SOTA Sub-Zero Sunny Super Sunday 🌞 ❄️

On Sunday morning, three Aberdeenshire activators will be making the best of the fine but very cold weather. (Temperatures are due to drop to -12°C tonight.)

@GM4JXP Simon on Lord Arthur’s Hill GM/ES-062
@MM7MWL Mike on Coiliochbar Hill GM/ES-060
@MM0EFI Fraser on Craiglich GM/ES-068

Activation alerts vary but we all aim to be on 2m FM at 1100z, looking for summit to summits.

Now, if only we could find a willing volunteer to activate Pressendye…


It should be a balmy -2C or so by 1100am :wink:


Mike and I will be ok, but I do worry for Simon with his multi-band, multi-antenna DXpedition and 100+ QSO style. :smile:


Drama and Craiglich

I’ll go first then…

Mo and I travelled to Craiglich in separate vehicles, which is just as well, as the 110 ground to a halt a couple of miles from the house. I abandoned the 110 and jumped in the VW with Mo. 10 minutes later we were parked at the top of The Slack. After the hike, I was going to work and Mo was going home. Well that was the plan anyway…

We set off up the short walk under milky skies but with great visibility. The weather to the west looked brighter. We had high hopes it would come our way.

Lochnagar peeking out through the trees

days of sub-zero temperatures caused some lovely frost formations on the flora

Mo heading up the forest track

Some 40 minutes later we arrived at the top. We were taking it easy - this was Mo’s first SOTA summit since her spinal surgery in June. It’s a slow and frustrating road back to health for her, but she’s come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of weeks. I toddled along behind her, assembling my beam as I walked. The handheld burst into life. Two Aberdeen hams were talking about us and whether we’d make our summits in the cold conditions.

I placed my phone on the handy trig once I’d spotted, got the Aberdeen chaps in the log, then worked @MM7MWL Mike who was over the road (literally) on Coiliochbar Hill. Slightly later on, @GM4JXP Simon who was basically over the road from Mike on Lord Arthur’s Hill. Great! Qualified on 2m. I added GM0APN for a round five.

CQ SOTA. Yaesu VX7r and 100g yagi

The KX2 was in the pocket of my Buffalo shirt along with my Ro-Waves whip. I had planned on giving 17m a go, but with the vehicle breakdown I didn’t really have time, so quickly packed up and headed back down.

The sky had been changing the whole time we were on the summit. A thin strip of cloud drooped below Morven and then filled the valley. A snow shower passed over Lord Arthur’s Hill to the north. Blue skies broke through above us and the sun burst through.

looking west

walking off the summit. Frozen heather

Just as I approached the car, the Quansheng, which was attached to my pack, appeared to pick up a signal. I replied. No answer. I took out the VX7r, screwed on the diamond rh770 and managed a 5,5 each way with @MM7RVC Chris, who was over on Millstone Hill. That’s rather a lot of 2m activity for round these parts. :grinning:

Back home, pick up the V8, take diesel out to the 110. No joy. Tow it home, fill a new fuel filter with diesel and start it. It runs until the diesel drains out. I suspect the lift pump has had it.

Recovery being recovered

Anyway, cracking morning with friends on local hills. Great to get another one done on 2m. Mo was the star though. She managed no bother at all. Where next, I wonder?



A mere -6C when I left the house heading for one of my favourite local hills, Coiliochbhar Hill (GM/ES-060), accompanied as usual by Ann and SOTA dog, Sula.

It was a relief to see it warm up to -5C when we started walking, but the blue skies and sunshine promised by the BBC forecast did not materialise. It was again totally windless, though, and I doubt this wind turbine has turned for some days……

The middle third of the ascent has been subject to heavy forestry work so the snow-covered path is now harder to follow, but we made good progress. We were soon at the false cairn with the small copse ahead guarding the true summit behind it….

However, negotiating that copse is now a real challenge following further tree falls after recent storms hit the area….

We made it without Sherpas, though, and were at the summit just 70mins after leaving the car. It’s a pleasant and not too steep ascent to this 533-metre two-pointer.

I optimistically set up the KX2 and a short end-fed for HF but started with the scheduled contacts on 2m, with my wee Yaesu FT-4xe and a Diamond whip, to Fraser on Craiglich and Simon on Lord Arthur’s Hill, visible across the valley just behind my SOTAbeams carbon 6 pole……

Those alerted contacts came quickly, unsurprisingly, and after a couple more QSOs to further north in Aberdeenshire, I settled down in the snow to try some S2S contacts on HF. Unfortunately, the usual Sunday pile-ups were in full flow and I made no progress at all. By now the cold was seeping into my bones and light snow showers were drifting through, so it was time to pack up.

Just before I did, though, an alert showed that Chris @MM7RVC/P, a newcomer to SOTA, was on Millstone Hill (GM/ES-077) on 2m so a quick call on the handheld brought me my fifth contact and third S2S on FM of the day.

By now the snow showers were becoming annoyingly persistent so it was time to descend. However, the wonderful walk through the trees was positively Dickensian and reminiscent of many a festive Christmas card ….

Many thanks to Fraser (well done to Mo, too :heart:) and to Simon for setting up the contacts and making it another enjoyable outing and my first winter bonus points of the season.

Now, as I write this, I’m home and enjoying a much-needed warming dram in front of a roaring fire.

Mike :tumbler_glass: :grinning:


Agreed. Nothing better. Thanks so much. :+1::snowman:


Lord Arthur’s Hill is a 35m drive from my home QTH in Aboyne and it took me about an hour to walk up. There is a good track all the way although most of it had a couple of inches of snow, deepening to 6" near the top.

Unfortunately the forecast sun did not appear and it was actually snowing while I set up near the trig point.

After a minor delay getting my 2m beam feed point screws to fit ( I think the cold had something to do with it) I was finally QRV at 1123 and worked first Mike, MM7MWL/P and then Fraser MM0EFI/P for 2 local S2S, swiftly followed by GM1LKD, GM0APN and GM0NRT to qualify the hill on 2m. A spot and QSY to 145.5 brought a quick QSO with Chris MM7RVC who was within 20mins of reaching the top of Millstone Hill.
I QSYd to 20m as another snow shower descended - no wind but annoying and there were plenty of others on the horizon. Chased 3 S2S on 20m with also a QSY chase from OH3GZ,and then a spot brought a good run of 35 chasers, with EA2DT first in the log.
With the snow continuing and no sign of any sun arriving, I had a quick S2S with MM7RVC on Millstone Hill and then cut things short and packed up. I had intended to stay longer, but the weather just wasn’t pleasant enough.

I only saw 3 other people - a couple walking and a fell-runner who ran past me going up as I was descending and then passed me again about 10mins later going down - oh to be young again!

I stopped briefly on the way down to take in the absolute silence - not a breath of wind, no birds or farm noises, not a sound in a black and white landscape. Awesome.

Views from the top


Good report Simon and well done on persevering as long as you did. :+1: Really appreciated the QSO on such a cold but enjoyable day. 73 Mike

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You nailed it! There hasn’t been a breath of wind for a week now. I noticed that on Beinn a’Bhuird last Sunday. It is an incredibly eerie feeling, standing on a summit, turning round through 360° and hearing absolutely nothing. It is like one of your five senses has gone AWOL.

We climbed hills that were close to one another and in sight of one another, yet all experienced different weather. It was nice when the sun came out on Craiglich, but I like nothing better than getting home and looking at photos which look like they were taken with a B&W camera.


Your photo tweaked in Adobe Lightroom. A great photo - the original of course not my clumsy efforts. :slight_smile:


John, The B&W filter on my phone yields similar results, I think.

I was going to take the dSLR today but the watery skies put me off the idea.


Modern phones are very clever although the advantage of using a program is you can remove things such as the bright white spot in the lower centre but I’m sure they will be able to do that soon.


Hi Fraser - thanks for the report and this is a bit like the joke about what is worse than finding a slug in your salad… finding half a slug…

Had a problem a few years ago with the 110 with a loss of power and suspected the lift pump. After some faffing around purchased a new pump and proceeded to change it which involved climbing around a small garage with various LED lights and a head torch to change the pump. Removed the old one to discover that half of it was missing having fractured and was now somewhere in the sump…I’m afraid that then became a job for someone else… who found the other half of the pump in the sump… Good Luck and I hope that it is an easy fix.

Great to hear all the reports, suffering here from a persistent chest problem which I think is the result of Covid last month so not getting out as much as I hoped… fingers crossed things will change and I’ll be ready an S2S soon.

73… Paul


I wondered where you were going with the “half a slug” analogy. That’s bad!

New pump ordered. Let’s see wat I find…


What surprises me is not that the pump failed but that if you research it then it appears to have be been a problem since for ever! i.e. LR know the pumps are rubbish but kept fitting them anyway. On top of that there seem to be plenty of 3rd party pump suppliers who also make rubbish replacement pumps. One owner had the comment he keeps a spare pump and fuel filter under the passenger seat. A pragmatic solution to a problem that seems to be almost guaranteed.

And before you think this is another story and dig about LR’s legendary unreliability, my own car has an electric water pump. (It’s electric rather than driven off the crankshaft serpentine belt for good reasons). These water pumps are well known to become unreliable after 80000miles when the plastic impellers fail. Next to that there’s the thermostat and its plastic mounting flange which fails and needs to be changed at the same time. So typically £400 worth of parts and 2hrs labour to fix. They’ve been like this for 20+ years and nothing has been done to design away the problem. Crazy.

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It is a well known problem with TD5 Land Rover engines. Mine is a 300tdi, which drives the pump mechanically using a special lobe on the camshaft. It’s done 140,000 miles. I’m not sure how many pumps it has had in that time.

£39 inc. delivery for a new OEM one, so not too bad.

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Yes I saw that looking at the pump pictures. The last vehicle I had with that kind of eccentric lobe driven pump was my last 1.8CVH petrol engined Sierra Estate. CVH means canted valve hemisperical but was known by CVH owners as Continuously Very Harsh which described the engine perfectly. :slight_smile:

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Why would anyone want to fix those things? It has been a nice steady stream of easy money coming their way for all those years. It would’ve been crazy to do that!

They are a bussiness after all.


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What a wx contrast, I was up on GM/ES-068 Craiglich only 12 days before!


That is a great contrast! Hope you got a view when you were up there. It is known locally as The Queen’s View on steroids. (There’s a viewpoint on the main road known as The Queen’s View, after Queen Victoria, who stopped there.)