Thanks to the dedicated

During this year’s holiday in Northumberland, I managed a day activating SOTA summits across the border in GM. The plan was to activate three summits close to Peebles in order to expand my tally of summits in that area. An itinerary was drawn up setting out from the cottage we were staying at in the Coquet Valley at 07:30 local time, with the aim of getting back there no later than 22:00.

To fit in with family arrangements, the day set for this was Tuesday 14th August. When it came to it, I had to leave later than I had intended due to a health issue with a family member which required clearance from mission control before I could set off. That meant reducing the proposed number of summits to two, but even that didn’t go entirely as planned. I had posted alerts on the Monday, but to adjust them to fit in with the later departure time, I stopped en route to update them, posting White Meldon GM/SS-208 for 11:00z, Cademuir Hill GM/SS-219 for 14:30z and entirely cancelling Minch Moor GM/SS-133.

On the way north I was delayed by lorries and also congestion in a couple of towns, so was late arriving at the chosen parking spot for White Meldon (as described by Andy MM0FMF). I kitted up and easily forded the Meldon Burn in my Berghaus Kibos (footwear overkill), soon to find out that my fitness was as poor as I had anticipated. The weather was warm and humid, so it took me 45 minutes to reach the summit by 11:07z. Resisting the urge to set up just for VHF, I erected both the 5 element yagi for 2m and the multiband dipole for HF. This meant that I was approaching half an hour late when I called on 144.333MHz, but after a few calls up came Graham G4JZF closely followed by Colin G4UXH. Their spots provided a steady run of contacts with the usual dedicated band of 2m SSB chasers until a brief shower of static rain temporarily stopped play. This lasted just a few minutes, but it was sufficient to provide me with a wet backside as the rain cascaded off my back onto the plastic tarpaulin that I was sat on. I should have tucked it up inside my jacket to prevent this from happening. In all I made 9 contacts on the mode.

A couple of calls on 2m FM got me into an interesting chat with Jack GM4COX. Having told Jack that it was my intention to activate Cademuir Hill next, he suggested that I activate Minch Moor instead as the midges would be undoubtedly be about on Cademuir. I decided to take his advice and subsequently changed the alert for my second hill. My final session from White Meldon was on 40m CW where I worked another 10 stations within the UK and around Europe. Several calls on 7.118MHz SSB produced no result, so I decided to go QRT as I had to make some business phone calls before I left the summit.

The strong breeze on the summit made it very pleasant indeed and feeling refreshed I fair romped back to the car in half the time that it took me to ascend the hill. I had lunch before setting off for the Minch Moor parking spot in the car park for the Southern Upland Way at Traquair and was once more exercising my legs by 14:25z. I passed a family out on their mountain bikes just outside of the village – well, they were pushing them uphill. Thereafter, I saw no-one which was just as I had hoped. The temperature now had risen to 24C and it was even more humid than it had been, but the excellent track helped me get to the summit in an hour and 20 minutes, despite numerous stops for photographic opportunities.

Even with the strong breeze, it was warm enough for me to strip down to my tee shirt at the summit. I had alerted for 16:20z which was not the best time and was up on 144.333MHz by 16:10z, but G4UXH and G4JZF were already there waiting…… plus a few more - indeed 14 in all, including Carolyn G6WRW and Helen M0YHB on their holiday near Barrow in Furness. As had been the case on the first summit, Don G0RQL provided the best DX on 2m There were no replies on 2m FM when I called, but on 40m CW I made a further 14 QSOs before the frequency went quiet. I was unable to find a clear frequency in the SSB section of 40m, so I abandoned any idea of adding to the total on that mode.

After making a precautionary phone call to my daughter’s mailbox on her mobile (there being no service actually at the cottage, so I did this “just in case”……), I made a high speed descent to the car in just 39 minutes which enabled me to I get back to base by 20:00z, well within the appointed time schedule.

It was certainly good to be back on the GM/SS hills again and to be running 2m SSB. I had tried the band without success during the activations that I carried out in the Algarve region of Portugal at the beginning of the month. There had also been just a few contacts on the band during the expedition up in Orkney in April / May, so being called by the familiar voices of the exceptionally dedicated group of chasers that work 2m SSB was a real pleasure. I felt like I had come home!

Hopefully speak to you all again next Sunday when I am out on the hills with Paul G4MD……

73, Gerald G4OIG

P.S. Thanks to everyone that spotted me, both on VHF and HF.

In reply to G4OIG:

Hi Gerald, I am glad you had a successful trip & it is good to have you back on 2m SSB again.

I was at work so unable to chase you on your earlier summits & too late home to catch you on 2m from Minch Moor, but it was very nice to work you on 40m CW. I was in the back room in the process of putting up my 70cms yagi in preparation for that night’s UK Activity contest when I heard that you were intending a QSY to SSB. I spotted your usual frequency & listened there, but it was busy, as was virtually every frequency from 7.045 to 7.200. After a good 15 minutes of searching the band, & even the odd check on 5MHz I had to admit defeat & posted that I had not found you. As you had not found anywhere to transmit, that would explain it. Hi!

Thanks for the QSO & best 73,


In reply to G4OIG:

White Meldon is a wee gem. I think John GM8OTI said if you park further up the road there’s a route that only takes 20mins to climb. Still it’s a nice little hill. Good call on Cademuir. It wasn’t midges when I did it with Sarah but big black flies, millions of them. Spoilt the enjoyment of the woods. Best for Winter that one I think.

Minch Moor. Still one of my favourites though Deuchary Hill and Torlum give it some serious competition. I hope you left a donation for the “little people” at The Cheese Well.


In reply to G0VOF:

Hi Mark,

I think I would have tried edging in somewhere close to 7.118MHz had I had the 857 with me, but the 817 wasn’t going to be effective under the conditions. It was only after I had left the hill that I realised that I could have tried 60m. Thanks for looking for me anyway.

In reply to MM0FMF:

I totally agree with your comments on these two hills Andy. I chose the longer walk in to White Meldon as I had put on weight during my stay in CT/AL (blame it on that delicious Pork served Alentejo style) and I hadn’t been able to redress the situation during the week previous as I was tied to the office.

Unfortunately nothing was left for the wee people as I had no change on me and I didn’t think my Sassenach 10 pound note would be acceptable to them. :wink:

73 both, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:

Hi Gerald

I was very surprised to hear you on 2m ssb and pleased to be able to make the contact as well!

I had just looked on sotawatch, had seen your spot and but thought there wouldn’t be a possibility I would hear you but tuned the frequency anyway.

There you were, readable!

My location was on Walney Island at sea-level (we were there geocaching) and really shouldn’t have been able to hear you looking at the distance and the topography the signals had to cover.

We were just over 100 miles apart and the signals had to cross a good proportion of the Lake District. Judging by an elevation plot they not only had to go over Skiddaw at 2100’ but also a ridge near Pike of Blisco at 2050’

At my end of the contact I was using a Yaesu FT-857 and an ATAS-120A antenna. I also didn’t notice that I was only using 10W till after we had made contact. I had recently been using the rig for contesting in the AL sections and had not turned the power back up. I did the same thing while chasing Robert (GW0PEB) on HF but this time it was only 5W because I had been recently using one of my 4M transverters.

Thank you for what I think was my first GM VHF chase.


In reply to G6WRW:

… had seen your spot and but thought there wouldn’t be a possibility I would hear you but tuned the frequency anyway. There you were, readable!

Ah, the old saying - if you don’t try, you don’t get. :slight_smile: Yes indeed, I was equally surprised to hear you. I have changed back to the 817 + 25W MM linear combination since the activating moved up into Scotland rather than the 857 - less power required on receive and the benefit of the preamp. The downside is that I have only 5W on 70cms, but then there are not many people to work on that band up in GM. The lower power requirement on receive helps me get more summits in per battery pack, especially now that I am paralleling them for the activations.

Hopefully manage a GM to Kidderminster sometime!

73, Gerald G4OIG