Dufton Pike NP-027 G4OBK/P 27/12/2008

Dufton Pike NP-027 from Knock Village NY 681270
G4OBK/P 54th unique activation

After leaving the parking spot at NP-001 I was in Knock village and walking within 20 minutes. Most people ascend NP-027 from Dufton but why not be different? This is a one pointer with no winter bonus as it comes in under the 500m cap at 481m. However, as it is my aim to finish off the NP’s in due course and I was in the area, I thought this would be the best time to climb it. I should have gone somewhere else, isn’t hindsight a marvellous thing? My route from Knock took me to the old stone footbridge on the Pennine Way at the ford NY 692273 and then along the public footpath skirting Great Rundale Beck turning right to climb the hill at the second stone wall NY 697272. I followed the wall for a while and then struck up the ridge from NY 694271 – access land. Although this was a shorter walk than Cross Fell NP-001, it took a lot more effort and all for just one point! Memories returned of some of the Scottish one pointer hills I have activated, I became breathless on the way up and so needed to stop and take in the view across the Eden Valley, I didn’t need to do that on NP-001. Not only does Dufton Pike look like the Matterhorn with a well defined peak, it felt like I was climbing it…

A frost free top was reached in exactly one hour – so an average walk speed of less than 1.8 mph against an average walk speed on Cross Fell of 2.2 mph – nuff said! In the words of G4BLH Mike in QSO later: “it’s a nasty little hill to climb”! True Mike, but the peaked top does give a fantastic view through 360 degrees. It would make a nice summer activation but I do not recommend it this time of year. Someone please go there when I am at home and allow me to work it – it is still the only NP that I haven’t worked as a SOTA Chaser. Could the MT consider allowing activators to claim chaser points as a small extra reward for their work climbing summits? I think they should. I believe this happens with the RSGB IOTA Award – a most prestigious award scheme favoured by DXers worldwide. It wouldn’t add up to many chaser points in my case! I reckon on it taking me at least 5 years to get the 1000 points needed to claim Mountain Goat, whereas shack sloth takes no time at all.

It was chronically cold on top due to an inconsistent veering wind. The short grass contained no stones, supports, heather or shelters of any sort. It was difficult to tie off the aerial ends without guys and any type of support. I used my walking pole on one end weighted down with my emergency bag and “heeled” in my kite winder on the other end, meaning that the ends of the 80m length dipole were about 6 inches off the ground. What a contrast this was to the nearby and much enjoyed NP-001. I set up about 10m below the peak on the west side trying to avoid the strong cold wind – it was just not possible. The wind seemed to sweep across the hill and then follow the contours down the other side. I had difficulty getting the pole up and keeping it up. One gust lifted one of the alloy pegs and guy line out of the ground and blew the peg clean away. So that was me down to two guy pegs. The next thing to be taken by nature was my thin foam “seat”, which went away at a fast rate of knots when I sat up quickly to stop the pole getting blown over. Gone, over the edge and out of view in a second with no chance of retrieval. So my Berghaus rucksack became my seat. Finally we were ready; the mast just about stayed up for now with the two guys remaining and Roy G4SSH was phoned to tip off the activation on SOTAWatch (Thanks for help Roy - good Vodafone sigs on NP-027).

Due to the winter vagaries of the 60m band I kicked off there – good job I did as Geoff G6MZX/P was just finishing off from Great Knoutberry Hill G/NP-015 and gave me my first QSO and the frequency of 5403.5 KHz. I worked EI7CC and EI9HQ there as well as the 60m band UK faithful. Thanks Geoff. The band was in fine condition and 15 stations were worked, compared to only 3 on 60m from NP-001 earlier in the day. The biggest “getaway” of the day was Andy MM0FMF/P on GM/SS-167 - one of several SOTAs in Scotland with the name of Black Hill. I heard Andy at 2-1 for a few brief seconds on two occasions. So no chance of a contact and I didn’t work any other Scottish station either from NP-027 on any of the 3 bands used. Once again the SOTA President G3WGV called me for a QSO and also invited me round for a brew after the activation. John lives only a few miles from Dufton Pike. Thank’s John – the brew a little later was refreshing, as was the chance to look round your QTH and shack. 40m CW came next and a run of EU stations were logged. Midway through this the mast fell over – no damage and it was raised again. The bitter wind was making keying difficult due to cold hands and I had to resort to headphones as I could not hear my sidetone and the signals without them due to the howling wind. 80m CW next – only 6 stations were raised, with the last being EI2CL who was 579 with the aerial flat on the ground again! Getting up to raise it and one my Trekmates Dry gloves (excellent gloves – a present one month ago) took off and flew away somewhere, so that was three items gone, this one was worth over 20 quid (Please no one suggest a whip round!)That really was the last straw, so after 134 QSOs from the two summits I decided to call it a day and get off Dufton Pike. I read on the net that Cross Fell was said to be inhabited with Demons - in my case they had left me alone there but had moved with me to Dufton Pike!

Apologies for not going on 80m SSB to those that were looking for me, I took a quick look around 20 KHz either side of 3660 KHz after raising the antenna, but the proliferation of continentals meant the band was fully occupied and I would have had to try and force my way in somewhere with a battery that was on its last legs anyway.

Not one of my more enjoyable activations, but it hasn’t put me off. I will be back in 2009 on another NP with a new pair of Trekmate Dry gloves – fantastic gloves - and I will have a new foam seat!

I went QRT at 1458z.
Station - Yaesu FT-857 at 30w with linked dipole for 30/40/60/80m - remains of 7 AH SLAB.
QSO breakdown:
80 CW – 6
60 SSB – 15
40 CW – 31
Total of 52 QSOs logged in 48 minutes with (again) 16 DXCC Countries worked (and no GM’s)

Distance walked (round trip) 3.85 miles with ascent of 947 feet.
Total trip time (car back to car) of 3 hours 50 minutes.

Thanks to G4SSH, ON3WAB AND DL6KVA for the spots – also appreciated by my XYL at home who was monitoring SOTAWatch and keeping tabs on my progress. Also to John G3WGV (Mr President and probably the one person most responsible for what us people reading this report do!), for the tea and Geoff G6MZX for the S2S on NP-015 which is next on my hit list of NP’s!

Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:

Sorry to read about your trials and tribulations Phil. Hopefully this is the sum of your share of hardship for the next 12 months all in one go. I know what you mean about the wind hugging the ground and sliding over the top with no position in the lee of the summit mass. All you can do is sit with your back to the wind and grin (through gritted teeth) and bear it. Under such conditions 52 QSOs shows real commitment - many would have been off and down the hill as soon as possible after qualification. Well done!

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OBK:
Hi Phil.Another cracking report.When you called me you did sound to be under pressure but coping well.I will be looking forward to hearing you from NP15.Its an easy 4 pointer and a nice hill.I agree with you regarding the points being relative to the height are nothing to go by.ATB Geoff

In reply to G4OBK:

Dufton Pike is the nearest thing to a pyramid I have come across.

Phil, I am impressed with your tally of QSOs, I am just sorry I was not around to be one of them as I have still only chased this summit once. I only just managed to qualify the summit when I did it using two metres and HF. Even in August it was as cold as the Arctic and I could not keep a mast up with the wind. I do not believe it is ever not windy up there. When we were there I had to sit down as I could not stand in the wind and I stretched the dipole between my rucksack and two walking poles, hence the problems qualifying. I used a mobile whip on two metres as I could not keep the mast up it was only hand held above my head.

Thanks for an interesting report, it seems like it cost you a lot for one point. If I did this one again! No, I would not do it again there are far easier hills for more points and far nicer ones too.

Wishing that the next activator of NP-027 has a pleasant warm dry wind free activation and does every band/mode successfully and that more chasers get it in their logs.

Happy New Year to everyone
73 Steve GW7AAV

This hill makes your legs hurt!

I agree that there are far easier ones, but far nicer ones? This is a superb little hill with awesome, and in some ways unusual views. I’d say it was up there in terms of ‘nice’ but defintiely not ‘easy’.


In reply to G4OBK:

Thanks for the interesting reports on last Saturday’s activations. It would seem that the Cross Fell activation was a doddle compared with Dufton Pike and for sure I was lucky to have worked you from both. Having found you on 80m I was puzzled somewhat by the strange QSB; I took no chances and did not delay calling in case you disappeared into the mush. Now that I know the reason for the “QSB” I realise that, after 35 years on the air, it was my first time to contact anyone with their station antenna lying on the ground!

Thank you for the cw QSOs on 40m from Cross Fell and on 80m from Dufton Pike. On checking the database I note that Dufton Pike G/NP-027 was my #721 unique, all worked from the comfort of my shack and oblivious of the efforts, dangers and probable discomfort of the activators. Hope to work you again in 2009.

73 and Happy New Year

de Mike, EI2CL