Summits on the Air

Scottish Borders Region - G/SB

Site Notes:
On every page in this site the SOTA logo at the top of the page provides
a link to the official SOTA website.
All pictures in the text have a link to
a full size picture.

 

 

 

The Scottish Borders is a Region of wide-open spaces

A view across the SB Hills from Shillhope Law

that include Kielder forest, the Northumberland National Park and the English prelude to the Scottish Southern Uplands. There are only 8 summits in this group but they still present a significant challenge since the combination of the weather that can be as severe as any upland area of England along with ground conditions that can be boggy and interspersed with heather or tussocks of wire like grass, requires careful route planning. All of the summits are approachable via. and may be activated from, "open country" following the rollout of CroW to this region at end May 2005.  For each summit at least one suggested route is described and a downloadable route with waypoints is provided, in both Garmin gdb and Memory Map mmo format which can be loaded into a GPS. It is expected that additional routes will be added once they have been reconnoitred

Visitors to this region are often surprised by the much lower amount of radio activity than further south, so do not simply expect to put out a few CQ calls on 2m VHF or 70cm UHF and experience a flood of replies on every summit in this region. The region has indeed been relatively quiet in terms of SOTA activity prior to 2006 but into 2006 the level of activity has increased significantly.
 

Operation on The Cheviot. The fence provides mounting for the antennae avoiding the need to use guys. Bungy cords work well for attaching to fence posts

 
The total number of activations for all the SB summits in the database up till June 2005, was just 23 whereas there were 50 summits elsewhere in the UK with more activations just themselves at that same point in time. We hope to update this perspective with more recent data some time soon  For most of the summits you will be able to get a reasonable number of replies, depending on the time of day, from North East or Borders Amateurs who up till June 2005 had accounted for 84% of the QSOs with fixed stations on VHF. From some summits you may even manage summit to summit with SOTA activators in the Southern Scotland, Tyne to Wash, Northern Pennines or Lake District regions but at times you may struggle to get any VHF/UHF contacts and HF will be the your best chance of a contact. At the last count, HF accounted for 37% of the overall QSOs from SB summits but 64% of the QSOs from the 4 highest and more remote summits.

We strongly recommend that prior to attempting any activation in the SB area, you post an alert of your intention on the SOTAwatch Alerts site. There are a few activators and chasers in the North East who monitor the SOTAwatch Alerts site who will listen out for your call, but will also advise other amateurs in the area of your activation attempt and that will dramatically increase your chance of success.  Over time it is the intention to record some specific experiences of SOTA activators in each of the pages on this site devoted to each of the individual summits.

Of the 8 summits in the Scottish Borders Region, three lie within the Northumberland National Park namely, The Cheviot,

Long Crag from the south across the fields.

Shillhope Law and Tosson Hill.  Sighty Crag lies just within the county of Cumbria while the 7 other summits lie in the county of Northumberland.  Peel Fell lies almost on the Scottish border and being a broad rounded summit like most in this region, has a broad activation area of which about 50% lies on the Scottish side of the border. So this summit can be activated by a SOTA station operating as either G or a GM provided due attention is paid to ensuring the station is located on the correct side of the border.  The Cheviot, after which the range of hills in north Northumberland is named, is the highest summit in the group while Housedon hill is the lowest member of the group and is the northern most of all the English Association summits,  last of the English summits ever to be activated, second last to be qualified, and one of the most difficult to activate on VHF, as it lies just north of The Cheviot and Hedgehope.

Some of the photographs and route information contained in this site were kindly provided by John, G4YSS.
 

  The Scottish Borders Summits,

There is no SB-002 nor SB-003 in this group. These reference numbers were assigned to Hedgehope (SB-002) and Cushat Law (SB-003) before it was clarified that cols between each of these and The Cheviot do not drop the minimum 150 metres required for Marilyn qualification.

For details of each summit click on either its name or its reference number to go to the summit page.

  SOTA Ref. Name. Height (m)

Points

  SB-001 The Cheviot 815

8

  SB-004 Peel Fell 602

4

  SB-005 Sighty Crag 518 2
  SB-006 Shillhope Law 501 2
  SB-007 Tosson Hill 440 1
  SB-008 Long Crag 319 1
  SB-009 Ros Hill 315 1
  SB-010 Housedon Hill 267 1
 
CRoW

The Countryside Rights of Way legislation was implemented in this region from 28th May 2005  with the conclusive maps having been made available from 7th March 2005.  While it is possible to approach all SB summits across CRoW "Open Country", it may be that these areas are closed at the discretion of the landowner or tenant, for up to 28 days in any calendar year. The person entitled to apply for closures is either the owner of the land if there is no farm tenancy or the farm tenant if the land is subject to a farm tenancy agreement. However the discretionary days are subject to certain rules and cannot be:

  • on any Bank Holiday, Christmas Day or Good Friday,
  • on more than 4 Saturdays or Sundays in any one year,
  • on any Saturday between 1st June and 11th August,
  • on any Sunday between 1st June and 31st September.

Details of closures and any other restrictions for each of the SB summit areas are available from the Countryside Access website although using this website is to say the least rather cludgy. It is badly designed and can be extremely frustrating to use especially as in order to specify a range of dates, after entering your date range, you must specifically reset the "Specific date" field from its default of "Tomorrow" to "---Select One----" or else you get an error message.  Additionally you cannot paste a 2 letter/10 digit grid reference straight out of any of the computer mapping systems e.g. Garmin Mapsource as these contain spacing between the letters, easting and northing, whereas this site will only accept a 2 letter/10 digit grid reference with no spaces. To use the Countryside Access website for the SB region summit start  at http://www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk/things_to_do/open_access/open_access_maps and select region 5. Use the OS grid reference shown on the pages for each summit in this site after removing the blanks between the letters, easting and northing. When you get the results, scroll down to see the restriction or closure details. Feedback has been submitted on these issues to the Countryside Access website so hopefully improvements will result or maybe pigs might fly.
 

 
The Maps

For each summit, a 2km square map obtained from the Ordnance Survey's Get-A-Map service is reproduced in accordance with the terms displayed on the Get-A-Map site and with the kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.  The maps on the Ordnance Survey's Get-A-Map site have been updated since end May 2005, to indicate CRoW "open country" with a light yellow shading.


 

Information Centres

The centres listed below are not all open throughout the year and it is advisable to check opening times if planning to visit any of them.
 

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National Park Information Centres

Northumberland National Park Centre,
Church House,
Church Street,
Rothbury,
NE65 7UP

TEL: +44 (0)1669 620887
FAX: +44 (0)1669 620887
EMAIL: tic.rothbury@nnpa.org.uk
 
Northumberland National Park Centre,
Ingram,
Powburn,
Alnwick,
NE46 4LT

TEL: +44 (0)1665 578248
FAX: +44 (0)
EMAIL: ingram@coquetdale.net
Northumberland National Park Centre,
Once Brewed,
Military Road,
Barden Mill,
NE47 7AN

TEL: +44 (0)1434 344396
FAX: +44 (0)1434 344487
EMAIL: tic.oncebrewed@nnpa.org.uk
 
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Tourist Information Centres

Alnwick Tourist Information Centre
2 The Shambles,
Alnwick,
NE66 1TN

TEL: +44 (0)1665 510665
FAX: +44 (0)1665 510447
EMAIL: alnwicktic@alnwick.gov.uk

Morpeth Tourist Information Centre
The Chantry,
Bridge Street,
Morpeth,
NE61 1PJ

TEL: +44 (01670) 500700
FAX: +44 (0)1670 500710
EMAIL: tourism@castlemorpeth.gov.uk
 

Hexham Tourist Information Centre
Wentworth Car Park,
Hexham,
NE46 1QE

TEL: +44 (0)1434 652220
FAX: +44 (0)1434 652393
EMAIL: hexham.tic@tynedale.gov.uk

Berwick-Upon-Tweed Tourist Information Centre
106 Marygate,
Berwick-upon-Tweed,
TD15 1DT

TEL: +44 (0)1289 330733
FAX: +44 (0)1289 330448
EMAIL: L.Suthren.ber001@berwick-upon-tweed.gov.uk
 

The Cheviot Centre,
12 Padgepool Place,
Wooler,
NE71 6BL

TEL: +44 (0)1668 282123
FAX: +44 (0)1688 283233
EMAIL: woolerTIC@berwick-upon-tweed.gov.uk
 
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Links

These links provide information, some of which may just be relevant to SOTA,  but mainly links provide information about the region in general. Some links may provide opportunities for family entertainment a.k.a. "parking the family" while conducting an activation. If you require further  information about the North East or the Northumberland area, particularly about the countryside or walking in the region, that is not currently on this site please feel free to e-mail the website editor GCQK at the e-mail address displayed at the bottom of this page.

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Garden
Bamburgh Castle
Cragside (National Trust)
Coquetdale Net
Hadrian's Wall
Kielder Water and Forest Park
Made in Northumberland
Northumberland County Council
Northumberland National Park
Northumberland Rock Art (Archaeological)
Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Northumbria Tourist/One NorthEast Tourism
Rothbury & Coquetdale
The Countryside Agency North East Pages
The Secret Kingdom (Northumberland)
Wallington (National Trust)
 

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If you can provide any updates on the information in this site,  provide details of alternate approaches, correct any errors or share information on your experiences with different bands or modes, please e-mail these to me, the website editor, GCQK at the e-mail address which is displayed below as a graphic and not as link so as to avoid spam bots. Much of what is contained in this website was originally written from memory, with some corroborative research on the internet. What surprised me in writing the details, was how vague my memory was of the specifics because I did not have any intention to create this website until early 2005. Hence there have been several updates in the course of 2005 and 2006 and there are more to come. There are may details that still need to the re-checked during my visits to the Northumberland hills over the next few years. If you plan to visit any of the summits described here check back just before doing so in case some of the information has been updated.

  

Last updated 29th May 2006. Please advise of any errors, even spelling!!