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Back from Scotland…

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Well the trip to Scotland was great!!!  I’ve taken around about 1000 pics and videos, I’ll go through them and get a selection of them put up in the gallery. 

This is the write up of my trip.  It’s very long and contains lots of links..   The pics of the trip will follow ..  Click to see the full story.

Mull 2008

Friday April 25th – Saturday May 3rd.


Friday, April 25th


The trip to the Isle of Mull for the CAMB-HAMS started Friday morning at around 1030 am from Gavin’s (M1BXF) house once everything was loaded in, on and around Neil’s (G4HUN).  We met with Bob (G1SAA), Daryl (G0ANV) and Geoff (G0DDX) at a petrol station just off the a1198 at Godmanchester. After getting some snacks for the trip it was off and away, northward bound.  We made a stop at a services on the other side of < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Birmingham for some lunch and petrol.  Neil’s truck needed £70 while Bob’s car needed only about £30.  And we are off again, next stop .. Scotland.  After successfully negotiating the border crossing it was time now for another stop to get petrol and some nibbles to see use over until we get to our stop for the night in Helensburgh.  We arrive at Gavin’s parents house at about 1915 hrs. A quick freshen up and its of to an Indian restaurant for dinner.  Gavin’s friend Allan (MM1BJP) (who also joined us on the trip to Mull along with his brother Colin (non-ham)). After a decent dinner its off for a couple drinks then back to the house for some much needed sleep.  Dave (M0VMC) arrived just before midnight, joined us for a drink then went for some sleep too.


Saturday (April 26th) morning starts alight and by 1000 hrs we are on our way to Oban to get the ferry to Mull.  We are booked on the 1400 sailing.  As expected we arrived there early so went for a walk about the town centre and check out the sights. The rest of the travelling party went to the Tesco in Oban to stock up on supplies for the week.


The ferry ride was completely uneventful and only lasted about 45 mins.  Now on Mull we start off to the south side of he isle.  Roads on the island are rough and narrow.  Much of the ride is spent on a mostly single track road sometimes widening to nearly a normal width.  We turn off the main road and head down to Carsaig. The road at this time turns from a single track road to something a bit smaller.  The drive over hills and through soggy moor lands ends with steep decent of about 200m to just couple meters above sea level to the cottage’s car park.  We arrived about 30 mins early so it was off to the beach to check things out.  Voi (G0BOE) also joined us around this time, he took a different route to get here.


The countryside on the island is littered with a menagerie of animals… And needless to say, the by-products of what they consume.  The walk to the beach is only about 200m but it’s a mine field of goose, horse, goat, highland cow and wild deer deposits with the added obstacles of having to climb over fences, rocks and a couple of small streams from some of the islands many natural springs.  The beach is a mix of sand rock and rubbish that’s drifted in from the sea.


We are now clear to take over the cottages.  Time to get to work setting up all the gear.  The first task is to unload the trailer mast and get the crank up mast assembled and put in place.  With that out of the way its time for the verticals and the dipoles after that  all the cars are unpacked and the equipment is shifted into the cottages ready or setting up and connecting to the antennas.


Saturday (April 26th) didn’t see to much radio work as everyone was pretty we’ll knackered from the travelling and set up.  Sunday was a bit of a relax and explore day, some guys went of to do SOTA or walking about or tinkering with the radios and stuff.  I personally went for a bit of a walk along the “Coastal Path”, this runs along the coast of the island, as the name might suggest.  I ended you walking about 2.5 or 3 km along the coast from the base camp. While this may not seem far, it was pretty hard going over very rocky and soft boggy terrain. Along the way I encountered about 5 or 6 wild goats, these were all very large with big horns you’ll see them in the pics.  I’m sure they were harmless but not something I wanted to find out for myself.


Sunday (April 27th) night I worked the 80m station and took about 100 or so calls in about 90 mins, the pile ups were amazing but very good fun.  Mull is a rare enough island (IOTA EU-008, WAB square NM52) that a lot of people want to work it.  Neil took over from me and go about the same number of calls as well.


Monday (April 28th), again some folks were off doing SOTA and whatever.  I was puttering around the shacks for a while then decided to take another walk.  I set off for another walk, this time I went walking back down the road from the cottages. It’s 4.5 miles from the main road at Pennyghael to the cottages, the road is up and down all the way along.  The height difference between the cottages and the highest point is about 150 or so meters.  The road is narrow and very step.  I ended up walking about 4 of the 4.5 miles before turning around to walk the return trip again.  The walk back down to the cottage was much harder then the walk up and out in the first place, not easy walking down 30-45 degree slopes for a long time.


Monday night saw a ton of activity at the 80m station again.  Neil had been working the station for several hours and after dinner I finally managed to pry him loose after about 250 or so contacts, he needed to go and eat.  I then worked the station and the massive pile ups, racking up another 250 or so in a couple hours.


Tuesday (April 29th), today Neil, Dave and myself headed out to activate another rare WAB square (NM22) located at Fionnphort, the most western point on Mull. The first antenna we set up, a G5RV, just didn’t work for us.  We then set up a 20m vertical, this proved to be much better and Dave proceeded to make a pile of contacts.  After over an hour of that we packed up and went to the local pub (The Keel Row) for lunch. I had a jacket potato with spicy haggis filling, it wasn’t that spicy, but very tasty to say the least.  After that the three of us headed the beach in front of the pub for a little look about and se what we could find.


Back at the cottages it was as other nights have been like, a great meal prepared by Daryl and radio.  I’m finishing this up in bed as I am tired and have a big day tomorrow with a trip to Treshnish Isles with 3 others.  We plan to activate the island on 20m.  More on that tomorrow.


Wednesday (April 30th), the day 4 of us head to the Treshnish Isles. This is a small group of islands several miles out to sea to the north west of Mull.  We boarded a the tour boat at the Ulva Ferry port, while it is a ferry from Mull to the small isle of Ulva, its really just a water taxi.  Anyhow, we boarded the tour boat (Hoy Lass) which was piloted by Iain Morrison and had one other crew member, a very lovely French lass, who is over here on a work placement or something.  The first stop on the tour was Staffa, a very interesting island to look at.  There are several very large caves around the island that have been carved by the sea. We only had a one hour stop here so no time for radio, only time to sit on the damp grass and, eat our lunches and taunt the giant sea going gulls, while I might ad looked like they could wrestle a pit bull for scraps… And win.  While we sat on Staffa our boat went and anchored off shore so as to free the only landing spot for another boat and to get into safer waters from the pounding sea on the rocks.   After we finished lunch we had a quick walk down along the lower path to the caves and looked at them, lots of pics of this.


We boarded the boat for the 30 or so min trip to Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish islands.  The seas were getting pretty rough and the weather was closing in on rapidly.  We disembarked on Lunga to blowing winds and driving rain.  We set off in 2 groups of 2s to find suitable places to set up and operate from.  We needed physical separation of the stations as well as some form of shelter from the elements.  We got our station set up and while in the process of getting the antenna connected to the tuner we were getting sparks as much as 1 inch long because of the static in the rain.  This caused some concern and made use be that much more aware of lightening which we are sure it wasn’t very far from us.  We didn’t get many contacts on our 40/80m station.  The other team operating 20m did much better with nearly 150 contacts in about 90 mins.


The ride back to Mull was mostly uneventful, but the sea was definitely more agitated then before.  The boat was really pitching and rolling a lot.


On Thursday (May 1st) the crew that went off to Treshnish decided to take the day off and go to Tobermory, the town was used to base a BBC kids show on called Balamory.  The town is quite small but nice.  We had lunch in the bit pub in town.  I had the soup of the day and a plate of spicy haggis dumplings.  They were very nice.  After that it was a walk around the waterfront of Tobermory and check out the shops. I bought a much needed hatchet to cut some wood for the fireplaces in the cottages and a couple T-shirts for the kids with “Balamory” on them.


Thursday night we all went to a place called “The Reef” in Bunessan, about 10 miles or so from the cottages.  The food was great but just too small for the price.  We left there after eating and drinking them out of house and home.  A good time was had by all.


Friday (May 2nd), Neil and Voi went back to Lunga again with the hopes of better weather, they got it to.  The weather today was spectacular to say the least.  They came back with well over a hundred contacts.  They even managed to do some operating from Staffa as well as an added bonus, however as it was the same EU-008 as Mull it didn’t really count for too much, but it was a nice bonus for those that wanted the island for the logs.


Those that stayed behind at the cottages started to get things packed up and taken down to ready for packing and loading up.  We have to be away from the cottages by 1000 hrs sharp, but more to the point we hope to catch the early ferry back to Oban and then home. The only scheduled stop for us is at a place called Loch Fyne which has a great seafood restaurant by the same name which is top class food.  So we will stop there for a bite then only stop when needed on the rest of the trip back.


Saturday (May 3rd).  We were all packed up Friday night and ready to go in the morning.  We pulled out of the cottages around about 0900hrs and got to the Ferry port for about 0930hrs, we had been booked on the 1245 Ferry but joined the standby queue for the 1030 sailing and managed to get on it.  The crossing was uneventful, just as the Ferry over had been.  We took the slightly longer route from Oban towards Glasgow, it’s a better route for the trailer plus we passed by Loch Fyne and we wanted to stop there for lunch.  The meal was great but the wait was longer then expected.  There’s really not much more to say about the return trip.  I drove back most of the way and switched with Neil between Manchester and Birmingham. I was dropped off at home around 2245hrs.


3 thoughts on “Back from Scotland…”

  1. Glad you and your mates had a good time. I was hoping to hear from you via an operator located in Kingston. It would have been nice to go with you.

  2. Mrs. Aleta Christensen

    Hello there! Just wanted to say I enjoyed your blog about your visit to Scotland. Your children are darling and your wife is lovely. It’s good to know people are still going to Tobermory to visit the Balamory “set” which completed filming around 4 years ago. My husband, Rodd, is Spencer the Painter (really), only in real life he doesn’t do much painting or instrument playing, though he still does a fair amount of singing & dancing (you’ll find him in panto somewhere every year). We stayed in Tobermory after they first started filming there and found it a charming little town. That fish van on the pier is the BEST! After they filmed the episode “Fish Supper” we and the crew all ate the fish & chips they’d used for filming – yum!

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