GM/NS Expedition 2015

Hi y’all

Thanks to the magnificent benificence of my Good Lady, I’m being let out to play again and this time for no better reason than I can, I’ve decided to visit one of my very favourite parts of the world :slight_smile:

So I’ll be up in the far North from tomorrow evening till next Saturday 5th September. With a good many variables to contend with, again flexibility will be the name of the game - I’ve got a couple of dozen summits on my agenda and I’ll try to alert by the evening before which I’m going for the next day.

MO will be my usual LF medley - start on 60m (assuming phone coverage of course, and most summits up that way do seem to have some degree of signal), then 80m if there seems to be any prospect of contacts on that band; followed by 40m. If conditions are really bad, may resort to 20m or above and have even packed a key :hushed:

First alert already on :smile:

Hope to work many of you soon

73 de Paul G4MD

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Great Paul!

ABW I will be ‘Up Nort’ myself on Thursday & Friday but not that far Nort where you are - so possible S2S though I may only be on CW - so if I hear you I will call you slowly and you can reply on SSB or CW. Will have 2 FM also running APRS GM4COX-7. There is an increasing number of I-Gates ‘Up Nord’.

So here’s to a S2S or two.

Take care es 73


PS: Hey where your comrade-in-arms?

Comrade in legs? :smile:


“Comrade in legs?”

Good one Brian! :relaxed:

Ears on :pray:
mike a ready :+1:


Who’s been talking? Just because they don’t work on occasion, there’s no need to mention it here! :wink:

Thanks Jack will be listening for you! Have a good trip

73 Paul

Sorry we didn’t make it last night Karl, difficult condx but thanks for trying :slight_smile: Let’s hope for better today!

73 de Paul

Just “Valued Comrade” will do for me Brian! Sadly logistics and personal commitments militated against Gerald joining me on this one but fear not next joint activity is in the planning stages watch this space :wink:

73 de Paul G4MD

Morning Paul.

Just one of those things, well struggling to hear you, may ought to set up one of these half Vert Yagis for the garden 3 el. Bit of distance on the poles on 40m but can safely point it north. As already have the driver part in form of me portable 1/4  40m Vert something may about thinking looking into.

Might even pop up the inverted V G5RV 1/2 portable and point it northwards could be good idea and then play antennas off against each other.


Morning paul on Weds GM/NS-146

At first barely hear you and after while bands propagation got little better and you became audible thanks fully

Did put up the inverted V G5/RV 1/2w H/B and faced the active side north
But worked you on the loop 40m F/wave H/B

On the V the noise level increased by 3 points and lost you
On the loop better and more audible but 3 points less noise level then V

Plus QRM couple KZ up as well.

So next experiment I thinks will be the 1/4 mb vertical half yagi 3el facing north when i can.

So thinks have proved something to myself today the Loops is working well just need to increase its height one day.

thanks again for another new one and WAB square NC-36 yippee


Well I’m back in “Civilisation” (or at least sat at a PC with a proper keyboard instead of tapping out messages on a phone with a dodgy internet connection!) so a belated thank you to all the chasers that braved conditions that were as variable as the weather to make a reasonable number of contacts from the far-flung summits I tackled.

I’ll post a brief report and some piccies when I’ve dealt with the aftermath of a fortnight away from home. In the meantime I’d just like to say a special thank you to Don, G0RQL and Gerald G4OIG who not only were stalwart chasers but also kept a vigil for me and reported back to my loved ones when the only means of communication available was by radio :smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

Many thanks for all the summits I caught with you 73s


From my point of view this has to be the most disappointing of your outings: I listened for most of your activations but you were rarely strong enough to try to work, even on 5 megs which has been so helpful in the past, and such mouth-watering summits, too, as I struggle to complete GM as a chaser! Better luck next time - now, how do I get my wire a few metres higher…


Hi Brian

From the long list of familiar callsigns missing from my logs (now entered into the database, by the way) I guess your experience isn’t unique :frowning: Conditions were pretty universally dire, with many contacts being made with difficulty. I can only thank the chasers for their tenacity and persistence and offer my apologies to those that did not make it into the log. I know there were many more listening for me than I worked.

The disappointment is not a one-way phenomenon; I had planned to do ten summits but despite my built-in flexibility the weather and other factors beyond my control conspired to reduce this to seven. Maybe for the best - perhaps when I get back to complete the job radio conditions on the LF bands will have improved :wink:

So thanks again to all, and hope to catch you soon from another juicy summit

73 de Paul G4MD

[quote=“G4MD, post:15, topic:11496”]The disappointment[/quote]We were lucky with the weather Monday through Wednesday last week, but less so with the HF conditions, which were very patchy. The catch was finding which bands (if any) were working at any particular time. Some of the openings were a bit short. We did manage to qualify all the summits we’d set out to activate, but one or two were touch and go…

A key question Brian. I don’t have my antenna out in the clear - 500 foot poles aren’t welcome in suburbia.

I think I managed to work Paul only on account of the fact that one of my daytime TV watching neighbours must have been away. The usual S9/ S9+ noise level had dropped to a mere S7, with Paul’s signals usually Q4 or even Q3. Thank goodness for DSP is all I can say - it would certainly have been easier on the key! To make sure of making contact when Paul was out in the wilds, I went portable myself. A wise move as signals were considerably down that evening.

73, Gerald G4OIG

Well done Paul. Listened a few times but never heard you at all when you were still on when I got home from work. A G5RV at only 4m height doesn’t help much either - do you think all my neighbours and BT would mind if I cut down all the phones lines running across my garden? :smirk:

73 Neil

Hi Neil

Sorry we never made it from any of my NS summits. To be honest conditions were so variable the chance of any of the contacts was a bit of a lottery. Not sure that the antenna at only 4m is that much of a disadvantage for the NVIS propagation we’d have needed when the sky is working, at home I use a W3EDP at only 5m and it works brilliantly, the limiting factor is the constant S8 - S9 noise I get on any antenna I use :frowning:

Can’t recommend taking wire cutters to the interfering infrastructure I know from professional experience BT (not to mention their customers) get a bit uppity when you fetch their lines down :-s

73 de Paul

Well, it’s been a long time coming… but for anyone who’s still interested here it is! Brief notes on last September’s expedition.

We had booked a lodge near Glen Affric for a family holiday, so with the idea of working SOTA out of my system for a while so that she’d get to spend at least some of it with me my XYL proposed the cunning plan of sending me on ahead to do a few hills. I got to set out on September 1st, and had free rein to do what I wanted so long as I picked my XYL and daughter up at Inverness station at 7pm on Saturday 5th. Given such a golden opportunity, I decided to make the most of it and planned a trip to my beloved far North.

Day 1:

Most of the 10 hour journey from the West Midlands to the northwest corner of Scotland was made in rain varying between heavy and torrential, but by the time I arrived at the parking spot for my first summit the skies had temporarily at least emptied themselves and I set off up NS-145 Meall nan Clach Ruadha - chosen as an easy “travel day” hill - in good spirits and dry weather.

Gate onto hillside with Meall na Clach Ruadha GM/NS-145 behind

The long car journey made the 1.2km walk with 200m of ascent feel a lot harder work than it was, but half an hour after setting out I arrived at the summit and after taking a few photos of the clag was soon set up and ready to go. 60m was a struggle, but I eventually made contacts with G0RQL, GI4ONL GM4AXY and GM4YMM to qualify on the band. A change to 40m brought in another dozen of the usual suspects, ending the run with Pedro, EA2CKX to make a reasonable total for the summit. The rain started again as I packed up, and by the time I reached my accommodation for the night at Durness Youth Hostel it was larrupping down. I treated myself to a microwaved curry thanks to Anne, the wonderful warden then set about arranging the next day’s exploits.

My plan had been to activate NS-146 Ghlas-bheinn, then take the Cape Wrath ferry across the Kyle of Durness and activate NS-139 Sgribhis-bheinn followed by NS-124 Fashven before walking out of the firing range danger area and camping overnight near NS-149 Beinn Akie, which I would activate the following morning then descend in time to get the ferry back to Keoldale. Unfortunately a quick discussion with the ferryman elicited the unwelcome news that due to the weather and a forthcoming family funeral there would be no trips across before Friday at the earliest - scuppering at a blow my plans to bag the Parph summits. Even if the MoD would agree to a revised itinerary, this would not allow me to achieve the deadline for collecting the family on Saturday. These three were thus consigned back to the wish list, and Plan B embarked upon. Both plans A and B started with Ghlas-bheinn, NS-146…

Day 2:

Wednesday dawned dull and wet, but with the promise of abatement to sun and showers by mid morning. By the time I’d made the short journey to the parking spot for Ghlas-bheinn the latter had set in…

Rainbow at the parking spot for Ghlas-bheinn, Farrmheall NS-108 in the distance

The other end of the rainbow - Ghlas-bheinn NS-146 behind

As I ascended Ghlas-bheinn the weather improved by the minute, and by the time I summited conditions were almost pleasant. The sky was playing ball too, with radio conditions somewhat better on 60m than the previous evening. By amazing coincidence, the first four contacts were the same as yesterday, though achieved in a quarter of the time; and a total of 8 were made on the band. 40m again produced a dozen, though with very mixed reports and considerable QSB.

Summit cairn on Ghlas-bheinn, tomorrow’s target Creag Riabhach NS-115 behind and slightly to the left

After a quick descent, another short drive took me to the disconcertingly named village of Badcall and the parking spot for the second summit of the day, An Socach NS-141. By now the sky had cleared and the warm sunshine warranted donning a teeshirt for the ascent. The first km or so of the route is along a reasonable track apparently locally known as the “Peat Road” but true to the reports I’d read after this comes a stretch of bog and squidge with a lot of standing water that required a degree of circumnavigation to cross. Once over this though the going is quite good, and I made the summit in just under the planned time of 1hr 45 despite walking 5km rather than the estimated 4.

Diminutive summit cairn on An Socach, NS-141. Creag Riabhach and An Grianan in the far distance

Sadly whilst the weather had improved, radio conditions had deteriorated since the morning, and twenty minute’s calling on 60m produced no reponse. A change to 40m though produced the standard dozen contacts, and when these dried up Don 'RQL suggested another try on 60m he having missed me on that band as he was out. I was happy to oblige, and the experiment produced a very welcome contact on the band, a fitting conclusion to what was my 500th unique activation.

On the descent I kept to the higher ground as much as possible, and arrived back at the car in good time and with dry feet :slight_smile: I stocked up with goodies at the village store in Badcall then drove further up the B801 to Oldshore, where I parked opposite a new bungalow just above the track leading to the path to Strathan Bothy. This was to be my accommodation for the night, and a first for me. I added sleeping bag, stove, food and overnight kit to my pack and after checking with the builder working on the bungalow (turned out to be a local builder self-building in quiet times, common ground there so we had a good chat!) set off on the 5km walk to tea and bed. The walk was quite pleasant despite the heavier pack, winding it’s way between lakes and eventually dropping down into Strath Shinary where a washed-away bridge necessitated fording the river to access the bothy - fortunately accomplished again with dry feet. The bothy was a very welcome sight by this time :-s

Strathan Bothy, Strath Shinary

The bothy was pretty well as expected, very basic but reasonably clean and dry. I was glad to find I was the sole occupant that night, and soon set up my bed on the planked platform provided then boiled a kettle and fed myself on pot noodle and cereal bars. As there was no phone coverage at the bothy, I had arranged with Gerald G4OIG and Don G0RQL to have a sked on 40m that evening, so as it started to get dark set up my antenna just outside the front door and the radio on the table just inside…

GM4MD/P’s Shack at Strathan Bothy

40m was quite busy, but I soon found Gerald and Don chatting away and joined in. The half-hour’s relief to the solitude was much appreciated, as were the calls to my XYL to assure her that I was fine. After signing I dismantled the station and packed up ready for the morning, then crawled into my sleeping bag to get what rest I could on the thin sleeping mat between me and the solid planks beneath :-s

More to follow…

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