Fame at last!

We had booked into the Langdon Beck Hotel for an evening meal. Despite being 45 minutes late after Cold Fell, they still served up an excellent meal with superb real ales. Jimmy and I received some sort of “hero’s welcome”, being recognised by the proprietors and the locals in the bar from our stay there last year during our Pennine Way walk.

We were booked into the Langdon Beck Youth Hostel down the road for a bed for the night. In the common room, I enjoyed a beer with several other hostellers. Three of them were doing the Pennine Way. Brilliant. It was finally the turn of Jimmy and myself to be those really irritating know-it-all people you get in youth hostels, those who have climbed every peak on the planet and know everything about anything to do with fellwalking! Well, not quite, but it was nice for us to “hold court” for half-an-hour or so comparing notes about the first half of the trail and fielding questions about the days to come. One PW walker listened to our stories, looked us up and down, then asked “Do you have a website about radio and walking? I have read your Pennine Way journal…”. Fame at last indeed.

That Saturday had seen an uncharacteristic late start from Macc, having seen to buying in Liam’s 10th birthday present, after another dawn activation of The Cloud G/SP-015. Marianne fed us all with porridge at 11am, before we eventually got away just before noon. Snacks were taken at the Tebay Westmorland Farm Shops services on the M6 in Cumbria, before we followed the A69 to just short of Brampton, and then the A689 down towards Alston. We were in Pennine Way country, and Jimmy pointed out every fingerpost to his younger brother, each time the way crosssed the road - frequently around here.

Minor roads took us to Forest Head, where we checked with a resident if it was OK to park in a corner, partially in front of a gate. It was, and so we set off across a disused quarry. The paths here were all over the place and we were soon disorientated. After a few false starts, worked out that we needed to follow the disused railway line back to the farmhouse, and then follow the track up around the left hand side of the property. This was straightforward now. We simply followed the track as it wound all the way to the summit. We stuck on it, avoiding shortcut temptation, as advised by Clive M1YAM earlier in a chaser contact.

The trig point sat upon many rocks at the summit, some of which had been used to create several seating areas, and one very substantially shelter. From in here, we worked on 2m FM, and this time without battery concerns, utilising the new 7Ah SLAB (thanks to G3CWI for his considerable help with this).

We got cracking with the descent, for time was short and we had a table booked at the Langdon Beck Hotel for 8.30pm. As it was, I had not properly reckoned that the car was parked a full 36 miles from Langdon Beck. Even with the foot down more than I would normally, we didn’t get there until 9.40pm. Sue Matthews nonetheless looked after us, and virtually upon arrival presented two large oval plates of chicken jalfrezi and rice, and another of chicken korma and rice, together with a huge bowl of proper home cooked chips in the table. Washed down with the excellent Oyster Catcher ale, this was a superb meal.

We got to the youth hostel at about 10.30pm, and checked in. After a chat in the lounge with other hostellers, we retired and slept soundly through 'til around 6am.

Sunday morning began with a pleasant breakfast of croissants, toast, tea, cereal and Swiss cheese, before we headed a shot distance back towards Alston. We parked at the cattle grid on the county boundary and set off up the moorland. We followed the shooting boxes rather than the fence, and then diverted more to the left to try and pick out the firmer underfoot walking.

Heading for the true summit, I suddenly found myself seemingly on a thin surface of peat that was shaking for ten feet in all directions, apparently about to break and swallow me whole. I got off there quickly! We set up for 2m SSB in the hope of working lots of Backpackers Contest stations, but activity seemed fairly low. We gave it 40 minutes or so, then descended on a fairly direct line back to the car, thinking of getting a second summit in for the day.

It was another long commute to the next summit, Nine Standards Rigg G/NP-018. We stopped for hot pies in one village, and then took the road out of Kirkby Stephen up to Nateby Common. At Jimmy’s insistence, I parked by the entrance to the bridleway, which we then followed to its end. We then continued on the increasingly undefined tracks through the grass and peat hags, before finally climbing to the summit trig, overlooking the Nine Standards.

The plan was for this to be a 100% HF activation, with me on 40 CW, followed by a self-spot on a clear 40 SSB frequency to give Jimmy a good opportunity. The first part worked OK (eventually, after me snapping one of the dipole legs and having to get out the Swiss Army Knife and tape and repair it!), with plenty of EU stations replying on 7.032 MHz, but then despite identifying a clear frequency on 7.065 MHz, and self-spotting it, no further calls were answered. It was the SOTA Beam and 2m FM to the rescue for Jimmy as 2W0BYA/P and G4FBC/P on SOTA summits, and stalwarts 2E0NHM and G4BLH came up with the goods.

Wanting his tea, Liam put in a stunningly quick (for him) descent, and recorded trig point to parking spot in 45 minutes. A further 2 hours, and we were not home, but meeting Marianne and Jimmy (not son, but father-in-law) at our favourite local curry house. And who should we meet in there but G3CWI and family. It was a pleasant end to a great weekend.

Liam th