Cloud Nightmare

Don’t worry, it wasn’t really. For those of you newer into SOTA, I had a bit of a running theme, giving my activation reports on the old Yahoogroup reflector titles of this “nightmare” or that “nightmare”. Nothing bad ever really happened, just the occasional humorous mishaps and scrapes that happen to us all. However, I used to take the mickey out of myself in my reports, exaggerate everything in true farce style. It was only 3 or 4 years later that I learned that our esteemed founders, John G3WGV and Richard G3CWI, had been greatly concerned about this inexperienced half-wit they had encouraged into the mountains, with his two young children! I still feel a bit bad about managing to convince them I was less capable than I actually was, and causing them to worry about me!

Anyway, to cut a short story long, I managed the most unbelievable piece of incompetence today. I made a navigational error, went 1km away from where I should have been and got briefly lost. Without a map or compass. ON MY LOCAL SUMMIT THAT I HAVE ACTIVATED 103 TIMES - Yes, The Cloud G/SP-015.

We’ll return to that regrettable episode later. Today was a Liam day. Jimmy was off to Wood Vale, Formby, for some flying over the Merseyside coast with the ATC. Marianne was to be in bed, undisturbed all day between two night shifts.

After dropping Jimmy off at his coach pick-up point at 7.05am (earlier than I get out of bed on a work day - most unwelcome), I returned to get Liam up and out. We first drove up to the Trentabank Ranger Centre in the heart of the Macclesfield Forest. This was to confirm a work experience placement for Jimmy, but it unfortunately fell through while we were there. Back to the drawing board on that one. At least we did have a fine breakfast from the van there - Povey’s Staffordshire Oatcakes, filled with local Buxton farm bacon, Ashbourne mushrooms and Stilton sauce. Fab.

A couple of other work experience possibilities for Jimmy were National Trust at Alderley Edge, and Bollin Valley Trust. We drove to those in turn, and indulged in a little walking at each. There were not any staff on either site to talk to, so I decided to stop chasing this particular issue, and resume it on Monday when other people are also more likely to be at work.

Liam was enjoying his outdoorsy day out with his daddy all to himself for a change, and requested “a circular walk on The Cloud with no SOTA activation”. I negotiated with him that we changed the word “no” to the word “a”, and he had a deal.

No sooner had I parked the car, and Liam was racing away up the driveway and staircase on the initial approach to the summit. Without his sac, coat or dad. That left me to scrabble a few things together for him as well as my own stuff. Half of which I couldn’t find amongst the jumble sale that is my parcel shelf, and then I couldn’t prise the PL259 connector (for the 2/70 mobile aerial on magmount) off my FT-817. Thankfully, I keep a multi-function tool in my rucksack, so I shaped this into the pliers configuration, and wrenched off the plug.

Liam was probably on the summit already by the time I was actually able to commence my own ascent. When I did reach the summit, I couldn’t see Liam. Then I spotted him nearly at the edge of the wood on the descent route we had agreed. He was obviously not honouring the deal! I coaxed him back with the bribe of a Capri-Sun and a Soft-Bake bar.

We settled down into a slightly lower section close to the trig point and the steep escarpment edge, to shelter from the stiff cold wind. Liam hunkered down into his own depression. I set up the 3-element SOTA Beam, horizontally polarised, on the fishing pole. I got out the FT-817, connected it to the 7Ah SLAB, and left the microphone in the side pocket of the rucksack. Let’s see what a 2m CW activation, without advertisements on other bands/modes, can do.

It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t stunning either. Four stations were worked, three of whom are now regular members of my “2m CW Gang”. I was pushing myself at 17wpm, but when I embarrassed myself by copying M0COP as “M1DAP”, I took a bite of my humble pie and reduced the speed a bit. After working Peter GW0VLN in Mold, we were getting cold, so it was time to pack up and get off.

We set off down the track by the wall, and into the wood at the bottom. We had ascended on this path once before, but never descended. It seemed to go on for quite a long time. The lie of the land, directions of the towns of Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton, and positions of the roads all seemed illogical. When I noticed a waymark for the Gritstone Trail I knew we had gone wrong!

We climbed back up all the way through the wood to a corner just a few hundred yards from where we entered it. And here was the stile that took us out of the wood onto a short grassy path across to the farmhouse at the top of the access road back down to the Cloudside parking area! By which time it was almost dark.

We actually enjoyed the extra exercise. I have noticed that Liam strides out much faster and more enthusiastically when Jimmy is not around. He is also more motivated when he has had a say in the choice of walk, and the route.

2m CW - it’s the future!

Tom M1EYP & Liam

In reply to M1EYP:

It was only 3 or 4 years later that I learned that our
esteemed founders, John G3WGV and Richard G3CWI, had been greatly
concerned about this inexperienced half-wit they had encouraged into
the mountains

Well, Errrm, I’m not quite sure how to put this Tom, but…


If you do a search for “Nightmare” on the old Yahoo reflector - Yahoo | Mail, Weather, Search, Politics, News, Finance, Sports & Videos - you may find some of these “tales of woe”! None of them are probably as bad as getting lost on The Cloud though! Getting stuck on a steep muddy bank with a very young J & L when unable to find Raw Head in 2002 was just about the stupidest thing I did, but if I was to attempt that route again now after everywhere else I’ve been over the past 5 years, it would probably seem straightforward! The stories are all knocking about my website as well of course. My favourite is Foel Goch 2005 - Foel Goch 2005

There was struggling to find a route off Robinson after night-fall in 2003, being beaten off Mynydd-y-Briw by lightning striking the summit and my ill-researched choice of the old Pennine Way route to Black Hill. And several more experiences from which I learned. But hey, these are just the experiences that developed our skills, procedures, knowledge, teamwork and relationships. I’m glad they all happened, and without doubt they gave us the confidence to deal with and beat everything the Pennine Way could throw at us last year…

…but not quite the skills to navigate seamlessly off my local hill it seems…


In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom all great stories.
But then you get lost on the Cloud, hi, I was splitting my sides here, I thought you could navigate that one in the dark while foggy and wearing sunglasses.

Nice to see you have leared from your experiences of getting lost, just the radio signal to sort out now:-)


just the radio signal to sort out now…

No problems there! I didn’t think so from all those lovely 59 / 599 reports you always give me hi!


In reply to M1EYP:

That’s down to my antennas Tom and line of sight, hi.