
The only problem was I couldn’t find the PalmPaddle and I was having sinking feelings that it was on top of Corserine. I had another chat with Robert, we commended each other as we had the same boots (Meindl’s) and Robert set off home. I had a good rummage in the rucksack and found the paddle at the bottom. Phew, at £60 a pop I didn’t want to have to buy another. Conditions were OK for some but hard work for close in stations. Steve GW7AAV just completed with me but Mike GW0DSP was lost into QSB. Likewise despite Frank G3RMD’s help I couldn’t work Roger G0TRB. Never mind, next time guys, next time. I did have an S2S with Barry GM4TOE who was down in these parts from his northern perch as he was on SS-123 which he activated as he was passing through the area.
Onto 40m CW and the regrets that I had a CW filter for the 817 but flogged it rang true as I tried to find somewhere clear. But with a bit of perseverance I was able to work G4WSX, PA0FBI, DL6KVA, LX1NO & DL3JPN. Thanks for being QRS for me. I realise that it must grate with you as I wallow about sending so slow and ask for callsign repeats. I think I’m ready to wind the keyer speed up a notch now. I cannot describe how much I am enjoying learning Morse and getting faster. It’s a combination of elation at success and an adrenalin rush from the sheer panic of going live on 7.032!
A group of people with some young kids came over to see what was happening. The kids had seen Morse in films but there minds were frazzled by growing up with mobile phones ( I guess they were no more than 8 years old )which meant they couldn’t see why. “Why do you bleep? Why don’t you just text the people?” said one. The youngest went on to say “I’m 5 but I did a Munro when I was 4”. His father thought my suggestion that he needed lead boots and backpack filled with rocks was quite amusing. Little tyke!
After that I packed up took some photos and watched in amazement when some prat in a Robinson R22 helicopter buzzed the cairn. Most people ducked as it was less 25ft above the cairn top as it zoomed past. Probably not a legal flying manoeuvre! After that the return route was the reverse. Nothing special. I had a few contacts through the daftest repeater in the UK, GB3LA on Green Lowther. The coverage is ridiculous, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the attenuators go in the rx and the tx power is set to 10mW!
Back to the car, clean T-shirt and home just in time for a nice roast dinner. Magic. Oh and I remember some suncreme on my arms this time and to keep my hat on. My face still feels hot though!
Distance walked: 10.6km, distance climbed: 580m, distance driven: 72miles
Pictures will be on Flickr after I have watched Inspector George Gently!