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!