Sunday 6th June 2021 - Hightown Hill GM/SS-273, See Morris Hill GM/SS-274 & Bishop Forest Hill GM/SS-228
One of the (many) great and life-changing things about SOTA is the inspiration derived from the activities and stories of others. I read reports of people doing things I thought weren’t realistically possible - Jon G4ZFZ combining SOTA with overnight backpacking wild camping, Gerald G4OIG and Paul G4MD getting up at ridiculous o’clock in a morning to do 700 mile round-trip daytrips in order to bag a new one-point unique, making arrangements to visit private estates and uninhabited islands, climbing 12,000 foot volcanos abroad, operating on FT8 - that sort of thing.
Well with every summit in G, GW, GI, GD, GU and GJ now activated, it was time for Jimmy M0HGY and me to cross another off the list - a daytrip to Scotland! We had some really good advice and information from Andy MM0FMF and Phil G4OBK in the days ahead. Thanks guys! Where the planning went wrong was that instead of going to bed at 10pm ahead of a planned 5am get-up, I went to bed at midnight. And then could I sleep? No chance. At 3am I PM’d Jimmy to let him know when he woke up to have another two hours - 7am was now the get-up. I eventually managed 2.5 hours sleep, which was far from ideal, but come 6.30am I felt alert, rested and ready-to-go.
Even so, I was acutely aware that this could prove to be a huge problem, so I made a promise to myself to curtail the day at any point I saw fit, and also to take service station naps on the way back home as and when required! As it turned out, we activated 3 of a planned possible 4 SOTA summits, and I got home safely without needing a nap or even a coffee. The self-discipline from my band touring days gave me assurance that I would be cautious and rest appropriately as and when required.
We set off from Macclesfield around 7.15am BST and made our way up the M6 to Tebay Services. Here I picked up a Cumberland sausage bap each, and a tea for Jim and cappucino for me. We next went to Southwaite services in the hope of buying the OS Explorer maps for the day, but the map shop there now seemed to be a Greggs! It was OK as we had already the printed out sheets we needed from my online OS Maps subscription, but Jimmy likes to collect the paper maps for summits visited. What Southwaite did have was a West Cornwall Pasty shop. We’d only just had breakfast, but we fancied the Steak & Tribute Ale pasties, and figured that if we had those, we wouldn’t have to worry about food until teatime on the way home - and we had a definite plan for that!
We’d started out in heart-sinking grey drizzle in Macclesfield earlier, but as we passed the large metallic Saltaire on the Scottish border, it was brightening up to be a glorious day. Jimmy was, as usual, in charge of navigation, both on the roads and in the hills, and he directed me unerringly to the farm at Hightown, immediately to the west of Hightown Hill, and NNE of Dumfries. We dropped a little further down the road north until we found a suitable place to park the car. We walked back up the road to the farm, and the left (east) onto a good track aiming initially straight up the hill. This then swung right to gain height in a more gentle and graded way around the western flanks of the hill. We finally veered off the track at its highest point to strike directly for the summit.
It was a simple climb of around 15-20 minutes. The official Marilyn top is now on the adjacent hillfort - a twin peak - so at some point this hill will have a new location and a new SOTA reference - so we were glad to ‘bag’ it! We had a great activation. As would be the M.O. for the rest of the day too, Jimmy operated on 2m FM with an FT-817 and SOTAbeams MFD, while I had my own FT-817, 20m groundplane quarterwave and various modes available. We would “hot-desk” and swap stations when phone-mode S2S opportunities came up that we knew each other would wish to work! Next it was off to See Morris Hill GM/SS-274.
20m CW: 12 QSOs
20m SSB: 16 QSOs
2m FM: 4 QSOs
2m C4FM: 1 QSO
S2S: EA1/BU-061, EA2/SS-046, HB/TI-142, HB/FR-030, GM/SS-056, SP/BS-029, DM/BW-010, EA2/BI-064, S5/PK-026, LA/OL-046, GM/SS-033
20m SSB: 3 QSOs
2m FM: 12 QSOs
2m C4FM: 1 QSO
S2S: HB/TI-142, GM/SS-056, SP/BS-029, LA/OL-046, GM/SS-033