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

Activation Report – GM/ES-008 Lochnagar


With the decent weather around I just felt like a stroll up a “well kent” hill, no hassle, map not required and a leisurely activation on multiple bands in some sunshine. DREAM ON!

I parked at the Lock Muick carpark (£2 pay & display) and headed in on the estate track to meet the Army descending the hills with laden ponies – deer cull in progress, so any hope of wandering off the usual track was out the window. Halfway up the long haul in I met an Irish couple and their seriously hacked-off daughter (14 years old +/- and not happy with being on a hill and no mobile phone signal) who asked what the noisy birds were – Grouse. The other noise which was spooking the aforementioned teenager was the sound made by stags in rut. The path has been improved all the way to the view over Lochnagar and then some; the ascent of Jacob’s Ladder is now a series of well paved steps but for once I did not complain as the wind was gusting enough to blow me over a few times.

Reaching the summit ridge the clear path was easily negotiated despite the wind until I entered the clag at 1100m but from here it is an absolute doddle to follow the scar of a path to the summit even if visibility is practically nil. I found a suitable shelter boulder just off the summit to shield me from the wind, put on my duvet jacket to keep warm and then erected the HF dipole. An aside: I find it easy to keep an HF dipole in the air in strong wind and impossible to handle a VHF beam so I am bemused by those activators who manage VHF but cannot do HF because of the wind – what have I missed?

Switching the rig to 60m there was Jack GM4COX in full flow, basking in the sunshine and comparing suntans with all the chasers – you go off some people! I broke in so as to get my summit to summit and then changed channel to work my own pile-up. 17 stations later I announced my intention of shifting to 40m and GW0DSP kindly spotted me. This resulted in meeting up with some calls not heard for a while including EI7CC, but try as I might (including a qsy 1KHx LF) I could not confirm with ON3WAB who could not copy my 44 report to him although I had received my 43 report. Anyway 8 contacts on 40m SSB is quite good for this time of year. I tried 20m but despite 10 minutes of calling CQ no result. A brief shout on 2m FM from the handy produced nothing but then I was not going to stand around being buffeted by the wind in vain hope of a contact.

Once I dismantled the antenna the sun came out briefly and the cloud swirled away for about 30 seconds which gave me sufficient visibility to throw myself off the path in the face of an onslaught from 4 mountain bikers hurtling at the summit without any regard for anyone else.

The descent was via the route I came up, I couldn’t face the thought of the long trudge along the shores of Loch Muick in failing light. The big plus though was to spend some time at the head of Jacob’s Ladder watching a Golden Eagle soaring over the loch far below.

Many thanks to the chasers and to Alistair and Mike for spotting me.


Barry GM4TOE


In reply to GM4TOE:

Excellent report Barry. Sounds like you had an easy stroll to the summit for 10 points compared to my slog for just 2 points. It’s taken me a year of SOTA activations to discover that the effort required to activate a summit is not proportional to the points earned!



In reply to GM4TOE:

An excellent report Barry, makes for good reading, I could picture the Golden Eagle soaring over the loch in my minds eye. Thanks for the contact.

73 Mike


In reply to MM0FMF:

hi andy / barry

well done both and both very interesting reads, it brings the reality of activating to them that are homebased.

73s alistair


In reply to GM4TOE:

I’ll echo Andy’s thoughts Barry - excellent and interesting report. Remember, sun burn is not a pre-requisite for a good activation.

Regarding your aside: “I find it easy to keep an HF dipole in the air in strong wind and impossible to handle a VHF beam so I am bemused by those activators who manage VHF but cannot do HF because of the wind – what have I missed?”

I don’t think you have missed anything really. Maybe it is just that those that have made such comments may have been just using a handy and whip or a simple antenna such as a slim jim which will have virtually no wind loading and much less than an HF dipole. Keeping a beam on a heading in high winds is certainly a challenge and while using one up where you are may be mandatory, it can easily be dispensed with in many areas further south where there is a high level of SOTA activity.

73, Gerald


In reply to GM4TOE:
I find it easy to

keep an HF dipole in the air in strong wind and impossible to handle a
VHF beam so I am bemused by those activators who manage VHF but cannot
do HF because of the wind – what have I missed?

I have been guilty of calling off HF and doing VHF only a couple of times this year because of the wind strength. Although the 3-element VHF quad that I use probably has less wind loading than the HF dipole it is impossible to direct it in such conditions. When it is obvious that a broken pole is a likely outcome, I resort to using the VX-7 and VHF dipole combination which is permanently attached to my rucksack. As well as a backup for poor conditions it is useful for monitoring VHF while on the move.

As Gerald suggests, there are a limited number of hills in this area where it is possible to do a VHF activation without the gain of a beam but so far I’ve been lucky and on the occassions that I have resorted to ‘plan B’ I’ve been far enough south to reach the more populated areas in the Scottish central belt.

Blue sky and hardly a breath of wind on Greag Meagaidh on Sunday. I think you are still out of favour with the wind/rain gods Barry.

73s - Robin, GM7PKT


In reply to GM4TOE:

I consider my HF dipole much more stable to use in windy condx than a vhf beam. I use the standard 3 guy lines just above to 1st section of the pole. I then mount the dipole with a third guy line which ties off directly up wind. This effectively gives 6 guy lines, and due to the fact that on HF, height isnt such a factor, I would normally set up just below the summit in the lea of the wind. My recent DC activations were done in gale or even severe gale conditions where I wouldnt of even dreamed of putting up a vhf beam.