This is one of my nearest summits and was the first summit I ever activated on HF back in December 2006. It just about killed me getting to the summit back then when I was oh-so unfit. Doing SOTA for 8 years has got me a bit fitter and this is a very easy summit if you are not a complete slob.It’s nice for when the WX has been a bit bad because there’s nowhere to fall off or get lost. The most dangerous thing about the entire summit is the car park. It’s so popular the parking can be manic and the road can be icy. I took the pickup which a) had proper tyres and 4WD and diff locks so is unlikely to get stuck and b) is visually very imposing and so nobody plays chicken with you on narrow roads. That’s the best bit, everyone gives a wide berth because in a shunt they know they would come off worst!
The road was a little frosty in places as was the car park. Space for 40 cars or so and it was 1/2 full at 10am on Sunday. It was an easy walk talking just 1hr to get to the summit. There was about 2cm of fresh-ish snow but the ground was frozen very hard much like concrete. The top is heather and peat and tent pegs go into that when it’s frozen nice and easily. They wouldn’t go into frozen grass/soil as easily. The forecast was for a very sunny day but it was grey, very grey though I could see a break in the clouds in the distance. The only issue was the wind, it was from the North and seriously cold. I mean perishingly cold. I had to find a suitable peat hag that faced South to hide from the wind.
My plan was for a session on 20/17m then down to 40m. It went well to start with and 20m was nice and lively. Having cleaned up I moved to 17m and conditions were much better. Not only propagation but the cloud cleared and we had a lot of blue sky and sun which was nice. At the end of the session on 17m SSB it seemed like every station was from Spain, I guess propagation was just right. Anyway it was nice to be popular and 50 stations were logged. I still find it amusing that stations in what is still a semi-DX location for Europe (The Azores) call me rather than the other way round! With the band quiet on 17m I popped up out of the hag into the wind to swap antennas. The wind was now much, much stronger and a lot colder and by the time I had taken down the vertical I was frozen. I’d been on the summit for 1hr20 and even with 2 fleeces and a Down jacket I was cold. It was simply too cold to setup for 40 and operate. So no 40m, sorry. I walked out the way in, into the wind. I was red faced when I got back to the car.
I worked EA, DL, CU, HB9, OM, OK, F, GM, PA, SP, OE, OH, M, CT, RV, HA & SM.
Looking West, setup for 17m as the loading coil is shorted out. The hill in the distance that suddenly slopes down is East Cairn Hill GM/SS-282.
Looking East, Allermuir Hill SS-171 is the highpoint in centre middle distance , Castlelaw Hill is the peak to the right. If you join the Army in Scotland, you’ll spend sometime on the rifle range part way up Castlelaw Hill.
Black Hill SS-167 on the left, Scald Law SS-125 is the conical peak.