G/SB-001 First HF activation G5ZX & 2E0FTU 30/08/20

The trip started for me on Saturday evening with an hour and a halfs drive Travelling from my QTH in West Yorkshire up to Marks QTH near Middlesborough. We spent the evening preparing our kit, participating in the local 2m quiz night net, checking routes, scoffing homemade pizza and garlic bread with a few rum and cokes to wash it down.

we rose early for the 2 and a half hour drive to the scottish borders, passing through the bustling cities and towns of tyneside into the spectacular Northumbrian hills towards the border with Scotland. once of the main roads we followed a long windy single track road occasionally passing a farm here and there towards Langleeford, the start of the hike towards the summit of The Cheviot.

We parked up, got our boots on and kitted up for the challenge ahead, off we go! We walked about 300yds further up the lane from the car park and picked up the sign posted trail to Scald hill, the small in comparison summit to be be conquered before the big climb. once through the gate we were met with a fork in the trail, on the right a gamekeepers 4x4 trail and the footpath on the left although there was little distinction between the 2, out came the OS map to double check the route and compass to take a bearing, we took the path to the left and all was well. The trek started out steep and within a few minutes my legs were starting to feel the strain, slowly and steadily we made our way up through the grouse moor gaining altitude impressivley quickly from the valley bottom. half way to the first summit i stopped for a breather and drink, Mark went on ahead keeping his pace, we met back up at the summit of scald hill and stopped and admired the scenery from the grouse butts just off the path for 5 mins and chuckled at some of the other walkers who obviously weren’t aware before they set off of what they were letting themselves in for. We continued…

Into the bog…
lovely sodden sinking bog, nearly up to my knees at times. Mark follows behind on this type of terrain, i find the deep bits so he doesnt have to HI! we made our way though the bog to the bottom of the very steep daunting final climb, step by step we made our way up, a bit loose under foot with gravel and skree, i found my my second wind and pushed through the screaming aches in my legs, and then came the demoralising false summits. eventually we got to the end of the climb marked by a cairn more accuratly described as a pile of stones, shining away in the distance was the bright white raised trig point which brought a smile and sense of relief. off we strode on the worn but dry grass following the path to the stile, once over the stile the landscape changed completely, more bog, the entire summit is just one giant saturated bog, luckily there was a nice stone slab pathway across the flooded summit to the trig. once there we climbed up on plinth and touched the trig point, stopped for a sec to have a drink and then rushed to get radio gear set up as we had heard 2E0FQN on Skiddaw G/LD-004 on our handhelds while on our accent.

We got the mast up on some dry grass at the side of the trig with Marks Sandpiper clip on dipole for 2m and my Virgin untested homemade linked dipole for HF, trudging out into the bog to anchor it at both ends.
the radio was a Yaesu 857d running on a 12AH LiFePo4 battery from Ultramax with a Buddipole Powermini inline to keep an eye on the battery and charge from my folding solar panel if needed, first contact was with 2E0FQN on Skiddaw, a really nice copy both ways, we then found our own frequency and got a bit of a pile up going, working the north of England and of course over the border half a mile away into GM, other notable contacts on 2m included GM4COX and MM0GLM both on there own respective summits of GM/SS-155 & GM/SS-063 but working together.

after the pile up died off we moved to 40m figuring it would give the best chance of inter-G and mainland Europe. after finding and checking a clear frequency i put out a couple of calls and straight away into SM4CJM Sweden came booming through the speaker of the little Yaesu, the virgin antenna had worked and a near perfect swr across the band. we spent about 45 mins working inter-G and mainland in the big pile up we attracted including S2S contacts with MW3TMX GW/MW-029 and GM4JXP GM/ES-039. after things had died down we QSYd to 20m in the hopes of something further afield, which unfortunatley never came but we did manage to wangle out a couple of contacts into Germany the first having a lovely chat with DL35SDR and the operator Maggie, she congratulated us on such a strong signal from a portable station.

after struggling on a bit on 20m we decided pack up and call it a day, we just got packed and through the handhelds came a “CQ SOTA MM0IVR” from his perch on GM/ES-008 so we both worked him and got him half way towards the big 4 also gaining 10 chaser points each in the process.

The summit was fairly busy throughout our activation so we had an audience and were on our best behavior, Mark answered their questions and gave out SOTA leaflets he had prepared in advance while i operated the radio and tolerated the verbal noise made by some of the people gathered around the trig.

The way down was Steep and care had to be taken, once down from The Cheviot we were back at the bog and decided to hop the fence and take advantage of the dry game track up and over Scald Hill. we arrived at the car after about an hour and a half got our muddy wet boots off and prepared for the drive back south.

this was our best activation to date, weve had more contacts and done higher altitudes but the addition of HF to the activation brought a whole new level, with SotaWatch being down we couldnt spot ourselves or check spots and had to wing it, but it didnt matter, the chasers found us.

untill the next one
Steve G5ZX


Hi Steve

Thanks for an interesting read and photos… I felt your pain :grinning:. That one is on my ‘to do’ list. Hope to catch you s2s one day and good luck on your future activations…hope they will not be so boggy…there are dry ones out there :grinning:

73 Allan GW4VPX

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Pah, lightweights! People use to take car batteries up hills.


Somebody has fixed up the trig with some Polyfilla and a can of paint. This is how it was in October 2009.

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Nice work chaps, I am hoping to get up this one soon and the report is valuable! I’ll be breaking out the Gaiters for this one.



Many thanks for the interesting report. Pleased that you enjoyed the outing. You didn’t meet my mate Red upon Scald Hill then.

It’s always boggy between Scald Hill and the Cheviot. Nice to see some views though. I’ve been up several times (with radio just the once) and never had a view from up there. The same applies to Snowdon - never seen a thing from up there either. :hushed:


Good report. I’ve had two contrasting activations of this summit. The first was as part of walking the full Pennine Way in 2006, and conducted in very heavy rain! The second was in glorious sunshine on a day off between the Scottish leg of the Joe Longthorne tour and the next gig at City Varieties in Leeds (The Good Old Days anyone?).

Obviously the two routes were completely different to each other, the 2018 route being pretty much the one you did. I enjoyed that one a lot more - but the wx definitely helped! This summit is easily my favourite in the G/SB region.