Right at the peak of his radio hobby!

THERE ain't no mountain high enough for a South Tyneside radio amateur.

Simon Reynolds has the unusual hobby of broadcasting from the tops of mountains – the higher the better – to avid listeners in the valleys below.

The 46–year–old financial advisor from Boldon Colliery is a member of Summits On The Air – an award scheme for adventurous radio amateurs and shortwave listeners.

He regularly dons his walking boots and rucksack – containing 40lbs of radio equipment, including a small car battery and antenna – to climb hills.

Mr Reynolds decided to combine his love of hiking and amateur radio at the end of 2005, and has so far climbed 30 peaks across the UK.

He said: "I've always been a keen fell walker, so I decided to combine the two – it seemed like the perfect combination.

"I guess it is quite an unusual hobby, but there is a lot of kit to carry up the hills by the time I've packed my equipment – and, of course, my flask and sandwiches!"

Mr Reynolds, who lives with wife Denise, 47, and children Fiona, 13 and Andrew, nine, is what's known as an 'activator' when he reaches a summit.

Once he's at the top of a peak, he needs to make contact with four 'chasers' sitting in their homes with receivers before his trek can be officially logged.

Each summit is assigned a number of points between 1 and 10, depending on how difficult it is to scale, and certificates for people reaching 100, 250, 500 and 1,000 activator points are available.

Trophies are also presented to those passing 1,000 points.

Mr Reynolds, who so far has 217 points, said: "Before I go up a mountain, I will announce online where and when I'm going, so hopefully people will try and make contact with me.

"It can take a while though and you do have to be patient.

"Once, I was in the west coast of Scotland, in the Highlands, and it was a terrible rainy day.

"I made contact with one man who was a registered user, and he then put his wife on, who was also registered, but that was it, there wasn't anyone else about, so it was bit of a waste of time."

So when Mr Reynolds does make contact with a chaser, what does he talk about?

"The weather, of course!" he laughed.

"That usually tends to be the first topic of conversation. Everyone likes to know what it's like where the other person is. You have a little chat and that's about it.

"Once, though, this man in his 80s wanted to be on and I couldn't shut him up. It was about minus 10 degrees and I was absolutely freezing."

He added: "The furthest anyone has ever been from me was when I was in the Lake District and they were in Wales.

"It depends what frequency you use as to how far away you can reach."

Mr Reynolds tends to go on his treks with pals – even though they have no interest in radio.

He added: "When I can't get through to anyone, they joke that I've got no friends.

"Once, I was up a mountain trying for so long they thought I was going to be up there forever."

Log on to the Summits On The Air website at www.sota.org.uk for more information on Simon's unusual hobby.