A Race Against Time

I was very interested to read this year’s edition of the excellent MARHOFN (Marilyns Hall of Fame Newsletter) when it came out a few weeks ago. I was particularly interested in the resurveying which effectively removed Horse Head Moor as a Marilyn, and replaced it with Birks Fell, now known to be 1m higher.

Inspection of the OS 1:25000 maps of the area revealed that the drop between the two was up to around 50m, so this would not be a case of renaming the summit, or updating with new location coordinates. It would mean the end of G/NP-021, and the introduction of, presumably, G/NP-031.

Now Jimmy M3EYP is currently very tightly focussed on catching up with his Dad’s Uniques record. A few years ago he was similarly focussed on catching up with my Marilyns ascended record, and he actually did it - but then he went and got himself licensed, and it all started again!

Horse Head Moor G/NP-021 was one of those that I had activated, accompanied by Jimmy, but before he was licensed. We hadn’t been back since. Upon learning of the Marilyns changes, Jimmy was very anxious and insistent that we do Horse Head Moor for SOTA without delay. He was particularly concerned that the English ARM might be updated while we were away on holiday next week, thus leaving him permanently one Unique behind his dad.

I left him to be right pain in the neck, incessantly mithering his mum to allow us an unscheduled day out SOTAing, until she could stand it no more and gave in. I pretended not to listen and watched the Cup Final. Good job Marianne understands little about football, otherwise she would have realised that I was already finding it impossible to concentrate on that dreadful game.

We got away at about 6.40am on the morning of Sunday 20th May 2007, and zoomed up the A537, A34, M60, M66 and A56, chatting to Dave G3GAH via GB3MN repeater for virtually all of this first leg. We breakfasted in the McDonalds at Baxenden, and then continued on the A56, M65, A682, A65, the B6479 through Settle and Stainforth, thereby turning right onto the minor road between Pen-y-ghent G/NP-010 and Fountains Fell G/NP-017 up to Halton Gill. In the bright morning sunshine, Pen-y-ghent looked magnificent.

We parked in the long layby in Halton Gill, and popped a contribution into the honesty box. The walk took us a little up the lane, and then right onto the bridleway which winds its way around to the summit ridge. First, we went left to the trig point from where we activated last time. This was to locate the cache. We then doubled back over the bridleway and continued up to the “true” summit of Horse Head Moor (even though we now know it isn’t in Marilyn terms).

A pleasant and relaxed activation was enjoyed by us both, with a mixture of 2m FM and 2m SSB contacts.

Following descent, we drove southwards via Arncliffe, and then sharp right northwards through Kettlewell, Buckden and Cray. There was a convenient small parking spot right opposite the bridleway at 394479. For the first few minutes, we walked along the level bridleway above Cray and heading back towards Buckden. Then we spotted an established trodden path contouring up the hill at an angle to the bridleway, so we followed this. In short order, we met the ascending bridleway route from Buckden, and then just followed this around to the summit, via several false summits. There were some very boggy bits, not quite as bad as the route from Tor Dyke, but with, of course, much more ascent.

Again, like the earlier activation of Horse Head Moor G/NP-021, contacts were made on both 2m FM and 2m SSB, including keen VHF contester and SOTA chaser G3CWI on the latter. Today’s soup was Spinnaker Bouillabaisse seafood soup, which was enjoyed by us both before descent. An even better treat awaited us upon our return home, with roast beef and all the trimmings. But definitely the best of all, was the peace of mind that the spectre of Jimmy moaning and groaning about missing Horse Head Moor, had been avoided. Phew!