A night atop High Stile (G/LD-012)

After my previous outing I was left with only eight points left to achieve mountain goat. I wanted to doa summit top camp, on a summit I had not yet overnighted on, so chose High Stile (G/LD-012) (as it happens this would also mean I had overnighted on all three high LD summits: High Street (G/LD-011), High Raise (G/LD-019) and now High Stile (G/LD-12)).

I was waiting for most of April for an appropriate weather opening on a weekend. At first Friday 28/4/2023 was not looking too promising: weather forecasts for up to 50mph winds were being given when I checked on Wednesday night, but this gradually improved over Thursday and so I took the opportunity.

I left home after 1700hrs on Friday after an early dinner - I didn’t want to carry a stove tonight. I cycled across to Ennerdale with the sun on my back - it was a lovely sunny evening. As I headed through the village of Ennerdale bridge I looked across the Red Pike and High Style, surveying the route up to the summit and mentally dividing it into sections.

Passing the Bowness Knott carpark, busy with a walkers packing way their cars after a good day out, I left the tarmac behind and rumbled over the forest track. I’m no mountain biker, doing all my cycling on the road, and so was taking some care.

Soon I was level with the end of the lake and following the river Liz - a delightfully clear river, its bed paved with colourful smooth pebbles. The sun was still shining when I I passed the youth hostel at High Gillerthwaite and then locked my bike to a fence alongside a gate.

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Cycling up into Ennerdale

Hopping off the bike i eagerly decanted the contents of my panniers into my rucksack, and after double and triple checking that nothing vital was left in my panniers I headed up the hill. Following a clear track northwards through a narrow strip of land free of trees I started the steady climb up to Red Pike.

The route loosely follows Gillflinter Beck until at an elevation of 300m the path crosses the beck and heads NE up a steep grassy slope. I paused at the river crossing, knowing this was the last good water source, meaning I would have to carry my overnight water supplies up the next 500m of ascent.
Also resting next to the river were two gents near the end of a great outing - they had started at Buttermere and walked over to Pillar, Steeple and were now going over High Stile to drop down Scarth Gap - a fine day’s walk. We chatted for a little while as I camelled up on water, drinking a litre of water, and then some.

After filling my bottles with 2 litres of water, I began the slog up the grassy hill. The sun was feeling really quite warm, and it was hot work. I paused to look back across the valley towards Pillar. Now I had some elevation I turned on the HT that was attached to my backpack strap - a Yaesu VX6 with quarter wave whip - an put a call out for G7KSE.

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Sunny Pillar

G7KSE had kindly offered to climb up to the summit of Dent (G/LD-045) in order to guarantee a S2S on my mountain goat activation. Not getting any response to my CQ call I headed on up the hill. The climb went quicker than expected and I soon crested the 550m contour at which point the slope eases for a little before a last kick up to the summit of Red Pike.

As I ascended the past 100m to Red Pike I called out on my HT and was greeted by 2E0LDF, we chatted for a little while which led to request to call out for WOTA from Red Pike: this is easily done without any significant detour.

On the summit of Red Pike I again spoke with 2E0LDF, it was a great view but by this time the sky was mostly overcast with the threat of mist descending. Cloud was swirling around Great Gable, and strands of mist were cascading over Looking Stead.

I headed across the springy green turf covering the expansive col between Red Pike and High Stile - this would make a brilliant camping spot. Part way across the col I cam across a couple of pools of water that I didn’t recall seeing before. I suspect these dry up rapidly in warm weather, but they could be a useful source of water. Its the sort of water source where I would ad Chlorine Dioxide tablets, use a Steri-Pen and then also filter through a Sawyer squeeze!

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Water source near the summit

The last few steps of the climb were no ahead, a short stony path up to the summit ridge…and there it was, the summit. It was now 2000hrs local. The summit conditions were absolutely perfect for a night of camping and SOTA , there was barely a breath of wind, the temperature was quite mild, and there was still a good hour of working light.

I set about finding a spot for my tent. The summit is scattered with rocks sitting on a shallow soil. I located a patch of ground just big enough to take my tent, and with no rocks poking out of the ground. I was using the Hilleberg Akto tonight, this four season tent giving an extra feeling of security at a time of year when summit top weather can be quite changeable.

With tent pitched I now setup a 2m flowerpot antenna on a 5m pole, as I was setting it up I could hear G7KSE starting his activation of Dent on 2m. I then moved on to erecting the EFHW for HF, a 5m pole was raised at the end of the EFHW - so just under 20m from the tent, and the 49:1 balun staked to the ground next to the tent. A length of RG58 was run to the ATU-10 tuner (I like to be able to monitor the SWR from inside the tent, so I can see if anything is awry, the STU serves mainly as an SWR meter). A second length of RG58 was then connected to the Venus SW-3B.

Just as I finished testing up the clock ticked on to 2030hrs - my alerted activation time. I could hear G7KSE still on Dent, and called him for a summit to summit. It was great to have my first QSO as a S2S and to be able to chat about our SOTA plans. There was now quite a pileup and so I moved on to the next chaser - 2E0XUP, followed by 2E0LDF and the GM4WHA. There followed a good pileup[ on 2m, with each chaser having a nice chat.

Once the pileup subsided I moved inside the tent, The air had turned chill, and a mist was occasionally passing over the summit. I could still see across th valley to Pillar, Kirk Fell and Great Gable and use the opportunity to look at the different routes I ehave variously used up these mountains.

UI started on HF, calling on 40m and made a few contacts, but was getting fairly poor reports, onto 20m I again made a few contacts but conditions were lacklustre. The severe geomagnetic storm that had occurred earlier in the week still appeared to be having an effect on the bands.

At about 2200hrs local I started wrapping up the radio activities, and went for a stroll laround the summit before retiring to the tent for some sleep. I got up again at 0200 hours (I had set my alarm) for a walk around the summit - it is a joy to have the summit to yourself at a time of day when few people get the chance to be on the fell tops. I could see the lights of various local towns and the occasional glint of a head torch on the route up Scafell Pike.

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Mist gathering around Great Gable - Friday night (Flowerpot mast to the left of the tent)

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View across to Red Pike

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Antenna system - flowerpot in foreground, mast for EFHW in the background

I was up at about 0500hrs looking for some DX, but none emerged. A thick fog had enveloped the summit, and there was the occasional rain shower too. I had a chat with someone on the Isle of man at about 0600hrs, and then at about 0700hrs GM4WHA called me for a chat. There followed a lovely couple of hours of playing about on 2m, 40m and 20m. Contacts on HF were sparse, but it still great fun. I made a couple of S2S, including to M0JKS in Wales and @EA5NU on EA5/MU-080

At 100hrs it was time to head down, I dismantled the antennas and started the descent to the bike for the cycle ride home. It had been a great night out; indeed the last 2 and a half years of SOTA have been a fantastic adventure, and taken me onto some hills I would not have otherwise bothered with.

Thanks to all the chasers who contacted me on High Stile and the kind comments in the previous topic

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Skyline behind the tent includes (L to R) Great Gable, Scafell Pike (right at the back) and Kirk Fell

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Wider view of the above

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Panorama - click for full panorama

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Venus Sw3B, ATU-10 and BamaKey Paddle


Hi Matthew

Another fine write up - and from me another congratulations.

SOTA has also got me to lots of summits I’d have never bothered with once.

David M6GYU

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Hi Matthew,

interesting report. I am curios about being a night on top of a Summit for SOTA. Many years ago sometimes I was on a non SOTA summit for 30 hours or so participating in contests. It was nice, but without time to enjoy the feeling. Only 2 hours break in the night. But it was fine. A night on top for SOTA must be impressive.

73, Ludwig


Nice one Matthew! Keep grabbing the experiences and activations whilst you can. What a lovely report! Reminds me of the many times I camped / stayed in the youth hostel at Butternere in 60s/70s as a child with my parents and Red Pike / High Stile / High Crag being the obligatory first full day route. I’d love to return as a licensed amateur.

Great write up. Nice mini adventure. Congrats again on MG!

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Like the look of that Hilleberg Atko tent for nights on summits. The fact you’re happy pitching it on summit spots with no visible windbreak speaks volumes. Any comments? At NZ$1151 it’s about 33% more than I’d hope to pay - but I’m intrigued to hear how you find it all the same.

Current tent here is an MSR NX and way too fragile for unprotected tops use. Previous Mountain Hardware bivvy tent was (is) bulletproof but not tall enough to sit up in, which does not work well with my back for long stints hunkered down in poor weather,

Sorry - slightly off-topic, but keen to hear how you go with it for summit camps.

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Hmmm, an overnight activation. Now there’s a thought. Time to break out my Halford’s “festival special”. I doubt it would survive much abuse and would probably end up looking a string of prayer flags after any decent wind :wink:


The Akto is brilliant, I really trust it. I am on my second Akto in about 20 years, the fact I bought a second one says everything.

I have used the Akto in 50mph winds and above. I did once take it beyond its limit, leading to a severely bent pole. On that occasion, the wind gusts required me to crawl along the ground…but still the Akto survived, even though the pole bent

Both inner and outer are waterproof, and the outer is reassuringly thick fabric. Always comforting in long nights with heavy rain.

The tent gets nice and warm inside, even when outide temperature is well below freezing.

I have also used it in heavy snow, with around 30cm falling overnight. Again, it performed very well.

If you pitch often on very rocky ground then the Hilleberg Soulo may be better, as it is self supporting.

I have added optional extra guyline ls to my hilleberg, you can also double pole it (run two poles through the pole sleeve) to make it super strong, but I have never felt the need.

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Great report, Matthew, keep ‘em coming!

Well Done Matthew

I have done several summit camps using the 3F YL Gear Lanshan 1…a single skin silnylon tent. So you can do it with light weight tents and tarps, you just need to pick the right night!

Being on a summit overnight is huge fun…even in darkest winter its fun. The feeling of having the whole summit to yourself for a whole night, and the experience if stepping out of your tent at any time to be greeted by the summit. Also, the comforts of a tent and sleeping bag allow you to relax and enjoy a summit in a range of weather conditions.