18 ticks

= 6 SOTA (Marilyns) + 12 WOTA (Wainwrights) + 0 “little visitors” from Swinside.

It was really excellent that the long Royal Wedding/May Day bank holiday weekend coincided with stunning dry, sunny and clear weather in the Lake District. Accordingly, Jimmy and I managed to complete all our alerted activations in order - a rare occurrence!

Many thanks to all chasers and spotters. Reports to follow.


Friday 29th April 2011 - Blencathra G/LD-008 (LDW-014), 868m - 8 points

Jimmy and I were up out of bed possibly even earlier than Kate Middleton on this Royal Wedding day. Most preparations had been completed the previous evening, so we just needed to make the soup and load the car. We were on the road by about 5.50am, and heading north on the M6. It was a beautiful morning with sun and blue sky, setting the scene for the coming four days. Breakfast was a large and tasty affair at Westmorland Farm Shops (Tebay), with Cumberland sausage, black pudding, bacon, haggis, egg, mushroom, hash brown and toast, with a cup of tea.

We dropped down the A66 towards Keswick, before turning right up to the Blencathra Visitor Centre. Just past the building was a car park, which was already filling up before 9am. We headed along the firm grassy path which then switched back to a graded track around to the western end of the fell. The route then became steeper and less defined, before levelling out again. Then came a short series of zigzags that gained quite a bit of height, and we were on the ridge up to Knowe Crags.

A series of minor ups and downs were then negotiated before attaining the summit - or Hallsfell Top as it is known. It was very busy today with many walkers out to enjoy the fine weather or escape the Royal Wedding, or both. Jimmy had predicted earlier that other walkers would ask us if we had reception of the Royal Wedding, and it did not take long for his prediction to come true.

By the time I arrived on summit, Jimmy MR3EYP was already set up and QRV, and making plenty of contacts on 2m FM. As forecast, a fierce wind across the top was proving troublesome to keep a fully extended fishing pole upright with the 40m dipole, but 40m wasn’t in great shape anyway, and just 13 contacts were made on CW. Luncheon was from the flask, and soup of the day was cream of asparagus.

Blencathra was a nice, and quite easy walk as 8 pointers go, although I did need a rest and flapjack break on the way down. Back down in the car park, we could feel the heat of the day that was somewhat disguised by the strong winds upland. We had been sensible though and covered up in factor 50.

It was now on to High Rigg G/LD-044.


Friday 29th April 2011 (part 2) - High Rigg G/LD-044 (LDW-210), 357m - 1 point

From Blencathra G/LD-008, we returned to the A66, with Jimmy navigating me onto the minor roads to its south. We parked in the small parking area at NY306224 opposite the church and youth centre. We climbed steeply up the banks to the right of the buildings before levelling out ahead of the main haul.

Not that it was much of a haul. Just a slow amble of about 10 or 15 minutes brought me to the top, where of course Jimmy had already been for quite a few minutes. The wind was still blasting across on an otherwise nice afternoon, so I dropped down one side to attain some form of meagre shelter. Jimmy, sticking with his 2m FM obsession, braved it on the very summit in the interests of putting the best possible signal out.

As it was, my operating position was not the wisest, for the legs of my dipole were a bit too close to the steep flanks rising to the summit. As such, my SWR was short of ideal, and the already poor conditions on 40m were compounded. Just 8 QSOs were made on 40m CW, while Jimmy operating as MR3EYP/P managed the requisite four. He was actually pleased with that, for he had feared having to “top up” with some 40m SSB to get the point.

After descending in the warm afternoon sunshine, we needed to drive south to Windermere. Late booking severely limited our youth hostel bed options, and the only ones available for the Friday night were at Windermere YHA, which is actually out of town on the way to Troutbeck.

We booked in at the hostel and made up our bunk beds before driving into Windermere for fish and chips (haggis and chips for Jimmy) and a pint at the pub. A further beverage was quaffed at the inn in Troutbeck, but bed and sleep was quickly becoming the most attractive option. Despite the whole rest of the hostel being given over to a big 40th birthday celebration, we had a peaceful night. And this was necessary, ahead of the planned activation of High Raise G/LD-019 and seven other Wainwrights on the Langdale Pikes round.


Saturday 30th April 2011 - High Raise G/LD-019, 762m - 6 points

This was the big one today. Just an activation of High Raise in SOTA terms, but we had decided to include this as part of a round of the Langdale Pikes, with WOTA activations conducted on each.

Breakfast was three Nutri-Grain bars each at the youth hostel, with plenty of water. An early start was in order for the long day ahead. Driving up through Ambleside and into Langdale, we parked at the New Dungeon Ghyll pub before 8am. Parking for the day was £4, but this included a 10% voucher for any meals taken there later. (This in fact realised £2 that evening).

We got walking from the back of the pub and were soon into some uphill work, gaining height quickly. The first objective of the day, Loft Crag, looks at first glance an easy bag from the pub, but there is much height gain involved, and it just goes up, and up, and up. We paused for the first rest and sugar fix (chocolate Hob Nob flapjack biscuit bars) of the day just after Mark Gate (didnt he used to play for Ipswich?).

On most of the approach, Thorn Crag to the right looked bigger than Loft Crag, but once almost upon it, we could see why one was the Wainwright and one was not. A steep final pull saw us summit Loft Crag just after 10am. Although we had not seen anyone on the ascent, there was another walker on Loft Crag, and there would be no further isolation for the rest of the day - the Langdale Pikes were very busy!

On Loft Crag LDW-097 we made 3 QSOs each on 2m FM, working as MR1EYP/P and MR3EYP/P. The plan was just for me to work the WOTAs as Jimmy was not that interested, but to our surprise, the keen WOTA chasers repeatedly requested a QSO with Jimmy after working me. Jimmy obliged of course, and we learned that the WOTA Fell Runner Award scored chasers a point for each different activator worked on a summit, and hence the keenness to work us both.

We continued over Loft Crag and descended less steeply on its North Western side. This was very close to Pike of Stickle LDW-083, which Jimmy warned me might be somewhat exposed. In fact it wasnt too bad. Jimmy was way off ahead as usual, scrambling (mildly) upwards, but I overheard two guys saying that the best route was on the other side. So I headed round to the other side - only to find a more difficult and steep rocky scramble with one exposed move. Rather than turn back and follow Jimmys route up, I gritted my teeth, took my time and went for it. The nervy bit was soon over and done with, and I joined Jimmy on the summit.

We relaxed over an Eccles cake, then activated the WOTA with three 2m FM QSOs each. I followed Jimmys way down for a non-exposed descent off the pike to rejoin the main path. We had decided not to follow the big wide track directly across to Harrison Stickle LDW-068, as it dropped as far as 620m ASL. It was a fantastically clear day, and I could see that we could simply take a wider curve around, gradually ascending and without dropping below 650m. This did take us onto the shoulder of Thunacar Knott LDW-076, but we would pass over that one a little later. So we headed around to the right (south) and onto the main drag up Harrison Stickle.

Although these pikes were all around 2500 feet ASL, they each stood only about 150-200 feet above the high plateau, so once up there, attaining the individual pikes was easy. Harrison Stickle LDW-068 was activated by us both, with me recording 8 QSOs on 2m FM, including a W2S with Martyn GW4CQZ on Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042.

After descending back down from Harrison Stickle, it was an almost level walk across to Pavey Ark LDW-089. It was getting really busy up here now, and there was quite a crowd on Pavey Ark summit. How many of them had, like us, tottered across from another Langdale Pike, and how many had dared to work their way up Jacks Rake I do not know! I made six QSOs on 2m FM, including a W2S with Bill G4WSB/P on Top of Selside G/LD-048 (non-Wainwright).

It was another easy walk of about 15 minutes from Pavey Ark back across to Thunacar Knott LDW-076. This was hardly a “pike”, but a swelling in the plateau between Harrison Stickle and High Raise. But we used it to pause for lunch and enjoy the carrot and lentil soup from the flask, as well as another energy bar. It was three QSOs each on this one, all on 2m FM via the handhelds, and including W2W with Richard GR1JTD/P on Wetherlam LDW-058.

Finally, after no less than five Wainwright bags and WOTA activations, it was time for a SOTA. We dropped gently to the high saddle, and then steadily and gradually up onto the large summit plateau. We could see Sergeant Man, our subsequent objective, sticking up at the far right-hand edge of the plateau.

Although it was another windy day, we had generally been spared the worst of it on the summits of the pikes. The more troublesome wind had been accelerating in the gaps between the pikes. However, across the summit of High Raise G/LD-019 LDW-056, it really was fierce, and both Jimmy and I had difficulty in erecting our antennas.

This time the WOTA chasers would have to make do with a single fell runner contact from this summit, unless they wanted to make the second one on 40m CW. In fact one of them - John G0TDM - did just that, but Jimmy worked most of them on 2m FM only. On 40m CW, I made just ten contacts in poor conditions. I was not disappointed though, as the option to get packed up and away across to Sergeant Man rather appealed.

This “traverse” was probably the daftest one of the whole day, with a gentle 40m descent spread over about 500m of walking, then a tiddly climb of a few feet at the end. Sure, it dropped away steeply on the other side, but its prominence from the saddle with High Raise was negligible. My six 2m FM QSOs on Sergeant Man LDW-072 included W2S with Rick M0RCP/P on Skiddaw G/LD-004 & LDW-004, and Neil MW0ECX/P on Moel Eilio GW/NW-022. Jimmys WOTA log was the duplicate of mine.

We were now tiring as we went into late afternoon. But there was one more WOTA summit planned, and a couple of chasers particularly keen that we do it! This was a bit of a longer walk along the high grassy tops, with a stunning aerial view of Easedale Tarn down to our left. Blea Rigg LDW-152 steadily came more clearly into view as the target, and then we were clambering up to its summit. Those two keenest of WOTA chasers - Sue GR1OHH and Colin G4UXH were worked by both Jimmy and I on 2m FM to complete the radio for the day - and herald the start of a long, long walk back down to the pub.

To find our way off Blea Rigg and down to Stickle Tarn, we walked in the direction of Pavey Ark, which was dominating the western horizon ahead. The sun, starting its drop for the day in between Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle was creating some stunning light and scenes across Stickle Tarn. I took a few photos from the dam before commencing the descent down Stickle Ghyll.

We were advised to walk down the right-hand side of the ghyll, even though the left looked much better and easier. That part had been worked on, but would have led into the building site with piles of rubble to negotiate. The drop down seemed to take an age, and every time I looked ahead, I kept seeing the pub an impossible looking distance beneath my feet! Jimmy skipped ahead of his tiring dad, and any conversation we had on this section was conducted via radio on our handhelds.

Just before 8pm, we were reunited at the New Dungeon Ghyll, completing an exhausting 12 hour mission. In the pub, we ordered two plates of meat pie with chips, veg and gravy, accompanied by a pint each of real ale.

Our next accommodation was up at Borrowdale YHA, so it was a long drive ahead, although we made it in good time. Sufficient good time to grab a pint in the Riverside Bar at the Scafell Hotel, before booking in and getting to bed. Our late arrival consigned us to less favoured top bunks in the full dormitory, but I soon forgot about that as I drifted into the land of nod.


Sunday 1st May 2011 - Knott G/LD-023, 710m - 6 points

It was Nutri-Grain bars and water again for breakfast, but I did look somewhat enviously at the Borrowdale YHA hot and cold buffet breakfast being served. I resolved to book that feast for the following morning. Jimmy and I chatted about the previous day and the WOTA-SOTA round in the Langdale Pikes. We had enjoyed it, but agreed that neither of us wanted to make much of a habit of going over to that style of “dart here dart there” walking. Today would be the ideal antidote.

We drove up to Keswick and then East on the A66. We turned North to head up through Mungrisdale, and then left at Mosedale onto the long cul-de-sac to the start point for the walk. I parked on a bit of grass by the side of the road at NY326327. A parking area existed on the other side of the hump back bridge, but I did not fancy the very rough, stony and uneven track to drive into it!

Jimmy and I walked westwards along the Cumbria Way, by the side of Grainsgill Beck. We came to a working party by the old mines, who were restoring the original mine entrance, both to preserve some local heritage, but moreover to prevent a major pollution incident that would be caused if a large build-up of silt broke through.

The walking was lovely, nice and graded as we followed the beck upstream. The weather was lovely again, and the bright sunshine and blue sky illuminated our surroundings to full colour beauty. As we approached the head of the valley, the force of the wind was notable again. I was getting tired, still feeling the exertions of the day before. Jimmy and I found a sheltered spot to take a rest, an energy bar, and the first serving of New England Fish Chowder soup of the day.

As usual, Jimmy had done his homework, and directed me left onto a well-established path with an initial climb onto another level. Then we had a mainly flat walk, and finally a graded ascent onto Knott summit. Jimmy started setting up only a little way past the summit cairn, but I went further and about 10m vertically lower. Neither of us found much in the way of shelter from the ever-present wind though.

The views from this summit were good, and we could see the Dumfries & Galloway coast as well as that of Northern Cumbria. The offshore windfarms could also be seen quite clearly. Jimmy seemed surprised that he made ample QSOs on 2m FM from here, but it looked a decent enough take-off in enough directions to me. I made 13 QSOs on 40m CW, as another 6 points and another SOTA unique was attained.

The return walk was simply a reversal of our ascent, and was just as pleasant. On the way down, I took a few photos of the mine entrance project and had a chat with the project workers. I eventually met Jimmy at the car, where I could see that several other cars had now chanced the rocks on the track and parked in the car park.

It was very hot, especially when out of the wind. We were now on our way to Binsey G/LD-041.


In reply to M1EYP:

Glad you enjoyed the trip.

So you missed out on the magnificent Cumberland, emulsified, high fat content, elongated offal tube, mash and veg for evening meal, the Dutch Apple Pie and local ice-cream, and the sustaining breakfast.

Longthwhiate YH (as it used to be) offers super meals although some of the rooms are somewhat cramped. But to relax in the magnificent grounds with a hot cup of cocoa and a Jammey Dodger before bed is brilliant.

Wonder how long it will be before the YHA sell it as they are trying to do with Derwentwater. (They have sold Thorney Howe)

In reply to M1EYP:

Reference Pike of Stickle, Tom, its nice to hear of you putting hand to rock and accepting some exposure, the next step is enjoying it!


Brian G8ADD

Sunday 1st May 2011 (part 2) - Binsey G/LD-041, 447m ASL - 1 point

Our road route from Knott G/LD-023 to Binsey G/LD-041 took us through the villages of Mosedale, Hesket Newmarket, Caldbeck and Ulldale. We arrived at the parking spot at NY235351 on the south eastern side of the hill. Someone had recently told me that this was Melvyn Braggs favourite fell, and he could often be seen up there, but we did not meet the presenter of the South Bank Show.

This was a short and easy walk, but despite feeling good as I trotted down Knott G/LD-023 earlier, I was suddenly feeling the fatigue of the last three days when climbing up Binsey! I shuffled up to the summit way after Jimmy, and found him struggling to erect the SOTA Beam in high winds on a rock strewn surface. I helped him with that before putting up the dipole - for which I enlisted Jimmys assistance.

Jimmy had already “booked” a slot on the 817 and dipole for if he needed “top up” QSOs on 40m SSB, but in fact he made enough on 2m FM. I made 19 QSOs on 40m CW, before the QRG fell silent and I could get packed up. The descent on the wide path down an easy gradient was not difficult, but I did not rush.

After a welcome shower and change at the hostel, we headed out for an evening meal. Borrowdale was busy on this Bank Holiday Sunday evening, and finding a place to dine was tricky. We eventually got accepted in at the Langstrath Country Inn in Stonethwaite, albeit with a wait for a table.

The wait was fine, for it passed enjoyably enough with Jennings Cocker Hoop ale. When we did get a table, we had trout pate and potted brown shrimps starters resepctively, followed by the Langstrath Mixed Grill - two enormous plates of steak, sausage, gammon, lamb chop, pork chop, bacon, fried egg, black pudding and kidney, with thick cut chips, mushrooms, tomatoes and onion rings. It was a challenge even for Jimmy and I to finish these, but a challenge I am proud to say that we both won. The sweet menu was not necessary.


Monday 2nd May 2011 - Swinside G/LD-057, 244m ASL - 1 point

To be honest, I was quite surprised that we had got through three days and five summits (12 if you include the WOTAs) entirely as planned and in order. Usually something goes wrong or gets changed! And all that remained was arguably the easiest task of all, physically. Other aspects were far from tirvial though, having had to secure advance permission to access the summit, and the prospect of difficulty in using VHF in this mostly screened location.

We parked, as agreed with the estate manager, just by some double gates at NY246221. We waited here for about two minutes, and then Rick M0RCP arrived, dropped off by his XYL Barbara.

The three of us walked up the wide track as far as NY244222 where Jimmy led us off to the right, taking a line diagonally up the steep wooded slope. As the hill rounded off, we headed up to the highest point, which was also in a small clearing with good views of Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake.

Jimmy and Rick shared a station for 2m FM, and made well beyond their requisite four contacts each easily. In fact they had both qualified the summit before I had finished pegging out the 40m dipole, which was something of a surprise! I made 17 QSOs on 40m CW, before swapping over to the 20m MM vertical, where a further 77 CW QSOs were made.

The pile-up was huge, but sadly became a little badly behaved right at the end. I was down to the last three or four stations to work, but when I called QRZ, they each sent their callsigns over and over again, seemingly because when they dropped key, they could hear someone else calling. I had promised Rick a lift back down to Keswick and time was getting on, so I had to leave those final few without a contact. Serves them right though - if they had each just called once, they would have all been safely in the log five minutes earlier.

94 QSOs was a pleasing haul from G SOTAs rarest summit, and I enjoyed the short amble back to the car. After dropping Rick in Keswick, Jimmy and I had a good journey south with surprisingly little delay in the M55 area.

Many thanks to all who worked us on all bands and modes during the Lake District International SOTA Weekend trip.


Tom and Jimmy,

It was great to be able to meet up with you both at last for a joint activation, particularly as it was such a nice day to lie around on a summit doing radio, just the right amounts of sun and wind, and great views.

As you mention, it was surprisingly easy to activate the summit on VHF though I suspect that if one were to turn up unannounced midweek it would be quite a different proposition.

Many thanks for your assistance in getting this one ticked off, for the go on the 817 for 40m SSB and for the lift back to Keswick. Its just a pity we didnt have the chance to visit a local hostelry for post activation refreshments. Next time perhaps.

73 Rick M0RCP

P.S. apostrophes omitted deliberately

Thanks Rick, it made for a really enjoyable final activation of the long weekend. And one with lots of radio and not too much exertion as well - just what the doctor ordered after the previous three days!

Probably my fault we did not have time for a beer, but I had got firmly immersed in the 20m pile-up. It is difficult to drag me away from one of those - as you discovered :wink:



In reply to M1EYP:

Well done Tom and Jimmy in ticking off so many summits from your list. Pleased that you had good weather, especially for High Raise as it was miserable when Paul and I were there and we were not able to see the summit until we were right upon it.

Reading through your report brought back many pleasant memories and I got a feeling that you enjoyed the walks as much as Paul and I did. We found the ascent of Knott a particular pleasure.

There is another bank holiday coming up, so where next?

73, Gerald G4OIG

Thanks for the nice comments Gerald. Jimmy and I carefully select our LD and Snowdonia days now, with a careful eye on the long, medium and short range weather forecasts. We pressed on with a planned circuit of Y Lliwedd, Snowdon and Yr Aran in poor weather a few years ago. It was an achievement, but also a miserable day. Moreover, it is a route we will need to repeat sometime in the future - perhaps after completing all the NW uniques - in order to see the views and enjoy the walk as it should be.

Yes, Jimmy and I both enthused over the walk up to Knott, which was just a really satisfying route and a “proper” walk. Although it was pleasing to record “mission accomplished” on the previous day, with High Raise done as a round of the eight Langdale Pikes combined with WOTA activations, it was a style and rhythm of walking that did not really suit. Knott was much more to our liking, and the scenary was fabulous throughout, from the mine workings at the bottom of the beck, walking up through the small valley, out onto the open fell, and finally the coastal vista from the summit.

Regarding any upcoming bank holiday, I will not be making any firm plans. We have had quite a few pass-outs just recently, and attention is probably needed elsewhere!


In reply to M1EYP:

Well Tom, I thought that they were particularly well planned days, very similar to how Paul and I did them. We attached Blencathra to a single pointer, in our case Swinside, activated Knott and Binsey as a pair and trudged up High Raise as a stand alone summit - in our case with just a single WOTA, but it was on a day when even the most hardy of souls were not staying long at the summit! BTW, I would say that I have never had a day which I would describe as miserable, even though I have been cold and wet through to the skin. The enjoyment of the activation and the sense of achievement has always over-ruled!

When we activated the North Wales summits, we often warmed up on a single pointer and followed it with a larger summit. It worked quite well so we have done that on a few of the Lakes summits. Personally I quite like 3 consecutive days of activating as the third day is usually a real breeze when I have finally got into my stride. With our sorties being less frequent nowadays, it is hard to keep fit and so “training on the job” is part of the equation.

Maybe manage to hook up for a quadruple activation sometime - when three of us can saunter up and have the pleasure of seeing Jimmy forge ahead :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G4OIG:
Fill his bag with spare amplifiers and batteries. That will slow him down!

Andy, MM0FMF/P
waiting for the contest start

In reply to MM0FMF:

Ah, you mean like my bag! :wink:

All the best for the contest - I am off to lay a few slabs… :frowning:

73, Gerald G4OIG