Friday, 8 November 2013

GM4OBK revisits Criffel - SS-130 - 8th November 2013

We took the footpath from Ardwall Mains Car Park up to Criffel and returned the same way
Friday: Criffel 3m return walk with 1670 ft ascent

Before I got into fellwalking in the Lake District and elsewhere Judy and I used to enjoy spending our holidays in Dumfries & Galloway.  The area is uncommercialised, the roads are quiet and there are few people to bother you. In 2002 we stopped going there regularly, although I had a recent solo summit bagging visit in October 2013.

As we were heading home after a weeks holiday in Keswick with the Ramblers, we used the opportunity on the last day, to make a detour into Scotland to revisit the summit of Criffel and activate it on VHF 145 MHz FM for Summits On The Air. Our visit also gave us an opportunity to have a lunch in Dumfries at Pumpernickel, one of our favourite cafe's.

Judy heads up towards Criffel on the graded path before the moorland
After speaking with Mark MM1MPB about the route he usually takes up to Criffel, and looking at the time we had to spare, we chose the easiest option from Ardwall Mains where there is plenty of parking. The path was very well graded until we got above the tree line beyond the intake fence at NX 959629. From then on it got pretty boggy with the occasional freshwater spring coming on to the moor.

Looking back to the Solway Firth on our way up to the summit of Criffel
We set off at 11.00 am from the car and reached Douglas's Cairn - the enormous pile of stones on the top, 80 minutes later. 
A good day to be at the trig point on Criffel SS-130
I set up the station - an Yaesu FT-1500M 2m transceiver running 40 watts output from a 4 Amp LiPO battery. The antenna was a half wave dipole around 3m above ground on the 569m high summit. There were plenty of stations worked in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. 

SOTA Mapping Project Map (thanks Rob DM1CM)

Best DX on 2m FM was 114 miles / 184 Km to Victor GI4ONL in Bushmills Northern Ireland
We had a biscuit and a drink at the trig point and remained there for 45 minutes. The views were tremendous that day. It took 55 minutes to return to the car, and we headed into Dumfries town centre for a late lunch at our favourite cafe. 

The writer after bagging one more SOTA Complete on SS-130
The town was in better shape than we had seen it ten years earlier, there were few empty shops. Dumfries seemed to have done better than other areas, and it looked like it was prospering well. We took a drive north after lunch up to Auldgirth to look at a cottage we once owned before setting off back home to North Yorkshire. We made it home at 7.30 pm after an enjoyable day  with another SOTA "Complete" in the shape of Criffel GM/SS-130 confirmed. 

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