G/NP-017 Fountains Fell Activation report

I have been looking forward to an activation for a long time. My last proper one was last November from Arran, I did an antenna testing trip to NP-028 earlier in the year but I don’t count that :-). Anyway daughter and granddaughter (plus daughter’s partner at weekends) have now moved into their new house. Just in time really as grandson was born not long after they moved . So Susan,Tansy and I have our lives back, though we still seem to have their cat.
The choice of summit boiled down to something not too far away, not too boggy, reasonably steep but short ascent and good views. The shortlist was Sharp Haw, Pen y Ghent , Fountains Fell and Great Knoutberry. I let Susan decide, her assessment was Sharp Haw too easy, Great Knoutberry too far to drive if hot, Pen y Ghent too busy in school holidays. So Fountains Fell it was to be.

Paul the weather man (BBC Look North) said Heavy Showers with possibility of thunder and lightning so a reassessment of Rucksack contents was made – in went Bothy bag and long ponchos. Waterproof covers for rucksacks preclude anything large on outside of sack so 2m beam was ditched, I could carry fishing pole if required as it makes a quite reasonable second walking pole.

Radio equipment carried :-

7m SOTA pole.
2.5m SOTA pole (shame these are discontinued)
VX-5 with earpiece more or less permanently clipped to rucksack strap.
Collapsible slim jim for 2m
Wire dipole for 4m
Linked dipole for HF
Various rubber ducks and adaptors
Garmin Etrex GPS set to UTC (shack clock)
Tekkeon Mypower MP3300 Battery

The great day arrived with a start – we were awoken at 5:30am BST by a car alarm.
Looking out the road was like a river it was windy and the heavens had opened.
Susan made a cup of tea and I watched the met office radar animation.
The band of rain took an hour to pass over Manchester so I estimated it would have cleared Settle by the time we had driven there. We left the house in light drizzle and by the time we got to Skipton the sun was shining and the roads were dry. We were expecting to be early but had to endure the rear view of an articulated hay lorry all the way to the Settle bypass.
The parking spot for this fell is on the road from Stainforth to Halton Ghyll which passes between Pen-Y-Ghent and Fountains Fell. These two can easily be done as a pair if you are fit – we are not. There are two ways up , the Pennine Way or straight up. Fortunately we had Tansy with us so, although access land, diverting from the public right of way is forbidden with a dog (phew). That is until you enter the NT land on the summit)
The walk is not too taxing taking about 50 to 60mins to the true summit. A tip don’t follow the wall to the true summit. Walk straight ahead on the pennine way after the stile and take the quad track off right which meanders to the pile of stones. At the pile look to the wall where there is a fence pole for lashing poles to and a flat wall capping stone to put your equipment on. NP-017 Fountains Fell - Operating Position 2 | Roger Leighton | Flickr

The dipole was erected set at 5MHz and the slim Jim on the short pole taped to the side of the long pole. HF to 817 rear socket VHF to front BNC.
Turning on FE brought Steve GW7AAV in conversation with Marcus G0IJZ/P in Rosedale North Yorkshire. A quick interjection of my callsign between overs gave me my first two contacts. Marcus offered me the frequency, but I said I would move to FL and asked Steve to spot me on there which he did.
Six more contacts on 5MHz all with zero noise floor my end. Very different at home where the noise floor is 59 on a good day . As an aside please view the video - YouTube and if you are experiencing this please consider joining the UKQRM yahoo group.

Next 40m not a sausage.

Then 2m FM , instant reply from G4BLH thanks for spot Mike. 7more contacts, not bad mid week, including Martin G3YUM/M (no D) waiting for ferry in Heysham.

4m FM followed – for this I used the E-90 and a vertical wire half wave dipole which I taped to the short pole. Just three contacts but with good signal reports each way.
The E-90 can give poor audio – it needs to be set for narrow deviation and I have found it works/sounds better if the antenna is separated from the rig by a bit of coax. Perhaps some of the audio problem is caused by RF feedback from a poorly matched antenna?

80m - Asked Mike ‘BLH to spot me on 3.666 but after many calls no response.
Lowered the dipole and was just collapsing the pole (dipole on ground) when I heard John GW4BVE calling me. The dipole was quickly re-erected and a contact made. I was weak to John he was 59+ but the ends of the dipole were held on the ground by the walking poles that I had nor had time to re-erect. Two more contacts ensued.
By now my 2 hour slot allowed by Susan had expired so everything was packed away. And the descent made.
The WX was Blue Skies with white fluffy clouds and a slight t breeze .
Took the scenic route home past Malham Tarn and Malham (which was heaving).
A great day out – already planning next one.

Roger G4OWG

In reply to G4OWG:

An excellent report Roger… you must tell me the secret as to how you manage 2 hours on a summit with the XYL in tow. I only manage 30 minutes max - and that is with the distraction of lunch included!

I use a 5 element SOTABeam and use reuseable tie wraps to strap it to the fishing pole which can then still be used as a rudimentary walking pole. The 70cms antenna boom also conveniently and neatly straps to the fishing pole further down, hence why I am reticent about changing that antenna, but I know at some stage I ought to “fly” a few more elements on the band.

Hope to catch you on a hill sometime soon.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4OIG:
Easy Gerald I bought her a mobile phone with builtin FM radio :slight_smile:

Roger G4OWG