Jimmy and I got in the car shortly after 7am on Tuesday 1st June 2010, and set off from Macclesfield on the first leg of our Summer of SOTA. Refuelling was the first objective, so we did just that - diesel for the car and sausage, egg, bacon, toast, mushrooms, beans, hash brown, black pudding and tea for our bellies. We pulled away from Lymm Truck Stop and onto the M6 Northbound - Lake District here we come!
In car audio entertainment was provided by two classic rock albums recently acquired on CD - “Blizzard of Oz” and “Diary of a Madman” by Ozzy Osbourne. It’s nearly thirty years since I heard these LPs and I had forgotten how good they were. Jimmy was immersed for the first time into the guitar mastery of Randy Rhoads.
The weather forecast was for a damp morning, improving in the afternoon, followed by a clear night and a super day tomorrow. The weather was performing exactly as the Met Office and its rain radar had illustrated as we drove north, and so we made some contingency changes to planning. In the worst weather of the two days, we would activate the easiest hill - Holme Fell G/LD-051.
First job though was to secure a bed for the night. Although all our target uniques were over towards the Langdales and beyond, I also planned to do the RSGB 2m activity contest from Gummer’s How G/LD-050 that evening. Hence I figured that Windermere would be a good place to find a B&B room. Most places had the “No Vacancies” sign up, but Windermere has hundreds of guest houses, and it did not take long cruising around the back streets to find something.
Now we were in business, and continued north through Ambleside and onto the Coniston road. We ignored the right turn into Langdale, where we would be heading later and again tomorrow, and continued until the next right. This one we did take, following it up to the car park overlooking the quarry. Sadly, here there was a lot of unsightly litter, food packets, unused sausages and beer cans, presumably from a barbecue.
Jimmy led off onto the bridleway which meandered in a generally south-westerly direction, until our left turning onto a smaller path. Jimmy initially headed for the cairn immediately ahead, but I called him back and pointed to the much higher one to our right. We climbed up to this one and met a couple up there. Cameras were exchanged as seems to be standard practice!
Jimmy stayed close to the summit to operate on 2m FM with his Yaesu VX-110 handheld and SOTA Beam. I dropped back down the path somewhat to get a little shelter, before setting up for 40m CW with the Yaesu FT-817 and dipole. No sooner was it up, and one of the (already weak) thinner sections of pole snapped! Remedial action was applied courtesy of some tape in my rucksack, and I was soon on the air.
The rain was now coming down rather heavily, and 40m was also a washout. I had never know 7.032MHz be so devoid of action - well not 'til later anyway! Just six contacts were made before I decided to pack up and get walking again. Jimmy M3EYP had qualified also, so he wasn’t far behind me. We returned down to the car and hung out our already wet coats on the car seat backs.
The next target was Lingmoor Fell G/LD-040.