Like the old days

A classic SOTA outing today. One that rolled back the years to when Jimmy was 10 and Liam was 5. One that saw us clear off for a day out because Marianne was working. One that had Liam’s full blessing and full cooperation. One that involved repeated non-unique summits without objections from Jimmy. One bathed in the best of British summer weather.

Something that was not a blast from the past was the three of us setting our alarms for 7am - and Liam and Jimmy both being up, dressed and ready well before me. We drove straight down to Congleton and breakfasted at McDonalds - now that was a blast from the past.

We had a good run down the M6 and M54, but were nonetheless surprised to find parking spaces by the start of the track up The Wrekin G/WB-010 at 10am on a beautiful Sunday summer morning. Perhaps this was something to do with the big car park a little further along the road - I had no recollections of the existence of this, so wondered if it was new?

We kitted up and got straight into the nice walk, initial winding up through woodland and then climbing the ridge along a wide and lofty path with excellent views. Back in those fondly remembered days of the early part of the SOTA programme, I was the strongest and fastest walker of the three of us. But certainly not now. After five minutes, Jimmy was well out-of-sight, and Liam showed me a clean pair of heels for most of the ascent.

After climbing to and passing through Heaven’s Gate at the near end of the summit ridge, I could see the trig point a few hundred metres further, and the sight of Jimmy M0HGY finalising erection of the SOTAbeams MFD, mounted vertically on the SOTA Pole.

Soon, we joined, and I set up the 12m groundplane, sheltering a little from the prevailing North-Westerly wind by sitting a few metres down the slope from the trig point. Jimmy was soon reporting difficulties with mush from the nearby transmitter, and he switched the MFD to horizontal polarisation atop the SOTA Pole. This worked well and he went on to make 16 QSOs, all on 2m FM.

I was satisfied to have qualified the summit with four QSOs on 12m PSK31. I then answered a 12m CW CQ call from Glen G4DUC in Stoke-on-Trent, and we went on to have an enjoyable ragchew on 24.891MHz. Moving up to my own frequency, I added nine more contacts on CW, before just the one on 12m SSB.

I rounded off with three on 2m FM, one of which was a nice surprise - Jack G4COX/P on Gun G/SP-013, a S2S that Jimmy also worked.

After descent, we drove back north for the next part of the plan - which was the Sunday buffet at The Purple Pakora restaurant in Congleton. Suitably stuffed, and the sun still shining, I decided that The Cloud G/SP-015 would be a good idea to walk off our hefty lunches.

To be honest, we had forgotten all about Jack G(M)4COX being in the area, so it was quite a surprise to find him atop The Cloud! A very pleasant surprise though, and both Jimmy and myself found ourselves chatting to Jack for quite a time before setting our stations up. Jack reported that he had finished and was about to pack up, but first I was able to have a detailed look at all Jack’s gear, and several of his highly practical approaches.

Jimmy was able to keep the MFD in vertical polarisation this time, and made 19 QSOs on 2m FM. My own activation added ten QSOs to the 12m Challenge score, these comprising five on PSK31, three on SSB and just two on CW. Loads of people approached me wanting to know what I was doing, and promoting the hobby now seems to be a feature of every activation!

Jimmy and Liam descended while I hung around for a little while calling on 2m FM on the handie. This added just three more QSOs to the log, making a total of 13 for the activation for me. Interestingly, my total for the day was 31 QSOs, whereas Jimmy’s was 35. That certainly was NOT a blast from the past!

Super day. Apart from the hayfever, which finally caught up with me around 5.30pm BST on The Cloud. I am not complaining, as the misery is normally endured from mid May to mid July, and this was my first suffering of 2013. But the symptoms are still unpleasant. Then again, they take my mind off the headache…


In reply to M1EYP:
Nice to speak to Jimmy this afternoon as I headed home from Mountain Rescue training. Heard Jack as well, but didn’t break in.

Lovely weather day.

Sounds like you are well on the mend Tom, which is excellent news.


Cheers Gerald. Yes, I think that did me good yesterday as I feel a significant improvement in my condition this morning, first improvement I’ve had for a while. Light at the end of the tunnel!

Yes it was a lovely weather day, but it did catch us out with a couple of patches of sunburn. And it was terrific to bump into Jack on my home summit. I think the only other joint activation I’ve done with Jack was Ailsa Craig a few years ago. Hopefully there might be another one later this week.


In total contrast to the lovely nostalgic day on Sunday, the night of Tuesday 2nd July 2013 was far removed from a ‘classic’ of any kind. The weather was horrid and difficult, although to be fair, nowhere near as bad as the rain radar had suggested it would be.

Light drizzle persisted most of the night on the summit of The Cloud G/SP-015, so I was inside the bothy bag for the majority of the 2m contest. This inhibited efficient directing of the beam, but worse was the difficulty I had writing the log with the side of the bag being constantly blown into my and across my arm.

All-in-all, despite good activity, and reasonable conditions for half of the session, I was limited to 72 QSOs and just 14 multipliers. Nonetheless, one of these was IO65, courtesy of Dave G(I)7RAU/P, so that was definitely a highlight.

Many thanks to all chasers who called in for the summit contact. Here is a map of my contest QSOs: Google Maps


Another “like the old days” activation on Sunday 14th July 2013. Again, bribed with the promise of a curry, Jimmy, Liam and myself all awoke with our alarms at 6am BST. By 6.15am, Liam and I were ready to go and waiting in the lounge. By 7.35am, Jimmy was ready…

We hit the A537, A556, M6, M56, M53, A55 and A483 which took us to Chirk McDonalds for bacon & egg mcmuffin and hash brown breakfasts. The rest of the route I don’t really remember; I just followed the turnings being spoken to me by the ‘JimNav’.

After parking in the yard at Moelfre Hall, I went up to the house to ask for permission to park while we went up Gyrn Moelfre GW/NW-049. As ever, the people here were extremely friendly and said that was absolutely fine. Now it was time to apply some thick buttery layers of sunblock with the sun already beating down fiercely at 10am.

We followed the stone track as it zigzagged up the sloping field before turning to climb the gully. This was hard work in the hot sun, but it was better than years ago when I would give Liam a “tow” up the steep sections! Sadly, he is not yet returning the favour to his poor father…

Jimmy MV0HGY had long gone by the time Liam and I emerged from the gully. I switched on my radio and there he was. In fact I became his fourth contact before he continued on to make 18 QSOs on 2m FM. This included 2 S2S QSOs, with Rod MW0JLA/P on Pen Y Garn GW/MW-004 and Ian GW7ADF/P on Tryfan GW/NW-006.

Jimmy reported that he had not checked his rucksack for the feeder cable, and in fact he didn’t have it. As such, he was just using his VX-110 with the rubber duck, and the pole and SOTAbeams MFD was not deployed. It didn’t appear to affect his QSO count too much.

I set up for 12m on the very hot and sunny summit, but struggled to get internet coverage in order to self spot. Nonetheless, I qualified the summit with four QSOs on PSK31. Moving to 24.899MHz CW brought up a run of 13 QSOs, culminating in a S2S with Heinz OE5EEP/P on Brennerin OE/OO-051. Just two more were added on SSB before I packed up and had a quick listen on the 2m handheld. This was when I found old friend Ian GW7ADF/P on Tryfan GW/NW-006, resulting in S2S contacts both for myself and Jimmy MV0HGY/P. We had not seen or heard of Ian in SOTA for several years, so some catching up will be required.

The descent was hard work, particularly the steep downhill section of the track in the gully. But we returned to the car ahead of schedule and anticipated remaining ahead of schedule for the activation of Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060. This was soon blown apart by some navigational difficulties in the car, mainly caused by seemingly good roads according to the map turning out to be uneven dirt tracks along which I was reluctant to take my car. So a longer route around better roads was taken, and I actually enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with the cricket Ashes test match, delicately poised with Australia needing 20 more runs or England needing one more wicket for victory.

Play in the afternoon session at Trent Bridge got underway just as the three of us began the ascent, so I tuned my VX7R to 693kHz to listen for the latest. Australia got another 6 runs on the board, but shortly after the middle gate, and as the access road got even steeper, Jimmy Anderson took the last Aussie wicket to win the match for England. I turned off the radio and continued to the summit.

This time, Jimmy had packed the feeder, so was setting up the SOTAbeams MFD atop a SOTA Pole. I set up for 12m, but found the band very quiet. In fact I couldn’t raise a single reply to my calls on PSK31. Over on CW, three contacts were added, so I had something to record an activation and I had my multiplier for the 12m Challenge. But I did not yet have my activator point!

This was resolved with five QSOs on SSB, and then one more on CW. On 2m FM, Jimmy had found Phil G4OBK/P and Geoff M6PYG/P activating Burton Hill G/WB-020. We had a good signal from them, but couldn’t get them to hear our calls. But just as it appeared the activation was not to yield a S2S QSO, Steve GV6UYG/P came on on 2m FM from Long Mynd-Pole Bank G/WB-005.

The homeward route was the more direct but less fast line via Oswestry, Ellesmere, Whitchurch, Nantwich, Crewe, Sandbach and Congleton. This was because our final target for the day was the Zest Indian restaurant just outside Sandbach, and its advertised 50 dish buffet. This was really nice, and we will definitely return.


Another nostalgic outing on 1st August 2013.

Reports and photos on

—> SOTA menu (on the left)

—> G/SP-011 Freeholds Top
and G/SP-009 Hail Storm Hill