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SOTA Expedition to Dumfries area

May 2004



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During late May 2004 Christine had a few days off from work, and we decided to take off in the direction of Dumfries & Galloway in southern Scotland. We found ourselves a very friendly farm campsite a few miles west of the town of Dumfries. They are on the web at http://www.barnsoulfarm.co.uk Over the next few days we set about exploring the local area looking specially for opportunities to activate some of the local SOTA summits. We found 3 within a few miles. The most obvious one being Bishop Forest Hill directly to the north of the campsite. The campsite owner advised that there should be no problem about accessing the hill from the west i.e. from the north end of Glenkiln reservoir. We decided to walk from the campsite up along the west side of the reservoir, and below is a view of Bishop Forest Hill across the Glenkiln reservoir from the road we followed.
         
View of Bishop Forest Hill from across Glenkiln reservoir

Bishop Forest Hill, SOTA Ref. GM/SS-228, can be seen in the distance across the Glenkiln reservoir.
Don't be fooled by those 'gentle rolling' hills. Close up they are full of peathags, and there are no footpaths other than those trodden by the sheep.

         
Henry Moore's King and Queen at Glenkiln Along the reservoir there are some 5 or 6 sculptures by renowned artists; Henry Moore, Rodin and Epstein, strategically placed in the terrain. This is the "King and Queen" looking out over the reservoir and the hills.

This particular sculpture was vandalised some years ago; someone managed to cut off one of the heads; not sure if it was the King or the Queen. In any case, it was later found in the reservoir and the sculpture was repaired.

         

Christine on Bishop Forest Hill

Christine at the cairn on Bishop Forest Hill
We made quite a few contacts from this hill, including
several Summit-to-Summit contacts with other radio
amateurs in the Lake District and in North Wales.

         

Covenanter "Communion Cross" on Bishop Forest Hill

On our way down from Bishop Forest Hill we came across this memorial
to the 3000+ Covenanters who against the wishes of the authorities at the time
partook in Holy Communion on this spot on the southern slopes of the hill.

         

See Morris Hill

The following day we took the bikes around to See Morris Hill, SOTA Ref. GM/SS-274. It was a long hard slog pushing the bikes up to the top of the hill. The actual summit is occupied by a fairly large BT telecommunications setup with several masts and buildings. We found a place just outside the perimeter fence (up to the left of the photo) and still well within the SOTA activation limit, from where we managed to get the required number of contacts on 2 metres FM.
The free-wheeling back down the hill was something else; brakes were glowing red-hot by the time we reached the main road again.
         
Turner Monument on Bennen Hill On our last day in the area we took the motorhome to the north end of Glenkiln reservoir where there is a small parking area which is overlooked by another Henry Moore sculpture. We then legged it up on forestry commision roads through the forest in a north-westerly direction towards the summit of Bennen Hill, SOTA Ref. GM/SS-224. In hindsight, we could have taken the mountain bikes and had a 2 mile wheelie coming back down the hill.

Here is Christine on top of Bennen Hill SOTA Ref. GM/SS-272, operating 2 mtrs. while holding the mast with the HB9CV antenna on top.

The Turner Monument which dominates the summit was erected to the memory of a local Glenkiln man of some considerable local importance. It must have taken some effort to get all those cut stones up to the summit to build the massive memorial.

         

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Updated 5th July 2010