GM/SS-276 Moncreiffe Hill
Having ended up in Edinburgh and polled the SOTA crowds for simple, easy summits to activate in Scotland, I leant towards two options, Cairnpapple Hill that is on the way to Torphichen, an area where my ancestors came from and that would be interesting to check out, and Moncreiffe Hill, just out of Perth. The other option, in Edinburgh, of Arthur’s Seat, required prior permission. Mike 2E0YYY suggested it was easy to get expedited (ie, within 2 hours) if you phoned them up, but at international roaming rates I didn’t feel the effort was justified when there were other options available.
My wife wanted to head up to Pitlochry, and understanding that keeping her happy allows me to SOTA more, I decided on Moncreiffe Hill, which would have been obvious for anyone reading the title of this post.
The Woodland Trust of Scotland have a nice website for Moncreiffe Hill, complete with maps and suggestions on how to get access. I parked at the Northern (Tay) Car Park, providing the shortest route – a little over a kilometre by my rough reckoning by eye. The summit itself is not Moncreiffe Hill, but Moredun Top is the actual higher point.
The path was muddy, and tougher than it needed to be due to stiffness from the Skiddaw expedition, and the fact I’d forgotten to tape my heels to protect against blisters. I felt some forming by the end of the descent, unfortunately. Total ascent took about 15 minutes.
At the top of the summit, I was greeted to a foggy surrounding, being unable to see more than about 250 metres around. I set up on the south side of the summit, which had a nice takeoff due to a fairly precipitous drop. The sounds of the M90 motorway were loud and clear, but it was impossible to see within the clouds. Strangely, given the day we’d had so far, there was no wind and no rain.
I set up first on 40m, having traced my SWR problems down to what appears to be braid coming loose in the feedline between the radio and the SWR/power meter. By luck, I found another patch lead in the bottom of my bag in better condition (marginally). SWR wasn’t perfect, but given where it had been, I was going to get a good signal out.
I worked a total of 22 QSOs on 40m across about 25 minutes, including a reasonable pileup by VK standards and a S2S with Don M0HCU. One station called in from Aberdeen (Peter MM3PDM/P) and asked me to move up to 7.160 to join a net. I fully intended to, after I’d done some 20m activating, but by the time I finished the pileup on 40m, and quickly operating 20m for another 4 QSOs, I realised I had been up the mountain for well over my allotted 30 minutes, and the wife would be quite upset at having to wait in the car.
I packed up quickly, and then dropped rapidly down the mountain. Some of the dry bits were good enough to run on, so I did that as well, with my rate getting up to 7 mins/km according to the smartphone. Not quite double-time, but I did have to slow for the muddy bits. I met my (irate) wife about 300 metres from the end and then we headed back down to the car together. Another association activated. One more to go for the Bronze level of Mountain Explorer, which will hopefully be a VK1 summit when I head there for work.