G4YSS Act’n. Reprt, NP3, NP18 & NP24, 14-03-08

G4YSS Act’n. Reprt, NP3, NP18 & NP24, 14-03-08. GX7OOO/P

G/NP-003 (Burnhope Seat) G/NP-018 (Nine Standards Rigg) & G/NP-024 (Hoove) on LF/HF.
SSEG Clubcall GX7OOO/P. (GX0OOO being used in Cyprus as 5B/G0OOO & unavailable)
All times UTC (= local.) G4YSS - Unaccompanied.

EQPT: QRO - IC706 Mk2G, 80-60-40-20-2 (160) link-dipole on 5m H/B CFC mast.
7.5 Ah SLAB for each summit. (Jingtong 2m FM H/H and 2m J-Pole as reserve.)
Pack weight 13 kg.

The final couple of weeks of winter, I like to reserve for something special. This year was intended to be no exception but the WX forecast combined with the prevailing snow / ice-conditions on Helvellyn, to say little of my lack of fitness, swept aside any ‘big ideas’ that I may have been harbouring through the dark days. So for me this year, winter goes out like a lamb with this modest offering from the NP region.

Leaving Scarborough at the 03:28 equated to an arrival at Darngill Bridge on the B6277 at 05:54 (about dawn). In no rush, I was walking by 06:14, with the HF back-pack.

BURNHOPE SEAT, G/NP-003, 747m, 6pts, 06:35 to 09:15, 3 deg C, 20 mph, low-cloud with hazy sun at the end. (IO-84-UR, WAB NY73)

From Darngill Bridge (NY 7741 3719) the activation area can be reached in as little as 20 minutes over reasonably easy ground. There is a ruined building on the way, at NY 7770 3719 and a Quad / Argo track at NY 7810 3738 but I have yet to find a path that’s any real help for any useful distance. The summit is extensive, large and grassy. There is no shelter, either natural or man-made and it has a tendency to be very boggy, with pools of standing water but this may be the easiest 6-pointer I know of. However, I have found that for 2m FM, that it’s almost useless.

Being early I could afford to spend 25 minutes erecting mast, dipole and tent-flysheet, the latter for the first time this year.

160m CW: It wasn’t that long after dawn so I expected great things of Top Band. I wasn’t disappointed either. Opening on 1.832 before 7am with 50W of CW, I had soon worked 10 chasers but John G4WSX just slipped through my fingers. Successes: EI7CC, EI2CL, G0NES, MD0CCE, G3WPF, GW0DSP, F5PLC, G3RDQ, G3RMD and G0HIO, who needed the 100W treatment. Thank you to these ops for getting up so early. John G4WSX got through later on 80m.

80m CW: 3.557 CW was a real treat for three reasons. Brilliant! The timing was perfect, I worked S2S with M1EYP on The Cloud (G/SP-015) and Tom handed me his frequency as if it had been arranged all along. At least that’s how I read it and if so, thanks Tom. 10 chasers were logged on here, using mainly 10W with an excursion to 70W for John G4WSX. The non-UK stations were EI2CL, ON4ON and DL4FCK.

80m SSB: 16 (mostly UK) regulars took us through to 08:16 UTC. Power was generally around 20W but Mike DJ5AV may not have been successfully worked without full power at the SOTA end.

20m CW: This wasn’t alerted as a SOTA as such but I was very pleased to work 5B/G0OOO on 14.055, operated by Roy G4SSH. There were many O’s in this exchange; well six anyway. I found that the temperature in Cyprus was well into the twenties. This made me feel even colder than the walk to the ‘plinthed ‘ trig point, I’d just arrived back from. This was to occupy myself for half an hour or so, while I waited for Roy to arrive at his friend’s shack in Larnaca.

Got back to the car at 09:30. After a battery change, the drive around for NP18 via Middleton-in-Teesdale and Bowes, took an hour and I was walking from NY 8084 0429 on the B6270, by 10:42.

NINE STANDARDS RIGG, G/NP-018, 662m, 4pts, 11:24 to 13:28. 8 deg.C, 20 mph wind. Intermittent sunshine. (IO84UK, WAB NY80)

From the B6270, a path goes all the way via NY 8096 0499, a guidepost at NY 8138 0529, a beck at NY 8157 0564 and NY 8233 0618, where you choose the trig point or the Nine Standards as your final destination. Again I elected to go to the Standards but until last December, all my previous activations of NP18 took place near the trig point and site of my 2004-05 New-Year camp-over, where there is no shelter. I sat outside the ruin on a seat built from flat rocks, at NY 8251 0651. Its walls provide good shelter, there’s a great view of the Standards and at 650m, it is well inside the activation area.

20m CW: The first thing I did was to call Roy, 5B/G0OOO on 14.055 but there was no reply at 11:38. He must have already left for the airport.

40m CW: Roy’s absence on 20m left me with some spare time, which I put to good use on 7.032.5. I had not posted an ‘alert’ for this band, so before calling CQ on there, I craftily worked Andre F5UKL/P on 7.031.2. He was on Montage Du Rey, F/PO-182 and he heard me first call. Great, S2S number two and the spin-off was that it took no time at all before Heinz; DL7RAG answered my CQ on the neighbouring channel, where another 12 chasers also found me. Ron PA9CW had his first ever SOTA QSO. Another convert!

80m CW: 10W brought in a dozen chasers on 3.557 CW with 10W but a few needed more. Confusion reigned at 12:17. I don’t know who I worked between G3TJE and ON4ON but please let me know if it was you! The reports were 579 / 559.

80m SSB: This session produced 10 regulars; all from the UK. If I got some names wrong or no names at all, please forgive me. I am hearing new callsigns every week and I am now far from up-to-speed on the names.

160m CW: Only one station managed to work me on 160m and that was Frank G3RMD, ironically probably one of the most distant ‘Top-Banders’ and located in Cheltenham. Between 13:03 and 13:10, I did my level best to bring-in Mike EI2CL. He called a few times, saying ‘PSE K’ but he couldn’t hear anything from me. I had a brainwave and turned the entire dipole through 90 degrees. Still nothing! At 13:16 I gave up and packed away the station.

I arrived back at the car for another battery change and some ‘eats’ at 14:04. The drive down Swaledale and up to Stang Top for Hoove was completed between 14:10 and 15:00 but I had to go carefully. For the third time, the newly fitted exhaust had tried to go ‘AWOL’ on the way in Thirsk and these undulating Dales roads were doing there best to complete the job. Stang Top is on the Durham / North Yorkshire border at NZ 0186 0678. With a fresh SLAB fitted to the 706, I was underway for my last summit of the 2007-08 winter bonus period, by 15:07.

HOOVE, G/NP-024, 554m, 2 pts, 15:28 to 17:50, 7 deg C, wind 15 mph, overcast but no low-cloud. (IO-94-AL, WAB NZ00)

On paper it LOOKS an easy option but BEWARE! Hoove is my number one ‘detestable’ SOTA, by far. A wasteland of rising bog with deep ditches and un-seen holes, characterizes Hoove. Ascent is less than 50m but it takes a mile of walking. It’s mostly boggy ankle-bending tussock, with at least 8 deep ditches. A black peaty, 4m-deep ravine at Hurrgill Head, must be crossed before making the final climb to a trig point with encircling ‘mini-moat’ on a flat, soggy top. A large and marginally drier hole in the ground provides adequate wind breaking when it’s not full of snow or alternatively Richard G3CWI made good use some years ago, of a shooting butt at NZ 0186 0678.

The 3 times I did Hoove in the past, it was in the dark twice but I hadn’t been here since 2005. One year it was as my fourth SOTA of the day, and another year the third. The last time (2005) the ditches were all hidden by non-supportive snow bridges which propelled me violently to waist level without warning, leaving me utterly exhausted. It looks like a ‘steal’ on the map but the only assistance available; a boggy track goes the ‘wrong way’ and must be left behind at NZ 0131 0702. It’s best done after days of hard frost or in a drought but there’s no wonder I have a problem with it; I’m usually weary when I set out. I haven’t been in any rush to go back since 2005. Out of 10 activators, I notice that seven have not given it a second look. Who can blame them but Steve, G1INK has my admiration, taking the record easily, with a total of 5 visits!

What of today’s journey? Suffice to say, the demons were semi-tamed on this assault. No snow, good viz and not too wet. There are worse places and I suppose I must concede it’s not that really difficult.

I looked on 40m first but it was already busy with SOTA and my CQ’s further up, went unanswered.

80m CW: 26 bagged Hoove on 3.557. Again it was a mystery who worked me at around 16:11. I thought I was working Mike G4BLH but he called again straight after. The unknown QSO had 569 / 329 reports. Any claimants?

80m SSB: 14 stations used telephony to pick up NP24 and they were all British. As well as the SOTA, Don G0RQL enjoyed working WAB area NZ00 YSN and we later exchanged reports for his club station M0OMC/A. One surprise was Mick, 2E0HJD, taking me up on my words of a couple of months ago but rarely hearing me on 80m because of QRN in Clitheroe. Noise is an ever increasing problem. There are too many electrical devices, each giving off their share of EMI until the sum total can easily take the pleasure from our hobby. I found out just how bad things are becoming, in a rare radio session from home recently. Chasers work hard for their points!

160m CW: The six stations logged were: G3RDQ, G4CPA, G4BLH, EI2CL, DL7RAG and EI7CC. The weakest signal I’ve ever heard came at the end, around 17:35. After a few minutes of listening and repeats, I got just the single figure 3 out of this caller’s callsign. Perhaps it was Frank G3RMD?

I was grateful to regain the car without falling down any ditches at 18:14 and was home by 20:38, having driven 249 miles in the day, for these three summits.

NP03:160m (525ft) ascent, 2.4 km (1.5 miles).
NP18:172m (564ft) ascent, 6.8 km (4.3 miles).
NP24: 50m (164ft) ascent, 3.5 km (2.2 miles).
Total: 382m (1,253ft) ascent, 11.6 km (7.3 miles).
21 activator points.

17 on 1.8-CW.
48 on 3.5-CW.
40 on 3.5-SSB.
13 on 7.0-CW.
1 on 14.0-CW (Roy G4SSH as 5B/G0OOO)
Total: 119 QSO’s.

Battery utilisation (one ‘fresh’ 7.5 Ah SLAB taken to each summit):
NP03: 78% discharged.
NP18: 84% discharged.
NP24: 89% discharged.

Thanks to all stations worked and for spots via GW0DSP, F6ENO, PA9CW, G3TJE, GW0VMZ, G4OWG, LAIENA, G0RQL, GW7AAV, ON3WAB and EI2CL.

Well, that’s it from me. Admittedly, a rather ‘tame’ end to the 2007-08 winter bonus period, with minimal work-done in terms of ascent and distance walked, to gain 21 points and consolidate the 2k5. Thoughts now turn to Radio Rallies and lazy one-summit-all-day activations under a ‘parasol,’ though I have a ‘family’ holiday in North Wales quite soon.

It’s been a mild winter with little snow but I am left with the feeling that I didn’t really make the most of it. However, the aim of cutting down on the number of expeditions has been achieved; having only driven 2,684 miles on 11 different days along the cross-country routes of A66, A65 or A684. For the 259 points gained there had to be 33 summits activated, 9,410m (30,872 ft) of ascent and 171 km (107 miles) walked. It’s not my worst winter but it is somewhat below average, leaving much to be done later on in the Lake District. Mental stamina is in short supply these days (as are SOTA’s anywhere near Scarborough!)

BCNU, 73, John.
(G4YSS, using SSEG Club Call: GX7OOO/P)

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi, John, you were 589 on Hoove on top band, perhaps by next winter I will have plucked up courage to put some leads on my key!

At that signal level you could probably get a few phone contacts on Top Band.


Brian G8ADD

Hi John, it´s always a pleasure to read your activation reports. Thanks for
the 160m contact (you wrote DL4RAG, but you cfmd my call correct as DL7RAG
on the band). I´m using a multiband vertical AP8A from Cushcraft, this
antenna works from 10 to 80m, not resonant on 160m, but it´s always funny
that others can here me on top band :wink:

cu soon John! 73, Heinz, DL7RAG

FB John. Yes, you read the situation correctly yesterday morning. I had earlier made many contacts on 3.557MHz CW, but then gone up to try SSB. I had no success on SSB, so returned to 3.557 CW for a final call before packing up. I also remembered that you were out activating at this early hour and had alerted for 3.557 CW - so I was keen to attract you for a S2S. My “deadline” for packing up the HF aerial in order to continue onto work, is 0730.

I completed with G4WSX at this time, and was then absolutely delighted to hear you call me. After our S2S contact - my first on 80, and my first for a dawn activation - I really had to go, and so I sent something like “NW QRT WORK HI 73 TU EE”. If it wasn’t clear to you that I was passing you the frequency, then it certainly was to all the chasers, as you were immediately called by everyone who had worked me, as soon as I sent the ‘EE’!

Sorry for asking for the repeat of your callsign - it wasn’t the number 7 that threw me - I had seen your alert and knew that Roy was using 5B/G0OOO, so that was understood. It was just that I was expected you to send GX7OOO/P, and on your first call, for some reason I copied it as GX7OOQ! So I asked for the repeat just out of good practice in order for me to feel it was a valid QSO. It was tempting just to write down GX7OOO/P anyway, despite hearing ‘GX7OOQ’, but I decided that was not quite the right thing to do, and thought I had better hear your callsign once more!

Shame you won’t be as active now as we head into Spring, but perhaps you can be tempted out for the odd S2S into GI on 80 CW!

Kind regards, and thanks for the encouragement and good example for “having a go” at SOTA CW.


Hi John,

I think the “3” callsign you heard on hoove must have been me. I tried to call you several times around that time, but my vertical is not suited for 160 and my G5Rv is QRT at the moment. Heard you with 449 and QSB.



In reply to ALL:

G8ADD: Hi Brian,

Thanks for you SWL report of 589 on 160m. I agree, phone has worked twice in the past but QSO count might be more limited than CW. Do give me a call. Callsign & RST are all I require and I can slow down for you.

73, John.

G1ZJQ: Hello Derek,

I should have qualified my statement, which was true in early 2003 when there were (it would seem) no chasers on the East Side of the country and I was using max. 4W of FM to a vertical half-wave Omni. Despite NP3 ‘knocking on the door’ of 2500ft, a line of sight analysis shows that there is an almost total blockage from SE through S and round to NW due to the Cross Fell massif, backed up by some big LD stuff in some of that arc too. This is the very direction (Lancashire) where the few chasers who then existed, lived. An hour of calling without response was not unusual. If that was accompanied by bad weather, it could be grim indeed with no shelter and I’m afraid I developed a real ‘downer’ on Burnhope. (Hoove and Horse Head Moor too) This sometimes comes out in my reports but I do apologize and you are quite correct; it should be much less of a problem in 2008.

A ‘gain’ antenna at both ends and/or QRO to say nothing of the luxury of chasers backed by a real-time spotting system, would (has) changed the position noticeably but life could from time to time, be very hard for activators in those days. That said, I have tried it since with simple FM gear and there was some improvement, though it was still time consuming. Burnhope Seat along with the fact that I couldn’t reach new chasers in the Midlands from almost anywhere, was the compelling evidence I needed to make a gradual change back to regular HF ops starting 2004.

Yes, we did work in 2005 on VHF. You were /P on Rothbury Beacon, just enjoying VHF hilltopping. It’s good that you are now activating for SOTA because you obviously had an interest in such things then.

G1JKX (John in Longhorsely) almost always helped out when on NP3 but I still think that when its height is considered, NP3 has been rather ‘unlucky’ with the company it keeps. With the right gear though; no trouble.

73, John.

DL7RAG: Hi Heinz,

Thank you for your message and our many QSO’s for SOTA but you must have lots of spare time if you read my reports HI. You have a very memorable callsign and I always remember your name too.

I was very surprised to hear you at that time on 160m. I didn’t expect it because it was still daylight for another hour or so, even if it was dark in Germany. So you did very well and even better when you consider that your antenna is not designed for 160m. Roy G4SSH has a Butternut Vertical for lowest band - 80m but uses it with a tuner and a rather ‘unhappy’ rig, to work me more often than not on 160. He is much closer than you are, of course.

I see we have had 4 QSO’s on Top Band now and 15 on 80m. The rest on 40m but it does show that DL’s can successfully chase G’s on LF, late and early. This helps my conscience, as I do not always have time to activate on 40 as well!

Keep calling Heinz,

73, John

M1EYP: FB Tom,

Thank you for a super S2S; I was hoping, after seeing your alert the night before, that we might work. I rather think we may not have made it on 2m FM but it was easy on 80m. The timing was perfect all ways up but I hope you were at work on time!

I can’t help being reminded that it was your determination to learn CW from scratch as a means of improving your SOTA experience that was the real clincher in getting this S2S. You were brave to pitch in to 7032 so early too.

The reason that you heard OOQ was probably because that’s what I sent. I was having terrible trouble with the new call at first but it got better later in the day. I did hear ‘QRT’ but am always shy about taking QRG’s. Thanks, it came in handy and the chasers must have experienced a convenient and seamless handover to the new summit.

Great to talk with you and Jimmy at the Rally. Jimmy asked lots of questions. Hope the answers were satisfactory!!

73, John.
ON3WAB: Oh dear,

I regret we didn’t make a QSO of it Peter! If I could have read just one more letter we might have, though I couldn’t rely on any QSB to bring your signal up as there didn’t seem to be any. I was using full power and it would seem that you were hearing me OK. Better luck next time, though favourable 160m operating conditions (short days and winter bonus) are now behind us until December. Maybe you could ask Heinz how he tunes his vertical up for 160, though the difference may just have been the dark path into Germany. Who knows?

Keep trying Peter!

73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

Another excellent report John. I wasn’t able to get on to work you this time around - just too many meetings including an early start. Such is the working man’s life…

73, Gerald

Not to worry John.

Better luck next time.