GM/SS-246 Ailsa Creag

Why is this Summit listed under Southern Scotland when it is clearly an Island, EU-123 in fact, should it not be shown under SI, Scottish Islands?

Many thanks to Phil GM4OBK for the qso on 5MHz and to Roy G4SSH for the spot.

Now for the downside, why oh why could not the number of stations that worked Richard G4ERP on LD-031 for Summit to Summit contacts have continued on 2mtr. ssb to work the rest of the country who were not able to use 5megs and were too close for 7megs etc.

A spot was put on for 2mtr fm, which would have benefited the locals only unless horizontal polarisation was used !! ] a nigh perfect take off, sea path all round, plenty of time as the fm spot was put on at 13.41z and I worked Phil at 15.06z who was about to take down the station and descend to the boat.

Once again vertical FM rules and the best band in the spectrum 2 Metre SSb ignored.

I await comment.

Don G0NES ]

In reply to G0NES:

Why is this Summit listed under Southern Scotland when it is clearly
an Island, EU-123 in fact, should it not be shown under SI, Scottish

Presumably because Alan Dawson put it in the Southern Scotland list.
See for mapping boundaries for Marilyns in Scotland.

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G4OWG:

You’d think it should be an SI not and SS but for some reason it was in the SS section in Alan’s lists as Roger has stated.


Hi Don,

Only having one hour of available summit time, and being exhausted after a genuinely tough ascent probably meant that such detail was far from the minds of the activators. However, between us, we operated on 2m FM and SSB, 80m CW and SSB, 40m CW and SSB, 60m SSB and 23cm. All the ten activators were operating right up until the last possible moment before it was necessary to descend to get the boat back.

I worked a few G stations on 40m CW, so conditions may have allowed you to work me on this.



Hi Don

Fair comment from Tom - my two pennorth’:

As I know I am a quick descender I stayed active until the last.

Understandably many of the other ops’s who were not quick at descending were packing up around 30 minutes before I did. They also took longer to ascend to the summit, so time was tight for them.

We all had our own agenda of what we wanted to do once we were QRV and as several of the ops don’t get involved in the “politics of SOTA” (ie reflectors) it is unlikely they will even see your message, so further responses are unlikely.

We all put considerable investment in time and money into this trip and at the end of the day the activator does what he wants to do, it is he or she who does the work and incurrs personal expense in the process.

73 Phil

In reply to G0NES:
Ailsa Craig is not the only Scottish coastal island not listed as being part of the SI-group. One example which I have personal knowledge of, having activated it for the Island of Scotland Award - IOSA, some 10+ years ago is, GM/SS-279 Carn Breugach. This summit is actually on the island of Kerrera south-west of Oban. There is a ferry service out to Kerrera from a point about a mile south-west of Oban and reached by a single track road. The road is the road for accessing the Oban Camping and Caravanning Club campsite which has splendid views of Kerrera and it’s summit.
I called CQ on 144.300/144.310 SSB trying to beam south from Ailsa Craig, but got no response until I called G4ERP later on on 144.320 for a very welcome S-2-S contact.
73 de Ken

In reply to G0NES:

Hi Don

I worked Nick GM0HIK on Ailsa Craig on 144.280 ssb late in their activation, then also Richard G4ERP S2S on G/LD-031 (144.320 ssb), both from Meikle Bin GM/SS-129 just north of Glasgow. Both were cracking signals at 59+ and 59 respectively, and I had a great takeoff to the south.

I could just about hear some of the G stations that Richard was working, but copy was extremely difficult, so I didn’t push for more contacts. I don’t know what it was like beaming south from Ailsa Craig, but they were a lot lower than me, though somewhat further south.

Regarding 2m ssb, I had sat on the hill beaming south and listening to the calling frequency for at least half an hour before the Ailsa Craig expedition was due on. There was not a tweet audible from my location. I was set up for SSB, horizontally polarized (which I also used for the FM contacts) as usual, and will always try 2m SSB first since it can punch so much further (and runs the batteries down so much slower). The only reason I wasn’t calling at that stage was that I didn’t know exactly when they would start up and I wanted to catch them when they came on.

The evidence from where I was, was that 2m ssb wasn’t ignored, though this time it might have come second!


In reply to GM8OTI:

Ailsa Craig is a true optical LOS from Meikle Bin SS-129. If I’d have known someone was taking 23cms gear with them I’d have gone for a “long lunch” and yomped up Cockleroy Hill which is only 15mins drive from the office and 10mins to the top. Ailsa Craig should have been easily workable on 23cms from there.


In reply to all:

Its a fact of life (SOTA) that everyone cannot/will not chase every activation.
Every activator cannot/ will not use every band/mode.
Please accept that and just be thank full if you chase a summit or you successfully activate a summit.

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G0NES:

Hallo Don
I was on 2m SSB all the time I never even looked on FM! G0HIK and I swapped at one point because he wanted to try ssb 2m and so I went QRT for about 20 mins until he went back to FM. My interest for 30 years has been 2M ssb! I then took pictures of the scenery until he finished.
I beamed mainly south through east working about 9 from London to York, no one in Wales. Missed John GM8OTI because I beamed mostly SE, the Kent beacon was 4:1 to 5:3 I would have been pleased to work you with my 4ele and 20 watts, what a pity. I dont know where you are but I assure you I called my head off with few replies and the little linear was hot!
I was hoping I might be spotted by someone but expected it to be quiet because of daytime operation.
Oh well hope to work you from another hill.
Sorry about it.

Returning to the original query about the region allocation for Ailsa Craig GM/SS-246.

I have just consulted with my copy of “The Relative Hills of Britain” by Alan Dawson. This is the reference work for the Marilyns - the lists we use in the UK associations to define SOTA summits. (It is a fine reference work, well worth having a copy in the shack if you don’t already).

G, GW and GD are split into 14 regions (in the book), and we use these exact same regions in those associations. GM is split into 28 regions, and the following is taken from the ARM:

“The Marilyn programme splits Scotland into no less than 28 regions. Because of the extensive ranges of mountains throughout Scotland, it has been decided to split the country into simple geographically defined SOTA regions and map the Marilyn regions onto these”.

The GM SOTA regions include the following RHB regions:

Northern Scotland NS: 14, 15, 16
Central Scotland CS: 2, 5, 6, 9
Eastern Scotland ES: 7, 8, 21
Western Scotland WS: 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18
Southern Scotland SS: 1, 19, 26, 27, 28
Scottish Islands SI: 17, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25

The interesting issue of the allocation of Ailsa Craig is now considered! In the RHB book, it is clearly in region 27 (which also includes a very large area of South West Scotland - mainland), and therefore in GM/SS for SOTA. However, the island is very close to the “border” with region 20, which includes the Isle of Arran. Looking at the map in the RHB book, it seems that the “border” could have just as easily have been drawn to include Ailsa Craig in region 20. Reading each sub-region description, it is hard to tell any particular reason why Ailsa Craig was put into region 27 rather than 20.

Region 27 it is though, and that means GM/SS for SOTA. As Ken pointed out, it is not the only example, there are others. All interesting stuff though!


In reply to MM0FMF:


I did post on the Microwave reflector that I was taking 23cm’s, in the end it only produced one contact.

I presumed that none of the guys on the reflector are SOTA fans.

Nick G0HIK

In reply to G0NES:


As Bob mentioned, 2Mtr SSB was being used for the whole time of the activation, by Bob, AXY or myself.

I called for at least 20mins and whenever no one else was using it, but only got one reply to my calls, using a 5 ele and 20 watts.

So I don’t know why people did not work us, it certainly was not for lack of trying on my part.

I usually only use 2SSB on my activations, I was glad to be able to go to F.M. to get it qualified.

It was certainly not ignored Don, please listen out for me from Islay next month.


In reply to G0HIK:

I presumed that none of the guys on the reflector are SOTA fans.

Neither SOTA nor FM fans…


G3CWI en Espana

In reply to G0HIK:

It looks like there was no spots for 2 mts SSB but spots by some activators for other bands were listed by mobile phone shame they could not help the VHF lads by spoting for them.
That is why people struggled to qualify and chasers were left searching VHF and maybe one of those who did make it could have put a spot on for others but never bothered .

In recent times the lack of alerts shows that people dont qualify the summit when they arrive because chasers are doing other things and only by chance or luck do they see a spot and make a call .

Roger .

A lack of spots on 2m SSB - what’s wrong with chasers slowly tuning the band with the beam pointed in the right direction and listening carefully for activity? People knew we had arrived and were QRV on other bands/modes from the other spots.

We’ve got lazy and I’m just as guilty of it as the next man…

73 Phil

In reply to G4OBK:

All chasers turn the beams but the problem is getting the activators to turn the beam as some forget basic tools like a compass . Then when they are spoted it takes a while before it appears on the spots and from personal experience some spots are deleted by an invisable man and a few activators have been informed of these events and also a number of activators know who will be looking for them and wait that extra few minutes whereas others are 4 and gone whichever mode or band and they cant all blame the conditions wx etc.
Furthermore if you check some of the spots its less than 3 minutes before they go FM so what chance do chasers have thats why there are more people going HF since the international side has taken off and the VHF chasers feel let down .
As its been said everyone has got lazy but alerts used would help people get qualified as the chasers would be waiting on all bands and modes even if the times are way out the day would still help a lot of people. If a spot can be put on by mobile phone why cant an alert be done the same way from the car park before the assent ???

The subject of VHF has been mentioned many times but is always twisted in the replys away from the subject . So lets see if anything can be learnt from these coments by people to help improve the situation and maybe some of the operators from the past may return .


In reply to G0TRB:

Hi, Roger.

I see your point and fully sympathise but there are a few inescapable factors that have conspired to reduce the number of “DX”-style VHF activations in the UK.

  1. There has been a general trend away from VHF and UHF operating in the UK thanks mostly to the new licence conditions that allow access to HF for all. You only have to listen to the repeaters to know how quiet it has become.
  2. The VHF operating that is left tends to be on FM where channelised operation and scanners mean it very easy to catch what activity there is. I am as guilty as most. It’s 0800 local and the only radio I have on in the shack is my scanner.
  3. The pressure on everyone’s time in modern society means we probably have less time available to “play” radio.
  4. In the summer most of us want to be outside if the WX is even half decent. I can’t believe the rate at which everything is growing in the garden.

So, your point about alerts is spot on. The best way to promote 2m SSB is to alert even if the timing is a bit suspect. It gives the chasers the incentive to switch on and leave the receiver running. I know some operators go straight to a specific frequency but I always start on 144.300. That way I pick up anyone who just happens to be listening and that has the effect of promoting SOTA to a wider audience. It’s amazing how many people come back to call on .300 with a comment that they were surprised to hear anyone!

Rest assured, I’ll keep plugging away on SSB. Not because I feel I ought to but becuase it’s the mode I like. Having carried the kit to the top of a mountain I want to work as far as I can. It still gives me a thrill to work DX on 2m even after all this time. I can’t do that on FM.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

I’m with you there Richard. I’m about to post an alert and the first mode tried will be 2m SSB. If no joy there (as yesterday) then I’ll try 2m FM since there are often locals (depending on the hill); then HF (which I take when/if I feel like carrying the extra kit).

Got nowhere yesterday - so may even use spotlite today if the same happens. But I don’t really like self-spotting; it doesn’t feel right!


In reply to G0TRB:

some spots are deleted by an invisable man

Note that my twitter feed gives you a new tool here. The gateway checks for new or changed spots about once a minute, and once “tweeted”, it’s there in the record. You can view this at