It doesn't always have to be SOTA

…although it kind of should be to be discussing it on this reflector. I’ll explain my justification later.

I had a clear day yesterday. I did fancy a long walk. I did not fancy a long, or even a medium drive. In all honesty, I didn’t really fancy any radio. I nearly went without one of any sort, but at the last second, went back into the house to grab my VHF/UHF handheld. I was glad I did!

I walked 2 miles into Macclesfield town centre, then took the bus to Buxton. I then took the bus towards Leek and Stoke-on-Trent, but alighted at the Winking Man pub, close to the popular IO93ad contesting spot (Merryton Low).

The first part of the walk was along the A53 towards Leek, face-first into driving rain and my first soaking of the day! I crossed the road and took the public footpath up the field behind the Ramshaw Rocks. This eventually led to the south end of The Roaches. I then walked the full length of The Roaches, which is G/HSP-026 in the HEMA programme. I paused at the trig point to call CQ and made 3 contacts. One of these was Paul M0CQE, a regular SOTA chaser of mine. I encouraged him to find the HEMA database on the internet and log this, and his previous HEMA contacts.

Dropping off The Roaches at its north end (the usual car parking spot), I then ventured onto new territory. Crossing over the road, and continuing in a straight line led me onto a fabulous long ridge that I had never walked before. I couldn’t believe it - all those thousands of miles driving to Snowdonia or the Lake District, and here was a stunning ridge walk on my doorstep!

This dropped me into Danebridge, home of the Wincle Brewery, trout farm and the Ship Inn. I went into the latter for a pint - I was absolutely exhausted! The rest and refreshment was entirely necessary though, for there was now a very steep ascent of Wincle Minn to negotiate. Once on the Minn, it seemed a much longer ridge than I ever remembered. Possibly because it is usually done in a car - there is a public road right across its summit.

At least the saddle between the Minn and Croker Hill (Sutton Common) was quite lofty and so reaching the telecommunications tower was not difficult. Here I stopped for “lunch” even though it was teatime! Soup of the day was Baxters Mushroom Veloute. Not had this one before, but it was absolutely delicious.

Coming down off Croker Hill on the PROW through Croker Farm was “interesting”. I got charged at by cattle - twice - managing to escape to the other side of a cattle grid both times. Not what you want on a public footpath even so!

So what about the SOTA link? Well earlier I had the pleasure of a chat with Paul M0CQE, a keen SOTA chaser who I have got to know through SOTA. Now, my phone had run out of charge and I needed to contact home to update them - and arrange a lift, as I didn’t think I’d manage walking back into town and then home as originally intended. I called on 2m and got a reply from another SOTA chaser - Pete 2E0LKC. Through that contact I got Pete’s YL Ann 2E0LMD to email Jimmy and ask him to come on 145.575MHz FM. He did, eventually, and although he couldn’t hear me, Pete QSP’d the messages to him and my lift home was arranged! So it wasn’t SOTA today, but the SOTA community and SOTA spirit was more than useful.

It was also a sharp reminder that you could be missing out on some spectacular local walking by focusing entirely on SOTA, something I have been very guilty of over the years.

Anyway, the plan had been to walk the canal towpath from here back into Macclesfield. Marianne was picking me up at 8.30pm from the Old King’s Head at Gurnett, which is right by the canal. But the canal takes a very meandering route between the two points - whereas Leek Old Road was virtually a straight line. Although the 2 miles of road walking would be less enjoyable than the 3 miles of canal walking, I figured that the former would give me the chance of a pint before 8.30pm (Pete had relayed the message back that Marianne wasn’t coming in for a drink!)

As it was, I downed 2 pints in that 8 minutes of slack time before Maz arrived.

So it doesn’t HAVE to be SOTA. And yesterday wasn’t - strictly speaking. But it was inspired by SOTA, enabled by skills developed because of SOTA, supported in more ways than one by SOTA chasers and combined radio and hillwalking effectively. And it was a lot better for the environment! At some point I’ll try and work out the distance and height gain of the route - but it was a beast - and a classic.


Oddly enough my experience is the same but the reverse! That is glorious walking country, I’ve often gone to spend a day climbing on the Roaches or Hen Cloud and after ascending a satisfying number of routes gone for long walks in the area. After discovering SOTA I found myself walking most enjoyably on new to me SOTA summits that in the past I had driven past on my way to more popular but higher summits better served by huts or campsites. So yes, it doesn’t have to be SOTA, but SOTA has seen me on hills that previously I would never have thought of climbing, and seeing familiar and well loved hills from new vantage points. So many hills, so little time!

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I couldn’t agree more Brian. There are hills - and indeed entire regions - that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to were it not for SOTA. An example is the Shropshire hills - which are about the same travelling time from here as Snowdonia - so would have probably been forever overlooked were it not for SOTA.

I’ll add some photos onto my report in the next day or two.

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Well said Tom and Brian. I entirely agree with everything said by you both. Sota is great in so many ways and I am very glad that I found and became part of the community. My only regret is not finding Sota sooner. As some of you will know I do spend much of my time listening for Activations and especially but not exclusively Sota Activations. May I take this opportunity to thank all the fine activators and also fellow chasers for the pleasure that Sota activations give me and the help, assistance and encouragement given.
I should also apologize for the many errors I make whilst chasing, (sorry Allan).
Best Wishes to you all and many, many thanks.
Paul M0CQE.

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He he…no probs Paul…always a pleasure to get you in my log and thanks for the contact today when I was on Rhinog Fawr GW/NW-023… that was a walk and a half :slight_smile:

Thanks to all the chaser and spotters today.

73 Allan GW4VPX

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For the full flavour of the area try the traverse from Rhinog Fawr via Rhinog Fach to Y Llethr, not easy going but exhilarating! Working you today brought back memories, part of the fun of SOTA!

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Thank you Brian…you were a cracking signal today…I was using the KX2 with 10 watts.

I’ve looked at Rhinog Fach from both sides now and pleased to say I’ve completed the ‘SOTA Rhinogs’. I think I took a good photo of Llyn Hywel nestled between Y Llethr and Rhinog Fach today… I will have to look through the dozens of pics taken today before the mist and rain came to spoil the day.

73 Allan

Sorry I missed you yesterday Allan, for what would have been a new one for me. And what is more infuriating, I was in the shack the whole time you were active, but was ensconced in a financial report (never really found out who ‘dune’ it!) :wink:

And totally agree with Tom and Brian. Likewise SOTA has taken me to places in GM that I would never have thought to visit/climb. Superb!!!


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I repeated this walk again on Thursday 15th June 2017 - only this time, didn’t take a radio. I wasn’t walking across any SOTA summits, but The Roaches is G/HSP-026 in HEMA. However, despite being one of the first bunch of activators and chasers in that programme following its launch, all my requests for access to its new logging database have been ignored - and now I see that all my previous activation and chaser logs have been deleted from the database, without explanation.

So this time I didn’t even take a handheld with me. What I did do, was make it to the Ship Inn at Wincle actually for lunchtime, so much quicker (about two hours!) that the bar staff asked me if it was an earlier bus I’d caught! No, it was the same two busses from Macclesfield to Burbage (Buxton), and then to the Winking Man on the A53 Leek-Buxton road.

Lunch, which was actually a Spanish seafood paella, at the pub, meant that there was another item missing from my rucksack - my flask! I’m not sure if the lesser pack weight was helping me move more quickly, but the improving fitness certainly did. I am currently walking up and down The Cloud G/SP-015 every day if possible, and trying to fit in one longer walk per week as well. It is certainly helping.

After lunch is the toughest part of this walk with the steep ascent onto Wincle Minn, and then the long high ridge walk over that and then Sutton Common / Croker Hill. This time, I was still two hours ahead of the last time I attempted this walk, and I was not so ruined after Croker Hill that I was calling my wife to pick me up from the next pub, a mile or so down the canal!

No, this time I was determined to fulfill the objective of actually walking home from The Winking Man, so after getting on the canal at Fools Nook, I continued a short way until turning left off it and crossing the beautiful Danes Moss Nature Reserve where I was fortunate enough to spot a lizard crossing the boardwalk - but not quick enough to capture a photo though.

I was now getting pretty tired, so once on the A536 Congleton to Macclesfield walk, I accidentally veered into the Rising Sun pub for a pint of ale. Contact with home advised that they had eaten all my tea, so I should get something myself en route. I teased Marianne by saying that my route would take me right past the Weston Balti, but she replied “Go for it” - so I did.

I made it to the curry house for about 8.30pm - I was slowing down big time now - but enjoyed my mulligatawny soup and prawn biryani, with a Bangla beer. After my evening meal, my legs really didn’t want to move, but at least all that was left was a quarter mile of urban walking on my estate, and I was home before 10pm!

So that was the best walking of the week, even though it was non-SOTA and firmly here in the “Off Topic” category! Mind you, If it wasn’t for SOTA, I probably wouldn’t have developed the same love for walking as I have now. I think as a fat shack-based unfit middle-aged radio amateur, SOTA was invented with me in mind…

Anyway, onto the SOTA, and the last two days have both seen a further activation of The Cloud G/SP-015 by me. Yesterday I had another go on 5MHz, and made 8 QSOs - half on CW and half on SSB, and all G/GM. Four more were added on 2m FM.

Today, and the first job was to pick Jimmy M0HGY up from town then visit my Nanna who is 102 years old today. That was a very pleasant hour or so with all the family, after which I wanted to continue my daily walk ritual. Jimmy joined me as we did a handheld-only activation in the 30 degree sunshine - and absolutely stunning day!

I think Jimmy reported 7 QSOs on 2m FM, while I managed just 5 on 70cm FM. It was the daily walk that mattered most though!

And now it’s time to go to work. At least it’s a relatively short drive to a hall in Northwich for a gig with the band “Motown Gold”. (Since my activation I’ve been sat here and learning the basslines for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “ABC”…).

Thanks to all the chasers that called in, especially Paul M0CQE, Pete 2E0LKC and Ann 2E0LMD who seem to be there for me every time I call “CQ2” - or indeed “CQ70” as it was today, at the minute.


Hello Tom. Many thanks for the report, sorry that you have the problem with HEMA database, If it is an accidental error, I hope it will be soon resolved, as it would be with the Very Good SOTA team. If it is “man made” and deliberate, then that is a disgrace and I am sure would never happen with the SOTA MT in charge. Thanks for QSO’s yesterday and again today and Very Well Done with the walking.
Best Wishes Tom. Paul M0CQE.

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