G/SP-002 Black Hill windy activation

These last two weeks at work, with 5 days followed by4 night shifts, left me with a bad case of corporate cabin fever, and i’ve been thinking desperately what to do with myself. My plan to go off to the beach and metal detect this morning fell down when I checked the tide tables and found it would be high tide by the time I got there.

Yesterday morning, on starting down the hill at Emley Moor, I heard GX0OOO on G/SP-005, Pendle Hill, who immediately vanished as I got lower. I decided I wanted that contact, but rather than just turn around and go back up to the tower, I set off towards Holmfirth to find a high spot, eventually working him from near Cumberworth.

Knowing that John then went on to activate Black Hill, and I missed him because by that time I was asleep, I realized that what I really wanted to do this morning after finishing a run of four night shifts was SOTA. The trouble was, I only realized this at 06:00 this morning!

I had no portable radio equipment with me. So, I went home, 35 miles to Selby. Had a cup of tea, and threw together some kit. At 10:00, I was heading back the way I came - to Black Hill, known to myself and my colleagues as Holme Moss. I had allowed an hour to get to the layby on the A635, and a further hour to reach the summit. By the time I was passing through Denby Dale, this was starting to look more unlikely as by now all the slow moving old grannies were out and every turn I made I was still behind one doing only 2/3 the speed limit! And it seems no one in West Yorkshire today had indicators.

Arriving at the layby to the north of the summit, just a couple of minutes later than expect, I found the next impediment to a swift ascent - the wind. I could barely open the car doors! Getting my boots and jacket on was like a scene from a Marx brothers comedy. I dont know how strong the wind was, but it made me think twice for a moment, and I did consider abandoning the attempt. But, with my Alinco DJ-F1E 2m handie in my pocket, trekking pole in one hand, flask of coffee in the other, and a Clansman PRC-320 HF Manpack on my back, I set off directly into the full oncoming force of the gale.

For the whole ascent, I was either at serious risk of being blown off the path by the crosswind, or battling face first into it as I pushed up the slope. There was no real respite even when the wind was blocked by Dean Clough beck, as this deep narrow cut is seriously steep on both sides. Having not done Black Hill before, I didnt appreciate just how steep an ascent this is! It took me 70 minutes to reach the trig point at the summit, a few more to find a peat hag I could shelter behind, and a few further to set up the Clansman.

The newly installed Android spotting app took care of announcing my presence on 60m, and a cup of coffee later I started calling,

Now, I knew that 5MHz was a long shot - I was using the 2.5m whip antenna! About 10mins calling and no replies, I gave up on the hideously inefficient 5MHz setup, respotted and retuned to try my luck on 40m

Now, things started to happen! 8 QSO’s on 40m, including a S2S with GW4AZS on GW/NW-002. My signal, as could reasonably be predicted, was very weak, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5 being the average reports. When 40m dried up, I considered finishing off and, with my now cold hands and face, and wet knees and rear, setting off back down, after all I had accomplished the activation.

I decided though to give 20m a quick go. With the 2.5m whip now somewhat more efficient at 14MHz, I was pretty excited to find myself fairly batting off stations at a rate of knotts! 31 QSO’s later, very cold, with one attempt to drink more coffee foiled by the gale, and only my trousers getting a hot brew down them, I finally stopped taking ‘one last call’, and shut down the Clansman. With the headset and antenna packed away, I had a final quick go on 2m FM. Only 2 QSOs, bringing me up to a total of 33 QSOs in about an hour. Much better than expected.

I packed up, slipped the radio back on my back, and wandered back to the trig point to regain the path, and have a few moments chatting to the only other walker i’d seen on the hill. With the wind now fairly pushing me down the hillside, I found some sections it was actually safer to jog a little than try and walk! I set of at a good pace, causing more black grouse to flee and passing by and through the un-sunlit hollows where several inches of snow still clings on. Pausing only to refasten my left boot, and to let past a fell runner (who got back to his car beside mine, having run up to the summit and back, a few minutes after me!) it took me a mere 40 minutes to reach my car again.

After finishing off the coffee sat in the car, and with a face so windburnt that the last time it felt like that was after insulting a young lady, I returned home, again finding myself all the way behind the slow moving old biddies!

All in all a good but rather cold activation. Looking forward to Monday now and G/SP-001 Kinder Scout!


Hi, thank you for the S2S on 40m, I was just too late to listen for you on 5MHz. I am surprised to hear that you were using a short whip antenna. Had it not been for adjacent channel spillage, you would have been armchair copy. Not that I had an armchair…
It came right at the end of my activation, and the state of 40m as heard by me, and the wind chill, meant that I didn’t call CQ on that band, sorry to anyone listening in expectation…

It was fairly windy where I was too, actually on GW/MW-002, not NW.

I hope to be out on Monday as well, but not sure where or what time yet. I will alert once I have a plan.


I think it must have been the effect of being atop several thousand tonnes of utterly saturated peat acting as a decent groundplane! I was myself rather impressed by how well I did on 20m.

Ooop! Must correct your summit reference in my log! I found once home that I couldnt read my own writing!

Dont know the timings for monday yet either, depends how soon Bob rocks up at my QTH!

I was at Emley Moor at lunchtime. I decided to have my lunch in the layby near the tower. :smile:

Looking forward to monday

Hi Martin,

Thanks for a really interesting, brief and to the point report. It seems that our QSO was the inspiration to put SP2 on. You did it HF too which is no mean feat in that wind. It was 30 to 35mph for me so even windier the day after it seems.

I note the Clansman,. A Filey Amateur I know uses one - Stewart G8YQN G8YQN - Callsign Lookup by QRZ Ham Radio. 60m seems to have lost popularity with SOTA activators. It was a prime band about 8 years ago. Well done on 20m and having been in that situation many winters on the trot, I know precisely what you mean about the QSO’s versus freezing to death. Look after number one!

The route you used was the same as the way I went last March. This time I went up from Holme Moss mast. If anything it’s a bit easier but, though I found a path, not nearly so good underfoot. The only thing with the paved way is the pull back up to the car at the end.

You must be really keen to have driven back to Selby to get the kit and I fully sympathise with the standards of driving you meet on UK roads. 2/3 the speed limit is infuriating as is almost complete ignorance of the turn right rule. Blocking the road up until oncoming traffic has cleared appears to be eminently preferable to allowing space to filter through on the inside. I could go on and on but suffice to say, they don’t drive like that on the continent making it refreshing to go there.

Well you certainly gave the chasers a better crack at SP2 than I did with my 9 QSO’s on 2-FM! Brilliant. Keep it up.

73, John G4YSS

Yes John you were the inspiration! But, a weeks worth of office hour shifts followed by a week of nights and I was clawing at the walls to be out in the open! I just couldnt face trying to sleep during the day!

I did, however, once home sleep from 20:00 on friday to 16:00 today!

The Clansman is what we will be carrying on the Lyke Wake - so we need all the practice we can get, and to work out which band will be the most productive. Too high, and we run the risk of poor propagation, too low and we rapidly lose antenna efficiency. 40m looks to be the absolute minimum with the 2.5m whip. We already know 10m is good, if its open! I think 20m will be the all-rounder were after! We are planning to use a training counterpoise though, just to help it along a bit!

I think it might be making a comeback, John! I wasn’t involved in SOTA 8 years ago, so it is something of a novelty for me, but recently I have found it a fairly surefire band for qualifying a summit. 5 watts to an inverted V doublet. Generally less noise and scrummaging than on 7MHz too, which probably makes it more pleasant for chasers to keep a listening watch - a self spot is often unnecessary.
Martin’s 2.5m vertical whip might be pushing it a bit for NVIS communication, though :o)

For the more experienced, perhaps 5MHz isn’t much of a challenge, when there is interesting DX to be had elsewhere, but what goes around comes around, as the saying goes…


I used 5MHz from Bishop Wilton Wold once-upon-a-long-time-ago and I’ve just had it confirmed that my NoV is still current, so I might have another go on that band when I do my trip north in a couple of weeks time.

My daughter now lives near Ipswich and she and her husband regularly come across what they call “the 40mph gang” people who do 40mph no matter what the speed limit is. It could be 30mph, 60mph, 20mph (near schools) but they do 40mph and no one seems to stop them…

I often comment to Kate about the people, especially owners of BMWs, who save money by buying cars without indicators fitted. Kate says that their reasoning is that they ‘always go this way and turn down this road, so they don’t need to indicate’.

NVIS, especially with bent whips, may be another ‘urban myth’ according to some of the websites I’ve browsed lately…