Knock, knock.......QRZ?

The “knock knock” joke is a peculiarly puerile form of humour but I couldn’t help bringing some of the most pathetic ones to mind as I set off up the Knock of Braemoray (GM/CS-115). My sense of humour has barely progressed from schoolboy level, even although I can now barely remember that far back!

This particular “Knock” - the word derives from the Gaelic “cnoc” and means small rounded hill - is just a 456-metre one-pointer but set amidst the glorious Highland scenery north of Grantown-on-Spey and close to some of the world’s most famous whisky distilleries. It hadn’t been activated since 2017 so I thought it was about time it deserved another activation. What threatened to be an uphill slog across boggy moorland turned out to be a pleasant upward stroll on a narrow but easy to follow track through the heather that took barely half an hour, even at my snail’s pace.

Map courtesy of OS. © Crown copyright, Ordnance Survey 2023

The starting point is at a narrow but adequate lay-by on the east side of the A940 Grantown - Forres road which crosses the impressive Dava Moor.

This unforgiving moorland was also the route of the original Inverness and Perth Junction Railway - the original Highland main railway line - which opened in 1863 but which was all-but rendered a backwater when the new, more direct, main line from Aviemore to Inverness over the Slochd Summit was opened in 1898. Railway buffs might enjoy spotting the board indicating the summit of the Dava line - 1052ft - which can still be seen from the road a little farther to the south. This route closed in 1965. I’m getting way off track, though.

From the lay-by, there is a distinct, though narrow, track up through the heather almost straight to the summit.

There is a helpful white stone three-quarters of the way up to aim for, although the underfoot going is quite straightforward. It can be boggy in places when wet, though.

The path hangs a gentle left as it flattens out toward the summit which is marked by a Triangulation Pillar. Here you can savour the wonderful 360-degree view from such a modest hill.

To the north can be seen the Moray Firth coast and the mountains of Caithness beyond.

To the west lie Ben Wyvis and the Black Isle, the top of an oil rig moored off Invergordon poking up behind it, and further west the mountains of Torridon and An Teallach. To the south is the magnificent and familiar vista of the Cairngorm massif - still streaked with snow - with Britain’s second-highest mountain, Ben Macdui, emerging behind it.

What a privilege to have such an all-round vista for such a relatively moderate uphill effort.

Unfortunately, the welcome sunshine was diluted by a bitterly cold and increasingly strong wind that felt like it came from the Arctic but, confusingly, which was blowing from the other direction. No matter, it was time to stop gawping as there was still the matter of an activation to do. I came armed with my KX2 and my trusty homebrew 53ft end-fed antenna with a 9:1 UnUn supported by the excellent Sotabeams Carbon 6 mast, all of which fitted snugly in a small rucksack.

My loyal Aberdeenshire SOTA colleagues were listening out for me on 40m and my first CQ’s delivered contacts with both Fraser @MM0EFI and Simon @GM4JXP, although signal reports were far from brilliant for me. The band seemed to be in one of its contrary moods but I persevered and a spot on SOTAwatch set the ball rolling.

Neatly, I was able to work chasers in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland but only one in Europe - Pedro @EA2CKX in Spain - as conditions came and went like the heavy showers pelting down over the Moray Firth, just missing us by a few miles.

After just a couple of contacts, I was hammered by QRM from another station nearby on the band which wasn’t there when I started but which made continuing difficult and so I decided to QSY elsewhere. However, every time I announced I was going to QSY, another chaser came through with a strong signal and I paused to work them. This happened a number of times which must have totally confused them. Sorry about that. However, I very much appreciated their perseverance in calling me and I ended up with 12 in the log before I really did have to move.

There was almost no response from European stations or any further afield, though, which was very different from my activation of Fourman Hill (GM/ES-083), a similar-height one-pointer activated just two days earlier with the same rig. Bands and propagation are always a challenge. “Knock knock. Who’s there? Almost nobody, apparently…”. Maybe it was because it was the first day after the Easter holiday weekend?

A quick last-minute call on 2m on my FT-4xe handie with my Diamond SRH77ca whip brought a welcome response from Ron @GM4KJQ in Findhorn, his village visible far below me on the coast, but no other replies. Time to pack up and head down, although Mrs MWL, Ann (who hails from the Highlands), and SOTAdog, Sula, were somewhat reluctant to leave their splendid viewpoint.

It took less than 20 minutes to get back to the van and to begin the process of re-heating chilled bones now that we were out of that biting wind. This is a wee hill, easily climbed, but offers a big reward with excellent views and a splendidly spacious summit for antennas, albeit boggy in places.

As we drove off, Mrs MWL asked why I was smiling. Actually, she already knew the answer. I’d clearly remembered another pathetic “Knock knock” joke…

Knock Knock
Who’s There?
Radio Who?
Radio not, here I come… :sob:

Actually, after a few successful brief CW chases in recent weeks, my first CW activation is getting close, whenever I finally gain the courage to press the key.

Look out. Radio not, here I come - soon… :rofl:



I am always amazed at how much water is on top of some English summits and wonder why it stays up there and not flow off the hill. Does water run down hill in UK.
Nice photos and story.
Ian vk5cz …


Knock, Knock
Who’s there?
Sota who?
Sota tell ya da truth, I can’t remember.

Elliott, K6EL


Correct ref is GM/CS-115.

Ehhh, that is because it is in Scotland!!!



Looks like a nice wee hill that one. The narrow track looks like a motorway in comparison to Blath Bhalg GM/SS-094, but with added wetness. I’ll add that to the ever-growing list of summits for that Aberdeen based outing I’m planning… when I get a round tuit. :grinning:

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Oh dear Ian. Entire nation of GM SOTA hams offended and outraged. The fleet has set sail for Australia. We’ll be there in six weeks or so to have a stern word. :scotland:

Great report Mike and thanks for the contact.

Yes, I found that too on Sunday. Very unusual.

Your jokes aren’t getting any better. I know you were a journalist in your working life. Did you used to write for the Beano?


Mike, good report.

Looks like the map insert you posted is from Ordnance Survey. It should have a copyright acknowledgement.

In my activation reports I add something like " © Crown copyright, Ordnance Survey 2023 " under clips from the OS Map app.

English summits near the Anglo-Scottish border (e.g. in G/LD, G/NP) do get a lot of water. G/LD “The Lake District” is called that for a reason but we can’t quite match the west of Scotland for rainfall.

One interesting statistic: the average annual rainfall at the north end of Loch Lomond is twice that at the south end (and the latter’s weather is often dreich).


Good point Andy, well made. I should have remembered that. Now rectified. Many thanks.


Sadly, the Beano was much too intellectually highbrow for my style of writing, although I did work for its publisher for the best part of 30 years! :rofl:


Thanks for spotting my error, Colwyn. Much appreciated. All the activation logs are correct but the typo crept in as I tried to thaw out my faculties late last night! :cold_face:

1500mm of annual rainfall helps. So does poorly drained soils, blanket bogs, peat wetlands and some of the vegetation that act like a giant sponge.

Believe me, there is still plenty running down the hills!


Good report and pictures.
Hopefully I’m alone in having the Mary Hopkin Eurovision song as an ear worm now though !


The mountains of Scotland and NW England are mainly non-porous volcanic rock, That combined with the high rainfall means that lakes and corries (tarns) remain full. Although I’ve noticed in recent years some smaller tarns drying out completely in late spring/early summer.

You were, until you helpfully reminded us…! Not one that’s liable to feature in @MM0FMF Andy’s Formative Years thread I suspect….:joy:

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To add to sassenach confusion, according to a couple of books in my collection, cnoc is pronounced either crock or crochk, the ch sounding as in gaelic loch…so your knock knock joke is a crock - I’ll get me hat!

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…probably a good job Newton was hit by an apple and not annoyed by rain being driven horizontally…


Excellent report Mike and glad things went better than on your previous outing. CS-115 looks like a good one to head for, given my sensitive knees.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Mike who?
Mike who needs milking

73s Simon


Great report Mike. I did listen but no joy.
Many thanks for the details - Knock has now moved further up the list for the week beginning 20th May. We are booked to stay at the foot of Ben Rinnes, ES-021, so, weather permitting, that and the Convals will come first.
Even down in the English lowlands the wind has been bitterly cold and often violent too so I hope May is more gentle.
Good luck with the CW.

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Mike, I have taken the liberty of adding a link to this thread on the relevant Summit page. I hope you don’t mind - please let me know if you would like me to delete the link.

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No problem at all Rod. Many thanks. We were fortunate with the weather on the hill yesterday as we suffered that antenna-bending gale at home last night. No damage done though. Hope you and Viki @M6BWA have a great trip to north-east Scotland. Ben Rinnes tests the lungs but even I managed both Convals in a morning so you should have fun there, too, along with any of the many other fine summits you can choose in this area, as you know. Unfortunately, I am away on Coll and Tiree that week so will likely miss you this time but haste ye back.
Vy 73 Mike