Earlier today, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of activating Allermuir Hill, which is SOTA reference GM/SS-171. I was invited by Martin 2M0KAU and Mark MM6BJJ both of whom live in Dundee.
Martin picked me up shortly after 8:00 am (07:00 UTC) from where I am staying in Edinburgh and we were on our way to the Pentlands, south of Edinburgh. Allermuir Hill is the most northerly of the main Pentlands summits and is not very far from the Hillend ski-centre. Martin parked the car near the Castle Law Hill fort, next to the Castle Law ranges and we were on our way.
It was about a 2-3 mile walk to the Allermuir summit with some spectacular views on the way. The weather was good with plenty of sunshine around as well. Fortunately I’d spent the previous day walking so didn’t find the climb too difficult. I felt for Martin though who was carrying a large rucksack full of equipment including his Yaesu FT-857D and a 15Ah battery. Mark had an easier load with his Yaesu FT817 and a tiny LiPo battery! I must get some of those batteries, they are amazingly small and light.
We arrived on a very windy summit and Martin and Mark commenced the job of setting up, the wind making this a challenging task. Martin set up a long fishing pole with a vertical wire tuneable from 80 – 6 metres whilst Mark set up a 2 metre antenna. I get almost no use from 2 metres when back in VK6 so I was amazed to see an operator setting up for 2 metres only for a summit activation.
We were QRV shortly before 09:00 UTC and Mark was making contacts on 2 metres simplex almost immediately with stations in various locations in Scotland, anything up to 50 miles away or more. I worked some of the stations using Mark’s FT817 and then decided to try my Baofeng UV5R handheld that I had with me.
To my surprise, I had no trouble working any of the stations with the handheld with good signal reports. I let my friend John GM4EOU know we were on air and he called us on 2 metres and was receiving me 5/9+.in Cellardyke, Fife so I was very pleased with that one. Two of the contacts were doing SOTA activations also so it was a thrill to work summit to summit.
Martin made a number of contacts on 40 metres, mainly via the SOTA frequency and the worked all Britain frequency and also made a few contacts on 20 metres. I worked a few stations in Europe that were very faint and one in the Ukraine and my friend Chris M0OGG in Stockport on 40 metres who could hardly hear me, despite being a good 5/8 on the summit. Wow, a successful SOTA activation with 4 contacts on HF two of whom were in Scotland and six on 2 metres simplex!
We tuned around HF checking out bands such as 17 metres, 15 metres, 12 metres and 10 metres and found nothing other than a few weak signals on 15 metres. With no replies to CQs and very windy conditions, we packed up around 12:00 UTC for the walk back to the car. All in all an enjoyable outing despite the high winds. I heard later that day that the winds had reached 80 mph in parts of Scotland, so we were fortunate to have only endured winds of around 21 mph.
Thanks again to Martin and Mark for the invite. Despite many visits to Edinburgh and spending over 8 months here in the past 12 months I am fairly certain this was my first visit to the Pentlands and I’ll definitely be back for more !
Filed under: Amateur Radio