GM/ES Land May trip VHF/UHF results

My log for the GM/ES May 1-22 is now loaded (for the purists I have to admit to 2 CS and 3 SS summits…) and shows why I described the trip to friends as an ‘expedition’ rather than a ‘holiday’ with 22 activations, Rod (M0JLA) was more sensible and only (?) ascended 19 summits - and 1 of those was a re-visit from 2023 to give me a complete (tx). To those who don’t know what we were doing and how I amassed this impressive total I must reiterate that we were only going up the minor summits of Angus and Aberdeenshire (highest ES-036 743m) and also looking for summits where i was likely to get at least one contact on VHF/UHF as I only resort to HF if I am in danger of not actually activating the hill. (see ES-074 Ord Ban near Aviemore!). I was helped in this task once again by Fraser MM0EFI at the preplanning stage and during the activations when his fellow amateurs were bombarded with messages!
The task was made more difficult in that we had stayed in exactly the same cottages near Aboyne(on Deeside) and Aberlour (on Speyside) last year and had visited the nearest/easiest summits then but we were confident that, with a small amount of extra travel, we could find enough to keep us busy and also ensure that we could find some other activities to give us (and our knees!) a rest such as Pictish stones (Meigle and St Vigeans museums - super - but there are still some other sites to visit IF we get up there again), gardens (will Edzell garden ever re-open?), castles and harbours. We took 2 days off for these visits and also ensured that some days SOTA took only half the day. Apart from the day when I eventually got drenched (houses in nearby Alford nearly got flooded and a road was partially washed away) we had dry weather and, on Speyside, got used to 20 -22C every day but found 24C too much even for the beautiful lowly Knock of Braemoray CS-115 (but a s2s with GM/SI-001 was ample reward). Apart from enjoying ourselves, the target was definitely to add uniques rather than points (35 pts for 22 summits confirms the lowly status of our hills -'tho, if my sums are right - the total would have been 45 pts if they had been GW rather than GM hills, I have great admiration for those who gain their points and MG status with Scottish hills rather than those further south).

In summary:
01.5 GM/SS-259 LARGO LAW 5 2m, 5 70cm
02.5 GM/ES-037 BADANDUN HILL 8 2m, 5 70cm
03.5 GM/ES-045 HILL OF WIRREN 7 2m, 5 70cm
04.5 GM/ES-020 CAIRN-MON-EARN 6 2m, 2 70cm* (on way to Aboyne)
05.5 GM/ES-060 COILIOCHBHAR 6 2m, 5 70cm
06.5 GM/ES-086 BRIMMOND HILL 4 2M, 3 70cm* (high masts)
06.5 GM/ES-077 MILLSTONE HILL 4 2m, 4 70cm
07.5 GM/ES-036 GEALLAIG HILL 5 2m, 4 70cm
07,5 GM/ES-078 CRAIGENDARROCH 5 2m, 4 70cm
09.5 GM/ES-034 MONA GOWAN 7 2m, 4 70cm
10.5 GM/ES-047 PRESSENDYE 5 2m, 4 70cm
11.5 GM/ES-072 CAIRN WILLIAM 8 2m, 4 70cm (on way to Speyside)
12.5 GM/CS-120 BROWN MUIR 5 2m, 4 70cm (masts)
12.5 GM/ES-069 BEN AIGAN 5 2m, 6 70cm
13.5 GM/ES-052 CARN DAIMH 5 2m, 2 70cm*
14.5 GM/ES-084 BIN OF CULLEN 4 2m, 4 70cm
15.5 GM/CS-115 KNOCK OF BRAEMORAY 8 2m, 7 70cm
16.5 GM/ES-079 HILL OF TILLYMORGAN 5 2m, 4 70cm
16.5. GM/ES-071 HILL OF FOUDLAND 7 2m, 4 70cm
18.5 GM/ES-074 ORD BAN 0 2m*, 0 70cm* HF* 1 (see text, on way to Fintry nr Loch Lomond)
19.5 GM/SS-126 EARL’S SEAT 12 2m, 8 70cm
20.5 GM/SS-251 BEN BOWIE 8 2m, 7 70cm

  • Summit activated but not qualified (70cm - 4 summits, 2m - 1 summit ES-074 Ord Ban)

22 uniques for me - GM/ES 17, GM/SS 3, GM/CS 2 NB we had visited the same area in 2023 with the same criteria which restricted our choice. This time we omitted 4 'likely hills ES-073, 082, 083 and 087 (ran out of time/knees) and ES-075 (still windblow problems apparently).
Summits - 3 x 4pts, 5 x 2pts, 14 x 1pts
226 QSOs, 2m - 129, 70cm - 96, 20m-1 (Ord Ban). 17 s2s from 11 summits.
Most frequent chasers - 17 MM0EFI Fraser, 16 GM0NRT Bill, Aberdeen, 14 GM0HLV Derek, Helmsdale, 13 M0ZKK Matt nr Keith, GM0CQV Brendan, Peterculter. Thanks also to GM1TGY - 8, who took over the job of rounding up contacts from Fraser when we moved to Aberlour despite the handicap, like Fraser, of having to cope with work commitments!

These statistics are inevitably somewhat misleading as the number of contacts depended on: how long I stayed up the hill, what day of the week it was (weekends are usually better for VHF/UHF contacts as more people can chase from home but I only got 2 70cm on 04/5 from ES-080 despite calling for 40 mins), the time of day (afternoon is usually more difficult than mornings), how many s2s I manage to get, the shape of the hill and thus the take-off, and whether M0JLA had decided to give the hill a miss and was thus wandering round in the town/glen ready to give me a couple of contacts!! - but on the downside I am then likely to stay for a shorter time on the summits as I know he will be waiting around for me to return - or, in the case oif Ballater, searching for THE backstreet fish and chip shop so we didn’t have to pay ‘Royal’ prices at the more prominent one - thanks Paul!. I could have left the last summit SS-251 Ben Bowie above Loch Lomond having qualified on 70cm after calling for 6 minutes with only the stick aerial but a lot more amateurs were within range compared with the ES hills!! As it was, I decided to erect the dipole as I’d carried it up there and harvested another 10 contacts in 13 mins before giving up as I still had to find a route down and wasn’t sure about the vague comments on following the edge of the forest inside the fence and eventually joining up with one of the long distance paths… As it turned out this information was wrong (outside the forest and fence on a rather soggy path) - and then ending up the wrong side of a barrier closing the road owing to felling to clear the windblow. I won’t say I enjoyed the obstacle course they had erected to deter walkers but it made the route more interesting - if considerably slower - until I reached the far barrier - photos may follow! Of course this obstruction was not in the position marked on the warning notice on the access to the track but that would have taken some of the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?!!

I was very fortunate to pick up a few s2s contacts on the trip with the more local ones giving me a chance for some completes (I only chase from summits and on VHF/UHF so real long distance chases are not normally possible) and I picked up 7 of the trip which was fantastic and with 3 on one day :roll_eyes: (12.5 chased ES-021 Ben Rinnes from CS-120, ES-081 Knockan and ascended ES-069 Ben Aigan having chased it the day before! It is possible to get a real thrill from amongst the little ones as well as the mighty summits! Particular tx go to M0ZKK Matt on Ben Rinnes who is fairly new to SOTA and had attempted to activate that hill the day before on VHF but had no contacts until I spoke to him on the way down. Hearing we were going up another hill the next day he decided to give it another try and qualified it this time. He also was one of my most regular chasers despite being at work where he and his startled colleagues were regularly disturbed by a loudly bleating goat!) A contact from ES-047 Pressendye with 2M0ROT Stuart on GM/SS-011 Ben Lomond at 41/41 showed we were only 154km apart (these s2s statatistics are fascinating!)

The 2 s2s with GM/S! summits were highlights especially the 13.5 ‘impossible’ GM/S!-003 Ben More, Mull to ES-052 Carn Daimh 570m a distance of 188km with the bulk of the Cairngorms in the way with reports 51/31 on 145.400. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it on 70cm! Tx Tim GM5OLD for hearing me and persuading your more powerful chasers to give me a chance… A few days earlier on 9.5 our s2s of 144km from GM/CS-006 to ES-034 was on both bands but the 70cm was a bit of a challenge!! The s2s with GM0GAV on GM/S1-001 from lowly CS-105 Knock of Braemoray 456m with reports of 51/55 might well have worked on 70cm as well but, sadly, Gavin hadn’t lugged a 70cm aerial up there (why not??)

Ord Ban GM/ES-074. We were driving past Aviemore to reach Fintry and M0JLA had mentioned this little hill before so I agreed, with yet another sunny day, to walk up it and talk to myself on 2m and 70cm (which I duly managed for 60 mins…) but I was not expecting the route (behind the bothy …) to be so actively discouraged by the car park attendant (go round the loch and to the visitor centre…) and the estate. The way through the deer fence was barred by a leaning heavy wooden gate which had to be edged round before starting on the narrow path with a number of fallen trees which had deliberately not been cleared for some years I suspect. It was a short energetic walk to the pleasant top with a view of the A9 traffic below but no-one answered on VHF/UHF so I took my one and only HF contact of the trip, with tx to OH3GZ and M0JLA. Rod then took down and descended beyond the AZ where I talked to him on 2m and 70cm to prove that the radio was working. These contacts are in my log but not in the statistics above. I had realised that my only realistic chance of a QSO was with anyone on the main road below but a hot Saturday in May was not likely to yield bored business people who are my most likely mobile contacts.

Final statistics - Summits 22, QSO 226, SOTA pts 35, S2S pts 59,
QTH: Strathavon 1 nt, Forfar - 3 nts, Aboyne 7 nts, Aberlour - 7nts, Fintry - 3 nts, Carlisle 1 nt
Wildlife: 12+ deer (assorted) , 1 adder, 2 ticks, 1 Covid bug (M0JLA on the last 100 miles of the journey, then given to me - hence the delays in posting).
I hope to add some photos and details of summits - if only to suggest what route NOT to take! Despite this I strongly recommend the Angus/Aberdeenshire area of GM/ES land to those whose legs will no longer reach Braeriach (long, long before we heard of SOTA) but still want some views, fun and, of course, contacts, when going up smaller hills. I am reminded of 2 comments made me during this trip:
“Now all you have to do now Viki is to go up this hill to claim a complete.” GM0GAV on GM/SI-001 Tx Gavin! and from GM0HLV Derek in Helmsdale when I was not entirely happy going up even the lowly Knock of Braemoray GM/CS-105 in bright sunshine at 24C and had obviously made this clear… “Remember Viki activating should be a pleasure and not a punishment!”
Viki M6BWA


Hi Viki. I am pleased to report that the badly damaged road has now finally reopened having been rebuilt (it’s a vital access route) although some houses close to my QTH are still finding stray fish in their foundations…:joy:.
Do haste ye back again, Viki and Rod, but less experienced visitors should beware these “lowly status” and “minor” wee summits. In winter they’re not to be taken lightly. They might not be the adjacent Cairngorm summits, or many bigger Scottish hills, but they can still cause grief to the unprepared or unwary. :cold_face:
Today, though, we were again bathed in warm sunshine. Not for long I expect, sadly……!:open_umbrella:
73 Mike :grinning:

Pic shows the 533m Coiliochbhar Hill in treacherous ice and light snow last December. It was -6C at the time…!

The path to the summit…


Wow - that covering of snow adds a new dimension to the problem of finding your way through the trees and out to the top. In May, when I threaded through the maze, I could glimpse traces of the path under the trunks which helped me to keep heading in the right driection. Also i had read that I needed to keep in touch with the (remains of) a wire fence and this took some finding - even without a coating of snow - and, presumably, dollops of snow going down the back of your neck when you touched the branch. Irrespective of the temperature, I reckoned you earned your winter bonus by going through that windblow under snow. BTW - just a thought - would it be possible to skirt round the outside of the woodland and stay in the open the whole time - evenhtough I realise this would be a longer route? As you realise, this is an entirely academic question as I am NOT going up this hill again in any weather - despite Fraser’s pormise of a barbed wire free route next time!
Glad you have had some more warm sunshine. 73 Viki


Hi Viki,
Glad to be a small part of your May trip this year when you were on Earl’s seat.
Hopefully we’ll manage some more qso’s in future.
I’m glad I wasn’t relying on VHF yesterday on Ardsheal hill GM/WS-341, no takers at all although today might have been different. Fraser MM0EFI was on Ben Nevis which was front and centre from my summit.



Yes it is, on the west side. It is a bit longer but I’ve done it before, both up and down. It’s also useful to duck out of the wind there to the side of the copse as it is still in the AZ (just). My usual route up the hill is an easy track from the southern side - and no barbed wire involved, as promised by Fraser - although ubiquitous forestry works don’t help, and negotiating that copse near the summit has become progressively trickier due to fallen trees after the severe storms of recent years.
I’ve been up Coiliochbhar Hill many times and always enjoy it so never say never to going up there again one day Viki - perhaps, maybe, possibly, perchance…? :joy:
Today, 4 June, we’ve been battered by cold winds and hail showers here and it was snowing on the western summits. Good job we’re well used to it……! :cold_face::weary: 73 Mike


Hi Andy
Lovely photo - glad we didn’t take the good weather way with us (weren’t we lucky??) I knew our visit wouldn’t overlap with your visit ‘oop north’ but delighted to hear from you on Spartleton GM/SS-182 when we finally reached Earl’s Seat GM/SS-126 - especially it was a complete! I had to go and look at my log for 9/21 and read my dsecription which, as usual, seemed to involve a fence we couldn’t cross and having to paddle through a swamp. Needless to say we found a better route down!
Sorry to hear you had no VHF takers from Ardsheal hill but, looking at the map, even fewer people live within VHF range from that hill than one Rod and I attempted just north of Oban a few years ago, rather late in the day (mistake 1) when we had to yomp through newly planted forest and couldn’t quite reach the top (mistake 2) and we got a grand total of 0 contacts from the combined might of HF/VHF and UHF so (in theory) it is still on the list of hills to be activated! I’m glad to see you were more succesful but a shame you weren’t around to give Fraser his vital 4th contact from the Ben.
We have both been felled by Scottish Covid on our return so are only slowly sorting things out let alone thinking of the next Scottish (or even Welsh) trip but we’ll let you know when we do.
73 Viki