G4YSS and M6YLH Joint Activation of G/NP-009, 14-October-2011
BUCKDEN PIKE G/NP-009. G4YSS - John using GX0OOO/P; M6YLH - Hazel using own call.
All times UTC on 14-10-11 UOS. Joint activation with Hazel; her second SOTA activation.
MF / HF QRO: IC706-2G, link dipole with loading coils for 160m. 11V, 9.0 Ah Li-Po battery (2 x 4.5 Ah).
VHF: IC-E90 4-Band VHF. Half-wave J-Pole for 2m FM & extended rubber duck with counterpoise for 4m FM.
Spare rig: Jingtong JT208 2W 2m-FM H/H.
After dropping Grandson Jack off at the childminder’s, Hazel & I left Scarborough at 07:12 for the 81 mile drive to Bishopdale. We arrived at the planned ‘new’ start point at 09:23; a disused quarry at SD 9455 7996. My usual start point for Buckden Pike is SD 9432 8037 but today we thought we’d try to find something easier and shorter. We were successful in finding a fresh route which was the shortest yet with little more ascent than before. Along it were no obstructions, only about 2 x 4m of reascent resulting from a beck crossing and a we had a path of sorts, for much of the way. This route may be used by many for all I know. If so I apologize for calling it ‘new’ but it’s certainly new to me.
We left the car at 09:39.
NP9 (2011) ROUTE:
From the quarry parking place at SD 9455 7996 (413m ASL) the way goes initially up the tarmac, through a gate at SD 9454 8000, across fields then through a second gate at SD 9475 7979. Both gates can be opened OK and a path across pasture land connects the two.
After the second gate we turned left but this was a mistake which took us into a boggy reed bed. In the fog it was difficult to see but upon descending in clear viz, we found that a poor sort of path runs around this area. We should have followed this via: SD 9479 7975, SD 9486 7977 and SD 9507 7981 the latter point where it is a quad track.
From here we headed up steep ground by a wall corner at SD 9516 7975. The path was then relocated at SD 9521 7966 passing through a gateless gap in the wall at SD 9534 7954. There was more steep ground up to SD 9539 7951 and then along to an simple beck crossing by the wall at SD 9546 7947. Here at Cow Close Gill, is the only bit of height loss on the entire route and it’s probably no more than around 3 or 4m each way.
From the Gill crossing, swing right (south) to pick up the meagre path again at SD 9547 7936 and SD 9551 7933. Less than 300m later this wall-path joins the ‘main drag’ coming up from Cray, at SD 9565 7921. The Cray path now takes you all the way to the top, via SD 9609 7885 in luxurious manner, being fully surfaced and stepped in places. On the way up we saw Rabbits, some large, hairy caterpillars and a couple of noisy Red Grouse. The summit was upon us earlier than we expected which makes a pleasant change.
In deference to Hazel’s walking problems which can be severe especially on the steep sections we encountered, added to route marking in constant low-cloud, the going was quite slow. The elapsed time for the ascent was 75 minutes but I think it could be done in around 45 now that the route is known. Route distance, one way, is around 2.4km. The required ascent, including reascents of 4m on the way up and the same on the way down, is 297m give or take a metre or two.
With a brisk southerly breeze we headed a little further south for the activation, getting as far as an east-west running wall which provided some respite. Orange mobile phone coverage is not good on either NP9 or the twin peak of NP8. That said I did manage to fire off a couple of texts which were received OK and sufficient of a phone call to ask Roy G4SSH to alert Mark G0VOF that we were now ready for 160m. Roy also said he’d spot us for 20 minutes hence. After that the call was cut off abruptly. Not long after setting up, we saw the only walkers of the day.
BUCKDEN PIKE, G/NP-009, 702m, 6pts, 10:54 to 13:58. 10 Deg.C. Wind southerly at 15 mph. Overcast with constant low-cloud throughout. Intermittent Orange mobile coverage. LOC: IO84XE, WAB: SD97.
1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s:
G4OBK was the first caller. Phil was doing better today. His response to my 50 Watts was a 589 report whilst Phil was well over the nine to me. Currently the issue is severe noise at Phil’s QTH. I don’t think he has had a chance to investigate it yet. He did say that he would put up a Beverage antenna. Whether he did that or it was because he was the closest 160m station to me today, I don’t know but it worked.
Not so the Dublin stations EI7CC & EI2CL. Nil heard from NP9 by Mike, I later found out. NP9 is well east from Eire but I worked Mike last time I was here.
After Phil came Roy G4SSH located just west of Scarborough and therefore more or less line-of-sight with a weakish but reliable signal. 50 Watts again.
I had already heard snippets from G0VOF/ ‘Motorcycle Portable’ but Mark called Hazel on 2m FM to say he was hearing me on 1.8 in QSB. After a couple of attempts we exchanged OK giving Mark something to write about in the 160m section of the next SOTA news. Mark could now beat it back from whence he came - the works QTH. When it comes to Top Band, this operator is as keen as any I can name!
Though I tried with CQ’s for a while afterwards, John G0TDM was the final copy on this band. For Mark and John the power was increased to 100W.
Hazel - 2FM - 13 QSO’s inc S2S:
While I had been splashing dots & dashes out on MF, Hazel had busied herself with making M6YLH a little better known on 2m-FM. On a frequency of 145.400 she worked 13 stations in two sessions - the second one much later on. G0OOE was an early call. Nick was huddled in the tiny shelter at the top of NP7 Wild Boar Fell in the same damp mist and a cold breeze that we were experiencing. The difference was that we had a substantial wall to shelter us.
145.400 FM - 1 QSO:
Taking the handheld briefly from Hazel, I too worked Nick G4OOE S2S. He’d had got a good response earlier on 40m CW and was almost ready to descend. I trust Nick got off OK. He mentioned that he is not all that accustomed to walking in 40m viz but had kept faith in the GPS until finally, after several phantom trig points, the real one had loomed out of the mist. Well done to Nick for activating NP7. It is not the easiest of six-pointers but thanks for the S2S. (5W to an omni vertical half-wave).
3.557CW - 6 QSO’s:
Between 11:00z and 11:10z I managed 6 QSO’s on here. To easy QSO’s with G4SSH and G4OBK was added an exchange with G0NUP/P who had set up as best he could during a trip up to Middlesborough. You can go there more often Kevin - the signals were better than normal. It could have been conditions or the excellent path down the Tees from NP9.
The QRP op John G4WSX was next in with Mike EI2CL and G4DDL - also Mike rounding it off. Power was about 40W.
3.724 SSB - 7 QSO’s:
The power remained on 40 Watts at first but was adjusted to maximum by the end. Stations worked - mostly with good reports albeit in QSB were: G4JZF, G8ADD, G4SSH, MM1AWV, G0RQL, G6ODU and M0JLA.
144.050 CW - 2 QSO’s:
With an omni vertical, I was not expecting too much from this but I did have 50 Watts to play with. I asked Roy to spot me, thinking that it might give a chance to a few who’d missed out on Hazel’s 5W of FM due to the easterly position of NP9. That was porobably wishful thinking but I did work G4SSH and G4OBK with just about line-of-sight and good reports. After that CQ’s went unanswered.
7.033 CW - 16 QSO’s:
While Hazel put out a few calls on 4m FM - unsuccessfully as it happened apart from an ‘almost QSO’ with Phil G4OBK, I got to work on 40m CW after first asking her if she would like to try 10 Watts of SSB on 7 MHz. ‘Who am I likely to get?’ ‘Maybe a few Brits and out as far as Germany’. Hazel replied that she wasn’t quite ready for this yet and that was accepted. Plenty of time for HF later - for now VHF was challenging enough for this new licencee and certainly a good place to learn techniques for something a bit more ambitious.
With the output set to 40 Watts again a cold call on 7.033 brought back DL6UNF immediately. After Frank came an Italian and another DL but blow me down if G4SSH didn’t come up for his fourth band QSO! This man does not miss a trick! Later, Kevin G0NUP called in with top reports from his /P location. There were further G’s sprinkled in with the Europeans as follows: MW0BBU, G4RQJ, DL, I, OK, HB9, PA, S58 and Mike EI2CL who had missed it on 160 but succeeded here and on 80. By the end of this session, which was the last with the IC706, there were no ‘Amp-Hour worries’ and so the rig was putting out 80 Watts.
It was time to pack up. Hazel was now QRT from 2m FM but there was one final thing I had to try.
70.450 FM - 1 QSO (Eventually):
We had been putting out calls on here throughout the day but only with a 2m rubber duck extended for 4m. Whilst quite adequate for Scafell Pike this approach was not going to set the world on fire from this easterly 2000 footer. Many of the 4m ops live accross to the west side of the country.
As we made our way past the trig point on the way down, I tried 70.450 one more time. Great! Someone was coming back. It was Roy M3RDZ in Burnley which at least proves that Lancs can be reached from here. Actually I already knew that, having worked G4BLH near Nelson with the same setup from here last year.
After nicking a large rock for someone who likes rocks, we started down at 13:58. For the first time in the day, we dropped out of the mist and could actually see the new route that we had been busy marking blind on the ascent. This gave some scope for a few refinements but I’m sure it could be further improved.
Getting back to the Bishopdale quarry at 14:47, we were driving away by 14:56. Thirsk was jammed up and so was Pickering - the latter due to 1940’s weekend. There were people in period clothes and uniforms, including children, up and down the streets. A few tasty looking old army lorries and the like drove past us on the way back to Irton where we arrived at 17:12.
NP9 - Buckden Pike: 297m (974ft) ascent / 4.8km (3.0 miles) up/down.
Distance driven: 162 miles.
Battery utilisation: 11V, 9.0 Ah Li-Po tested at 29% remaining - 71% used.
Pack weight: 11.5 kg.
1.832 MHz CW: 4
145.400 MHz FM: 1 (S2S with G4OOE on NP7)
3.557 MHz CW: 6
3.724 MHz SSB: 7
144.050 MHz CW: 2
7.033 MHz CW: 16
70.450 MHz FM: 1
TOTAL for GX0OOO/P: 37.
M6YLH - Hazel: 13 QSO’s on 145.400 MHz FM.
The poor WX was not really predicted. The low-cloud was supposed to clear by midday. This did not happen until after we reached the car in mid afternoon. Hazel found this one quite hard but she doesn’t find any easy. It is a case of trying to blank out pain - fortunately she has a lot of determination and I’m sure she enjoyed the activation - the second in her own right - and the help given by the stations calling which helped over initial nerves. On the amateur radio front, she is ‘getting there.’ For one who is constantly looking for easier ways to do SOTA, the route we GPS’d today will certainly be useful in future.
Band conditions were not bad today but QSO’s on the lower frequencies remain something of a challenge in daylight. 40m helped to boost the QSO count as did Hazel’s contribution on 2FM. Together we managed 50 QSO’s in all, including some band repeats. We look forward to the next one.
THANKS TO ALL STATIONS WORKED and for spotting: G4SSH, EI2CL, G4OBK, DL3HXX, G1PIE & G4OWG. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for liaison and G4OOE for S2S with NP7.
73, John G4YSS.
(Note: The route described above was already known and used by Karen 2E0XYL for an activation in August 2011.)