G4YSS: Activation of G/LD-008, BLENCATHRA on 04-06-18
G/LD’s: Day-1 LD8; Day-2 LD4; Day-3 LD3; Day-4 LD13; Day-5 LD10-LD7-LD22
G/LD-008, BLENCATHRA on 80m-40m-20m QRO & 2m-4m-FM QRP
All times BST (UTC + 1). UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
Ascent with walking group David & Rob. Return solo
G4YSS using GX0OOO/P
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF 50 Watt Linear Amplifier (80 thru 10) with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20. (160m loading coils not taken)
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
One Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po battery
IC-E90 4-Band, 5W, VHF H/H for 4m-FM
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on 1m (pink) carbon rod
Extended set-top helical for 4m-FM QRP
Reserve Rig: Baofeng UV-3R, 2W, 2m/ 70cm H/H
(carried for possible PMR comms. with group)
Pack-weight: 9kg approx
Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player (not used)
DAB Cube (not used)
This was Day-1 of our annual six-night break in the Lake District with the walking group. There were only three walkers including myself this year. Three wives came along, of whom two were non walking. Exceptionally, Christine who is completely blind due to MS, climbed with Rob from Keswick to the top of Latrigg (368m) and back the day before we arrived.
Walk leader David had kindly this walk with me in mind. With a SOTA on offer, I took no persuading. I gave him one of my UV-3R’s, set to PMR should we need it.
We took the path from Comb Beck Bridge at NY 3488 2722, where there is space to park about eight cars. The Sharpe Edge route also starts here. In fact it’s the paths up as far as Scales Tarn.
Walk uphill and turn right off the road at NY 3487 2720. We followed the path via NY 3451 2755 and NY 3471 2786 but it would have been better had we turned left at NY 3471 2737 and cut steeply up to NY 3449 2737, from there going NW to where the paths rejoin at NY 3412 2782.
On reaching Scales Tarn we made a left turn at NY 3302 2815, onto a path which passes the water to the south and climbs via NY 3277 2783 to NY 3248 2790. Turning left at this ‘T’ junction brings you to the main path up Scales Fell NY 3243 2780, where you turn right for the summit. It’s about 4km on the ground (slightly less if you take the steep short-cut just after the start) with 630m of climbing.
We left the car at 09:49 to walk slowly up. With just one summit to do and plenty of time, the usual rushing about wasn’t required. We met a few people on the way and some had dogs with them. One particular Lurcher grabbed my attention. Disappointingly there was low-cloud at the summit and this never did clear for the whole time I was there.
I walked ahead to erect the antenna system on sloping grass at NY 3243 2780, after which the others joined me for lunch. In my case that consisted of two choc. bars but the lads were armed with their usual ‘doorsteps’ from the sandwich shop in Keswick.
BLENCATHRA, G/LD-008, 868m, 8 pts, 11:51 to 16:26, 15 deg C. Wind: Almost zero (with flies) at the start, increasing to 10mph later. Low-cloud throughout; almost lifted at noon. LOC: IO84LP. WAB: NY32. Non-standard (low) trig point. Vodaphone coverage.
3.557 CW - 4 QSO’s:
By now my lunch companions left for the car park. Frank G3RMD must have been monitoring. When I called CQ within five minutes of the alerted time, he came straight back but no others followed. After alerting Roy by phone, I got G4SSH in the log followed by Gordon G4FGJ and finally Nick G4OOE in Scarborough.
Callers were 579 to 589 with me but there was QSB. No doubt because of local chaser noise, my 30 Watts was reported at between 229 and 529.
3.760 - 7 QSO’s:
Roy posted the SSB QSY for me and we were back in business with: M3FEH Karl; MM0XPZ Steve; G3RMD Frank; G4IAR Dave; G8ADD Brian; G4WHA/A Geoff at the shop in Penrith and G0RQL Don, who was having difficulty with QSB. Apart from G8ADD with 57 both ways, signal reports were in the range 51 to 56 with 33 to 55 coming back. Power was 50W.
7.160 SSB - 23 QSO’s:
There were too many to mention by name but the following callsigns were logged on 40m SSB: G1PIE (thank you for gifting the frequency Mark); G0FEX; G0FVH; 2E0VMD; MW0ISC; MM3PDM; MM0GGT; G0RQL; EA2CKX; GW4ZHI; G4WHA/A; G4GEW; G4ARX; G4OIG; G0DJQ; M3FEH and G0UUU/M - my son Phil in his car outside his house – 58/ 55. The latter contact shouldn’t really have happened. Phil’s street is a real noise trap. For example while driving down, it’s enough to wipe out the cricket on Radio 4 Long Wave (198kHz).
After a brief chat with Phil I worked G3RMD; M0HQO (Pete in Pickering and fellow SARS member), G3YPE; G0ELJ; GM0IQ and finally G0GWY. Power was set to 30 Watts and signals were a lot stronger than on 80m. This band was doing a great job of carrying inter-G comms at excellent signal strengths and that’s getting rarer these days. Apart from an ‘52’ coming back from Spain, most reports were 57 to 59 with a few at 59 plus.
14.052.6 CW – 12 QSO’s:
With 40m favouring UK stations, I hoped that 20 might satisfy some of the Europeans but who should come back to my CQ but my friend in Scarborough G4SSH. Roy is only about 100 miles away from LD8 but we exchanged with a genuine 599/ 579! Granted, there was QSB but I didn’t expect that to happen. After recovering from the shock, I went on to work: OE7PHI Hans; DL1FU Frid; G0TDM John; G0FVH; DL6FAX Konrad; SP9AMH Maruisz and IK2LEY Fabio.
The next caller caused me all kinds of difficulty. His signal was very strong but his Morse code abilities were not. In fact there were dot dash combinations that I’ve never hear of before. For the next ten minutes (no exaggeration) I struggled to read a single letter. I was embarrassed because I couldn’t even copy a consistent callsign. At one time I thought it was a GB station, another time an FA6. Over after over was tried until finally I got the impression that he thought he’d worked me and a badly mangled ‘73’ was sent along with my name. I was relieved it was all over; it certainly made me sweat and my ears were ringing.
Now back to normality, we finished with: RW3XZ; PA9B Rob and M0BKV Damien. Power was 30 Watts. Almost everybody got 59 from me and four 59’s came back. The remainder were in the range 549 to 579 with a 519 from Italy and a 339 from Polska. The session took 27 minutes from 13:45z but over a third of that was wasted in a futile attempt to log that single station.
14.285 SSB – 8 QSO’s:
With 30 Watts again: M0JLA Rod; G4WHA/A Geoff; HB9MKV Rudi; S57MS/P Mark S2S on S5/CP-022; G0TDM John; G6NHW Pete; ON2WAB Peter and M3FEH Karl. Most of these were coming in at 55 to 59, the exceptions being 31 for the S2S with lots of repeats and a 52 from Switzerland. Geoff gave me a 49 from the computer shop in Penrith, the ‘4’ being due to local noise. The last station was logged at 14:35z.
145.400 FM - 4 QSO’s:
After packing up the HF gear, a move was made to the now deserted trig point for VHF. Using 5W from the FT817ND to a vertical J-Pole, I worked Geoff G4WHA/A, John G0TDM; M0TZR/M Paul on the A69 and MW0FGQ John in Holyhead. All reports were 59.
70.450 FM - 3 QSO’s:
Standing up with the IC-E90 held high, I logged John G0TDM, John MW1FGQ and Geoff G4WHA/A on 4fm using 3 Watts to an extended 2m band rubber duck. All reports were 59 other than the one received from Holyhead which was 44. Nothing further was heard and a CQ went unanswered. Time to go.
Now solo, I elected to take the easiest way down which was via Scales Fell but there were no views until well after the tarn. In fact the cloud level was now down to 600m. My GPS route goes was back to the A66 layby so instead of turning right at NY 3449 2737, I went straight down beside a fence to meet the main path at NY 3471 2737, turning right there. The car was reached in 47 minutes at 17:13.
In the car park a distressing sight awaited me. A lady had come off her bicycle and she said that her hip was ‘clicking.’ She was certainly looking a bit battered and bruised with a few cuts to the legs also. Fortunately her husband was with her but he was preparing to set off on a one-hour bike ride to a caravan they were staying in some miles to the east. They were from the Midlands.
She was helped into a sitting position and I offered to take them both if the bikes could be chained to the fence. The poor girl could hardly move and was just about incapable of getting into the car. She didn’t want a fuss, asking if I knew of a non emergency number they could phone. She was reluctant but between us we gradually talked her into calling an ambulance, the argument being that she’d need A&E whatever happened.
Mobile signals were poor to non-existent so in the interim, her husband had ridden to the pub and called from there. In fact I passed the ambulance five minutes later, coming east along the A66 with all lights and sirens going.
Hopefully it wasn’t too serious but it would certainly ruin their day and the coming days too. Ironically, they were returning from a ride into Keswick to buy some walking socks for a mountain ascent the following day. No doubt that would have been cancelled.
This was the first day of walking and a good way to ease into it. Unless there’s loads to do, it’s much more pleasant to walk with the group. In fact this year a point was stretched even calling it a group. I can’t remember a year since 2002 when there were only three of us.
It’s not the time of year to be slogging up hills as fast as humanly possible and it’s all too easy to fall into that trap when there’s no one to distract you. A nice conversation, interspersed with looking at the map, was just what was required.
Working a distance of 100 miles with good reports on all three bands, 80, 40 & 20m, was a rare thing but it happened today and Geoff G4WHA/A made it through on these three plus the two VHF bands.
The WX was good in the sense that there was no rain and little wind but constant low-cloud spoiled the views and most of the photos. Flies were a problem but not to the extent that a head net was required, as has been the case here in the past.
4 on 80m-CW
7 on 80m-SSB
23 on 40m-SSB
12 on 20m-CW
8 on 20m-SSB
4 on 2m FM
3 on 4m-FM
09:49: Left Comb Beck Bridge nr. Scales (238m ASL)
11:51 to 16:26: Blencathra summit
17:13: Arr. back at car
Summit time: 4hr-35min
2hr-2min up (with group)/ 47 min down
Total: 8km (5 miles) / 632m (2,073ft) ascent
Thanks to all stations worked and to spotters: G4SSH; G3RMD; G4WHA/A and the SMS self-spot system.
(G4YSS using Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call GX0OOO/P)
Above: Companions for the ascent. Rob & David (walk leader)
Above: Looking back at the first part of the walk
Above: Rob & David comparing notes with another walker
Above: At the approach to Scales Tarn, looking back
Above: Scales Tarn and the path to the notorious Sharpe Edge
Above: Lunch at the HF summit QTH G/LD-008
Above: G/LD-008 on 14.285-SSB
Above: Sheep at the VHF QTH G/LD-008. The mirk persists.
Above: Yet another photo of Blencathra’s unusual trig point G/LD-008.
Above: Path work at around NY 3407 2747, on the descent
LINKS to other Lakes Week 2017 reports: TBA
LD4, LD3, LD13 & LD10-LD7-LD22 reports to follow