Approach by National Park Warden

On Sunday the 22nd I activated Cadair Idris GW/NW-009. I was on air at 1051GMT on 30m CW using a dipole at 20ft. The station was located on the level grassy area East of the trig. There were no people in my vicinity.
The weather was damp & misty and there only a few other other walkers on the summit. After 30m I changed dipoles and went on 18m CW. I then replaced the hf dipole with my 2m end fed halfwave dipole and contacted the more local stations on 2m FM.
Just as I finished I was approached by a voluntary National Park warden and her colleague. She asked me what I was doing and in a round about way asked if I had permission or a “licence” I explained that I was taking part in an Amateur Radio Program called Sota, and yes, I had an Ofcom transmitting licence. Not sure if this was what she expected to hear. I said I was about to pack up and that this had been my 245 activation. I assured her that nothing would remain on site. She seemed to be reluctantly satisfied and walked off towards the East muttering “Sota, I must remember Sota”.



Thanks David for the idea of carring your ham radio license. I just check my wallet and its not there. When I get home today from work, I’ll add my license to my wallet.



@KN6HVU Well, he technically didn’t say he had his license with him (although he may have), but stated that he had a license to transmit. At least in the U.S. there is no legal requirement per Part 97 to physically carry your license with you. However, it it may help some people get out of an argument easier at times although I’ve never heard of anyone being requested to produce it. Buuuuuut, the FCC does have the “wallet” version one can cut out so I wouldn’t be surprised at one time or another someone has been asked to “prove” it. Ha. Maybe I’ll do the same, just in case.


No, I was not carrying my licence and neither was I challenged to produce it.


My first licence, issued in 1964, was several sheets of foolscap (larger than A4) stapled together. The UK licence is not designed for carrying! However I do usually carry my Ofcom reference so if any question arises I can direct them to where their queries can be answered.


Same in the UK. We also jealously guard our right not to have to carry any personal ID. If a police officer stops you whilst driving and wants to see your driving license, you have 7 days to show it. So most drivers carry their driving license just to avoid the hassle of having to take it to a police station later.

Nowadays our ‘original’ amateur radio licenses are downloadable PDFs on the OfCom website. Any print-out is a copy and I would carry one only if operating overseas.


Coincidently, I read a post on the FB POTA group today about a park which has just been suspended in the US. The cause was an activator who threw his antenna into a tree in a protected area. When challenged by a ranger he refused to do anything or identify himself. The result is the park authorities have brought in a rule banning all amateur radio in the park.


It’s people like this POTA guy who ruin it for the rest of us.


I have a print out of the front page of my licence in my SOTA pack. It gets replaced occasionally when it gets too disreputable looking, or when I’ve forgotten my log paper and used it instead :slight_smile:


I carry an A5 size reduced size copy of the front page of my licence suitably weather protected. I’ve never been asked to produce proof of being licensed, but have the information to hand just in case. Hopefully it will never be required. I carry a full copy of my licence when I operate outside of the UK.


I have now followed your sound advice and added an A6 copy of my Ofcom licence page 1 to my “dry bag”.
I had never thought about this before, but being able to display an Ofcom licence document could be the difference between a harmonious and busted activation.

Do we have a succinct layman description of Sota, I have looked but seen nothing that would fit the bill on here that might be useful in these situation?

Some good has come from this encounter.

Do we expect a (voluntary) warden to recognise a UK Ham licence? It’s not like a driving licence which in the EU &UK has been a fixed format for 20 years and is commonly seen. Having a copy in the UK of your ham licence is most likely going to be of no use with such people.

The correct response, in my view, is to be polite and point out no such licence is needed or even exists. Then do as David did and Tom has done and say how long you intend to be, that you will leave no trace you were there and say you could be gone on 10/15 mins of needed. You’re not going to win an argument against a determined warden even if they are wrong. Willingness to be seen to be prepared to stop if asked normally triggers wardens et al. into letting you continue. Especially if you are affable and charming etc.


I believe there are QR code patches that link to a website to explain SOTA.
In the meantime, I hope the below helps (with ChatGPT assistance):

A: Summary for someone who does not know what a licensed amateur radio operator is:

What is Summits on the Air (SOTA)?

Summits on the Air, often abbreviated as SOTA, is an exciting hobby that combines hiking and communication. It’s like a treasure hunt for radio enthusiasts in the great outdoors.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Mountains and Hills: SOTA focuses on special mountains and hills, which we call “summits.” These are all over the world and have been given special codes, just like treasures on a map.
  2. Hiking Adventure: Imagine going on an adventure. You put on your hiking boots, pack some food and water, and head to one of these summits. The journey to the top is a big part of the fun.
  3. Radio Adventure: But here’s where it gets really interesting. You take a small, portable radio with you. This radio lets you talk to people far away using special ham radio technology. It’s like your own secret communication tool.
  4. On the Summit: When you reach the summit, you set up your radio equipment. It’s like creating a little radio station right there on top of the mountain. You might have a special antenna and a battery to power your radio.
  5. Making Contacts: With your radio all set up, you start talking to other people on the radio. These people could be on other mountains or even in other countries. It’s like a game of hide and seek, but with radios.
  6. Earning Points: You earn points for each conversation you have. The more contacts you make, the more points you get. These points are like badges of honor that show how well you’re doing in the SOTA game.
  7. Sharing the Adventure: You can also listen to others who are on their own radio adventures, and they can try to find you. It’s a friendly, worldwide community of radio explorers.
  8. Awards and Recognition: As you make more and more radio contacts from different summits, you can earn awards and certificates. It’s like getting trophies for your radio adventures.

Why is SOTA Fun?

  • It combines the excitement of hiking and being in nature with the thrill of making long-distance radio conversations.
  • It’s like a worldwide game where you can see how well you’re doing compared to others.
  • You meet other people who share your love for the outdoors and radio, and you can learn from each other.
  • It’s a way to explore new places and enjoy the beauty of nature.

In a nutshell, Summits on the Air is a fantastic hobby for adventurers and radio enthusiasts. It’s like taking your radio skills to new heights, quite literally, while having fun in the great outdoors.

B. For those who know a bit more about radio communications:

What is Summits on the Air (SOTA)?

SOTA, or Summits on the Air, is an amateur radio activity and award scheme that encourages ham radio operators to operate from the summits of mountains and hills. The goal of SOTA is to combine the love of amateur radio with the enjoyment of hiking and the challenge of reaching elevated locations.

Here’s how SOTA typically works:

  1. Summit Activation: A ham radio operator, known as a “summit activator,” hikes to the summit of a designated mountain or hill, taking their portable radio equipment with them.
  2. Radio Operation: Once at the summit, the operator sets up their equipment and operates their radio station. They may communicate with other amateur radio operators (known as “chasers”) on a variety of amateur radio bands and modes.
  3. Point Scoring: The operator earns points based on the location of the summit, the altitude, and the number of contacts made with other operators. These points are tracked and used to achieve various awards and honors within the SOTA program.
  4. Chaser Activity: Amateur radio operators who are not on the summit can also participate by attempting to contact those on the summits. These operators are referred to as “chasers” and can accumulate points for their contacts with summit activators.
  5. Awards: SOTA offers various awards, certificates, and honors to participants based on their performance in terms of points earned and number of activations.

SOTA combines elements of outdoor exploration, physical fitness, and radio communication, making it a popular activity among ham radio enthusiasts who enjoy both nature and radio technology. It promotes a sense of adventure, encourages exploration of the outdoors, and fosters camaraderie among ham radio operators. Additionally, SOTA provides a structured way for hams to challenge themselves and learn more about the hobby along the way.


“I believe there are QR code patches that link to a website to explain SOTA.”

Correct Robert @M0RWX …available in the SOTA shop👍

73 Allan


That might be tricky for some of us.


“Amateurs are from Venus and Park Wardens are from Mars.”

The more logically wired and process driven (Analytical) among us will produce SOTA pieces of paper and QR codes with definitions of SOTA, POTA or what ever.

The relationship builders (Amiable) will get up, approach the warden and say, “Hi I’m Fraser*, nice to meet you. What’s your name? I’m a radio amateur. My hobby involves climbing mountains, setting up a small radio station and making contacts with other folks doing the same thing on other summits. Daft isn’t it? :smiley: Sometimes I contact folk in the USA or Australia with this wee radio and this bit of wire. Anyway, I’m here for around 30 minutes and when I’m gone, so will this stuff”.

*Analytical types, please insert your own name here.

Now, you can’t help how your brain is wired, so just do the best you can…

I carry my license, but thats only because I’m a SOTA jet setter and I keep forgetting to remove it from the pocket in my pack.


Can we just hand them a note with what you wrote? (to save us unsociable types having to speak to anyone)


On the other hand you could have told them you were doing CB radio - which of course needs no licence.

I doubt very much the average man/woman/LBAbLWQ would be able to tell the difference in terms of your kit.

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The AR licence is a complete misnomer here of course. It offers absolutely zero weight to your right to be there doing what you’re doing. It is admittedly a useful distraction tactic. If the question comes “Do you have a permit to do that?” I reply “Yes” and talk about my AR licence even though I know full well that was not what they meant!

As for handing out pre-prepared leaflets and QR codes - not for me*. That’s something that could be taken away to an organisation for a discussion about whether what we’re doing should be permitted or not, across all their sites. It also makes it clear that you’re part of something much bigger. Often, it is best to allow them to think you’re a lone oddball with a uniquely individual and curious pastime.

*Except in the case of a potential new recruit to AR / SOTA.


Sure. Would you like me to link it with a QR code?