Lockdown alternatives

It is now very clear that the only possible way to activate a UK SOTA summit at the present time, is if you happen to live so close to one that you could walk it from your home QTH and be back in your home QTH within a 2 hour period* (*this is what I have seen some councils and police forces suggesting in an attempt to clarify some of the government’s ambiguity).

That rules out SOTA for me.

However, I’ve been determined to make best use of my permitted one daily exercise outing. I’ve already devised two very fine circular routes that start and finish at my front door. You do have to have your wits about you for the social distancing. If the walkers/cyclists coming towards you momentarily forget about social distancing, you sometimes need to rapidly take evasive action!

Annoyingly, I was walking a short (50m) section between hedge and fence today, when a woman walking two dogs came up behind me and said “Can I just budge past you?”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I calmly and politely said “Let’s just wait 'til we get round this corner and there’s a bit more space to do it safely” - but I was fuming!

Anyway, today’s route was mostly extremely quiet. The number of times I had to deal with avoiding walkers / cyclists / motorists was very small. The route was about 12km, very pleasant, and even culminated in a summit with a trig point! Not a SOTA summit of course, but still something that could be activated for the WAB Trigpoints award (notwithstanding the fact that WAB /P activations are currently suspended). I am only calling on my handheld while walking, as stopping and setting up would be well beyond what is permitted for an exercise outing.

Here’s the route, and a few photos from the walk. I imagine I’ll being doing this route, or variations on it, rather a lot over the next few months. The best bits were the path at Whirley, the new concessionary (not on maps yet) path from Whirley to Henbury, the track through Underbank Farm and the trig point on New Farm (Great Weston Fell!).

©Crown copyright 2020 Ordnance Survey. Media 010/20


Lovely photo’s! Thanks for sharing and be safe!!

de Joe KE9AJ


Hi Tom,
What a varied landscape you have to walk in. Keep on keeping on.


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Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire Sara Glen told the [Daily Mail] newspaper: ‘There is nothing in the legislation that talks about once-a-day exercise. It talks about exercise only with a household member.’ 'The law doesn’t say once a day. The law doesn’t specify what that type of activity might be. Many people need to be out in the fresh air. 'We don’t want everyone driving to the same area to do their exercise. ‘All we are saying is exercise on your own or with other household members, not where there are other people.’

Tom, If what you’ve read or heard is true, it looks like those councils and police forces are making up their own rules and not based on the government’s written legislation [rather than what the Dear Leader said at a press conference].

I’m fairly confident the local councils and police forces are within their rights to offer further guidance and clarification, especially if they feel the government’s message is ambiguous (which it clearly is - had so many people seeking out the exceptions and loopholes).

However - it is clearly stated on the Government advice documents:


Clearly says ONE form of exercise a day.

Michael Gove, Cabinet Office Minister said at a recent press briefing that a daily run of half an hour or a walk of an hour or so was quite reasonable or a cycle ride somewhere in between the two was okay.

Dent G/LD-045 is within an hours walk of my QTH and I have been there between 08:15 and 09:00 (local time) but only has two QSOs. in the last 6 days.

Unlike my normal practice I am just using a Yaesu VX-6 in its standard form, so it won’t be a big signal but it is not obvious to anyone I meet I have a strange package in the rucksack. Not that there are many people out at that time in the morning. I seem to meet between 3 - 10 people in the entire trip.

73 de

Andrew (G4VFL)

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I’ll only believe that when he writes it on the side of a bus. :wink:


We’ve (at least myself) got surprised this morning with an announcement from the Spanish Ministry responsible for our ham radio activity, authorising the non ham radio licensees living with a licensed ham radio to use the radio stations within the legal limits, of course, with a max power of 100W and always under supervision and physical presence of the licensee.

I have told my wife and kids and they all looked extremely excited with such great news… [extremely ironic]

However, I still hope to get my 10 years old son for a trial sometime on HF SSB or VHF FM.




I am starting some longer walks from home. Living in the middle of a hillside it is really quite unusual to see anyone and combining this with the 7AM dog walk ensures social isolation. This is the top of a nearby hill - Monks Moor, unfiortuantly not classified as anything but it still looked good last week!

This takes me about 40 mins from the front door. It is a nice looking hill, but seemed a bit dead the last time I tried 2M FM from the top. The nearest SOTA summit needs a permit ( Mickle Fell) so no chance of that one. the next nearest is 14 miles away which even with improved fitness would be a bit fast - even if I could do most of it by bike - so no SOTA here sorry.

I am struggling slightly after 2 weeks of working from home to stay entirely on task during the day. At the weekend I spent some time looking through “Radio Adventures with Richard”, the normally toterably behaved spaniel on the chair behind me. On sight of G3CWI chaos erupted with much barking and growling , I can only assume that on seeing Richard he assumed that somehow his headgear was alive…

Anyway - Thanks for the photos and videos which are keeping me sain…ish




Sorry, but is this the same Michael Gove who infamously said last June, “People in this country have had enough of experts”

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The unusual circumstances we are living with and the feeling of being restricted cannot help, even though we are still allowed out. I’ve worked from home since October 2008 and find that getting a proper break with exercise in the middle of the day helps with concentration in the afternoons. Not that the weather is always that appealing, but even 20 minutes around the block helps. I often find that I set off with the aim of doing a couple of miles and end up doing much more, particularly on a warm sunny day when the countryside nearby calls. Thankfully my profession allows me to work on into the early evening to make up time when needed.

No Andy - it’s the Michael Gove pictured here:

ScreenHunter 392

No chance of him catching Covid-19 either. Reportedley he is the biggest hypocondriac in the whole cabinet who has been self isolating since the term started trending last month!


Looks to be an ideal SOTA testing environment. Arrange with few chasers before hand so they know where and when to listen and you can be ready for when “normality” returns with an uber-fabulous system.

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Good morning all,

Tom. In the photo labeled Whirley-Henbury 8, that sure is a lot of ground beef. :rofl:

At my location, I am blessed with access to several irrigation canals that lead to a very wide river bank along the Rio Grande (the Mexicans call it the Rio Bravo). Once on the river, the length of the walk is up to you. If one goes north, the distance is 1,007 miles (1,620km) to the headwaters at 37.798045° -107.539187° at 12,599 ft (3,840m) way up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains near Silverton CO. If you have the right vehicle, you can drive most of the way to it, only a 1.5 mile (2.4km) hike up the mountain. If I go south, the distance is only 889 miles (1,340km) where it meets the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say, I will not be walking anything near that distance, but the opportunity to walk, enjoy the warm sunshine and fresh air in an area where it is easy to avoid human contact is nearly endless. Our high temp has reached 91° (33°C), and our low has dipped to 39° (4°C) at night.

When the wife feels like coming along, we take the dogs and just stick to the canals where the dogs can go nose to nose with horses, cows, sheep, goats and some other creatures.

If I go alone, I like to get out on the river. That is because the banks and flood plane are wide, most of the homes are facing away and the yards are nearly always walled in with a sturdy rock wall. So there is very little chance of human contact going in any direction, and there are no low power lines anywhere near the river. That is important to me, because I go Pedestrian Mobile.

The /PM kit is built around an older military pack frame. The antenna is mounted using a 3/8-24 mirror mount that would normally be used for a CB radio on a truck mirror. The antenna is custom made, the lower section is cut to resonate on about 50.5 MHz (6m-band). Although the pack frame is padded and insulated from the body, body capacitance plays a huge part in the tuning and the antenna is a good bit longer to resonate. The upper section of the antenna is made with an adjustable coil assembly that has a sliding contact to pick the coil tap. With that coil shorted, the upper whip section is cut to resonate on 28.5 MHz. From that, just sliding the coil contact to various points and it can be made to resonate from 10m to 40m. When first working up the antenna, I noticed that when at resonance on any band (X=0 or near zero) The antenna was 20 Ω to 30 Ω. To correct that I added a 2:1 Un-Un, and now it is 40 Ω to 60 Ω when tuned. I wish it could do 60m, but I’m not certain a QRP signal on a mobile whip on 60m would be heard well anyway. This is what it looks like.

To give you a scale, I am 5 feet 9 inches tall (1.75m). I have not measured it, but the antenna is quite tall. It is important to know your area and the places where overhanging wires can be a danger. I am fortunate that there are none in my immediate area, although low trees pose a hazard from time to time when getting to and from the canals.

How does it work? Locally there are a number of us that use 28.445 as a local chat frequency. I was out walking along the river early one evening, chatting with the local guys. We were just talking about the usual stuff between friends. And you know how conversations will ebb and flow. So in one of the silent moments I identified - Kilo Delta Five Kilo Charlie, Pedestrian Mobile. So immediately this strange voice comes back and asks “What is a Pedestrian Mobile?” So I replied with a short description, a QRP radio on a backpack with a vertical antenna, I was presently walking along the Rio Grande river in far West Texas. And the voice comes back - “This is JA4GXX, you are 5 and 5 near Hiroshima Japan, do you have a 10-10 number?”

Another time I was walking through the neighborhood and a neighbor asked what I was hearing. I told him I was just starting out and didn’t hear anything yet. So I was on 10m again, and asI spun the dial I tuned in a voice and all I understood was and listening, QRZ? So I quickly shouted Kilo Delta Five Kilo Charlie, Pedestrian Mobile. And the voice comes back KD5KC you are 5 and 9 on Malpelo Island, what is a Pedestrian Mobile? So I explained it, and he replied "You are a true 5 and 5, amazing signal, enjoy your walk and QRZ, this is HK0NA.

I had to pull out my phone and look where Malpelo Island was.

Anyone can do Pedestrian Mobile. I use the Icom IC-703+ because I have one, and it has the Collins SSB and CW filters installed. I truly wish it also had 2m-SSB. That is something I think I would also enjoy. I’ve considered swapping it for a Yaesu FT-857, but then I would need a much larger battery.

It isn’t like we don’t have the time right now, much of the world is locked in and staying away from crowds. So dig around in your gear. See what you can throw together. Who knows, some day we might get lucky and have a /PM to /PM contact.

Vy73 – Mike – KD5KC – El Paso, TX.


Hi MIke

Could you ship your antenna and backpack to me please? UPS to North East England…
ScreenHunter 393

This is just what I need on my daily walk in the adjacent Avenue where I live, where 14 members of their Residents Association have recently opposed my planning application for a minor change to one of my aerials - and its only a Hexbeam!

The planning application is currently shelved by the District Council owing to Covid-19, no meetings are to take place, but I would bet on a few curtain twitchers showing themselves if I were walk past their homes with such a huge portable antenna strapped to my back!

73 Phil

I’ll be QRV on this evening’s walk, from a local high spot, approx 1745z. Hope to catch some of you. Obviously I won’t be lingering.

Hi Tom,
If you want to, we may try a Peanut QSO, assuming you have good enough phone signal along your walk.


ETA 1755/1800z - 6.55/7pm

No Peanut - iPhone!

Anyway, I completed the 13km / 17,000 step route for the second consecutive day, culminating with a handheld “activation” of New Farm (Great Weston Fell) TP5093.

Nice to work G3CWI, M0HGY, M3WHO, 2E0LKC, M0VWT from the trig before I completed the circular route.

The remainder of the walk home was taken up with participation in the Macclesfield club net on 145.325MHz FM - which is still in full flow now at gone 9pm BST.

And then later on tonight it’s a different kind of radio - my other son presents his local radio programme “Late Night Liam” on Canalside Radio 102.8 FM (East Cheshire). He’s got a big interview tonight with the composer and producer of the huge K-Pop band BTS - plus loads of other great music.

The 102.8 FM signal has a limited coverage radius as you might expect for a small-scale community radio station, but you can listen online - making the coverage worldwide! The link to click is https://www.canalsideradio.net/ then “Listen Live”.

The show will start sometime between 10.30pm and 11pm BST (2130-2200z) and will then run for about one hour. He does offer QSL cards for reception reports of the programme that are emailed to studio@canalsideradio.net