Cross Fell NP-001 G4OBK/P 27/12/2008

Cross Fell NP-001 from NY716316 (Gate at Great Dunn Fell Radar Station)
G4OBK/P 53rd unique activation

I’m gradually working my way activating the thirty NP summits and am now almost at the half way point. Cross Fell is the only 8 pointer in the North Pennines at 2930 feet and I felt a need to bag it whilst the winter bonus was with us, for a glorious 11 points. My plan was to continue on in the afternoon and climb the nearby NP-027 Dufton Pike from Knock village.

An early start from Pickering (0505z) led me to the radar station gate by 0715z. There is room to park a couple of cars there without blocking the two gates. My drive from Pickering was 102 miles in temperatures of between -1 and -3c but road conditions along the A170/A61/A66 were good. I hit mist and hoar frost at around the 2300 ft mark so on arrival at the gate it was still dark and foggy. The road up to the radar station on Great Dunn Fell is good tarmac and I realised when I came down it later without the fog why part of it is protected with Armco barrier – big drops! I’ve never walked with a headlight on but you have to try anything once (apart from Morris dancing) so by 0730z I was off with light on head and GPS in hand (without that I would have hung back for daylight – not that you could see anything). John G4YSS had provided me with a GPS track and waypoints, so that gave me confidence. I enjoyed my walk to the top of the fell, skirting the radar station – the domes could just be made out in the mist and looked eerie. The fences around the station and sheep netting were thickly coated with hoar frost. I soon located the partly paved Pennine Way path over Great Dunn Fell and Little Dunn Fell and followed that. The source of the River Tees lies in this area and as you get towards Cross Fell numerous streams emerge to contribute to the start of the river. This really is a moderate walk of less than three miles, most enjoyable and I was never out of breath. After passing two stacked cairns I reached the triangular shelter (similar to the one on Ingleborough NP-005) at 0845z for my two hour stay. The fishing pole was roped up to the shelter and I was QRV with Roy G4SSH in the 80m CW log at 0919z (TNX for spotting support Roy – a good Vodafone signal is available on NP-001). According to my plastic thermometer the temperature was -5c yet being in the stone shelter I felt comfortable and enjoyed my activation very much. I’ll wish everyone Happy New Year now as I didn’t during my activity. I tried to work “contest style” as much as possible and maximise the QSO rate and stay within the constraints of one 7 AH battery to run my FT-857 over both summits at around the 30w level. I got a pleasant surprise during a good run on 40m CW at 10:14z when John G4YSS called in with the SSEG call of GX0OOO/P from Mickle Fell NP-002 across the tops, my only S2S contact from NP-001. Yes I read your report John and enjoyed it, glad that 160m was a success for you and thanks again for the route details for NP-001, they were invaluable in the mist. We must have been driving on some of the same roads on our way to the NP area but I was probably 45 minutes ahead of you.

I had a chat with three other walkers out on top of Cross Fell – one guy had slept out in a hut somewhere down the hill and was heading for High Cup Nick. He passed no comment about my radio set up. The other two guys has north east accents and we had a pleasant chat – one of them had read about SOTA so I guess he saw the article written by Richard G4ERP in Trail Magazine.

I went QRT 1020z with 82 QSOs in log. Last station worked was HB9APF.
QSO breakdown:
80 CW – 7
80 SSB – 23
60 SSB – 3 (Condx poor – too early)
40 CW – 49
Total 82 QSOs logged in 61 minutes with 16 DXCC Countries

The hoar frost had left a thick soft crust around the dipole and this was run off with my gloves as I wound the aerial in. I had some complaints of rough audio on this activation and also had them later on NP-027, so the FT-897 needs checking in the comfort of the shack, hopefully it is just the audio level setting that needs adjustment. No food or drink was carried on account of the weight of my pack so I was ready for my Heinz tomato soup, turkey barm cake and biscuits when I got back to the car at 1152z. I then drove the short distance to Knock to climb NP-027 Dufton Pike – which was to be a much less enjoyable activation – more on that one later.

Distance walked (round trip) 5.8 miles with ascent of 1305 feet.
Total trip time (car back to car) of 4 hours 20 minutes.

Thanks also to GW0DSP, ON3WAB and G0RQL for the spots – also appreciated by my XYL at home who was monitoring SOTAWatch and keeping tabs on my progress.

Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:

Nice report Phil, sorry we couldn’t make an S2S later on your travels in NP-land. Cross Fell is one of the few bigger English summits I’ve been up. I have to say that I did thoroughly enjoy it when I was up there last March but only when I was back at the car drying out! Unfortunately whilst the top 1/5th was well covered in snow, it wasn’t well frozen and it’s very boggy in places on the way up from Kirkland. Coupled with forgeting my walking poles made it rather more of an adventure that I was expecting and in the end I was forced to use the fishing pole to test the ground. This was after finding myself up to my thighs in cold water/mud/snow/ice/gunge on two occasions. It’s amazing how fast you learn to levitate in these cirmcumstances! No great views to speak of as it was hazy. That shelter is great as the wind was right bitter.

I think the whole NP area is seriously underated in general (but not by SOTA-ists). There’s some glorious walking and views to be had and I hope to pick off the odd easier NP summit on my reasonably regular trips up and down the M6 to see my mum. Still 8 points (plus any bonus) for an activation of Cross Fell is just some Southern softy’s idea of a joke as it is definately only a 4 pointer based on the effort needed to get to the top! :slight_smile:


In reply to G4OBK:
Nice interesting report from you Phil.Its a pity that I did`nt get my finger out and get on to NP 015 sooner and manage another S2S with you.You must have lots more stamina than me and Joan.All the best Geoff

In reply to G4OBK:
Nice interesting report from you Phil.Its a pity that I did`nt get my finger out and get on to NP 015 sooner and manage another S2S with you.You must have lots more stamina than me and Joan.All the best Geoff

Thanks for the report Phil, an enjoyable read.


In reply to G4OBK:

yes, great report Phil, looking forward to the second half. I’d expect that the hut that the other walker had slept in was Greg’s Hut, a bothy to the north of the summit on the pennine way. I’d made use of it a few years ago. walking in from Alston and it’s a nice, well cared for bothy.

Thanks for your calls and the spots when I was on TW-003 on Boxing day, didn’t see anyone up there at all let alone the gamekeeper but your report on that one was very useful.

Iain, M3WJZ

In reply to M3WJZ:

A cracking report Phil. Seems from what Andy says about boggy conditions on the other approach from Kirkland, that I will choose the same route as you did, even though it is apparently less visually appealing… of course it doesn’t matter in thick mist and that is virtually guaranteed for my activations!

73 es HNY, Gerald