Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

178 down, 4 to go

We had a 4 day Jubilee Bank Holiday pass-out to play in the Lake District, and chalk off some of those last ten uniques to complete activating all G. Liam was coming, so we immediately discounted the bigger beasties of High Stile G/LD-012 and Pillar G/LD-006, to leave to a later occasion. But I didn’t quite reckon on the some of the “little” 1 and 2 pointers being quite so demanding!

Setting off as I picked up Jimmy from his job at 6.30pm on Friday 1st June 2012, we had an easy run up the M6, with no Friday/bank holiday hold ups. Dinner was taken at KFC, Charnock Richard services - and it was just about edible. 'Nuff said.

We arrived at Cockermouth (Double Mills) YHA around 9.45pm, just before reception closing time, and made up our bunks. We were given the 4-bedded dorm adjacent to the lounge to ourselves for the evening. The sleeping arrangements are much more comfortable in youth hostels now with a duvet cover and a fitted sheet being the standard issue to new arrivals, rather than the old YHA sleeping bag sheets. Nonetheless, Jimmy and Liam were amused to note a sign which offered the sleeping bag sheets on request to “traditionalists”!

Ray, the live-in hostel manager, liked his signs, and there were many of them all over the hostel, often including an apology and further expression of his own regret at having to make such a request! A phrase on one that had me chuckling was “The local yobbery”!

The morning of Saturday 2nd June 2012 arrived, and it was a stunner with wall-to-wall blue sky and sunshine. After preparing the flask of mulligatawny soup and breakfasting on cereal bars, we set off for Blake Fell G/LD-031.

We parked in the wide entrance to the track at NY086184 and applied suncream and sunhats. Then we commenced our first walk of the trip, along the stony track and up into the forest rides. It actual fact, we should have just stuck with the good path by the fence on the right-hand side of the forest, although it made not much difference.

Emerging from the woods, we climbed onto Low Pen, and then followed a small path that contoured around, rather than passed over High Pen. The path over High Pen would be the better one to take, even with the small amount of additional height gain.

Looking across the valley from Low Pen, it appeared the summit of Blake Fell was a lot higher and a lot further, but it wasn’t. The path curved back around and worked its way up the gentle grassy slopes of Blake Fell’s south ridge. Upon reaching the summit, I reflected on what had been a superbly enjoyable S-shape snaking ridge walk approach. Jimmy agreed.

Liam plonked himself in the stone summit shelter with his 3DS, complete with another 10 Playcoins earned by its built-in pedometer. Jimmy 2Q0EYP/P worked on 2m FM, making 9 contacts, into G, GI, GW, GM and EI. He was chuffed with this, and even more so later on Dent G/LD-045 when he made a S2S QSO into GD to “complete the set” for the day.

On 40m CW, it was 22 QSOs for me in 12 minutes of operating. Jimmy fielded the usual questions from the passing walkers as I enjoyed the views over Knock Murton (surprisingly not a Wainwright) and Cogra Moss (lake). For the return walk to the car, we followed the slightly better paths over High Pen, and down by the edge of the wood, rather than the forest rides through it.

On this beautiful day, it was now onto Dent G/LD-045.


The next summit on Saturday 2nd June 2012 was Dent G/LD-045. This was sold to Liam as being on the Coast 2 Coast route. We parked in the small car park at NY041139 and walked up the track from that same point. Jimmy soon had us turning right up the higher forest ride, although both would have taken us to the same spot.

At NY045126, there was a large junction of paths, and we turned sharp right to follow the Coast 2 Coast path up to the summit. This was not far away, and fortunately it was the nearer East top, rather than the West top with the much larger cairn, that was the true summit.

On 40m CW, I made 14 QSOs, while on 15m CW, still using the 40m dipole, I made 2 contacts into the USA. With time to spare, and a beautiful mid afternoon in progress, I then set up the 30m dipole for a play with the Rockmite 30. Unfortunately, there was to be no joy with this today and no contacts made. I did hear some chaser stations requesting a QSY due to QRM, but this was not possible!

Battery: #1. Activation: #8
Summit: G/LD-045. Band: 30m
Radio: Rockmite 30
Antenna: Inverted V Dipole @ 6m agl
Battery: Duracell Pro-Life
Finish Voltage at room temp: Not a clue
New DXCCs: 0
Cumulative DXCCs: 17 (9A, DL, G, HA, HB, I, LA, LZ, OE, OK, OM, OZ, RA, S5, SM, SP, SV)
QSOs: 0. Cumulative QSOs: 45

Over on 2m FM, Jimmy just made the requisite 4 contacts, but was more than satisfied as he worked into the Isle of Man, which meant he had contacts with G, GW, GM, GD, GI and EI, all on 2m FM during the day.

Liam packed up quickly and got underway with his descent while Jimmy and I were still taking our aerials down. I feared that he would have missed his turning and ended up following the Coast 2 Coasters down to Ennerdale Bridge, but there he was waiting at the car when I arrived.

There wasn’t any YHA accommodation (nor even camping pitches available) anywhere in the Lakes for this Saturday night, but I did manage to book us a family room at the Bower House Inn, Eskdale. However, when trying to find somewhere to stay, I had submitted a web enquiry form for The Globe Inn in Gosforth, via the BnBSelect website. A couple of nights later I got an email back from the proprietor Tony Bevan stating “No … go away …”.

So on the drive towards Eskdale I decided to pop into The Globe Inn for a pint, and to advise that I suspected their email had been hacked. It turned out that Mr Bevan had left the pub five years ago, and the current owners were having tremendous difficulty in stopping BnBSelect from continuing to route enquiries to him. They showed me another email someone had brought in. It was vulgar and abusive, and made me feel fortunate to have only been told to “go away”. We enjoyed our chat with the landlord and landlady, and the pints of Jennings that accompanied it.

Onwards into Eskdale Green, and the Bower House Inn. The room was very comfortable, and the big bath in the en suite was welcome too. For grub I went for the chicken and vegetable soup, followed by the cumberland sausage. All washed down with their own Bower House Bitter.

Upstairs, we watched Paddy McGuninness’s Greatest Footy Adverts Ever, for a bit of dumbing down before bed, then got some welcome zeds in before breakfast.


In reply to M1EYP:
“But I didn’t quite reckon on the some of the “little” 1 and 2 pointers being quite so demanding!”

Spot on Tom!

Likewise in Scotland I have found the same (electric fences, dry stane dykes, forest plantations, farm land negotiations - etc). And just for an example. After 5 years I have just completed all the SOTA Summits on Jura last week with the remaining SI-075 & 080 activated requiring a circuit of 27K (due to the nature of the ungrazed terrain and the use of deer tracks - there are next to no sheep on the island to keep the vegetation down) and total elevation of just under 1000M - just for 2 points! Such is SOTA - hi!

GL with the remaining Uniques.


Jack (;>j

Sunday 3rd June 2012 began with a full English at the Bower House Inn for Jimmy and I, while Liam painstakingly worked his way through four Manx kippers. Here we were at the foot of Eskdale, and very close to the day’s planned action, centred around Hardknott Pass.

We parked in a convenient spot at NY232014, a few metres to the East of the summit of the Hardknott Pass road, and right at the start of the path up Hard Knott G/LD-034. I glanced across at Harter Fell G/LD-028 and knew that it wasn’t going to happen. It just looked “wrong” - too far and too high for three tired lads in unsuitable weather - very high winds.

So even before commencing the ascent of Hard Knott G/LD-034, I cancelled Harter Fell from our schedule for the day, without any objections from Jimmy! The initial climb was quite steep, but thereafter the approach was fairly graded and doable, even if there were a couple of false summits to go up and over.

As we reached the summit cairn, the wind was such that there would have been no way of keeping a mast upright. Not even the known-to-be resilient SOTA Beam WASP Special would have stood it. So we backtracked and used the peakedness of the summit to gain excellent shelter on its western side. On 2m FM, Jimmy made 13 QSOs, including Colwyn M0YCJ/P over on Harter Fell G/LD-028! On 40m CW, I had a satisfying activation of 18 contacts, followed by 8 on 40m SSB.

We descended to the car, and had our Highlanders Broth soup for lunch. It was then time for the white knuckle ride back down Hard Knott pass to Eskdale, agreeing that it would be better all round to approach Harter Fell from Dunnerdale, some time in the future. Cockermouth was again the destination, as we now had two more nights booked in here. The route took us through Frizington, where we called to see Liz M6EPW and Colin M0XSD, and then Rawrah, home town of the infamous Derrick Bird. Coincidentally, the first time we tried to activate Hard Knott, the pass was closed by the police due to Bird’s antics that day at the other end of it, as far as Boot.

We decided to use the early finish to check out the Bitter End pub, as enthused about by G4OIG, and get to the youth hostel in time for opening at 5pm, and maximising our chances of snagging bottom bunks! This was successful, so after a freshen up we walked along the riverside into the town and returned to the Bitter End.

A three coast meal of black pudding fritters, followed by Cumbrian roast beef and yorkshire pudding, and hot chocolate fudge cake was a steal at £10.95 per head. More fine local real ales were enjoyed, and I even treated myself to a blue Chimay (9%) later on.

The hostel was at full capacity that night, so we had done well to reserve our beds early. Most slept very well, but the chap in the bunk above me sneered at me in the morning - “Do you know if they sell earplugs here?” in a very snidy voice. He was later to be seen bending the volunteer warden’s ear about his sleeping woes. Simple advice - get out there in your walking boots or on your bike and make yourself very very tired during the day. Or - book a deluxe single at the Scafell Hotel or Lodore Falls! But not a cheap bed in a room with eleven other blokes who are all going to be sleeping well! Muppet.


In reply to GM4COX:

Those 4 at the North end of Jura are sufficiently remote that it’s almost worth hiring a boat to take you out from the mainland. You’d have to camp out at least one night still. You could possibly bag Cruach Scarba SI-078 on the way back. Boat hire would probably be in £250 region though so it’s an expensive way to bag 5 points. But what a buzz to complete them all!


In reply to MM0FMF:
“You could possibly bag Cruach Scarba SI-078 on the way back.”

ABW Andy on the cards for next year. Spoke to a nice man who has a ‘big’ RIB moored at Craighouse and I think he’s daft enough to take me and some fellow ‘nutters’ to Scarba - hi!


Jack (;>J

Indeed Jack, and this next one was a very real challenge for 2 points!

Bank Holiday Monday 4th June 2012 began in the youth hostel with cereal bars and tea for breakfast, and me preparing soup of the day, which was broccoli & stilton by majority verdict. I had looked across at today’s first summit - Mellbreak G/LD-036 - from other summits with some trepidation. It just looked such a big beast, so high and so steep from all directions! And it didn’t disappoint!!

Jimmy directed me from Cockermouth to our parking spot at NY140208, just beyond the village of Loweswater. We walked up the track through Kirkgate Farm, looking in awe at Mellbreak’s fearsome north slopes (White Crag - near vertical scree). A PROW runs up that way, and many walkers met during the day were using that route either as ascent or descent or both. Rather them than me!

We passed to the right of White Crag and continued along the mainly level valley path heading south. At NY140187 we bore left and left again to take the steep path up to the saddle between Mellbreak’s north and south tops. This was horribly steep and very hard work. At last, as it started to round off towards the saddle, we took 10 minutes to sit, rest, eat, drink and admire the commanding views over Mosedale to Loweswater Fell on another beautfiul day.

It was soon time to press on and complete the relatively easy amble up to the summit. The views now opened up over Crummock Water and Buttermere, and we selected our operating positions. 40m CW yielded 18 QSOs, while Jimmy made 7 on 2m FM, including S2S with Colin MQ0XSD/P and Liz MQ6EPW/P on Pike of Blisco G/LD-024. Our soup lunch was taken just before packing up, and we got on with the descent.

We had considered descending down the Buttermere (south) end of the fell and taking a longer walk back up the valley, but ultimately returned via the ascent route. Jimmy and Liam both got themselves down the steep slope well, but I struggled with my thighs seizing up frequently. I even shuffled down a few sections on my backside, but that brings with it a reluctance to stand up again! Main thing is, we all got down to the path safely, even if it did take a while!

The walk along the valley to the car was simple and plesant, and I chatted to several other walkers. I got there with Jimmy and Liam waiting for me, and Jimmy keen to press on to the day’s second planned activation - Low Fell G/LD-042.


In reply to GM4COX:

Put me on the list.


The second summit on Bank Holiday Monday 4th June 2012 was Low Fell G/LD-042. Low? Ha! OK, not in the same league as Mellbreak G/LD-036 early this day, but Low Fell is quite a prominent hill.

We started by parking just north of the village of Thackthwaite at NY148237, then walking back through the village to a residence at NY148236. From here, a PROW leaves the road, actually signposted “Low Fell”. The walk climbs up a narrow passage between trees before opening out into a field, and now Low Fell comes into view just left of centre.

At the top of the field, the path turned right, and followed a gently graded line contouring steadily upwards around the right hand side of Sourfoot Fell. We crossed Watching Crag then hit the main summit path to Low Fell. This was slightly exposed in places, and I made a mental note to avoid this on descent. We were tired, and one slip could have resulted in an unarrestable slide!

We soon hit the summit of Low Fell, and were again enjoying the panoramic views over Western Lakeland in glorious weather. Jimmy 2Q0EYP was setting up very close to the summit cairn, but Liam had wandered further and found a lovely sheltered spot with a wonderful view over Crummock Water.

On 40m CW, I recorded 25 QSOs, after which I switched to SSB to make a further 17 contacts. Jimmy had no trouble in making 9 on 2m FM. The descent was powered by motivation to get into a pub and go out for a curry! Firstly, I walked around the west side of Low Fell’s minor north top to avoid the brief exposed bit, then it was the steady graded descent all the way back to Thackthwaite. A pub was found on the road back to Cockermouth for refreshment Jennings-style, before hitting the town itself.

Now for the real fun! We made for the Spice Club restaurant in Cockermouth for some dinner, and very much enjoyed the fayre on offer. The establishment was clearly a seafood and fish specialising restaurant, and so I opted for the Spice Club Fishcakes, followed by the Chef’s Special fish and prawns. Along with all the other stuff like sag paneer, keema rice, garlic & chilli naan, tarka dhal and lager. It was superb.

Towards the end of the meal, a very fat middle-aged man (no not me, way beyond my statistics) began causing a scene and complaining about the service. He was incredibly rude and loud, but utterly useless at attracting support from the other diners in the packed restaurant. Not content with the lack of attention he was getting, he then went and stood in the doorway of the curry house shouting “Don’t come in here, the food is lovely but the service is rubbish”. It had to be seen to be believed.

Back at the youth hostel, some cyclists and their support vehicle team were preparing for a ride from Carlisle to Sunderland in aid of Macmillans Cancer Support. All the hostellers were in bed for 11pm, even the complainant from earlier, so sleep was definitely on the menu.


In reply to GM4COX:

In reply to MM0FMF:

ABW Andy on the cards for next year. Spoke to a nice man who has a
’big’ RIB moored at Craighouse and I think he’s daft enough to take me
and some fellow ‘nutters’ to Scarba - hi!

Hi Jack

I’ll go too please please please if you have any spare places and sassenachs are allowed!

Will be back up in GM early July, hope to catch you from a summit or two then :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

The original plan for Bank Holiday Tuesday 5th June 2012 was to activate Black Combe G/LD-030. However, reality set in and with wanting to be home in time to go out and do the 2m UK activity contest, it didn’t seem feasible. So instead we thought we would nip up the local Watch Hill G/LD-054, and maybe Lambrigg Fell G/LD-046, then head south.

But when the Macmillan Cancer Relief cyclists repeatedly set the hostel gas alarm off between 5.30 and 6am, we were up and awake. Sensing the opportunity of a two hours earlier than expected start, I reverted to Plan A - Black Combe.

After stripping our beds and checking out of the hostel, Jimmy directed me onto the A5086 and A595 roads south. After a few flase starts, we managed to locate the church car park at SD134827. Kitted up, we passed through the narrow ginnel and onto the road up to Kirkbank. The climbing soon kicked in and was consistent yet never too steep for the next two hours.

As we reached the swerve in the path at SD133845, the rain started. It was only light rain, fading between damp mist and minor drizzle, but the annoying thing was that it was here two hours before forecast to be so. Jimmy and Liam were not amused.

On the final approach to the summit, Jimmy strode ahead and disappeared into the mist. Now without a map or a guide, Liam and I had to follow our noses to attain the summit. We veered right off the path and ended up climbing the south top of Black Combe. After crossing the shallow col, we headed uphill again, and got Jimmy to talk us into the summit, firstly via radio, and then via audible shouting! The visibility was only a few feet, and this would prove troublesome later.

Jimmy 2Q0EYP was in no mood to set up the SOTA Beam in the rain, but did brave the elements to make several contacts on his 2m FM handheld. He then hunkered down inside my bothy bag with Liam, and even made some more QSOs from that sitting down position, taking his tally to 12. I passed the boys a large cup each of lentil & bacon soup into the bothy bag, and poured myself one before setting up the 40m dipole.

I made 20 contacts on 40m CW, then set about packing up. Jimmy and Liam set off fractionally ahead of me, after we had worked out the direction to head off the summit in order to pick up the main track. A few seconds later, when I set off, Jimmy and Liam were already lost to the clag.

I found the path (or so I thought) and followed it down. And down. And down. “Surely I should have hit the main track by now?” I asked myself, but for some reason, persisted with my heading. “Surely I should have caught up with the boys by now?” was another increasingly nagging question. I tried to get Jimmy on the hand-portable, but without any joy.

We did, eventually, and not without difficulty, manage to get mobile phone contact with each other, but nothing was happening on 2m, even when we agreed a working frequency over the phone. That’s when it dawned on me that there might be a big lump of hill in between us, and that I had managed to leave the summit on the wrong path! At least the phone contact confirmed that Jimmy and Liam were on the correct path and progressing well back to the car. I had also given Jimmy the car keys, so they would be able to unkit and wait indoors!

I turned around, and ascended back to the summit. After 20 minutes I was back at the summit shelter, and now a good 40 minutes behind the lads. The weird thing was that I arrived at the summit from exactly the opposite direction from that I had originally set off in for my descent. In the mist, I must have bent right around and become disorientated.

This time I took more care to maintain my heading away from the summit, and ths time I found the correct path down to the main track. And this path was all of two minutes walk to the track, so I could have kicked myself, very hard, for pig-headedly persisting with the wrong descent for 20 minutes!

The day remained grey and damp, but many groups of walkers were now ascending Black Combe. All confirmed they had seen “two teenage lads about 3/4 of an hour ago”. I tried to quicken my pace in order that they wouldn’t be waiting too long for me at the car, but it was hard with the exertions of the previous three days taking their toll.

I was now in reliable 2m radio contact with Jimmy, and all was well. I reached the car at around 2.30pm and set off along the South Lakes roads across to the M6. We then made good time and were back home in Macclesfield by 5.15pm, so in time for a hot meal before heading back out for the contest.

Many thanks to all chasers who worked Jimmy or myself on this trip. Just four G summits now remain to be activated in order to complete the association.


In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom

Very nice trip with some interesting experiences! Sorry to hear about the aggro on Black Combe.

Hope you get the last four knocked off soon. Can recommend Black Sail hut as an overnight stop off point between Pillar and High Stile if you can work it in - quite unique :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

PS sorry about hijacking your thread earlier…

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom

I didn’t plough through everything but what are the missing four? I gather Pillar and High Stile are two of the four?



In reply to G4MD:

Can recommend Black Sail
as a stop off point between Pillar and High Stile if you can work it
in - quite unique :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

If you mean the hut, yes, I can also recommend stopping off there! It was very hot and sunny when I walked past a few years ago, the warden was just shutting up for the day but invited me in to top off my water bottles from the water purifier. They even sell beer!

Good luck with the other ‘four’ Tom. I was looking at the database last night - I’ve done 21 uniques in all my time in SOTA - about 8 years. I have a lot of catching up to do! Still 503 points from 21 sunmmits is good going I guess :wink:


In reply to M0CGH:

Sorry about the lack of concision Colin, have edited my original post and hope it makes more sense!

Good luck with the catching up hope to work you from a summit soon :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD

In reply to G3CWI:

Pillar G/LD-006
High Stile G/LD-012
Seatallan G/LD-025
Harter Fell G/LD-028


In reply to M1EYP:

Sweet! Pillar and High Stile from Gillerthwaite, Seatallan and Harter Fell from Wasdale, a nice pair of outings and a nice set of summits, you’ll enjoy ticking them! Perhaps it’s a good job for you the Pillar Rock isn’t a SOTA summit…


Brian GQ8ADD

Hi Paul,

Thank you for the recommendation of Black Sail Youth Hostel. However I believe you need book Black Sail Youth Hostel in advance in order to get a room there and it says on the website that you need to give then 2 weeks notice if you want an evening meal and breakfast there. I don’t like to book anything in advance for walking holidays because you don’t what the weather is going to be like, so there could the risk of booking accommodation for a walking holiday only to find that it could be raining heavy on the walking holiday.

Jimmy 2(Q)0EYP

In reply to 2E0EYP:
Hi Tom and Jimmy,

Good to see that you enjoyed your time in the Lakes.

As you found, many of the 1 and 2 point SOTA’s make you work very hard for your points!
Many of the Wainwrights are also like this, but it all adds to the fun and the views all make it worthwhile when weather permits, as does the sense of achievement.



In reply to 2E0EYP:

Hi, Jimmy, since hostels have been mentioned - I’ve never been into youth hostels myself, but as I mentioned above, Pillar and High Stile can both be climbed from Gillerthwaite, where there is a hostel and a climbing hut accessible by car. I did the skyline circuit of Ennerdale from there once, one of the best outings in LD!


Brian GQ8ADD