I was up at 5AM on Saturday morning & after the terrible weather we have had this summer decided that I couldn’t miss the opportunity to activate a summit in good weather.
Conditions on 2m & 70cms were excellent with some normally unreadable FM repeaters being workable from Blackburn. As I have a week off work shortly I had been planning which summits I hope to activate & had arrived at the plan to start with the lesser activated Southern Pennine summits that I haven’t activated before. The first candidate was to be G/SP-009 Hail Storm Hill, so that would be the summit I would activate today.
For a day like today I would normally choose shorts & a t-shirt for the ascent, but as I would be travelling by motorcycle I had to wear something more substantial. This made the ascent in warm sunshine a little more strenuous than it should normally be, & of course my helmet had to come along for the ride HI!
I chose to ascend from the small village of Cowpe & after taking the road up as far as you can drive, I turned around & dropped back down to park somewhere less obstructive. There is plenty of space along the side of the road through the village, & after my descent one of the very friendly locals even offered to let me park my bike in his yard if I was to do this hill again
I started from the village at SD839207 & made my way up the road, & after passing through 2 gates set off on the path intending to head south towards Cowpe reservoir & the steady climb up to meet Rooley Moor Road. Following the paths clearly marked on the 1:25000 scale OS maps soon led to a very marshy area & the risk of serious wetness in the foot & lower leg department. I decided to lake the left hand path which seemed less boggy & was steeper, but even this was too boggy to reasonably navigate so I had to scramble on all fours up a steep grassy bank to rejoin the path at the top of the slope. This scramble is the closest to proper climbing I have done on any activation & was hard work with 22Kgs on my back. With hindsight I would have taken the gate immediately to the left at SD843204 which takes you directly up a farm track in a North Easterly direction to join Rooley Moor Road.
After finding the path at the top of the banking I continued on to rejoin Rooley Moor Road at SD847203. This road is an old by-way that runs from Stacksteads in Rossendale across the moors & down into Rochdale to the South. According to one of the friendly locals it is a public highway, for which you would need a road legal vehicle, however it is only really suitable for proper off road 4x4 vehicles or off road motorcycles. Although I saw several quad bikes & motorcycles during my time on the hill, I would recommend checking out the legal aspects before thinking about taking any vehicle up Rooley Moor Road yourself.
According to the 1:25000 OS map the highest point of the track passes through the 460m contour & the 1:50000 map has a spot height at 465m, placing it well within the activation zone, however VHF take off to the West would be severely restricted & you wouldn’t walk this far & stop unless conditions on top were really diabolical.
Around this point there is a stone marker directing you Westwards to “Top of Leach”. This had collapsed & was on it’s side, & was indicating that “Top of Leach” was vertically upwards! Maybe another summit to join Fair Snape fell, as my narration of the video I made of my ascent of that hill also placed it’s summit in mid air HI!
If you leave the track in a westerly direction you will soon see a small collection of stone features, including the trig point at 474m ASL. On arrival at this trig point the view to the west does seem a little deceptive as the true summit of the hill at 477m does seem a little more than 3m higher than the 474m trig point. Maybe it’s just a trick of the eye, but I can understand why some people prefer to continue on until they cannot get any higher. With a Theodolite not being an item of kit I would normally carry, I was unable to check this HI!
I would normally start my activations on HF, but with VHF conditions being so good I opted for 2m SSB, & after setting up my FT897 with 10 Watts & the Sotabeam SB5 at 3.5m AGL I checked Sotawatch on my phone to see who was about & do a bit of chasing before starting my activation proper.
As it happened, after working John GA8OTI/P on GM/SS065 who was a colossal signal, genuinely S9+ I followed Bob GM7GAX/P on GM/SS-090 down to another frequency & worked him, also at 59 both ways. 144MHz certainly seemed to be working well!
I put out a call on 144.300 & was called by Rob G4RQJ, who I have worked numerous times as an activator. I had to resist the urge to automatically add /P each time I said his callsign. This was also true when I worked Tom M1EYP later in the day.
A call from Steve, GW7AAV qualified the summit for me & I have to say big thank you to Steve for his spots throughout the day, & the very nice QSO’s we had.
After working those that called me on 2m SSB I looked at Sotawatch & saw that Tony 2E0LAE/P was spotted on 10m SSB from G/LD-056 & after tuning my 80m dipole I gave him a call. It was very nice to give you a HF Summit to Summit Tony
I had a very nice relaxing day sat in sunshine, with clear blue sky & a nice cooling breeze. I was in no hurry to pack up due to bad weather, although I actually had less contacts than I’ve had on other summits when the weather was decidedly worse. I think I can put this down to how much I waffle on when I am comfortable It was very nice to have proper QSO’s with many stations,without having to keep an eye on the weather.
It was interesting to see the distribution of my contacts today. I usually have the most contacts on 60m SSB, but today I only managed to work Steve GW7AAV, despite him kindly spotting me. I did call CQ SOTA a couple of times on 6m SSB using a resonant dipole & 50 Watts, & got nothing. The usual 6m aficionados must have been elsewhere, but at least I tried
It did seem that 2m was the band to be on, be it SSB or FM, there was plenty of activity & I’m sure that many chasers felt spoilt for choice
A big thank you to all stations that worked me, apologies to those who may not have had the patience to listen to my waffling & may have given up hope, & a Huge thank you to Steve GW7AAV & Mike G4BLH for their spots & assistance during the day, it was really appreciated
I took several photos & a some video, which is mostly of the ascent, but with the good weather this time also includes some of me working Lutz DL3SBA/P on DM/NW-196. I have been eating Sausages all week, I think it shows in the video HI!
Statistics for the day were:
FT897D + 2 internal batteries + 7Ah SLAB
Wouxon KG-699E 70Mhz Handheld
Yaesu VX7-R 50/144/433 MHz Handheld
Sotabeam SB5 for 144MHz
80m / 60m Linked Dipole for HF
2m J-Pole for 2m FM
4m J-Pole for 4m FM
Telescopic Dipole for 6m
Vertical ascent 224m
Distance walked approx 5Km
Pack weight 22 Kgs (including motorcycle helmet)
11 Summit to Summits
13 on 144Mhz SSB
3 on 28MHz SSB
1 on 5Mhz SSB
1 on 7MHz SSB
22 on 145MHz FM
6 on 70MHz FM
And one sunburnt face
The video is online now & a selection of photos will be uploaded in the next couple of days.
73, Mark G0VOF