A report on my 2m FM activations of this week.
I used an FT-817 and a half wave rucksac special. We were staying over from Sunday - Friday to recce some walking routes for September, when we are taking a party of 20 walkers from our walking group to stay at the Patterdale Hotel. Our Sunday afternoon arrival gave us time for a shortish walk up to Glenridding Weir(5.5 miles/975’).
I wrote Monday off for SOTA on account of the weather forecast and changed my plans and so we did a recce of a low level walk up Hayeswater Gill (8.5 miles/1200’).
Tuesday we walked up one side of Grisedale to the Ruthwaite Climbing Lodge and then back down the other side of the valley (8.5 miles/1200ft). This meant an early finish so I drove up to The Hause “solo” for an impromptu activation of Litle Mell Fell LD-037 (0.7 mile/395’). It was blowing a hooley - so I didn’t want to hang around. The stone pillar on top gave little shelter, but 7 QSOs were logged in 8 minutes on behalf of myself by Geoff G4WHA in Penrith - thanks Geoff - my pen was kaput - e-mail received and the QSOs are now in the SOTA database. The Penrith hams are a godsend on the LD fells which are screened off by the higher ones and the odd /M station helps to pad out the log and qualify the summit, thankfully!
The forecast was looking bad for Thursday so Wednesday had to be the main SOTA day. A combined recce and SOTA round of LD-010 St Sunday Crag, LD-022 Seat Sandal and LD-007 Fairfield with my XYL Judy was planned. Some people know this as the “Alternative Fairfield Horseshoe” but adding Seat Sandal made it something else I suppose. The return was to be across Fairfield and then from Hart Crag down across the long ridge called Hartsop above Howe to Deepdale Bridge and then a road walk back to the Hotel.
We left the rear of the Patterdale Hotel at 9.10z for what was to be a long tiring but enjoyable day for me, and a slightly shorter one for Judy. The wind was intense once we climbed up Thornhow End to pass Birks and it took us until 11.25z to reach St Sunday Crag top for the 15 QSOs and an early lunch. Thank’s to Geoff G6MZX (and XYL Joan) for not only an S2S QSO with NP-029 Sharp Haw from LD-010, but for providing spotting assistance to me during the week. It’s a good job you had a beam up Geoff or we would probably not have made that QSO. We left the summit an hour later with great difficulty in the high wind linking arms for safety we made it OK to Deepdale Hause. John G4YSS had provided me with some route information which proved extremely useful. Judy had reached the limits of her courage in fighting the wind having been nearly blown over several times and so we agreed to split above Grisedale Tarn. She quite happily took the path back down Grisedale, (about 4.5 miles) which thankfully she knows well, and got back to the hotel by 1510z. I’m glad I decided not to use Cofa Pike - it would have been dangerous in such strong winds. Hopefully in September when we return our group can proceed that way.
I continued now at a good pace to Grisedale Hause to find that the walk up Seat Sandal starts off as loose scree but improves quickly. It’s discoveries like this that make SOTA and walking in the fells all the the more interesting. I arrived at 1351z and departed after a coffee and 9 QSOs at 1418z. I found this summit to be well screened to Yorkshire by the hulk of Fairfield next door so there was no chance of working G6MZX/P who by this time was on Rombald’s Moor.
I returned down to Grisedale Hause and started the steep ascent of Fairfield. From here it is around 1000 feet of a climb in 1Km and a good test. I made the shelter at exactly 1500z for my last drop of coffee, a club biscuit and 18 QSOs, including Geoff G6MZX/M on his way home from his activations. A middle aged couple joined me in the shelter to get out of the wind, and I discovered that the lady was on her first walk up a mountain, and seemed to be enjoying the experience. I left the summit at 1542z (6.5 miles walked so far) for Hart Crag and start my long descent back to Patterdale. The ridge walk was very enjoyable with the valleys of Deepdale on my left and Dovedale on my right and eventually I reached the bottom of the Kirkstone Pass. I made it back to the Hotel at 1818z with 11.8 miles/4150’ of ascent under my belt.
Thursday was a rest day - shopping in Keswick, weighing up somewhere to stay next time we visit and having a late lazy lunch in Pooley Bridge. The entertainment at the Patterdale Hotel that night was provided by a singer called Don McKay in the evening - he was singing to a backing track but we still found it enjoyable.
We called in to do a bit of shopping at Windermere on the way back and as I had taken the bottom route rather than the A66 decided I had time to knock off one of the NPs solo on the way home. NP-015 Great Knoutberry (2 mile/543’) is known to be an easy 4 pointer so it worth braving the hail, wind and light rain to bag the points, whilst Judy read her book. From leaving the car to getting back took me 70 minutes with 15 QSOs logged on 2m FM.
Thank’s to all those already mentioned, those who made contact and to those who spotted me, to Ric G3CWI for the Tom-Tom POI file which helped me find the parking spot for NP-015 and to John G4YSS for the helpful route info which we both appreciated very much!