Easily Led

Pressendye GM/ES-047

With storms coming and zero days off work before Christmas, I thought that would be it for the year SOTA wise. Then my team at work started dropping like flies resulting in an enforced late shift on Tuesday. A sunny forecast with ever strengthening winds got me thinking I’d just about have time for a quick activation of local summit Pressendye GM/ES-047, then back home for a quick turnaround.
I put a message on the WhatsApp group. Simon @GM4JXP was planning on a UKBOTA (bunker). Mike @MM7MWL said he’d think about it. I knew that meant yes.

Tuesday 19th December 2023
I left home at 0810. Around seven minutes later I was parked up alongside Douneside House Hotel, just outside the village of Tarland. From there it takes me about an hour to reach the top of Presendye. I hadn’t been there since the new mountain bike trails opened, so I was looking to see what impact they had on my route. Not much, it turns out. The strip wood I walk through was forbidden to bikers and therefore the track that led up from the end of that was too. The main track up the hill is a rough vehicle track and it is now intersected in three or four places by MTB trails, however there are plenty of signs. Due to the early hour and frosty conditions, I had the place to myself.

this lot was white a couple of weeks back. The snow has had a huge shift

The sun decided to rise around 0910, when I was on the upper reaches of the hill. Perfect timing to get my breath back and grab a few phone shots. I was wearing light windproof clothing today, rather than warm items. It was breezy, but the speed of ascent kept me warm.


Completing the haul up the stony track revealed a summit bathed in early morning sunshine. And a stiff westerly, however not as bad as the 40mph/60kph forecast. I’d brought my KX2 and W3EDP because I’d remembered that it is an ideal length to stretch from one of the summit fence posts back towards the summit shelter. I just had to pick the correct post!

Pressendye summit and handy fence

Mike and I had arranged for a 10am start, but I’d sneaked up early, hoping to be done on HF by the time Mike was ready. However, I know he sneaks up early too, so I sneaked up even earlier. I was QRV on 40m at 0935 and after an initial struggle with QRM on a nearby frequency, I had an excellent time, filling my log with G. GM, GI, GW, EI and ON stations, twenty in all. Seasonal greetings were exchanged, with WAB and trig chasers made happy too. I do like operating at this time of year. Everyone is in a nice mood.

rosy cheeks

QRV on 40m SSB

Mike was good to go at 0954, just as my contacts were drying up. We exchanged 2m FM 59 signal reports both ways, hardly surprising given our close proximity. I then left him to his activation and set about speedily dismantled my HF station. I had a lovely walk back down under clearing skies and warmish sunshine. My ISS app pinged at me at 1040. I tuned the HT to 145.800 MHz, hoping to pick up the promised SSTV transmissions that were supposed to have started on Saturday, but no joy. Ah well, next time maybe. Amazing they can put all that technology in space but they can’t get a radio to broadcast SSTV on 2m…

the final section through the strip wood

I was back at the car at 1100 and home shortly thereafter. Thanks to me training Mo on how to follow me on aprs.fi, there was hot coffee and warm scones waiting for me on my return. Lovely. Shower, change and off to work. It always feels amazing when I can “steal” an activation during Christmas week when I’m so busy at work.

Oh, and Mike, well he’s the one who is easily led :wink:.
Merry Christmas.

Fraser MM0EFI


Knowing what your job is and how lovely people are at this time of year, I’m amazed you have the mental strength to contemplate an activation and not just return home and bolt the doors and swig Whisky till you next have to go to work :slight_smile:


Well, I don’t mind being led when the leader is an expert, unlike me who usually displays all the technical ability of a whelk with learning difficulties…:joy:

Was a beautiful morning to be on a hill so close to the shortest day. Lord Arthur’s Hill (GM/ES-062) is only 20mins from my home QTH so it is a regular haunt for me, although I have never previously qualified it on 2m.

Thanks to Fraser, and my judicious alerting of fellow Aberdeen Amateur Radio Society members, I managed to do so today.

The simple rig was my 5w h/h FT4xe and a Slim G on my Sotabeams Carbon6 pole. The ever-increasing wind held it well away from the pole.

Unsurprisingly, the sneaky leader (aka @MM0EFI/P who sneaked up his hill earlier than planned, and even earlier than I sneakily planned to be QRV on mine) was first in the log with a 5/9 S2S on FM but after four more contacts across the north-east, I changed bands and put up my 41ft end-fed and coupled it to the KX2. 20m seemed a good bet so I put out a spot and it brought a nice SSB haul in about 25mins, including @EC8ADS on the Canary Islands, some 2,110 miles away as best of the day.

Despite the blue sky and sunshine, the strengthening cold wind reduced the temperature to about 0C so I spent the HF activation huddled in the convenient stone shelter near the summit, but had to forego my intended 40m calls because of the increasing cold and the ubiquitous imminent commitments back as base.

As Fraser said, activations on glorious days like these are a true winter bonus. Here’s to many more soon.

For now, thanks to all chasers and activators who make this aspect of our hobby a sheer delight.

Looking forward to being easily led again soon…:joy::joy:

A very Merry Christmas to all :christmas_tree::smiley:.
Vy 73 Mike


A cracking morning Mike and the skies look even bluer in your photos.

To answer Andy’s point:

Hills, fresh air, sunrise, chatting to friends on the radio. That’s what gives me the mental strength.


Great report and very inspiring too. :slight_smile: That’s a cracking shot of the path between the trees - lighting just perfect. I can see that on a calender. :slight_smile:


Sounds perfect! Thanks for this and many other enjoyable reports during the year.

Merry Christmas & 73 Fraser!



I have been happy to be led by your example Fraser as my introduction to SOTA over the last 15 months. As you say the combination of outdoor activities and chatting with friendly folks has a lot to commend it. I have been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming folk have been to newcomers like myself. I’ve also been able to combine it with motorcycling and it has taken me places and shown me things I would otherwise have missed. Thank you.
Best wishes to you and Mo at Christmas.


Hi Fraser,

Thanks for another well written and illustrated activation report.

Merry Christmas.


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I do enjoy reading your motorcycle diaries Andy.

All the Best!

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John, I take that same photo every time I go up that way. It’s different every time. I got lucky with the light this time.


Strength of all types being tested on the busiest trading day of the year!


Good luck with the busiest day. Mrs Vaz is on her last shift before xmas (but no snow at her Tesco’s)

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I’ve been lucky in my working life… I’ve essentially had 9-5 Mon/Fri “office jobs”. Actually design lab / design office, research lab environments but no shifts, no odd hours kind of things. It takes some time of working such a cushy number till you realise what shift workers, retail workers, transport worker, medical staff go through especially at Christmas. Till I started part-time working, I’d be one of the people who would have basically 2 weeks vacation over Christmas/New Year. It was COVID lockdowns, when I was safely working from home, that brought home many people HAD to go to work and be exposed to significantly greater risk than my family were. It’s then that I truly appreciated the effort others had in their jobs.

So here’s a public thank you to everyone who does work shifts, strange hours or hidden in the background doing essential work so that I can have access to services 24/7 365 days including Christmas etc. and work the easy hours.


Cheers Andy. I’ve been doing this since I was 17 and this is Christmas number 36, with one or maybe two to come before I retire. I don’t actually know anything else and I guess I’m a bit institutionalised. As for the shifts, well since I’ve been a senior manager for 22 years, I’ve managed to fit work around my fun stuff most of the time. :grinning:


Another great report and fantastic photographs. Several have already said, but this is inspirational.

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Thanks Kevin.

Merty Christmas :christmas_tree: :santa:

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Great report and photos @MM0EFI Fraser … @MM7MWL Mike - sorry I missed to work both of you, I was unfortunately in a meeting :see_no_evil: it’s been a great year of SOTA and making many contacts up north, so I wish you both a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :partying_face: look forward to many more qso’s in the future!

73, Ben


It sure has! Plenty of unactivated summits knocked off between us. A couple of foreign trips for me and you somehow found yourself on the RSGB board! I see they are looking for new board members. Maybe I should apply so we can shake them up a bit. :rofl::rofl:

All the Best!


That wouldn’t be a shake-up, that would be a revolution…! :astonished: Keep up the great work guys. You are truly inspirational. Here’s to more fun in '24. Vy 73 Mike :smiley:


Did I mention the snow had shifted?
It’s back.

Unfortunately the electricity has been off for 7 hours now and we’re running MM0EFI HQ on unleaded.