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G4YSS:Ben WYVIS, GM/NS-005 & NS-050,10-10-12

G4YSS Activation Report, GM/NS-005 & GM/NS-050, 10-10-12.

Using GM4YSS/P and SSEG Clubcall GS0OOO/P. HF/ VHF QRP on 160m, 40m & 2m.
All times: BST (UTC plus 1hr UOS as ‘z’).
Mobile phone coverage on both summits and 95% of route - EE (Orange) network.

FT817ND 5W QRP. Adjustable dipole 80 thru 20 and coils for 160m. 5m mast; 1m end sticks.
IC-E90 4-Band FM, 5W H/H with 7.4V /1.3 Ah Li-Ion detachable battery. J-Pole for 2m FM.
Battery power: One 4.3 Ah Li-Po for both summits plus IC-E90 battery; both part used.
QRP pack: 10.5 kg (23 pounds) inc 1.25 litres drinks (1ltr used) food and Primaloft jacket.

This expedition was the first in a 7-night self-drive holiday at the Highland Hotel, Strathpeffer from 8th to 15th of October 2012. There are plenty of NS Scottish summits which can’t fail to get your attention and for me Ben Wyvis is well up the list of many I have not yet done. The GPS route for these two has languished in my computer hard drive for far too long.

After a second bad year health wise, my XYL said that she needed a holiday. After a week of no decision from me but to be fair, with my interests in mind, she booked one. NS5 is the closest significant SOTA to the Strathpeffer (Shearings) Hotel which she chose, and NS50 is NS5’s ‘little brother.’ It looked possible to do them as a pair and I think that has already been achieved.

Neither had a large QSO total. NS5 - 151 QSO’s and NS50 - 85 QSO’s. Some of these have been on bands that would reach Europe but the many were on 2m. It almost goes without saying that 160m did not feature on the record of either but neither did 80m. The assumption was that both these but especially NS50, should be popular with chasers.

An internet search revealed separate routes for both Ben Wyvis and Little Wyvis but I couldn’t find anything which paired them up. My main concern was the route between the two. Was there a path? Certainly the 1:25k map didn’t show one.

The next bit of information was gained on arrival from the manager and receptionist of the hotel who had both climbed Ben Wyvis once. As I suspected neither had done Little Wyvis but the receptionist had walked the east-west path which passes between the two target mountains and commented that she had ‘almost been reduced to tears’ in the boggy expanse there. It looked like I would have to tackle this bad ground myself; the only viable alternatives being to backtrack the NS5 path down An Cabar then climb NS50 from the north or just do them on separate days. Either of these options would involve greater total ascent and a further distance. Generally speaking I am unwilling to lose height and the route was already over 12 miles long.

The day before the walk, I was fortunate enough to work GM0UDL on 145.575. Andy is an accomplished GM SOTA activator and has also supported some of my Top Band activations in both Scotland and England. He has also activated Ben Wyvis and Little Wyvis albeit on in separate years but if there’d been a path between the two, Andy of all people would have heard about it. That finally convinced me of the likelihood that no linking path existed which is when I put off the decision about NS50 until I’d climbed NS5 and had a look at it. One thing was sure. Everybody was in agreement that an excellent path, with steps on the steeper sections, was a feature on Ben Wyvis NS5.

The alarm sounded at 05:00. After collecting some sandwiches from the hotel night porter in lieu of breakfast, the 20 minute drive to the Ben Wyvis car park (NH 4104 6713) was completed by 05:35.
Following the all important pre-hydration using one litre of orange juice, I left the car park using a Maglite torch at 05:53. Not taking my headlight out of the rucksack turned out to be a minor error.

The path parallel’s the road NE for about 300m before passing over a footbridge and through a gated deer fence at NH 4123 6734. This is where the climbing begins as you pass through a forested area, crossing over a forest track at NH 4172 6720 then on via NH 4223 6696 and NH 4313 6652 at which point the trees are left behind. From there it’s simple to follow up the east ridge of An Cabar on a steep but well surfaced zig-zag path via NH 4358 6670 and NH 4398 6665; finally arriving at the minor summit.

The path splits at NH 4435 6651; where I opted for the left turn and the gradient finally eases at NH 4460 6655. After passing a notice on the An Cabar summit cairn, which refers to path wear, it’s just a matter of walking the undulating grassy ridge on a stony path to the 1,046m high point called Glas Leathad Mor, which was attained by 08:16. The shelter surrounded trig point was GPS’d at NH 46299 68374.

The climb was uneventful apart from a miscalculation (a UTC / BST error) about how long I would have to walk in the dark. It was meant to be just 15 minutes but was in fact 75 minutes. The battery in the Maglite faded and the spares didn’t work either; or so it seemed. It wasn’t until the day after that I found that the bulb assembly was missing and is presumably still lying on the slopes of An Cabar. Still too lazy to doff the rucksack for the headlight, I plodded on impatiently in the gloom until just past 7am whence it became properly light.

After most of the height had been gained and the light was strong enough, I began to scan down and across for evidence of a path to Little Wyvis. None was visible but from what I could see of my intended route across the 515m high col, things didn’t look good. The ground there looked very wet and it was deeply cut in places with peat groughs and water courses. All informants were right. It didn’t look like there was any kind of easy access between the two SOTA’s let alone a convenient path.

BEN WYVIS, GM/NS-005, 1,046m, 8 pts, 08:16 to 11:52. Wind 0 mph increasing gradually to 10 mph by noon. Temp 0 deg C (frosted grass) - later 3 deg C. Alternating sunshine and overcast. LOC: IO77RQ, WAB: NH46. EE (Orange) Mobile phone coverage. Great views! QRP 5W.

There was no wind when I arrived at the summit and cows could be clearly heard lowing miles away to the east. The grassy top was lightly frosted and the sun had now risen above a small gap between horizon and clouds.

Photography came before setting up. All mountains to the west were visible and what looked like oil rigs could be seen in the Cromarty Firth to the east. An Teallach looked great. I have a soft spot for that one after having activated it in 2008. I selected a place on the centre of the ridge line and about 40m to the NE of the trig. I could not afford any screening for VHF or for the top Band operation but at that stage there was no wind anyway.

145.575 FM – 4 QSO’s:
When all was ready including the dipole and 2m vertical, contact was made with Andy GM0UDL waiting on 145.575 MHz. This channel seems to be a popular Highlands meeting place, S20 being more or less ignored. The day before, Andy had offered to monitor the activation to provide support with spotting if needed but mainly so that between us, we could credit this particular Munro with its first ever SOTA QSO on Top Band (see below). Later Andy passed the microphone to his XYL Brenda MM0UDL. It was a pleasure to work the two of them; Brenda for the first time. Their QTH is near Fortrose on the Black Isle.

The final two stations worked on 2m were MM0LOZ Loz (Lawrence) in Nairn and MM3ZRF Bob in Alness. I work Loz every time I’m up here; last time as 2M0LOZ but Bob was new to me. Loz was on his croft away from the house. He was working cross-band from a tiny 70cm handset which was linked to CTCSS coded 2m rig in his shack. Apparently there are one or two in the region using this system because they have land. At some point I must have worked Ray GM3PIL because he came up specially to liaise and provide me with a second 160m QSO.

1.832 CW – 1 QSO:
As arranged the day before and just prior on 2m-FM, Andy GM0UDL was logged with 59 both ways on 160m; Ben Wyvis’s first Top Band QSO. Andy has a very good setup and QTH and the distance involved was only about 15 miles.

1.843 SSB – 2 QSO’s:
Again, as arranged the day before and with 2m-FM talkback I worked Ray GM3PIL, who resides somewhere in the hills overlooking Nairn. This was not as straightforward as it might seem. Over the preceding 24 hours, Ray had spent time trying to locate and erect an antenna to make the QSO but hadn’t managed to find enough of it in time. He was persuaded by Andy and myself to ‘fire a bit of RF’ into anything he possessed which happened to be an antenna for the 40m band. I’m pleased to say we managed the 160m QSO over the few km required, with 51 reports each way but Ray was understandably nervous about his ridiculously high VSWR. Andy came onto SSB afterwards for a brief chat.

Without the help of Andy and Ray, I would certainly not have worked anybody on Top Band this far north, especially with the meagre 5 Watts I possessed. Though I could hear strong voice signals, in what sounded like Norwegian up on 1.850, there was certainly no earthly hope of making daylight QSO’s with the usual 160m enthusiasts in England or Eire.

At some stage in the proceedings, I phoned Roy G4SSH. If we couldn’t make contact on 40m CW this early, we would try it on 80m. A little later I heard Roy at about 55 QSB, testing on 3.557 but though I called several times, my 5 Watts were no match for his 200 W. Thoughts of 80m were abandoned in favour of the advertised 40m.

7.032.2 CW - 26 QSO’s:
This time I got a response from Roy first time and we exchanged at 599 / 559. I think we were both surprised at how well the band was propagating that early, notably in respect of short skip.

From 08:55 to 09:30 UTC, 26 stations from the following countries were worked: G; DL; ON; EI; GM; PA; HB9 and OM. OM7DX called me but try as I may, I could not get back to him with my QRP. Reporting on my 5W signal was better than I could have hoped for; generally in the range 559 to 579. Several reports were up to 599 but there were a few 339 and 449’s. After taking a gamble on QRP and two summits as against QRO on just one, I was quietly chuffed that I’d got it right. 40m was working really well to the UK, Eire and Europe but it could so easily been an entirely different story.

7.130.5 SSB - 22 QSO’s:
Starting with Andy who called in to see how things were going, 22 stations were logged in this session. Signal reports were even better than for CW earlier; perhaps the band was improving further as we neared 10 hours UTC. Countries worked: The UK - G, GM and GW apart from ON7KJW and S51ZG.

Final calls on 2m-FM on channels S20 and S23 did not result in further QSO’s so the station was packed up and thoughts turned to whether NS50 was a goer or not. With the early start, I had sufficient time but I was concerned about state of the intervening ground. Just then a man turned up with two Australian Sheep dogs (bred from Dingos) which looked different to any dogs I’ve seen. After the usual enquiries about surveying and a pleasant chat, we got onto the subject of the path to NS50. He was local and had climbed Ben Wyvis once before but he knew of no easy way. The decision was put off for a little longer.

The QSO total for this hill was 55.

Whilst heading back along the summit ridge towards An Cabar the choice of whether to activate NS50 was made on the basis that there was sufficient time available, the WX was good and I wouldn’t be back this way for a long time. I was not however, expecting to find a path. At NH 4525 6709 a random left turn off the ridge took me down an easy grass slope as far as NH 4533 6610 at which point the ground became rougher as grass gave way to peat.

From here to the tiny dam at NH 4508 6535 progress was gradually slowed. This stone built sloping dam, with its depth gauge and man-made burn that runs south then east from it, succeeds in preventing the majority of water which flows down Allt na Feithe Riabhaich from filling up the peat bog between these two SOTA’s. In addition it lightens the load on the natural drainage system running off to the west; namely Allt a’ Bhealaich Mhoir. Despite experiencing much worse, for instance going cross-country in Bleaklow Meadows in the Peak District, what came next was poor going and painfully slow.

From the dam, I followed the man-made ‘canal’ downstream (south) for about 100m until I could see a line of fence posts going off to the right at NH 4509 6517. Turning right (west) here I followed the galvanized posts, spaced every 20m or so, across the bad ground at approximately 515m ASL. There is no path; it’s wet, lumpy and minor deviations are necessary but at least there’s something to follow and the minimum of height is lost by crossing at this point. If it were not for the work of the canal, the job would be much worse especially after heavy rain. The last bit is perhaps the worst and I had to backtrack to get around very squidgy ground. You could be forgiven for denying the existence of what on the map looks like a major path running at right angles to my track through here; I found no evidence of it.

Once free of bog it was time to feel my way up Little Wyvis. The boggy ground gradually gives way to heather as you head up to NH 4394 6506, NH 4374 6519 and NH 4364 6537 but the heather is lying contrary to the desired line of progress. At some point along here I located a minor path heading the right way but this seemed to peter out before the ridge was gained at a fence post (NH 4354 6543). This is close to the ‘662m spot’ on the 25k map next to Tom nan Caillich. From there it’s a left turn and follow this second line of fence posts in a southwesterly direction up towards the summit cairn; GPS’d today at NH 42963 64468.

This top is also grassy. I set up overlooking the NW side at the end of a tiring walk of 2hrs-28 minutes being five minutes longer than the ascent of the earlier Munro with it’s good path. That with just QRP kit too!

LITTLE WYVIS, GM/NS-050, 763m, 4 pts, 14:20 to 16:35. 7 deg C, sunshine/ overcast, 15 mph wind increasing. LOC: IO77QP. WAB: NH46. EE (Orange) Mobile phone coverage. QRP 5W.

Just prior to arrival, I texted Hazel M6YLH to spot me but confused UTC with BST. Roy G4SSH phoned me to clarify but by that time I was set up on 40m CW. ‘Can you hear these dots Roy?’ I sent half a dozen dots on 7.032. The answer was ‘yes’ so the session was begun with a call to G4SSH and an RST 559 response. Our luck was holding; 40m was still in great condition.

7.032 CW - 32 QSO’s:
After G4SSH came Kevin G0NUP located in the next village to my home QTH. After that Frid DL1FU, confirmed that 7 MHz was working equally for long and short skip as had been the case in the morning. Incoming reports in response to my 5W output were generally 559. The range was from 539 to 589 apart from one 449 and a 599. The NS50 40m CW log contains: G; DL; PA; GM; GI; EI; OM; ON; Z35 and the session took 50 minutes.

There was one S2S on 40m CW, namely EI/G4ASA/P on EI/IS-122. That’s simply enough written here but had it been winter, the poor op might have frozen to death before I’d managed to get his callsign and ref into the log correctly. This is what often happens to me when the CW reading skills are remotely challenging. The more you get flustered the worse it becomes.

OM7DX and DJ5AW both failed in their attempts at a QSO but the latter station managed it in SSB later on. John G4WSX really struggled to hear me at 13:53z but made it through OK at 14:20z.

DL3HXX and Z35F both worked me twice or so it seemed but they could be forgiven for not hearing the QRP signal very well the first time. If a chaser thinks he isn’t in the log, it’s probably best to make sure with a second QSO. With QRP, an activator can waste time sending, ‘already in log’ and it’s often easier to go through the familiar set procedure of another QSO. It’s worth the effort if it gives the chaser peace of mind, especially if the summit is rarely activated. This doesn’t happen that often and it certainly doesn’t annoy me in any way because I completely understand what chasers are up against and admire them for it.

7.134 / 7.127 SSB - 23 QSO’s:
The problem here was that the announced QRG of 7.132 LSB was occupied. This happens a lot with SSB and it seems that with existing QSO’s occupying 3kHz, if you move too far, you can easily become lost to the chasers. This problem is rare with CW where you can gain clearance in as little as 500 Hz or have the option of the ‘CWR’ mode for close signals. Sometimes I can’t get notification out for a re-spot by any means and more often than not, I will not appear on the announced frequency for SSB. Today was a case in point which is why I opted for the closest frequency possible - in this case 7.134.

By now I have become somewhat conditioned to the compromise; a stark choice of the chasers suffering terrible sideband splatter or never finding me at all. Many times chasers tell me of adjacent channel interference which I already know about because I am suffering it myself but better that than not to be found at all. At least then there is an option of getting a QSY frequency out and onto the spotting system.

Generally speaking,the alternative is to call CQ for 15 minutes on the next clear QRG which may be 25kHz or more away. Rarely I have done this for up to half an hour and only attracted the odd non chaser and that can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand a QSO of any kind with frequent handovers can aid ‘discovery’ after which a chaser will tail end. If that doesn’t occur, the ‘normal’ QSO just adds to the delay whilst eating up finite battery power and precious time. In these circumstances and when it’s really cold you can become very disheartened. For this and other reasons, I think SSB activating can be harder than CW.

Most of the above didn’t apply today when I was rapidly located 2kHz off my ‘spot’ by GM7UAU Steve. The splatter that resulted was dealt with after 8 QSO’s with a QSY to 7.127 - a clear channel. From then on NS50 was a much easier chase but only for the UK. A limited variety of countries were worked in SSB from 14:35z to 15:08z: GW; GM; G; DL and EI. Reports of the 5 Watt signal were mostly between 55 to 59. Discounting an ‘ON’ in Ireland, only two European stations; DL5WW and DF5WA, were worked. Strangely, skip was favouring inter-G by this later time.

The ‘ON’ QSO mentioned above was actually an S2S with Phil, EI/ON4TA/P on SOTA EI/IN-081 (58 both ways). Geoff M6MZX and Frank G3RMD called in immediately prior QSY from 40.

145.500 / 145.575 FM – Nil QSO’s:
It was half-term in Scotland and by this time Andy GM0UDL was at Rogie Falls with his children. I couldn’t raise any other stations with 5 Watts to a rubber duck and none of the other channels were occupied.

Being now pushed for time, I did not try 160m from here. With 5 Watts and at least one of the nearby stations unavailable, the chances of success would have been more or less nil. Attention was now turned to getting down ASAP.

The QSO total for this hill was 55.

The intended route derived from the internet, was in the GPS. It involved first heading SW off the end of Little Wyvis and then along in a NE direction. With no time for niceties, I just walked straight down the side and directly to the track which I thought was going to enhance progress, joining it at NH 4295 6468. On arrival I found that the description ‘track’ was a gross overstatement. It has been routed (or possibly dug out) along the hillside and is in a gully, which must collect and trap every drop of water which falls on the hill above it. In places it equalled the specifications of the bog I’d been forced to cross earlier. Frequent detours to avoid wet feet were necessary but I made my way slowly to a hairpin / turnround at NH 4330 6547. After going down a steep slope from there, I spied some more fence posts; the third lot of the day. These go right down to the edge of the forestry and beside them is a minor path which runs downhill from NH 4327 6566 to the crossing point of Allt a’ Bhealaich Mhoir and the regaining of the Ben Wyvis path at NH 4313 6652. What’s left is a simple walk downhill to the Ben Wyvis car park on this excellent path, used on the way up in the dark.

I was back at the car in 75 minutes at 17:50 and back to the Strathpeffer hotel about 30 minutes later. Once there, I was implored to quickly change my appearance to semi respectable before being bundled off to the dining room by the XYL in time for its opening at 18:30. The bath would have to wait.

Car Park to NS5 Ben Wyvis: 935 m ascent / 7.5 km.
NS5 Ben Wyvis to NS50 Little Wyvis: 262 m ascent / 7.2 km.
NS50 Little Wyvis to Car Park: Approx 10 m ascent / 5.0 km.

TOTAL ASCENT & DISTANCE: 1,207m (3,960ft) / 19.6 km (12.2 miles).

Up at: 05:00.
Left Strathpeffer: 05:15
Arrived Ben Wyvis Car Park: 05:35
Walk started: 05:53
Daylight: 07:10
GM/NS-005: 08:16 to 11:52
GM/NS-050: 14:20 to 16:35
Returned Ben Wyvis Car Park: 17:50
Back to Strathpeffer: 18:20

Walking time: 6hr-6 min.
Activating time: 5hr-51 min.
Gross time Car to Car: 11hr-57 min.

QSO’s: NS5: 56 - NS50: 55.

QSO Breakdown:
1 on 160m CW (NS5).
2 on 160m SSB (NS5).
58 on 40m CW.
45 on 40m SSB.
4 on 2m FM.
Total: 110 (both summits - 55 on each).

SOTA Activator points: 12

This was one of a series of trips to Scotland using (in this instance) Shearings or Lochs & Glens hotels. My XYL looks for the special deals. This well run hotel could be described as ‘mass market’ and exists mainly for coach trips with a few self drive customers. It was very comfortable, the food was great with flexible mealtimes, the staff smart, efficient, friendly and accommodating where the need arose. (My XYL has MS and must sleep in the afternoons). There is no Wi-Fi as yet but the receptionists were only too happy to print out the mountain WX forecasts for me.

The intention on these trips is to put three summits on the air in the week thereby not neglecting the family aspect too much.

It was good to chat to the ‘145.575 crowd’ who made us feel welcome once again and could supply valuable local knowledge. Sadly one voice was absent this year. Cris GM4FAM who will be missed in the area and the wider amateur world.

On this occasion I installed HF/ VHF QRO in my wife’s car using croc clips, a 25A circuit breaker, 12 AWG wire and a mag-mount. This was great for WAB’ing on 7.160 LSB when the WX was too bad for SOTA.

The activation of Ben Wyvis is something I have wanted to do for years now. As Munros go, it’s a simple one without any danger or route issues involving scrambling etc. Wayfinding is straightforward - you just follow the path through the trees and up the steps. Grass at the top makes antenna erection easy. At a glance, Little Wyvis just looks like something you would conveniently add on the way down. In fact it at least doubled the workload mainly due to the lack of paths.

Band conditions on 40m were exceptionally good which was just as well. The choice of QRP and two summits had been made over QRO and just NS5. The gamble paid off. 5 Watts did the job better than 100W would have done on a bad day.

The only way I was ever going to get QSO’s on Top Band in daylight this far north and with QRP was via prearrangement with local stations. Working two stations on 160 from the big one - NS5 was more than satisfactory thanks to Andy GM0UDL and Ray GM3PIL. The only other ways to get SOTA contacts on 160m in northern GM is to beg via a repeater during the activation or ask any ops worked on 2-FM if they have the capability for 160. Most don’t but both these methods have been successful in the past.

To ALL STATIONS worked, for your patience in pileups and help where needed. To G4SSH; GM0UDL; M6YLH; G4OOE; MW6GWR; M0XSD and M0KLO for time saving spots. Once again, special thanks to Roy G4SSH for liaison, his ‘Phone-a-Spot’ Service. Hazel for spotting via text. To Andy GM0UDL for advice and 160m CW sked; Ray GM3PIL for 160m SSB sked and the local 145.575 users for making 2m-FM worthwhile.

To the manager, deputy manager and receptionists at the ‘Bay Hotels’ (Shearings) Strathpeffer for mountain advice, weather forecast printoffs, the supply of sandwiches in lieu of breakfast and comfortable accomodation at only £24 pppn for DBB. My XYL for the use of her (once posh - now rather dirty) car.

Footnote: The small rock samples gathered from Ben & Little Wyvis turned out to be Garnet Mica Schist which is a metamorphic rock.

73, John G4YSS
Using Scarborough Special Events Group Club call - GS0OOO/P & GM4YSS/P.
(Please Note: GM4YSS/P will be used in database.)

Glas Bheinn - GM/NS-044 on 14-Oct-12 report see:

In reply to G4YSS:

Thanks for your report John.

Pleased to see you have rediscovered QRP! I think that SOTAwatch spots improve activators signals by many dB :slight_smile:


In reply to G4YSS:

There is no Wi-Fi as yet but the receptionists were only too happy to print out
the mountain WX forecasts for me.

Hi John, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you are already aware but it may be useful info for someone, that BBC radio Scotland have a good outdoor activities weather forecast each day after the news at 7am and 7pm if you find yourself north of the border without access to any other form of weather forecast.

Thanks for the report, I’m keen to get back now.

Iain, VK3/MM3WJZ

In reply to MM3WJZ:


I hope you will be able to bag yourself a VK3 summit whilst you’re out there.


In reply to G4YSS:

Many thanks for another excellent and highly detailed report John. Almost in the vein of a Wilbur Smith adventure. It certainly took me there. :slight_smile:

“You could be forgiven for denying the existence of what on the map looks like a major path running at right angles to my track through here…”

Ah, that figment of the map maker’s imagination. A feature of OS maps across many areas of the UK.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4YSS:

The obvious route onto Little Wyvis is from the main road at NH404640; unfortunately this is (was?) through a deer farm and access was very restricted. If you can gain access from this point then the ascent is a relative doddle on good tracks all the way.

If the gates are still closed then a polite request at one of the nearby cottages should give you access, I don’t recommend climbing the fences!!!

Cross country from Ben Wyvis is fine - in mid winter with the mud frozen hard!

Barry GM4TOE

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John.That sounded to be a long way.And another fine report.I have just been having a look and HB/BE-003 is still waiting for you.73 Geoff

In reply to MM0FMF:


Well I’ve been up the local wee hills of Mt Rouse & Mt Napier but even Mt Napier with its signposted 1 hour round trip didn’t take half that, so it’s not exactly my usual weekend excursion in GM land. The radio stayed in Glasgow (or was it Yorkshire?) besides which without bothering to read up on it I’d expect to need a licence upgrade had I brought it :wink:

Iain, VK3/MM3WJZ

In reply to ALL:

Hi Colin. Yes, I use QRO if at all possible but sometimes reverting to QRP as the need arises. MG was done with 4 Watts of FM. In my opinion the extremes of 5 and 100W are a bit too far apart. This was a 5W QRP triumph however. I would have been kicking myself if I’d carried QRO with conditions on 40 as they were. What a waste of effort and it may also have wiped out the second activation of the day.

You are right, SOTAwatch is a great thing which we now perhaps take for granted. When I started in 2002, there was no SOTAwatch. All that could be done was to post activity on the Yahoo reflector; something I couldn’t do as I had no computer and more important no clue about how they worked. I had never touched a keybooard in my life and even now type slowly with one finger only. Some good I would have been spotting. They would have been back in their cars before I got a spot on! I still don’t like alerting though. It goes against the grain and puts me under pressure. A mixed blessing. 73, John.
Iain, VK3/MM3WJZ
Hello Iain, I was aware of having stumbled across a detailed mountain forecast on the radio once but could never remember the time that when I’d heard it. Now I know thanks to you and it’s easy to remember - 7 and 7. I always take a trani radio to GM for use in the hotel. I also have 810 in my car radio in England and listen occasionally as I love the place. I just hope they’re not really going to leave us. It’d break my heart. Thanks again, 73, John.
Andy MM0FMF,
Hi Andy. Well done on your CT3 expedition. Hope you found the place & people to your liking, to say nothing of the takeoff run of 28 seconds. 31 and you swim! It was even more fun in 1992. 73, John.
Gerald G4OIG,
Thanks Gerald. The reports take forever but it’s got to the stage of obsessive compulsive disorder and it must be done. It’s ridiculous really as they’re all the same. One would cover the lot. I must think I’m still at work but at least I had somebody to type them for me there.

I have always had great faith in OS but I am in a way relieved that you have ‘given me permission’ to doubt them. I have been turning a blind eye to this for years. Now that this matter is out in the open, I am confused by the Lake District 1:25k’s which show (what I think) are green (colour blind) dashed lines going all over the place and tiny dotted paths which meander about underneath them, the latter visible only with spectacles. Trouble is the two don’t coincide much at all and the former take short cuts. I think I have proved a time or two that the bold dashed paths should be mostly ignored if there’s a choice. I am aware that there exists a different make of map which may be more reliable and I think OS should be paying more attention to what could be seen to be the most important markings that a map can offer (for such as us at any rate). 73, John.
Barry GM4TOE,
Thanks for that Barry. I have marked that on my system as a GPS waypoint. I see that it would be a much better way to do NS50 if you were doing it without NS5. As for deer fences, I investigated An Cabar - a 2-pointer start point when I was up in GM but was confronted by the same problem. A deer fence & locked gate at NH 2434 6148 on the A832. Climbing them has been painful in the past. Thanks again - local knowledge is invaluable, 73, John.
Geoff M6MZX,
Yes OK Geoff but would you still work me if I didn’t do it by the north face? I would try of course but the weight of QRO might just be too much! Thanks for the QSO’s, 73, John.

Thanks for all comments, 73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:
“Iain, VK3/MM3WJZ
Hello Iain, I was aware of having stumbled across a detailed mountain forecast on the radio once but could never remember the time that when I’d heard it. Now I know thanks to you and it’s easy to remember - 7 and 7. I always take a trani radio to GM for use in the hotel. I also have 810 in my car radio in England and listen occasionally as I love the place. I just hope they’re not really going to leave us. It’d break my heart. Thanks again, 73, John.”

Hi John!

As it appears you get a chance to listen to Radio Scotland from time-to-time. Its has a programme on a Saturday morning ‘Out of Doors’ 0630-0800 (just before ‘Sound of the Sixties’ with Brian Mathews - BBC Radio 2 - 0800/1000hrs - another superb prog!!) which covers many outdoor topics (and I even think Barry GM4TOE featured on it in the early days of SOTA?). As Iain mentioned they give the hill forecast for the forthcoming day at just past the 0700hrs news.

Anyway both great programmes to set-up your Saturday SOTA escapades - hi!


Jack (;>J

PS: The hill forecast is given at 1900 local after the News for the following day. Again easy to check if you cannot access the internet, like myself with base camp at NH 04319 29371 and the only thing you can Rx (local info at all!) MW is Radio Scotland on 810KHz. Of course the World Service is not much cop for GM/summit Wx - hi!!

In reply to GM4COX:
Hi Jack, Really nice to hear from you again. It’s a while since we spoke or met. Thank you for the 810kHz prog recommendation - sounds just up my street. I hope the BBC don’t go ahead with silly plans (rumoured) to give up on MW-LW for a long time yet. The alternatives won’t work for much of GM. Talking of streets - your ‘street’ is a long one indeed. I looked it up. Iron Lodge on sh414. You couldn’t be farther from civilisation and I envy you that. No wonder you’ve taken to activating so readily. Hills are all around you.

I still remember well that ‘reverse’ S2S with you NS1 to LD1 and also meeting you at rallies. Colin told me he met you at one a little while ago.

All the best to you Jack, 73, John.

PS: Come to think of it, that outdoor prog rings a small bell. I think that’s when I heard that WX forecast. I was listening in the car while travelling to a SOTA really early in GM/NS. Half way there the forecast came on to tell me of 90mph winds at 3000ft so I turned around!

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

I know what you mean about reports and the tendency towards being OCD. I do my reports for two reasons - firstly it puts a seal on the activations, allowing me to focus on the next sortie and secondly it will give me something to read when I am of an age when I can no longer get up them thar hills! :slight_smile:

As for OS maps, I activated Cairn Table GM/SS-120 yesterday and ascended via the tracks as shown on the OS. I could have read the site signboard at the car parking spot showing me a more direct route for the bottom section which is not shown on the OS. Pleased that I didn’t though as the route I took has a gradual gradient and was nothing like the undulating and winding track (the direct route) which I found on my descent. In a way I could say thank you OS for your omission. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

How wet was Cairn Table? I remember Brian’s comments about how anyone with a tendancy for Trench Foot should steer well clear! It was tremendously wet when we did it a good few years ago.


In reply to MM0FMF:

Ah, only half way up the toe section of my boots for most of the boggy section. I kept to the edge of the motorway (track) to avoid the worst bits requiring some additional distance on the walk, but it was nothing like the boggy section when I ascended The Cheviot some years ago when I had to take extensive detours. Brian did ask whether I had wet feet - I think he was dissapointed to find out I hadn’t. :wink:

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

I think he was dissapointed to find out I hadn’t. :wink:

I can understand why. I remember at one point Brian looked like Toulouse-Lautrec as so much of his lower legs had disappeared into the gloop that passed as a path!



In reply to MM0FMF:

Ah well, that’s what you get when you go out walking in trainers. :wink: I wore my 4 season Berghaus Kibos which are built to withstand virtually anything that GM can throw at them, so they weren’t shy of a little gloop. I admit that I had to wash them off when I got home… and my Paramo gaiters as well as they were well plastered.

73, Gerald G4OIG