Black Combe LD-030 Activation 15th November 2009
Well Sunday early morning saw me heading north into LD with the intention of activating both Harter Fell and Hard Knott. However, having passed the Three Shire Stone on Wrynose Pass and approaching Cockley Beck and the bridge, I was frustrated to see a sign on the bridge ‘Pass Closed’ with diversion signs in place. From here I could see to the top of Hard Knott Pass and a mere stones throw away, however, continued on the diversion signs route.
Eventually I arrived on the A595, what to do now. I know, will settle for a 1 pointer, Muncaster Fell, a unique for me. Reached the castle entrance and parked opposite in what appeared to be a free car park. Checked map and as I did so the heavens opened, heavy rain for a half hour. Decided that I would put this expedition down to experience and head home……. What a wasted journey!
However, while travelling on the A595 homeward bound the WX changed dramatically and as I approached Bootle the sun came out and my next thought was that the day could be saved by activating Black Combe (4 points). The church at Whicham soon came into view and I pulled into the lay-by at the entrance to the church lane. Kit on, passed the church and Craft centre, down the alley and onto the lane continuing the 500m towards the farm building with untethered barking German Shepard behind a gate that did not look high enough to keep the dog in and me from getting my bottom bit. I scurried up the lane and eventually the gate and bridleway on the right taking me steeply up the side of Moorgill Beck. Passing Townend Knotts I eventually reached the more level track and took a breather, before continuing on the easier track/incline for the remaining 2 km to the summit. As I reached the 500m ASL point approximately, visibility was down to 50m and glimpses of the Irish Sea to the west could occasionally be seen through the mist, the wind was picking up, but nothing to thwart my progress. Soon at the large arrow on the floor made up of stones pointing to the summit and very soon located the large circular stone shelter with the white painted trig point inside. The trig point stone was covered in small wooden crosses at its base with poppy’s on, I imagine an Armistice Day service had been held the previous Sunday at the summit.
Set myself up in the summit shelter with my back to the south wall and noted that the wind had increased somewhat and decided that perhaps the 2m 3el beam carried would be a poor choice to deploy but this would be the ideal opportunity to carry out my first activation with the newly acquired SOTA MFD Portable antenna. First impression of the antenna was that collapsed it fitted neatly and totally within my rucksack, easy to erect, the sections fitted together easily with the sleeves fitted (more rigid than the Rucksack Special top end section) and sufficient 2.5m RG58 coax length with BNC fitted to accommodate the VX-170 comfortably while operating in a sitting position. No SSB today so the MFD was operated vertically. The shoelace ½ wave 4m antenna was taped to the MFD along its entire length terminating at the Wouxun KG-699E. Ready to start operating.
First in the log was a Summit to Summit with Iain M3WJZ/P on High Street LD-011 on 2m fm followed by Dave G1CCL and Ron G8CXR (Fleetwood) on 4m, 59 both ways. Only 7 contacts thereafter on 2m fm with the furthest contact being Brian G4ZRP on the Wirral again with a 59 received. Was nice to work Jamie 2E0ITS back in Fleetwood and congratulations on your Intermediate call.
With regards to the MFD antenna, WX relatively pleased with its performance on this QRP activation. Easy to store and carry in a medium size rucksack, simple and very quick to deploy and in poor WX is ideal for a quick activation. Although not a lot of contacts today signal reports were good and audio reports received were excellent. I know this antenna has received much criticism for various reasons, but I found it ideal in the conditions mentioned, certainly would recommend it for both SOTA and WOTA fm activations where a beam cannot perhaps be employed due to poor WX conditions. Hopefully SSB will be tested at some stage in the future.
Thanks to all stations worked……………