Well yesterday was my birthday and so i thought i’d try and get back into sota activating after 10 year away. I also thought it would be good to try and do a HF activation for the first time. I decided upon Cross fell due to my partial wanting a full days walking and also the greediness of the 11 points on offer(8+3 winter bonus). I did not take into account that 10 years older I have gotten and the rather heavy(i need to lightne up my HF kit) equipment i was carrying.
I set off at around 8.30 from hartlepool and parked at the bottom of the access road to Great Dunn fell, near the first private road sign. I could have gotten to the first cattle grid but I didn’t know that until i walked up it as it looked quite snowy. The snow was on the road just after the cattle grid so would have only saved me 15 minutes.
I set off around 10.30 and the first half an hour made me question if Cross Fell was going to be activated at all. The first half hour of walking up the steep access road was tough and then I hit snow pretty early on, just past the first cattle grid, and the slow slog started. After about an hour my body stopped moaning about all this sudden excersice and steep walking and I got into a slight rhythm although the snow on the road was a big slowing influence. As I set off I was in the hope the cloud would shift by the time i got to the top and i could have some great views across to the Lakes. I got a nice view up to the cloud of the snowy peaks in the Lakes that looked a lot less cloud covered. I soon however was engulfed in the cloud and was alone and tired on this unrelenting road upwards. No wildlife, no other people, no sounds other than a sound of a river somewhere in the cloud below. The more I headed up the more the wind grew and the cloud/fog became colder. All I had other than my map of course to see how far i was up the road was the snow poles. I started at 330 or more and it was gradually going down, 300, 250, 200. I was following some footprints that looked fresh and can see how if people walk along time in the arctic etc could go mad.
Anyway around 12.00 the snow poles were down to single figures. i could only see a maximum of two-three snow poles in the distance and I had realised its safer to come down this hill and enjoy the walk when i look back than to get lost in near white out conditions for some points. I got the last gate across the road near snow poles 14 I think and knew I must be near the top. i couldn’t see the golf balls yet but i kept following the caterpillar tracks up the road until out of know where a cattle grid and fence came in to view at around 12.15. Once at the cattle grid I looked up, seen a faint sign that said Great Dunn Fell Communications and what appeared to be two grey towers in the cloud. Still no view of the golf ball.
By this time the wind was quite strong and very very cold. Visibility was around 10 metres or so and there wasn’t much distinction between snowy ground and cloud/freezing fog. I give an obligatory phone call(three network works fine all the way up) to my home contact to tell i was safe and i was heading down. I ate a small snack took some pictures and headed down at aorund 12.20-12.25. It took me two hours to get up and around an hour to get down.
If i wasnt following the road up but going up Cross Fell direct. I still dont think I’d have made the summit due to the weather and conditions. It was only that i was on a tarmac road, although snow covered and had snow poles the length of my route that I got to the top and down safely. I got back to the car at around 13.35.
Back at the car my legs immediately said thats enough and stiffed up. I gave my contact the news I was back at the car safely and i sat in the car and ate my lunch.
i will attempt Cross Fell another time but in the meantime I am going to look at lightening my load i had to carry.
Amazing view to the lakes from just after the start.
me around half way up. the sun glasses were necessary due to the sun sometimes coming out and shining through the clouds and dazzling off all the snow.
The view down from near the top.
The eerie looking grey towers in the cloud.
The radar station and golf balls are there somewhere!
The first view I got once I had descended out of the cloud. As you can see the cloud had lowered since the morning.