This is a LONG write up since it covers the SOTA highlights of a three week EU tour.
So time for the annual family trip, and this year we decided England and Germany ftw. I was not sure how much SOTA I would get to do, but I took my gear anyway!! After spending a few days in London we took one of those awesome cheap flights on Ryan air to Germany and landed in Memmingen, picked up a rental and away we went. Stop one was going to be Neuschwanstein, and would you not guess but yes there was some SOTA action to be had. There is a trail up by the castle that accesses two different SOTA peaks and that being Branderscrofen (DL/AM-031) and Säuling (OE/TI-448). There are a few other peaks in the area, but these can both be accessed from the town of Schwangau Germany. Oh if I could have had one more day, I could have had two associations. :).
The hike from Neuschwanstein to Branderscrofen is ~5.5 miles of which the first 2.5 miles gains 80% of the elevation. Once we reached the cruising altitude, (I mean flat stretch) up high the hike went pretty quick. There is also a tram you can take to reach an area that is ~25 minutes from the summit, and also has a restaurant, and heli port for hang gliders and paragliders. The summit is a knife edge ridge, and there is not a lot of room for what is a very popular summit. I ended up tossing my vertical for HF off the side and radials deployed as normal. A few folks showed interest in what I was doing and as usual I obliged. I ended up getting three s2s one of of which was a gentlemen who was 15km away in Austria (vhf). In less then an hour I ended up with contacts in the UK, Munich, Sweden, Austria and Poland.
|10:36z||DD5LP||14MHz||SSB||58 into Munich.|
|10:45z||SA4BLM||14MHz||SSB||Sweden!! s57, r55|
|10:46z||MC0POG||14MHz||SSB||55, 55 wales|
|10:49z||G0RQL||14MHz||SSB||r44, s57 South England|
|10:54z||SO9EWA||14MHz||SSB||S2S, SP/BZ-046 s55|
|11:02z||DG1EHM||14MHz||SSB||S2S, DL/AL-107 s/r 55|
We decided to hang a 2nd day in Schwangau since it was so much like home.
Next up we rolled to Stuttgart with the intention of heading to Heidelberg after checking out the Porsche museum. As a last minute effort i opted to snag Königstuhl DM/BW-114. (Soapbox time): So here is where I have to bag yet again on google maps and those that use it as a sole means of navigation off the beaten path. This is the first time I have looked to GM to route me to a summit and I did it without a backup map, and I dare say it looks like GM either uses the wrong datum, or has poor coverage of Germany (well they suck in the US too) because the actual summit and lat long for Konigstuhl vs where GM sends you is off by a mile. I guess Google is not really the cartographers they thought they were and they should either hire pro cartographers, or leave it to the pros. (i have rescued plenty a hiker in the Sierras who thought GM would get them safely to/from many a backcountry spot and failed to do so…). More over for folks who rely soley upon GM, good luck.. Soapbox aside, once on Summit it was a lot of work to get just 4 qso. No one was listening (or they did not hear me) on 2m, and same with 20/40. I managed 1 cw contact with Guru in Spain, another Spanish contact on SSB, Southern England, and a Sweden also on SSB. at this rate it was time to head on but it took me ~90 minutes to get those four contacts.
We spent the next few days heading to Hamburg for our flight to Edinburgh where I was planning to activate Arthur’s Seat; however I had not received word back from HES with approval to operate on the grounds. I later found an individual from HES and they said that there was added security in the area because of some upcoming events they were way behind on approvals etc. So we headed West towards the Battle of Bannockburn as well as Stirling. I was hoping to find some way to get the “GM” association in the books, and I was surrounded by some 4 pointers, and further to the west getting into the highlands some 6 and 8 pointers. The daughter was wanting to see Loch Ness and some of the other lakes in that area, and I thinking the Scottish Highlands would be a cool place to visit, plus we needed a down day to do some laundry headed to Fort William. After scoping the SotaGoat app of the area near Fort William I realized, oh snap that’s the launching point for Ben Nevis! Yes the UK highpoint :D. Funny too because a couple of days before I’d read an article about how the local SAR team refused to come rescue an individual complaining about his feet being too wet.
I wish our SAR team could get away with that, we have had calls similar to that in our area. So, with all that in mind, and the fact that Ben Nevis is socked in more days then not I checked the weather and noticed that Scotland was under a high pressure and was going to be the warmest day in some 100+ years etc.
So with a gallon of water and my gear (and some spare clothes in case) I headed up from the Glen Nevis trailhead. Made the summit in 3hours and 15 minutes, not too shabby. The summit of Ben Nevis is quite impressive actually! It’s easily an acre in size on top, and there is what looks like the remains of a fort built up top and a weather station as well.
I had not even dropped my pack before I heard the first “cq sota” on 2m, so I responded with S2S and we QSY’d to something off the calling freq. The other guy had a buddy that was also able to hear me, so I picked up my second QSO. To boot someone else could hear my side of those QSO, but not the S2S, so I snagged that contact..all told within 4 minutes I had 3 of the 4 needed for the activation. I setup the HF gear, but did not have a way to get my vertical “up”. I did manage 1 on 20m for the 4th. Checking in with the family, they were about to finish up at Loch Ness and thinking I’d need about 3 hours to walk down I tore everything down, finished up my lunch and starting to walk off the summit. Kept the HT in my hand and kept hearing folks calling “cq sota” and I was more then willing to oblige with the S2S. I think I walked another 10 minutes still in the AZ picking up four more 2m contacts, 3 of which were S2S.
We had a July 1 deadline of reaching Bovingdon UK where my son was looking to go to Tankfest. So we opted to head down towards Glasgow, regroup and then roll down south. I have always wanted to see the Lake District, so we cut off at Penrith and started working our way south by Ullswater lake. While at lunch, I whipped out SotaGoat again to see what might have been around, and oddly enough a peak I had favorited for some reason popped up. Red Screes was right off the A592 and looked like a pretty short hike overall (despite the warmth). So once we reached Kirkstone Pass we parked, I tossed a spot on sotawatch, snagged the HT, downed a liter of water and pushed up this peak in about 30 minutes. It is definitely an interesting hike up, as well as an interesting summit area.
This one being a 2m only, I still tossed a spot up since I was near some local areas, and it seems like the UK really love their SOTA activators! I managed to get the contacts I needed in about 20 minutes, and given that I had folks waiting on me down the hill decided to hike down.
|15:34z||M0SPI||144MHz||FM||Steve, s57, r56|
|15:40z||G0HRT||144MHz||FM||Rob, S58, r57|
After the Lake district all of my planned SOTA was taken care of, I’d been hoping for G, GM, DM and DL and accomplished that. Not to be completely done though since Tankfest was sold out, and I had not planned on going anyway I drove down to a nearby peak, setup my vertical and chased S2S for about 5 hours. (ie..I was not looking to activate said peak for points, so just operated as a chaser getting the S2S/Chaser points). Managed a few cw contacts, and spent about 90 minutes trying to get into the pile up for K2I during the July 4th checkin. 20m was real long as I also heard some EA calls trying to make contact with K2I. All in all, did more SOTA then I had hoped for, and at the end of the day the only peak that was on my original list was Branderscrofen, everything else was the result of flying by the seat of our pants, and making it up as we go :D.
A few other parting shots from the various activation hikes..
73 and talk to you on the next summit! — N6JFD