Friday 3rd January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After my audacious attempt to be QRV portable on Top Band from The Cloud G/SP-015, simply by approximately doubling the legs of my 80m dipole, I met up with my mate Sean M0GIA to try a different approach using an end-fed aerial with an ATU. We walked up Gun and continued beyond the trig point, to a bit of a clearing between the public footpath and a small wood.
Sean hoisted the end-fed longwire on the 10m Travelmast while I walked out the counterpoise in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, whatever we tried only resulted in a similar mediocre VSWR indication to what had been experienced with the full half-wave dipole attempt earlier. A contact was made - with David G3RDQ - but that was all, and it was clear something was not quite right; the system was not working as hoped.
Four QSOs on 2m FM with the handheld completed the activation, and qualified me for my annual point from Gun.
Sunday 5th January 2020 - Kinder Scout G/SP-001, Shining Tor G/SP-004, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I drove over to Gun for a fourth activation of the day. A pleasant short walk in the cold January air, and I was pretty tired by this stage! No wonder after 31,000 steps, as recorded by my Fitbit tracker watch.
After the measly two QSOs on The Cloud G/SP-015 just before, I was pleasantly surprised to bag eleven contacts in just 14 minutes from Gun. It seems the 2m band had come alive as I drove between the two summits!
Tuesday 7th January 2020 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
I reversed my usual order for Gun and Cloud, due to it being the first UK Activity Contest night of the year that evening, and The Cloud is my preferred spot for that. Hence I went out to Gun for a morning SOTA activation, with the objective of working multimode on 80m in the SOTA "Flavours" 2020 Challenge. I spent just over an hour operating, making contacts on 80m CW, SSB & FT8, plus a couple of 2m FM. Then back home before heading out that evening to The Cloud G/SP-015.
Wednesday 8th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Usual routine following a The Cloud G/SP-015 activation - I was in the area anyway, and it would only cost me an extra hour of my time, maximum, to add in a second activation. So drove over the Dane Valley, and walked the short easy diatnce to Gun summit with my handheld. Six QSOs in seven minutes - 2m FM alive and well in North Staffordshire (and surrounding areas) it would seem!
Thursday 9th January 2020 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
So another UK Activity Contest date, and therefore another reversal of my usual order of Cloud and Gun. Or, today, Gun and Cloud. The plan today was to play some 30m FT8 on Gun during the afternoon, return home for tea, then head out to The Cloud G/SP-015 for the contest. This all happened - except that I didn't exactly get to "play radio" on Gun. Just two QSOs were logged on 30m FT8; things seemed to be unusually hard-going.
Friday 10th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
The day had been dominated by a walk with Marianne in the Manifold Valley, the photos of which are on The Cloud G/SP-015 webpage. After Cloud, I drove over the valley and did a similarly rapid activation of Gun. Both summits were activated using just the handheld on this evening.
Saturday 11th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
I'd been on The Cloud G/SP-015 with Richard G3CWI earlier on, then at the Moss Rose for the footie. Straight after the match, I drove down the Leek road (on which the football ground is actually located) for a snap activation of Gun G/SP-013 before returning home. Six QSOs in four minutes came quickly, and I could get off home for my tea!
Sunday 12th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015 I drove over to Gun for another quick handheld activation. However, I was surprised to fins a couple of SOTA activators already on summit. These were Steve M0YZY and Paul M0PWC. They were just between set-ups at the time, so after the customary photos, I sneaked to the trig point to squeeze in a quickfire 2m FM handheld activation before they were ready to go QRV once more.
Monday 13th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
So after The Cloud G/SP-015, I went over to Gun and faced up to the winds of Storm Brendan once again. It was a decent night using just a handheld radio with rubber duck - 36 QSOs in 46 minutes' operating time across the two summit activations. I then went home to listen to my son Liam’s weekly radio show on Canalside Radio 102.8MHz FM. The full archive of his radio broadcasts is available on demand from his website.
Tuesday 14th January 2020 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
My handheld SOTA activation during the
morning on Gun G/SP-013 solicited just a single QSO.
Wednesday 15th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Liam Read (Open Mic)
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I came across to Gun and walked briskly up to the summit. Four contacts were made on 2m FM with the handie, before I descended and went home to get ready for the gig.
It was a very good night at the Swan. Liam hosted Open Mic and introduced sets from Lisa Travers, Lewis Hallam, Alistair Bower, Mat Arnold & Emily-Rose Newman, Euan Coupland, Sam Petchell as well as performing a few tunes himself accompanied by his dad - a certain Tom M1EYP!
Thursday 16th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I drove over the Dane Valley and up onto the shoulder of Gun Hill. The parking spot here is 30m below the summit, and therefore a mere 5m needs to be ascended in order to be in the activation zone. I went a little further than that - about halfway - which is marked by some kind of old marker stone. Just in case I didn't get any QSOs from the summit before midnight, I put out a call from this midway point, which is well within the AZ. Steven 2W0JYN answered - and that at least ensured that an activation had taken place on the current UTC date.
I then continued to the summit true and operated beside the trig point. I was in plenty of time as it transpired, and there was plenty of activity, so I needn't have worried. A further five stations were logged before midnight, and the change of UTC day.
Friday 17th January 2020 - Gun G/SP-013, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Long Mountain-Beacon Ring GW/MW-026
As the clock ticked past midnight, I commenced a new activation, and four of the chasers just worked "yesterday" were all keen to QSO again, and collect the SOTA chaser point for the new UTC day. I was still feeling fresh and energetic, so after descending to the car, I decided to go and walk up The Cloud G/SP-015 again on this outing, and activate that summit in the "new day" as well!
Tuesday 21st January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Later on, I walked from home into town to meet my good friend Tom for a few beers before going to watch Macclesfield Town v Crewe Alexandra at the Moss Rose. Tom went in the other end of the stadium as a Crewe supporter!
Wednesday 22nd January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Tom Read (yes me!)
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
So after The Cloud G/SP-015, straight over to Gun G/SP-013. I walked up to the trig with my handheld and made two QSOs. I walked back down and was in my car just after 7am. I was home around 0740 UTC, and back out, washed and changed, walking to my school assignment by 0815. Talk about making use of every minute of the day!
That night, even though Liam wouldn't be joining me, I decided to go out and support my friends Kiara and Josh, who were hosting Open Mic at the SW2N. It was, of course, something of a rarity for me to perform solo, but I quite enjoyed it, it was something a little different!
Thursday 23rd January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, where I had made seven contacts in eight minutes, I drove over the valley and walked up to Gun summit. Where I made seven contacts in eight mintes...
Saturday 25th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015, Gun G/SP-013 & Bardon Hill G/CE-004
Gig: Simon Faulkner Band
Venue: Bistro Live! Milton Keynes
I was pleasantly surprised to have no fewer than nine callers on my quick handheld activation of Gun, including two S2S - Nick G4OOE/P on Ingleborough G/NP-005 and Jordan M3TMX/P on Bardon Hill G/CE-004. In fact, Jordan's summit was exactly where I was heading to next on my commute to Milton Keynes!
Much of my drive between Leek and Coalville was kept entertained by listening in to Jordan's ongoing activation. I even called in myself at one point, as M1EYP/M to give him (sort of) one extra QSO. I parked on Vercor Close where Jordan now was, having descended.
Sunday 26th January 2020 - Wendover Woods G/CE-005, Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
Gig: Liam Read Band Bandeoke
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
I had a decent run up the M1 after Wendover Woods G/CE-005, and made it to Gun for early-ish afternoon - but the weather was still horrible. Still, the cardio exercise and the SOTA activation were both there for the taking, so why not? I would be having a shower and a hot mug of tea when I got home anyway!
Despite the poor weather, Ian GW8OGI/P and Eleri 2W0NYR/P were activating Cadair Berwyn GW/NW-012, and I worked them both S2S. A total of nine QSOs were made on the handheld, and I took my first opportunity to switch off and descend. Next - The Cloud G/SP-015 - and then home (and then a gig!).
Monday 27th January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, the customary brisk walk up Gun, and a call on the HT. Six contacts flying in on 2m FM in the space of four minutes. Perfect for me to be back in plenty of time to finish packing and set off in plenty of time to Manchester Airport.
We had a great time in Berlin; here's a selection of photos.
Friday 31st January 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Having landed at Manchester Airport on the Thursday night, I'd originally intended to activate my two local summits that night before going to bed, but in the event I was far too tired! But I did get out on Friday teatime to do them - but just on the 2m FM handheld again.
Monday 3rd February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015 I drove over to Gun. The QSOs were not there in volume as they had been on the earlier summit, but they were in pace, with three calls logged in under 60 seconds!
Wednesday 5th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Tom Read & Dan Toft (Open Mic)
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
After The Cloud G/SP-015, straight over to Gun for another smash-and-grab activation. Exactly the same four stations that I'd worked on The Cloud 40 minutes earlier, were worked again from Gun. Next it was straight up the road to the Swan With Two Necks in Macclesfield where I caught the last hout of my friend Dan's Open Mic night. I got up on stage and collaborated with him on a few songs, even singing a couple myself!
Thursday 6th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another day in the old routine of school maths teaching. Another evening where I got myself far too comfortable on the sofa and then shack chair, before eventually hauling myself out the door shortly after 8.30pm. But nonetheless, another day where I completed a pair of SOTA activations on local summits.
Saturday 8th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, over to gun as per usual and a very typical selection of four QSOs worked. It was the couple of couples - Steve 2W0JYN and Steph MW6SHJ from Rhos, near Wrexham, and Pete 2E0LKC and Anne 2E0LMD from Heald Green, near Manchester Airport.
After driving back home, I teamed up with Jimmy and Liam for a walk into town and a bit of a boys' night out. We kicked off at Five Clouds, then called in at MASH Guru, so the standard of the beers was outstanding. For dinner, we opted for the Kandy Sri Lankan restaurant, a bit of a favourite of ours. We then returned to MASH where the outstanding jazz fusion trio Thr33 were performing covers from Allmans to Zappa plus originals too. Superb!
Sunday 9th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Like my first summit on this evening, the contacts were there aplenty on 2m FM. Eleven QSOs in eleven minutes, operating with a handheld and rubber duck on Gun. VHF is alive and well!
Monday 10th February 2020 - Shining Tor G/SP-004, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
So to my third summits activation, all within the teatime-evening period of a Monday! I walked fairly swiftly because I wanted to try and get home in time for Late Night Liam on Canalside Radio 102.8 FM, although I would be tuned in while driving just in case. Again I used the 2m FM handheld. Five QSOs in three minutes - and then back down.
Tuesday 11th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
While driving across from The Cloud G/SP-015, I worked Simon G7WKX/P who was now activating Gun. I continued to monitor his activation as I drove. Towards the end of my drive, Simon went QRT. As I anticipated, Simon and I met at about the halfway point of the path up to the summit. We had a good natter for five minutes, before comtinuing our short walks.
Simon was one of the chasers that worked me, as he drove away from the Staffordshire Moorlands. All nine of the stations were regular callers, and most of them active SOTA chasers.
Wednesday 12th February 2020 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
Gig: Tom Read, Dan Toft & Neil Marshall (Open Mic)
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
A day off from any work today, but there was a planned FT8 sked at 1000 UTC. I planned to be on The Cloud G/SP-015 for that, so reversed my usual order and nipped on Gun first. Just one QSO on 2m FM from the handie.
Thursday 13th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
This was a more typical evening "clear off after tea when the soap operas start" Cloud-then-Gun outing. Three contacts on 2m FM before returning to the home QTH.
Friday 14th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Funktion & Co.
Venue: Fatbird, Wigan
After The Cloud G/SP-015, over to Gun and a quick wander up with the handheld. Six contacts all on 2m FM with the handheld.
Marianne and I enjoyed a pleasant Valentine's Day lunch at Flour, Salt, Water in Macclesfield. Soon enough, it was time for me to go to work. It was the first of two consecutive nights of gigging with Rick Henry's band - Funktion & Co. We were playing as a trio with Tasha Novak fronting the band on guitar and vocals.
Saturday 15th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Funktion & Co.
Venue: Rising Sun, Hazel Grove
Horrible day part 2. Well the rain abated somewhat after The Cloud G/SP-015, but its impact still meant that I got wet feet on Gun! Another swift activation. Four minutes' operating, six 2m FM QSOs.
That evening, I dragged Jimmy and Liam out to my gig. It was a local one just up the road in Hazel Grove, and we set out early and went to a curry house, literally across the road from the venue, for our tea before setting up. It was a fun gig, and a relatively early return home, as gigs go.
Sunday 16th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, a very quick raid on the summit of Gun with my handheld. Just two replies to my calls, but I needed to then get back and prepare dinner. Fortunately Jimmy M0HGY was on hand to help in the kitchen and we rustled up a splendid pasta bake between us.
Monday 17th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
I couldn't quite match the 15 QSOs in 15 minutes achieved on The Cloud G/SP-015 a little earlier, but five in four minutes was satisfactory enough. A pleasant little evening exercise in the cold February air.
Tuesday 18th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, a quick raid on Gun - and another quickfire activation with nine 2m FM contacts logged inside five minutes.
Wednesday 19th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another after-tea raid on my two local summits. With a VHF handheld. This has the potential to become boring for the reader, but thankfully not for the author / activator!
Thursday 20th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
I couldn't quite match the 5 contacts in 2 minutes recorded on The Cloud G/SP-015 around 40 minutes earlier. But 4 in 2 minutes was not a million miles away!
Friday 21st February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
So, with three QSOs recorded inside one minute on The Cloud G/SP-015 a little earlier, could I go even faster and even shorter? Just about - this time I made two contacts inside 30 seconds!
Saturday 22nd February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Soultown USA ft. The Platters
Venue: Princess Theatre, Hunstanton
It was to be more of the same on the Saturday. The weather was still unpleasantly cold and damp, plus I had a long drive to that night's gig in Norfolk. So a quick handheld activation of my two usual summits before getting a lot of miles in.
After loading out from the theatre, I set off on the long drive back to Macclesfield. I reached home at 3am, unloaded, then walked round to my mate Steve's house where we planned to watch the big Tyson Fury - Deonte Wilder heavyweight boxing rematch, taking place in Las Vegas. It was a very enjoyable hour snacking, drinking and watching Fury stop Wilder in the 7th round in a boxing masterclass.
Sunday 23rd February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Liam Read Band Bandeoke
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
Although I actually set up for HF on The Cloud G/SP-015 and operated a little bit of 30m FT8, there was only now time for yet another rapid handheld VHF activation on Gun. This was due to time marching on towards that night's gig. So for the second day running on Gun, it was four contacts in two minutes!
Monday 24th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, yet another swift handheld activation of Gun. In fact, the third consecutive daily activation of this summit that recorded four QSOs in just two minutes!
Tuesday 25th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another token activation and excuse to bank another 3K steps on my Fitbit tracker, after a typically more substantial activation on The Cloud G/SP-015. One minute, three contacts - then home.
Wednesday 26th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another rapid four 2m FM contacts from the summit of Gun after an activation of The Cloud G/SP-015 just over half-an-hour earlier.
Thursday 27th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
My first priority after school was to go to Big Sainsbury's in Macclesfield to buy the shopping for the following day. It would be my mum's 75th birthday and Jimmy wanted us to host one of our paella nights for her. So I got all my ingredients and stored them away at home. Much later on, I ventured out for my exercise and activations, and again, despite the late hour, the bands were busy enough.
Friday 28th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Four QSOs in three minutes was exactly what was required on this activation. I wanted to get the walks in. I wanted to get the activations in. But I didn't want to over-elaborate as I needed to get back and get cooking!
Marianne and Liam were at the Manchester Arena for a concert of The 1975. My mum came round for her birthday tea, and also my brother Will and friend Steve with his girlfriend Wendy. Mine and Jimmy's paellas were well received, and we had a very pleasant evening.
We made a lot of food - two full pans of paella, one with seafood, one without, plus a tray of paprika chicken thighs. And plenty of beer and wine of course! The king of desserts for afters - Magnums!
Saturday 29th February 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I took the very familiar drive straight over to Gun. A quick stroll up and a quickfire four QSOs all on 2m FM.
Sunday 1st March 2020 - Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002, Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004, View Edge G/WB-018, Long Mynd-Pole Bank G/WB-005, Stiperstones G/WB-003, Corndon Hill GW/MW-013, Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060, Gyrn Moelfre GW/NW-049, Hope Mountain GW/NW-062, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
I parked up on the shoulder of Gun Moor at around 11.25pm, after driving over from The Cloud G/SP-015. The prospects of me setting a new personal record of an 11-activation day looked good. For the last time in a long day, I grabbed my Yaesu FT-70D handheld and set off for the summit.
Upon arrival at the summit, I noted that I had gone over 34,000 steps for the day as recorded on my Fitbit tracker watch. Even though all the walks were relative short, a total of nearly 27km had been covered in the day. Six contacts were made on the handheld - two on 2m C4FM and four on 2m FM.
Monday 2nd March 2020 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
With me activating on Gun right up to the midnight UTC date change, I stuck around to record an extra activation for the new day. Three 2m FM contacts were made immediately after 0000 UTC. I was now very keen to get home and to bed, especially with being in school th next day! There would be an activation of The Cloud G/SP-015 on the Monday evening (as opposed to on the Monday early morning!)
Tuesday 3rd March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I nipped over to Gun for a quick handheld activation before going home to bed! Five QSOs were made on each of 2m FM and 2m C4FM, and a few new unique calls were added to my 2020 SOTA Challenge score.
Wednesday 4th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another quick route-march to the trigpoint with my handheld following a (slightly) more substantial activation over on The Cloud G/SP-015.
Thursday 5th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After the quick switch over from The Cloud G/SP-015, it was already approaching 11.30pm, so I needed to get cracking with the walk in order to record an activation for the current UTC day. But being so close to midnight, I might as well hang around and record one for "tomorrow" as well - even though it would mean a daftly late night on a school night! Like on the earlier summit, eight contacts were made on the handheld, though this time a couple of the were "dupes" added on C4FM Fusion mode.
Friday 6th March 2020 - Gun G/SP-013, Winter Hill G/SP-010, Billinge Hill G/SP-017 & The Cloud G/SP-015
When I quickly raced through four QSOs on 2m FM, in the first two minutes of the day, I was absolutely not anticipating that this would end up being a four activation day! After what would be a very late night on a "school night" - getting to bed about 1am - I certainly wasn't expecting to be up and about early enough for a pre-work activation. But I was, and so I would take a very long way round to Timperley - via Winter Hill G/SP-010!
This was actually my 3000th SOTA activation!
Saturday 7th March 2020 - Moel Gyw GW/NW-053, Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051, Moel Famau GW/NW-044, Penycloddiau GW/NW-054, Mynydd y Cwm GW/NW-076, Great Orme GW/NW-070, The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
This really was a race against the clock! By the time I had driven across from The Cloud G/SP-015 and walked to the summit, there was less than ten minutes of the day remaining! Fortunately, plenty of stations were still up and active, and four contacts were logged very easily. It was nearly midnight, so it made sense, again, to stick around until "tomorrow's" activation!
Sunday 8th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Liam Read Band Bandeoke
Venue: Swan With Two Necks, Macclesfield
As the clock ticked past midnight, it was a new day. That meant a new activation - but not a substantial one. I just worked everyone who was there - three stations - then got myself home for some much needed sleep. I would do The Cloud G/SP-015 later, to again complete my "daily double" - but it would be mainly a day of rest ahead of a gig.
Monday 9th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another late one as I tagged a swift Gun activation to follow one on The Cloud G/SP-015. Ten contacts in less than ten minutes. VHF is alive and well!
Tuesday 10th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After bailing out early from my contest activity on The Cloud G/SP-015, I grabbed a hit-and-run activation of Gun.
Wednesday 11th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Another evening run out to activate my two local summits, with no agenda other than to record an activation and get some exercise. Five QSOs from the 2m FM handie on Gun.
Thursday 12th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
So after finishing very early on The Cloud G/SP-015 due to equipment failure, I had plenty of time to add an activation of Gun, and still be home nice and early. Three QSOs on 2m FM, all with prolific and loyal chasers.
Friday 13th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Like on The Cloud G/SP-015 an hour or so earlier, a quick walk and three contacts on 2m FM with the handheld.
Saturday 14th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
In what was becoming a bad habit, I'd again gone most of the day without getting any exercise or fresh air. So again, it was not until after the evening meal that I hauled myself off the sofa, into my car, and ultimately up the hills. Two summit activations with the 2m FM handheld ensued.
Sunday 15th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Although I had already worked Martyn MW1MAJ/P and Caroline MW3ZCB/P S2S from my earlier summit, they were still QRV when I reach the summit of Gun. As such, they became the first two QSOs in my activation log for Gun, as well as being the final two from The Cloud! Four 2E0 stations, all regular SOTA chasers, also made it into the log.
Monday 16th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
In a curious parallel, after I'd made nine QSOs in nine minutes on The Cloud G/SP-015 a little earlier, this activation resulted in seven contacts in seven minutes! Six of the chasers from The Cloud were also worked from Gun.
Tuesday 17th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
A quick change of plan meant me returning home after The Cloud G/SP-015 instead of nipping across to Gun as originally intended. After dinner, and the XYL settling down to watch a load of rubbish on the telly, I went back out and took a drive to Gun in order to maintain my run of consecutive days doing both Cloud and Gun. Five 2m contacts were made - four on FM, one on C4FM.
Wednesday 18th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, another high-speed activation (raid) on Gun with the handheld! Five QSOs made in a whirlwind three minutes - then home to bed!
Thursday 19th March 2020 - Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
I can't recall the reason for this, but the usual order was switched for my two local summits on this evening. It was probably linked to other errands required of me at the time! So Gun first, and six 2m FM contacts on the handheld, before heading over to The Cloud G/SP-015.
Friday 20th March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Like on The Cloud G/SP-015 a little earlier, just two contacts made on 2m FM with the handheld. Still, it still counted as two more SOTA activations, and completed my exercise quota for the day.
Saturday 21st March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015, Gun G/SP-013 & Shining Tor G/SP-004
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I zipped over to Gun as usual. I walked up to the trig, as usual. I worked a station on 70cm FM, not as usual. I worked Pete and Anne on 2m FM, very much as usual. I went home as usual. But, not as usual, later on I went out again for an evening walk up Shining Tor G/SP-004.
Sunday 22nd March 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, we drove over to Gun on our way to Tittesworth. It was very busy and a bit of a challenge to find a space to safely and considerately park the car. Once off the road and onto the hill, it seemed much quieter, and appropriate social distancing did not prove challenging.
I took absolutely ages to get going, and when I did, I couldn't get a contact on 15m FT8 for love nor money. In contrast, Jimmy M0HGY was QRV very quickly and efficiently, and working down a good pile-up on 2m FM. Eventually, I did manage to scrape a couple of CW contacts out of 15m, and managed to snaffle a surprise S2S before leaving the summit.
We met Marianne and Liam at Tittesworth as planned and enjoyed a Mothering Sunday afternoon tea in the sunshine, before going for a long circular walk around the path that circles Tittesworth Water. It would prove to be the penultimate day of SOTA for me for some time.
Monday 23rd March 2020 - Shining Tor G/SP-004, The Cloud G/SP-015, Gun G/SP-013
After making 18 contacts in 9 minutes on The Cloud G/SP-015 a little earlier, I didn't expect to match that on Gun. I didn't. This time, it was 18 QSOs in 5 minutes - remarkable! On the car radio, it had just been announced that lockdown restrictions were being introduced from Tuesday morning, so I knew this would be my last SOTA for a while. For the next few weeks, I would have to get my exercise by walking from the front door at home, and remaining within a reasonable distance of home. "Lockdown walks" as I would refer to them!
Wednesday 13th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015, Gun G/SP-013
After my mammoth all-day activation on The Cloud G/SP-015, my effort on Gun could not have been more of a contrast. There wasn't another person anywhere on the hill. One minute, two QSOs, activation over!
Thursday 14th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Time was marching on, and I was getting very cold on The Cloud G/SP-015. I hurriedly packed away and hurriedly descended to the hill. I started to hurriedly drive to Gun G/SP-013, anxious to record an activation before the current day morphed into tomorrow. Then I remembered that we were in British Summer Time, and in fact I had all the time in the world - well, an extra hour to what I thought, anyway!
I completed the drive and walk to Gun summit in a much more unhurried fashion. A single QSO with Troy G7LHK was made on 2m FM, but like on The Cloud earlier, VHF was uncharacteristically quiet.
Friday 15th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
This evening’s totals: 12 other people on The Cloud, 2 other people on Gun. Plenty of space for standing aside and letting people pass. Plenty of respect shown by all parties, so rapid evasive action was never required (unlike a typical trip to the supermarket).
Set off from home at 8.15pm BST. Returned home 100 minutes later at 9.55pm. In between, I activated the two summits with four 2m FM QSOs on each. Great to get Steve 2W0JYN and Steph MW6SHJ in both activation logs - they are very supportive and regular chasers in my log. In contrast, I’d not heard anything of Pete 2E0LKC and Anne 2E0LMD since the end of Lockdown; I would have expected them to appear in my logs for every activation - I hoped that they were OK.
Saturday 16th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015, Gun G/SP-013 & Shining Tor G/SP-004
After The Cloud G/SP-015, over to Gun G/SP-013, with just six 2m FM handheld QSOs. Then home for a spectacular afternoon tea in the sunshine on the patio, before heading out for an evening activation of Shining Tor G/SP-004 with Jimmy.
Sunday 17th May 2020 - Shining Tor G/SP-004, Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
After Shining Tor G/SP-004, then drove over to Gun G/SP-013. This was very similar. Walkers in the oncoming direction to be avoided every five minutes or so, but again easy with loads of space and mutual politeness.
2m FM handheld - 8 QSOs
Then, on the way home, The Cloud G/SP-015.
Monday 18th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
A little jaunt up my two local hills after tea on a Monday evening. A remarkable 31 QSOs made in a total of 15 minutes operating time across the two summits. Anyone still saying VHF is dead?
Tuesday 19th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, a quick handheld 2m FM activation to complete the usual double before heading back home. All the Stockport Radio Society contingent had gone QRT, but a few regular chasers were still on air. Including Frank MW0OFA - a great contact to the Pembrokeshire coast with just the HT!
Wednesday 20th May 2020 - Shining Tor G/SP-004, Gun G/SP-013 & The Cloud G/SP-015
My final contact on Shining Tor G/SP-004 earlier was with Simon G7WKX. He advised me of some Sporadic E on 6m, so a slight repack of the rucksack was necessary after parking on the side of Gun Moor. Once on the summit, I set up the SOTAbeams SB6 Moxon antenna and pointed it south. All the action was coming from EA, and several QSOs were made on 6m FT8. Switching to 6m CW, it was a GW and a G answering the call, but then a very nice contact into Gibraltar, followed by a station in Portugal.
On Gun G/SP-013, I needed to be in the vicinity of the summit for take-off purposes, but well off the three paths that intersect there, for social distancing purposes. I found a spot in the heather just beyond the summit, and was especially careful not to misplace my sunglasses. Irritatingly though, I did lose my rubber. And I had a mistake in my logbook to erase as well - grrr!
I next went over to The Cloud G/SP-015 to complete my local triad, before returning home.
Thursday 21st May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Just a single contact on the handheld. Still, it counts as an activation!
Saturday 23rd May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
I was up early and fancied a bit of early SOTA. I succumbed to my 30m addiction and forgot about my 12m-10m agenda.
18 QSOs, all EU, on 30m FT8 on The Cloud and then 1 QSO on 2m FM on Gun.
I was back home after two activations at the early hour of 0930 BST. I decided to go and do one of my “from the front door” / "Lockdown" walks, and get some photos for the section of my website I am building for them. This was an approximately 14km route through two contrasting sections of Danes Moss and several farms on the south and west of Macclesfield. Being ten minutes walk from rural Cheshire countryside has proved to be a godsend during lockdown.
After getting back home, we had a chicken biryani and onion pakora from our corner shop. A young couple have recently taken it over and the lady occasionally offers meals cooked to order, made “Apna” - homestyle. After tea, I dedicated the evening to antenna building. I used my favourite antenna wire - the green extra-strong military spec stuff from SOTAbeams. I went for 4 radials and RG58 feeder. I set it up in the front garden and soon worked an LA station on 10m CW with 5 watts from the 817. I then chatted with a Richard G3CWI across town on both bands SSB. So the antenna worked, and was good for use on the two bands.
Sunday 24th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Over to Gun after The Cloud G/SP-015, and three QSOs on 2m FM, including S2S to Caer Caradoc G/WB-006 x2. Spotted a car and a dipole on the road up to a Gun. This turned out to be net control for the South Manchester ARC 80m net.
Monday 25th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Exactly one hour after working him over on The Cloud G/SP-015, Barry 2E0PXW was once again my one and only QSO in a SOTA activation!
Tuesday 26th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Exactly two minutes after working him here on Gun, Barry 2E0PXW was working for a SOTA contact, The UTC day had ticked over at 0000z (1am local BST), so a new SOTA activation could commence. Dave G7SKR in Warrington also called in at this late hour. An activation of The Cloud G/SP-015, would take place much later, on the Tuesday evening.
Wednesday 27th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
After The Cloud G/SP-015, I just took the handheld up Gun. Four QSOs on 2m FM.
Thursday 28th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
Gig: Liam Read & Tom Read
Venue: NHS Clap, our street!
During the morning, before activating The Cloud G/SP-015, I'd learned of the sad recent passing of local renowned folk musician Arthur Wakefield. That took me back 31 years to gigging in folk clubs with Arthur, appearing on BBC Radio Stoke with him and recoring his 1989 album "For All The Good People".
On Gun, I made just one QSO, but it was a 20 minute long ragchew! It felt quite unusual to conduct an "activation" in this manner, but the chat with Ian G0XBU in Goostrey was most enjoyable! After returning home, thoughts turned to the final Thursday night NHS Clap on the street at 8pm. Liam and I had been entertaining our neighbours after the clap every week with a few songs. This became popular with the residents of our street!
Friday 29th May 2020 - The Cloud G/SP-015 & Gun G/SP-013
I was pretty late getting out on the Friday night. Just about as late as it is possible to be while still squeezing two summit activations in! 2m FM handheld operation on both summits!