This dieting / abstention from alcohol / calorie-counting / regular exercise / Fitbit watch / My Fitness Pal app business is all well and good. But I’m now finding I’ve got huge reserves of extra energy I need to get through. Well SOTA can be quite good for that!
Thursday 23rd August 2018 - Boulsworth Hill - Lad Law G/SP-008
Marianne was on a late shift, so I went for an early start so as to be back home mid-afternoon. Up with the alarm at 5am, then straight into soup-making duties. Today’s selection was Baxter’s chicken, broccoli and rice “super good” soup. Rather unusual, but nonetheless tasty and enjoyable. An hour up the road, and the McDonald’s at Baxenden (famous home of Holland’s pies and puddings) was the breakfast stop.
Just entering the postcode in my satnav did not land me at exactly the right point - the postcode must cover a wide area in this part of rural East Lancashire. So I turned back and drove up the nearest road that looked like it was going up a hill. Two minutes later, I was at by the barrier at the start of the track I was intending to walk.
This is a really easy route and a pleasant walk. For most of the distance, the track is fairly level, ending at a rough turning circle down a slight dip. From here, a clear “baggers’ path” continues off, over a ditch and strikes diagonally up the hillside. The rocky outcrop at the summit is clearly visible for quite a distance beforehand.
I set up on 20m and set to work immediately on FT8. Just six QSOs were made in 35 minutes of operating, but some interesting ones were in there - TF1A, YU2AX/MM and LX1HD for instance.
Before heading down, I called on both 2m FM and 2m C4FM, but got no replies. I had to divert off the track over some very rough moorland at one point, so as to avoid risking upsetting a group of very long-haired cattle that were now breakfasting on or close to the path. They watched me closely as I passed, but seemed content with the distance I was respectfully keeping, and they soon resumed their grazing.
Thursday 23rd August 2018 - Pendle Hill G/SP-005
This time, the satnav landed me directly at the intended walk start point, just past the village of Barley. I walked down the lane to the farm, amused by the tongue-in-cheek but “unambiguous” signage put up by the farmer concerning dog excrement. He had used a more colourful (and more widely used) term, which had been scratched out of the signs in each of the four occurences.
At the farm, I briefly deliberated whether to go left or right, deciding upon the more graded approach to the left. I would complete a small circuit by descending the other way, down the stone steps from Pendle Big End later.
It was far too windy to consider setting up HF, so I just used my 2m handheld. It was pretty quiet, but qualification was never a worry, and I made five contacts in around 20 minutes.
As I commenced the drive home, I was feeling really hungry and craving some sugar. In a moment of appalling weakness, I called into a convenience store in Baxenden and bought a pack of four Eccles cakes. And ate them all. 800 calories smashed right there and then. I hated myself.
Full of energy (and guilt) when I got home, I gave Liam a shout. We grabbed our towels and swimming costumes and drove over to Macclesfield Leisure Centre for a swim. We both did 50 lengths of breast stroke, which eased the guilt, but not the energy, amazingly enough.
Thursday 23rd August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015
That evening, with Marianne watching rubbish on the telly (Big Brother etc), I cleared off out again. I was still full of energy as I bounded up the steps to Cloud summit. Operating just with my HT on 2m C4FM, I made just two QSOs!
Thursday 23rd August 2018 - Gun G/SP-013
So over to Gun it was for a fourth activation of the day. Again, I travelled light with just the handheld in my pocket. VHF activity was great - in 13 minutes operating at the summit, I made ten QSOs - 6 on 2m FM and 4 on 2m C4FM. And went home again, finally ready for some sleep!
Friday 24th August 2018 - Gyrn Moelfre GW/NW-049
I was tutoring in Sandbach from 10 to 11am, and I knew that by the time I would have returned home, Maz and Liam would have gone for a day out in Manchester. So I went for a day out t’other side of Oswestry. No soup today - I just called in that well-known diet food purveyor Greggs en route.
I pulled my car into the yard at Moelfre Hall and spoke to the young chap building a compost heap. I asked if I could park there while I walked up the hill, mentioning that I had done so with permission several times in years gone by. As ever with this place, he was very friendly, saying “Yes, of course you can, you’re the third today!”.
It was a bit drizzly with the rain threatening to intensify, so I donned full waterproofs for this walk, even though that made things a bit “warm”. I initially followed the gently looping track out of the yard, but towards the top of the section that goes up steeply through a narrow valley, I spotted a clear path cutting the corner.
There were a few new paths like this, which seemed to be linked to all the “viewing perches” that were dotted around, constructed from packing crates and tarps. I assumed these were in connection with the site’s use as a competitive mountain biking venue. Anyway, I did indeed cut the corner - but it was a lot steeper than it looked!
Rather than approach directly again, this time I stuck to the track which contoured around widely, but eventually to the summit. I had carried HF, FT8 etc, but it was far too windy, so I just used the handheld again. Four QSOs on 2m FM - just like the old days!
Back down, back in the car, and over to Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060.
Friday 24th August 2018 - Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060
The satnav took me a route that followed apparently “proper” roads, but that started to feel increasingly like byways or farm tracks - until suddenly becoming a decent road again almost out of nothing! I parked in the entrance to the access road for the transmitter mast on the summit.
This is a steep ascent, but very short. Progress is slow, but you’re still at the top in ten minutes! Lots of wind again, so again I didn’t bother with the 20m FT8 for which I’d carried all the gear. Though it could have been a backup option as 2m is far from guaranteed from this hill, especially with just a helical antenna.
QSOs came fairly slowly, but I had my four in 13 minutes. A bit of inviting myself into other people’s QSOs was deployed!
I’d noticed a dark grey bank of heavy rain approaching from the west. This, just as one of my QSO partners went into full ragchew mode, and an over that seemed to last an eternity! When he eventually released the PTT, I quickly and politely signed with him, explaining about the advancing weather!
The downpour hit just as I was 100m from the car, so not too much damage done. The journey home was a bit sluggish especially around Wrexham, but it was Friday afternoon rush-hour.
Guess what? I still wanted more. The energy was still there.
Friday 24th August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015
I popped in on my mum about 11pm BST, then went to my favourite summit. Three QSOs, all on 2m C4FM.
Friday 24th August 2018 - Gun G/SP-013
I drove straight across the valley to Gun and walked up to the summit, this time intending to do 20m FT8. I called on the handheld before setting up though, in order to make sure I had an activation recorded for the current UTC day. Three contacts made, two on 2m C4FM, one on 2m analogue FM.
Saturday 25th August 2018 - Gun G/SP-013
I was set up and QRV on 20m FT8 before midnight UTC, but didn’t manage to record any QSOs - so good job I did so on the handheld as a priority. 20m FT8 was very busy with wall-to-wall activity, mostly from the USA, but plenty of nice DX about - A4, HK, YN, YV, HI etc.
I managed just two QSOs on 20m FT8 - one with WC4D in EM77 - and one with SOTA chaser John M0JDK in IO92!
Back at the car, it was now past 2am local. I put out a call on S20 from my 50w mobile rig, to see if anyone was about, and whether it would be worth me going up The Cloud G/SP-015 again. Steven 2W0JYN responded in the affirmative.
Saturday 25th August 2018 - The Cloud G/SP-015
So yes, I really did climb this hill again, less than three hours after climbing it earlier! I worked Steve 2W0JYN on 2m FM from the summit, then both Steve and his partner Steph MW6SHJ on 2m C4FM.
So two activations already in the bag for Saturday - though not anticipating any more, after two days of four each. But really it was six activations, if you count a day as being “between sleeps”!
Energy to burn. It’s good this healthy lifestyle business.