The Cloud at Christmas

New Year’s Day 2009. A new year for SOTA scoring, and a very rare point up for grabs for activating The Cloud. Marianne had worked the New Year’s Eve night-shift, with me in with the lads watching Jools Holland. We were up again ay 6.30am, warming the soup and, unusually, having breakfast at home. And I mean “unusually”. Liam had digestive biscuits spread with Nutella, while Jimmy and I had smoked salmon soft cheese parcels and prawns. What can I say? There was no milk in, and Lymm Truck Stop isn’t en route to The Cloud.

As designed, we were out of the house and on the road a good 15 minutes before Marianne was due back, thus giving her a quiet and empty house to return to and sleep off her shift. We met our friend Roger M0GMG on Cloudside a little earlier than arranged, at 8.10am, and were surprised to find that we were fourth car to take a spot there already today.

After the customary New Year handshakes, the four of us were ascending up the staircase and walking up towards the summit. It was very cold, and a stiff breeze was contributing a significant windchill to the already subzero conditions.

We decided to use the big grassy hole further towards Cloud End to sit in while activating, and set the antennas accordingly, on the lips of the hole. I made six contacts on 80m CW, which Jimmy M3EYP followed with nine on 80m SSB. This was interrupted sharply by two dogs running strongly through the hole and taking any wires with them. I managed to react quickly, pick up the 817 and run with them, thus avoiding damage to the rig, connectors or cables. However, I was powerless to prevent their forceful tugs on the feeder, which brought the 80m aerial crashing down - after first snapping the pole clean in two.

I threaded the damaged section of the pole back through the lower half it had been severed from, and this made for a makeshift solution for the rest of the day. It might last a few more activations yet, but it’s life-expectancy has been reduced.

Geoff G4CPA asked for some 2m CW, and as Roger M0GMG was winding down his own activity, he kindly let me plug the 817 into his SOTA Beam. I heard Geoff on 2m CW and called him several times, but he clearly couldn’t hear me. I did work Richard G3CWI and Phil G4OBK on 2m CW though.

I gave Jimmy the car keys, and he and Liam commenced their descent while I dismantled and packed away the 80m dipoled. After doing so, my extended stay on summit was rewarded by a S2S with Clive M1YAM/P on Great Knoutberry Hill G/NP-015. S2S NP-015 to SP-015 on 1/1/09 - nice!

Back at the car we said goodbye to Roger, and set off over to Gun G/SP-013.


Friday 2nd January 2008, and my earliest “pointless” activation of any year to date! An interesting, and rather promising activation it was, although its own results were nothing special.

I ascended from Cloudside at 0650z, and my sore left foot from yesterday was slightly easier to walk on, although still sore. I returned to yesterday’s activation position - the hole - as there was a stiff breeze on the summit, and a significant windchill.

The 40m antenna seemed to go up without a hitch, despite the semi-repaired broken pole. I settled into my bothy bag down in the hole, poured myself a coffee and connected the FT-817 with the Mini Palm Paddle, the SLAB and the aerial feeder.

Initial calls brought a handful of station from I, OK and HA, but the band was pretty quiet. Loud signals were heard from W5TZC and W1KOK, but I was beaten by other stronger stations when I tried to respond to their CQ calls. Two DL stations were worked back on 7.032MHz CW, then a further scan down the band found strong CQ calls from JA7COK. No-one else went back to him, but he didn’t hear me.

I managed to complete a difficult contact with F6HIA, but failed to complete with DL8DXL. A glance outside of the bothy bag revealed that the pole has collapsed and that the aerial was lying on the floor! I didn’t know for how long this had been the case, but it explained the difficulty with DL8DXL and F6HIA hearing me. The Ws and JAs continued to be received strongly even with the dipole legs lying along the ground.

I made a note to repeat a 40m CW activation tomorrow morning, and hunt some DX. After returning home, I took in my broken pole and retrieved a previously broken pole from the cupboard. To my joy, I found that it was different sections in each pole that were broken, so I was able to make a fully good pole from components of them both.

Now looking forward to tomorrow. I’ll be going early again!

73, and thanks for the calls,


In reply to M1EYP:

There were points in profusion for me today on the Cloud (well one anyway). Amazingly, given the sunny afternoon, there were just two cars in the parking spot. A cold breeze made us not want to hang about and 4 contacts on 2m FM with a handy were enough.

We then nipped over to Gun where I ascended alone. It was slightly less breezy and, with the help of a DSP spot, 9 contacts were soon logged (2m FM again). Still bright and sunny.

Then it was a trip to Sainsbury’s :frowning:



Determined to keep my consecutive daily run going, at least until the end of the work Xmas holidays, I was up early on Saturday 3rd January 2009. I also had a desire to seek some of the DX I had heard on 40m the previous day. After a torchlit ascent in the darkness, and a torchlit assembly of the 40m dipole, I was snuggled in my bothy bag, in “the hole” with my FT-817 and flask of coffee by 0720z.

First up was Mike GW0DSP who headed up a run of just four regular chasers. With things going quiet, it was time for my first foray down to band to look for DX. I couldn’t hear any JAs or Ws yet, but I did answer a CQ call from YL3FT.

Back on 7.032MHz CW, I got a proper SOTA chaser pile-up, and worked another 20 callers. Further checks down the band found some weak JAs and Ks, but nothing realistically workable on QRP. I did try, but to no avail.

The rest of the day was centered around the Macc - Everton FA Cup tie, and several pints in the comapny of G3CWI and M3EYP as we walked to and from the ground.


Sunday 4th January 2009 was the date of the eagerly anticipated NP Fun Day, organised by Chris 2E0FSR. The QRV time of 1300z posted for Wild Boar Fell G/NP-007 was aimed at the many S2S contacts that would be available at that time. However, I realised that even with a luxury breakfast stop at The Dalesman in Sedburgh, we would still be well early on summit.

I decided to slot in a quick activation of The Cloud G/SP-015 to begin the day. As we parked on Cloudside, Jimmy announced his decision to wait in the car and work me as a chaser, rather than ascend to the summit with me at 0715z.

I enjoyed the torchlit ascent in the crisp subzero darkness of early morning. I called CQ on 2m FM with the VX-7R, and was immediately answered by a certain M3EYP/M - what a surprise. Jimmy and I exchanged, following which I returned to S20 to call again - and again.

Well, there was no point hanging around. The summit had been activated, albeit with only one contact, and we had a long drive up into the Northern Pennines ahead of us. I returned to the car, and Jimmy, who having just earned his 984th SOTA chaser point, was eagerly anticipating becoming a Shack Sloth in the day ahead.

We drove out from Congleton to Sandbach, and stopped for diesel and bacon & sausage butties there. And then it was off to Wild Boar Fell G/NP-007 and the NP Fun Day event.


In reply to M1EYP:
Being a Southern Softy that doesn’t like rain, I have been meaning to ask about the use of the Bothy Bag further up the thread. Is it one of the “2 man” variety or does it need to be larger for SOTA purposes?

I must admit I saw Richard’s noisy video on YouTube and thought it might be a non-starter but you seem to be making it work Tom. What’s the secret?

73 Marc

I haven’t tried it in rain yet, and I’m not going to do so deliberately. It’s best to use it in a position that is sheltered from wind, as you would choose on a summit anyway. I don’t sit on the black bit that one is supposed to; I let that bit ride up slightly behind my back so that there is extra legroom on the other side in front of me.

Using a flask of coffee adds condensation to the inside of the bag, so I’ll alternately use it inside out etc, and periodically give it a good airing in the car.

It is indeed a 2-man bothy bag, and after many attempts I can now just about use it in “relative” comfort on my own. With Jimmy in as well, it is utter purgatory.

There will be several photos of the inside of my bothy bag while operating on The Cloud page when I next update my website.


Well would you believe it? I have hardly been up ol’ Bosley Cloud since August, and suddenly we’re heading, very quickly towards Christmas. After the excesses of the staff football team Xmas do the previous evening, a fix of exercise and fresh winter air was in order on Tuesday 21st December 2010. After taxiing Jimmy and his mates Craig and Edward, the latter of whom has just passed his Foundation and will be joining us for SOTA outings shortly, to the bowling alley, I diverted south.

The road up to Cloudside was very icy but passable. The steps and path up to the summit were largely free of snow and ice, although the top had a compacted and frozen white surface. I set up for 40m and sat by the topograph, using it to shelter from the breeze. The still air temperature was subzero, albeit not by much, but windchill would still be unwelcome.

The ground was frozen solid and would not take a peg. I had to test and prod around until I hit a thicker bit of ice that would take the peg! Setting up did not take too long though, and I was soon QRV on 7.032MHz CW.

25 stations were worked in a 27 minute operating session. I had started packing up when the mobile rang. It was Jimmy stating that they were ready to be picked up from the ten-pin bowling centre, so the timing worked well.

A nice outing. Quite a few people wandered across the summit while I was there, but nobody wanted to stop and chat, enquire as to what I was up to or such. I’m never quite sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing not to be asked!

Thanks for all the calls.

73, Tom M1EYP

My task list for Thursday 23rd December 2010 was basically to drop Liam off in Congleton at 10am, and retrieve him at 3pm. Plus deliver my Nanna’s Christmas present and pick up a prescription, but I figured I could do those easily on the way home.

So, a nice little window of opportunity to do a local activation. The back roads up to Cloudside were treacherously icy, so care was taken. I usually ascend The Cloud in trainers, but I changed into my big boots this time. It was very cold, so I donned a second fleece under my coat, and wore my padded gloves for the ascent.

The summit was lovely. Cold crisp air under clear blue sky. The hill was clothed in white and the views were excellent. The very gradual faded change from white to green as my eyes scanned westwards from the Peak District was wuite something. All of Macclesfield and East Cheshire was white, but the landscape was much more green beyond Sandbach and Holmes Chapel.

It was very cold though! I set up the MM20 vertical and huddled behind the topograph to begin some CW. I was initially found on 14.022MHz CW by SOTA chasers, and I was spotted. However, not much later, a US station came up underneath me on QRG, attracting much more attention.

Some American tourists walked over the summit and commenced a long interview about my activity. It was actually quite pleasant to see such interest in what I was doing, and I enjoyed the chat. They insisted I have one of their mince pies, curiously the second Christmas in succession where I have been donated one during an activation of G/SP-015! After they moved off, I got inside the bothy bag, which did a great job of resisting the biting cold, and thus extending my activation time.

I QSY’d to 14.012MHz, then 14.021MHz and 14.023MHz, but I was never found again by SOTA regulars. I did hear HB9BIN and DJ5AV calling in, but when I called them back I must have faded so they couldn’t hear me, perhaps as a result of the early QRM on the initial frequency. Unfortunately, I had left my phone at home, so didn’t have facility to self-spot. I made 34 contacts on 20m CW, including two from across the pond. DXCCs were OE, UR, HA, EA, RA, YU, S5, E7, SM, SP, I, OK, YL, W, LZ and EW.

I still had time to spare, but it was just too cold. I packed away and put a call out on the 2m FM handheld. Three stations were worked - including G and GW which took the activation DXCC count to 18 - and Steve kindly spotted me. However, the weather beat me, and instead of waiting a sensible amount of time for the spot to take hold, I scarpered! When the frequency went quiet, the cold was really hurting my hands, so I donned the gloves and descended.

I could have done another 45 minutes on summit with the logistics, but a warm car was the only place I now wanted to be. Halfway down the hill I could feel my fingers again, and the car soon warmed up when I got to it.

I used the spare time to obtain a spot of lunch and a pint in Congleton, before collecting Liam at 3pm as required. Many thanks to all callers.