Tag Archives: Pillar

That Was The Year That Was ’11…Pt 1

2011..a rewind pt 1

Another busy year…..

The first 10pt summit Ben Lawers, my first English activation Skiddaw and a visit to the Isle of Mull to activate the islands only ‘Munro’ Ben More are among my highlights of this years in pursuit of both activating’ and ‘chasing. Each summit reached and every contact made valued, 1pt or 10pt and the chance to talk to those who regularly are out on the hills or in their shack makes it all worthwhile. I have tended to make trying to chase more from the local hills, I have ‘chased’ locally from Corlic (now a HuMP), Hillside Hill, Cruech Hill, the trig point at Lurg Moor and the golf course trig  at my back door.  Handy places for chasing those out on the summit. Being oot’n’aboot adds a little more fun to it. A new name for this is ‘Extreme Chasing’….groan.

View to the Gareloch

View to the Gareloch

There has been an increase of VHF activity mainly on 2m in this past year and this is in thanks to new activators and the regulars. I occasionally head out myself to activate averaging one per month over the year.

It has been great fun in all aspects…..and a cracking year ( yet to finish !)

We’ll start with my Jan – June Activations..

No rest for the holidays as SOTA devotees decided that a VHF Fun Day was being held on the 2nd day of the New Year. Roddy 2MØIOB had suggested a joint activation so it was a hill within easy reach and a good lift off esp to the South.

Beinn a’Mhanaich was the choice, my third visit to this hill. The day promised dry and snow free so that was a good start at this time of year and we duly activated with 4m FM contacts to Wales, Northern Ireland, England and of course, Scotland. An excellent day and 6 summit to summit contacts, apart from the STS’s the memorable part of the day was how quickly the ground froze under our feet, a cobweb clearer.

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

Beinn a'Mhanaich from Eich summit

I did a second activation in January on my first ever SOTA hill, the Hill of Stake, a hill no one else seems to like but I’ll be returning again in 2012, best to do this in frosty conditions. Only contacts were localish..

My next activation was a trip with Roddy IOB to a claggy Ben Venue, on a March day where the views were just not seen. The visit  topped by top quality guiding by Roddy which led to us both sinking to our erses in snow on the descent.. A good day out. I worked mostly 4m and 70cm where the latter band surprised me with more contacts than before achieved on 70cm on SOTA duty. The day finally started to clear as we finished the day.

A UHF Fun Day  proposed for late March so another hill with good take off south chosen, Ben Donich..I will recommend this to anyone who has never graced this hill. Please visit on a clear day as these views are exceptional. Mere words or photos cannot not describe these views, read my blog post HERE and click on the images. It was good to say both the Fun Days being well supported by so many fellow Scottish stations… Whilst we were descending Jack COX called out and a first in the fact that we could see Jack  across the glen on the Cobbler summit, it was not a STS but the chaser points were still most welcome.

The following weekend had a first for me, an activation on the East coast. The hill in question was Kings Seat, one of the highest tops in the Sidlaws overlooking to the east, Dundee. It was a relatively easy climb going via an unconventional route from the west. The wind was blowing strong and it was a chore keeping the 2m beam pointing the way intended. Nonetheless I worked Iain WJZ who was on Corserine in the Galloway Hills approx 110 miles away, mention also must be made as I worked Steve UAU back in Greenock on 4m plus Jim FVM in Berwick area on the same band. A hill worth returning to.

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

Cruach Ardrain summit from the ridge walk

The SOTA International weekend was the first one in May and another trip with Roddy IOB  made to the 8pt summit of Cruach Ardrain, wx wise the day was excellent, my choice of hill ? let us just say memorable, I had fallen for the words and advice of a charlatan, you know who you are. I struggled on this one but TBH on reflection it was an exciting day. Roddy IØB had activated the hill with 4 STS before I stumbled/dragged myself to the top. A long day..

One month later was my surprise CS visit, my son Euan had chosen unknown to me the top of the list Ben Lawers and I tried on the ascent to post an alert but no internet. There were so many people ascending it looked like a conga line heading to Beinn Ghlas, only 5 contacts and disappointingly none on 4m but a STS to Derek MIX who was down in the Lake District on Pillar. My first 10pt hill..

June was a busy month for me as I followed this with a dual activation of Beinn Eich and Doune Hill in the Luss Hills, I had done this before in 2009, the weather this day was excellent and is memorable for trying to figure out where the couple who had been just in front of me totally disappearing on the first part of the descent into Glen Mollachan, I looked and looked and finally looking back saw them appearing from what looked like a cave, strange..

That finishes what was a busy six month activation period for me.  I’ll soon finish the rest of the year in pt2 and cram everything else into it (hopefully)..

For the blog posts on each of these activations and of my earlier ones, follow this link HERE 

Thanks for taking the time to read this first part and I hope that it wasn’t a total bore..

You can now again click on each image to see full size in a separate window.

Ben Lomond

(July) Radio Days 2011

Another good month SOTAwise. I had two activations near the end of the month plus these were also my first ones in England (G land), I had visited the Lake District for a few days and reached the summits of Skiddaw and Dale Head.

On local VHF the local contacts were made on 2m FM whilst I did some SOTA chasing from two of my local hills, one was an activation of Corlic which now has the status being a HuMP and its official title is GM/HSS 088, which roughly translates as GM ( Scotland) H (Hump) SS (Southern Scotland) and 088 is its relevance in height total, the other local hill was Creuch which lies to the south of Greenock, I had not been there in almost two years but had frequented this hill during the old 11m days.


First logged contact was with on my Corlic (GM/HSS 088)activation ( unofficial as yet). Robin PKT was worked from the summit of Creag Meagaidh, approx 115 km away, a good one to start whilst Neil 2MØNCM was next on Beinn Mhor on the Cowal peninsula, I spoke to Jack on Dungavel Hill whilst waiting on Iain WJZ who I unfortunately missed due to conditions but finally working Robin again on his second summit of Beinn a’Chaorainn.

The next weekend was a quiet one due to weather but I still worked Colwyn YCJ who activated Beinn a’Bhuiridh in the Cruachan area, the following day, a single summit worked, Robin PKT was on Meall Nan Tarmachan, a hill I activated in 2010.

Meall Nan Tarmachan ridge

Meall Nan Tarmachan ridge

Robin was out and about for the next seven days, first was from the summit of Na Maoilean between Bonawe and Connal then two days later I caught him on Sgor Gaoith which under the conditions was a good contact, next was Beinn Euniach and Beinn a’Chochuill. On the second last Saturday Robin PKT was on Ben Oss and Beinn Dubhchraig whilst I worked Ian WJZ on Ben Starav, a hill in my ‘Etive triangle’ and finally that day,Jack COX was on Ben Challum.

The next trip out for me was to Creuch Hill south of Greenock, a good day weather wise with cracking views led to contacts with fellow PARC members Craig on Ben Bowie, Graeme 2MØGIL on Ben Lui then Iain WJZ on Stob Dubh and finally Robin PKT on Stob Ghabhar altogether a worthwhile hike to Creuch.

The Lake District chases were all STS (summit to summit) on my visit. On Skiddaw I worked John VCO on Arnside Knott, Dave JDH on Pillar and finally, JImmy EYP in the Borders area on Slighty Crag. The last one for the month was a STS with with Jimmy EYP who was still in the same area  but this time was on the top of Peel Fell. The month wasn’t finished with on the last weekend, I worked Robin PKT on the summit of Starav and finally on the Sunday, fellow club member Brian MM1HMZ braved a wet and windy summit of Ben Lomond, well done fella !

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond

A good month point wise considering the occasional rainy day, PKT was out in force and also good to see PARC members out activating.


Conditions have not been the best this month but I have been spending more time than usual on the lower bands, still mostly working psk31 but had a foray into looking at working some Olivia but I obviously was searching in the wrong places as I could not find any signals in the couple of sessions I had put aside for this, conditions mostly paid a part in this.

I have towards the very end of the month been looking another data mode JT65 using the interface programme JT65HF, initial results have been encouraging but more of this next month.

ROS ? due to the looking at other data modes, ROS has been lying on the back burner but I shall return to it soon. I still occasionally use WSPR especially when propagation looks out or I’m doing something else ( watching Baseball, mostly)…


Plans are being construed as we speak for a SI activation in Sept, I’ll need to try up my fitness for that one and let’s hope the weather will be good for it. If not a weekend away should be fun.

More ‘playing’ about with the regular data modes with a bit more time using JT65HF I think as some DX stations have popped up. I guess my SWL days have come back, the difference between then and now is considerable as you had CW, voice or RTTY only. Are we going away from the tradional methods or more likely, it is evolving quickly as the internet has taken hold of our pastime.

I must admit the information available on line regarding help with any installation problems etc really helps greatly.

If bored , go look at my two new pages with some of my boring old stuff on them..

‘My SOTA Activations’ and ‘Radio Days’….

As usual, I will probably edit and add to this, I tend to tweak a lot.

Once again, a big thanks to Wikipedia…

Derwent Water from the ascent

Anniversary Waltz ? Hang On, I’ll Nip Up Skiddaw First…..

I’ll explain the blog title first.

I have now been happily married to Katie for 30 years, 30 great years ( she’s behind me !).

We had planned just a couple of days away, first thoughts were in the Lora area at Connel near Oban, the second Fort William, both got shelved for a trip to the Lake District. We had spent a lot of time in the 80s in the Borrowdale area and I was to get to play radio.

SOTA Activation of Skiddaw G/LD 004 27/07/2011

SOTA Activation of Skiddaw G/LD 004 27/07/2011

Maps scanned and three hills chosen, first was Dale Head, next was Skiddaw and lastly Saddleback (or Blencathra). Maps were duly printed off.

I had mentally chosen Skiddaw as it is always better to bag the biggie first, I wondered if my old pegs could do more than one hill in three days.

Skiddaw it was then, we set off early heading through Glasgow then going south down the M74 on a blue sky day until we hit Gretna. Grey clouds mingled with blue sky but as we headed to Keswick, it started to brighten up.

I decided the ‘Tourist Route’ from the car park at NY 280253 which at midday was total chaos, why cannot people park properly, side on….10ft gaps between cars etc , moan over.

I looked and mmmmmmm, the start to the hill was along a grass field THEN it was up, up and up a steep stony path. I did my usual ‘stop / start’ routine whilst chatting with those going both ways.

I took my usual scran break after 60 mins and sat for 10 mins enjoying the views over Derwent Water.

Derwent Water from the ascent

Derwent Water from the ascent

I headed off up the steep rocky path until I found a signal for my phone and posted an alert for the hill although I initially posted for Helvellyn, oops !. I was giving myself a target of operating within 90 mins.

The path eventually started to level out and it was a welcome break strolling alongside the east face of Little Man until starting to ascend again in a gradual climb. This is when I heard strange noises behind me, mountain bikers 6 of then peddling furiously but not moving fast but they slowly ascended until the last gate which leads through on the last push for the summit. I reached the start of the ridge and headed along to the trig point. I had arrived in just under 2 hours 30 mins ( 2 mins less !!), I had allowed for another 30 mins, I was well chuffed. I touched the trig.Arrived !!

I had 15 mins before I had alerted for so I quickly erected the 4m Jpole and sat down and had a bite of scran before I called. It was tough getting the pegs in as the top has some grass but sparsely spread over rock.

4 m FM

First station to return to my call was Clive based across the border in the Isle of Whithorn area, we had worked before from the Luss Hills. A quick hello and chat and next in the log was Malcolm XAT in nearby Seaton, a strong signal as expected.

Another station in GM land answered my call, regular activator and chaser Mark MBP in Annan (thanks for the spots!) who had activated some Lake District Fells the previous week. A quick ragchew then off to call again, another station I had spoken to before Geoff WHA called in from Penrith, I had worked Geoff on my activation of Minch Moor in 2009. Note to anyone thinking of Minch Moor, use HF !!!!

The hill was now activated on 4m FM, good !

Next in the log was another Penrith station, John whom I also worked later on 2m FM. He had told me of stations out and about on the Fells for STS (summit to summit) on 2m. I  was called by Mike in Nelson, Lancashire, a quick exchange of details and finally on 4m FM was a cracking contact into Ramsey, Isle of Man, Iain BUE said I was his first contact on 4m FM, a good end to the first part of the activation.

2 m FM…

I headed to .500 where I heard John VCO calling from Arnside Knott, we tried to find an empty frequency which was difficult at first but made contact and quickly exchanged details and I headed off back to have a quick look through the band. I heard John JOH who was on Pillar, once again an exchange of details and then I  moved down frequency with Jimmy EYP who was on Slighty Crag in the Borders region, a good run of STS’s contacts.

I next hooked up with activating team Colin UXH and Heather UXH, confused ? A different prefix to the front of each call ! They had been on Walla Crag and were now heading down.

Next was another STS with Derek MIX whom I last worked from Ben Lawers, this was a welcome change to work some of these stations on their own patch. John TDM from Penrith was next followed by XSD from Frizzlington. A visit from Sue OHH from Lancaster was finally followed by a contact with Tony OAE in nearby Seaton.

The summit had been busy all the time I was there and now, I was the only one left but I could see more walkers heading my way. It was time to pack up and head back down. It was a quick walk along the stony ridge before a descent down from the summit then through the first gate and along the bridleway on which you could have driven a car, the path as most Lake District ones are was a good wide rocky walk, it was relief to find the odd section where I could walk on a grass bit. I had tried using my mobile phone on the summit but signal was not constant, I received one text and I thought words of encouragement ? No, your mobile phone bill is ready, typiske !

Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake

Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake

Downwards I headed until I arrived at top of the steepish section where I suffered slightly, not tired just the constant tramping downhill on stone, I’m sure you know what I mean, I used the grass where I could as the effects of walking on stone makes my ole knees rattle.

I saw Katie walking towards me on the level grassy walk from the car park so roughly 90 mins after I had left the summit, I arrived back at the car park. Not bad, I thought.

Seventeen contacts in the log, the hill got qualified on 4m FM which was pleasing, it was worth trying the band first and the contact in the Isle of Man was my first so a new DXCC into the bargain. A big thanks to all who made the activation of my first G land summit a memorable occasion, I was having to keep remembering to keep the ‘M’ out of the call Hi. It certainly proved much easier than my last GM land midweek activation.

Skiddaw is not the prettiest hill I’ve done but is one of the most rewarding as when I had my first look at the uphill path, the usual thoughts started appearing but I persevered and made my way to the top. Unfortunately the views were not at their best due to the heat haze and the scurrying cloud over the summit but occasionally it lifted but I was busy on the radio. I did see fleetingly some of the hills I have made STS’s with from GM land, Knott, Great Calva (WOTA) and of course, Skiddaw.

Saddleback, Helvellyn, Dale Head were among the hills within view but not being up to running on LD summit views ( see panorama link below) except some near 25-year-old recollections from the summit of Dale Head and other Fells such as Latrigg.

The waltz ? Only in my mind…

It was back to married life….until the next hill.

Click on photos for full size…

Information Overload…

Skiddaw means  ‘Hill of projecting cliff’ but there are numerous others around the web.

is the fourth highest hill in England.

Geohack Info <HERE>

Trig Point info <HERE>

Panorama info <HERE>

Once again… a big thanks goes to Wikipedia

(January) Radio Days

I was most pleasantly surprised to receive a text message asking ‘Have you not got a review to do ?’. I had this ready but just had to add the links and the photo so here we now go.


Just the usual ‘QSO’s plus been working local stations on 4m FM.


Two activations this month, on Sunday the 2nd along with Roddy 2M0IOB, we headed to Beinn a’Mhanaich in the Luss Hills to take part in the SOTA VHF Fun Day. Contacts were made on 4m and 2m including 6 STS (summit to summit) contacts. A cold but very successful day, my blog post <HERE>, Roddy’s blog post <HERE>.

The second activation was my yearly visit to the Hill of Stake which is the highest summit in the Renfrewshire hills. The weather and conditions underfoot were near ideal. One STS to Graeme 2M0GIL who was on a’Mhanaich, Graeme’s blog post <HERE>, my blog post is <HERE>.

Two activations, both enjoyed !

Activation about to go 'live'

Activation about to go 'live'

My other ‘chasing for Jan…

Nobody was active on the 1st so it was on to the VHF Fun Day to activate and chase, amongst those points gathered were Robin PKT on Beinn Iaruinn– 97kms,  Alan XXP on Green Hill – 101 kms,  Neil  NCM on Craigenreoch -103 kms, Derek MIX on Pillar, Lake District – 207 kms, Alun and Barry on Moel Eilio, North Wales – 338 kms.

Good points earned.

Next points came from Bob AWV who was on Corse Hill to the south of Glasgow. Conditions for Bob were horrendous, sitting in the warmth of my shack I felt for them, I did say he was mad! Next up was Ian, the recently anointed ‘Mountain Goat’ who made the effort to walk to the summit of Ben Lawers, a cold and snowy day for him. Next day, more activators were out, first up was Neil , 2M0NCM who took the ferry across the Clyde to activate another Cowal hill, Beinn Bheag, he was quickly followed across the Clyde by Roddy 2M0IOB who took to the Cowal hills and activate Cruach Nan Cuilean, blog post <HERE>, quickly followed by first time activator, Craig ANL who had just recently passed his Foundation licence and was on the Fruin which rises above Helensburgh, he also made his first STS contacts in quick succession with Neil and Roddy. Iain WJZ next appeared on Cruach Ardrain, all four chasers worked in just slightly over an hour, superb!

The month wasn’t over, Brian HMZ visited Ben Bowie and as I write this in early February, the hill now has been activated four times lately. I had previously mentioned that I worked Graeme 2M0GIL STS from the Hill of Stake. The last contact of the month was made from my local hill, I worked Alan XXP on Broughton Heights on both 2m and 4m FM, both of us on handhelds, a cracking contact considering the distance was 85 kms as the crow flies.

This mostly all took place in the last half of the month, good to see so many GM activators out and about esp for us chasers.


Had a call most days on 40, 30, 17 and 15m depending on conditions.

The usual European regulars worked, great fun.

One new DXCC in Moldovia.

WSPR put on back burner just now.


Did some antenna work in my loft space, more to come on that. The SOTA ‘winter bonus’ period finishes mid March so still hoping to head out sometime until then and activate another summit, hopefully the weather will stay steady. I’m thinking of extending my ‘stealth’ dipole but only a thought at this present time.

Thanks to Neil 2M0NCM for pointing out the correct date for the ending of the activating Winter bonus.