Summits on the Air
(Our Introduction to another addiction)


Scottish Islands

Summits on the Air
SOTA Introduction
Three days in May
Wester Ross 2004

Freedom to Roam

Some Links

I had seen mentions of SOTA in several of the amateur radio magazines which we subscribe to or buy on impulse from the local newsagent. I even ventured into the website at on a couple of occasions, so I was reasonably well prepared when John Linford, G3WGV, came to give a talk on SOTA during the GMDX Group Convention in October 2002.
Needless to say, John gave us an enthusiastic introduction to Summits on The Air.
During the following winter months we started collecting Chaser Points by making 2-way contacts with the Activators who were brave enough to to out on the hills in, at times, not too hospitable conditions. As spring arrived with the better weather we decided to blow the dust off our portable station which we have been using to activate islands for the Islands of Scotland Award - IOSA, and head for the hills ourselves.

The first hill we decided to go for was Allermuir Hill, SOTA Ref. GM/SS-171, in the Pentland Hills range, just a couple of miles to the south of us here in Edinburgh. So on 9th of April we set off. We parked at the Hillend Ski Centre; yes that's right: the Hillend Ski Centre is an all year dry ski slope with 2 tows and 1 chair lift to the top of the skiing area. BUT, we decided to do it the hard way and walked up (climbed?) the hill alongside the skislopes. It was hard work with the station in the rucksack; the station not being exactly lightweight, weighing in at over 9 kgm (about 20lbs.+). But we got there, and we set up our half-dome fishing shelter just to the north of the cairn which marks the actual summit at 493 metres asl. The wind was fairly howling in from the east, straight in off the cold North Sea. The operation went fine, and we both got the required number of contacts in the log with a mixture of contacts on 40 and 20 metres SSB as well as few on 2 metres FM.


View of Edinburgh from Allermuir Hill

Our operating position on Allermuir Hill commanded a splendid view over the Capital City of Edinburgh. In the distance on the right, you will just make out the contours of another SOTA hill, Arthurs' Seat, which we intend to activate soon.
Having successfully done our first SOTA hill....
Christine had a few days off work over Easter, and we decided to spend them in the Yorkshire Dales, an area which we had never really explored before. We eventually arrived with our little motorcaravan at a campsite in Appletreewick. From the campsite we could see Thorpe Fell Top (506 mtrs. asl), and after consultations with the locals about access and routes to take etc.; we decided to go for it.
It was a 5 to 6 km hike from our campsite plus a 350 metres climb to get there, and it took us a shade longer than what the Naysmith formulae would suggest, but we got there.

Operating on Thorp Fell Top

This is Christine operating as G4YMM/P from Thorpe Fell Top,
SOTA Ref. G/NP-025, making
more than 30 QSO's on 40 SSB.


Ready for the trek back to camp

Ready for the descent back to Thorpe
and the trek back to the campsite.

guess who put her feet up

.... and afterwards, back at the campsite, who decided to put her feet up?

Then followed.... a local daytrip to North Berwick which we have visited many times, but never really bothered about the hill; North Berwick Law - GM/SS-280 for SOTA, which at 187 mtrs. asl is not a big hill, but never the less...

View of Bass Rock from North Berwick Law

Christine operating from North Berwick Law SOTA Ref GM/SS-280. In the
background is Bass Rock with it's famous colony of gannets. We know it well, having
operated from there together with GM3BQA 3 times for the Islands of Scotland Award.
Conditions were not great, but we got our first Summit-to-Summit contact with Rob
G4RQJ/P, who was operating 40 mtrs. SSB from G/LD-051 in the Lake District.

Having got ourselves started, we shall no doubt be going for more summits in the future; some of them may even be featured here as and when time permits.You may even be tempted to give it a try for yourself, but be forewarned; it gets to be an addictive pursuit !

Page updated 5th of July 2010

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