In early August 2009, while I was lazing on a beach in Kefalonia, Paul G4MD took the opportunity to play catch up in the North Pennines region, activating those summits that I had activated without him. Paul also managed to activate Calf Top NP-022 which was a summit that I had not been up and for the past 13 months I have had it in my mind to level the NP playing field. Activating a single summit is not at all cost efficient, since it entails over 400 road miles. I had therefore been looking for a way to incorporate this summit into my schedule and get some value out of the day. An email from Mike G4BLH saying that he would like to join us for an activation some time when we were in the NPs or LDs provided the answer – I would ask him to join me for a joint activation of Calf Top.
We set the date as Thursday 16th September subject to the weather. Heavy rain and strong winds prevailed over several days beforehand and eventually subsided just in time to make the activation possible. A single summit day did not require an early start on my part, but I might as well have been up and away as I didn’t sleep particularly well. I had planned to leave home at 05:00z, but only managed to last out until 04:35z before I hit the road. Delays around Manchester meant that I needed 5 minutes more than the satnav time for the journey to Mike’s QTH in Brierfield. After a leisurely cup of tea at Mike’s and loading his kit into the boot of my car, we got under way for the parking spot at 08:00z.
On this occasion the satnav had a trick up its sleeve. Shortly after Ingleton it had us heading down Kingsdale to Dent rather than what I expected would be the more direct route via Kirkby Lonsdale and into Barbondale. Our reward for taking this circuitous route was to see at extremely close quarters a pair of Kestrels on the wing. I was also able to show Mike the best parking spots for Whernside and Great Coum. In Dent we had a short delay waiting for a very large containerised removal truck to negotiate the narrow cobbled streets. It was then onto Gawthrop and left up to the parking spot at SD683864 where the road is wide enough to allow parking.
Mike was already sorted out with his boots on, so after a reasonably quick turn round with my preparations, we were making our ascent by 09:40z, ten minutes earlier than planned. Yes, I even had an itinerary for this single summit outing! We used the CWI route heading north from the parking spot and faired reasonably well until the quad bike tracks became faint and indistinct and we lost the route. This is an ascent that you can’t really get lost on and heading west up steep ground we reached the stone wall that runs over the summit some 500 metres south-west of where we should have intersected it. At the meeting of two walls (SD673689) there was a stile to make the traverse easy and we were closer to our goal than we would have been had we been on track. The final part of the ascent was an easy stroll over Barkin Top to the summit of Calf Top a kilometre further on.
We reached the trig at 11:04 – cue lunch! Having consumed a quick sarnie, Mike was first on running his Tait transceiver on 4m FM. John MW1FGQ was monitoring the calling frequency and after a quick chat, they moved to 23cms FM. While still in QSO, Mike wandered down to where I was setting up in the shelter of the stone wall. I quickly assembled my 23cms kit and with some difficulty made contact with John. I later discovered a fault on the antenna at the feed point. Mike wandered back up to the trig point and resumed operations on 4m FM, with another 4 contacts quickly in the log. Once the frequency went quiet, Mike came back down to me to see whether I could elicit a spot for him – fortunately I was in contact with Tony 2E0LAE at the time who not only carried out Mike’s wish, but also spotted me. Unfortunately the spot for Mike did not result in any further contacts on 4m despite several people having looked for him.
Once I was set up on 2m SSB, John MW1FGQ called me to start the run off followed by Tony. The 2m run was not long in coming. Roger G0TRB was already on frequency and a steady run ensued thereafter, with two or three calling at any one time. Mike came down to see how I was getting on and I suggested that he try 2m FM as we were reasonably well apart on the summit. My run on SSB went on until 12:14z when I had 17 in the log – brilliant for a weekday activation. Several people said it was a new summit for them – that’s always pleasing. I moved to 70cms SSB after 2m, but there were no callers. To check the kit was working properly, I tried a call on 433.500MHz FM and immediately had another contact with John MW1FGQ. Returning to 432.222MHz produced no further contacts on 70cms despite 10 minutes of near constant calling on SSB and CW.
Mike’s 2m FM session started at 12:05 and he had a dozen in the log in just 17 minutes using his FT-817 and half wave antenna. Mike then tried 70cms FM and had the same result as me – just a single contact with John. Returning to 2m FM, Mike then made S2S contacts with Martyn M1MAJ and Caroline M3ZCB on Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018 followed by a further S2S with Paul M6PEW/P on Hutton Roof Crags G/LD-052. By this time I was giving the key a bash on 30m and managed to pick up S2Ss with Caroline and Paul using my C710 between periods of listening to white noise on 10.118MHz. My operation on 30m started well enough with John OE7PHI coming straight back to my first CQ immediately followed by Roland SM1CXE – then nothing! After 10 minutes of calling CQ, I worked Greg DL8NGC, but that was it despite more CQs afterwards.
I was the last to go QRT at 12:00z and ten minutes later we were making our descent. About 300m from the summit I suddenly realised that I had not taken any pictures, but Mike had bagged one for me, so I wasn’t that fussed. Our descent took a similar route to our ascent with a slightly more direct line taken at the bottom to bring us to the car at 14:15z. We set off down Barbondale at 14:28z and reached Mike’s house at 15:45z where another excellent cup of tea was consumed before I headed off to refuel and then take the M65 to the M6 near Preston in order to avoid Manchester. It was 19:40z when I reached home.
So 450 miles for a single summit – barmy some might say, but the day was all about the opportunity to enjoy a joint activation with Mike and that’s what was achieved. The weather was excellent with sun, cloud and wind in varying amounts throughout the day. We could see rain to the west of our position, but thankfully it did not fall on us. It seems that I have not put off Mike wanting to accompany Paul and myself on joint activations, so expect 3 on a summit at some future date.
Thanks to Tony for the spots as noted and to Sue G1OHH for spotting Mike’s 2m FM session. Also to everyone that came on to work us – hopefully speak to you again soon.
73, Gerald G4OIG