Midwinter Madness

Many thanks for the excellent report and photos Gavin. I’ll pin a note to my file to take my bike for that pair, but I won’t be activating them under the kind of conditions that you did. Very well done on that!

At least you got to meet the first activator of the new summit. I didn’t with Blackwood Hill GM/SS-199… I only got to know I wasn’t the first when in QSO from the hill when someone said “isn’t that the hill that Derek G1ZJQ was on the other day?” :grin:

73, Gerald

Thanks Gavin,

It was a superb day out, and fantastic to meet you on the summit. Meeting you actually made me feel slightly less mad, at least for a time!

Yes, I agree that cycling on the excellent estate road going near Altdourie, just south of Little Elrick, was my chosen cycle route and was fine despite the frost.

We saw the “experimental cannabis farm” a few years ago one April. There did seem to be some small water feeding bottles and I wondered if they were for raising Grouse chicks, or some other game bird? Or the bottles (which were empty) may just have been watering the vegetation.

Merry Christmas




Thanks Geoff,

I recognised Gavin from photos on SOTA, facebook, etc. So he looked exactly as I expected, and he also sounded the same!


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I’d say your “experimental cannabis” is more likely iceberg lettuce !


Ask Google the question and you get the answer!

Its a study site researching the effects of nitrogen on upland environments


Well I will say that I don’t think that my time on the hill this morning was as pleasant as Colwyn and Gavins.

It started off OK and I was able to cycle the shorter route, the ones walkers would use, thanks to a firm and ice-free surface.

The direct route

Once on the hill however, the wind picked up dramatically and it was blowing a strong and icy NW at 40mph in to my face.

Eventually I reached the summit only to find it was the wrong one - there are three in close proximity that look like contenders.

I established myself on the correct summit, however there was zero shelter from the now awful wind, so I retreated a good 200m until I found a slight depression.

I hoisted the 40/80 dipole, which was a struggle. I noticed one of the links had broken (the other one broke yesterday!), so unlinked the other side. It was 20m or bust today, as I wasn’t about to break out the end-fed.

I spotted. Then the mast fell over. Then it telescoped. My sit mat blew away. Sorry to anyone in Braemar, should it end up in your garden.

20m worked well, but I wasn’t hearing audio too well. I got half a dozen in the log, including @GM0GAV Gavin for his Complete, before calling it a day.

On the way back I cancelled my Alert for neighbouring Cullardoch. I then realised that the reason the received audio was poor was that I was wearing a hat with ear flaps, a hood and goggle straps over my ears! Sorry Gavin. :disappointed:

I had hot soup back at the bike, put the goggles back on and ripped back down the track in 20 mins, the probable highlight of the day!

Thanks for sticking with it Chasers!

There’s no snow but it’s certainly winter!

73, Fraser


Hi Gavin,

Great photos and very VERY inspiring!

73, Lea

The non-appearance on 40m and the retraction of the alert… hmm I thought, Fraser isn’t having a good day! :thinking:

I wasn’t able to work you yesterday as I had a high noise level at the home QTH. Probably some work being carried out locally as it’s better today. Another “shrugs shoulders” situation. :frowning:

73, Gerald


That made me laugh! I missed you on 20m but conditions were quite good I thought today. I had UK SOTA QSOs on 60m and 40m from my shack this morning.

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Very astute Gerald! Yup, worst one for a while. The WX was worse than forecast and that was the killer. There’s no shelters on either of the hills up there. Yesterday I was out in worse weather, but at least I knew that I’d find shelters on the tops.


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Great report and photos Fraser, thanks. Pity about the challenges but you resolved them well. :+1:

Geoff vk3sq

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Gavin, thanks for the great report. What a beautiful and expressive winter there! There is little snow, but the atmosphere is amazing. I was also struck by the meeting at the summit of two activators.
In the Urals, conditions are slightly different.

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It is a looooong ride to Tomintoul from there - how do I know? :tired_face:

Published before but the view from the old ES-020 is similar to the one from the new top:


I suspect that may be an understatement!


Been there. It’s surprising how much sound they can suppress. Worse is then with strong wind I can’t hear the sidetone on my sending and only just hear the callers.

I’ve got that new one to do now. I’ve done the walk from the car park at Invercauld House 2.5 times, once to Cullardoch, once to the old summit and 1/2 way to old summit before aborting due a slipped disc rearing its ugly head. I’m riding in next time.

Essential you have good fitting shorts etc. and a good saddle because if you don’t have ‘Adrians’ at the start you will by the time you return. More so if you have any weight on your back.


I just googled Sotabeams and the Amazon Assistant suggested " Anusol Soothing Relief Suppositories – Proven Formula Shrinks Piles, Relieves Discomfort, Soothes Itching & Reduces Inflammation – 12-Pack".


How much SOTA max per day? :slight_smile:

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Good effort Fraser! Zero shelter up there. What I said during our QSO:
" Fraser, you are a month too late. It was perfect weather when Colwyn & I were up there!!"

73 Gavin


Cold summit in North Wales GW/NE-026 Mynydd Mawr. Plenty of contacts but bone chilling cold in the cloud. I’m amazed at how much camp squalor I can generate in under an hour!