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Birks Fell NP-031 10th Dec

I was due an HF activation - the last being NP-002 Mickle Fell and NP-014 Rogans Seat in August. Since then I have been accompanied on Summits whilst out walking, so only 2m activity had been possible. I needed to hit 150 activator points before the end of 2008, a target I set myself last January, and I had yet to make any winter bonus points since I started activating in June 2005. The weather up north had improved since last week but there was still lying snow on higher ground in North Yorkshire. After a fall on ice last week near to my home I was suffering bruised ribs, a bad back and bruises to both shins, so I decided to travel light and go QRP, leaving the FT-897 and lead acid battery at home. I left Pickering dosed up on 400mgs of Ibuprofen at 5.45am carrying the following kit:

Yaesu FT-817 set at 5 watts
Yaesu VX-170 with 1/4 whip 5 watts
My-Power MP3300 Li-Po Battery
Coax fed link dipole for 80/60/40/30m (first time used on 80m - recently extended)
Usual sundry items.
Soup/food, and thermal underwear in use.

NP-031 and NP-017 fit very well together for the short days of winter and I had plenty of time to do them both justice. Road conditions were reasonably good and it was -1c most of the way over. A round trip of 179 miles with treacherous road condx only found from Kilnsey Crag onwards.

NP-031 Birks Fell 2001 ft: I left Litton village at 0800z arriving at SD924749 within an hour. This is the point where 3 stone walls join - the fingerpost is perfect for securing a pole to. The walk up had been about 80% frozen ground and 20% frozen snow. Traction was good with the snow of last week lying for six days. I set up on 80m CW with the first station logged G4SSH at 0917z. I was disappointed with only G0TDM, GW0DSP and G3TJE worked on 80m CW. ON4ON and DL1FU called me but did not receive my repeated reports so were not logged. A change of mode to SSB proved very fruitful - first in was GW7AAV followed by 9 more. QRP on 80m SSB seems to be quite effective in the winter time. I followed with 5 MHZ SSB, 7 MHZ CW, 10 MHZ CW and 2m FM with a new handheld. It’s a good job I wasn’t depending on the 5 watt handheld and quarter wave whip to qualify the summit as only 2 QSOs with G4BLH and G4CPS resulted, despite several CQ calls and a spot. Good old HF did the business with 40m being the “money” band. The tally was 13 DXCC countries worked and 44 QSOs:
G GW SM LA S5 ON DL HA PA F OK HB9 OM
Total ascent of 1193 feet and distance walked 2.6 miles.
My first winter bonus points now earned.

I had my last contact at 1031z and headed back down to Litton for food and drink, having decided to travel up light and not carry any victuals. The Baxters Chicken Vegetable soup was most welcome, before I drove the short distance up Halton Gill to park at the cattle grid SD853723 for the 2nd summit of the day NP-017 Fountains Fell, hoping that the Li-Po battery would last out for another activation. (to follow).