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SOTA on Tour part 2 - The Sequel


You’ll regret it after the eighth rendition of Sweet Caroline :rofl:


Doubt we’ll get asked for that tonight. But we do play that one every night on the Joe Longthorne tour, when he does his Neil Diamond impersonation!


Nice. I’d follow that by toning things down a little with “Kashmir” by Led Zep or “Dogs” by the Floyd!


I’d request Hit me with your rythm stick, Ian Dury and the Blockheads. And see how the bass line stacks up against the excellent Norman Watt Roy. :thinking:


I saw him play with Wilco Johnson on Wilco’s comeback tour when they had cured Wilco’s cancer. Norman was amazing to watch perform never mind listen too. Damn fine concert and the only time I needed a GPS in a city to find where I had parked my car!


Saw them both in Buxton, truly great musicians.


Great bassline. Love playing it, and would love to play it to accompany you Steve - see how the vocal stacks up against Ian Dury.

Anyway FWIW, last night’s Bandeoke singers got up and sang, and we played, the following:

Let’s Dance - Bowie
Dance The Night Away - Mavericks
Creep - Radiohead
Morning Glory - Oasis
Livin’ On A Prayer - Bon Jovi
Africa - Toto
Hold The Line - Toto
Return Of The Mack - Mark Morrison
All Night Long - Lionel Richie
Lovely Day - Bill Withers
Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
Valerie - Amy Winehouse
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
No Diggity - Blackstreet
Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus
Wonder Of You - Elvis Presley
Club Tropicana - Wham
You Can Do Magic - America
She’s Electric - Oasis

…that I can remember…!

Clear day today and nice weather. Will probably do a little tour of my local three SOTAs.


No Sweaty Betty by the Macc Lads ?


Unlikely to have that requested in Preston. Not that we’d do it anyway - we kinda like getting paid by venues.


No “Dead skunk in the middle of the road” by Louden Wainwright, (a “folk” favourite and definitely middle of the road music…)?


The full list is available on http://www.biscuitbrothers.co.uk

The list isn’t exclusive; we should be able to play most very well-known mainstream popular songs - but unusual personal choices are unlikely to be available, as strange as that may seem.

Anyway, day off today, and I’m still sat at the shack computer. Need to get out on them hills. 73.


I asked a pianist to play it once, saying that since he said he could play middle of the road music, I felt sure he would know that one. He had an odd look on his face when he said no…


Must be the way you tell it…


Friday 28th September 2018 - Shining Tor G/SP-004, Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015

No gig - day off. Back on the road tomorrow.

I really fancied the exercise more than anything today, so the radio took a low priority. Low rarely gets as far down as zero though with me, and it didn’t today. The handheld was carried - and used - on all three hills.

No takers at all on 2m C4FM (Fusion), but 4, 5 and 4 analogue FM contacts respectively on each summit. Thanks to Anne 2E0LMD, Pete 2E0LKC and Greg M0NZO who all managed to work me on all three hills.

Anyway, without the messing around with things like rucksacks, drinks, soup, 817s, SOTA Poles, maps, antennas etc etc, it took me exactly four hours from leaving the house to returning back home, and activating the three local SOTAs in between. It could easily be done faster - I stopped for several natters with other walkers, and wasted some time trying in vain to work on digital voice. Also, interestingly, the three hills clocked up slightly over my daily target of 10,000 steps, according to my Fitbit watch.

Now - steak for tea. Get in.


Hi Tom,

Thanks for all the great photos with generally good WX. What a good way to record the many summits you’ve been to. I haven’t read through it all yet. Pity about the swearing twenty something’s on Arthurs Seat. That would have upset me too. Only been up there once in the 70’s.

Trig pointing UK would love your photos.

Great you got Jim from SB1. I found 2m QRP from there was a bit hard to qualify.

Thanks again & 73, John


Thanks John. I hear a lot of people bemoaning the lack of 2m activity, saying it’s all gone downhill on VHF etc. I remember hearing exactly that when I first got licensed in 2001 too. In total contrast, I’m finding that I can activate a SOTA summit in most parts of G and GW, with just a QRP handheld VHF radio, with its rubber duck, and qualify without too much delay! I’m actually finding this easier than ever in 2018, comparing against the last 17 years.

So here we go again with the latest tour reports:

Saturday 29th September 2018 - Gun G/SP-013, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Rombalds Moor G/NP-028

Gig: Motown Gold
Venue: Larkfields, Pudsey, Leeds

Gun was visited first, late on the Saturday morning. Just three QSOs were made, all on 2m FM. The first one was MX0YHA located at Mount St Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire - not a bad contact. In spite of my comments above, it did seem quiet though!

Over on The Cloud, it couldn’t be more different. Still operating with just the handheld and helical whip antenna, there were even moments of pile-ups coming into me! Eight contacts, 7 on 2m FM and one on 2m C4FM went into the logbook, including S2S with Jordan MW3TMX/P on Glasgwm GW/NW-015.

Now it was time to return home, load up, and hit the road. It was an unusually early 3pm soundcheck for the wedding gig with Motown Gold in Pudsey, Leeds. I was clear of that by 4pm and face with four hours to kill. The agenda was obvious - check into the youth hostel at Haworth to make sure I had the night code to get back in after my gig, then activate Rombalds Moor G/NP-028.

The parking area is just about within the AZ, but I like my exercise, so I walked the half a mile or so, mainly flat flagged path to the trig point.

This actually is quite a tricky summit for 2m FM, especially with a handheld, so I was perfectly content with my haul of two contacts!

I tried calling a few more times on my return walk to the car. Tony G4DEE/M did call me as he drove past Huddersfield on the M62. We didn’t complete though, and I can only assume he was travelling westbound and had commenced the descent towards Manchester.

The gig was great - a big posh wedding at a big posh private residence. Good band, good musicians and great classic Motown tunes!

It was a bit of a drive back to Bronte country after the gig. My bottom bunk at the YHA was very comfortable and I had a great night’s sleep.

Sunday 30th September 2018 - Ingleborough G/NP-005, Whernside G/NP-004 & Winter Hill G/SP-010

Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Viva Backpool

Originally I was going to route across to the Fylde coast via the Forest of Bowland and activate my two remaining G/SP summits for 2018 - Ward’s Stone G/SP-003 and White Hill G/SP-006. Activators who have done these two will understand why they get left to last, and why motivation was not particularly high! Ultimately, I thought I’d swallow the extra mileage and have a great day’s walking in the Dales.

The day started with a fabulous full breakfast at Haworth YHA - which has become a favourite accommodation of mine when gigging away from home! They start serving breakfast at 0730 too, so I could be away and on the road by 8am.

I parked above the Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale and commenced my walk along the bridleway. This starts as a nice easy walk on limestone and boardwalks until the steep pull up to the ridge. On the ridge I encountered hundreds of athletic looking guys and gals carrying mountain bikes up the hill. It turned out it was the day of the Three Peaks Cycle-cross event.

At the summit were several marshals, complete with mountain rescue radio kit. I made five QSOs on 2m FM, but made the mistake of announcing - and self-spotting - the reference as NP-006. I only realised this error when Jimmy M0HGY was on the phone later and asked me how I’d got on up Great Shunner Fell!

Next was the bit I wasn’t looking forward to - the steep drop off the summit plateau on the Chapel-le-Dale side - even though I’d done it without difficulty twice before. And I did so again, but I could tell that a lady ahead of me was most uncomfortable with it. She had actually turned back at that point such was her nervousness.

I’d said to myself that I would squeeze in Whernside G/NP-004 if I was back at the car by 1230 local. Well, it was 1245 - so I thought I’d go for it! I drove back down to Ingleton and then up the valley in between Whernside, and Great Coum G/NP-011. When I reached the recognisable byway that is the start of the approach for Great Coum, I realised I’d gone too far and turned back. I found the intended parking spot shortly before the start of the path.

I was now walking against the clock, needing to squeeze the ascent, activation and descent into a strict two hour timeframe. I was therefore pleased to be 15 minutes ahead of schedule when I reached the summit.

On Ingleborough earlier, I had taken the full pack with HF station back up, even though I’d hoped to activate on 2m FM only. This time, I took the gamble of walking light, with just the FT70D and no pack! This did mean I got a bit thirsty, but I would never be more than half-an-hour from the car!

Six minutes of activating brought in five QSOs on 2m FM on the handy. This was a welcome result, and I could crack on with the descent.

This side of the hill is rather interesting, with the faint paths meandering around to follow the natural grassy ridges between the numerous deep potholes. I was back at the car in time to hear the moment Europe won the Ryder Cup on BBC Radio 5 Live.

I was very hungry by the time I got to Blackpool. There was a big hole in my belly where a litre of posh soup might normally be residing! I managed to get through soundcheck, then sat down to a large and very welcome plate of carvery, at the venue. We sometimes go to the local Wetherspoons, or occasionally something different like the chippy or even Nandos for tea between soundcheck and gig, but the carvery at the venue itself is the best - especially with the band discount applied.

I did pop down to Wetherspoons after my meal though, with the other band members, and enjoyed a coffee, before giving in to a pint of chocolate stout! The MyFitnessPal app on my phone had synce with my Fitbit watch, and advised me I would still be a couple of thousand calories in the black - so my conscience was clear!

Back to the venue, do the show, quick pack up and back on the road once again. I quite like my new habit of activating Winter Hill G/SP-010 - twice - on the way home from my Sunday night Blackpool residency gig. I haven’t got round to doing a more interesting HF activation yet - the DX on 20m FT8 might be worthwhile at that time - and it is rapidly getting colder!

I left my car on the access road off Georges Lane, and had a wander with my handheld. Three QSOs were made, all 2m FM. I then walked back down to my car for a bit of a warm up before my next activation!

Monday 1st October 2018 - Winter Hill G/SP-010

The car was warm, and I’d reclined the seat. The killer was resting my head on the pillows. You can guess the rest…

The result was that my second activation of Winter Hill in a short space of time occured after 0015 UTC, rather than the intended 0000z. Still, the quarter-of-an-hour snooze had been most welcome!

It seemed I wasn’t the only radio amateur to go to sleep. Thankfully, Dave G7RYN in Winsford was still up, so I worked him for a single contact activation. I tried to add to that, but no joy. As soon as I got back to the car and turned on the FT8800 mobile rig, there was Dave in QSO with two other really strong stations - I must have just missed them. Still, too late now - it was time to drive home.

Trying microwaves

Monday 1st October 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

This was a little wander up and down the hill by torchlight in between delivering an hour of private A-level maths tuition in Sandbach, and picking up Liam from his social in Macclesfield. The dark night, and breathing in the cold air, whetted my appetite for the coming winter season of post-dusk and pre-dawn SOTA activating.

Four contacts made on 2m FM with the HT.

Now back home and ready for Late Night Liam on Canalside Radio 102.8 MHz FM. This community radio station broadcasts to Macclesfield, Bollington and North-East Cheshire, but can be heard worldwide via http://canalsideradio.net/player/index.htm

My son Liam has a show every Monday night at 10.30pm UK time, so this week’s show is about to start right now. If you do take a listen, please email in to the address announced on air.


Tuesday 2nd October 2018 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015

No gig - night off!

A mid-morning amble up to the trig point on Gun. A few minutes operating on 2m FM on the HT. Three QSOs.

That evening, it was activity night, meaning an activation of The Cloud. Any intentions to meep Barry GM4TOE to set up a nice DX 2m QSO were thwarted when my smartphone ran out of charge early into the activation. I had remembered to charge up the Tracer battery and the Petzl headtorch - but not my phone - doh!

It was definitely feeling colder, but I managed to stick it out for the full 3.5 hours. Not a bad old VHF activation - 117 QSOs on 2m.

6 DXCCs: G, GW, GD, GI, GM & F.

18 QRAs: IN99, IO64, 74, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, JO00, 01, 02, 03.

Friday 5th October 2018 - Walton Hill G/CE-002

Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

Walton Hill was a “bit out of the way” for the ‘commute’ from Macclesfield to Lowestoft. However, when I looked at it from a purely financial perspective, it would cost me no more than £10 of extra diesel. Suddenly that looked good value to indulge in SOTAing, so I went for it.

I set off pretty much immediately after waking up that morning - Lowestoft is so far away that it is closer to most places in Holland than most places in England! The run down the M6 was pretty clear, and a 15 minute jam on the M5 in Birmingham didn’t do too much damage.

I parked in the usual car park on Walton Hill Road in the Clent Hills, not far from J3 of the M5. I felt confident to “wing it” with just the handheld carried, so left the rucksack, pole, battery, 817 etc in the car. I felt I needed to leave as much slack time as possible in the bank with a couple of hundred miles still to cover across to East Anglia.

Contacts seemed slow to arrive on Walton Hill, but I’d got the four in the logbook inside fifteen minutes of operating. It seemed everyone I spoke to was in, or heading to, Great Malvern. Which was funny because that’s where the sound crew for that night’s gig were coming from!

Furthermore, having descended and started to drive again, I heard a CQ SOTA call on my mobile rig. It was Phil G4HQB/P who was, of course, on Worcestershire Beacon G/WB-009 - which for those who don’t know, is the summit that towers above Great Malvern!

I pulled into the car park at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft just about in time, but rather ‘last minute’. No problem though, because the musical director’s motor pulled in just after I did! We all went for a Wetherspoons fish & chips tea after soundcheck, before doing the concert.

I’d opted for Cambridge YHA for my overnight accommodation. It was nice and cheap at £15 (plus £5.63 for a full breakfast), plus I figured it would get me a few miles in towards my following evening’s gig in Lancashire. It also had a 24 hour reception, so no need to check in before my gig. I was a little taken aback when I got in the car, put the postcode in the satnav to reveal a distance of 85 miles to get there! It seems Lowestoft is nowhere near anywhere!

Saturday 6th October 2018 - White Hill G/SP-006

Gig: Motown Gold
Venue: The Outbarn, Waddington, near Clitheroe

After a hearty breakfast at Cambridge youth hostel, I hit the road. The route covered a good distance up the A1, before a stretch along the M62 followed by a tedious route across Bradford and Keighley.

White Hill isn’t one I make a habit of doing annually - it is the opposite end of the SP region from my home QTH, and it is a bobbins hill with a dreary soggy route. However, I’d reached the point of being just two hills from an annual G/SP completion, and it was very close to my gig. Easington Fell G/SP-012 was even closer - almost on the doorstep - but I’d already activated that one in 2018.

I parked the car at the Cross of Greet layby on the Bentham to Slaidburn road, and entered the access land through the gate opposite. The “ascent” was much flatter than I’d recalled - but also much boggier. I knew it was boggy of course - I’d just forgotten how relentlessy boggy it was!

False summits tricked me, drew me in, then laughed in my face on several occasions in the second half of the ascent. One in particular had me eagerly anticipating the trig point as the horizon loomed close, narrowing dramatically - only to reveal a further 2km of uphill sloggery once I’d peered over it.

The ascent took me about an hour, so I factored in what time I needed to start descending in time to check into the hostel and get to my gig. It wasn’t very long at all. Hence I decided to try and get away with a handheld-only qualification once again, even though this time I’d carried up all the kit.

Six contacts were recorded, all 2m FM except one - Geoff G6MZX - who called me in C4FM (Fusion) mode. I got back down and drove to Slaidburn YHA. Reception would close at 10pm, so I needed to check in and collect the late access code. While there, I decided I might as well have a shower and get changed into my gig suit, as the venue was only a further 6 miles down the road. I was chuffed to hear the volunteer warden utter those magic words “There’s just you in that dormitory tonight”!

After a couple of hours pumping out the Motown classics for a very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd, I said goodnight to my bandmates, and made my way back up to Slaidburn for a very comfortable and restful night’s sleep.

Sunday 7th October 2018 - Ward’s Stone G/SP-003 & Winter Hill G/SP-010

Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Viva Blackpool

It had been a cold night in Slaidburn and there was ice on the car windows as I walked across the road from the hostel to the Hark to Bounty pub. I’d heard the pub would be open for breakfast from 8am, so decided this would be the perfect start to the day. I fancied a change, so went for the Bouny Rarebit - cheese on toast with a couple of poached eggs and baked beans.

Even at breakfast, I was minded towards a new (for me) approach to Ward’s Stone - from the Jubilee Tower car park to the west, and via Grit Fell. I researched several reports online, and it eventually dawned on me that the usual approach up the track from Tarnbrook would be infinitely more enjoyable.

I parked on a patch of grass in Tarnbrook, a tiny farming hamlet up a long cul-de-sac. From here, two thirds of the route is along a good Land Rover track, eventually leading to a shooters lodge. I’m sure there used to be a “No entry to walkers” sign at the entrance to this last section of track, necessitating some rough walking on the fells to either side. Anyway, this time, there was no sign of any such sign, so I pressed on ahead.

This was good, because it meant a good track to cover another 20m of ascent, leading onto a rough but clear shooter’s path snaking up the fellside past a succession of grouse butts. It was just the final half mile or so that became a vague trek uphill on pathless terrain, but the ground was firm and the going easy. In fact it had been a delightfully enjoyable walk - much better than I remembered it.

I had a bit of time to spare this time, so I decided to visit both trig points on the summit plateau. First I headed across to the higher (561m) trig to the east, before switching back to the 560m trig towards the west, and very close to some rocks that offer good shelter.

I set up the 20m GP, using the large rocks to provide important shelter from the stiff breeze. This was necessary to keep the mast in one piece - and keep the operator from freezing to death! Yes, winter is definitely on its way!

It was a great activation on the radio.

35 QSOs:

20m CW: 12 QSOs, including S2S with EA6/DJ5AA/P on EA6/MA-066.
20m SSB: 16 QSOs, including S2S with S56KVJ/P on S5/GS-006, LZ1GJ/P on LZ/RO-057, OM/SQ9MDF/P on OM/ZA-106 & HB9GUA/P on HB/AG-012.
2m FM: 6 QSOs, including S2S with Viki M6BWA/P & Rod M0JLA/P on G/LD-011.
70cm FM: 1 QSO - S2S with Viki M6BWA/P on G/LD-011.

Now it was time to pack up and reverse my walk back to Tarnbrook.

I completed my reccy of the summit plateau by visiting the curious installation right on its west end. This comprised a windmill, a couple of solar panels, and a metal enclosure, assumed to be housing a generator.

I’d memorised a view to the SE of a little peak standing between two larger hills, as a target for getting back to the track. This worked out, and landed me at the top turning circle just above the shooters lodge.

From here it was an easy and pleasurable walk down the rest of the track to Tarnbrook and my car. I was nice and early for soundcheck by the time I got to Blackpool, and more than ready for my Sunday roast carvery dinner afterwards!

The guys in the band all went for a wander down to the Layton Rakes (Wetherspoons) pub as we usually do during the first half (house cabaret & stand-up comedian) of the show for a natter and a pint of ale (just the one!). As we walked back to the gig venue, my Fitbit tracker indicated 17,000 steps for the day.

As is becoming usual for me, after the gig I drove home via the M61, with a little detour to Winter Hill. A short walk on the access roads on the summit with my handheld resulted in a 2 QSO activation on 2m FM. I then returned to my car with the intention of taking a 30 minute nap then walking back up to activate again after midnight UTC (1am BST).

Monday 8th October 2018 - Winter Hill G/SP-010

Ha! Some “half-hour nap” that was - it was past 6am when I woke up! I wandered back up to the summit with the handheld, confident of there being a bit of activity from the early risers. I was wrong. There was hardly any.

There was at least a regular chap often on at that time of a morning. I managed to manipulate an exchange of callsigns and reports between his observations of all that is wrong with the world.

So another leg of the tour is complete. The next one starts tomorrow - and I’m quickly running out of summits. The radius of pointless repeats is set to extend to unprecedented levels…


Tuesday 9th October 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Bellavista, Milnrow

When I activated Ward’s Stone G/SP-003 at the weekend, it marked a ‘completion’ of the G/SP region for 2018 in activating terms. It was the first time in a number of years I’d ‘completed’ my home region, although previous completions had been with the 17 summits, not the current 16. I miss Raw Head G/SP-016 - a shame I can’t activate it any more!

So for this evening’s gig, just north of Manchester, all SOTA summits for miles around had already been activated by me in 2018, so a “pointless” repeat it would have to be. Where better than The Cloud G/SP-015.

I kicked off the day by running Jimmy M0HGY to work in Wilmslow, via a posh breakfast at the Merlin in Alderley Edge. I then visited my 103 year old nanna in the care home in Congleton, before making my way up to Cloudside. It was a nice sunny day, but with a stiff breeze carrying significant windchill.

I set up the 20m GP then decided to try out some older datamodes by using Fldigi on my Windows 10 tablet. I didn’t actually make any QSOs this way unfortunately. I pretty much got it all working correctly, but there was an issue with the transmit sticking on, and not reverting to RX either by macro command or even manually by human pressing of the T/R button. I suspect there could have been an RF feedback issue - I was, after all, sat directly under the antenna and within the radials. I recalled that this was an issue when operating PSK31 using the Wolphilink interface and DroidPSK on my smartphone, and I needed to deploy either a feeder extension cable to site the radio & interface well away from the antenna, or a choke balun. FT8 has not presented any such problems, so I’d kind of forgotten about that “housekeeping” side of things.

I went onto FT8 using the WSJT-X program, and the fun started. Just nine contacts were made - but what a nine contacts they were!

OD5ZZ - Lebanon
ZB2ER - Gibraltar
A41ZZ - Oman
VK2BY - Australia - NSW
EA8AAH - Canaries - Tenerife
UA9CCC - Asiatic Russia
RX2D - Russia
LX1HD - Luxembourg

So all five major continents of the world and some nice interesting DXCCs too. On 20m CW, I added just three more QSOs. 2m FM produced another six, includng S2S with Phil GW4HQB/P, this time on Foel Goch GW/NW-039.


“So all five major continents of the world”. That would upset our friends in South America :clown_face: