Finally made my first SOTA (Summits On The Air) activation today, made the long slog into the Hill Of Stake , which is GM/SS 155, a 522m(1712ft) hill in north Ayrshire, my son Euan accompanied me and we both set off from the home QTH about 9am, arrived at the Muirshiel Ranger Centre near Lochwinnoch and set off at 9.40. The trek starts for 4km along the old mine track, a steady uphill gradient then after 3km it levels out , the old barytes mine was reached 50 mins later, we took and double checked our compass reading and set out to the SW, the ground leading into the hill is very wet and boggy, there is no path and we had to make a few diversions to avoid the worst of the marshy areas. The walk in to the hill is approx 2 1/2 km from the old mine and is a steady uphill walk until the foot of the hill which rises steeply. We arrived at 11.40 and took a breather, I set up the 2m beam on an adjacent fencepost.
I made my first call on S20 (145.5 FM ) and Steve, a GM7 station responded to my call, we exchanged signal reports, I next made contact with some relatively nearby stations, I then worked Eric, a GM0 from Girvan, this was my first long distance contact, then Iain, a MM3 station called in, Iain was activating a SOTA summit, Ben Lui, north west of Ardlui at the top of Loch Lomond, excellent signal as one expected. I worked more nearby stations then I next made the contact with a MI0 mobile station, who had stopped just outside Ballymena to respond to my call.
I next worked Gordon, a MM6 station from Troon, Gordon is a member of a ‘radio’ forum I frequent so it was nice to make the contact.
Next call in was Robert, a GM4/P station who was atop another SOTA summit, Tinto Hill in Lanarkshire, his incoming signal was end stopping. Next station to call in was Robbie, a 2I0 station from Newry, NI, Robbie gave me 5×5 and as he is on the border with EI, I pointed the beam that way but nothing from EI land appeared. I then made contact with a Falkirk station, GM0 who was using his radio club callsign. More local stations were contacted then I was told a G/P station had activated a SOTA summit in the Lake District, I qsy’ed to the frequency on the SOTA Spot page and waited then I called and made contact with David on Whitfell, signal report was 5×5 each way, David was on the SW edge of Lake District.
Spoke with other relatively local stations before I made contact with GM7/P, Robin , he was NW of Fort William on another SOTA summit, Chno Dearg, the fourth of four Summit to Summit calls, excellent signal reports both ways, 5×7 for him then spoke with another couple of relatively local stations, Andy, a MM0 station called me from Falkirk before I got ready to break down the station and head home.
We dismantled the beam, mast etc and headed back out towards the Ranger Centre, my XYL met us and off home we went , tired but happy the first activation was out the way, where next ? who knows.
Top left -The beam
Bottom left – Looking west to the isles of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae