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G4YSS: G/NP-002 MICKLE FELL on 03-10-15


#1

G4YSS: Activation of MICKLE FELL, G/NP-002 on 03-10-15
Draft-1

MICKLE FELL G/NP-002 on 160-80-30-(20)-17m QRO & 2m-FM QRP.
G4YSS Unaccompanied (Southern Route).
SSEG Club-call GX0OOO/P
All times BST (UTC plus 1hr, UOS)

RADIO EQUIPMENT:
HF-QRO:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver without internal batteries.
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier.
Link dipole for 80-40-(30)-20-10m Bands (CT3 Dipole)
Tunable loading coils for 160m (at 40m band break points).
Four section x 5m home-brew CFC mast with 1/4UNF-SS fittings and 1m end sticks
Unitone 'D’ shape ear-cup headphones.

VHF QRP:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF-5W Transceiver.
Reserve Rig: IC-E90 4-Band, 5W-VHFM H/H (not used).
3-element Sotabeam for 2m-FM.
PVC mast ext’n for use with sotabeam on FM (vertical) atop the lower two mast sections.

Batteries:
One 6Ah Li-Po (Fully discharged)
One 2.2 Ah Li-Po (50% discharged)
One 2.2 Ah Li-Po (Not Used)

GPS:
Garmin GEKO-301

Pack weight:
11.1 kg (24.5 pounds) inc. 1.25 litre fluids

Introduction:
It’s almost 40 years since I first started climbing Mickle Fell, mostly using the (2x) 5 mile northern route from Cow Green reservoir car park via Birkdale Farm and across Maize Beck. Mickle is very special to me and hands down my favourite fell. Though it is Yorkshire’s highest (until 1972 when it was ‘moved’ into Durham) its remoteness and the fact that it’s in a firing range makes it rather unpopular with activators. True, there are plenty of holes in the ground but none are shell holes; rather sink holes, rabbit holes and the occasional old mineshaft. It is not deliberately fired upon, being merely a longstop for the Warcop range.

The summit is assumed to be the large cairn at NY 80587 24533, which takes the glory artificially but the 1:25k map shows a spot height of 788m some 350 metres WSW at NY 80407 24312; not that it matters much.

There is an excellent south eastern approach (described in previous reports). It uses the ‘Grouse Shooter’s Road; a private gravel track which leaves the B6276 road at NY 8719 2110 and is suited to mountain biking. It also goes via the trig point (lately interesting to WAB operators) which is remote from the summit cairn to the tune of 2.2km. However this route in particular and access in general is discouraged by the landowner - Strathmore Estates. Mickle Fell is in the Moorhouse/ Upper Teesdale national nature reserve and it’s open access land.

Notwithstanding the above, I decided to use different route today; one which I have wanted to try for many years. The Cumbria-Durham boundary crosses the B6267 Middleton-in-Tessdale to Brough road and continues up to the western end of Mickle Fell. The terrain doesn’t look too inviting on the map and there is no path marked. Also it is not a steady ascent but undulates a little. A further discouragement is the fact that there are quite a few watercourses to cross, though nothing as big as Maize Beck to the north of Mickle Fell, where my son and I could so easily have been swept down in 1986. I was looking forward to adding the southern route to my list and a change is as good as a rest as they say.

The route:
I parked the car in a pull-off near a cattle grid on the B6276 at NY 8313 1992 next to another car, the owner of which I would meet later. There’s space for about 4 cars with another area over the road if it’s full. The route starts after crossing the cattle grid at NY 8315 1995 but initially no path is evident. Cross a ‘sheep field’ filled with reeds which looks like a bog but isn’t and stride over a low fence to join a quad track which goes up the hill in the desired direction.

Going steeply up then losing height again, you soon pick up a path which more or less parallels the boundary fence, keeping to its NE side. Path waypoints are as follows: NY 8300 2015; NY 8289 2035; NY 8263 2074. There are more undulations before dropping down to cross the substantial watercourse called Connypot Beck at NY 8216 2114. This is easily done courtesy of a substantial but ‘use at your own risk’ wooden footbridge.

Continuing via NY 8202 2123 and NY 8115 2187, you reach a second similar but narrower footbridge at NY 8078 2214. This crosses an unnamed beck which feeds Long Grain but the same rules apply. Both bridges have handrails. The path becomes indistinct and boggy where it bends right at NY 8046 2242 (Force Beck) in sympathy with the fence.

Follow along past NY 8038 2274 and NY 8028 2333 crossing Kings Pot Sike after which the angle increases up to the first stile at NY 8021 2392. A second stile sits right on the edge of the summit plateau at NY 8022 2413. After that you can see the summit cairn (NY 80587 24533) just over five hundred metres away if it’s clear.

Execution:
While climbing the first rise I saw a car pull up next to mine with three people in it. We met later at the summit but by then, one person had dropped out and returned to the road.

There were a few places on the way where the path was lost, usually due to fanning out or an unexpected turn but with the fence as a guide, what can go wrong? I tried skirting some of the undulations but it was pointless. Just follow the path despite the height it loses but some of the nastier bogs, one of which quaked when walked over, are best avoided to the right.

It was a glorious early autumn day without being too warm for walking and though my own shadow spoilt most of them, I stopped for many photos along the way.

MICKLE FELL, G/NP-002, 788m, 6 points. 11:29 to 17:11. 11 Deg C, Wind 3mph. Sunshine throughout, apart from 10 min of low-cloud near the end. WAB: NY82, LOC: IO84UO. Orange (EE) phone coverage at summit plateau but not on route or at the start point.

Eyeball Eyeball - Great minds think alike!
Topping out at the top stile I immediately noticed, even from half a kilometre, that there was a mast next to the summit cairn. On approaching I saw a well known SOTA activator, recognizing him immediately from his photo on the front of last year’s Radcom. This was Dave G0EVV, famous for the biggest rucksack vertical antenna I’ve ever seen! Great minds think alike but it was still a coincidence and maybe only the fourth or fifth time since 2002 that I have come across another activator on a summit. Dave was in ‘high workload mode’ at the time doing CW on 40m but we exchanged introductions and had a brief chat, taking photos with both our cameras.

Summit Tour and Stirling Bomber:
Next was a round of the summit, visiting the various LK488 Stirling bomber wreckage sites. The four engine aircraft hit the top of the fell in January 1944 and there are more than six widely separated spots where parts remain today; the tail gunner having survived inside his turret which ended up 220 metres from the impact point. Most of it, including all four Bristol Hercules radial engines, went via Puma helicopter and then by road to Hendon Museum in September 1977 but it’s been moved on since then. Before that you could have your lunch in the 16 foot fuselage centre section and it was arguably the most complete aircraft crash site in the UK. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1138188

The impact point is at NY 80916 24684 and it overlooks the south aspect. This area hasn’t changed in many years and still remaining are undercarriage parts and a broken prop reduction gearbox. All the other concentrations of wreckage have Cow Green as their view. Most of the aircraft rested in sink holes at NY 80820 24880 until it was taken away.

The ruin (NY 81053 24725) has looked ‘shaky’ for a long time. I expected to see the lintel caved-in but nothing has changed since my last visit and very little since the 1970’s for that matter. Crossing to the north side of the mountain to check out the fuel tank parts at NY 8099 2490, the views over Cauldron Snout and Cow Green were a bit hazy today but it’s still a breathtaking vista. In the past, when it was really quiet, I was able to hear the roar of Caldron Snout from the summit, a distance of more than 4km.

On returning to the summit cairn, Dave was still enjoying working the World so after talking with him and two other arrivals, I made my way back to the western end of the summit to put as much separation as possible between Dave’s and my station. The plan was to start on 30m as it’s not harmonically related to 40m where Dave was currently doing SSB. At this point I dropped plans to activate on 40m myself in favour of other bands; the main one of interest being 1.8 MHz which I’d alerted for mid afternoon. The soil here is only two or three inches deep, about the minimum required for masts and end sticks to penetrate reliably.

10.122 CW - 10 QSO’s:
This, the first session commenced just before 1pm local time, 90 minutes after arriving at the summit. After phoning Roy G4SSH with a request to post me on sotawatch, ten stations were worked starting with Mark G0VOF (559 both ways). Power was set at 30 Watts; 2.5 Watts drive from the FT817ND.

Following a brief QSO with Mark I worked: F6EAZ; OK1ZE; DL3HXX; PA70FAW; F5SQA; SP9AMH; DM2CFE; G6FTB and finally Frid DL1FU. Outgoing reports apart from three were 599 whilst I was getting mostly 579 to 599 from the chasers. Not a bad start considering that 30m wasn’t working too well three weeks ago when I was using it from GM.

18.090 CW - 13 QSO’s:
It was quite a surprise to log a ‘G’ first on here and presumably G0TDM (Penrith) had seen Roy’s spot which he put on for me in response to a second phone call. At 559 both ways John wasn’t strong but there was another surprise when G4SSH called in for a 559/ 449 exchange. Penrith is more or less a 30km line-of-sight from Mickle Fell but not so Irton just outside Scarborough which is 127km away and according to an analysis carried out by Andy MM0FMF some years ago, not a good radio path.

Other stations Worked: K4DY; KI4SVM; ER4AL; PA1WF; PA3SX; S54G; YL2TQ; LZ1YW; R2LAC; YO2CJX and LZ1DB. The 30 Watts got me 559 and 539 from the USA but all other exchanges were 599 both ways.

18.132 CW - 8 QSO’s:
The ‘battery save’ mode of 30 Watts continued, bringing in just eight stations: G0VOF; OM1AX (Vlado); G0TDM; EA3EGB; IZ4LIZ; IZ5YFU; S52OW and OK2BSN. Apart from Vlado who is a regular, plus Mark and John proving short skip was available on 18MHz for SSB, these were callsigns I don’t normally work. Of course different people work stations for differing reasons and it could have been the club callsign or its prefix that they were after. They could equally be SOTA chasers; I haven’t checked and the reason for the unfamiliarity is that I don’t often go this far ‘north’ in frequency. The ‘feel’ of 17m is quite different to 7MHz or 10MHz in that the CW speeds tend to be faster.

Reports were 59 with the odd 57 but short skip seemed to have low reciprocity. G0TDM was 55 to me but John was hearing me at a genuine 59. On the other hand Mark G0VOF and I eventually exchanged at 55/ 33 after two tries 10 minutes apart, which is more like what you’d expect.

14.288 - 1 QSO (G0EVV/P):
So far I had been relying on Roy G4SSH to update me regarding Dave’s various QSY’s at the other end of the mountain but now was time for a late lunch and a chance to directly catch up on progress. Armed with Roy’s information, I soon found Dave calling CQ on 20m. We were both inside the activation zone so from a SOTA viewpoint it counted for nothing but we had a brief chat after Dave got over the shock of having the front end of his FT857 abruptly ‘stove in’ from a range of 430 metres.

For this QSO I switched off the amp, running barefoot with 2.5 Watts from the FT817. Dave mentioned that conditions on 60m, 40m and 20m were all excellent and that he was ‘running out of paper.’ He also told me that his dipole didn’t go down as far as 80m which gave me the idea to try it next instead of 2m-FM. I left the latter to Dave with a view to going there nearer the end.

3.557 CW - 3 QSO’s:
I set about closing all the dipole links and checking VSWR on 3.5MHz. It was good but the antenna is a little short for the CW end. 80m was somewhere to go that avoided the bands Dave was using. In fact it had been ‘booked in’ as a fallback should conditions have been terrible again on 40m - the band I’d initially planned to start on. Though Dave had mentioned that 60m was wide open, I wasn’t expecting much of 80m in the early afternoon. Maybe a few of the closer/ medium distance stations would hear me. Without a spot on sotawatch I wouldn’t have a chance so I phoned Roy to ask if he could help me out once again. With the drastic plan changes, having phone coverage was proving vital to progress.

It didn’t take long for stations to find me on here but there were only three of them. With power remaining at 30 Watts, I called Roy first and worked him with good strengths - 589/ 569. G0VOF was next with a 599/ 589 RST swap but Mark did report severe QSB on my signal.

By far the most difficult QSO I’ve had in a long time was provided by DL4KCA/P. It was not that he was down in the noise; there was no noise to speak of but he was so very weak it took me four or five attempts to get his suffix and there was no chance of getting any other detail. However after a determined effort I got 559 from him after giving him 319, which was generous! I later discovered that this was an S2S with DM/NW-249 and the operators name was Jochen (Joe).

I see from the spots that Jochen had been operating on 40m and 30m, so just how he found me on 3.557 so soon after I went there, is a mystery. Perhaps he had electronic means at the summit? A newfangled phone or tablet perhaps. To work S2S UK to Germany on 80m at this time of day and sunspot cycle was a surprise to me.

3.724 SSB - 4 QSO’s:
Just four QSOs were logged on here and that’s after I increased power to the maximum available 50 Watts. The band was open to good degree however because most reports were between 57 and 59 apart from G8VNW Nick in Threshfield, who was hearing me 47 due to local noise. The other three worked were: M0MDA - Mick in Leeds; G0VOF - Mark in Blackburn and G0VWP - Terry in York.

Despite the low QSO count it was worth coming here as I didn’t think Terry would have got it on 2m. Also, Mick only just ‘grubbed in’ at 33. Mark was amassing a great band/ mode total. Would he get his fifth and sixth QSO’s when I migrated to 2m-FM via Top Band later I wondered? That’s dedication for you; he must have been glued to the shack all day. Having used it for SOTA apparently more than any other activator, I’m naturally very fond of the 80m band.

40m CW?
When 80m SSB dried up I had about 20 minutes to spare before the alerted time on 160m. What could I do? After a short drinks break, I decided to have a look at 40m. Dave was on 2m-FM by this time so there should be no interference from me. I looked at 7.033 but it was busy, as were 7.032, 7.031 and part way up to 7.034. It would be hard to elbow in anywhere there so reasoning that Dave had swept up all but the merest squeak of RF on 40m from the other end of the hill, I thought it not worth the trouble. Apart from the odd straggler, everybody who wanted it would already have NP2 in their log and to wade in at this stage would just cause confusion.

The WAB Net?
Maybe there was time to try the WAB net but I felt sure Dave would have been there and given everybody NY82 already. Listening on 7.160 I could hear that it was busy. There was another portable running at the time. I waited a few minutes then gave up. The best option now was to bring Top Band forward by 10 minutes to 14:20 GMT.

1.832 CW - 3 QSO’s/ 1.843 SSB - 1 QSO:
Via yet another phone call, Roy G4SSH was able to pre-spot me on 1.832. For Mark G0VOF (SOTA’s Top Band news reporter) the long awaited time had finally come and he was straight in after my CQ with 529 both ways. What’s more I was running just 30 Watts at the time, quickly increasing it to 50W after the QSO.

A good start indeed. I sent ‘SSB’ and flicking up one memory on the FT817, worked Mark in SSB on 1.843. It wasn’t quite as easy; Mark was 52 to me but he gave me 32 in exchange making me think what I have suspected for a long time, that when using the amp, SSB does not get out as well as CW for some unknown reason. It’s well known that CW is better at getting through than SSB but this QSO and some other’s I’d had in Scotland in June, seemed to point to more than just the mode change.

Clicking back to 1.832 CW for another CQ got me an unexpected response from ‘my spotter.’ Roy G4SSH was once again ‘straining’ his FT5000’s ATU and a Butternut vertical, the latter of which does not have Top Band. I say it was unexpected; it was at least half expected. Roy puts out tiny signals on 160m but seems to be able to hear well; something many chasers find difficult due to noise in urban environments. Today his strength was close to Mark’s so I gave him an admittedly optimistic 529, getting 339 in return. At 127km, this was the day’s best ‘DX’ on 160m and quite acceptable in daylight.

Even from almost half a kilometre, turning my head I could see that Dave was busy clearing up and packing his rucksack. He would shortly be passing my way so I parked on 1.832 and waited. When he was about 100m away, I tried another call and was very surprised to hear a big signal coming back. Phil G4OBK, who’d been out for the day, had returned in time for a 160m QSO and the exchange was 589/ 569 from Pickering in North Yorkshire. Phil is currently leading in the Top Band chasing stakes with 675 points. Due to a dearth of chasing opportunities, the league table for this band doesn’t change at anything other than a snail’s pace.

As Phil and I were exchanging 73’s, Dave arrived. I volunteered the information that signals that big were not often heard on 160m and that G4OBK enjoyed superb working conditions and a quiet QTH.

There was time for a brief chat with Dave G0EVV who’d had a really successful day, had ‘almost run out of paper.’ Since he still had a massive vertical for 2m-FM sticking out of his rucksack, we arranged a sked to take place when he was half way down the mountain. That way it would count as a chase. We chatted whilst I readied the beam for FM. As Dave walked off, he did so into the only low-cloud that appeared on the summit all the time we’d been there. It lasted only 10 minutes after which it was sunny once again.

145.400 FM - 14 QSO’s:
Using a modified 3-ely SOTAbeam orientated vertically on an RF transparent mast top section, I called CQ on 145.500 with 5 Watts. Immediately Brian G4ZRP replied from the Wirral. Strangely the exchange was 55 from me and 59 from Brian.

After we finished the QSO there was a steady procession of callers: G4OBK Phil just south of Pickering (2x 59); G0EVV/M (calling on sked from a little way down NP2); M3RDZ Roy - Burnley (59/ 57); GW4VPX Allan - West Wales (57/ 53); GW4ZPL/P John - in a caravan near Bangor (57/ 55 and fools me every time with his ‘/P’); M0IGG Steve - SOTA friend of old on Walney Island (59/ 51); G0VOF (Mark’s 7th and final QSO all on different bands and modes from Blackburn - 53/ 31); G0HRT Rob - Southport (53/ 33); 2E0RXN/M Ron - mobile on the M1/ J30 (51/ 53); G0TDM John - Penrith (2x 59); G0RXT Colin - Bolsover in Derbyshire (59/ 58) and M0MDA Mick in Leeds (53/ 51).

The frequency dried up after these so I called John G0TDM to try to ascertain the whereabouts of Geoff G(M)4WHA. I think John texted him but I didn’t hear Geoff immediately. With ten minutes of packing up to do, I left the rig receiving on 145.400 and I’m glad I did. At 1556z there was a call from Geoff from the ‘M6 (Carlisle Junction)’ Turning the beam northwest, we managed the final QSO of the day with a 53/ 51 exchange. FB!

The retreat:
When activating Mickle Fell, I never want to leave. It’s my top favourite mountain and has been for much of my life so I have to tear myself away every time. I think it’s because it’s not much to look at from a distance; not ‘obvious.’ Hesitating at the top stile for a last look, I started the descent from there at 17:11. The rabbit populated steep bit comes first followed by a 6km of fairly boring walking, in this case in ever increasing fog.

I find the best way to cope with descents is to overestimate them. Adding some entertainment such as a DAB radio or MP3 helps too but this was a bit different. I knew Dave was on the route somewhere ahead of me so I called him on 145.500. We had a good conversation which provided a distraction and made the time and a couple of kilometres disappear much quicker. Eventually Dave reached the final rise giving me ‘73’ before dropping to the road. After that I was on my own and left to reflect on the days happenings.

Eventually the car could be seen below and I arrived there at 18:38 a little ahead of my 7pm deadline. It had been another great day on Mickle Fell; still the least activated NP.

Drive Home:
Driving off in gathering darkness at 7pm, I soon fell victim to the ‘I know better than you do’ satnav which took me down narrow lanes in thick fog, eventually emerging onto the A66 at North Stainmore. This was simply to cut the corner and avoid Brough but I wasted more time than I saved in having to open and close no less than three gates along the way.

At least the fog thinned out a bit along the A66 but I was further frustrated at Scotch Corner by a big illuminated sign stating, ‘A1-South; Overnight Closure 3rd October.’ After driving north along the A1 to the next junction, I followed a rather convoluted route past Darlington to reach Guisborough and Whitby. For this I stopped cursing the satnav and blessed it instead. Surprisingly there was no fog on the Whitby moors and I arrived home in Scarborough at 21:15 without adding many extra miles or minutes.

QSO’s, comprising:
10 on 30m-CW
13 on 17m-CW
8 on 17m-SSB
1 on 20m-SSB (G0EVV/P-NP2)
3 on 80m-CW
4 on 80m-SSB
3 on 160m-CW
1 on 160m-SSB
14 on 2m-FM
Total: 57

Ascent & distance:
Car to NP2: 394m (1,293ft) - 6.5 km (4.1 miles)
NP2-Car: 65m (213ft) - 6.5 km (4.1 miles)
Total: 459m (1,506ft) - 13km (8.2 miles)
(Summit Tour: 53m (174ft) - 1.4km (0.9 miles))

Elapsed times: Walking times – Up: 1hr - 43min. Down: 1hr – 27min. Summit time: 5hr-42min including operating time of 4 hours. Gross time: 8hr-52min.
265 miles driven in the day.

Chronology:
Left Scarborough: 05:30 (A64)
Dropped XYL & friend at Leeds-Bradford Airport: 07:00
Arrived cattle grid on B6276: 09:20 (156 miles A1-A66)
Walking: 09:46 in sunshine
Summit: 11:29 to 17:11
Return to car: 18:38
Drive to Scarborough: 19:00 to 21:15
(109 miles via A66-Whitby - A1 South closed at Scotch Corner)

Observations:
In my experience, it’s not often you see other people on Mickle Fell. Today, as well as Dave G0EVV and myself, I met a group of two, another of four and a young man on his own bagging his latest Nuttall, though I thought NP2 was actually just a Marilyn. There could have been others who sneaked past unseen during the activation.

It was disappointing not to see or hear Curlews, Lapwings and Skylarks on the southern route but maybe they’re becoming scarcer everywhere. Judging by the large number of watercourses that need to be crossed, I was surprised not to see any frogs which exist in profusion on the north side. I did see several rabbits apparently living quite happily at nearly 2,600ft, which must be a challenge in winter. There were sheep right up to the summit but not many.

It was a real plus that the recent long period of settled high pressure and sunny days remained in place just long enough to include the weekend and keep things possibly as dry as they ever get. It’ll be a whole lot more boggy in the ‘monsoon season’ which must be especially true of the southern route. I know it was winter but as I remember it, Gerald and Paul confirmed the difficulty when they went that way. Though it takes longer, give me the northern approach any day, unless Maize Beck is in spate of course. I counted myself lucky in not having to get my feet wet.

Seldom have I met other activators on a summit and it was a pleasure to chat with Dave G0EVV both during his activation and on the way down via 2 metres FM. It’s also interesting to see the different activating approaches of other individuals and their equipment. Dave had a ‘proper’ Morse key which was thigh mounted, a pair of headphones complete with boom microphone, a guyed antenna mast and a link dipole fitted with a balun. His 2m-band vertical is a choked half-wave designed to fit the rucksack or on a mast and I don’t recall whether I have seen an FT857 in action for SOTA before.

We seemed to manage the situation well between us regarding bands used and helped by a separation of several hundred metres (quite easily achieved on the great ‘hogs back’ which is Mickle Fell) we experienced no QRM in either direction as far as I’m aware.

57 QSO’s seems poor for an activation of that length especially in such good weather but it’s not bad when you consider that the main SOTA chaser bands of 40m, 20m and lately 60m, which were all wide open for once, were not used. As far as radio is concerned the three stations worked on Top Band provided some excitement and checking out the Stirling remains, the ruin and other areas of special interest to me personally for the umpteenth time was a highlight too.

Regrets were firstly forgetting to check with Dave whether he had run himself down the WAB net or not and secondly not getting to the trig point, though the latter is a long way off; in fact a 4.4km round trip from the SOTA summit! Neither is it in the SOTA activation area.

As far as I am concerned Mickle Fell is a North Riding of Yorkshire mountain and the highest point in the county. In 1972 a paperwork exercise put it in Durham. A few of these changes have been put right over the intervening years. Perhaps this disgraceful act may also be corrected one day.

Well done to Mark who toted up 7 QSO’s on various band/ mode combinations from 1.8 to 145 MHz! Not bad from Blackburn.

Thanks:
To all stations worked and to those who spotted me, namely Roy G4SSH; Steve M0IGG and Mark G0VOF. Once again special thanks to G4SSH for telephone liaison and advanced spotting. Apologies for not appearing on some of the frequencies alerted. Hope you worked Dave instead. Finally thanks to my XYL for the use of her car.

73, John G4YSS,
Also using SSEG GX0OOO/P.

Photos:3a-10a-30a-41a-60a-64a-69a-86a-112a-149a.

Above: Parking place on B6276 at NY 8313 1992. Start of NP2 Southern Route

Above: Connypot Beck footbridge at NY 8216 2114. NP2 Southern Route

Above: Just north of footbridge at NY 8078 2214 looking N. NP2 Southern Route

Above: Looking S over route from just below top stile. NP2 Southern Route

Above: Dave G0EVV operating on 40m CW from NP2 summit cairn

Above: LK488 Stirling Bomber impact site at NY 80916 24684. NP2 Mickle Fell

Above: LK488 Stirling Bomber impact site - prop reduction gear. NP2 Mickle Fell

Above: Ruin at NY 8105 2473. Trig point is 1 mile away right of photo. NP2 Mickle Fell

Above: LK488 Stirling Bomber. Remains at NY 8099 2490 overlooking Cow Green Reservoir - 230m from impact site. NP2 Mickle Fell

Above: GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) QTH at NY 8029 2423 - 430m from summit cairn. Dave G0EVV with 2m-FM rucksack antenna about to leave NP2.


SOTA NEWS NOV 2015 Part 1
#2

Hi John,
Thank you for waiting till I was in a position to make contact. John did text me but I was parked in the centre of Carlisle so there was no chance of a contact with the equipment I was using. I was in my wife’s car so was just using a quarter wave with an FT-60 handheld. For me it was a good contact on 2m.
You certainly had a great day and look forward to working you soon. Your reports always make great reading.

Again many thanks for waiting.

73’s Geoff GM4WHA


#3

Hi Geoff,
Thanks for your post and reading the report. Actually it’s easier just to look at the pictures!

John usually knows your whereabouts! Thanks to him but you did well to make an NP2 QSO with 5W to a quarter wave. That and a spare suction mount is the same aerial I leave in the XYL’s car boot on the off-chance I need it but it doesn’t perform that well. She doesn’t notice they’re in there.

Over the years I have come to know that NP2 doesn’t support good VHF but I was pleasantly surprised today. I think the conditions were raised due to the high pressure.

You will know Dave G0EVV/P mentioned in the report, very well and must have worked him hundreds of times. He told me he’d done all the WOTA’s including the outer ring. I know you have a big interest in WOTA.

See you on the next one.
Usual rules apply - you’re in first!
73, John.


#4

Ah, Mickle Fell: we had hoped to do it when we were in the area in March, but failed to apply for permission early enough.

Just to note we did hear you on 80m in Cambridge on the 40m antenna, but by the time we had been outside to try to untangle to 80m dipole extensions from the apple tree and cotoneaster where there were curled up, discovered that one was missing a connector, kludged together a connection and got back to the rig, you had unsurprisingly moved on!

Caroline.


#5

Hi Caroline,
What a pity. If propagation had been better I’d have been on longer. It would have been good to get you in the log as you would have been the furthest UK station. Surprising what 80m can do if you try it.

Love the word ‘kludged.’ It’s a new one to me but it says it all.
CU SN S2S I hope,
73, John.


#6

Hi John,

Thanks for the brilliant write up once again, the detail contained in your reports is superb :slight_smile:

Both you & David G0EVV had excellent weather as it shows from the photos, & I know I appreciate bumping into fellow activators on my sadly quite rare activations, so that would an extra special treat.

My Saturday morning had already been earmarked for some long overdue gardening with the hedage at the back of my house being quite a bit overgrown & the lawn at the front also needing a severe trim, now being too long for my mower! I was up very early (probably not before you though) & had already taken an early morning trip to the local DIY emporium to purchase a strimmer, yes my front lawn really is that overgrown, before my first chase of the day Juerg DL/HB9BIN/P on DM/RP-329.

I was hoping for dry weather here & sunshine, but it was a misty morning which meant the front lawn remained too wet for the strimmer, so I decided to tackle my back hedge instead. This involves dropping part of my HF wire antenna, so I would be off the air for the morning. Having been alerted the night before via email & looking at the alerts I knew you were due to be active on 160m so I hoped to have the hedge finished & my antenna back up in plenty of time.

After a few hours in the garden, including some teetering on top of a 6ft step ladder, I had the hedge trimmed up & my wire antenna back in place. Before I went any further, I needed to make sure any repositioning of the antenna hadn’t made my local noise problems any worse, or altered its tuning, so I briefly returned to the shack. A quick check revelealed all was OK & looking at SOTAwatch I saw you were spotted on 10.122-cw. At that time any path between us would be pretty much purely ground wave but on checking the frequency I was surprised to hear you quite well so I gave you a call. I didn’t realize I was your first contact on 30m, or of the day, assumimng that you must have worked several stations before me. That was pure luck!

After returning to the garden to try out my new strimmer, you have to try out new toys straight away :wink: It was clear that the grass was still too wet so after tidying up I returned to the shack. By that time you were on 18.132-ssb but on listening here you were, as I wrote in my log “just detectable”. I also noticed that David G0EVV was active on 14.065-cw & on listening,I found I could hear him, although easier using my 28MHz vertical than the HF wire due to my local noise. It took a second call using using 100 Watts for David to copy me & the report he gave me indicated that he couldn’t read me as well as I could read him, but we made it :slight_smile:

On returning to 18.132-ssb, this time I could read you, although not very well hence the 33 report. At the distance we were from each other I would again assume purely ground wave, although the RF path between us would have remained constant. Given the change from “just detectable” to 33 maybe there was another propagation method involved?

On your QSY to 3.557-cw you were easy copy but with severe QSB. I wondered whether this was band conditions or your antenna moving about.Well done on the 80m S2S with Joe DL4KCA/P, not bad at all for mid afternoon on 80m :slight_smile:

On 3.724-ssb you were the best readabilty I had heard so far, no doubt helped by the increase in power from earlier on CW. As for being glued to the shack all day, see my gardening comments above :slight_smile:

After a couple of months with nothing to report in my Top band news, it was very nice to again have something to write about :slight_smile: That said, as luck would have it, Jack W4TJE was also active on Top Band from W4V/WV-005 Point Lookout Mountain later in the month, so maybe Top Band activations are like buses, you wait ages for one & then two come along at once :wink:

I had one of the now numerous webSDR’s running so that in case I could not copy you with my own station, I would at least be able to spot you. As it turned out, I had better copy of you on 1.832-cw than the very respectable WebSDR did! So far it seems that my new neighbours produce less QRM on 160m, but only time will tell.

I was very surprised with the request to QSY to SSB so soon but did as asked & as you say, it was quite a struggle. Personally I’m not certain if it is a problem with your amplifier. You have to remember that many chasers, myself included, have an un-naturally high noise floor which as an activator you are competing with. A better test would be with someone who has a natural noise floor, or possibly run some tests on the bench in the shack at home?

That said, we did work on both modes using purely our own stations :slight_smile:

Back on 1832-cw I think after hearing you work Roy G4SSH, I called him on the phone to discuss proceedings. I think it was shortly after we had finished our chat that I was very pleased to hear Phil G4OBK calling you, as none of the regular GX0OOO/P chasers expected him to be around at that time :slight_smile:

After Top Band, it didn’t really matter whether I worked you on 2m FM or not, & listening on your QRG it was even more of a struggle than it had been 1.843-ssb earlier, but you were occasionaly readable. Whether this was due to the enhanced Tropo conditions on VHF that day is debatable over the distance, but readability at my end was certainly fading in & out over the course of a couple of minutes. Having already worked you on several bands & modes I preferred to listen rather than take the opportunity of a chase from someone who may not have had the chance to chase you on HF/MF earlier. Once it seemed the pileup was thinning, I slipped my call in at a suitable point & was rewarded with our 7th QSO of the day over 5 bands :slight_smile:

I don’t think either you or David would have spent as much time on Mickle Fell as you did if you were not enjoying the day. Thanks John for the QSO’s, especially on Top band & to David for the 20m CW QSO :slight_smile:

Thanks again & Very best 73,

Mark G0VOF


#7

Hi All,

Just picked up the thread, John has done an extremely good job of describing our mutual day out. I left the roadhead on the Brough/middleton road at 08:45 and was on the summit 2hrs later. It is a poor route that crosses an number of small river valleys at a tangent. There are a number of confusing white posts “marking the way” (no path). The obvious route would be on the left side ridge but that is out of bounds.

My time on the summit was fruitful with about 125Qs on 40, 30, 20 and 2m. What did surprise me was how still it was on the summit, not a breath of wind and the grass fronds were not moving. I left the summit prior to John and was back at the roadhead at 17:45. Good day, all the better for meeting John. Thanks to all the shack sloths who made it all possible.

Regards

David G0EVV