2018 has been my busiest year for SOTA for a few reasons. Firstly, because I’ve actually been able to go out consistently and secondly, because I’ve made it part of my Duke of Edinburgh Gold. I’ve been quite fortunate too, as SOTA allows me to tick off 2 areas of the award (Hillwalking - Physical; Amateur Radio - Skill).
With my new QTH in Sutton Coldfield, away from the LDs in Cumbria, I’ve been able to explore new regions and, as a result, hit 100 SOTA Completes. I’ve activated all summits in the Welsh Border and South Pennine regions, climbed all but 3 of the hills in South Wales and made good progress in North and Mid Wales. I’m now very much in the hunt for Mountain Goat, achieving 500 points at the end of July, as well as 100 Activator Uniques in May.
I thought it might be fun to sum up my year in “Award Show” format, so here goes…
Few contenders for this one, including the many times I had to run back to get the antenna that I’d forgotten to take with me, AGAIN! The winner by far, though, has to be the the circular walk I did, taking in Glasgwm (GW/NW-015) and Aran Fawddwy (GW/NW-007) at the end of September. A beautiful 7 hour walk was thoroughly enjoyed (tough start, but otherwise very pleasant, highly recommended), only to realise when I got back at the car that I had left the damned thing unlocked! Nothing was taken and, to be fair, the car park wasn’t overly busy, but lessons were learnt that day! Kudos to the people of Wales who allow idiots like myself to be able to do such silly things…
2 contenders for this one, one being sat on Great Coum (G/NP-011) at the end of July with lightning incoming (eek!), but the winner was doing the Snowdon Horseshoe (Yr Aran GW/NW-019, Snowdon GW/NW-001 and Y Lliwedd GW/NW-008) in 60/70mph gusts at the start of this month. The weather wasn’t as bad on the first 2, but I was very much in the open on Y Lliwedd. I don’t mind challenging weather; I embrace it, but the cliff face on the North side of the summit, combined with the wind pushing me from the South, made for a very shaky activation. Needless to say, I wasn’t up there for long!
For those who don’t know me, I don’t have an SSB setup - I purely work on 2m FM, so activating can be difficult at times. None more so than Y Golfa (GW/NW-061), done on a Sunday in Mid-August. It took 2 and a half hours to activate the summit (QSO 1 13:21, QSO 4 15:40) but, as it’s set in the middle of a golf course near Welshpool, the weather was glorious and I was on a relaxed schedule, I was in no rush anyway.
I don’t know why - maybe it’s the lack of people, maybe it’s the picturesque views - but, for me, Bredon Hill (G/CE-003) is the place to go to relax. I went up there with a friend at the end of last month and, upon seeing the views to the North West, she said, “If you were to draw a typical countryside scene, this is what you’d draw. A river meandering across the page, small villages scattering the paper and, right at the back, a line of mountain peaks with a sprinkling of snow on top.” The place is so peaceful and it’s just a lovely place to sit and do a little bit of radio - a lesser known summit hidden in the Cotswolds.
Easily Red Screes (G/LD-017). It’s 45 minutes of never-ending steps, but the views at the top are why I love and miss the Lake District.
Mid-May, I was in the throws of my South Wales blitz and, on a little summit (Allt Yr Esgair GW/SW-023), with obvious clearance only really to the North West, I worked my first EI station from a SOTA summit. For others, continental stations are no biggie, but to me, this was a huge deal, as I only have a small 2m setup, which does surprise me from time to time. Conditions had been perfect and it was the last hill of the day, so I had a beaming smile all the way back home.
Total summits = 104 (2 x 10 pointers, 9 x 8 pointers, 11 x 6, 12 x 4, 23 x 2, 47 x 1)
Total points = 365 (inc. 60 Winter Bonus)
Total QSOs = 811
Yaesu VX-170 Handheld
Original 3 element SOTABeam
It’ll take me a few more years to get to MG, but that’s my next main target, as well as continuing to tick of uniques as I go. Thanks to all the chasers and other activators who do this crazy thing called SOTA; it’s a joy to be a part of it and my thanks go to the MT who maintain, promote and expand this wonderful hobby.
Enjoy the festivities and have a cracking New Year!