MC/SOTA Tour of Sutherland 2nd to 7th May 2024

I am embarking on another tour of SOTA summits by motorcycle this weekend, last years outing proved very successful.
Mostly the targets are based from Strathhalladale with a couple of opportunistic summits on the way there and back.
Here is my SOTA target list for this long weekend.

Thursday afternoon – GM/NS-152 Hill of Nigg just above the Black Isle on the way North

Friday middle of the day GM/NS-091 Ben Griam Beg near Kinbrace

Saturday middle of the day GM/NS-136 Creag nam Fiadh near Helmsdale

Sunday middle of the day GM/NS-089 Ben Griam Mor near Kinbrace

Monday middle of the day GM/NS-103 Ben Hiel near Tongue

Tuesday afternoon GM/WS-314 Meall na h-Eilrig near Drumnadrochit

Wednesday maybe an opportunistic summit near Trinafour/Tummel on the way South.

The order may change depending on the weather and I might not get them all but it is the rough plan.

I’ll try and post alerts the night before and spots when on the summits.

I’ll have my FT818 with me and antennas for 2m, 70cm and HF from 6m to 40m. Hopefully the weather and propogation are favourable.


Hill of Nigg GM/NS-152 was a bit frustrating today, no answers on 2m or 40m but half a dozen callers from Europe on 20m saved the day. It was very sunny and windy on the hill today but was a glorious day on the bike and the ice cream at Capaldi’s in Brora was excellent.
Bien Griam beg tomorrow.


Yes and a double CME pushing K index up past 6 :frowning:


I hope conditions improve, lots of great summits to chase, but in any case enjoy this part of Scotland. It is most excellent - Particularly as you get further west !!!

When I activated summits in that area back in 2014 I was told 145.575 was the local monitoring frequency. Whether it still is is another thing entirely. I used it extensively when I was up there, but still only managed 2 from the veritable Nigg. 30m and 20m CW was the mainstay of the activation.

Additional note - I heard you on 40m today, but only got the occasional word from you on Ben Griam Beg. I listened on 20m as well with similar results. Unfortunately conditions are poor at the moment. :unamused:

Andy was a good signal with me on Scald Law. I nearly bailed out as there was a huge shower on the way up, I hid in the gorse bushes to keep dry. I worked Rod for a complete on GM/ES-045 then Andy on GM/NS-091 for a complete on Ben Griam Beg.

In fact I think I may have a new type of complete: 1st activation and 1st chase :slight_smile: Anyway mission accomplished, NS-091 completed. Then the rain returned. Really heavy so everything was stuffed in the bag and then it started thundering, ominously close by. Non of the rain or thunder was predicted. Boy was I glad to get off the hill and back to the car.

Thanks for NS-091, completed nearly 10 years to the day since I activated it.

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Well done Andy - that first-first might just be fact. Whether your wizardry can extract such information from the database is another matter. Then again, maybe you’ll say “Simples”.

On this occasion you were on or below my noise level so I didn’t call you. Might have made it okay on CW had not the weather dictated otherwise. I did wonder whether there was an issue your end when you only did a limited activation… not your usual MO. :grinning:

I haven’t been out in rain like this for over 10 years. I don’t pplan to go out if it’s raining. But if you are out and get caught then you have to do your best. I found a number of wet-weather issues, the champion one being a fix to damage to the Goretex jacket bag means it’s almost impossible to get the jacket out. D’Oh! That will be sorted when everything is dry.

Talking of boots… I took my new shiny pair to break them in. Gosh they were sexy when new. Not like that now :frowning: But they’re drying slowly and I may as well wax them now. What impressed me is how 10 years use softens everything in boots and the new ones had a ferocious amount of grip and stiff sole. I’m pleased to confirm after enough rain to get Noah concerned, they are waterproof!

When I was hiding in the Gorse bush I checked the rain radar and none was showing where I was. A number of people out walking said they same, the forecast was for sunny, then cloudy skies but biblical floods, no!

Andy said the WX was jolly where he was but windy. What was best about this, and this is something that is common in SOTA, was the degree of real-time cooperation taking place so we both got what we wanted. A complete after 10 years in my case and another unique for Andy. Andy will confirm that he had good mobile coverage along the track and up the summit. For those of you who have been out to where NS-091 is then that is really quite remarkable :slight_smile: One of Andy’s texts said he was about 100m below summit. It seemed a while till he summited but then I remembered just how damn steep that summit gets as you reach the top. Not just me that was slowed down by the ascent :slight_smile:

A few people helped with QSB issues on 40m SSB, Ken G0FEX was one. It meant that marginal QSOs were conducted properly with no 3rd party info being exchanged but both ends knew the QSO was good. That was nice. Also big thanks to Andy MM7MOX for involving me in his plans so much so I can get some completes. I really appreciate that.


They sound a bit like my Kibos. Initially I had trouble actually walking as the soles gripped the surface I was walking on so solidly that my step following step action was inhibited. Now they’ve settled down… thankfully!

It would be good to know which service provider Andy uses… the sort of info that could go on the summit page. I carry O2 and EE, but the latter is under consideration after recent dealings with them and I might jump over to Lebara (which uses the Vodaphone network) for my backup.

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1p Mobile would be my choice. Uses EE network so it should work everywhere if you have a VoLTE/B20 capable phone. Offer 5G for PAYG users (EE only offers 5G for contracts), offers free EU roaming, EE charge newer customer £10/7 days. 1pMobile charge £10/mth for 25GB data, EE charge £13.50 but the data unused rolls over to next month and they give freebies for long term PAYG customers. I get a bonus 6.5GB of data a month to use plus my 25GB plus what wasn’t used last month.

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It’s not really a surprise, there is a big shared hilltop tower 4 miles east at Forsinard. Its been there for years and has VF, O2 & EE since the late 90’s GSM days. I remember getting called out to that site when I was on the tools, that was pre 2001!

73 Gavin


It was misty when I was there but if you look…

View to Ben Griam’s Mor (left) and Beg (right) from the road.

Turning 180 degs from same place… the tower.


Well I spent hours on the phone trying to resolve why my backup phone and my wife’s phone haven’t worked for the past 2 weeks. Evidently it’s our fault, but amazingly they both work outside our area. Utter arrogance, so I won’t be going near EE ever again. YMMV rules apply.

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Hi Folks, that was a long day. The first part of the walk was on a track to the first loch then the middle third was trackless bog to the base of the hill which turned out to be quite steep. There are some interesting rock walls towards the summit, like an old settlement. I sat in part of one just below the summit out of the strong wind. I could see the Pentland firth to the north and Ben loyal looked fabulous to the west. The bands were a bit strange again but I got 6 qso’s in the end including 3 s2s. Attached a picture of the top with Morven in the distance.
It was good to get the unique and give Andy the complete for Ben Griam beg GM/NS-091.
I’m using Vodafone and the service was fine.


Well today was a different day, sunny to start with but the the haze/low cloud came in and obscured all the surrounding hills. Radio was different today, I started on 20m since that’s where the dipole finished yesterday, 5 qso’s from Europe got me the point for the activation. I saw spot for GW4BML but couldn’t get through the pile up. I put a spot out myself and 40m was back to something like it’s old self. Highlights were GM4JXP for his complete of GM/NS-136 and GB8FMS from a scout camp near Scarborough. 15m yielded one qso as did 10m, 17m gave me three qso’s and I finished up back on 20m with a qso to DB5TR/P activating a c



Unfortunately not far enough back for me Andy. You were in the noise again, but that is mostly down to my set up and QTH. By comparison Ken G0FEX, who isn’t that far away, does much better than I do. I suspect ii is primarily down to antenna height and orientation.

Well done on activating the summits you’ve done so far. Will have to see what transpires today…

73, Gerald

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Bah, more X-ray events.

1x X-ray event 3/3/2024
1x X-ray event 4/4/2024
4x X-ray events 5/5/2024 and it’s only 1030Z !!!

…and the one at just after 0600z was X1.3, which really clobbered the propagation for a while…

Edit: …and an X1.2 just before 1200z.

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I can confirm that 40m was wiped out today. I managed a few contacts on 20m and a couple on 17m, the highlight was JW9DSA from Svalbard. The weather wasn’t so nice either, rain on the way there and the cloud base started at 470m, pity the hill top is at 590m. It wasn’t raining just 20m viz. The sky cleared and the sun came out as I packed up then descended., but cloud covered the top again by the time I was back at the bike.
Hopefully better weather for Ben Hiel GM/NS-103 tomorrow.


Bummer that the Sun had an upset stomach and kept breaking wind!

3x M5 flares and 2x X1 flares today.