Saturday 9th February – G/SP-004 Shining Tor Activation
For some time now I have been saying that “one day the sun would shine on me” and Saturday 9th February proved to be the first time in a long while that it had. It always seems to be nice when I am working and horrid when I am off.
I had suggested to Helen GW7AAU that we should activate a couple of Welsh Border summits, but we had a Geocoin to drop off and having already found two caches on Shining Tor she decided we would pay a return visit and as it were ‘kill two birds’.
I already had a handful or two of chaser points before we started off at 1145 and no sooner than we were mobile than I started to add to the tally. First up was Ian 2W0EDX on GW/NW-044 Moel Famau who I worked from the A5117. On the M56 I was surprised to hear the sound of Glyn normally GM4CFS, who had made us so welcome during our Scottish trip last summer, calling CQ from G/LD-003 Helvellyn. Five miles from home and twelve points already! Unfortunately I missed another 10 pointer when a station on the Wirral beat me to it, by the time that contact finished I could no longer hear the NW summit. Much gnashing of teeth ensued but the sun was shining and I was not going to let it bother me, after all two small pencils are almost as good as one big one and twice as useful.
Just before arriving in EYP country I managed to bag Clive M1YAM on G/NP-015 Great Knoutberry Hill for the second time that day (I had caught him on G/NP-004 Whernside earlier).
Driving through Macclesfield my hopes for an interesting activation were sparked as we heard a French station on S20 (145.500mHz FM) and we were as ‘in the houses’ as you could get, not really the place you expect DX while mobile on two metres.
The stroll up Shining Tor was a most pleasant one and I was surprised at my level of fitness. After the broken ankle last January and the Christmas indulgences I had undone almost two years of dieting, exercise and weight loss so I expected to be puffing and panting, but I was pleasantly surprised to get almost to the summit before I needed to catch my breath. Lots of work to do before I tackle any real hills and the lung capacity needs to improve but I had found it even easier than the last time I did SP-004.
At the top while I waited for the muggles to clear I had lunch and then while Helen sorted out the Geocache I set up the station. Helen worked two metres FM while I started on five megs. First up was a summit to summit with Norman GM4IUS with Steve GM7SRJ on GM/SS-015 Ben Chonzie followed by most of the usually suspects, a total of 17 contacts. Helen managed 19 contacts also starting with a summit to summit with Ian 2W0EDX on GW/NW-051 Foel Fenlli. She also has S2S contacts with Jeff MW3SFN on GW/NW-033 Tarren y Gesail and Martyn 2E0RSM on G/NP-016 Dodd Fell Hill. None of the EU stations we hoped for appeared on two metres and when I QSYed to 40m I found wall to wall contest stations and gave it up as a bad job.
At 1520 hrs we packed up and headed for SP-013 Gun.
By the time I had set up on Gun it was already nearly 1700 hrs and I knew that five megs would be a struggle, however eight stations were worked starting with John GW4BVE and including a S2S with Dave G0AOD on G/SP-007 Fair Snape Fell.
Helen did not work any two metres because she got well and truly muggled and spent the entire time on Gun explaining what we were doing until one chap said, “If you don’t pack up now it will be pitch black”. I packed up and by the time we arrived at the car it was like being in a coal mine. Once the sun drops behind the hills there it is like someone turned the light off, now I remember why I carry a torch and a headlight. It looks like we will have to go back again sometime so Helen can activate the summit.
Wednesday 13th February GW/NW-051 Foel Fenlli Activation.
Monday and Tuesday I had been in work and the weather was superb, clear blue skies and warm sun. Had someone in heaven been hearing my prayers? The sun was shining on me, but could it last?
I was due to work nights on Wednesday but I packed my rucksack on Tuesday night just in case. Helen was working so I got up with her at 0700 and checked the weather from the window. It looked like more of the same, so after a quick coffee and bowl of cereal I posted my intention to activate GW/NW-051 Foel Fenlli and headed out.
There was a short delay as we defrosted two cars and then I was on my way. I spent the time on route chatting on GB3CR (433.150) were I was informed I was mad and it would be freezing on the top, how wrong can you get? In the car park I had a brief word with Barry 2E0PWX who was heading for Welsh Borders with Mike G0DSP but did not want to delay any longer. Putting on my boots I realised just how warm it was and ditched my walking jacket into the rucksack.
I followed the winding way up and realised that maybe I wasn’t as fit as my stroll on Shining Tor had lead me to believe, but with even stopping every few minutes to catch my breath, under the pretence I was taking photographs, I was on top in 20 minutes. I spent some time re-hydrating, getting my breath back and enjoying the fantastic views and then set up the station. By the time I was ready I was getting quite warm and there was no need to don my coat.
It was a bit early when I started for the 5 megs propagation I needed so I went on to 2m FM first. Some good contacts were had with John GI4BWM in County Antrim, Sean 2E0MVH mobile in Windermere and Paul G4JNN in Bradford seeming the most noteworthy. There seemed to be some continentals on FM but they manifest themselves more as multiple user interference than as workable DX.
When I got fed up of not finding a free channel on two FM I tried 5megs and Don G0RQL was the first to find and spot me. Allan MM0BJP on GM/SS-115 Beinn Uamha provided the first S2S of the day and I worked a few more stations before Arthur GW1LDY informed me that Sean MW0VGP was on two metres SSB and I QSYed for the second S2S of the day. Sean was on GW/NW-042 Moel y Gamelin and I later caught up with him as I drove home on GW/NW-043 Cyrn-y-Brain.
I QSYed to 144.310 and despite CQ calls on both that frequency and on 144.300 I got no more takers on two SSB. I was at this point I tried to self-spot but for some reason I could not get the Internet on my mobile phone. I went back to 5meg but got few takers and I therefore resorted to two FM again. Amongst the stations worked I found Barry (aka The Whippet aka mission control) 2E0PXW on GW/WB-004 Titterstone Clee Hill for the third S2S and another sortie on to five megs found that other member of the Welsh Mafia Mike GW0DSP on the same hill, plus Martyn GD3YUM and Paul G0HNW.
On a number of occasions I had tried a self-spot and O2 let me down. My calls in the wilderness went unanswered on a number of bands including 433 and 7mHz, maybe a spot would have helped. The only spot during three hours operating had been from Don G0RQL which I found somewhat disappointing bearing in mind just how many stations myself, Mike GW0DSP and Barry 2E0PXW spot each day. However it was a great morning led in the sun and I had 36 contacts, which cannot be bad for a weekday so I am not complaining.
It might have been a day in August as I descended in just a tee shirt it was so warm. I tried the steep decent straight back down to the car park and found a mud fest. I resorted to the walking poles and made it to the bottom with only one minor sharp intake of breath and an “Oh!…Phew!) . If you use this route be warned a few of the wooden steps near the top are getting dodgy and one has already broken.
I had spent three hours on the summit and enjoyed every minute but by 1400 hrs I was tucked up in bed, but not before I had worked Sean MW0VGP (as mentioned earlier) and Allan MM0BJP again, this time on GM/SS-162 Beinn Dubh. A super day! I just hope the weekend proves as good as I am going after those WBs I wanted to do last Saturday.
Regards Steve GW7AAV