MM Holiday

After 4.5 hours sleep it was time to get cracking once again. Jimmy and I set off for Scotland, reaching the border village of Langholm just before 10am. In good time for a hearty Scottish breakfast at Nice Bites cafe and then into the Douglas Hotel to watch the World Cup Final.

We lost, but no complaints. We gave everything, but were narrowly beaten by the only team in the world that is superior to England at present.

Next it was SOTA time, and a short drive around to Calkin Rig GM/SS-196. This was around a five mile round trip walk, but including a long energy-sapping steep ascent up tussocky damp slopes. The summit area was quite pleasant especially with the sun coming out and illuminating a fabulous vista to the north east.

I made 34 contacts on 20m CW and SSB including 6 S2S. Jimmy managed 12 - 4 S2S on 20m SSB, and 8 on 2m FM.

Next a 45 minute drive to the legendary Tushielaw Inn where we are staying this week for our little hiking holiday. Settled in to our rather nice rooms with lovely views, then down to the bar for drinks and food.

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Day 2 - Hownam Law GM/SS-197

Not really in the vicinity of Tushielaw, but an outlier left out from other GM trips. Jimmy 'HGY was keen to “tidy it up”. An hour’s drive through beautiful scenery, so no problem.

A pleasant enough walk through rolling farmland, and then striking up to an ancient hillfort summit. It was mainly a nice day but we did need our bothy bags to shelter from a heavy shower on the summit.

Jimmy made just 3 QSOs on 2m FM but added two S2S on 20m for the qualification. I made 16 QSOs on 20m SSB/CW (including the same two S2S as Jimmy) and added one on 2m FM. Sadly Andy GM6PJZ/P on GM/SS-172 operating on 2m FM couldn’t RX our calls.

We then visited the nearby Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm, a sentimental place for us as the culmination of our Pennine Way trek 17 years ago.

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I did go to a local high spot to try to work you on 2m. I didn’t receive you even with the squelch left open but did work @GM6PJZ/P.

I may get out to try for Minch Moor chase today which looks a better profile for VHF.

Have a nice day 73 Andrew G4VFL

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I heard someone call S2S as I was working Andrew @G4VFL (thanks for making the effort to get out and chase us). I called back for the S2S, but didn’t hear any response. I don’t know if you moved. It might have just been a freak alignment of our antennae in the wind!
My first 2 summits were thoughtfully provided with wire fences to support a tarp as a wind break and support the antenna mast. I wish farmers further south followed the example of their Lanarkshire colleagues in avoiding the use of barbed wire! Summit 3 was devoid of any shelter though I did find an old metal fence post to secure the mast to. It was also devoid of VHF chasers forcing me to rig the HF aerial.
Let’s hope for more luck S2S today Tom and Jimmy

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I think I have just sent my ref, wrongly, as SS-114 a few times. I am on SS-144.

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Seems you’re just out of reach for me on most bands, but it looks like it’s all going swimmingly.

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I’m with Tom and Jimmy on the summit, setup just about complete, on air soon.

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About to activate Minch Moor GM/SS-133 for SOTA. Andy MM0FMF has joined us so here is a photo of the G and GM Association Managers.

Jimmy M(M)0HGY

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Day 3:

Full Scottish breakfast and big pot of tea to start (of course).

Deuchar Law GM/SS-144

Quite a long unrewarding slog on the ascent, but a pleasant walk with fine views on the descent. Shelter required from unanticipated shower early in the walk.

Contacts on 20m CW & SSB with several S2S.

Minch Moor GM/SS-133

Another long walk, up an unrelenting gradient for most parts. Through walled farmland tracks and later forestry for a very picturesque stroll.

We were joined by our SOTA friend and GM AM Andy MM0FMF which was brilliant and great to catch up.

I operated on 20m CW & SSB, while Jimmy MM0HGY/P focused on 2m FM - but added some 20m SSB too.

Fantastic surprise when we got back to the Tushielaw Inn to find a surprise visit from Mac Star and Karen, friends from the tribute band circuit. A lovely evening.

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Day 4:

Kicked off with the usual mega plate of bacon, sausage, black pudding, lorne sausage, haggis, fried egg, hash brown, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast and big pot of tea at Tushielaw Inn. If anyone was wondering why we’re not taking our customary flask of soup up the hills - we’ll now you know!

Careful study of the Met Office rain radar suggested that our intended route would be less than pleasant, so we put that back a further 24 hours. The same app feature identified that a couple of summits near Peebles would enjoy fine weather all day - and so it proved.

Cademuir Hill GM/SS-219

A delightful walk in a Forestry Commission site. A few zigzags in the forest to gain height and eventually topping out on a lovely summit with stone cairn and a picnic table. Five star luxury radio operating would ensue!

Jimmy got his required contacts all on 2m FM, while I again used 20m SSB and CW. 21 QSOs including 2 S2S. Two USA stations were worked to.

White Mellon GM/SS-208

This was a very short distance - horizontally - from the road, but with 200m of vertical height to be gained. It was steep!

The summit was another delightful one - an Iron Age hillfort with cairn and trig point. We set up our respective stations about 5m lower for a little shelter.

Jim MM0HGY/P again got all his contacts on VHF, and me on 20m SSB/CW.

The descent was steep - but not as problematic as I’d feared. We got down safely and nipped into Peebles to get some more fudge/tablet to have as backup on tomorrow’s big walk.

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What an excellent - and exhausting day!

The Ettrick Horseshoe - https://explore.osmaps.com/route/18351878/ettrick-horseshoe

Two SOTA summits - Capel Fell GM/SS-082 678m ASL & Ettrick Pen GM/SS-074 692m ASL. Some exhilarating ridge walking and some brutal ascents!

The first summit was our 500th different one since starting all this SOTA nonsense together. Jimmy MM0HGY/P operated mainly on 2m FM on that one while I focussed on 40m SSB and CW.

Several S2S were made and we borrowed each other’s stations briefly to join in when these occurred! I also worked my friend Kjell LA1KHA/P on his usual hill LA/TM-049 on 3am CW.

The ridge walk over to Ettrick Pen was great on the high bits but soul-destroying on the deeper saddles of the undulation!

Jimmy was well ahead of me so already had the VHF station set up when I arrived. I helped myself rather than set my own station up in my own car in which saved some time.

The descent was easier and quicker than expected, and we completed the full route, including two SOTA activations in exactly 9 hours.

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Many congratulations to both of you on getting the 500 uniques (and even starting the next 500 immediately!) I am fully aware of what hard work it has entailed (and also, I’m sure, lots of fun and memories). I am most impressed by the walk you planned and executed today. We had certainly not thought of joinng those 2 summits together.

I’m glad to hear the Tushielaw Inn is looking after you so well. It, like a small handful of nearby summits, is still on our ‘to do’ list (but we did have a meal there many years ago) and we hope to get there some time. I’m glad to see that the weather, with careful planning, has been fairly kind to you and I wish you well for the rest of your trip (if you are still capable of even getting out of bed tomorrow after today’s marathon). My congratulations to Jimmy for qualifying White Mellon GM/SS-208 on 2m fm, it was one of the few summits where I couldn’t come up with 4 contacts (this was a few years ago but I doubt that task has got any easier over the years) but we emjoyed very much the drive up the valley and the hillfort itself. I was, of course, limited to 5w and it is possible that Jimmy was using a bit more power.
73 Viki M6BWA

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Quite the opposite! Jimmy always runs 2.5 watts from his 817 with internal batteries.

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Tom and Jimmy had White Coombe GM/SS-030 down for today but the GM WX decided they’d had enough proper SOTA fun. I got a text saying they were coming to do Cairnpapple Hill GM/SS-254 which is about 20mins drive for me and they were 30mins away. I was still mincing about the house in a dressing gown although I’d been up out of bed for 3.5 hrs. I pulled on some clothes and drove up to the car park and Tom and Jimmy were a bit delayed by the rubbishy lunchtime traffic around here.

We set off and in under 5mins we were at the summit. Tom’s comment “This is taking the mick… it makes The Cloud look like a proper summit!” Anyway they setup and Jimmy worked plenty on 2m FM, well this summit does overlook Glasgow and Edinburgh and a lot of the Central Belt. Tom did 20m CW and then 40m SSB. There was some really ominous WX moving in so they shutdown and started packing up but not before we all chased Alan MM0VPM on Meall Glas GM/CS-033 on 2m FM. That’s a unique and complete in waiting for me now :slight_smile:

Jimmy is perplexed by his poor reception and studiies the 817 display… maybe connecting the antenna would help! :slight_smile: Actually he’s packing up and started this before Tom in case he had to leg it because of the imminent rain. Wise move.

Tom was very impressed by Ed DD5LP’s head mounted whip antenna and so decided to go one better with a head mounted Alex Loop. I’m not sure how it attaches, probably best left to our imagination where that pole is going…

Ed DD5LP and the original head mounted whip, that just attaches to the headphone band, obviously.

It was nice to have another waffle with Tom and Jimmy. And a complete/unique now awaits me. A good day all round. :wink:

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Great to spend some more time with you Andy, thanks for responding positively at such short notice!

Day 6 (last day):

The weather forecast made for depressing reading as we ate our porridge at the Tushielaw Inn. (Yes, even we decided not to go for a sixth consecutive cooked breakfast!). I studied the Met Office rain radar and identified that it might be possible to get one final SOTA activation in, between bouts of precipitation.

This would involve a detour of around 45 minutes further north before heading home on the motorways south.

Cairnpapple Hill GM/SS-254

This is the local summit of our friend Andy MM0FMF from Livingston. I texted him to let him know we were heading that way, and to my surprise, he replied to say he’d meet us at the hill’s car park.

This is a ridiculously short and easy walk with hardly any ascent. Even easier, shorter and quicker than The Cloud G/SP-015 - most un-Scottish-like! This was part of the reason for its selection - the ability to make a sharp exit when the next band of rain came.

I operated on 40m SSB and CW using the Alexloop, while Jimmy operated on 2m FM. Qualification was quick and easy for both of us, and included some summit-to-summit QSOs. One of these was MM0VPM/P on GM/CS-033 on 2m FM. Both Andy and myself borrowed Jimmy’s station to grab this contact for ourselves.

We walked back to our cars, said our goodbyes, got in our cars, at which point the heavens opened. It was a full-on cloudburst resulting in flash flooding! I guess I couldn’t have judged the location and time-window any better!

The long journey home commenced, but included a detour to Gretna for supper - battered haggis, chips and the biggest “large curry sauce” ever - followed by deep fried Mars Bar. It was a very good job we had spent the previous six days doing strenuous cardio exercise!

Excellent little holiday with the eldest. Really enjoyed myself. Refreshed, and ready to go back to work tomorrow!

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Next month, my dad Tom @M1EYP and my brother Liam will be doing a road trip to GM/SS and will be staying at Tushielaw Inn for 3 nights. We have told Liam about the Pork & Haggis Burger that they have on their specials board quite often at this pub and also about the Deep Fried Mars at one of the chippy’s in Gretna and Liam is very keen to try both the Pork & Haggis Burger at Tushielaw Inn and the Deep Fried Mars Bar at this chippy in Gretna also. While they are on this road trip, they will be walking up some of the more easier GM/SS SOTA summits that me and my dad have previously activated and my dad course will be activating these easier GM/SS SOTA summits once again.

Also from Sunday 27th May until Friday 31st May, me and my dad will be doing yet another walking holiday in GM/SS and I am sure that you’ll all not be surprised by the fact they we will be staying at Tushielaw Inn once again for this walking holiday. Me and my dad need to discuss nearer that time which SOTA summits will be activating nearer the time for which of course plans can change due to wx and energy levels as well. However, I believe that May, June, September and October are usually the driest months in Scotland so I am hoping that most days will be dry on this trip and it will be a bonus if every day is a dry one on this trip.

SOTA summits we have so far on the agenda for this trip are Andrewhinney Hill GM/SS-083 which we have planned to activate on both our previous Tushielaw Inn trips, but we never managed activate it, this is now our most local SOTA unique to Tushielaw Inn and White Coomb GM/SS-030 which we planned to activate on our last Tushielaw In trip on the day we were driving home, but we couldn’t as wx just happened to be awful and resulted in us changing our plans to activate Cairnpapple Hill GM/SS-254 instead. Also, we are hoping to activate on our Tushielaw Inn trip on the last week of May is Scaw’d Fell GM/SS-142 and Croft Head GM/SS-100 for which we plan to do as a linear walk if any SOTA activators are willing to join us for this so that we can have a car at both the start and end points of this linear walk. Andy @MM0FMF has previous offered to do this linear walk for us so I am wondering Andy if that offer is still open? Alternatively are there any other local SOTA activators that are willing to join us for this linear walk? Other SOTA summits that we may activate for this trip, but as mentioned will need to discuss much near the time are Hart Fell, GM/SS-037, Broad Law GM/SS-029 and Dun Rig GM/SS-052.

Jimmy M0HGY

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So far:

Sunday 18th: See Morris Hill GM/SS-274 & White Hill GM/SS-289.

Monday 19th: Cacra Hill GM/SS-179 & Turner Cleuch Law GM/SS-140.

Today we’re heading north to attempt to escape the rain band.

Anyone interested in tracking our progress on this road trip can visit https://aprs.fi and enter m1eyp-9 - I am transmitting the APRS beacon from my FTM100D in the car - though it seems it has struggled to escape the borders valleys the last couple of days!

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For APRS in Scotland I would use the mobile phone version, even so it is not rock solid coverage.

73 de

Andrew G4VFL

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I thought I had posted this at breakfast yesterday. Seems I hadn’t; just found it in my drafts!

I presume you mean to use a mobile phone as the APRS beacon rather than the mobile rig? I have two issues with that: 1. My phone is fairly old and the battery only has 70% capacity - it needs care - not being used as a beacon. 2. The idea of beaconing using RF appeals to me infinitely more!

Anyway, we successfully dodged the rain yesterday and activated North Berwick Law GM/SS-280 and Arthur’s Seat GM/SS-272. (Although Liam opted out of the second hill and took himself off for an afternoon wandering around Edinburgh city centre instead).

Today there’s much more rain to avoid. Might not be any activating until afternoon - looking at Cademuir Hill GM/SS-219 & Cairnpapple Hill GM/SS-254.

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Last day - large breakfast, late-ish leisure check-out from Tushielaw Inn, and the rest of the morning bimbling around Peebles.

The morning’s heavy rain started to clear around lunchtime, just as forecast. This was our cue to wander up the nearby Cademuir Hill GM/SS-219. Later, under crystal clear blue skies and sunshine - but with the temperature dropping sharply - we tackled the very easy Cairnpapple Hill GM/SS-254. We summited, took photos at the trig, but then immediately hunted for a sheltered spot within the AZ. We found a spot on a slope beneath some gorse bushes - by which point we were nearer our car than we were the trig point!

Return journey to Macclesfield was punctuated by the compulsory visit to Mehmet’s chippy in Gretna for deep fried battered haggis and deep fried battered Mars bar. It had to be done…

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