Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Activators beware!


I’ll be watching/listening for you both - welcome back to GM

You’ve been missed.



PS: Midges all gone, but tourists still here (we need the dosh - hi!)


Think you should make that your avatar - such an uncanny resemblance :grin:


Thanks Kent. No damage to the power pack, but the pipework still needs upgrading! I am still in Phase 1 of the recovery. Nonetheless I am definitely feeling in better shape and even surprised myself by walking 5 miles this morning in 1 hour 15 minutes after dropping the wife’s car down at the not-so local garage. I won’t be achieving that pace on the hills!

Thanks for all the good wishes. I am really looking forward to this outing and I am pleased to hear those pesky midges have gone wherever they go over winter.

The feeling is 100% mutual - my most grateful thanks to you Paul. I am sure that at some point during this outing we will be raising a glass to the future of the partnership - aye, another 10 years at least. Bring it on!

73, Gerald G4OIG.


Well 2 down and 1 summit to go on this current outing. I am pleased to report that I have had no issues making the ascents of Penvalla GM/SS-145 and Hart Fell GM/SS-037. The latter was recorded at 6km with 650m of ascent which we sauntered up in 3 hours. Better to be safe than sorry… thankfully I am still here to activate another day!

Tomorrow Paul and I will be activating Broad Law GM/SS-029 which we are tackling from the south. This will be an ascent of 4km with an ascent of 390m. The downside will be the weather, so we may need to trim our time on the summit to suit conditions.

We hope to work some you then.

73, Gerald G4OIG


If you’re going up Broad Law from the Megget Stone ( something so huge it puts Stone Henge to shame) then the the ground near the Murk Gutter can be “soft”. I’ve never followed the fence all the way but have broken off early and taken a more direct route up onto Cairn’s Law. Might be worth following the fence all the way. It probably wont be “softer” and may a whole lot better.


Thanks for the advice Andy. I did remark to Paul about Murk Gutter… how descriptive! I think we will follow the fence as visibility is going to be poor. At least we should be able to find the summit that way without any navigational issues… then again. :wink:


It often is!


Come on now… don’t be so negative. We had all of 3 minutes clearance on Hart Fell. The problem was to work the stations and take photos at the same time. I failed miserably… . must be that male multi-tasking issue. :wink:


No Andy, you were right… it was far worse than we could have imagined. No chance of HF, though a ground mounted dipole was discussed. All that was schieved was a quick 2m SSB activation. The path was a stream on the way up and even worse on the descent. Worst weather conditions I have encountered in almost 12 years of SOTA. Many thanks to the chasers who were quick to respond to my self spot… when I eventually managed to get it placed.

73, Gerald G4OIG


Well the rain this morning was fairly impressive, I got quite wet in 100m from the car park to the office. I did think it was good weather for ducks but not SOTA. Shame it was horrible for you. I’ve been there in gales+mist, mist, stunning snowy landscapes with sun, blue sky and serious cold and once with Biblical levels of rain. It could be the heaviest rain I’ve ever had on a GM SOTA activation.


Great to hear from Roy G4SSH on 2-FM while I walked the dog this morning that you were out activating Broad Law Gerald but you certainly picked your day! Hope all is now well from the health viewpoint. Take it steady.
73, John


Bad luck on the WX, Gerald - at least you were expecting something pretty nasty. So were we, 'tho not headline making rainfall a mile or so up the valley and roads under water all round.
Many thanks to you both for the S2Ss.
Hope the journey home was OK.


Thanks for the best wishes in respect of my health John. After three days of activating, I think that I can say Phase 1 is complete. The summits were chosen to test my abilities in various ways and the weather today certainly added another dimension. Overall 29.2km walked and 1400m ascended. I now need to keep fit, the next target being the annual outing between Christmas and New Year, that is if Phase 2 has not kicked in!

73, Gerald G4OIG


It was a pleasure to make the S2S contacts with you and Viki. Pity that the Penvalla to Mellbreak path was not good enough for 70cm, but you can’t have everything. :slight_smile:

I trust that your ears were burning this afternoon… we were monitoring SOTAWatch for a potential spot as we drove down through the Lakes, but seeing we were driving through horrendous weather, we didn’t expect you to be out. It certainly seemed to be worse than in the Southern Uplands and that was pretty horrific.

73, Gerald G4OIG


Well, it was excellent to be out on the hills again particularly so in the company of Gerald who was in magnificent form :slight_smile: Although we’d chosen the targets to be “less demanding”, that doesn’t mean a lot in GM and his Phase 1 plumbing refit got a thorough testing…

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the way Gerald stormed up the hills this time really brought into perspective the increasing difficulty he had been finding on ascents in the recent past and I make no apology for repeating the advice to get checked out if you think you may be having similar issues. I know that having struggled to match Gerald’s pace on this outing I’ll be visiting my own doctor for an overdue MOT, even though I suspect my problem is more likely excess lard around the waist rather than in my arteries :-s

Really looking forward to the assignation with GM/WS-001 next year and hope a good few will join us. In the meantime plenty more ideas in the pot, subject to fitting round Gerald’s Phase 2 surgery so watch out we’re back :smiley:

73 de Paul G4MD


I’ll second that! Many thanks for both, new completes for me :slight_smile:

Apologies to all for not operating from Broad Law, For the first time ever I got to a summit and decided to wimp out in the face of the weather. And apologies to Gerald (who is patently made of sterner stuff than I) for causing him to curtail his own activation. Hopefully, like the man said, “I’ll be back”…

There were spectacular amounts of water about, and the splendid cascades of white water down the hillsides above Talla reservoir were some compensation for the soaking we got. The roads on the way back were certainly “interesting” due to the amount of standing water about :-s

Here’s hoping that December will be dryer :wink:

73 de Paul G4MD


For Andy… a walk by the stream. :wink:


Oooooh! It’s soft at the best of times but that’s a cracker. You could surf down that!

Of course, the fact there are 2 huge man-made reservoirs at the foot of Broad Law (Talla and Megget Water) suggests that rainfall is plentyful in this area.


At last, the report…

After my heart attack in early July, it took quite a time to get an expedition with Paul together. The combination of having to prove myself on small hills first and progress to steeper inclines was not the only thing that held us back. Issues with work kept Paul from being able to commit to a date, but eventually we settled on the second week of October, come hell or high water as it were.

Monday 9th October 2017

Paul kindly drove this time so that I would not have to drive long distances in combination with climbing hills. We set out from Stourbridge at our usual time around 03:40z and kept to routine with a bacon and mushroom buttie and a coffee at Tebay services. The weather was mixed, but probably better than we expected… that was until we approached the border with Scotland. However, when we arrived at Stobo at 08:40z, it was just dull. The parking spot that Paul had determined by the phone box was occupied by a white van and it was only by chance that I had read a report on Scottish Hills, so I knew that we would to be able to park opposite the kirk. The road looks like a private drive, but no-one came out of the houses near the kirk to see us off. Careful not to damage the newly seeded verge, we got ready for the unknown – my first real physical trial since July.

We set off along the John Buchan Way at 09:05z with a huge amount of time allowed in the itinerary to ascend Penvalla GM/SS-145. The path was easy to follow and gently sloping until we got near the foot of the hill. We made the decision to take a fairly direct route to the summit up the shoulder of the hill, but due to the terrain this did not actually gain us any time. If anything it was harder going than the narrow track up the spine of the hill. Although the over-riding consideration was to take it easy, the heather yomp turned out to be a good test for me, both in terms of the steepness of the approach and the time taken for the ascent. We arrived at the rather featureless summit at 11:45z and settled down amongst the vegetation ready to brave the cool wind that was blowing.

The final approach to Penvalla GM/SS-145

View from the summit to Trahenna GM/SS-143

While I settled down to some sandwiches prepared by my XYL, Paul started to set up for his activation. He was operational by 12:07z with John G0TDM providing a quick first contact on 60m SSB and a spot. 10 contacts were made in 20 minutes around G, GM and EI. Although it was midday, Paul decided to give 80m a try and the band amazingly provided a further 5 contacts on SSB, again around G, GM and EI. A move was then made back to 60m to pick up Rod M0JLA/P on Mellbreak G/LD-036 with a further two contacts also made. The skip on 40m SSB was fairly long and the band produced a total of 10 contacts around G, DL and PA, with Zbyszek SP6BBE completing the activation at 13:43z.

I started on 2m SSB at 12:15z to be immediately called by John G0TDM, but for some reason he immediately disappeared and it was Don G0RQL who was first into the log. John actually made contact number 4. Derek G1ZJQ and Mike G4BLH went out portable to work me which was pleasing. Having an internet connection on my phone, I noted Viki M6BWA/P was on Mellbreak G/LD-036 on 2m FM, so I moved there to work her. Shortly afterwards Paul came across to pass on a request from Don G0NES for me to go back to SSB which I did and we made contact. In all 9 were worked on the band.

After I changed the antennas over, Jorge EA2LU was first into the log on 30m CW, followed by a steady run on contacts around DL, HB9, I, OK, ON and SP – 11 contacts in all. I opened a link on one side to run the antenna as an off centre dipole and tweaked the auto-ATU for 20m. Mariusz SP9AMH was the first to call and a total of 15 in all were worked on the band on CW. Countries worked were OE, OH, OK, OM, SM and there were three DX contacts with George N1GB, Rick N4EX and Phil VE1WT. It was 14:05z when I went QRT.

We decided to take the “normal” route down the spine of the hill, setting off at 14:27z and arriving at the car at 15:50z. I was pleased to be feeling well and relaxed and if anything I found the walk easier than those that I had undertaken in Scotland for some time. The following day would be a tougher test with a 6km walk in and a 650m of ascent. We decided on Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips and a reasonably early night ready for the 06:00z departure.

Tuesday 10th October 2017

A short half hour drive got us to the parking spot up a valley just beyond Moffat. The established route to Hart Fell GM/SS-037 was easy to follow, initially following the track past a field of domesticated deer towards Hartfell Spa and then setting off left steeply up to the spine of the hill. The lengthy and fairly steep ascent once again tested my abilities without any adverse effects other than a bit of indigestion, an issue caused by the statins that I had been prescribed. We reached the summit at 09:51z after a gentle 3 hours, actually 90 minutes early! Unfortunately there were no views to take in as we had been in the cloud from around the 500m level.

The route to Hart Fell GM/SS-037

Part way up - Hart Fell somewhere in the mist

We used our tarps on the fence to get some respite from the cold wind and this time I was up and running first at 10:12z. I started on 2m SSB and a few minutes calling, back came Brian G4ZRP. The going was slow and I only managed 7 contacts in around 35 minutes, so I deemed it was time for lunch before the HF session.

My set up on Hart Fell

30m CW was somewhat more lively than the previous day, with Fabio IK2LEY first into the log at 11:15z. Other countries worked were DL, HB9, OE, OH, ON, PA, SP and S5, with a total of 15 contacts made. Hans HB9AGO/P on Motto Crostel HB/TI-100 called me for an S2S. Moving to 20m CW, Ola SM0CUH was the first to call followed by Juerg HB9BAB/P on Hohmattli HB/FR-027. George N1GB provided the only DX contact, with DL, OK and SP being the only other countries. After I had worked just 7 worked on the band, the frequency went quiet. I noted Viki M6BWA/P was on High Stile G/LD-012 on 2m FM, but when I tuned in she was about to QSY to 70cm, so I reconfigured the set up and followed. It wasn’t long before both she and Rod M0JLA/P were in my log.

Paul had an amazing activation on this summit. Starting on 60m, a total of 20 contacts were made between 10:19z and 10:50z, with Michael EI3GYB first in the log and G, GM, GI and EI worked. A swift change over to 80m once again produced results, even better than the previous day, with 11 contacts made with G, GM and GW headed up by Allan GW4VPX. 40m was in similar good fettle, with G, GM, GU,. EA, EI, HB9 and PA worked. The band total was 18 contacts, making one more needed for the half century. That came courtesy on Viki M6BWA/P on 70cm using my kit.

Paul operating at Hart fell trig

After leisurely packing the kit away and a couple of phone calls, we set off down to the car at 12:40z. On the descent we met a couple of walkers who asked about the poles and actually knew about SOTA, but we entirely forgot to enquire of their names, or indeed did we give ours. We arrived at the car at 14:42z, giving us plenty of time to relax back at our accommodation before getting something to eat.

Looking back towards Hart Fell

Paul had spotted a new noodle bar where we were staying, so we opted for that followed by an excellent pint of beer courtesy of Paul and a piece of vanilla brioche which I usually take on these outings. We had planned another 06:00z start the following day, but the weather forecast did not look good. However, the route from the south was simple enough and we hoped that the approach would give us some shelter from the rain and wind.

Wednesday 11th October 2017

On checking out of our accommodation we found the weather was not as bad as we had feared, but of course we were only at a low level. It was 06:06z when we set off for the parking spot for Broad Law GM/SS-029 located near the Meggett Stone. It was blowing a right hoolie when we arrived and raining hard. I got out of the Landie to test the conditions, and found the ground underfoot was pretty much waterlogged. After a while it was evident that the weather not going to improve, so we got ready and set off up the hill at 07:41z.

The initial section up Broad Law GM/SS-029 - several miles to go beyond this

The conditions worsened as we gained height and often our progress was hindered by the crosswind, but we eventually reached the summit at 09:33z where it was absolutely horrendous. Given the conditions, setting up for HF was totally impossible. I managed to attach my tarp to the fence to get a modicum of shelter while Paul went to see if it was any better over by the radio installation on the summit. Unfortunately it wasn’t!

Broad Law trig and pond

It seemed to take an age to get set up, but it was only 22 minutes in reality. Even though I was using the largest diameter sections of the pole, the 2m beam was bent over to around 30 degrees from the vertical. Water was dripping everywhere and my attempts to self-spot failed completely – the water prevented me using the touch screen. Thankfully just 5 minutes after I started calling, Brian G4ZRP found me on 2m SSB at 10:00z. Don G0RQL followed and spotted me. In mercifully quick succession, John G0TDM, Frank G3RMD and Walter G1BBY then worked me. In fifteen minutes it was all over and Paul then helped me dismantle the kit. We set off down the hill at 10:25z and reached the car at 11:30z.

Footpath or stream?

It took a while to stow the kit, after which we decided to get away and at 11:51z we set off for home. Stops for petrol in Moffat and some food and drink at Tebay preceded delays on the M6, so it was 17:42z when we arrived back in Stourbridge. After a welcome cup of tea and a piece of cake, I set off for home, which I reached at 19:57z. The first priority was to get the rig into the airing cupboard and lay out the rest of the kit to dry off.

So with the trials behind me and my health stable, Paul and I have our next outing to Scotland planned, all subject to me being called for surgery of course. Maybe we will work you then… hopefully under better weather conditions!

73, Gerald G4OIG


Thanks for the great write up and pics of the summits,good to hear you both out together
look forward to the next one as you say hopefully under better wx conditions.
Pleased to get you in the log again.73 Both.Don G0RQL.