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G4YSS: NP6, NP15, NP16, NP31 160-80-2m on 23-02-16


#1

G4YSS Activation Report NP6, NP15, NP16, NP31 on 23-02-16
Draft-1

GX0OOO/P on:
G/NP-006 /6 GREAT SHUNNER FELL
G/NP-015 /4 GREAT KNOUTBERRY HILL
G/NP-016 /4 DODD FELL HILL
G/NP-031 /4 BIRKS FELL (Formerly G/NP-021 - Horsehead Moor)

NP6: 160m-80m CW/ SSB QRO
NP15 & NP16: 2m-FM QRO
NP31: 160m-80m CW/ SSB QRO and 2m-FM QRP

G4YSS - unaccompanied
All times UTC.
Sun times: 07:10 and 17:33.

EQUIPMENT NP6 & NP31:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt Linear Amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-40-20 with loading coils for 160m
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
Icom IC-E90 4 Band, 5W V-UHF H/H in reserve (not used)
One 6 Ah Li-Po battery for NP6
One 4.3 Ah Li-Po battery for NP31 (see later note)
Packweight: 10.0kg (22 pounds) inc. 250ml water

EQUIPMENT NP15 & NP16:
Moonraker MT270M; 2m/ 70cm, 25/ 20 Watt Mobile
One 6 Ah Li-Po battery for both summits
Home-brew vertical J-Pole for 2m.
Two-section short aluminium mast.
Icom IC-E90 4 Band, 5W V-UHF H/H in reserve (not used)
Packweight: 8.1kg (17.9 pounds) inc. 250ml water

Other:
Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player
DAB112 Technika Radio (Tesco)

INTRO:
My worst winter bonus score ever was staring me in the face. This was an attempt to make it more respectable. The record wet months of December and January, colds, throat infections and the like have put me off but more than that, motivation has declined since I achieved a long running goal last year. The thought of getting up very early again for another long hard day was not attractive but I thought I could do two or three summits on 2-FM only. That morphed into putting one or even two summits on 160m and for that I would need to be the ‘early bird.’ Firstly propagation is likely to be better and secondly many chasers have to go to work but there is of course a weight penalty.

G/NP is the nearest or should I say least distant, SOTA region to my QTH offering winter bonus, so NP it would be The two easiest are NP15 and NP16 and as in years gone by, they would form the core targets. NP6 involves a long walk through a bog called Grimy Gutter Hags but what better time to tackle it that when it is frozen over. I would leave the decision regarding a fourth summit until I’d tackled the first three but if there was to be a fourth, 160m could be used to advantage at around sunset. Fitness is an issue right now. Walking around home on the flat is of questionable benefit and that can find you out on the first steep gradient. At least the latest head cold had almost gone.

Last February I put on NP6; NP15; NP16 and NP9 so it was a simple matter to print out a schedule from that report and substitute NP31 in place of NP9. This aid would come in to its own during the day both for measuring progress and recording times.

EXECUTION:
Left Scarborough at 04:17, arriving via the A684, at Buttertubs Pass before sunrise, at 06:30 (86 miles). I parked where the track leaves the road (SD 8688 9570) and prepared. Just before setting out the moon set behind the hill. The Moon had been so bright on the way that the sun visor was needed.

I got walking by 06:49 in a cold wind but otherwise promising weather. Attire, as always in winter, was the standard upper & lower base layer, walking trousers, 200 grade Pertex lined fleece and hat. On the feet were thick socks and a pair of Scarpa Ranger GTX boots; to my mind the perfect compromise between comfort and rigidity. I have some Meindl winter boots but a single use, on GW/WS-001 as it happened, was more than enough to put me off. The Primaloft jacket is carried solely for summit activities but the mittens were soon needed. About a third of the way up, the sun rose but I could see that low-cloud was still hanging around the target destination.

NP6 ROUTE:
From SD 8688 9570 the track is easy to follow via Coal Pit to the fence corner at SD 8694 9639. There was no snow evident on any of the Dales hills I could see but the frost had not been quite severe enough to prevent all of the wet areas potentially catching me out. Eventually you reach a stile at SD 8503 9723 not far short of the summit. Nowadays, rather than climb the stile I continue outside the fence on better ground, turning left on the paved PW to the summit shelter. It’s further but quicker.

Since no visitors were expected this early, the station was set up in the shelter with the mast jammed in behind the wooden seat. I didn’t realise this was loose at the time until I laid out all the equipment on it and sat down to operate. It acted like an ancient ballista. The overhanging end I sat on went abruptly down forcing the length of it in the opposite direction and catapulting much of my gear into the air. I wasn’t best pleased; the steel bolts holding it down had all rotted but you can’t complain; it’s an excellent shelter.

G/NP-006: GT.SHUNNER FELL, 716m, 6 pts, 07:35 to 09:23, Minus 2C. Wind:10 mph. Low-cloud with icing conditions until 09:00 then sunny. Frosty but no lying snow. IO84VI, WAB SD89. (The EE- Orange phone signal, available in 2015 was all but absent today.)

1.832 CW - 3 QSO’s:
The loading coils needed a bit of adjustment but it was still only 8am; 15 minutes earlier than advertised. I hope they’re all out of bed thought I but no need to worry, Phil G4OBK came straight back with a 579 report and I worked him with 5 Watts, my having forgotten to switch on the amp. Mark G0VOF followed with 559 and after a couple of repeated RST’s of 229 both ways, Roy G4SSH was in the log also. For the latter two contacts I used 50 Watts. After these nothing was heard so I went to SSB.

1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s:
Again using 50 Watts, I reworked Phil and Mark this time in SSB. The exchanges were 59/ 57 and 55/ 33 respectively. We had a brief chat but there were no further answers to CQ’s despite the fact that the sun had risen only 50 minutes earlier. A brief return to CW yielded nothing further. Hope I didn’t make Mark late for work.

Phil G4OBK was using a Beverage to receive on with a nil noise level combined with a 57 signal from me. His TX antenna is an inverted ‘L’ but this was giving him a receiver noise level of S6 and not much from me! Interesting. Later (on 80m) Frank G3RMD mentioned that the only station he had heard on Top Band was Phil.

3.557 CW - 10 QSO’s:
Stations worked with 50 Watts on here were: G4SSH; G3RMD; PA0SKP; G3RDQ; DL3HXX; G0TDM; GM0AXY; DL8DXL; SM4BNZ and G3VQO. Incoming reports ranged mainly around the 559 mark with a couple of 599’s and a ‘449 to 569’ report from DL3HXX. Lothar was right; there was a lot of QSB on the band.

3.722 SSB - 8 QSO’s:
A QSY to SSB, picked up and spotted by Roy G4SSH resulted in eight further QSO’s: G3RMD; G0RQL; G0VWP; G8ADD; G0TDM; G4SSH; G4WHA/A and 2E0SCS. Karl M3FEH also called in but he failed to hear me when I called him in, which I did several times. That was probably down to the QSB. 50 Watts again for these and I had to nudge down a couple of Kc’s from the preferred channel to avoid splash.

I hadn’t noticed until I came to take down the antenna but the wire had grown to three times its normal thickness and the mast was bending over markedly under the added weight of ice which had to be cleared. It took a while to pack up but I made it back to Buttertubs Pass at 10:03; just 5 minutes behind the time indicated on last year’s schedule. I had to spend a few more minutes swapping the HF gear in the rucksack for the new VHF Mobile rig that I wanted to try out.

Drive to NP15 (10:10 to 10:33 - 13 miles):
The drive around to NP15 via the coal road was much easier than last year owing to the complete lack of snow. The only hazards being the ramp just past Garsdale station which was icy; causing a minor skid plus some deep pot holes in the road surface further up.

NP15 ROUTE:
Leaving the Coal Road at SD 7796 8805 you walk via the track, turning left at the gate and sheep pen at SD 7768 8744 and thereafter, up beside the fence. I don’t do the direct line anymore as the surface is pathless and tussocky. The ascent was started at 10:34; the boggy bits beginning to thaw in the sunshine but it was still cold enough to walk without discomfort and that was to remain the case all day.

With a north-west wind and sunshine it was convenient to set up on the south side of the wall a few metres from the trig point. After donning the coat I realised it was going to be a bit on the warm side.

G/NP-015: GREAT KNOUTBERRY HILL, 672m, 4 pts. 11:03 to 11:43, 2 Deg.C. 10 mph wind. Sunshine. No lying snow. IO84KP, WAB SD78, Trig Point TP3461. (The EE- Orange phone signal, available in 2015 was absent today.)

145.400 FM - 6 QSO’s:
Though it had been bench checked and used once in the car, this would be the first test of my new Moonraker MT270M 2m-70cm mobile rig on a summit. Plugging it into the J-Pole vertical wedged in the wall-top pig wire, I checked the intended channel for occupancy. Geoff G4WHA/A came straight back from the shop in Penrith and also spotted me. The QSO was soon in the log with 59/ 53 reports, followed by a CQ call on S20 complete with redirection to 145.400 to save time.

Stations worked with 10 Watts were: 2E0PXP/M (later 2E0PXP - Settle); G4MYU Art near Nelson; G6LKB Dave - Ulverston (collecting the trig point and summit); G0TDM John - Penrith and finally G6XBF Walt in Leeds. Another CQ, this time using 25 Watts yielded nothing further so with a tight schedule in operation, I took the hint and left. The descent took until 12:05, which was the same as last year’s time.

Drive to NP16 (12:10 to 12:42 - 12 miles):
The 32 minute drive to Kidhow Gate was along a completely snow-free and newly resurfaced Cam Houses road. Despite the pre-existing undulations, with tarmac close to ‘A road’ standards, I was able to drive a little faster than normal but there were still three gates to open and close along the way.

NP16 ROUTE:
At Kidhow Gate, you can park near the gate at SD 8298 8339 and walk North up the Pennine Way. Today I drove along the PW to a point just past SD 8305 8370. I tried to go further but the wheels spun on wet grass and mud. A minor path leaves the track at SD 8339 8434 but it is not obvious and easily lost. From there it’s steeply up via SD 8344 8435, crossing a beck at SD 8352 8432 and following a boggy track via SD 8364 8434, SD 8376 8439, SD 8386 8443 and SD 8397 8453 to the ‘moated’ trig. Today the puddle was covered with half an inch of ice.

The start time for the ascent of NP16 was 12:46 which put me a few minutes ahead of last year and I was soon at the trig point.

NP-016: DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 13:07 to 13:49, 6 Deg.C. 10 mph wind. Sunshine. No lying snow. (The EE- Orange phone signal, available in 2015 was absent today.) LOC: IO84VG, WAB: SD88. Trig Point TP-2795.

Dodd Fell was the only target of the day without a shelter or a wall but there was warmth in the sun sitting a couple of feet down from trig point level and I wasn’t intending to hang around. The simple VHF set up (J-Pole & MT270M mobile rig ) was ready in quick time along with the same 6Ah battery as used on NP15.

145.400/ 145.375 FM - 8 QSO’s:
I set the power to 10 Watts initially with the proviso that the final CQ’s would be put out with 25 Watts to give everybody a chance.

A CQ on 145.500 attracted the attention of an old acquaintance GM3VMB in Lockerbie. Peter, after hearing my two unanswered CQ’s, came in ‘To put you out of your misery.’ To be fair Peter helped me out on quite a few summits in the early days of SOTA when QSO’s were hard to come by. We had a brief chat though he makes no secret of his opinion that us SOTA activators are somewhat crazy. Considering some of the activations we have to endure, I can’t say that I disagree with him.

G6XBF, Walt in Leeds (surprisingly 59 both ways) came in next followed by G4WHA/A Geoff - Penrith (thanks for the spot). After these GW0TQM/P - Carl S2S on GW/ NW-043 (51/ 56); G4OBK Phil in Pickering; 2E0BJK Roy in Middlesborough; G1DAT Paul in Normanby and G6LKB Dave in Ulverston; the latter after a QSY to 145.375 to avoid a QSO that had started up in the background.

A final CQ with 25 Watts applied wasn’t answered so I was away and back to the car by 14:05. More time gained with respect to the schedule meant there could easily be a fourth summit provided I could muster the energy. The only problem was communications. With the mobile signal absent for the first three summits, how was I going to contact Roy for an alert?

Drive to NP31 (14:13 to 15:12 - 23 miles):
The drive round to Litton, took an hour but I did pause for a few minutes up on Fleet Moss to bang off a text to Roy G4SSH informing him of the NP31 ETA and the frequencies. The signal was fickle and I rushed it, telling him I’d just be doing Top Band. Later on I decided it was more logical to try 80m first which would give 160m more time to improve as sunset approached. It would also give Mark G0VOF a better chance of getting home from work in time for a chase.

NP31 ROUTE:
I park at the side of the road in Litton at SD 9070 7409. The route is via a well used Bridle Path which I had GPS marked in the past. Bear left onto the bridleway from the pub and through a farm yard with cows and sheep in sheds both sides. At SD 9093 7411 leave the concrete farm road and go straight on through Gate 1. Going downhill on grass (losing about 7m) pass between walls to a footbridge at SD 9114 7409 then up to Gate 2 at SD 91289 74064. Gate 3 is at SD 91455 73966. Continue to follow the path where it bends sharply left at SD 91707 73888. The next point is Gate 4 at SD 92041 74383. Gate 5 is set in the spine wall at SD 92450 74920 and it’s also well within the 25m zone along with the trig.

Today I turned right (SE) to activate closer to the trig point. The summit stipulated in the SOTA database is a mile NNW from Gate-5 waypoint but the activation zone is massive. Besides, there was always a chance that Dave G6LKB might call in to chase the trig point which WAB rightly stipulate is on Firth Fell. It sounds like a conflict of interests but both specifications; SOTA and WAB are met if you’re at the trig.

The walk up with the heavier HF-QRO pack had taken from 15:16 to 16:02 but as before there was no snow to slow me down.

G/NP-031: BIRKS FELL (Activated at Firth Fell), 610m, 4Pts, 16:02 to 18:16. 0C at first; minus 3C before leaving. 5 mph wind dropping to zero. Sunshine-sunset-dark. No lying snow. Good Orange (EE) mobile phone coverage (absent in 2014). LOC: IO84WE, WAB: SD97. Trig: TP3179 - ‘Firth Fell’ - GPS’d at SD 92597 74838 (G4YSS).

The dipole was strung above the wall so I didn’t need the end sticks. The bit of extra height wouldn’t go amiss when it came to Top Band later. Centre height was the usual 5m.

3.557 CW - 3 QSO’s:
Starting at 16:24 stations, worked with 30 Watts (because I only had a 4.3Ah Li-Po) were: G4SSH; G0TDM and G4OBK. Roy, John & Phil. Incoming reports were 599 apart from Roy 339 and there was plenty of QSB.

3.724 SSB - 7 QSO’s:
Again with 30 Watts: G0TDM & G4WHA/A - John & Geoff in Penrith; G0RQL Don in Devon; G3RMD Frank - Cheltenham; M0MDA Mick in Leeds; 2E0KVJ Dave in Sidmouth (upgraded from M6KVJ - congrats!) and G4SSH Roy in Irton, Scarborough. Most of the reports were in the 57 to 59 range; the most difficult QSO being with G4WHA/A - Geoff at his shop in Penrith (33/ 47). As is the norm, my noise level was low.

145.400 FM - 4 QSO’s:
The sun still hovered above the horizon. Conditions on 80m were slightly disappointing so what price 160m? I decided I needed to sacrifice some more time and phoned Roy for a spot on 2m-FM. The four stations I talked with seemed happy enough to have the chance of a few points and these were: G4OBK Phil in Pickering (somewhat blocked by the mass of Great Whernside but still giving me a 52 report) then G6XBF Walt in Leeds (57/ 53); M6TOB Joanna in Holmfirth (56/ 58) and finally M6SPW Shaun in Clitheroe; IO83TU (52 both ways).

The linear is just for HF so for these I used 5W from the FT817ND to the vertical J-Pole stuck on a short mast in the wall top. Putting the VHF aerial away now saved time later.

1.832 CW - 9 QSO’s from 17:10:
I started this session with optimism, it being precisely the time predicted for sunset; evidenced by what I could see in front of me. Checking the VSWR by sending a couple of morse ‘Vs’ with the amp switched off, back came Phil as keen as ever and giving my 5 Watts a 569 report. Increasing the power to 50 Watts brought in Roy G4SSH but that was not until 17:21 with 339 both ways and plenty of QSB.

Roy lives just 14 miles further east than Phil and it just shows the difference in antennas. While Phil uses a Beverage for RX and an inverted ‘L’ for TX, Roy has no antenna to cover 160. He merely tunes up his Butternut as best he can and more often than not manages a meagre QSO despite his signal being perhaps 50dB down on Phil’s. Phil is the datum however and many people say that if Phil is only 579 to them, there’s little chance of them working me on the summit.

Next in was G3RMD Frank in Cheltenham also 339 both ways and PA0SKP Sake who was having trouble at first until QSB let my signal through. He then gave me a 559 RST and he went right up to 599 with me. David G3RDQ received his 569 report OK and then it was the turn of Mike DJ5AV a little further afield (579/ 549).

Hearing ‘OF’ and asking for a repeat I was pleased to find that Mark G0VOF had made it home in time to bag his second summit of the day on 160. The exchange was 529/ 339 at first rising to 589/ 559 within about 2 minutes. As many may know, Mark is the author of the Top Band Report in the SOTA news and it’s much better when there’s something to write about, so activators please dust off your Top Band equipment if you have any.

The final two stations worked in CW were: ON4FI - Karel in Herent (559/ 339) and what a surprise RU3GF - Dmitri in Lipetsk, Russia (559 both ways). I can claim little for the latter QSO however. When you look at Dmitri’s station on QRZ.com, just like with Phil G4OBK you can readily see who’s antennas are doing all the work!

1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s from 17:55:
Sticking with the 50 Watts, I logged Mark G0VOF and Frank G3RMD in SSB. Again QSB played its game. Mark was hearing me 53 (being generous) at the start of the QSO and 56 by the end. The exchanges were 58/ 53-56 for Mark and 54 both ways for Frank.

By now the small 4.3 Ah battery was starting to give out and I had no spare. After the rig had cut out twice on voice peaks I had a brief chat with Frank on reduced power then decided to call it a day. It was 6pm by now and pretty well dark. Packing up by the light of a headlamp I was walking off at 18:16 back along heather and grass to the path by the wall. Before the phone signal dropped out, I managed a quick text to my XYL giving her an ETA. It would surely be a late one but it had been worth staying until dark for the sake of a good Top Band result.

Final descent:
In darkness there is little choice other than to take it steady and it took 36 minutes to get back down to the car, arriving with some feeling of relief, at 18:52.

The drive home of 99 miles (19:00 to 21:25) was via Bolton Abbey and supposedly Harrogate. However, that road was closed and I ended up going via Addingham, Ilkley, Otley, Tadcaster (including a detour to avoid the flood wrecked-bridge) and the A64.

Starting near York I passed the time with Alex G0WUY in a QSO on 145.400. We had a good chat about SOTA, our respective radio kit building and I found out that he had been an examiner for the North Yorkshire Morse testing team when the RSGB did it. He knew of course Roy G4SSH and Geoff G4ZGP, the national chief and deputy chief Morse examiners respectively but was saddened by the news that Geoff had passed away about 6 months prior. If Roy reads this, Alex sends his best 73!

Total: 62 QSO’s comprising:
NP6: 23 (3 on 160m CW; 2 on 160m SSB; 10 on 80m CW; 8 on 80m SSB)
NP15: 6 on 2m-FM
NP16: 8 on 2m-FM
NP31: 25 (3 on 80m CW; 7 on 80m SSB; 4 on 2m-FM; 9 on 160m CW; 2 on 160m SSB)

BATTERY UTILISATION (Not tested):
NP6: One 6 Ah Li-Po part discharged
NP15 & NP16: One 6 Ah Li-Po part discharged
NP31: One 4.3 Ah Li-Po 99% discharged.

Battery note:
The ‘4.3Ah’ battery used on NP31 is an almost new FLOUREON 11.1V 5500mAh 3S 35C Li-Po; one of two costing 19.50 GBP from ebay (weight is 360gm). In line with policy, I tested these on receipt. After four cycles I was forced to derate this pair to 4.3 Ah and 3.4 Ah which was a very disappointing result. Yesterday I took delivery of two Turnigy 5000 mAh Li-Pos which are the real deal. Both are now tested and both meet the claimed capacity on the first cycle. These cost 20.50 GBP each and weigh 351gm.

Round Trip Ascent & Distance:
NP6: 195m (640ft) ascent, 7.1 km. (4.4 mls). Times 46U, 39D.
NP15: 176m (577ft) ascent, 3.9 km. (2.4 miles). Times 29U, 22D.
NP16: 94m (308ft) ascent, 3.6 km (2.3 miles). Times 22U-16D.
(Note: NP16 is usually 4.2 km from Kidhow. Reduced by driving 320m along the PW today)
NP31: 371m (1,217ft) ascent / 5.5km (3.4 miles) up/down (Litton-Trig.) Times: 46U, 36D.
TOTAL: 836m (2,743ft) Ascent - 20.1km (12.6 miles) walked.

Times: 2hr-23 min of ascent; 1hr-53 min descent.
Total walking time: 4hr-16 min at 3.0mph ave.
Summit time: NP6: 1h-48m. NP15: 40m. NP16: 42m. NP9: 2h-14m. Tot: 5hr-24m.

Distance driven: 233 miles. (86+13+12+23+99 inc detour).
Activator points: 30 (inc 12 WB).

Times:
Scarborough: 04:17
Arr. Buttertubs (86 miles): 06:30
Walk for NP6: 06:49
NP6: 07:35 to 09:23
Rtn. Buttertubs: 10:02

Drive 13 miles to Coal Rd: 10:10 to 10:33
Walk for NP15: 10:34
NP15: 11:03 to 11:43
Rtn. Coal Rd: 12:05

Drive 12 miles to PW past Kidhow: 12:10 to 12:42
Walk for NP16: 12:45
NP16: 13:07 to 13:49
Rtn. car at PW: 14:05

Drive 23 mile to Litton: 14:13 to 15:12
Walk for NP31: 15:16
NP9: 16:02 to 18:16
Rtn. Litton: 18:52
Drive home 99 miles: 19:00 to 21:25

OBSERVATIONS:
This was first planned as a 2m-FM only round but was changed to include some LF; something I for one have enjoyed since 2004.

The 80m band was not as good as the last time I aired it for SOTA, about 3 weeks prior. It did however enable QSO’s outside the UK both in the early morning and late in the afternoon.

Planning the 160m activations for early and late was supposed to maximise propagation and the QSO count but that only seemed to work in the afternoon. In established daylight the Top Band limit is usually around 50 miles and it seems that 50 minutes after sunrise was too late in this instance for anything more than the ‘standard’ distance. However, I must thank Phil, Mark, Roy and others for getting up early to work me. Frank G3RMD listened in the morning, detecting nothing from me, Mark or Roy but hearing Phil at moderate to good signal level. It’s getting too late in the year for efficient 160m operations in the morning as it would be unacceptable to expect chasers to be up and on the radio at or before 7am. It would also present a problem for me, living as I do so far from summits of any size.

More success was to be had on 160m in the late afternoon when nine different stations were workable and the majority with reasonable to good signal reports. QSB was a significant problem and that is especially true of fixed station chasers who don’t usually enjoy a quiet electromagnetic environment; quite unlike summit/ P conditions.

In the afternoon, chasers must have ‘hung around’ for an extended period, firstly because of second thoughts on the timing of the Top Band session and partly awaiting a time window with audible signals in it when I did finally try it. I think it was worth waiting as long as possible. Thank you for your patience!

It was good to work some of the regulars and farther afield into the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium plus the icing on the cake - European Russia. As far as the latter QSO is concerned the setup at the remote end was far superior to my meagre station.

Considering the ascent and distance covered in the day, 30 activator points is a good tally. When Great Knoutberry and Dodd Fell are included, efficiency increases dramatically in terms of points per km walked.

There was just one S2S and that was with Carl on GW/ NW-043 using 2m-FM at 13:28 from Dodd Fell - G/ NP-016. As far as I know, Carl was just using a handheld and rubber duck.

The WX was perfect for rushing around multiple summits. Temperatures bracketed zero and there was a cold wind and sunshine from sunrise until sunset, apart from an hour of thin low-cloud in the early morning on NP6. It also helped that there was no lying snow anywhere and some of the worst bogs were partially frozen. It was a reasonable bet that others would be enjoying a fine day on the hills but I met no other walkers on any summit or their routes. The price you pay for Top Band success is that you end up walking down in the dark but it wasn’t such a bad evening for that.

The Coal and Cam Houses Roads were clear of snow and ice this year. The latter drives appreciably better after all the work done on it. The tarmac is exceptionally smooth and looks as if it might run all the way to Cam Houses; the section after the Pennine Way junction never having been metalled to my knowledge. It did cross my mind that the council might have invested in some cattle grids to replace the three gates but I guess they’re expensive and you can’t have everything. The number of QSO’s from Gt.Knoutberry and Dodd Fell using 2m-FM only, was mildly reminiscent of 2002/ 2003 SOTA but that helped the schedule to a large degree.

Having two of my trig points chased for WAB purposes was a bonus, even though it was only by one station - G6LKB. I was probably too quick with the 2m-FM session on the last one and Dave missed it.

Despite there being good phone coverage on all four summits in the past, it was completely absent on NP15 & NP16 today, and fleeting at best on NP6 in the morning. Not being able to phone and update Roy G4SSH until mid afternoon was a disadvantage. Unlike in previous years, only NP31 was covered today.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the spotters: G4SSH; G4OBK; G0VOF; G3RMD; G4WHA; PA0SKP and SP9AMH. Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for telephone liaison when a signal was available.

73, John G4YSS.
(Using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)

Photos: NP6: 1-14; NP15: 7; NP16: 4-11-13-14; NP31: 5-9-25-32

Above: Moonset over the old Fiesta and NP6 at Buttertubs Pass

Above: NP6. 80m dipole and mast sagging due to ice accretion

Above: NP15. 2m-FM half-wave J-Pole vertical

Above: NP16. View of Ingleborough - no snow

Above: NP16. Trying out the diminutive Moonraker MT270M 2m/ 70cm; 25/ 20 Watt Mobile rig.

Above: NP16.Moonraker MT270M and J-Pole

Above: (NP16). New tarmac on Cam Houses Road junction with Pennine Way. NP5 behind.

Above: (NP31) . Farm Yard at Litton

Above: (NP31) . Bridleway up Birks Fell

Above: NP31 Birks Fell. QTH with dipole mast and 2m J-Pole

Above: NP31 Birks Fell. QTH - original log

Above: (NP31) Birks Fell descent


SOTA News March 2016
#2

Great report John.

Some very useful information which I may use to plan some trips in order to propel myself to Mountain Goat this year. Thanks!

I did Dodd Fell Hill on Valentines Day, the summit was very frozen. It was my first visit to Dodd Fell Hill and the views whilst driving along the beautifully smooth new tarmac were fantastic! I particularly enjoyed the view of Ingleborough G/NP-005.

In contrast to your picture, summit of G/NP-016,14th February2016 -

73, Colin


#3

Nice Report… while reading this I realized I heard “Dave in Sidmouth” today when I was on W3/SV-025, but we didn’t complete the QSO, which was a shame.

73, Richard


#4

Hi John,

Many thanks for your patience in working you on 80m on the 2 summits. I only use an end fed antenna at work which is resonant on 40, 20 and 10. Swr was very high on 80 but at least i worked you. Also QRN at work does not help.

Look forward to working you when next out.

Again many thanks

Geoff GM4WHA