SOTA on Tour 5

Robbie Savage is known as a “Marmite” character. If you are already in the disapproving camp, the documentary will not endear him to you! Except if you are a Macclesfield football supporter or involved in grassroots football in the local area - he’s won all those round with the astonishing work he’s done in resurrecting football for us and creating a whole new structure and opportunity for youth football.

Thanks for the S2S while I was on Buckden Pike G/NP-009. I was surprised to hear you as I knew there were two other activators on Cracoe Fell. I also met G4IPB on my summit. Of all the SOTA joints in all the summits in all the dales…


I have supported my local team, Liverpool FC for 50 years despite living away from Liverpool for 21 of those years. In the 70s/80s they were the dominant team in English and European football. Then things went off the boil somewhat and whilst we won assorted trophies include a Chapions League, it was no longer the joy it was. In fact it was 30 years before they won another league championship. During that period when your team looses its dominance and is just another team who can’t quite do it any more you begin understand how people who support teams who are never going to win the top accolades feel and you begin to understand what supporting a team really is. Hell, anyone can support a winning team which is obvious by the number of 2nd hand unwanted MUFC kits now for sale :wink: So
I have huge admiration for people like you Tom.

The reason for wanting to watch the documentary is simply because having heard the censored clip, I want to see how Robbie Savage has such emotion to get things going again. And yes, you need to support local grass roots teams as they support the whole pyramid of football leagues. Without them the money driven big business of the top flight is even less acceptable than it already is even though the games are entertaining. But considering the money involved they damn well should be!


The achievements of the two Robs - Robert Smethurst (owner, who bought the assets from the official receiver then sunk £4 million of his own dosh into renovating the stadium facilities and creating a new team) and Robbie Savage (director of football) - are remarkable.

The old Macclesfield Town was averaging gates of 1800 in EFL League 2 (4th tier of English football). The new Macclesfield FC, playing in the 9th tier (North West Counties League) is attracting attendances of 3500 (would be more, but that’s our current capacity until the council allow us to increase it). This in a division where the other clubs get around typically 150 to 200 fans in for games.

Now I’m off the ship, and while Macc FC are operating in a relatively regional league, I hope to get to a few away games coupled with SOTA activations. Plenty of scope to combine G/SP summits with away matches!



Back out on the road for the last weekend before Christmas.

Friday 17th December 2021

SOTA: Shining Tor G/SP-004
Gig: Christmas Live
Venue: Doncaster Racecourse

I had intended to get across to the Lincolnshire Wolds en route to Donny but I got a bit nervous about time and the potential for heavy Friday afternoon traffic.

I played safe with a pointless repeat of Shining Tor early in my journey. Plenty of QSOs on 2m FM with the Yaesu FT70D handheld.

Saturday 18th December 2021

SOTA: Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004, Normanby Top G/TW-005 & Bardon Hill G/CE-004
Gig: Simon Faulkner Band
Venue: Bistro Live, Nottingham

It was a late start (by my standards), leaving the jockeys’ lodge at Doncaster Racecourse around 10am. I experimented with the satnav to determine the optimum order of summits for the day.

Bishop Wilton Wold proved to be trivial, with qualification achieved beside the layby on the A166. Four 2m FM QSOs on the handheld, and more compliments on the signal strengths and audio quality coming from the FT70D.

Getting this activation point out of the way swiftly afforded me the time to try a new route for Normanby Top. I parked by the PROW entrance to the east of the summit and walked along the track from there.

The track does find its way into the AZ, and from that point there was a big gap in the hedge and a short stroll across to the trig point.

I could hear M7TZG/P calling from Black Hill G/SP-002. I - and many others were replying, but he wasn’t hearing - probably desensing from Holme Moss on a cheap handheld.

Anyway, after a few tries, it was clear I wasn’t going to get away with another quick easy HT activation, so I set up the Alexloop. A contest was in full swing, so I operated - and qualified on 30m CW.

Next I drove further south and beyond Nottingham where I was gigging! That’s the problem with the East of England - you need to travel “out of your way” to reach the summits!

It was dark when I parked on Dauphine Close, Coalville, so this would be a headtorch-lit walk. The visibility was further inhibited by thick fog, but at least the steeper parts of the route were not as slippery as previous encounters!

This one was an easy VHF handheld qualification.

I’ve now completed the gig in Nottingham and sat in the bandroom waiting for 1am when we can start to pack down and load the vehicles. I suspect I’ll be sleeping in a layby somewhere before too long!


Thanks Tom for a great report and photos. Well done :+1: :beers:

Cheers and all the best for the season and HNY to you and family.

Regards Geoff vk3sq

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Thanks Geoff, all the best to you too.

Tell me about it,


Did you shout into your handheld Dom Joly style to make the shooters aware?


I never saw the shooting party - though visibility was only around 20m. I did hear a few gunshots but they sounded distant, and in a direction well away from anywhere I was going to be. Nonetheless, I still tried to walk so that there was always a hedge in between me and where I perceived the shooting party to be.

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I wondered if the sign means you have to let a few rounds loose yourself every few hundred steps, in all directions. Join the party, so to speak! :slight_smile:

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Gosh, so your S2S with me on GW/NW-078 Rhinog Fach, was just on a handheld with stock helical antenna? Good stuff! I was on a FT857 - 10W into a Slim G, 4m AGL.

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I do keep telling everyone, the Yaesu FT70D is a fabulous radio, and I rarely if ever find any need to replace the helical with something else.

We’ve certainly enjoyed some enhanced conditions over the past few days, but the FT70D is easily the best HT I’ve ever used.


Things continued in a similar vein for my last SOTA activation of the year. Handheld and rubber duck low-effort high-speed operating - and exactly four contacts worked once again!

Friday 31st December 2021 - New Year’s Eve

SOTA: Foel Goch GW/NW-039
Gig: Simon Faulkner Band
Venue: Bistro Live!, Milton Keynes

The original plan was to activate the nearest SOTA summit to MK - the uninspiring Wendover Woods G/CE-005. However, that is at least a half-hour drive beyond Milton Keynes, which would of course mean at least an extra hour’s driving to include it before the gig.

I checked out Google Maps, and found that a wide diversion via Foel Goch GW/NW-039 also caused an extra hour of driving - so effectively equivalent. The choice between those two options was a no-brainer!

I’ve always enjoyed Foel Goch. It’s a lovely summit with a pleasant and fairly easy approach. And with 4 points plus 3 bonus available, it’s great VFM.

2m FM - 4 QSOs - S2S with John GW0MHF/P on Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051.

Then a long but easy drive along the A5, M54, M6 and M1 to the venue in MK. Happy New Year everyone!


Happy new year Tom and family :partying_face: :beers: :beers:

Cheers- Geoff vk3sq


There’s a fair few activation reports, mostly linked to gigs or football matches, yet to be written. They will appear on my website in due course.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a most unusual and yet rewarding day of activating today, which I thought I’d share.

Yesterday was unusual enough:

Friday 13th May 2022
SOTA: The Cloud G/SP-015
Gig: Ultimate Queen Revival
Venue: Shanklin Conservative Club

Yes, the summit was nowhere near the gig nor any substantial part along the route to it. This was because I was being picked up from my home QTH for the drive down to Portsmouth for the Isle of Wight ferry. It was therefore necessary to get up especially early to get a local activation in before heading south.

The gig went well and obviously I relished playing John Deacon’s excellent basslines for the show.

Saturday 14th May 2022
SOTA: St Boniface Down G/SE-008 & Brighstone Down G/SE-012
Gig: Twisted Anthems
Venue: Warners Leisure Hotel Norton Grange

So to the Saturday, and as per usual, my bandmates planned a lie-in, a late breakfast and a day of “chilling”. Not my style. I set my alarm for 7am, but was wide awake by 5.45am BST.

I was on the Southern Vectis bus from outside the holiday park near Yarmouth before 7am. Changed at Newport, and took the bus down to Bonchurch …. where I forgot to alight. I did get off as soon as I’d realised my mistake, and in a fine stroke of good fortune, another bus was coming the other way. I’d bought a £10 day rover ticket, so that worked.

From Bonchurch car park, I climbed the east ridge of St Boniface Down in glorious sunshine. The sea views were magnificent.

A Friday morning net was in progress on 145.525MHz FM, so I gatecrashed that for an easy qualification on the handheld. I had the 817 and Alexloop with me for HF, but I had to seize the chance to get ahead of schedule and open the possibility of getting both IOW summits done.

Back down the hill, and caught the bus west along the south coast. I alighted south of Brighstone village and walked about ten minutes along public footpaths to that point. Here I collected a drink and some food - including a locally baked breakfast pasty - which was amazing!

From the village, I continued north up the byway and onto the footpaths that climbed onto the Downs. A walk of about 45 minutes brought me to the trig point at the summit.

I could only raise one QSO on VHF this time so I set up the Alexloop and added three contacts on 20m CW.

I’d set myself a deadline of 1245 BST to start descending, and was ahead of this. I had one eye on rounding off my day in suitable style!

I had twenty minutes to spare before my bus once I’d retuned to Brighstone village, so enjoyed a pint of ale in the beer garden of the Three Bishops pub.

A bus to Freshwater, then a change for the bus to Yarmouth, and I was back at the venue in plenty of time ahead of soundcheck.

Activating by bus. Not something I’ve done much of, but it was different - and fun! I was very impressed by the Southern Vecta bus service on the island.


Lovely photos and a great outing! I forget that it’s summer down south. Bluebells just thinking about coming out here.

Here’s a challenge. Enforced overnight stay at a Manchester Airport hotel in a few weeks time. Flight home is 1600 BST. Can I reach a SOTA peak using public transport and still make my flight home?

Yes. Billinge Hill by train and bus.

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Thank you Richard. I will investigate further.

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Bus service isn’t very reliable in North West England, well the 130 bus isn’t reliable which is the bus that I use to use regularly. However I haven’t used the 130 bus service now for 2 years, so could be more reliable these days.

Jimmy M0HGY