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Astronomy & Gastronomy


This weekend went almost completely to plan, other than I didn’t really pay much attention to the geographical viability of my intended summits and accommodation!

Marianne’s night-shifts this weekend would require her to be sleeping during the daytime on both Saturday and Sunday. She is no fun at all when she is asleep, and even less so when she is awake immediately before and after sleeping, and immediately before and after night-shifts. A cue to do the decent thing and get the kids away for the weekend if ever there was one.

The Station Inn at Ribblehead was fully booked for B&B, while its bunkhouse offered just the bare bunks - no Youth Hostel style bedding; I didn’t really fancy that. Kettlewell YH would be ideally placed - but like many other hostels now, you can’t get in because they are block booked for large portions of the year by “Rent-a-Hostel”, “Do-It-For-Real” etc. Dentdale and Stainforth YHs seemed to have disappeared from the YHA website, and presumed “ex-parrots”. I got us in at Ingleton YH at the last minute on Friday afternoon.

An early start on the morning of Saturday 3rd November 2007 projected us as far as Baxenden (of Hollands Pies fame) for breakfast at the Little Chef. Liam: Omelette Breakfast and hot chocolate; Jimmy: Bacon, sausage & black pudding roll and tea; Tom: Sausage, black pudding & mushroom roll and tea. “This weather is not what was forecast” I remarked to Jimmy, as we drove onwards through slimey drizzle. Thankfully, the forecasters were to be proved right later.

Jimmy faultlessly navigated us to the hamlet of Litton, which is between Kettlewell and Halton Gill, and surrounded by Fountains Fell G/NP-017, Pen-y-ghent G/NP-010, Horse Head Moor G/NP-021 (deceased) and Birks Fell G/NP-031 (newly born). It was the latter that we were here for, and we were soon ambling up the bridleway away from the pub, in cheerfully mild and bright weather.

A few fields later was our cue to turn left, following the route directly up the hill. It was not particularly long nor steep, but a sustained effort was still required. Coming down the other way were hoards of mountain bikers, each trying - and failing to negotiate a particularly stony, loose and steep section with putting a foot down. I remarked to the penultimate cyclist that none of the group had achieved it, which resulted in him carrying hi bike back up the slope to repeat his effort every time he himself fell short! He got it on the third attempt.

Upon cresting the summit ridge, I glanced right to a trig point a short distance away, and left to the cairn on the true summit, over a kilometre away. This whole stretch was comfortably in the activation zone, so I went with Liam to set up at the 607m trig point, while Jimmy strolled off alone to capture the 610m true summit on camera. By the time he returned, I had made plenty of contacts on 2m SSB, and he took over, eventually qualifying on 2m FM. Liam and myself took over the soup, which was a combination of tins of Highlanders Broth and Scotch Broth. S2S contacts were conspicuous by their absence given the high levels of SOTA activity today.

The descent was particularly lovely, with the sun lighting up the beautiful steep-side limestone-laced dales. This was a fine start to a fine weekend.


After Birks Fell G/NP-031, it was down the narrow lane from Litton to Kettlewell, and up the very steep (25%) hairpins to Tor Dyke, the saddle between Buckden Pike G/NP-009 and Great Whernside G/NP-008. This was yet another summit that I had activated, that Jimmy had climbed, but before he was licensed, so another that was on the to-redo list. Setting out from the car after 3pm, I realised that we would be walking in darkness at some point on the later descent, so ensured we took a good torch with us as back-up, in addition to our three headtorches.

After the initial drop from Tor Dyke, the coarse moorland began to rise again, and underfoot became very damp and boggy. Liam walked right into one and sank up to his thighs at one point, drawing only laughter and ridicule, and not a jot of sympathy or support from his loving father. It did not put him out of his stride, and he seemed to be relishing this particular ascent, putting in most uncustomary speed and effort.

Just before the stile is reached, and the gradient becomes much more graded to the summit ridge, there is a hellishly steep and slippery little section. This was tough going getting up it, and I was not relishing the prospect of descending down it in darkness. It was now after 4pm, and the day was starting to dim. The sun was getting ever closer to the horzion along Fountains Fell G/NP-017. Still, we were now only a short easy stroll from the shelter, which offered a convenient activating position well within the activation zone, while saving a further few minutes walk to the trig point just a couple of metres higher. G4BLH was found on S20, and Mike kindly agreed to post a spot for “QRV in 15 minutes, 2m FM only”. I had decided not to set up the FT-817 and SOTA Beam for this one, but to use the VX-7R and RSS (Rucsac Special) aerial instead.

Plenty of stations were worked, and with great discipline and consideration for each other too. Most were standing by after working myself in case Jimmy needed the contacts, but in the event, many different stations called, and those already worked continued to stand by to allow all the chasers to claim the points.

Setting off, it was getting ever dimmer and colder, with the bottom of the sun appearing to be resting upon Fountains Fell. I told Jimmy and Liam to rendezvous with me at the top of the steep gully, where we would be adding coats, fleece hats, headtorches and finishing the soup. This we did, but descended the steep section still in daylight, without turning on the headtorches. However, immediately after doing so, it quickly became sufficiently murky to have to turn the lights on, and so the remaining 30 minutes of the day’s walking would be illuminated. Keeping the indistinct path across the lower boggy and grassy sections was difficult in torchlight, but the large grey dome of Buckden Pike G/NP-009 ahead of us was a useful clue as to our general direction. We were back in the car at 5.55pm, and a few moments were taken to study the clear night sky, free from all light pollution up at Tor Dyke. Some astronomy to accompany the weekend’s undoubted gastronomy.

I hadn’t realised that Great Whernside, in the Yorkshire Dales, was absolutely nowhere near Ingleton, in the Yorkshire Dales. So it was a good hour’s drive to get us to our accommodation, where we had a quick shower and change, before heading across to the Wheatsheaf pub for dinner and drinks. Jimmy: starter of mushroom and stilton pot, mains of roast topside of beef in yorkshire pudding and pints of water; Liam: starter of nachos and salsa, mains of rib eye steak, and J2Os; Tom: starter of mushroom and stilton pot, mains of “Sausage of the Day” (pork and black pepper), and pints of Cains FA (Formiddable Ale, 5%). The food was great. The beer was great. The service was great. Recommended.

Back at the Youth Hostel, I was disappointed, but not surprised to see no mention of a TV lounge. As I was washing out the flask and bladders in the members’ kitchen, an excited Jimmy burst in to tell me the the “Quiet Lounge” had a telly in it. Result. The YH had run out of beers, so I nipped back up to the Wheatsheaf for a couple of take-outs. Liam, shattered, went to his bunk, while Jimmy and I relaxed over a couple of drinks, and Match of the Day.

A very satisfying day. A new activator Unique (two for Jimmy), 10 points each, good food and beer, Liam happy and MOTD. It just doesn’t get any better than this!


I slept right through, and awoke at 6.30am. I prompted Jimmy and Liam to wake up. Jimmy was reluctantly cooperative. Liam was not impressed. I left the two of them to get up and dressed while I went down to do the soup and the bladders. Eventually, we were away before 8am, and Jimmy directed me via Dentdale to the parking spot NW of Great Knoutberry Hill G/NP-015.

It was a lovely, clear albeit chilly morning, and the view back across to Ingleborough G/NP-005, Whernside G/NP-004 and Aye Gill Pike G/NP-023 was stunning. We followed the bridleway track down to where it is necessary to clamber over a horrible stile - stone steps protruding precariously from a very high dry stone wall, topped by a loose and almost barrier-like wooden fence. Now it was uphill all the way to the summit, via countless soggy bogs and false summits. Nonetheless, it was not far, or all that steep. As we were about to emerge on the summit, a familiar voice was heard from behind, and it was none other than Myke G6DDQ making a surprise visit.

I set up the SOTA Beam mounted horizontally above a wall on the summit, although the initial QSOs were actually made on 2m FM. Today, there were some S2S contacts, with Ian 2E0EDX/P on Pen-y-ghent G/NP-010, Richard GW4ERP/P on Tryfan GW/NW-006, Richard GM3CWI/P on Roan Fell GM/SS-132 and Keith G0OXV/P on Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018. Jimmy and I both had our first ever taste of 4m, courtesy of a quick blast on G6DDQ’s hand-portable transceiver, following which we went to the alerted 2m SSB. Contacts were not exactly forthcoming on here, although we did make a few.

I went over to 2m CW, an increasing favourite of mine, and I was very pleased to make five contacts, including George GI4SRQ. My 2m CW sortes during activations seem to be attracting a loyal group that is steadily increasing in number, so I intend making more of this. It is a bit different, and has an element of challenge not (anymore) experienced on 2m FM/SSB or 40m CW. Soup today was Asda’s Roast Chicken and Asparagus.

Following descent, we drove back towards Ingleton, but pulled in at the Hill Inn, Chapel-le-Dale for a pint with Myke. It was only just gone midday, and the afternoon beckoned. What would it be? A back-route raid on Whernside G/NP-004 to give Jimmy his last NP unique to catch up with his father? A joint activation of Easington Fell G/SP-012 with G6DDQ? No, I had a better idea. I kept this secret from Jimmy and Liam, but Myke immediately worked out what it was (but didn’t give it away). It was Ingleborough G/NP-005 - but from the inside!

A short distance down the road, we pulled in at White Scar Caves, and booked on the 2pm guided tour. In the meantime, we visited the cafe for bacon, sausage, egg and tomato bap (me), bacon butty (Jimmy) and vegeburger (Liam) together with three deluxe hot chocolates. The caves were fantastic, an 80 minute tour walking along 2km of caves and tunnels, mostly above underground rushing water. The “gorilla walks”, requiring sustained stooping were a little challenging, as was the point that had a headroom of barely one metre, but the caves were beautiful and fascinating. The climax of the journey was the huge Battlefield Cavern, with its thousands of straw stalactites hanging from the rock above.

We drove home for 6.40pm, well pleased with our action-packed weekend away.

Many thanks to everyone who called in on the three activations. The following stations got us on all three:


Regards es 73, Tom M1EYP & Jimmy M3EYP & Liam.


Having now submitted the logs for these activations, I see that I have unwittingly crept back up to 2.00 points-per-activation average. It is still down there with the lowest of them, but I was rather proud of my 1.xy average! Meanwhile, it appears that Jimmy is now serving notice on the Top 20 activators in G-land - not a bad couple of years work by him.


In reply to M1EYP:

It is still down there with the lowest of them, but I was rather proud of
my 1.xy average!

Mine must be an all time record low then, at 0.14 average and dropping!!



In reply to GW0DSP

We`ll soon sort that out next June Mike :wink:


In reply to G1INK:

Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink :wink:


In reply to GW0DSP:
Could have a MG in a week or so


In reply to GW0DSP:

Mine must be an all time record low then

Records for the lowest activator average only count once the activator has reached MG status, I have just decided!

Looking forward to the event next June.

GL, Tom


In reply to M1EYP:

Sorry Tom, I don’t accept personal rule making, I will accept official MT ruling only;-) so I guess my record is safe for life, well until June 2008 any way, when I will go over to DL for two weeks to take in F/shafen and activate just a few small ones in DM/BW;-)


In reply to M1EYP:

Excellent report Tom, as usual. I must admit to being jealous of the fact that your lads go out with you on these activations. As for my two (now in their 20’s), radio was “just something that dad does” and so they avoided becoming involved in any way.

I experienced my first soup on an activation on Saturday by the way… courtesy of Paul G4MD… by smell only, though Paul did kindly offer some. I’m afraid it was boring Tomato and Basil. Might give it a try this winter as it certainly whet the pallet.

In reply to GW0DSP:

Regarding your proposed visit - you could just activate one summit several times ensuring you score only 10 points. It would just be like transferring the office for two weeks!

73, Gerald


In reply to G4OIG:

My intention is to amass as many 10 point summits as is possible while out there Gerald, I know I can never activate a 10 pointer in the UK. I’ll score a lot of activator points and hopefully please a lot of chasers back home at the same time.

There again, maybe I’ll adopt the growing trend of just doing 2m-fm with a handy and RD, 4 and dash, could do 10 a day that way, hi, MG in ten days, Hmmm there’s a thought :wink:

73 Mike


In reply to GW0DSP:

Dont forget using a handi you are only allowed .00000001mW and no more than 30 seconds on the summit!!


In reply to 2E0KPO:

It’s been done here in the recent past, so shouldn’t be a problem Steve :wink:


Gerald, thanks for the kind comments. Yes, I am lucky to have two sons who are also two best mates with shared interests. We had a great time in each others’ company this weekend.

Mike, so that’s what you are up to in June. Good on yer, the points are there for the taking.

Not sure if 2m FM/handy/RD/4 contacts activating is a “growing trend”. I would have thought that the raw number of such activations is indeed increasing, but that their proportion of the whole number of activations is decreasing. It might be worth gathering some data for some stats at some point.

As for 4-and-run activators, I don’t know how they can do it. I always find myself yearning a sit down for half-an-hour or more on a summit, before resuming more walking! Obviously the wrong side of 35 now…



In reply to M1EYP:

I guess a quick glance at the activator logs will show how many 4 and dash activations there have been, the proof of the pudding …

73 Mike


In reply to GW0DSP:

What about 2 and dash?


In reply to M1EYP:

Not sure if 2m FM/handy/RD/4 contacts activating is a “growing
trend”. I would have thought that the raw number of such
activations is indeed increasing, but that their proportion of the
whole number of activations is decreasing. It might be worth
gathering some data for some stats at some point.

Very clever maths are statistics, they tell us that the number of 2m-HH-RD-4 and dash activations are in fact growing, but they allow us to hide that fact by saying that as a proportion of the total number of growing activations, that they are on the decrease.

A bit like a lie within the truth.



In reply to G1INK:

In reply to GW0DSP:

What about 2 and dash?

Not with you Steve, can you explain?



In reply to M1EYP:

"As for 4-and-run activators, I don’t know how they can do it. I always find myself yearning a sit down for half-an-hour or more on a summit, before resuming more walking! Obviously the wrong side of 35 now… "

Me and JDK go for it as you all know, not the 4 and go bit, but we do try to pack them in to be cost effective. I have to say I do like to stay on the summit and enjoy the views.
Doing NW-012 this Sunday was a real treat for me, well over an hour on the summit, even had time to get the kettle on… bliss!