Thursday, 10 October 2013

A one day Scottish Tour Part 1 - Killyleoch Hill GM/SS-285

Click photo to zoom up

I was staying in a Keswick cottage with my family in early October. On Tuesday 1st October I was released from Grandad duties for the whole day. I left Keswick at 5.45am to head for an area I am familiar with - Dumfries and Galloway.

My first ever SOTA activation took place in the area on Hightown Hill GM/SS-273, in June 2005, and I completed another nine activations in the area in later years, some were indeed first time activations of SOTA summits. 1st October was a special day - the day that Killyleoch Hill GM/SS-285 was entered into the SOTA list of accredited summits with 150m prominence. I wanted to be the first ham to activate the summit, and I was. 

The last time I operated in Scotland was in August 2009 on the fantastic SOTA expedition to Ailsa Craig which was organised by Jimmy M0HGY and Tom M1EYP, great memories of that trip:

Our SOTA Group heading for Ailsa Craig GM/SS-246 in August 2009
Phil G4OBK on Grandad duty the day before - climbing Latrigg LDW-206 for Wainwrights On The Air
This addition to the summits list was the result of a survey completed in August 2013 by Alan Dawson, author and creator of the Marilyn summits book, The Relative Hills of Britain. This summit was activated again five days later by Terry G(M)0VWP.

You can find details of Alan Dawson's survey of the summit and surrounding cols here

Where I parked by the forestry track at NX 8801 8053. I walked through that gate and headed for the summit (40 mins)
A 90 minute drive took me to the chosen parking place for Killyleoch Hill, north of Shawhead. I took Alan Dawsons advice and used the same way up to the summit from the track close to Newtonairds Farm. This was straightforward to negotiate, with three easy dry stane dykes to climb, a few unlocked gates, one locked gate and a small enclosure containing docile highland cattle.

Highland Cattle in small gated enclosure near Loweberry Wood NX 877810
Time taken to get to the wall corner was 40 minutes. I activated against the shelter of the wall in the photo, 75m before the highest point. This was 8m lower than the highest point. 

Operating position SS-285 - the highest point are the rocks 75m in the background
There was a good support for my 6m pole using a convenient fence post in the corner of the wall junction. I operated for 52 minutes on HF CW/SSB and on 2m FM, completing 56 contacts. There were no summit to summit contacts, but I did qualify the summit with 4 x 2m FM QSOs on VHF which was unexpected. The best DX worked was probably YO2BP on 30m CW. 

The writer packed up and about to leave Killyleoch Hill
After returning to the car I set off for my next summit GM/SS-228 Bishop Forest Hill - driving time to reach the parking place there at Marglolly Bridge was a mere 18 minutes. 

If you would like a GPX track of this route it may be downloaded from the SOTA Mapping Project run by Rob DM1CM. 

2.4 miles walked with 520 ft ascent.

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