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SOTA on tour


What is wrong with most of the pictures in school books is the exaggerated scale. If they were drawn to accurate scale you would need a ridiculously long piece of paper for the earth to be any bigger than a full stop. The absurdity of the notion that the difference in distance between northern and southern hemispheres is of the least significance would be instantly apparent.

This demo makes it clearer what it is really like:


Well everyone knows that Physics is the only real subject, and that Maths is a just the tool needed to explain it! (Ex Physics Teacher here…) When I did my RAE (1978!!!) I was taught how transistors worked. At A level I was taught that that was a simplification and there was a better theory. As a 1st yr undergrad that theory was then removed for being oversimplified, and we were taught a new more complex one, only for the same thing to happen in the next two years of the course, with the final version being that the model could only be approximated…I have a sneaky suspicion that the more you learn the more there is to learn! Anyway to get back to the topic it is still snowing here and I’m 200m lower and 10m NW of Hoove and I can assure you that any activations are likely to be of the snatch and grab type to pervent hypothermia, and as yet there is no chance of sunbathing! Bring on the spring weather ( all be it with a winter bonus…)

73 Paul


The 2018 tour dates are coming thick and fast now, and hopefully, so therefore will be the SOTA activations!

Friday 16th March 2018, and we had a show at the Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl. I decided that I would try to activate Penycloddiau GW/NW-054 and Mynydd y Cwm GW/NW-076 on the way to my evening’s work.

I set off from Macc at 10.30am after dropping Liam off for a solo gig he had himself that morning. The main path up Penycloddiau was very damp, and my trainers were soon wet.

At the summit I set up Jimmy’s MFD, which I had recently repaired. I was keen to check it out. Pleasingly, it was now back behaving and performing perfectly, and 16 QSOs in 12 minutes on 2m FM were testament to that. I then took the FT-817 out of the system and replaced it with the FT-70D, enabled by the SMA-BNC adaptor. Three QSOs were added on C4FM Fusion, taking the total to 19 for the activation.

I returned to the little car park via the lower path, which is what I usually tend to do. I was a little ahead of schedule, so the plan to also activate Mynydd y Cwm GW/NW-076 was still on.

My SatNav was not as helpful this time, and I needed to “follow my nose” a bit and try to remember where the parking spot was. I compared notes on this with Ian GW8OGI/A who I was in contact with while /M.

Knowing that Ian, and Eleri would be able to work me easily, I decided to “risk it” and just walk to the summit with handheld only. This was possibly a little foolhardy, as GW/NW-076 is a heavily wooded summit. However, it was no problem, and five QSOs were made easily. Eleri’s callsign threw me at the start of our QSO. I was anticipating MW3NYR - but she announced 2W0NYR. Therefore congratulations are in order for the Intermediate.

Back at the car, I was still ahead of schedule, so I took a half hour break before continuing onto Rhyl. I was pleased to find that the Pavilion Theatre was on the seafront with easy parking and excellent load-in facilities. The venue was purpose built in the 1990s, and had great sound and acoustics inside. We ended up having a great show, which was very enjoyable to play with such great sound in this impressive modern theatre. (They also had good showers backstage in the dressing rooms too, which was very welcome after an afternoon in the muddy Clwydians - and a slip and fall into a mudbath on the descent of Penycloddiau!)


Surely that reference is GW/NW-076, not GW/NW-070.

Jimmy M0HGY


Thanks Jim. Edited to the correct reference now.

Plus added a photo from the concert that I received overnight - if anyone is interested!


Saturday 17th March 2018, and the Longthorne tour rolled into the West Midlands for a show at Pelsall Community Centre, Walsall.

No alarm was necessary; my next door neighbour began drilling at 0857 - and an incredibly loud drill it was too. He was taking out a chimney breast, so the drilling and hammering was then continuous all day. What a shame I had to go to work halfway though it all!

I popped up The Cloud G/SP-015 to begin with, but couldn’t get any takers on 2m Fusion. On analogue FM, six quick contacts.

I wasn’t hanging around - I wanted to get to The Wrekin G/WB-010 before getting to soundcheck at my gig - plus it was incredibly windy. I could barely hear the audio on my Yaesu FT-70D even at full volume - plus when as a 20-stone bloke you’re getting blown about, you know it’s time to leave!

It was very picturesque though! I took some photos of the footpath restoration walks that have started, for anyone that is interested. It seems to be a very long process, and already beyond the initially stated timeframe - but work is continuing.

For some reason, my SatNav really wanted me to avoid the M6, but I gambled on ignoring it. Sometimes these gambles pay off, and other times they don’t. On this occasion, I made the right decision and had no problem driving down the M6 and M54 to the usual parking spot for The Wrekin G/WB-010.

This was probably a relatively long walk - for one that I’d do on the way to a gig. Still trivial nonetheless, although I did “spice it up” a little by cutting up the steep rougher path directly to the back of the snack bar, rather than the more graded meandering vehicle track.

Once on the ridge, there are still a couple of long banks to climb, but the surfaces are good and wide, being access roads for maintenance vehicles. The summit was nowhere near as windy as The Cloud G/SP-015 earlier.

I tuned to 144.6125MHz C4FM (Fusion) and before I could call, I heard G6UYG calling me! I then made a rapid six QSOs on analogue FM before trying Fusion again. G3CWI could be heard calling me from his campervan, but couldn’t hear me when I replied. I later learned that 2W0JYN and 2E0MDJ were calling me, but I didn’t RX them. Very strange.

For the descent, I stuck to the main track; my ascent route would have been too slippery to go back down. My car journey into Pelsall (part of Walsall) was briefly impeded by slow moving traffic past the scene of a very nasty looking caravan fire on the M54.

We had another good show, but the drive home was pretty much 30mph all the way in very heavy snow, much of it sticking and accumulating, even on the motorway.


Really ???


Ta. Edited.


Tuesday 20th March 2018 - Longridge Fell G/SP-014

Not a tour date as such, but I was due in a recording studio in Blackpool at 2pm, to begin putting tracks down for Joe Longthorne’s new album, being released in May. I am quickly running out of summits to activate “on the way to Blackpool”, but Longridge Fell was still available.

First port of call though was Sounds Great Music in Heald Green, Manchester to pick up a piece of equipment I needed, and finish a deal on becoming an “officially endorsed artiste”. Relevance? OK, fairly tenuous with regard to SOTA, but the proprietor of the business, Mark, is licensed - G0WOA.

Surprisingly perhaps, I had not activated Longridge Fell for nearly five years, so well before my SatNav days. It was very nice to be able to breeze into the start point without pulling in to consult the road atlas close to junctions of country lanes!

Again I went for the lightweight and bold approach of taking only my Yaesu FT-70D C4FM/FM handheld - so not even a rucksack. The walk is easy on a (mainly) good path, about a mile or so along a very slender gradient. As i ascended, I saw five paragliders all floating amongst the thermals above the summit.

Upon arrival at the summit, one of them had landed and was untangling his wires from the heather. He hadn’t intended to come down there, and was trying to reconfigure things and attempt to get airbourne once more. He was still battling away at this when I started my descent.

Earlier, I had alert the North West Fusion Group Facebook page that I would be QRV on C4FM. Douggie G7CDA came straight back to my first call on 144.6125MHz C4FM. He was the only one though, so it was 2m analogue FM for the other three. At that point, no-one was answering on digital or analogue, and I had the session to get to, so I called it a day. Call it a “four-and-run” if you must.

I got to the studio, where I worked for the rest of the day, through until around 7.30pm, then suffered a dreadful drive home, impeded by closures of the M55 and A34. I didn’t get in until 10.20pm. This drive only normally takes 80 minutes!

The next tour gig is Southport tomorrow (Thursday) evening, so any associated SOTA activation is probably going to have to be a zero point repeat, and the same for the multitude of Blackpool dates we have this year. On the road to Aylesbury and Cardiff next week though, so more opportunities there.


There is always Fair Snape Fell


Indeed Geoff - also Pendle, Boulsworth, Freeholds, Hailstorm, Hutton Roof, Arnside Knott, Easington et al - but with any of these, we are starting to contemplate significant diversions from any natural route between Macclesfield and Blackpool, whereas previous ones added no more than two hours to the overall journey.


Longridge Fell is another of those delightful 1pt summits. Must do it again.


Absolutely, I enjoyed it more than I remember enjoying it.


I mentioned Fair snape because its only about 5 miles from Longridge fell and there is a direct route to Blackpool from Longridge that misses the motorway


Yeah good shout Geoff. Might incorporate it into one of this year’s Blackpool gig dates.


Thursday 22nd March 2018 - Billinge Hill G/SP-017

I’d already done Billinge for the activator point this year, but the evening’s tour date was at Southport Theatre, and this summit was pretty much on the route.

I parked just off Crank Road and walked up between some houses and behind a yard full of motorhomes. The ground beyond was much less boggy than the previous couple of occasions, and I walked up and selected the side of the graffiti-ridden brick structure on the summit, taking care to avoid stepping on the tied polythene bags of dog excrement. (I’m selling this one well, aren’t I?)

I set up the 20m groundplane, and soon had a run of nine SOTA chasers, including five into the USA. The band seemed to close pretty suddenly shortly after 4pm though, which surprised me.

Over on 2m FM, I worked two stations on analogue FM, and three on digital C4FM. Before packing away, I tried again on 20m, this time on SSB. I managed to work YO8BFC, but that was all, and it was time for me to get on the rest of the way to Southport.

I was surprised at how big the theatre was when we got there, and as ever, it was a good show. Day off today, then back on the road again tomorrow - York - but with a different band.


Hi Tom,

Nice write-up. Interesting photos of the famous Cloud. I have often wondered what it looks like. Now I know. Good to see Nick & Dave’s photos too.
73, John.


Thanks John. Have you never activated the most-activated SOTA summit in the World then? You need to address that! Let me know when you plan to, and I’ll try to join you for a joint activation - and maybe a meal and pint afterwards? Suspect 'HGY and 'CWI might be up for that too.

Gigging in York tomorrow (Saturday). Joint activation of Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004 during the afternoon? I know it’s not your normal MO to activate for low numbers of points, let alone none at all, and you did this one a couple of weeks ago I think, but there’s no rule against it and the Database does accept multiple activations of the same summit in a calendar year. It just doesn’t award you any points for them!

Gigging in Aylesbury next week - that’ll be Haddington Hill then…


Have to admit my overarching memories of the SP’s are fairly universally dire, including the absolute nadir of my SOTA career on SP-006 White Hill where we enjoyed an inundation exceeding any other I can recall :frowning:

Moderated by a couple of highlights - Black Hill SP-002 when the ascent became three hours of fighting through waist deep and more snow, with initial frustration giving way to hilarity as we stumbled through ever deepening drifts. And perhaps my most memorable ever ascent, of Fair Snape Fell SP-007, again in the snow, with the combination of sun rising on one side and full moon setting on the other giving us dual shadows, one of orangey pink, and the other of shimmering silver. Never seen the like before or since, pure magic.

Perhaps I should give the SP’s another chance…

73 de Paul G4MD


And we’re back on the road again.

A roadside greasy spoon en route amused me somewhat! Could be a name for our house that!

Just finished an afternoon gig at Brick Lane Music Hall, London (not on Brick Lane though). I will be QRV on 2m FM from right now.

I will be diverting via G/CE-005, so anyone in VHF range of the Chilterns would be most welcome in my logbook. I haven’t decided whether to do HF or not yet. See what time I get there and what the weather is like.