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GM/ES-084, GM/ES-073 & GM/ES-087

This one’s a little late - I was out on April 24, but my in house and up hill photographer has been hoarding the images to go with the post!

We figured that to fit the 3 Moray coast hills we were interested in climbing, now that the restrictions are eased, an early start would be required! The longest walk should go first and the activation times on each hill would be limited. Predictably, we left at 1030, got a bit lost and I got too excited on the radio, so none of the self made rules were followed!

The purpose of the trip was primarily to try my new smaller, lighter, cheaper masts from aliexpress - see my twitter for more information about these! https://twitter.com/hibbie/status/1382653632517177351

Bin of Cullen - GM/ES-084

We took a longer loop around the hill than was intended by missing an obvious left turn early on in the walk, but being in a pleasant woodland after a cold, shut-in winter. It was maybe 5.5km up, 250m height gain, with a 2.5km or so return.

After a little faff, the station was set up, I was on 40m and facing my first pile of up the year running 10-20W with great feedback from other stations! 19 contacts in 25 minutes later, I was happy enough to go QRT, remembering I had 2 more hills to climb, a hundred more miles to drive and a sandwich to eat!
S2S with GM4JXP/P on S2S GM/ES-051 nearby and S2S with DB7MM/P DM/TH-844.


New mast over 1 shoulder, the Next hill over the other!

Knock Hill - GM/ES-073

This climb was straight up and down the hillside, from a path just beside where we had parked. I think it was 1km walking, but 190m climb!

I set up the mast at the hilltop cairn to shelter from the wind and set up on 20m - 10 contacts, a little slower. Another S2S with GM4JXP/P locally, and a nice chat as I packed up with some curious locals to explain what I was up to! I put a few calls out on VHF but didn’t get far - I think I need an improvement from the rubber duck on my handy!


Peace & quiet looking south towards Aberdeenshire… I think

Waughton Hill - GM/ES-087

Waughton Hill’s starting point was beside a farm at the end of a lumpy, difficult farm track drive. The walk to the top was well signposted and not too challenging - 1.4km each way, 100m climb. We walked past a nice white horse ‘painted’ on the hillside with white rocks. Nice landmark to see on the approach. It had been dry for a while, so there were some sections, including the summit that I imagine would be more soggy/boggy - something to sit on might be required in more regular weather.

This summit is right beside Mormond Hill, the site of a teleport / comms station I know well from days past in work, and more importantly the home of GB3NG! What did I forget to do? Make a call on the repeater to see if anyone local was listening.

I set up on 20m again to experiment with dipole alignment - East/West and South/North to see if I could hear/be heard any different - I couldn’t dig too far into this, however, as my battery voltage was getting a bit low, and the backlight on the radio was flickering. Plus, my hillwalking companion was complaining about the temperature dropping as the moon climbed into the sky - 5 quick contacts with our friends on the continent and then I packed up and made it quickly down the hillside to the car.

An hour’s drive home and a couple of cool beers were required to cool down reddened cheeks, arms and necks after a long day in the sun.


Looking North, to the Moray Firth from the summit


Moonrise due East over Mormond Hill

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That looks like a cracking day out and nice picture to finish.
I remember the concrete? paraboles on the summit there. Were they part of some microwave NATO link from England to mainland Europe?

Not microwave, ACE HIGH 900MHz at 50/100kW troposcatter links. I think BT also had some troposcatter links out to the North Sea rigs from the same site.

Here’s an old map of the links from an STC press release.

Thanks! I think that’s the actual map I viewed when I googled it back in 2006 when I first started working in Fraserburgh. I think that they were removed not too long after that.

If you go far back enough looking for troposcatter in NewScientist there’s a great conspiracy about how it’s really an anti-soviet radar system, I’m sure.

There was tropo to the rigs, and then that was superceded by VSAT to the rigs - my employer used to hold a ground station there, but we decomissioned it maybe 5-6 years ago as part of a general move to ‘bandwidth as a service’, disappointingly!

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Sounds about the right timescale.

Here’s more info on ACE-HIGH
https://www.subbrit.org.uk/features/ace-high-nato-communications-system/

I’m sure I’ve got a picture of Mormond Hill with the dishes in place…somewhere.

Ward of Scousborough GM/SI-171 on Shetland is where the Mormond Hill linked to. The dishes went around the same time from that site and just the concrete mountings are left now. The other way was down to RAF Boulmer IIRC in Northumbria, then RAF Stenigot in Lincolnshire and then down to outside London.

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