Wales invades Scotland 2011

Plans are well underway for the August 2011 SOTA assault on Scotland by the GW7AAV/GW7AAU team. This year we will have Adam 2W0DPI and Caroline 2W0YLO on the team with support from Emily, Stuart and Granddaughter Faith.

This year we a not venturing up north as far as previously, so no uniques in store, for us to grab, but plenty of fairly rare summits all the same. Hopefully conditions will be good and by covering a large number of bands we will give the maximum number of chasers the opportunity to get a new one in the log.

Week one sees us in the Dufries area and week two in Crail near St. Andrews.

Any suggestions as to which summits within a reasonable distance could be considered family friendly would be gratefully received as would suggestions of good places to visit in between SOTA activations, along with good pubs and restaurants.

Steve GW7AAV

Any hook ups for joint activations while we are a away will be welcomed but be warned we tend to travel slower than most activators.

In reply to GW7AAV:

Well there are some belting one point hills up near St. Andrews. Particularly enjoyable were Norman’s Law and Moncreife Hill when I did them with Brian G4ZRP. Lots of others that you can do either as a mad dash assault on several in the one day or just on their own.

Largo Law is the nearest. Access is not from where you’d think. Possibly may be the most effort you’ll put in for 1pt from such a small summit :slight_smile:

Andy, MM0FMF
GM Association Manager

In reply to MM0FMF:
…Largo Law is the nearest. Access is not from where you’d think. Possibly may be the most effort you’ll put in for 1pt from such a small summit :slight_smile:

But the views from the top are wonderful if the weather is good, making the effort well worthwhile.

In reply to G0CQK:

But the views from the top are wonderful

'twas hazy when I did it. The views do have potential Jim. Of course the wee sting in the tail is the double hump summit. You get to the top of that track and then see you’ve got to go down to go up again. Brian and myself did a fair few contacts for a mid-week afternoon activation on a small summit.

What surprises me continually is how infrequently all those hills get activated when they are so much fun.


In reply to GW7AAV:

Week one sees us in the Dufries area and week two in Crail near St.

Any suggestions as to which summits within a reasonable distance could
be considered family friendly would be gratefully received

We’ve done quite a few hills in the Dumfries area, and have put info for some
of them into the summit information. If you want any info about any we’ve done
where there’s nothing in the summit information drop me an email.

For family friendly hills with a bit of additional interest I’d recommend
GM/SS-224 Bennan and GM/SS-228 Bishop Forest Hill and their adjacent sculpture
park. A little further afield is GM/SS-116 Colt Hill, also with sculpture.

GM/SS-130 Criffel is an obvious one close to Dumfries. There are also good
coastal walks round there. My first introduction to SOTA was sitting on a
beach near Balcary, listening to Martyn’s scanner (just before he was licenced)
and picking up someone calling CQ SOTA from Grisedale Pike.

Caroline M3ZCB

In reply to GW7AAV:

I’ll second Criffel, it’s good for the views.

A while since I’ve been out Fife way but East and West Lomond are popular (if a bit further from Crail) and have the paths to prove it.
Elie chain walk is good fun but you’d want to check the tide times first.
I also have a vague memory of some good fish and chips in one of the wee fishing villages, might have been Pittenweem.
Oh and there’s Scotlands secret bunker somewhere around there but don’t tell anyone - it’s secret :slight_smile:

Iain, MM3WJZ

In reply to MM3WJZ:

Thank for the tips so far!

Chain walk sounds a bit scary. Kids and the granddaughter may be okay but not so sure about me.

Good fish and chips are so subjective. If you have grown up on chips cooked in oil then those cooked in lard are vomit inducing. Even a different oil from what you are used to is enough to ruin what looks like a nice meal. I tried fish and chips from the so called best in the highlands. Apparently superstars from all over the world flock to the restaurant. It was so booked up we could not get a table all week (don’t they know who I am?) so we got the take out and it was probably the second worst fish and chips I ever tasted.

The secret bunker is on my list if we can find it ;0) it is secret you know. I’ve been down a few in my time, some of them were still secret at the time, in fact some still are, but if I tell you where they are I will have to kill you. Armed guard to the chief of North Wales Police “I don’t care if you are the Prime Minister, if you haven’t got a pass you don’t come in.” To me “Good morning sir. You may go through.” I had to stuff my hand down my throat to stop laughing at the pompous policeman’s face. Good times.

Okay any more suggestions anyone.

73 Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

The secret bunker was quite interesting when I visited it with Brian about 6 years back. Some of the exhibits are obviously staged out of old junk as the real contents are probably still a bit sensitive. The thing that should get you is the scale of the size of the accommodation blocks and the concept people would have been prepared to go and live/work in them when topside everything they knew had been blackened to a crisp and was now glowing in the dark!


In reply to MM3WJZ:

In reply to GW7AAV:

I’ll second Criffel, it’s good for the views.
Agreed, though having been up it twice (once pre-SOTA), it seems to need more
effort than it’s height would suggest. Having done both the New Abbey and
Ardwall routes, I think the latter is best.

I also have a vague memory of some good fish and chips in one of the
wee fishing villages, might have been Pittenweem.
Mmm, fish and chips - not where Steve is going, but we can definitely
recommend the fish & chip van in Killin.

There’s two hills near Dumfries that I’d not recommend. White Top of Culreoch
looks to be a short distance from a track, but the terrain is horrible.
Cairnsmore of Dee SS-170 we did pre-SOTA expecting a pleasant afternoon stroll,
but after leaving the transmitter track the terrain was again horrible. We
haven’t been back to do it for SOTA! There are pleasant lower level walks
near Bruce’s Stone and the lake.

Further from Dumfries, and higher then Criffel, but also having good coastal
views is Cairnsmore of Fleet (& it has a path all the way up).

Caroline M3ZCB.

The team drove through brilliant sunshine to our first base station in Beeswing just outside Dumfries. I set up the dipole at our temporary QTH just before the driving rain started. Firstly no Internet via the 3G network, but fortunately a neighbour has BT broadband and Adam 2W0DPI has a password for BT open zone. Unfortunately there is a high SWR on the dipole (all bands) and due WX I can’t get at the antenna to check it out. Good side to this is I might have taken this antenna on to a summit and found out. Coax checks out so must be a break in the dipole its self.

Had a nice SOTA contact while mobile on the A75 on the way here with John GM8OTI/P. The four of us could have qualified the summit for John but two stations got in first and at least one followed our contacts and he had been on SSB earlier. I think it came as a surprise to John to get so many on FM up here. I just hope we came get an equally good response on our activations. If it ever stops raining that is.

Hope to get you all later in the next two weeks.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

If it ever stops raining that is.

Are you sure you are not confusing rain for the normal high humidity found up here during the summer?



In reply to MM0FMF:

The problem is the high humidity is horizontal and if the wind keeps up my mast will be too.

It is just a little unbelievable after driving up in brilliant sunshine.

:0( Steve

In reply to GW7AAV:

weather forecast program for scotland

months=“january”, “february”, “march”, “april”, “may”, “june”,
“july”, “august”, “september”, “october”, “november”, “december” ]

for month in months:
print "The WX forecast for ", month, “is windy and wet”


In reply to MM0FMF:

Must have been lucky on previous visits them :0)

Did have one holiday about four years ago where it rained for the whole two weeks.

WX has allowed me to find a high resistance in one leg of the dipole. Just need to find the break or buy some more wire. :0(

Update: 14:45 GMT Antenna fixed and a couple of SOTA stations worked. Hope to be on our first GM/SS summit tomorrow (Mon 21/8) will alert when we decide which one.

In reply to GW7AAV:

Thanks Steve (and Caroline and Helen and Adam) for the contacts yesterday. As you suggest, you’re an “instant qualification” team for any activator! Glad to be able to chat yesterday, you were probably not far off line of sight most of the time. The four of you made up more than 50% of my FM contacts!

Mind you, I’d had a good set of contacts on SSB earlier, including a long S2S chat with Jack GM4COX. I was also pleased to give Tony GW1JPV his first GW to GM S2S! More power to your elbow, Tony, I’m sure you’ll have very many more.

No luck yesterday on 70cm though - Don G0RQL thought he could hear me, but I was only using the bare FT-817’s 4W and an 8-ele beam, so not too surprising I didn’t hear Don. Must get a little 70cm linear made - I have one that can put out 200W (on the right power supply!) but it’s a bit heavy for SOTA …


First summit completed yesterday: GM/SS-269 Woodhead.

“I thinks that is the one” says Helen pointing out of the window of our cottage. “We could be up that one and back for lunch.”

It seemed quite simple on the write up we had and did not look much on the map, so off we went.

We parked in a lay-by on the A711 and walked back to a forestry road and passed the entrance to a farm. A little further on there was a cottage where the write up we had made no mention of a fork to the right but did mention an “obvious” mountain bike path of which we could see no sign so we kept on walking for about a mile before we met a group of men rebuilding a drystone wall. Chatting to them they said there was no way up on that side of the hill and we should have turned down the forestry road. We turned heel and walked back down and at the junction there was a sign for mountain bikes that we missed because the reverse was blank. The sign we should have seen was on the other side of the road and had been knocked down and was lying in the undergrowth.

A couple of miles up the second forestry road there was a rough trail going up the hill in to the woods, but Helen carried on up the forestry road for another mile as from there it looked a flat walk to the summit. Unfortunately there was no access as it was too overgrown and boggy.

Back to the rough trail and up through the woods following the mountain bike tracks and occasional markers. After sometime we appeared to be on the highest part of the hill, but there was no where to put up any sort of antenna. We sent out my son Stuart as a scout and he reported that he had found a relatively flat spot. A little further on from this the track opened out and we could see the sky. There was a long straight section of track and I reckoned I could get the dipole in the gap between the trees either side. Helen at last had a GPS signal and we where bang on the highest point where we set up. I tied one end to a fallen tree and the other to a post which once held up a deer fence. With a little luck and cunning I threaded the SOTApole through the branches. There seemed no point in trying VHF as the antenna would have been well below the thick lines of trees.

I started on 5MHz we the intention of doing other bands later but after a great run on 60 metres including a summit to summit with G4MD/P on G/SB-004 everyone was complaining of feeling cold and I reluctantly packed up and we headed down.

We had all missed lunch so we headed the car for Morrisons in Dumfries and hot meal from the cafe washed down with large and sugary cold drinks. It is a good job the cottage has lots of bathrooms as seven tired walkers all wanted to go straight in the shower and never did a shower seem so welcoming.

Checking the GPS we walked about seven miles, but at least we have the corrected GPS route so the anyone else doing the summit just does the two and a half miles each way, give or take the weaving through the forest. One of the problems we had was that the well established forest roads where not shown on our map.

A bit of a rest today and we will try to do another tomorrow, but the WX is dark and grey here at the moment.

Thanks to all the chasers who worked us.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

In reply to GW7AAV:

Is the forest not at all like the 1:25000 map then?

It all looks easy from that. Park just off the road by the farm track, up to the farm, turn left to the forest, turn right to the cottage, then left and up the firebreak, across the track and up more, then right into the next firebreak and there’s the summit just along a bit.

2.1km, 190m ascent, 45mins to summit. Maybe allow 15mins in case ground is a bit iffy.

Use the link from the summit page to show you the OS map for free. Or use (involves selling soul to Microsoft!). Use Google Streetview to show likely parking spots.

Simples. No? :wink:

Yes, I know it’s not always just as simple as you expect after I found out on Law Kneiss one very hot day. Where there any flies? Whenever I activate from within trees (Cademuir Hill, Law Kneiss, Belling Hill) the black flies swarm to me and drive me potty.


Hi Andy, No sign of the forest path on our map or the track we took up to the summit. All the fire breaks are grown over and impassable. Track to the summits made by mountain bikers (and deer) zig-zags up with impassable forest either side sometimes walking several hundred yards to make ten feet of assent. Probably easier without a pack on or SOTApoles sticking out of the top. Took us three hours to get to the top. 2.5 miles plus 2 miles of getting lost the 2.5 miles back down, total 7 miles walked.

No black flies and no midges, well clouds of midges but they were not hungry and left us alone. Some wonderful huge dragon flies around a small pond we discovered while getting lost, but I forgot the camera.

There was a SOTA sticker on a blue car at the Galloway Wildlife Park today. Spotted it on the way out, so missed the chance of meeting a fellow SOTA operator. Anyone want to own up?

Steve GW7AAV as GM7AAV/P from Dumfries

Wall to wall rain today. Was to have been Criffel SS-130. Maybe tomorrow!