…properly. None of this local summit repeat activation/contest malarky. None of this me and Jimmy going on separate outings to each but respecting our “pact” to only do trivial non-unique one pointers in each other’s absence. We actually had a proper outing today.
SOTA expeditions are proving hard to come by. For a start we had all that snow over Christmas and the start of the year, that relegated all best intentions to the dustbin. Then it was Jimmy’s burgeoning success in his sixth form studies - Maths and Further Maths A levels, both rumbling along quite nicely at grade A. Let me explain. Jimmy’s formula for this success is that he (i) has a big lie-in on Saturdays and (ii) doesn’t do anything major if he has school the next day - which takes most of the Sundays out of the equation!
However, on Sunday 28th March 2010, he didn’t have school the following day, having broken up for the Easter hols. Target Lake District, and the last two of the Far Eastern Marilyns that we needed - Tarn Crag G/LD-026 and Grayrigg Forest G/LD-038.
The day began with Jimmy waking me up at 7.25am. It seems that loss of one hour’s sleep had proven too much for my body to handle, and I had slept right through all three of the staggered alarm sets on my Eton E3 world band RDS radio. Still, at least I was feeling the benefits of a good kip and sprang out of bed to put the soup on the hob.
By 8.30am, we were ordering full English cooked breakfasts and mugs of tea at the Lymm Truck Stop, and sitting down to devour these platters while watching the Australian F1 Grand Prix on the plasma screens. Jenson Button triumphed, which reminded me that I had omitted to ask for a portion of mushrooms as an optional extra to my breakfast.
Onto the M6, we zoomed up to J36 listening to Sportsweek on BBC Radio 5 Live. I would normally have nattered on the GB3MN repeater, but Andy M1VIP - who we happened to meet at Lymm - informed me that it had been closed down due to abuse.
Jimmy directed me through Kendal town centre and out on the A6, before a series of turnings culminating in the 5 mile cul-de-sac up to Sadgill. I parked the Picasso on a stony area where the track widens at its start, and Jimmy and I got walking into the valley.
Longsleddale was lovely, walking along a walled track with a flat valley-bottom meadow beside, a quiet stream gently slicing it in two. Further up, there was a deep narrow gorge carefully carved by the stream, followed by a series of waterfalls. This successfully took the mind off the increasing steepness as we climbed out onto Brownhowe Bottom.
Instead of taking the direct route up by the fence, Jimmy insisted that he was following Richard G3CWI’s route, and continued on the bridleway over very damp ground. Eventually, this started to pull up the hill - and Jimmy started to pull away - again. Various other walkers were coming the other way, and exchanged jokes about my sociable son. I explained that he had agreed to come out hiking with his dad - but had not understood the word ‘with’! To be fair I did bump into him occasionally during the day - in the car, and on the summits. And there was one place where he did wait for me - at the till in the Lymm Truck Stop…
I topped out on Tarn Crag G/LD-026, and thought that it was a lovely summit. In fact it had been a great walk. Finding very slight shelter for the biting cold wind, just down a steep bank from the weird stone monument up there, I set up for 30m with the 817, MPP and dipole. Jimmy meanwhile was getting going on 2m FM with VX-110 handheld and SOTA Beam, and enjoying a pile-up resulting in 14 QSOs. Once QRV, I managed 18 on HF, plus a couple on 2m FM with the handheld and rubber duck after packing away again. Not before the first serving of New England Fish Chowder soup though! I did offer the WOTA reference of LDW-104 as well, but there we no takers.
For the descent, we elected to try the direct route down to the bridleway, and this was straightforward and saved us some time. A brisk march back to the car (brisker for Jimmy than me - I didn’t see him at all for most of the descent) meant that we had enough time left to do Grayrigg Forest G/LD-038.
Again, I left the navigation and directions to the reinstalled “JimNav”, and he brought me to the start of the access road to the transmitter stations near Grayrigg Forest. The signage - with instructions about how members of the public should drive on this tarmac road - indicated that this road was good for public use, as reported by Phil G1OPV in recent months.
We parked up by the top (second) transmitter station, and began the walk across the hilly moorland. After climbing a wall stile, the route was undulating with several significant and energy sapping ups and downs. Nothing that would cause anyone any problems, but sufficient to refocus our determination towards the end of a long day. But it wasn’t a long walk, and about 20 minutes from the car brought us out by the trig point at the summit.
Working conditions were as on Tarn Crag G/LD-026 earlier, with Jimmy operating 2m FM from the Yaesu VX-110 and SOTA Beam, while I concentrated on 30m CW from the Yaesu FT-817 and halfwave dipole. This time it was 20 QSOs for me, and 8 for Jimmy. Content at successfully achieving the day’s optimal objectives (Grayrigg Forest was only earmarked as a ‘possible’ 2nd summit), we packed up and strode back to the car.
The return journey was uncomplicated and unimpeded, and we were sitting down to dab and chips (no, I’d never heard of it either) at home just after 8.30pm. A thoroughly enjoyable day, and many thanks to everyone that worked us. Moreover, Tarn Crag is an excellent fell and lovely walk - I heartily recommend it.