Saturday, 28 August 2021

GM/SS-167 Black Hill - August 2021

There are three Black Hills within the UK Associations - I've activated the other two - Black Hill G/SP-002 near Holmfirth and GM/SS-253 near Biggar. The Edinburgh one GM/SS-167 is worth 2 points and is 501m high. We chose to make a day of it and walk in from the car park at the Castlelaw Army firing range NT 230637, a distance 3.5 miles with 1100ft ascent and with 350 feet of re-ascent from Glencorse Reservoir on the way back. We were carrying our lunch. I took the litre flask of tea so my pack was considerably heavier than on our previous days SOTA activity. Judy, XYL carried the food and observed her strict rule of not sharing the carrying of the radio gear - c'est la vie! My back started to get sore a couple of miles in, but at least with the tea drunk it was a little less sore on the way back. My feet were a bigger problem though, as they seem to have changed somewhat over the last year or two. The Scarpa Kailash boots I have had for two years of SOTA activating and general hiking use, had become less comfortable this year above my (now) arthritic bent toes and I now had blisters on the tops of my toes on both feet.  More on the boot situation later...

It was a bonny walk in:

Glencorse Reservoir - fly fishing in progress when we passed from boat and shore

The farmer at Kirkton Farm is proud of his work 

Walk route taken - access to the fellside was via a field gate at NT 207632

A track crosses the flank of Gask Hill and curves around to reach the summit of Black Hill easing the severity of the climb. After a dry spell the plateau was quite dry. There were a few fell runner types doing stretching exercises on the summit when we arrived. They vacated within minutes, so we took over their position near the small pile of stones denoting the highest point, and set up the dipole. 

There were plenty of visitors passing over the summit asking the usual questions. HF band conditions were poor compared to the previous day with 29 contacts on HF completed in 45 minutes of activity. I broke off on HF at 1217z for my lunch, and then packed the station up.  At 1250z I worked three GM stations using my handheld on 2m FM before we left the summit. Once we reached the road at the reservoir there were lots of people enjoying the lovely sunny day. We got back to the car hot and sweaty and in case, with sore feet, at 15:50 BST. I realised that I couldn't continue the next few days walking in the now uncomfortable Scarpa boots, so we drove straight to Craigdon Mountain Sports and after trying on five pairs of fabric boots I shelled out £160 on what I found to be the most comfortable - a pair of Meindle Tereno Mid GT boots:

With my new Trespass "Blister Free" socks and these new boots I found my feet were a lot more comfortable when we went up into Fife to activate East and West Lomond two days later. Craigdon Sports has a fine cafe too so we enjoyed tea and some nice cake before going back to our cottage near Musselburgh. 

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