Thursday, 21 February 2019

Bengray, White Top of Culreoch and Pibble Hill - 21 Feb 2019

I had planned to activate three summits in the Borders area over two days this week, however accommodation at the Tushielaw Inn near Selkirk was unconfirmed the day before I travelled so I decided to go west into Dumfries and Galloway and activate some unique summits there. I booked an accommodation in the right place the day before I travelled which was good and cheap for the solo traveller, so off I went...

Depart Pickering: 0550z
GM/SS-238 Bengray start walk:10:03 arrive:11:04 Depart:11:48 return car:12:34
GM/SS-245 White Top of Culreoch start walk:13:09 arrive:13:43 depart:14:41 return car:15:04
GM/SS-232 Pibble Hill start walk: 15:41 arrive:16:29 depart: 17:11 return car:17:54
As I expected, this was a long day, however my overnight stay in Creetown was only a few miles from the parking place for Pibble Hill....

Equipment: Elecraft KX2, link dipole on 5m pole, Yaesu VX-170 RH770 whip

GM/SS-238 Bengray 
The C class road north from Gatehouse of Fleet led me to the parking place for Bengray at Laghead Bridge. A core path leads from here to Loch Whinyeon.

I used the core path for about a half mile before heading off on uncharted territory towards Bengray over the top of Benfadyeon. I used occasional quad tracks before reaching the fence and wall where I turned up to follow right to the highest point. I stopped at the wall outside of the wood and well within the 25m drop activation zone - noting that the contour spacing on the 25K OS map in this area is 5 metres. 

I made one single contact on 2m FM - with Derek 2E0MIX  in Cumbria. This was not surprising as I was using a VX-170 with the RH770 whip. 40m was rather disappointing and I closed down after 13 contacts on that band:
Visibility was poor in mist both ways and I returned via a slightly different route avoiding the climb over Benfadyeon. Looking back a better route may have been possible via Burnt Mound:
A short drive took me to the track leading to SS-245 White Top of Culreoch.

GM/SS-245 White Top of Culreoch

An excellent graded forestry road with no restrictions or gates took me to NX602624 where there is a parking bay and turning point, pictured above. 

The fence and wall was followed until the summit was neared where the fence was climbed at a strainer post. The forest was felled some years ago and as the top was neared the remaining brash was encountered for a short distance.
A call on 2m with the handheld netted two contacts into Wales. HF was fairly successful with a further 20 contacts:

There was just time to reach Pibble Hill and activate that summit before going to my accommodation for the night in Creetown... 

GM/SS-232 Pibble Hill

The summit was approached from the south from parking near the cattle grid on the Corse of Slakes Road NX525584. There was no recognisable path, just a boggy moor with the occasional faint quad track to follow, never too far from the substantial stone wall on the left.
Pibble Hill ahead on the moor - I will not be going back again

It was mid February and mild - this was the 3rd hairy caterpillar I had seen on the moor, so I photographed it:

I made for the wall and fence at NX 53333 60553 where there was support to bungey my pole at the wall / fence junction. 20 contacts on the 40m band were quickly made in CW/SSB and I went QRT feeling cold as the mist was down again at 1700z.

Distance walked in the day: 8.2 miles with 2000 feet ascent

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