This dieting / abstention from alcohol / calorie-counting / regular exercise / Fitbit watch / My Fitness Pal app business is all well and good. But I’m now finding I’ve got huge reserves of extra energy I need to get through. Well SOTA can be quite good for that!

Thursday 23rd August 2018 - Boulsworth Hill - Lad Law G/SP-008

Marianne was on a late shift, so I went for an early start so as to be back home mid-afternoon. Up with the alarm at 5am, then straight into soup-making duties. Today’s selection was Baxter’s chicken, broccoli and rice “super good” soup. Rather unusual, but nonetheless tasty and enjoyable. An hour up the road, and the McDonald’s at Baxenden (famous home of Holland’s pies and puddings) was the breakfast stop.

Just entering the postcode in my satnav did not land me at exactly the right point - the postcode must cover a wide area in this part of rural East Lancashire. So I turned back and drove up the nearest road that looked like it was going up a hill. Two minutes later, I was at by the barrier at the start of the track I was intending to walk.

This is a really easy route and a pleasant walk. For most of the distance, the track is fairly level, ending at a rough turning circle down a slight dip. From here, a clear “baggers’ path” continues off, over a ditch and strikes diagonally up the hillside. The rocky outcrop at the summit is clearly visible for quite a distance beforehand.

I set up on 20m and set to work immediately on FT8. Just six QSOs were made in 35 minutes of operating, but some interesting ones were in there - TF1A, YU2AX/MM and LX1HD for instance.

Before heading down, I called on both 2m FM and 2m C4FM, but got no replies. I had to divert off the track over some very rough moorland at one point, so as to avoid risking upsetting a group of very long-haired cattle that were now breakfasting on or close to the path. They watched me closely as I passed, but seemed content with the distance I was respectfully keeping, and they soon resumed their grazing.

Thursday 23rd August 2018 - Pendle Hill G/SP-005

This time, the satnav landed me directly at the intended walk start point, just past the village of Barley. I walked down the lane to the farm, amused by the tongue-in-cheek but “unambiguous” signage put up by the farmer concerning dog excrement. He had used a more colourful (and more widely used) term, which had been scratched out of the signs in each of the four occurences.

At the farm, I briefly deliberated whether to go left or right, deciding upon the more graded approach to the left. I would complete a small circuit by descending the other way, down the stone steps from Pendle Big End later.

It was far too windy to consider setting up HF, so I just used my 2m handheld. It was pretty quiet, but qualification was never a worry, and I made five contacts in around 20 minutes.

As I commenced the drive home, I was feeling really hungry and craving some sugar. In a moment of appalling weakness, I called into a convenience store in Baxenden and bought a pack of four Eccles cakes. And ate them all. 800 calories smashed right there and then. I hated myself.

Full of energy (and guilt) when I got home, I gave Liam a shout. We grabbed our towels and swimming costumes and drove over to Macclesfield Leisure Centre for a swim. We both did 50 lengths of breast stroke, which eased the guilt, but not the energy, amazingly enough.

Thursday 23rd August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

That evening, with Marianne watching rubbish on the telly (Big Brother etc), I cleared off out again. I was still full of energy as I bounded up the steps to Cloud summit. Operating just with my HT on 2m C4FM, I made just two QSOs!

Thursday 23rd August 2018 - Gun G/SP-013

So over to Gun it was for a fourth activation of the day. Again, I travelled light with just the handheld in my pocket. VHF activity was great - in 13 minutes operating at the summit, I made ten QSOs - 6 on 2m FM and 4 on 2m C4FM. And went home again, finally ready for some sleep!

Friday 24th August 2018 - Gyrn Moelfre GW/NW-049

I was tutoring in Sandbach from 10 to 11am, and I knew that by the time I would have returned home, Maz and Liam would have gone for a day out in Manchester. So I went for a day out t’other side of Oswestry. No soup today - I just called in that well-known diet food purveyor Greggs en route.

I pulled my car into the yard at Moelfre Hall and spoke to the young chap building a compost heap. I asked if I could park there while I walked up the hill, mentioning that I had done so with permission several times in years gone by. As ever with this place, he was very friendly, saying “Yes, of course you can, you’re the third today!”.

It was a bit drizzly with the rain threatening to intensify, so I donned full waterproofs for this walk, even though that made things a bit “warm”. I initially followed the gently looping track out of the yard, but towards the top of the section that goes up steeply through a narrow valley, I spotted a clear path cutting the corner.

There were a few new paths like this, which seemed to be linked to all the “viewing perches” that were dotted around, constructed from packing crates and tarps. I assumed these were in connection with the site’s use as a competitive mountain biking venue. Anyway, I did indeed cut the corner - but it was a lot steeper than it looked!

Rather than approach directly again, this time I stuck to the track which contoured around widely, but eventually to the summit. I had carried HF, FT8 etc, but it was far too windy, so I just used the handheld again. Four QSOs on 2m FM - just like the old days!

Back down, back in the car, and over to Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060.

Friday 24th August 2018 - Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060

The satnav took me a route that followed apparently “proper” roads, but that started to feel increasingly like byways or farm tracks - until suddenly becoming a decent road again almost out of nothing! I parked in the entrance to the access road for the transmitter mast on the summit.

This is a steep ascent, but very short. Progress is slow, but you’re still at the top in ten minutes! Lots of wind again, so again I didn’t bother with the 20m FT8 for which I’d carried all the gear. Though it could have been a backup option as 2m is far from guaranteed from this hill, especially with just a helical antenna.

QSOs came fairly slowly, but I had my four in 13 minutes. A bit of inviting myself into other people’s QSOs was deployed!

I’d noticed a dark grey bank of heavy rain approaching from the west. This, just as one of my QSO partners went into full ragchew mode, and an over that seemed to last an eternity! When he eventually released the PTT, I quickly and politely signed with him, explaining about the advancing weather!

The downpour hit just as I was 100m from the car, so not too much damage done. The journey home was a bit sluggish especially around Wrexham, but it was Friday afternoon rush-hour.

Guess what? I still wanted more. The energy was still there.

Friday 24th August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

I popped in on my mum about 11pm BST, then went to my favourite summit. Three QSOs, all on 2m C4FM.

Friday 24th August 2018 - Gun G/SP-013

I drove straight across the valley to Gun and walked up to the summit, this time intending to do 20m FT8. I called on the handheld before setting up though, in order to make sure I had an activation recorded for the current UTC day. Three contacts made, two on 2m C4FM, one on 2m analogue FM.

Saturday 25th August 2018 - Gun G/SP-013

I was set up and QRV on 20m FT8 before midnight UTC, but didn’t manage to record any QSOs - so good job I did so on the handheld as a priority. 20m FT8 was very busy with wall-to-wall activity, mostly from the USA, but plenty of nice DX about - A4, HK, YN, YV, HI etc.

I managed just two QSOs on 20m FT8 - one with WC4D in EM77 - and one with SOTA chaser John M0JDK in IO92!

Back at the car, it was now past 2am local. I put out a call on S20 from my 50w mobile rig, to see if anyone was about, and whether it would be worth me going up The Cloud G/SP-015 again. Steven 2W0JYN responded in the affirmative.

Saturday 25th August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015

So yes, I really did climb this hill again, less than three hours after climbing it earlier! I worked Steve 2W0JYN on 2m FM from the summit, then both Steve and his partner Steph MW6SHJ on 2m C4FM.

So two activations already in the bag for Saturday - though not anticipating any more, after two days of four each. But really it was six activations, if you count a day as being “between sleeps”!

Energy to burn. It’s good this healthy lifestyle business.


Great Tom,
You look very good and happy with your new healthy life habits.
I think it’s time for you to start thinking on changing your avatar to something like this:
or this




I had hoped to keep the run going with a swift activation of The Cloud this Sunday morning before driving up to Blackpool for work this afternoon. However, after a late get-in last night (this morning) from work in Liverpool, and, more significantly, looking out of the shack window to dark grey skies and persistent heavy rain, all my energy seems to have deserted me!

I’ll try and get going again in the next 2/3 days, though I’m fast running out of points scoring opportunities within a couple of hours drive this year. Still got the dreary pair of Hail Storm Hail G/SP-009 and Freeholds Top G/SP-011 or the uninspiring slogs of Ward’s Stone G/SP-002 and White Hill G/SP-006 I guess. May be as well to push on a little further for the joys of the Yorkshire Dales.

SOTA operation is healty.

At some future date are we going to see some progress stats relative to time Tom? I am also wondering whether you have a target… maybe a big SOTA summit by spring of next year like my target of the Ben. Whatever, you appear to be slimming down fast. It shows in your selfies. :slight_smile:

This time last year: 21st 7lb

24 April 2018: 20st 6lb

27 August 2018: 17st 6lb

Target weight: 16st 0lb

Next year’s targets:

Complete GW/NW
Make progress in GW/MW
Activating in Europe
Another 48 hour 3 summit backpacking expedition, this time with 20m CW.


That’s like putting down a sack of potatoes and a bag of tinned soup! No wonder you are feeling more energetic - good training, I guess :smile:

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As they say, Ye gods! That’s magnificent Tom. The photos certainly highlight the difference between when I saw you at Blackpool at the end of April and now. Your figures make my drop from 14st 4lb in June 2017 to 12st 12lb now seem paltry.


I didn’t realise how metricated my thinking was till I read this. I used to be a stones and pounds dude but the diabetes clinic has always been metric and as I have been weighing myself in kgs for 20 years now, I had to stop and think to work out what those weights were in units I now understand!

Mrs. FMF bought some techno-scales which will tell you not only your weight in kgs, lbs, or st and lbs but also the %age fat, boneweight and BMI. You have to stand barefoot on some metal pads and (I assume) some RF is squirted into your body. Different tissue types must affect different frequencies.

Anyway, well done both. I’m on the magic “piddle your weight away” tablets that have dropped my sugars and weight and I’m now the lowest weight I’ve been for 30years. Having less lard does make it easier on the hills.

Nice one Tom, I can appreciate what’s gone into your achievement - a few years ago I got to 21st 8lb (Unlike Andy can’t get my head round metric for body weight!) before I decided enough was enough - took me two years to get down to 15st 4lb at which point people started asking me if I was ill so I decided to stop… problem is keeping it off. Over another couple of years my weight crawled back up to 18-1/2 stone again, so time for another cycle of reduction… currently at 16st 6lb (via 15st 10lb and back up to 16st 10lb - two months of enforced inactivity due to a back injury earlier this year played havoc :-s)

Good luck with the targets!

73 de Paul G4MD

We’ve got some of those, must find out how to make them work. Or maybe not… too scary :-s

I’ll second that. My fetish for uniques started when at 21st + and unfit with it, climbing any sort of hill was hell, after each one I’d promise myself I’d never have to go back there…


My training ground is based upon “going back there”.

The tour dates are getting intensive now as we move towards Autumn. I’ve got three in four nights coming up - Musselburgh (near Edinburgh, Thursday), Leeds (Saturday) and Blackpool (Sunday).

I’ve had a lazy day today, and the nearest thing to exercise I did was the considerable tucking into some delicious food in Chinatown Manchester with HGY, Liam and Mr & Mrs CWI & family. Then we picked up a big bag of goodies from the Chinese bakery before going home. Oops.

So I’m going to have to be making a concerted effort to burn calories for the rest of this week, including the days away on tour. I’ve actually not got a gig Friday, but Marianne suggested I stay out and do some walking - after all, two nights in youth hostels is probably not much different to the extra cost of diesel if going back to Cheshire in between. I’ll see if I can book something Thursday morning. (I only ever book accommodation at the last moment in this line of work!)

I’m only allowed to do non-uniques of course - but there’s plenty of viable such hills, that I could revisit on the two days between Edinburgh and Leeds. I’ve earmarked five summits. Hope it’s not too wet!

I’m sure that you take off a few pounds / kilos at a gig. Standing up playing, heavng amps around, nerves jangling in case you play a bum note… The downside must be being around people who aren’t trying to lose weight, suggesting a post gig night cap, etc.

I can’t actually claim that my weight reduction is down to anything I have done by way of dieting. Exercise may have played it’s part and it certainly is helping keep the weight off, but the main factor has been the improvement in my cardio-vascular system and the fact that my body is now able to use energy more efficiently and as such I am sure that I am needing less calorific input. I cannot recall having had a second helping of anything for months. After my heart attack, the stents improved the blood flow enormously and I dropped from 91kg to 85kg in one week. The bypass surgery has provided a further improvement in blood flow and I am now down to around 81kg. What I would say is that I do not recommend a bypass op as a method of achieving weight loss… unless you need one of course. : :grinning:

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