G4YSS Act’n. Reports for G/NP-018 (Nine Standards Rigg) & G/NP-031 (Birks Moor) 16-12-07
All times UTC on 16 December 2007.
Driving by 04:45 and walking, from NY 8084 0429 on the B6270, by 07:14. Loading a previous track in the GPS helped to keep me on the path. It was dark, very cold and quite windy. I had to avoid sheets of ice but at least the bogs were solid and there was no low-cloud for a change.
The path goes to the ‘Nine Standards’ via a pillar with a brass plate, identifying surrounding summits. If the trig point is the destination, it’s necessary to ‘bail-off’ right, going cross-country for about 200m.
For a change, I elected to go to the Standards because I haven’t seen them close to, since I took my two lads up there on 25th August 1992. They are much tidier than I remember them. Someone has obviously done a lot of work in refurbishing them to a very high specification; some complete with seat-ledges. All my previous activations of NP18 have taken place near the trig point where there is no shelter so I wish I’d known then about the ruin at NY 8251 0651. Its walls provide fairly good shelter and at 650m, it is well inside the activation area.
NINE STANDARDS RIGG, G/NP-018, 662m, 4Pts, 07:54 to 10:15. Minus 4 deg.C, 25 mph wind. Overcast with brief sunshine. Haze but no low-cloud. (IO84UK, WAB NY80)
It was a cold, windy place today. Including photography, it took me 25 minutes to be ready for action but I was in no rush. Arriving ahead of schedule in bitter weather, is something that concerns me a little, especially on Sundays. I couldn’t find a clear frequency, trying first 3.724 and then 3.726. However, someone was combing the 80m band for my CQ’s and this time Fritz DL4FDM was first on the scene. I later found out that ‘UK SOTA Monitoring Station’ G4SSH/A in Cornwall, had ‘twigged’ my ‘QRL?’ and spotted me on 3.724 CW, 2 minutes prior to this. What service, but Roy could do no more than that; his indoor antenna will not handle 80 for transmitting.
Perhaps because it was Sunday, the noisy band made things a lot more difficult than I’ve enjoyed of late. Time and again, there seemed to be a lack of reciprocity. People were hearing me well, whilst I was barely hearing them. The R5 reports I was giving out were big fibs. Few were any better than R2. This was really embarrassing when 599 came back from John G4WSX after a QSY ‘down one’ made little difference to the receive performance. Being quite used to it being the opposite way round, this was baffling indeed. I glanced suspiciously at the inscrutable looking Nine Standards. Could these piles of stones be a source of interference like the monolith in the film 2001?
Seven QSO’s were all I could manage in CW. SSB was little different noise-wise except that I worked a more respectable 20. I wouldn’t mind but I lugged seriously heavy gear up here to run QRO but in the ears of the remote stations, with whom I would be that much stronger, it must have made me seem even more stupid.
It was a relief when the time for a QSY to 1.832 CW came. It’s always blissfully quiet on there but I hoped it would not be too quiet and that at least one op would turn up. After a short time Mike EI2CL, who is a keen SOTA collector on 160m, gave my 80 Watts 339 from Dublin. That would likely be the limit at this time of day, so I suspected a wind-up when F6CEL called in. Des G3HKO in Scarborough and Pete EI7CC in Dublin followed up before the battery started to complain.
It’s nowhere close to the worst wind-chill I’ve experienced in 5 years of activating but it was still a relief to get going again. The path down was a cinch to follow in daylight and quite a pleasant walk. The car was reached at 10:53 and it was just a matter of connecting a fresh SLAB for the afternoon sortie before driving off at 11:09.
As the weather forecast had predicted, it got hazier further south. Near Oughtershaw, I saw a group of cyclists, some dressed as Father Christmas, then a group of runners nearer to Buckden, similarly attired. In contrast, both SOTAs were deserted.
It seems that someone suddenly discovered what most people have known for years; that is Birks Fell is the summit and not Horse Head Moor. Certainly, my sons & I ‘knew it’ in March 1994 when we ‘bagged’ the 610m top. It doesn’t take a lot of working out; being on the 1:50k and even appearing on my AA road atlas, so how Horse Head ever got in on the act, I will never know. I guess ‘Miss Marilyn’ is not infallible and it’s all to do with surveys and resurveys but I’ve yet to see any map where Horse Head ‘wins.’
I had prepared four routes for Birks Fell. In 1994, we had parked near Litton, visiting a crashed Stirling Bomber on the way up. There is a huge activation area available but today the approach would be from the NE and the ‘proper’ summit would be the target. Passing the old ‘jump-off’ point at Raisgill, I arrived at noon at the new one (Redmire - SD 9365 7747) a little crestfallen. There was nowhere to park. In the end the car was left 300m further down, by the river at SD 9395 7734 and in intimate contact with the fence!
BIRKS FELL ROUTE: Set off walking ahead of schedule at 12:13. Any ‘new’ route is risky but in the end it worked out well if a little steep in places. It is described below: From the road at SD 9365 7747, follow-up the bridleway and turn right at a forest track at SD 9337 7730. Follow this track through trees and via two ‘zigs’ up to a forest exit-gate at SD 9294 7745. Cross the track at this point and walk up the fell to where a dry-stone wall starts and there’s another gate at SD 9285 7738.
Climb over the gate so that you can walk up with the wall on your right. It’s a bit tussocky and unpromising for a short distance but by SD 9280 7732 a half-decent path is encountered. This takes you all the way to the top via SD 9249 7708, SD 9218 7688 and the top of a steep section at SD 9198 7675. It’s undefined in places but only for short distances. I marked the 610m summit, consisting of a small cairn on a raised area and surrounded by boggy ground, at SD 91877 76372. For the activation it was behind the wall at SD 9179 7641, accessed via a gate on the ‘spine’ pathway.
BIRKS FELL, G/NP-031, 610m, 4Pts, 13:15 to 15:12. Minus 2 deg.C, 15 mph, overcast & hazy but no low-cloud. Heavily frosted grass but little lying snow. (IO84WE, WAB SD97)
Apparently Roy G4SSH had been busy posting my CQ again. This time it was Frid DL1FU who made good use of this on 3.724 CW. After Frid came Mike GW0DSP, who alerted me to an S2S on 3.666 SSB with Steve G1INK/P on GW/NW-051. This was 59 plus both ways and after a brief chat it was back to the ‘narrower road’ of 3.724. Like in the morning, too many incoming reports were superior to outgoing ones but it wasn’t quite the same struggle. Having said that, I only worked 7 in CW as far out as Fred HB9AAQ but mainly UK ops. 19 followed on SSB but not all in a rush. Chasers must have terrible logistical problems at the weekends; there are too many activators to track down, wait in line, work and on to the next. It must be a nightmare at times. I’m often glad I’m an activator!
The QSY to 1.832 CW was advertised by Alistair GW0VMZ and was instrumental in my 50 to 100 W quickly bringing in five stations viz: Roger G4OWG, Carl SM6CPY, Des G3HKO, John G3BBD and finally Mike DJ5AV. I expected to hear Mike EI2CL and called him a few times with the ‘wick up’ but to no avail. It must be that Dublin noise level again as there was no sign of Pete EI7CC either.
The wind had dropped back during the afternoon so it wasn’t quite so cold. I was able to pack up without gloves, whereas if I’d tried that trick in the morning I would have been in some distress. I was driving away by 16:10 having arrived at the car via the same route, at 16:03. Home really early at 18:15 having covered 216 miles for the day.
In the end the day had gone OK except that I must have missed a significant number of callers for which I apologise. The 80m two-mode operation had enabled both UK and quite a few European stations to make contact (early & late, there being no noon activation requiring the use of 40m) and I was pretty pleased with how 160 performed again. Neither of these two summits are particularly brilliant on 2m FM with an omni, so it wasn’t used.
Thanks to all stations worked and for valued spotting by: G4SSH, EI2CL, GW0DSP, GW7AAV, GW0VMZ, G4OWG and DJ5AV.
Total: 62 QSO’s, comprising:
14 on 3.5-CW.
39 on 3.5-SSB.
9 on 1.8-CW.
NP18: 172m (564ft) ascent, 6.8 km (4.3 miles)
NP31: 390m (1280ft) ascent, 6km (3.8 miles)
Eqpt: IC706-2G. 80-60-40-20-(160 coils) link-dipole. 5m mast, 1m end supports.
Battery utilisation: NP18: 92% of 7.5 Ah SLAB. NP31: 77% of 7.5 Ah SLAB.
73, John G4YSS
(using the Scarborough Special Events Group Club-call, GX0OOO/P)