G/SB-008 Long Crag - Wednesday 22nd April 2009

Not much to report on this one - maybe I should stop now - but then what else would I do with my time. This one came about because I was back marking my walking group on a 5 mile stroll through Thrunton woods. Well having driven to this location, was I simply going to drive back home or take the advantage of being there to tackle Long Crag. As well I wanted to see how my heel/foot was holding up and this was an opportunity for a stress test - after 5 miles back marking could I manage another 4 to get up to 9, since I have been stuck at about 7 for several weeks.

Drove the car from the woodland car park at NU 0853 0970 to a small pull off at NU 0917 0722 opposite a forestry track - a short drive but in between a significant drop to 90 metres below my parking spot. Most of the walk up from here is a basic trudge through the forest until you get up to the forestry “red route” at NU 0686 0682 where views across the expanse of north Northumberland appear. In the sunlight of the day, the north part of the county looked absolutely magnificent with the broad back of the Cheviot SB-001 cloud free behind the sharper hump of Hedgehope.

Once on the ridge it is approximately 0.4 mile west to the trigpoint at NU 0622 0693 that marks the summit although there is another high point on the path about 250 yds before the attributed summit that shares the same spot height and is within the activation zone. I wish I had taken up my Abney level to compare the two - next time!!

Six of the eight SB summits can be seen from here with only SB-010 hidden behind The Cheviot SB-001 although it is quite difficult to identify some of the others. SB-009 Ros Hill is quite distinctive as is SB-007 Tosson Hill, but SB-005 Sighty Crag, SB-004 Peel Fell and SB-006 Shillhope Law are just pimples in the horizon. With the aid of a compass, their positions can be guestimated.

Arriving at the trigpoint, I bungied the pole to the trigpoint and deployed the dipole with the links set for 5mhz. Next set up the SB3 horizontal pointing as near to south as I could with my compass. Connected all the relevant wires to their respective ports and with extreme trepidation, I opened on 144.050 with a CW CQ where the number of dits and dashes sent bore little resemblance to the characters that were in my mind. I guess all that practice over the last few weeks just disappeared with the tenseness of the attempt. After 2 CQs to which fortunately no-one responded, a quick QSY to 2m SSB was in order. Here I called for quite some time before I got a response from a WAB collector and then nothing.

So off to the ever reliable 5mHz - or was it. My CQ was answered by John GW4BVE who put up a spot after which my QRZ brought over a minute of silence before, alerted by the spot, 3 more contacts were exchanged - Don G0RQL, Don G0NES & Mike G4BPU. Don G0RQL advised me that Mike G4BLH was trying to contact me. Knowing from previous comments by Mike that FE was not good for him I suggested a QSY and we migrated to FA where Paul G0HNW popped up commenting that while he could hear nothing of me on FE, I was 57 on FA. I was surprised at the difference - obviously the critical frequency, living up to its name was critical. On FA I could hear Mike G4BLH 58 but he could not hear me enough to copy that report. So another QSY to 80m 3.666 was proposed and there Steve GW7AAV boomed in 58. Finally managed to make the contact with Mike G4BLH who started at 33 but came up to 53 to clinch the contact. After that a QRZ brought nothing so I QSYd to 2fm where a CQ brought a chat with Ron G6BIA before I suddenly realised that in BST vs. UTC I was now going to be late for my schedule back in Newcastle.

Quick pack up and descent was the order. While on the summit the sky was blue all around except for a stubborn cloud that manage to locate the sun and then decide to stay there. As for the heel, it kept me going for 9 miles but was rather tender for the next day - I need to keep working on it. Thanks to John & Mike for the spots, and to Don, John & Paul for support with my QSYs. For not much to report, I seem to have rambled on quite a bit - oh well!

In reply to G0CQK:
Hi Jim,

Well done with that heel. Tender the next day is what happens to me; in fact tender the same day but you will agree, no pain, no gain.

I call that ‘bending over backwards grade one’ the way you got Mike in the log eventually.

It sounds like you saw no one so bungying to the trig would not be an issue. I would think it’s a quiet hill and little known in ‘normal’ circles.

You have been practicing CW! Great, now you can call me (if you can hear me that is) for a QSO on 80m. The same happens to me too. It’s not too bad on 80 / 160 but before displaying my mediocre CW skills around Europe on 40m, I need to take a few deep breaths at best. It is easy to spray when you’re a bit nervous. I also feel pressure when working CW S2S. The Morse goes downhill then too. Mittens are another cause of it and going wrong causes nerves which make you go wrong even more.

Good job you got this one done in April. By July, one may well be eaten alive in that Forest. I once thought that ‘No See Em’s’ were confined to GM and north but Keilder has plenty and I’ve even been attacked near Fylingdales.

Abney level? You love gismos, I know!

On the occasions I migrate to 5MHz, I usually find Paul G0HNW. I think it’s a favourite of his. Nice band though, normally quiet and very civilised but I wonder if SIMPO and a description of the set up is still expected / customary / required? I assume it is.

An interesting report; keep up with the CW! I wouldn’t mind trying 2m CW myself.

73, John. YSS

In reply to G0CQK:
Hi Jim,

I know what you mean about 2m SSB…

Easter Monday, I managed 3 SSB contacts from Long Crag…best ‘DX’ Eyemouth !!!

Did much better with 2FM… Worked down to Redcar.

Didn’t try HF

Nice to hear you /M at Winters Gibbet

CW ??? been watching The Stig on Top Gear, but I still can’t understand it


Rob (G1TPO)

In reply to G0CQK:

It was great to get you in the end on 80m. I was listening (as I always do) on Fox Echo 5.3985mHz but absolute silence. The band was almost dead with very little noise here but no propagation either. When you QSYed to Fox Alpha to try for Mike G0BLH you came up out of nowhere at 5/5. When I realised you were not going to make it with Mike I called in but when I un-keyed I had been doubling with someone setting up a QSY to 80m. Paul G0HNW also called to tell you I was calling but you did not seem to hear him either. When I got you on to 3.666 you were not so strong as on Fox Alpha but a little while later you boomed through before become totally unreadable. Noise on 80m was particularly bad here all day so I think I was lucky to make it.

Thanks for the summit and the effort.
Regards Steve GW7AAV