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A proper walk up Shining Tor

Dropped Liam off at work at the automotives workshop at Hurdsfield Industrial Estate. Walked across Victoria Park, Macclesfield. Caught the 0915 bus to Buxton.

Walked down the Old Macclesfield Road to the start of the track. Cut up the public footpath onto Burbage Edge then down an old favourite path down Goyt’s Moss into the Goyt Valley.

Through the woodland around Goytsclough Quarry and then the climb up Stake Side onto the ridge.

Then the familar drop and climb up to Shining Tor G/SP-004 summit. Surprised and pleased to meet Nick G4OOE/P already activating here. Had a sit down, rest and enjoyed my Beef Broth soup here.

After Nick packed up and descended, was joined by a huge party of walkers all with impressively elaborate packed lunches. Not wanting to feel left out, broke out a bag of beef jerky to follow my soup. Just using the VX7 handheld and RD, made 5 QSOs on 2m FM.

Descended steeply west off Shining Tor, before rising slightly again onto a nice short section of ridge, before heading north, then west again down to Lamaload Reservoir.

Some nice woodland walking here around the water, before coming round to the huge dam. Edgy bullocks blocking the way forward on the PROW, so hopped over onto the stairway down the side of the dam, bringing me out onto the service road at its foot.

All that followed was a long and boring walk down the tarmac access road for the water treatment works, all the way to Rainow village. Had originally intended to use PROWs from Lamaload to Hurdsfield, but ran out of time in terms of meeting Liam from work at 4pm. Got a taxi from Rainow to Hurdsfield, just in time for a swift pint at the Durham Ox.

A nice long walk, of which I must do more. Really a superb walk, with every 5 minutes being different visually, and in character to anything previous. Pure enjoyment.


Hi Tom

Great to catch you on Shining Tor. I really enjoyed the activation, I made 17 qsos with the VX7R at 5 watts to the MFD and thanks for the directions to Gun - a big help. I reckon that this could be an annual pilgrimage to do Shining Tor, Gun and The Cloud on the way to visiting family in Chester.



Brings back some Macc’ memories Tom. Did much of that long ago but never strung together!
73, Simon

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OK, I’m off again, for another proper walk up Shining Tor. I’m at the bus stop awaiting the Whaley Bridge service. The plan is to walk via Taxal Edge and Pym Chair to G/SP-004, then into the Cat & Fiddle before getting the bus back to Macc.

Now there has been grumbles recently on the official SOTA Facebook group (link on SOTAwatch main pages) about activators, like me, who are predominantly CW only, but pop over onto SSB when S2S opportunities arise. The argument being that if we are using an FT817 with multimode capability, then we should put those other modes on for regular chasers as well.

So today, I have ditched the 817 and replaced it with the CW only HB1B. I trust this is now acceptable to all :wink:


I think the only reason for complaints now is if you work a few S2S contacts cross-mode, SSB rx and CW tx.

Which part of “the Activator is king” don’t they understand? (OK, so I have been known to make jocular grumbles about CW operators evading the greater challenge of SSB, get over it! :wink: )


Ignore the grumblers, Tom.

Operate whatever radio and mode you feel like. Leave the mike at home. On recent form, the mike will obligingly fail without consulting you anyway!


Friday 16th October 2015, and another, different “proper” walk up Shining Tor. I didn’t leave the mike at home, but left it in the car with the FT-817 and the Tracer 16Ah battery pack. Cor, that made my rucksack light! Even the addition of a litre flask of lentil & bacon soup and my walking jacket, it being rather mild at the start, didn’t mask the refreshing lightness of my payload.

After dropping Liam off at college, I made my way into Macclesfield and grabbed a Spearing’s meat & potato pie for my breakfast. Marshall Spearing is a famous pork butcher in Macclesfield, but is even more famous for his meat & potato pies, freshly backed six mornings every week.

These famous pies have even been immortalised in song by the local folk artiste Pete Blackthorn!

I found myself a parking space towards the bottom of Buxton Road adjacent to the entrance to Victoria Park. There used to be a large maze of concrete council flats here. I knew them well as I grew up in them in the 1970s, and started married life in them in the 1990s! They’ve all gone now, but the park after which “Vicky Park Flats” got their name, remains. It was a nostalgic wander through as I recognised various places I used to play out as a child.

As I emerged onto Hurdsfield Road, I noticed a breakfast cafe really close to the bus stop, and made a mental note for future reference! A few yards walk up the road and I caught the Number 60 bus service to Whaley Bridge. Well, that’s where the bus was going; I alighted shortly before at the village of Taxal.

A long cul-de-sac road leads down into Taxal village itself, but I took the public footpath about 50 yards before it on the right. This led up to a lovely woodland path, marked as “Taxal Beeches”. After this, I met a tarmac road climbing back up from Taxal village, and followed this up to its highest point. I then followed fine path that followed the drystone wall along the spine of Taxal Edge. This was very enjoyable walking indeed.

I now climbed up a gently sloping field full of gentle friendly sheep towards Windgather Rocks. This popular feature for rock climbers and scramblers was new territory for me, even though I had always lived within ten miles of it. As I approached the highest point, I nipped through a nick in the rocks so that I could walk alongside Windgather Rocks, rather than above them, and enjoy their spectacle. Just one hard-hatted and roped-up climber was passed as I pressed on above the Goyt Forest.

The path was soon joined by the road (Side End Lane) coming in from the north. I was anticipating a mile or so of road walking, but in fact the good path continued in parallel on the opposite side of the wall. As the car park at Pym Chair was reached, I started to think about a rest and a bite to eat. However, some fine drizzle started, and a cold wind picked up, so I threw on my Berghaus jacket and carried on walking instead!

The next section of the route was known to me, although I had only walked it maybe twice before. The path, which had been surprisingly good underfoot all the way so far, now went up yet another level courtesy of stone flagging. After climbing over Cats Tor, I knew that only once more ascent remained before reaching the summit of Shining Tor G/SP-004. I was joined by a chap from Kendal, Cumbria, and we walked together the rest of the way to the top. This stretch absolutely flew by, as it often does when you are in conversation with a fellow walker.

At Shining Tor summit, the first thing I noticed was how cold it had become. Not desperately cold, at 9 degrees Celcius, but enough to add a fleecy hat and set up quickly and get shelter as quickly as possible. I set up the end-fed longwire on mini-pole in conjunction with the SOTAbeams Micro Z tuner. This is my lightest antenna system, and it walks on all bands 40m through 6m. It would only be deployed on 40-30-20 on this occasion though, as I was carrying the Youkits HB1B rig.

I wasn’t hanging around, as I wanted to be on the 2.45pm bus from the Cat & Fiddle, and wanted to allow time for at least one pint in the hikers’ bar first! So it was a quickfire ten QSOs on 40m CW and 30m CW in 14 minutes, followed by a swift packaway. Each contact was interspersed with a huge slurp of lentil and bacon soup, which tasted wonderful. In my mind, I was never quite sure how long the “normal” Shining Tor walk takes, whether it be 20 minutes or 40 minutes. So I made a note of the time - 2.05pm - as I set off for the Cat & Fiddle.

I was satisfied to arrive at the pub 25 minutes later, at 2.30pm. A swiftly downed and most welcome pint of Hartley’s Cumbria Ale, grabbed the poles, map and rucksack, and legged it across the road to catch the Number 58 bus back to Macclesfield. It had been one of the best walks I had done in ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. To round things off, I met Jimmy M0HGY and Richard G3CWI for a couple more pints at the Society Rooms in Macclesfield. Thanks to Richard for the route suggestion.

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I felt physically good after the previous day’s long walk from Taxal, near Whaley Bridge, to the Cat & Fiddle, via Taxal Edge, Windgather Rocks, Pym Chair, Cats Tor and Shining Tor G/SP-004. Wide awake at 8am, with the rest of the family all fast asleep, I took my chance to nip out and activate Gun G/SP-013.

What I hadn’t bargained for was the morning drizzle. This meant deploying the bothy bag on Gun summit. The rain was light enough for it not to bother me personally, but it was still too damp for radio equipment!

Anyway, I wasn’t planning on stopping long, so I got cracking. Like the previous day, working conditions was HB1B + EFLW + ATU:

Operating 0913 to 0951z (38 minutes)

20m CW: 8 QSOs (EA, G, I, OK, S5, SP)
30m CW: 4 QSOs (DL, EA, HB, OK)
40m CW: 9 QSOs (DL, F, G, HB, PA) - S2S: HB/BE-110 + F/AB-506.

Good fun. Will probably nip out again later…

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And indeed I did nip out later. Liam was out Laserquesting (is that a verb?) with his mates at Lyme Green, so I (obviously) decided to shoehorn (I think that can be a verb) an activation of The Cloud G/SP-015 in between drop-off and pick-up.

Managed a couple of contacts on 20m CW (EA and S5) before switching to 30m CW. Here I added nine QSOs (DL, EA, F, OE, ON, SM) including S2S to EA2/BI-035. One station in particular incessantly kept calling me no matter what I said - eg “SP9?”. Eventually I sent his callsign and “NIL” - which was a mistake as he replied with “CFM 599 TU”. Apologies to SP9AMH I think it was, who lost the QSO due to this QRM.

I tried 7MHz as alerted, but the band was rammed with contest stations. I speculatively tried a narrow gap and used the very convenient IF rotary control on my HB1B to shut out all the splatter. I saw that the RBN could “hear” me via the skimmer network, but I suspect chasers couldn’t. I returned to 10MHz, which was a good move because it netted me the S2S with EA2WX/P.

Back up Cloud summit this morning for the 6m AFS contest.

Right with you Brian! - In fact I’m the reverse to what Tom quoted as I refuse to run CW - because it’s too easy to make contacts? No - simply because I’m too lazy to find the time to learn it or to put together a lightweight computer solution to type and read it!

Hey if I’ve slogged through a cold and muddy (or hot and sweaty for that matter) climb to get onto a summit I decide what mode, what band and how long I am active - TOUGH if some don’t like that!

Having started SOTA in Australia, where it used to be 90% phone (SSB on HF, FM on 2m) and 10% CW if you’re lucky. Moving to Europe where there are far more CW activations than Phone, it was a bit of a shock but you work with what you have. Of course those who can cover both SSB and CW will get up their points totals much quicker than those who concentrate on one mode but as often is said - SOTA is a challenge against yourself and your targets, not others.

OK, this has really gone of topic - sorry for that all.

73 Ed.

My route up Shining Tor G/SP-004 for today’s activation again followed this super ridge route from Whaley Bridge. It was a really rare one too in that it was a whole family outing. With no buses available on a Sunday to support this linear walk, it was necessary to deploy two cars. We kicked off by loading all the poles and packs into Marianne’s Fiat, then driving both cars to the Cat & Fiddle. There we left my Citroen in the car park and all piled into Maz’s car. She then drove via Buxton to Whaley Bridge, parking at Taxal.

The first part of the walk through the wood at Taxal Beeches is a pleasant way to get into your stride. There was then a bit of a climb up a minor road and then a bank to get onto Taxal Edge, and that was the most strenuous ascent of the entire walk behind us!

I really enjoy walking alongside the tall drystone wall that runs along the apex of Taxal Edge. Soon the views ahead opened out and we could pick out our later landmarks of Windgather Rocks, Pym Chair, Shining Tor and the Cat & Fiddle. We hadn’t seen Jimmy since the first minute of the walk and wouldn’t do so again until reaching G/SP-004 summit! Nonetheless, I managed to at least keep up with the respectable pace being forged by Marianne and Liam on this baking hot May lunchtime.

Marianne had brought some delicious and refreshing tangerines for the walk which went down very well. After Taxal Edge, we dropped to pass through a farm and a field full of young lambs. We continued onto Windgather Rocks which was extremely busy with roped climbers and abseilers. The next section to Pym Chair seems to take an age, but it is flat and very easy walking. In fact, this route is, relatively speaking, very “flat” indeed! Very rarely is the sensation of increased physical effort resulting from gradient experienced.

The section from Pym Chair to Shining Tor is a little more undulating, and obviously with the net height change being up. However, the path is good, the weather was lovely and once on the flagged path, it was a speedy few more minutes to the summit.

It was rather breezy, but this was welcome in the hot sunshine. Sunhats, sunglasses and factor 50 were the order of the day, and fleeces and jackets remained in the rucksacks. Jimmy M0HGY was already deep into his activation by the time I arrived on summit, and he ended with 19 QSOs, all on 2m FM. The SOTAbeams MFD perched atop a SOTA Pole at the edge of the summit plateau overlooking the A537 was a potent weapon and Jimmy was receiving many overtures about the strength of his signal.

My own activation was comparatively underwhelming. Initially I was intending a mere 2m FM HT operation due to my wife being in attendance! However, shortly after my arrival at the summit, she asked for the car keys and said she and Liam would walk to the Cat & Fiddle, collect the car and meet us at the Peak View Tearooms.

I set up the end-fed longwire and tuner, but just couldn’t get things going. Just three QSOs, one each on 30m CW, 40m CW and 20m CW. The first and third of those were S2S with Graeme M0OAT/P on Cross Fell G/NP-001, so that was some consolation at least. Jimmy had now packed up and set off for the tearooms, so I thought I’d better do same. I added three 2m FM QSOs on the VX7 before setting off, one of whom was Jimmy M0HGY/M approaching the tearooms.

I took the direct PROW to the tearooms past a farmhouse and through a normally boggy field. Dry as a bone and no problem today though. At Peak View, the reward was sausage, bacon and cheese Staffordshire oatcake with chips and veg, accompanied by Storm Brewery “Silk of Amnesia” ale.

We then had the slightly tedious task of driving over to Whaley Bridge to reunite Marianne with her car before heading home to Macclesfield. A great walk of about 9.5km and an enjoyable day out. The photos above were taken by Jimmy, Marianne and myself - but the majority of them by Jimmy (and his photos are the best ones too!).