Saturday 28 November 2020 G/LD-009 (Grasmoor)
The previous week I had cycled up to Honnister pass to activate Dale Head (G/LD-020) and Robinson (G/LD-021) , I had abandoned plans for Grasmoor (G/LD-009) due to the worsening weather. Determined to claim Grasmoor, I committed to return the following weekend.
Saturday 28th November was forecast to be good weather in the Lakes, so I set off early - using my audax bike today - an Enigma titanium. I set off in the dark, with the sun rising part way through the cycle to Crumnock water - it was good to cycle the last part the route in daylight and re-live some of the previous week’s ride.
I parked the bike at Crumnock water, near the parking area at Cinderdale Common. After changing from cycling shoes to walking boots, I began heading up the hill. There had been a forecast of possible ice and snow on the summits, and not knowing the conditions when I set out in the dark I had brought winter equipment on the bike. I had decided to leave the ice axe on the bike, but after walking a few hundred metres I realised this was sure to mean I would encounter impassable ice on the summit - so I nipped back to the bike to carry my ice axe and thus guaranteed fine, warm conditions.
The route up was very pleasant, following Lad Howes, with Cinderdale back providing opportunity to refill my water bottle and filter. looking back over Crumnock water, Melbreak (G/LD-036) was illuminated in the low-lying sun. I began formulating plans for a later expedition to Melbreak, Blake Fell (G/LD-031) and Low Fell (G/LD-042) - possibly camping near Floutern tarn).
IMAGE Looking back over Crumnock water towards SOTA summit Melbreak (G/LD-036, 512m elevation)
After the ramble over Lad Howes, the ascent turns towards zig-zags on a steeper slope, with plenty of scree. Looking out towards the top of valley I could see Robinson, in quite different conditions to the previous week.
Arriving on the summit shortly before 1000hrs I was pleased to find a large grassy expanse, with plenty of options for HF activation
IMAGE - The view from the summit shelter, looking westwards over low fell (G/LD-042) towards the west Cumbria coastline, with Workington and the Irish Sea beyond
I set about getting the HF antenna ready but before putting up the pole I gave a call out on 2m using a VX-6 HT and an RH770 telescopic antenna. First call back was @G0TDM followed by M6MOS, @GM4WHA, @G4VFL, 2E0LDF, @M0DXT and @2E0MIX. I then had a S2S call from @G7KSE who was on Black Combe (G/LD-030) and finally @M0JFE.
I returned my attention to getting setup for 40m - a linked dipole inverted-vee atop a fibre glass pole, connected to the FT-818. While finalising the arrangements an interested hiker asked if I would mind having my photo taken. Half way through the photo-call I heard @M0NOM on Red Screes (G/LD-017) calling via the HT - so I was able to answer for a brief chat about the weather and operating conditions - it sounded like he was having lots of fun on Red Screes. Red Screes is certainly not my favourite climb during pub opening hours, I’m always conscious of providing entertainment to the patrons of the Kirkstone Pass Inn as I pick my way up the steep climb on the east face.
Now time for some HF operation, I put a “CQ SOTA” call out on 7.112MHz without spotting myself, and was immediately rewarded with a return from Paul 2M0TNM on South Uist - we had a pleasant chat for a few minutes during which I spotted myself. before we concluded the conversation I could hear a pile-up forming between overs. After saying 73’s I dived into the pile-up - with @SA4BLM being first. it soon became clear there was some good local propagation conditions, with many contacts made across he UK ranging from Dave G6LKB in nearby Ulverston to G7SQW in Norwich and @G0RQL in Devon, I was also pleased to have a QSO with MU0GSY on Guernsey - my first ever contact into the channel isles. Once the pile-up had started to die-down I had a call from MONOM again on Red Screes - great to get in the log again on 20m.
At 1125hrs - already an hour into the activation - I moved onto 20m (14.306 MHz) and self-spotted. First up was F4WBN followed by several other European stations in quick succession, I then had a S2S with 9A3GVD on 9A/DH-110. A few more calls followed covering Spain, Switzerland and Slovenia until at Midday I went QRT.
IMAGE Perfect conditions for SOTA (summit shelter in the background - looking westwards
The descent back down to Crumnock water was speedy - I had promised to meet the XYL for lunch at Lanthwaite woods by 1300hrs, so I had to make speed down to the valley. After a pleasant couple of hours walking through the woods, and a spot of lunch it was time to cycle home.
I was glad to have chalked-up Grasmoor, and it was also rewading to make my time at the summit and make over 60 QSOs. SOTA activations for me have been quite varied - the previous week’s were very much a smash-and-grab affair, battling against the conditions to activate the summit and hoping to make the QSOs with minimal equipment; today was much more leisurely and an opportunity to play with the FT818 and chat with other operators. Both types of operation are fun. SOTA has brought me a new perspective to Hill Walking and is encouraging me to visit some fells I had never bothered with before.
Many thanks to all those who chased me.
On the descent down the scree zig-zags, with lad Howe and Crumnock water below
IMAGE Looking across towards Loweswater, with Melbreak to the left
IMAGE Crumnock Water from Lanthwaite woods
IMAGE Cycling home - Grasmoor in the background