A night on Cross Fell (G/NP-001)

When I last activated cross fell, in August 2021, I had cycled there from home and camped not far from the radar station on Great Dun Fell. I noted during that activation that the summit of Cross Fell provided great camping opportunities.

My XYL needed to drive over Hartside pass on 31 December 2021, and kindly dropped me off at the summit of the pass, to start my walk. One of my current aims is to activate all the Lake District SOTA Fells by arriving via human transport from home – so most of my activations have involved a long walk or cycle. Being dropped-off from a car was an absolute luxury.

The night before I had decided it was unlikely to be possible to camp overnight on the summit, as winds of 50mph to 60mph were forecast – I generally set a limit of 40mph for an overnight camp when using the Hilleberg tent. On the morning of 31 December, the forecast had reduced to around 30 to 35mph winds, so I thought it was worth a try.

The summit of Cross Fell has an easy grassy escape route, with a bothy (Gregg’s Hut) situated around 150m lower in elevation and a short walk from the summit. To the other side of the summit – around 5km away – is the Radar Station and a metalled road, so even if the weather deteriorated there were plenty of safe escape options.

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On teh way across Malmerby Fell

I left the carpark at Hartside pass at around 1100hours, as I had only around 10klm of walking to do, I was looking forward to a gentle stroll along the ridge overlooking the Eden Valley. A clear track heads south from the pass – starting at an elevation of 575m, so not much more than 300m lower than Cross Fell summit.

Heading in SSW direction I made my way across the Malmerby Fell. This is very much grouse shooting country, and the hill side is littered with gravel feeding stations; the occasi0onal squark signalled a grouse rising from the heather – presumably having escaped the shooting season which ended on 10 December.

The weather was overcast, with the occasional flurry of sleet, a the wind blowing across the ridge was fairly slack – around 15mph.

Malmerby Fell afforded a lovely view across the Eden Valley; with the cloudbase at around 900m the tops of some of the higher Lake District fells were lost in the mist but the High Street range was clearly visible. Heading SSE from Malmerby Fell I joined I joined stone wall, providing a useful navigation handrail if conditions had been misty. I followed the wall for around 2km, reaching t small stream of Gregory’s Sike where I paused for lunch.

I filled my bottle from the stream, using a Sawyer water filter, and hoped there wasn’t too much lead in the water (the area is strewn with evidence of the lead mining past). During lunch the weather closed in, a mist descended and a steady fall of rain began . The rain had set-in for the rest of the afternoon.

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Malmerby Fell - with small orange flags laid out for a fell race

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Cairns marking the path across the ridgeline

After lunch I started moving again, my intention was to head or the route of Wainwrights Pennine Journey (a fascinating book if you’ve not read it – I highly recommend – not to be confused with the Pennine Way that was also designed by Wainwrights). Before I reached the Pennine Journey route I found a newly laid wire fence in my path, heading NNE and seeming to follow the Civil Parish boundary. With time on my side I decided to follow the fence line since it appeared to head pas a number of old mine workings and back onto the main ridge.

The fence was a good companion a took my most of the way up to the ridge which I reached at NY675360, I then turned SE to walk across the shoulder of Skirtwith fell, looking to join with the main path again. Back on the main path, I found a spring near to the famous Yad Stone where I was able to fill up with water for my camp. It turned-out that I could have climbed a little higher and filled my bottles at Crossfell Well Spring (at the 830m contour, just 60m below the summit this must be one of the most conveniently placed water sources of any Cumbrian SOTA summit.

With around 3 litres of water (and a further litre freshly in my belly) I headed up to the summit, following the large cairns to arrive at the substantial summit shelter.

With strong winds a possibility I sited my tent as far into the cross-shaped shelter as possible. It was now pouring with rian as a I set about erecting my antennas. A flowerpot antenna was placed on a 4m pole followed by a linked dipole on a separate 7m pole. The dipole passed over the tent and summit shelter.

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Google Photos
Tent pitched close in to the shelter

With antennas ready I dived into my tent a removed my soaked outer garments before calling out on 2m using a hand-held (Yaeasu VX6) connected to the flowerpot antenna, the time was 1517hrs.

G6LKB was the first caller followed by M0TRI, G0PMJ, 2E0XUP and G6AEK. The callers noted my signal was fluctuating and this was traced to a problem with the BNC on my feeder – I needed to hold the coax in a certain position to avoid the problem. Not a problem, as I had two RH770s and flexible whip and a rubber duck antenna with me also.

With 2m fairly quite I setup my Venus SW-3b CW radio using the BaMatech TPIII paddle. I started learning CW in February and although I am up to around 25wpm when operating at home, I find summit operations more challenging but each time is a little easier. This time I felt the concentration needed was much less and the mode has begun to feel more natural. Although, my sending as rather poor at times as I had forgotten to bring the steel plate with me (which the paddles magnetically stick to), and instead had to hold the paddles in my hand while operating – something I am not used to.

M3PMG was my first contact (he was calling on 7.030 so I thought I would have a chat), I then called CQ myself a little higher on the band and after the marvellous RBN hole picked me up a small pile-up followed, with G8TZA, EA1AAP and G4OBJK first.

Over the next hour or two I switched between 2m and 40m. The weather outside was increasingly foul, and there was no chance of me changing the dipole to 20m.

At about 1700 hrs I spoke with GM4WHA and discussed my plans for the night – hoping to stay up until midnight and amake a few new year contacts.

After speaking with GM4WHA I got ready for bed. I inflated my thermarest sleeping pad, and rolled out my PHD sleeping bag (made with a waterproof outer). As extra protection in case of any difficulties I also had a Rab Survivalzone Bivvy, which coupled with the 4-season Hilleberg tent gave me a secure feeling for the night.

AI cooked some dinner – chicken tikka with rice – and had a hot drink. At about 1830hrs I checked the weather forecast (using three different sources for mountain weather) and the forecast for 0300hrs to 0900hours included 12cm of snow and 50mph winds with stronger gusts. I reckoned that my tent and sleeping system coupled with the shelter afforded by the summit cairn would be sufficient to see me through this. However, in the event that I was wrong or that the forecast was overly optimistic I would be faced with vary unpleasant walk to the bothy in the early hours of the morning.

In the interests of getting some worry-free sleep I decided to unpitch my tent, take down the antennas and head to the bothy. So I got out of my warm sleeping back, packed everything up, preset a bearing on my compass for the safe route off the summit and changed my midnight SOTA alert to notify chasers I would be leaving the summit, while still in my tent. Heading off the summit I got soaked again!

The route to the bothy was easy enough. I wasn’t sure what I would find at the bothy – New Years eve is a traditional meeting time at bothies, so I expected it to be a full house. I was quite prepared to camp outside so as to get a quiet night. To my total surprise the bothy was empty, and it stayed that way for the whole night (I reported my mini adventure in real time on the reflector)

As far as bothies in England are concerned, Mosedale cottage has long been my favourite (and in Scotland, Strathan bothy near Cape Wrath) although I think Greg’s hut may now steal that position. The sleeping room has a small stove which I was able to light, and the spacious sleeping platform gave me a good night’s sleep. The bothy is recently refurbished by The Hook remains.
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Google Photos
Warm and toasty in the bothy

The following morning I set off for the summit at about 0930. The weather in the early hours had indeed been bad, with howling winds. There was around 10 to 12cm of snow, on the ground. The ascent to the summit was fairly uneventful – except for multiple post-holing through the snow into boggy ground.

Atop the summit I called out on my handheld only at 100hrs, and made contact with M0TRI, MW0TTK, G6LKB, G6AEK, G0MHF and (just as I was leaving the summit) G0WHA. It was good to catch up with everyone. The wind had dropped to around 30mph on the summit and I was starting to wish I had stayed the night, but on further reflection it was the right choice. The summit shelter can form some nasty drifts and there was always the risk of the tent getting buried, even if it had stood up to the wind.

After the activation I headed down to Garrigil to meet back with the XYL. It was a pleasant walk down into the valley and I was delighted that I had made it back to the summit for a first activation of 2023.

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Setting off from the bothy in the morning

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back on the summit

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Activating G/NP-001 on 2m

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Heading back down

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Easier conditions back down in the valley - but still very wet


Great report & pics, Matthew & tnx fer the qso, a good stretch from Birkenhead for my 818 on 2m, but I do have a huge take off to the north east which helps. 73 John.

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Matthew, I don’t know whether you mean the SOTAs within the LD national park or all of those in in the G/LD region, but in any case that is a very ambitious aim, given how long it can take just to drive in a car from one end of the region to the other.

I know you live in the NW corner of the region and I in in the SE corner so cycling from your home to activate some of my locals, e.g. Hutton Roof Crags (G/LD-052), Whitbarrow - Lords Seat (G/LD-056) or Arnside Knott (G/LD-058), although easy ascents in themselves, would involve a multi-day cycle ride / overnight camp. I suppose you would consider taking your bike on the Cumbrian coastal railway to Arnside station to be cheating (I wouldn’t!).

Good luck with the endeavour.

73 Andy


My plan is to do a cycle tour later this year in order to mop up the 1 pointers - and yes, I mean Cumbria rather than LD.

I have so far completed all LD hills worth 2 points or more (except Lord’s Seat) by mostly human transport.

Mostly == at the moment I allow myself to use public transport to get to the start of a multi-day hike, or to get home from the end of a multi-day hike - but not for single day walks or single overnights. So this cross fell trip doesn’t count, but my previous night on cross fell in August 2021 would count because i cycled all the way to get there.

As time goes by I will eventually cover all the LD and Cumbrian NP hills purely by human transport, removing the “mostly” caveat above.

So far my activations have included walking home from Helvellyn (took me two days in December 2020) and a walk to Tarn Crag via Helvellyn, Red Screes and High Street plus others (three nights).

I do allow myself to use public transport to get to the start (e.g. my ride through the Dales in December 2022). or to get home from the end of a multi-day walk - so that makes things a bit easier. As long as eiter the start or end of the walk is connected to home by human transport.

I don’t drive a car, so I tend to naturally end up cycling or walking everywhere.

I am a big fan of sustainable transport, cycling is more practical than many people realise - but I appreciate a lift when offered!


Great report Matt. As a Scot i could not spend Hogmanay alone, nor would I be allowed to. I’m really surprised you found an empty bothy at New Year!

Equipment query, just because I enjoy reading about your well thought out kit. You carry a tent, a waterproof sleeping bag and a survival shelter. That’s some level of redundancy! Too much?

I could have done my summer Cairngorm yomp from home and take in an extra couple of summits, however that would have taken four days and I only had three, so I got Mo to drop me at the start. For this year I’d like to do a 100 point SOTA hike. Might have to do it in winter bonus season to make it work though…

Anyway, it is a brilliant ambition to do what you’re doing. I look forward to hearing all about it.


Thanks for your thoughts…the Rab Survival Zone bivvy is more of a sleeping bag cover than a shelter…it is very light weight, being made of Event fabric, with just a drawcord closure at the top, I think it is around 200g. I also had a lightweight bothy bag with me (!).

The bivvy is great fun to use on its own…
you can sleep absolutely anywhere (or at least, yiu can lie in your sleeping bag, you don’t always get much sleep)

On a longer trek I would have not carried as much in terms of shelter, but would instead have had more food.

Before i got into radio I was very good at travelling light weight, and would do all sorts of things to minimise weight. However, with all the radio gear its now a lost cause and I don’t really pay as much attention to weight.

I’ve not managed a 100 points in a single outing yet, the best I have is 82 points…I would guess that it is easier to achieve in G/LD or GW/NW than in the Cairngorms.


My Bad. I should have googled it. I enjoy a summer bivi, they’re not so bad when you can walk until 2230 and bed down at 2300 after food, when it’s finally getting dark.

In the winter, 1630 to 0800 is a long time dark…


In terms of tents, the Hilleberg is remarkable…the inside of the tent magically transports you away from a storm ridden summit into a cosy bedroom. The effect really is that great, that you can forget the nasty weather outside.

But yes, 1600hrs until about 0800hrs is a lot of darkness, and the weather can change a lot in that time.

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Fantastic report and photos.

I’ve been to Greg’s Hut once, when we did the Pennine Way back in 2006.


BTW, I don’t think Wainwright devised the Pennine Way. He certainly did a book about it, and, also the “Pennine Journey” (which he did devise). The Pennine Way was first proposed by Tom Stephenson in 1935, but didn’t actually come into existence until 30 years later.

Your mission to reach all the G/LDs and Cumbrian G/NPs by human transport is stunning! I enjoy this sort of challenge too, but being only a walker and not a cyclist, my options are far more limited!

I have done both Shining Tor G/SP-004 and The Cloud G/SP-015 as day walks from home. Once I did a 71km circular route, walking from home, taking in my three local SOTAs - Shining Tor G/SP-004, Gun G/SP-013 and The Cloud G/SP-015.

This included two wild camps - one on G/SP-004 and one on G/SP-015. I am planning to do this again, but actually over a longer route, and with just one overnight stop - but in a hotel!


Your account of your Pennine way walk was a great read, thanks

Sadly, Garrigil is now lacking any shops or pubs…it is quite a shame as it makes an excellent resupply point.


Thanks for the nice comment.

Seems so long ago now. One of the best things I ever did. That was Day 13 of 20. If you want to read about the others, they’re all here:



And no one can criticise you for that Matt! You have notched up some impressive achievements

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Hi Matt - another brilliant report and an epic journey. I have only spent one night on Cross Fell including a few hours in Greggs Hut, but it is now some time ago…[.]. … (TWSMRT Press Clippings)(Was searching not lost…)
I remember a long walk from Garigill, so when I recently repeated it to activate Cross Fell I was disappointed that if anything it seemed even further in the light! Sensible decision to use the bothy! Paul