G4YSS Actn. Rprt: G/NP-014, Rogan’s Seat, 03-08-07

G4YSS Activation Report for NP14, Rogan’s Seat, 03-08-07. HF QRO.

All times BST (UTC plus 1 hr) UOS.

Rogan’s Seat in Swaledale had not been visited by me since Dec 2004. Both my previous activations were a struggle using VHFM only. The 2003 expedition used a long tortuous route starting from Tan Hill Inn, at (by memory) 1732ft ASL, the highest Pub in England). This was a bit of a challenge owing to a lack of real paths, despite the lesser height-gain required and the boggy, broken ground. The year after, in stinging, driving snow then returning in frosty moonlight with numb fingers, I used the bike on the route described below. My son Andy & I had ‘discovered’ this track on a descent in 1997.

A glance at its SOTA history suggests that chasers might appreciate G/NP14 on CW, or for that matter (if they missed Steve G1INK’s recent successful visit) any way they could get it, judging by how few times it has been activated over the years. Its status on that score lies equal with a couple of others, at the very bottom of the G/NP league table. Its conservative 13 activations compare spectacularly badly with some others (e.g. Pen-Y-Ghent with 120.) This is probably due to its relative remoteness and the fact that when its name is mentioned even in Yorkshire, people almost always ask, ‘where’s that?’

This SOTA ‘peak’ is also a grouse moor and my sortie was done on the 3rd and not the 13th of August, because I didn’t fancy risking accelerated lead-poisoning! It has a mediocre VHF takeoff mostly limited to the NE. However ‘putting it on’ is far from an unpleasant experience; the now ‘accepted’ southerly approach being via a private track. Though not short (at about 7 to 8 km one-way) this track is certainly easy to follow, has a reasonably consistent gradient and is not too rough a surface for cycling.

The sign at the track’s start-point (at Dyke Heads, SD 9406 9836, on the C-road half way between Gunnerside and Ivelet) announces ‘No Unauthorised Vehicles.’ The man descending it in a Landrover was courteous and did not object to me or my bicycle. The only notable landmarks (after the view down into the mine workings of Gunnerside Gill is left behind) are Botcher Gill, where one must pass via an unlocked gate (NY 9354 0058) and later-on a right turn off the C2C route, at NY 9265 0121. If you take the kids along in springtime, a previous activator reported a wealth of frogspawn after a short detour to a pond at NY924013. There is a large hut at NY 9227 0248, soon after which the track traverses (via NY 9200 0312) the extensive and ill-defined summit, with its tussock & heather-topped peat-mounds. A stone shelter (or possibly just a different style of shooting butt) which might go unseen in low-cloud, lies 150m ‘exit stage left’ (west) from the track at NY 9178 0310, with an ASL a couple of metres shy of NP14’s 672m. I would be cautious about sitting under the heavy overhang of this shelter, particularly in high winds.

I set out from Scarborough at 06:33, arriving at Dyke Heads for 08:52. Starting the bike ride/push at 09:17, with a heavy QRO pack, it took me a laughable 69 minutes to summit but at least the express ‘return ticket’ was now firmly in my possession. I leant the machine (with its hard-won potential-energy) against the shelter wall and set to work on erecting the dipole. No rush, I was early once again.

ROGAN’S SEAT, NP-014, 672m, 4 points: 10:26 to 14:29, 25 mph SW wind, 13 deg C, overcast most of the time but with fine driving rain & a little low-cloud starting at 13:20.

Since it was now late morning, 10.118 MHz was the opening frequency of choice but band conditions were not consistent. In the end, 12 stations were entered into the 30m CW log but only after a ‘false start’ with a non-SOTA op, that took 10 minutes. Shortly after vacating ‘his’ frequency, I was able to return there for steady work at powers around 20W and sometimes 100W in the QSB. Some QSO’s simply failed; e.g. Peter HB9BYZ, who I called at intervals and later on 40m. On 30m, I expected and logged HB9, DL, HA and OK but was able to get closer-in too; Phil G4OBK and Cris GM4FAM were successful. G4SSH/A in Fowie was ‘heard only’ but it was Roy who kindly posted me on the next QRG of 7.033 CW after being first in my 40m log.

7.033 CW produced 14 QSO’s which included an interesting S2S with Alain F6ENO, on F/AM-330. I hope I didn’t keep Alain waiting too long but if I hear a /P (or /M) they naturally receive priority. Power was 10 to 30W but up to 70W once or twice.

The QSY to 3.724 gave me a headache in the form of a high VSWR. I tried a few things but had to proceed with it unresolved. Despite that, 8 stations were worked, often with the ‘wick’ turned fully up because of deep QSB. Of the eight, 5 were on CW and 3 in SSB. After that 80m ‘dried-up.’ I guess my QRO was mostly losing the fight with the out-of-tune antenna. This link-dipole problem must have been located in an ‘outer’ section, as it didn’t appear on 30m or 40m. Even when configured for 60m, it accepted all the power normally.

Since a few chasers had thus-far been conspicuous by their absence, it was to 60m I resorted to try to attract some of them. To avoid a CQ, my ruse was to call Alistair GW0VMZ. Even if he didn’t show (he didn’t this time) any monitoring chasers would be attracted by the familiar callsigns and would drop-in to collect. That was the theory but I was about to give up when I worked five stations quite quickly, albeit with 50W to combat QSB on here also. There was enough battery left for Christine GM4YMM to tell me about her holiday in Pebbles and her & Ken’s activations GM/SB but I knew I would soon be out of resources.

A light driving rain had started but I just wanted to try top band. Roy G4SSH posted me on 1.832 whilst I fitted the coils at the 40m break points and adjusted them. Sky-high VSWR. Yes, it must be those ‘outer legs’ again, so I found a way of continuity testing them by removing the end from my mag light. They passed that test and without further action, the acid test of several 100W CQ’s on 160m. Unsurprisingly, there was no one around on there. I accept that the aerial, built in 1987 and used regularly for ‘wild radio’ since, does need periodic attention, being a compromise between weight and durability. The weight of Top Band coils, now take it beyond its original design criteria.

My very last QSO was with a bemused G4BLH, Mike on 145.475 FM on the vertical. By now the rig was cutting out at the 15 Watt level but we ‘completed’ alright with a 55 for Mike and a 31 for me. Thanks Mike. ‘Good QSO.’ Fortunately in this case, there were no further callers.

I was down in 36 minutes by 15:05, after spending a few minutes talking to a group of walkers on the Coast to Coast. Seeing my mast, they asked the ‘Stock Question’ (the one about fishing) so I explained. An amiable lot, they went on to comment about the number of CD’s I must carry, in order to ‘broadcast’ the musical parts of my programme. Not knowing how to explain further, I left them struggling up into the drizzle, heading for Keld, their half-way point, not far away. The bike, though of maximum advantage just now, lacked suspension, making my ‘eyeballs rattle’ on this loose, rough road. The GM ops (Robin & Barry) were right when they stated that bikes could be torture.
Home by 17:44. 389 m ascent, 15 km cycled/walked, 162 miles driven.
12 on 30m CW.
14 on 40m CW.
5 on 80m CW.
3 on 80m SSB.
5 on 60m SSB
0 on 160m CW
1 on 2m FM
Total: 40.

EQPT: Lightened IC706-2G. Link-dipole for 20(/30)/40/60/80m. H/B adjustable slug coils for 160m. 5m CFC / alloy mast & 1m CFC end-supports. 2m half wave J-pole for 2m. One 7.5Ah SLAB, 100% utilised. Pack weight: 28 pounds, 12.7 kg.

THANKS to all STATIONS WORKED and to G4SSH/A & GW7AAV for spotting. Conditions were poor because significant fading was present on all bands. QRO helped to compensate.

73 John, G4YSS
(using SSEG Club station callsign, GX0OOO/P and G4YSS/P on 5 MHz.)