The Frozen North   February 24th, 2016

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I have just returned from one of my regular trips to the north of Scotland. It’s a different world up there, with lots of mountains and some interesting challenges for those who enjoy the out- doors. Ham radio is very active up in the Highlands but there are some skills that we don’t use down here i the south. One of these is that of bouncing VHF signals of the hills. Many hams are locked in by the surrounding mountains and whilst these can work as very effective reflectors on HF, they tend to be major obstructions to VHF propagation. But rather like EME, two stations pointing at the same mounting can bounce their signals such that short range contacts are possible when there is no line of sight capability.


Unfortunately these mountains, friendly as they are for radio, have proved to be a danger to many climbers. Whilst I was up in this area, there was a major search underway for two missing persons.  The regular throb of the helicopter was a reminder of this incident.


On this occasion I did not take any ham gear as operation outside was not possible because of the weather forecast which turned out to true. Not so much cold as high winds and torrential rain. For the very first time I chose to use the overnight train sleeper service from London to Fort William. This proved to be superb, as all the travelling takes place whilst you are asleep.  The fact that the train leaves London destined for Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William and then divides up at 4am in the morning, is an interesting logistic exercise.  I was not awake to see how it works! However, the same takes place in reverse on the way back when all three south bound trains join up around midnight to form a united convoy pulled by one engine.


Peter G3OJV.

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