The good, the bad and the ugly in reverse - the Isle of Man SOTA tour - GD4BML/p
5 summits completed over a lovely long weekend
It was 4 months ago when I opened my laptop and booked all travel and accommodation arrangements to go across to the Isle of Man for two days of SOTA and two days of exploring with the family…… I must say, for the wx conditions, the ferry across from Liverpool dock to Douglas was pretty calm - we arrived on the island and all hell broke loose with the wx. It rained…rained…blew a gale…and rained a lot more!
We arrived at GD/GD-003 South Barrule which was our first targeted summit, but unfortunately we had to postpone due to severe wx conditions - that’s not normally like me
I knew that GD/GD-005 Mull Hill was pretty much a drive on with a shelter on top, so it was a quick update of alerts and the sat nav was taking us South to try and activate MH.
20 minutes later to my advantage, I was on top of Mull Hill looking at a nice stone building 200 yards in front of me - I thought that was going to be my office for the next 45 minutes. Martha and little Lyra stayed in the truck munching on goodies, I borrowed Martha’s blue mac because mine wasn’t in reach, grabbed my SOTA rucksack and made a run towards the shelter. It took a few attempts to put the 6m carbon pole up, but I got there in the end. I connected my 3m coax from the EFHW winder to my KX2 and pushed 10w out calling CQ SOTA on 7-SSB.
The antenna was blowing back and fourth in the heavy wind making it hard to receive some signals, but I managed to make 10 contacts itl. I switched mode over to 7-CW and worked a further 12 stations - 2m FM was very quiet. I got soaked taking my station down, but I had a result - one summit qualified, four more to go!
I decided to abandon my other alerted activations until the morning - we were right in the middle of a nasty storm! Off to the campsite it was to set up our temporary home for the next 4 nights.
After quite a rough nights sleep, the alarm woke us all up to the sound of birds chirping and hungry cattle mooing - but no rain, Yay! We got the stove out, made a cuppa and had some breki, and off we went to try and compete the remaining 4 summits.
First stop was Bradda Hill GD/GD-004 where we parked up beside the sea. The wind was howling but there was traces of blue in the sky. Martha and little Lyra went down to the shore for a mooch and I took off to climb a mountain
For a 1 point summit, this wasn’t forgiving - walking back up the tarmac road, right hand turn with a short flat track the steep ascent began for approximately 1/2 mile. I reached the summit stones to have a nice 180 degree view of the sea with a strong wind in the air. I set up shop beside a stone wall which sheltered me from the wind and began calling CQ SOTA on 7-CW. The band seemed to work well managing 20 stations itl. I then tuned into 7-SSB and only worked a further 7 stations - the band had quietened down. After putting a final call out, I packed up and put a call out on 145-FM with no takers, so it was a brisk walk back to the truck to find my girls snacking
Second stop of the day was GD/GD-003 South Barrule. It took roughly 20 minutes and we were parked up at the start contemplating whether to brave the wx or postpone until the next day…… I’m getting soft in my old age! Little Lyra said ‘I want to walk Daddy and do your radioing’ bless her, so it was warm clothes and waterproofs on and off we all set into the mist.
This summit was a gradual mile hike to the top with some steep parts in places - the view was non-existent which was a shame. We all managed to get to the top, but unfortunately a storm circled us, so Martha took little Lyra back and I performed an activation lying on my stomach in the short Cairn on top with my EFHW half a metre off the ground being held up by the trig and a walking pole due to the extreme wind - the 6m carbon pole wouldn’t of lasted a second! Lucky for me this configuration worked and I managed a total of 18 stations itl split between 145-FM, 7-CW & 7-SSB. After putting final calls out, it didn’t take me long to pack up and run like mad back to the truck!
Now I really wanted to do GD/GD-001 Snaefell by walking, but Lyra wanted to go on the tram, so me and Martha agreed if we had time, we’d try both options. The first climb was by tram and my god was it awful on the top. All the passengers stayed in the tram and I was advised not to walk to the trig, did I listen…… I managed 5 contacts itl on 145-FM when Martha messaged me saying the tram is about to leave, agh bugger, so I had to cut my activation short and make my way back. You’ll see by my photos that it probably was the right choice. We postponed the last summit of the day due to wx conditions and went for a Chinese instead
Sunday morning arrived and we woke to the sound of singing birds, blue sky and the SUN - great times! After breakfast it was a drive to complete the last GD summit which was GD/GD-002 Slieau Freoaghane. Our luck, there was a trials bike competition taking part on the track to this summit so I went alone while the girls went for a bike ride on the opposite side of the road.
I followed a stone track for a mile and then veered off left up a ferny/gorse bank for about 1/2 mile. What a lovely view I had on top, the sky was clear so I could see for miles. There is also a bell on top of this summit, so I thought it would be rude not to give it a ring I set up my office in the sun and put a call out on 7-CW working 18 stations. I moved over to 7-SSB and worked a further 25 stations - conditions on the 40m band had improved. After packing up I called out on 145-FM and worked another 3 stations, 2m seemed rather quiet.
I hadn’t planned on doing another activation after completing all 5 GD SOTA summits, but I was still frustrated with the wx stopping me from doing HF on GD-001 Snaefell - it was beating me up inside! So, after a lovely visit to ‘Point of Ayre’ to have a picnic and watch the seals swim up and down the shore popping there heads up every so often……
I said to Martha we pass Snaefell on the way back to the campsite, let’s give it another go but this time walk it. Martha agreed, so little Lyra went in the carrier on my back, Martha loaded the SOTA rucksack on hers and off we all went. It didn’t take too long and we were the only ones on top no rain, not much wind and the summit to ourselves - happy days!
I set up on top and put a call out on 7-CW & SSB…… WOW, I had one hell of a pile-up ending my SOTA tour with another 49 stations - I was so glad I returned and activated the Isle of Mans highest peak again
I’d like to thank everyone who called into me from the SOTA community - it was great to work the normal gang and friends as well as new callers! I’d also like to thank the S2S stations that called into me as well!
Will we be going back to the IoM again - for sure, we had a great time!
Until next time, 73, Ben. GD4BML/p