M1EYP 1000 Activator points

Well done on the 1000 activator points Tom, just missed you on 40cw. You were 579 when working DSP but faded away before I got to you. Again congrats from us both, and to Jimmy who has been with you on the majority of them
Rob and Audrey

In reply to G4RQJ:
Very well done Tom. A great achievement and pleased to see that you have made 'Goatdom’

Congratulations, Tom.

Your voice has come to mean the spirit of SOTA.

All the best, Dick.

And Tom has highest number of summit activations and lowest average per activation of anyone as they reach MG status. Sign of the true SOTA spirit.
Great Tom - well done.
73 jim

Congratulations Tom… as goats go… you are indeed a Chamois!

Reading accounts of activations on your website was what inspired me to get involved in SOTA.

I’m sorry I missed you on your MG activation… an hour earlier on Win Green and I might have worked you S2S! :frowning:

Well done!

73 Marc GØAZS

Well done Tom, you have worked hard for your well-deserved MG, brought much pleasure and inspired many along the way. I know reaching MG won’t stop you - I look forward to hearing of your continuing exploits!

73 de Paul G4MD

Thanks for the very kind comments folks; much appreciated. You are correct in assuming that my SOTA activities will continue. There are three major motivations for this: (a) increasing activator Uniques score (moreover, enjoying visiting new walks/hills) (b) Jimmy M3EYP’s MG ambitions and © I love doing SOTA!

Here is the report of the MG activation, embellished somewhat with pre-amble, reflective thoughts, a few stats (in the tradition of earlier MG activation reports!), and even a touch of ‘waxing lyrical’ thrown in for good measure. Hence it is a bit long…

“Goat on Cadair Berywn”

I was starting to think that this was never going to happen. It seems I was not alone in that thought! Opportunities for activating were few and far between once the new school year started in September, with Marianne’s weekends off, Liam’s cub activities, Jimmy’s air cadets parades and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and Macclesfield Town F.C. home games all responsible for removing any “SOTA potential” from a succession of Saturdays and Sundays.

It was a good job that I had got away with Jimmy at the end of August for a 70-point blast in the Lake District, which took me to 990 in the Activator Roll of Honour. An opportunistic stroll up Moel Famau GW/NW-044, taken as part of a “slightly contrived” route between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport ahead of collecting Marianne, had taken me to 992 points. This was useful, as there remained a selection of day-trippable 8-point summits in North Wales, all of which Jimmy still required as Activator Uniques.

Eventually, the day of Saturday 20th October 2007 was set for the occasion, a pass-out for Jimmy and I secured by virtue of Marianne sleeping between consecutive night-shifts, Liam away at cub camp and Macclesfield Town away at Accrington Stanley on the Friday night. All looked good – until Liam wasn’t well enough on the Friday to go to the first night of the camp. Which meant that I would have to run him there once well enough on the Saturday, and no Mountain Goating for me that weekend – for I would have to pick Liam up from camp early Sunday afternoon, and I had committed to put some time in at Macclesfield & District Radio Society’s portable field weekend station up at Common Barn Farm, Rainow. Still, I used a block of the newly available time on Saturday to hang around at the cub camp and run a batch of cubs and beavers through their practical for their Communicator badges – “Pass a message using amateur radio”. So some fulfilment was gleaned from the day after all.

I realerted for Wednesday 24th October 2007, 11am local on GW/NW-???. The summits I was looking at for the MG activation were all in the same area, and I rather fancied the idea of not deciding which summit it would be until I was over the border into Wales en route. The shortlist was Y Lliwedd GW/NW-008, Arenig Fawr GW/NW-011, Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012 and Pen Llithrig y Wrach GW/NW-013. I had pretty well decided by late Friday night that it would be Cadair Berwyn on Saturday, but now that we had to reschedule, all four were back on the shortlist.

The anticipation grew until Monday evening when Marianne said “Oh no you don’t. I wanted a couple of days away this week”. Doh. My instinct was to kick, scream and throw all the toys out of my pram. However, thirteen years of marriage teaches you that such behaviour is not optimal policy. Instead, I offered a meek “Oh alright then love” and kept my gob shut. Was this MG opportunity ever going to come? It was towards the end of a family day out in Castleton and Buxton the following day when I heard those magical words “You and Jimmy do that walk tomorrow if you want…”. We didn’t need asking twice, and were straight into the Marks & Spencers by the car park for three tins of Broccoli & Stilton soup. Game on.

On Wednesday morning, we both arose at 5.30am BST. The soup was warmed up and put into the flask, and we were away just after 6am. Driving across Cheshire via Congleton, Sandbach, Crewe, Nantwich, and into Shropshire through Whitchurch and Oswestry, there were two considerations – the summit, and the breakfast. Y Lliwedd GW/NW-008 was pushing it for a comfortable day trip I thought, and Jimmy pointed out that Pen Llithrig y Wrach GW/NW-013 was 1 metre short of the 8 points I needed for Mountain Goat! So we were down to two – Arenig Fawr GW/NW-011 and Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012. Progress on the roads had been somewhat tardy, as we shuffled along behind tractors, lorries and retro scooter enthusiast groups. We were not making good time, and furthermore, were not seeing any viable breakfast opportunities whatsoever. As we entered Wales and time ticked away, I realised that by the time we would be parking up, the café at Tan-y-Pistyll, by the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall could be open. The last-minute decision was to be the same as Saturday’s then – Cadair Berwyn.

Some of the Welsh villages beyond Oswestry were larger than I expected, so I did keep an eye out for sit-down cooked breakfast possibilities, but to no avail. Onwards, to the long cul-de-sac lane to Tan-y-Pistyll, ending at the car park for Cadair Berwyn and the Restaurant Tan-y-Pistyll. It was closed on arrival at 9am, but the proprietor was about and said the lady would be there in about half-an-hour if we didn’t mind waiting. We didn’t, and he invited us in for a cup of tea in the meantime. “In fact I might as well put your breakfasts on now” he said, “I’ve got nothing else to do”. Result. Good bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast and three cups of tea got the day off to a satisfying if slightly expensive start.

Our first objective was the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall, reached by a very short path from the café, and magnificent and beautiful it was too. The tallest waterfall in Wales, in idyllic and peaceful surroundings. Our route then initially followed the graded track that eventually led to the top of the waterfall, although we left it before then to cross the stream, as per the tips on SOTAwatch courtesy of John GW4BVE and Richard G4ERP. On the other side of the stream, we really got into our stride, and enjoyed the graded walking on an excellent path as it contoured along halfway up a steep-sided valley. The views were excellent, and it really was good going underfoot.

The route became a little steeper as it climbed up out of the valley head onto the concessionary footpath by Llyn Lluclaws. I now began to watch vigilantly for the 150 foot vertical cliff face that was supposed to be lurking beneath my feet on this path. It wasn’t necessary, for another well-established path kept a good few metres distance from the edge, and we stuck to that one. The only bit of physical effort for the day came with the steeper haul up to Moel Sych, but the bright blue sunny skies and stunning views kept us cheerful. Once atop Moel Sych, we were on familiar ground, joining the route from the west that we had followed back in December 2004. All that remained was a slight drop to a lofty saddle, and final short ascent to the summit, marked by a rock outcrop just before the large stone shelter.

Apart from one walker just leaving the summit as we arrived, we had seen no-one all day. There was no-one else about, so I thought I would get away with setting up such that I could operate from within the shelter. Although we were still being bathed in bright sunshine, the wind across the ridge was ferocious and icy cold. I set up both the 2m SOTA Beam and the 40m dipole on the fishing pole, the base of which was inside the shelter. I soon realised that the pole seemed to be straining in the wind, so I collapsed the second-bottom section back into the base, which made the assembly much stronger.

Without sending a self-spot, I called CQ on 7.032MHz CW. Straight back came Hans DL6UHA, and after that contact, the pile-up started. Contact number two was Nik HB9EAA and the third was Gerd DL4FCK. This was it then, the next contact would catapult me into the world of Mountain Goat-dom. Who would it be? All I could pull out of the pile-up was “/M”, so I sent back “/M?”. Back he came, who else but Mike GW0DSP/M! I should have known!

Continuing, I made a total of 25 contacts on 40m CW, and believe I cleared the pile-up. The DXCC count was 11, including the GD I would later work on 2m: G, GW, GD, EI, F, DL, HB9, OK, OE, ON, OH. A large group of Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award expeditioners arrived for a rest in the shelter, and the group leader was very enthusiastic about my operation, wanting as much detail as possible to pass on to his group. He seemed absolutely amazed that I was working a French station at the time (Alain F6ENO), although the best DX was to come with the last contact on CW – Karel OK1HCG. Jimmy, who will complete his own Duke of Edinburgh Bronze expedition and award any day now, sat listening intently to the briefing for the D of E group across the shelter, no doubt storing away nuggets of information for his own later use.

It was now time for Jimmy M3EYP to have a go, and fortunately the frequency I nominated on SOTAwatch Alerts was clear. Jimmy called repeatedly on 7.078MHz SSB, but to no avail. I tried to spot him on SOTAwatch, but surprisingly, their was no coverage for my ‘phone. A few unanswered calls later, we reverted to 2m FM. Jimmy made 6 contacts including a S2S with Mick 2W0HJD/P on Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042, following which I resumed operation (it was MY big day after all!) and made 10 contacts on 2m FM.

We were getting very cold, so after finishing off the soup, we decided to pack away. The original plan was to follow the ridge to the waterfall, and descend sharply from there. However, soon into our descent we realised that such a plan would keep us exposed to the deathly cold buffeting wind for the maximum amount of time, whereas returning down our ascent route would get us quickly out of it. We were pleased to be having another crack at that valley route though, as it was so lovely, and we had really enjoyed the walk up. It was also quick, and enabled us to be back at the car in little more than hour after leaving summit.

We thought about having a hot chocolate and cake in the café, but decided instead to get back home and have a curry take-away instead The return route along the A495, A525, A534 and A536 seemed much faster than the outward trip that morning, and we were safely home in good time.

In summary, it has to have been one of the slowest and least spectacular Mountain Goats in the SOTA Programme yet. It took over 5 years, and no less than 504 activations, although admittedly 132 of those activations have been repeats within a calendar year and hence non-scoring. I have activated 159 unique summits in four associations: G, GW, GM & GI, and a total of 15 regions: CE, DC, LD, NP, SB, SE, SP, TW, WB, SS, NW, MW, SW, MM & AH. My uniques total has actually been held back by the process of revisiting all of them with my son Jimmy once he got his amateur radio licence.

It was Shirley MW0YLS, sadly missed, who got me started in SOTA, as she did many many others. I had a chance QSO with her when she was activating Gyrn Moelfre GW/NW-049 (which turned out to be my debut chaser contact), and she coaxed me up Shining Tor with my 230mW handheld - I was parked just beneath it on the Macc-Buxton road at the time. Shirley became a dear friend over the next few years. Alan M1EYO, SOTA’s 1st ever MG, was on the same RAE course as me (and has the adjacent callsign to mine), and was first to make me aware of the SOTA programme. Richard G3CWI was, as now, living in my home town of Macclesfield, also became a good friend and helped me considerably with portable equipment and techniques. Then there’s Stuart G0MJG who accompanied Jimmy and myself on the first four days on the Pennine Way, and shared invaluable experience of long-distance walking with us that without doubt enabled us to completed the full distance. Just four of many highly valued friendships made through SOTA. Perhaps the most valuable has been that with my eldest son Jimmy, who worked incredibly hard to achieve his Foundation Licence, just so he could be an activator in SOTA. We always had a strong father-son relationship, but our friendship as companion hillwakers and SOTA activators is a special bonus. He is as much support to me on the hills these days as I am to him, and his incredible progress at school since becoming licensed cannot be coincidence.

There have been many highlights on the road to MG, including:
• Gaining many new friends
• Developing my skill as a radio amateur
• Developing my abilities as a hillwalker
• Seeing much more of the beautiful countryside in the UK
• My son becoming a radio amateur because of SOTA
• Getting to a decent level of physical fitness
• Discovering Youth Hostels
• Walking the Pennine Way

If I were to pick my best summits over the past five years, they would be (in no particular order):
• The Cloud G/SP-015
• Mynydd Enlli (Bardsey Island) GW/NW-072
• Great Gable G/LD-005
• High Vinnalls G/WB-012
• Kinder Scout G/SP-001
• Sharp Haw G/NP-029
• Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012
• Snowdon GW/NW-001
• Holyhead Mountain GW/NW-069
• Slemish GI/AH-007
…but ask me again tomorrow and I would probably give a different list altogether!

But the best thing of all about my journey to Mountain Goat, is that I did it with my kids.

73, and thank you all once again.


In reply to M1EYP:
Congratulations, Tom. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes, it’s getting there thats the achievment. After 31 years, my XYL still surprises me with the offer of a summit and the patience to sit in the car doing crosswords while I do HF and 2M. The way things are going you’ll be overtaking me before too long!
Once again, congrats

Dave, M0DFA and G6DTN

Very Well done Tom, from me and Sharon

Congratulations Tom and a nice summit to do it on as well!

73, Gerald

I will probably only overtake you Dave if M0DFA stops accompanying G6DTN on his activations! Thanks for the kind words.

Thanks to Steve, Sharon and Gerald for their congrats too, and again to everyone for theirs before my long activation report.

All the regular chasers on 2m FM passed kind words over too, which was appreciated, and I received many “CONGRATS” or “FB MG TOM” in the CW QSOs which was a great feeling. (It was a great feeling that I was able to read those messages hi!).

I note with some trepidation that M3EYP’s score stands at a meagre 366 activator points, so it will be a long while before I am able to tone-down my activity. Which is fine, because I thoroughly enjoy it, and want to do lots more Uniques.


In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom,

again many congratulations for your excellent achievement!
I am always pleased to hear your fb CW at home or from the summits!

It´s great that you did so much with your children on the summits.
I try the same, but the DL-summits are sometimes to boring for kids
without license (12/14 yrs old boys). They love the HB9 and F-summits.

Your story is giving me the hope to get MG someday without being
divorced from XYL and children…hi

Vy73 es cuagn


In reply to DL4FDM:
Congrats on MG Tom,
73 de Geoff,G4cpa.

It´s great that you did so much with your children on the summits. I try the same, but the DL-summits are sometimes to boring for kids without license (12/14 yrs old boys). They love the HB9 and F-summits.

Your story is giving me the hope to get MG someday without being
divorced from XYL and children…hi

Thanks for the kind words Fritz. Doing it all with my children was the best thing about it all for me. Especially when one of them decided that BECAUSE of SOTA, he wanted an amateur radio licence for himself. My two don’t distinguish between boring walks and interesting walks - my eldest loves them all and is just keen to do any that will be a Unique for him, while my youngest grumbles about most of them early in the day, but ends up enjoying his day. My two are aged 15 (Jimmy M3EYP) and 10 (Liam). They were actually 10 and 5 when we all did the first activation together back in 2002.

Jimmy got his licence just as he turned 13 years of age. I wonder if there is an equivalent to the UK Foundation Licence in the DL system? Maybe one or both of your children might be interested. And then, like me, you will have to do all your Uniques over again hi!

The XYL is the greater challenge, and I find the best way is to go out SOTAing when she wants to sleep before or after a night-shift, or meekly begging for permission to go out on a particular day (it helps if I have been ‘good’ by finishing all the housework and taking her out for a meal the day before hi).

Kind regards, Tom - …- . .