G/NP-006 Great Shunner Fell, G/NP-030 Lovely Seat and G/NP-016 Dodd Fell.
11-Jan-08. All times UTC. G4YSS using GX0OOO/P. Unaccompanied.
IC706-2G, 5m mast with 1m end supports. One 7.5Ah SLAB for each SOTA.
Left Scarborough at 04:18, arriving via a rather ‘skiddy’ A684, at Buttertubs Pass for 06:37; earlier than expected. Being dark, it was too early to set off so I went to sleep. Like Mike, GW0DSP, I overslept and didn’t get walking until 07:41; still in gloom. There is plenty of space at the cattle grid but a boggy track runs from SD 8688 9570 all the way up, keeping to the right of the fence until it is crossed via a stile at SD 8503 9723.
G/NP-006: GT.SHUNNER FELL, 716m, 6 pts, 08:27 to 10:43, 1 deg.C. Overcast with barely any wind and no low-cloud. IO84VI, WAB SD89 YSN. 195m ascent, 7.5 km.
Set up by the fence. The ‘crossed-wall’ shelter was not needed. I was on schedule to meet the alert; a state of affairs that I class as ‘late!’ My fault for falling asleep. Without a flyer, I would now be ‘pushed’ to fit three into today. No matter, at least Roy G4SSH was fully awake and once again he ‘jumped’ my QRL? After being spotted, 3.724 came alive but there was QRM from the start. (Or perhaps I was the QRM depending on one’s viewpoint.) That said, using about 20 Watts, 17 mixed UK and European stations received their RST’s in around half an hour.
A change to SSB produced a further 22 QSO’s and even after 10am, there were still Mike DJ5AV and Ambrosi HB9AGH mixed in among the ‘G’s.’
1.832 CW added another 3 QSO’s in the form of Phil G4OBK, Roy G4SSH and Roger G4OWG. The final dregs of the battery were expended calling Mike EI2CL but by then I was probably FM’ing and there were no further takers anyway.
The QRM had cost time and it had taken 100 minutes over the 42 QSO’s. As usual, a lot of the fault was mine; I really must save up and book myself a place on the next ‘G1INK lightning QSO techniques’ course!’
Everything got rammed into the pack without ceremony. I knew it would have to come out again for a battery change back at Buttertubs Pass, where I arrived at 11:22 and had a quick lunch. At 11:34 it was off again, over very wet ground to the start of the climb for the aptly named Lovely Seat, which is a gift in terms of ascent; only just fulfilling the 150m rule.
G/NP-030: LOVELY SEAT, 675m, 4 pts, 11:55 to 14:22, 2 Deg.C, 5 mph wind. Overcast and no low-cloud. IO84VI, WAB SD89 YSN. 151m ascent, 2.9 km.
This really didn’t go remotely to plan and the reason for this was the state of 80m, which had gone all quiet on me. In blissful ignorance, I opened at 12:07 on 3.723 CW, expecting the ‘lads’ would be waiting in line. Initially it seemed OK. ‘Here’s the first of many;’ David G3RDQ in Hampshire. After a lot more CQ’s, I began to despair and was even beginning to miss the QRM! After 15 minutes I gave up and tried Top Band; also with nil result. No problem; just phone Roy for a spot but the O2 Mobile Phone Company didn’t want to know me either. After flicking through 5 MHz, I called CQ on 7.032. Magnificent! Nik HB9EAA. Another 21 chasers found me after HB9AGH Ambrosi and F8DZY spotted me. Amongst them was Phil G4OBK and he posted that 80m was not functioning just yet. A highlight was an S2S QSO with Hans HB9BHW/P on HB/ZH-004; the 1110m Bachtel.
I decided to leave 80m as late as possible, in the hope it might recover, turning my attention to 160, which ‘won’ me Pete EI7CC. Though I could hear Dan ON4ON calling weakly, I couldn’t get back to him. 80m seemed livelier now and my SSB CQ on 3.724 at 13:33 was answered immediately by Steve GW7AAV with good signal reports both ways. Nine others followed Steve into the log until the QRG dried up.
80m CW was (as is now routine) carried out on the same ‘all-modes’ frequency of 3.724 with no more than a 2 minute gap. Whenever there is a frequency or mode change, I always check the band; ‘QRL? QRL? After this Roy G4SSH was the first to come back to me and I worked on for several minutes when a commotion seemed to break loose. It was all too fast for me but I could hear exchanges between a G3XJS, who was bravely answered by Phil G4OBK. The gist of it seemed to be ‘CW interference to an SSB net’ but the detail I will no doubt learn later. When changing modes SSB to CW and though theoretically predictable, one never quite knows which way or by how much the signal might jump or be annoying, when heard through an SSB filter. It seems that the chasers & I annoyed someone. For this, I must apologise but I thought we had been ‘established’ on this QRG for some 25 minutes. Nevertheless, I logged 9 in CW after the complainant withdrew.
160m CW produced 2 more QSO’s with G4OBK and G4SSH. (Phil & Roy).
‘Skates on.’ At 14:22, was there enough time to get off NP30, drive through Hawes, along Cam Houses Road, opening and closing all three gates and then ascend Dodd Fell before daylight faded? Probably not but let’s give it our very best shot!
Getting back to the car at 14:40 was a good start but I still had the flat SLAB to replace. Hawes was a bit busy and getting stuck behind a tractor ‘raised my temperature’ but the kind farmer had left 2 out of 3 gates wide open! I ‘bounced’ along the rough road thankful that at 1900ft ASL, it was free of snow. Enthusiasm didn’t end there either; I turned right at Kidhow Gate and drove up the Pennine Way in the old Fiesta. However, it soon became obvious that, when all the holes, ruts, bangs and scrapes were taken into account, I could have walked faster, so I abandoned the car at SD 8304 8367 by 15:15.
The only thing I had forgotten today was to load the GPS with NP routes. I knew it would be pitch black next time I saw the car and the GPS might be vital, so I made a route as I walked, thankfully finding my way up OK via SD 8339 8433 and SD 8349 8434. As usual, it was wet but it’s not much of a climb and there was still daylight enough to make setting up easy.
NP-016 DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 15:38 to 17:29, 1 Deg.C, 15mph wind. Overcast with no low-cloud. Dusk on arrival, then dark. IO84VG, WAB SD88 YSN. 94m ascent, 4.2 km.
O2’s signals were positively washing over Dodd Fell, so the first priority was to phone Roy & get spotted. Without that and me being only half expected on a third summit, things might have been difficult. Dodd Fell is a peat bog pure and simple, so what’s this flat rock doing here. Just right to sit on but it turned out to be hiding a small plastic box full of tiny objects. Had I found my first ever Geo-thingamy purely by chance? It would seem so and the ‘seat’ was useful.
The whole activation seemed to flow like no other that day as I opened on 3.724 CW and logged 18 mixed European and UK stations in not many more minutes. The change to SSB was swift and immediate and 16 chasers found me on 3.722 between 16:25 and 16:52. After dark, signals were peaking up nicely and few had much trouble copying the mostly 20W output. The sky was a picture at this time; reds and oranges over by Ingleborough.
That brought the ‘last gasp’ of the day but 1.832 CW proved much more than that, with ten callsigns logged: G4OBK, EI7CC, G4SSH, G3ZES, EI2CL, SM6CPY, GM4FAM, G0NES, DK5SF and finally G4OWG. Icing on the cake, I’d say. It was good to see that Mike EI2CL, after fruitless hard listening through bad QRN all day, at least got a QSO on the last one.
Along with the headlight, the GPS did come in handy in taking all the effort out of getting back down. Even so, it was a relief to see the car number-plate reflecting back my headlight beam, at 17:50.
It took from 17:56 to 20:20 to get home.
16 on 1.8-CW.
45 on 3.5-CW.
48 on 3.5-SSB.
22 on 7-CW
Total: 131 QSO’s.
Totals: 440m (1444ft) ascent, 14.6 km (9.1 miles) walking. 186 miles driven in the day.
Battery utilisation (one ‘fresh’ 7.5 Ah SLAB taken to each summit):
NP6: 99% discharged. NP30: 99% discharged. NP16: 78% discharged.
It had been a good day weather-wise with light winds, temperatures just above freezing and no rain. There were only tiny patches of lying snow, mainly in hollows and almost no low-cloud. The first two seemed like hard work, radio-wise but surprisingly, I quite enjoyed ‘Dodd in the dark.’ Being around 100 miles from Scarborough, the NP’s have become my ‘bread and butter.’ Whether this is a good or bad thing, is debatable.
Thanks to all stations worked and to G4SSH, G4OBK, EI2CL, HB9AGH, GW0DSP, F8DZY, GW7AAV, EI7CC for the essential spotting services and to G4SSH for his ‘phone-a-spot’ service. Finally, thanks to Phil G4OBK for efficiently dealing with the ‘QRM’ complaint.
73, John G4YSS
(using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)