Chris Bryson

GM/SS-155 Hill of Stake SOTA Activation

Thanks for reading my first post relating to the Summits on the Air (SOTA) part of the amateur radio hobby. On Saturday 3rd June 2023 I activated my first SOTA Summit at Blaeloch Hill in Ayrshire. This post however relates to my second activation at GM/SS-155 Hill of Stake in Renfrewshire on Saturday 17th June 2023.

For those less familar with SOTA – This is an aspect of the hobby that recognises summits throughout the world, if an operator can achieve four contacts at the top of a recognised summit they have activated it and are known as activators. Operators who are attemping to make contact with those at the top of summits intentionally are known as chasers. There is more to it, but these are the basics.

Where is Hill of Stake?

The summit sits on the boundary between Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire. It is recognised as the highest point in Renfrewshire at 522 meters above sea level. There are multiple ways to access Hill of Stake with the most common being from Clyde Muirshiel Visitor Center, via Misty Law path from Lochwinnoch and coming from the West in Largs.

Clyde Muirshiel Map

I opted to come from the Clyde Muirshiel Visitor Center which is about a three mile drive off the B786, parking at the visitor center is free of charge and there are plenty of spaces. There are toilets at the visitor center and a cafe also, when I visited the cafe was newly opened and only accepting cash.

Clyde Muirsheil Visitor Center Car Park

Leaving the car park the first part of the walk is a fairly straight forward walk along the mine path for around three miles. The surface is as shown below.

Clyde Muirshiel Mine Path

After walking for half a mile or so you’ll come across a split when you see the signpost below, you’ll want to cross the Calder Water here and go left. The path starts to incline a little but it’s still pretty basic. I came across a cyclist on a mountain bike and a few others on my way up, it was fairly quiet.

As you get to the end of the mine path you’ll come across a green shipping container that has been re-purposed as the “Muirshiel Mine Shelter”. Inside is an old office table and around 8 to 10 chairs. It rained a little so I sat in here and had my lunch.

At this point you’ll see the hard path comes to an end and it’s from this point we’ll take a few short sharp climbs up onto the grassy path. It isn’t very clear where to go but if you start walking you’ll find your way up the hill without any problem.

After the initial climb you’ll look back and see this view – the shelter is down in the distance here.

The next two photos give a rough indication what the terrain is like from this point forward. Keep walking south and you’ll quickly see the trig point in the distance.

You’ll quickly realise however that the path you’ve been following comes to an end and there is no clear route to Hill of Stake. The terrain becomes a little horrible to walk in. We’ve had almost no rain at this point for four weeks in Scotland but parts of this land are still very boggy. At one point I took a step and instantly was waist deep in a bog – this quickly made my leg itch, socks were soaking wet and I was generally in a miserable mood.

Wet Montane Trousers

Nevertheless I persevered and walked up to the summit. Earlier on in the week I’d taken delivery of a Yaesu FT-65 that I wanted to compare to my Baofeng UV-5R and Quansheng UV-K5 so I had the FT-65 with me to attempt this activation.

Hill of Stake Trig Point with Yaesu FT-65

In the space of 30 minutes I was able to make 8 contacts and I’ve no doubt with a couple of CQ SOTA calls I could have achieved more, I had a quick chat with Douglas MM7DCD who had activated Hill of Stake previously and he confirmed there was no better way back. I wasn’t looking forward to the return and decided to call it a day quickly and head back.

Overall I had a pretty horrible walk up and down, but at the trig point itself there are plenty of posts for securing a pole to. I said I wouldn’t return but given it’s close proximity to my home I may!

Thank you for sticking with me and reading!

Hill of Stake Trig Point
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