G4YSS Actn. Rprts: NP11, NP22 & NP12 - 06-03-08

NP11 - Gt. Coum.
NP22 - Calf Top.
NP12 - Baugh Fell (Tarn Rigg Hill)

All times UTC. G4YSS using GX0OOO/P. Unaccompanied.
Eqpt: QRO - IC706 Mk2G, link dipole on 5m H/B CFC mast.
7.5 Ah SLAB for each summit. Pack weight 13 kg.
(Jingtong 2m FM H/H and 2m J-Pole as reserve.)

03:00 felt like a lie-in after recent expeditions! Left Scarborough at 03:29 arriving at the start of a dirt road, on the Ingleton to Dent gated-road (SD 7232 8226) at 6am. What happened next was to have some effect on the whole day. Ever since being a school boy, I have been ‘saddled’ with a defiant streak. Even so, I was under the impression that some of these closed Dales Green-Roads were to reopen this year. In the dark I saw no sign, so up the track went the old Fiesta. ‘What a good idea, it’ll save me lots of time, often in short supply on Winter-SOTA days.’

This track is rough at first, steep in places and today it was also wet and muddy. There is a steep and nasty section at SD 7176 8224 and with only 2WD traction, the only option was ‘momentum,’ some of which (predictably) was absorbed by the exhaust system. Only with the accompaniment of a lot of noise and vibration, did I manage to get as far as SD 7099 8205 at 512m ASL, where the only option was a 9-point-turn in the dark and fog.

There I waited until setting off walking at 06:40 in dim light. The ‘surfaced’ bridleway gives way to peat-bog at SD 7094 8207. At SD 7064 8237 there is a gated wall-stile and from this it’s diagonally up the grassy flank, through a fallen wall to the saddle at SD 7019 8287. After that you follow the ridge-wall north, to operate in SD78 Cumbria. There is a choice of wall to suit any wind direction or there is a hole in the ground if you prefer. Today the ascent was into a strong westerly. That and the low-cloud with its associated drizzle were factors which were not to change throughout the day.

If WAB is your interest, the ‘action’ is south of Green Hill at SD 7000 8119, around which point are clustered three rare portable areas, namely SD68 Lancs, SD68 YSN and SD78 Lancs. These can be offered on 3.760 on the way back.

G/NP-011 GREAT COUM, 687m, 4 pts, 07:08 to 08:41, 4 Deg.C, 40 mph westerly wind, overcast with low-cloud and wind-driven drizzle. WAB: SD78 Cumbria, IO84SF.

160m CW: As is well known, this band likes the proximity (at least) of darkness, so opening on 1.832 with 50W at 07:25 helped Mike GW0DSP, Roy G4SSH and David G3RDQ painlessly into the log. Dan, ON4ON was the one who ‘got away.’ Apparently there was ‘VY QRN’ in Dublin too but even one station logged is a success as far as 160m SOTA activation is concerned.

80m CW: After a good session on Top Band, 18 chasers followed on 3.557 CW. The IC706-2G was mostly set to 20W for this but more power was needed to get the signal out from these shores and to find Dan, who had ‘missed it’ on 160m and Frid DL1FU. This time, despite my many QRO calls, Peter DL8YR was the unlucky one. One who seems to be a strong convert to CW from SSB and who is enjoying success with the mode is Don G0NES. Quentin GW3BV called in for a Farnsworth QRS QSO. Gerald G4OIG joined in once again.

80m SSB: Alistair GW0VMZ, who successfully works on 80m using a 60m dipole, found me on 3.725, where a total of 11 regulars took us through to 08:32 UTC. I must thank everyone for getting up early, particularly Roy G4SSH and Mike GW0DSP, who were both there right at the start. As Roy often does, Mike detected my single ‘V’ transmission, which I use to check SWR.

Got back to the car at 09:02. This early, in wind and fog, it was not likely that anybody should ‘happen by’ and the car was just as I’d left it, half on the soft verge without any notices pinned to it! There were nasty grinding noises in reverse and on the over-run but it was extricated from its predicament without further grief. You can go as slowly as you like downhill and as long as brakes and not gears were used for slowing down, it was bearable.

The drive around to Barbondale took until 09:34. For the second year, I started at SD 6832 8645 (09:46 UTC) following the path along to a gap in the wall at SD 6821 8691 then making my way up a Quad or Argo track to a gate at SD 6796 8705. From there if you can find the odd animal path or quad track, you’re doing quite well but there appears to be a path curving further to the NE which although longer, may avoid the tussocky cross-country. However, the ‘spine’ is accessed via a stone stile at SD 6738 8691. From there the summit is still a ‘good’ mile away along the ridge path but this is still preferable to my original route of straight-up to Barkin Top from SD 6767 8589, then turn left! Also, in 2003 it took me 80 minutes in, on a route from Fellside Farm.

G/NP-022: CALF TOP, 609m, 4 pts, 10:42 to 12:42, 4 Deg.C, 35 mph westerly wind, overcast with low-cloud and wind-driven drizzle. WAB: SD68, IO84RG.

Luckily, the strong wind was normal to the only wall but this is in a poor state of repair. A phone call to Roy G4SSH on the way up, resulted in a 20 minute warning spot for (initially) Top Band.

160m CW: This time 1.832 MHz successes went to GW0DSP, G3HKO and G3WPF, but 100W was needed.

80m CW: 21 chasers made contact on 3.557 CW. A couple of EU stations failed to hear my reports but Andre, ON4CAP responded to the 100W treatment. The rest were UK or Eire callsigns.

80m SSB: A clear frequency of 3.726 was suggested by Mike GW0DSP, who also volunteered to spot and coordinate in place of Roy G4SSH, who was ‘5B’ bound the same afternoon. 25 mainly regulars were worked in 30 minutes but one of a few ‘new’ callers, was Janine M3VQB.

The walk down was completed by 13:23 but there was still no sign of a 2m FM antenna, which dropped from the rucksack last year. A battery change and the drive round to do NP12 from Grisedale Road in ‘The Dale that Died’ followed between 13:31 and 14:07. Reversing in, I didn’t see the big rock in the rough parking area. Hitting this with the tail-pipe completed the pre-dawn destruction. I was forced to waste half an hour driving up onto a handy stone then wiring the broken pipe up into the gear-linkage tunnel, which meant that I didn’t get walking until 14:38.

In the past, I have assaulted Baugh Fell’s (NP12) southern aspect from Garsdale at SD 7337 8989. The footpath start, which must be quickly abandoned, goes up through a farm-yard and past an open gate at SD 7338 9019. After that, it’s up the fields. This 2.2 km (one way) route is desperately steep in places especially on snow, until the gradient finally eases at SD 7382 9106. Ascent is 498 metres (1634 feet) so the question arises. Is there a better way? Yes; in theory! In previous years, I had noticed a path by the wall at the summit so today I had come to look for the start of it. I could only assume that it emanated from a (down-wall) parking area on Grisedale Road, at SD 7764 9212. If so, instead of 2.2 km up, it was going to be around 4.2 km, though the ascent of 498m would be significantly reduced to around 325m.

Baugh Fell (NP12); the eastern approach: Opposite the parking area SD 7764 9212 is an obvious track which heads in the right direction. It’s not critical but taking the left fork at SD 7754 9209 shortens the distance slightly. Right or left, it’s very wet in places but both ways take you through to a gate at SD 7700 9185. From here you have a further choice of heading directly over a ‘paddy’ of reed beds for the track that ‘hugs’ the wall / fence at SD 7692 9195 or following a quad track which navigates around the worst of the bog via SD 7676 9178 and SD 7663 9185 then X-country to meet the ‘wall-track’ at SD 7643 9196. Neither way is good and you’ll be quite lucky if you make it with dry feet in winter!

The track makes minor ‘bog detours’ further up but it is best to follow it along the south side of the wall (in some places just a fence) until at SD 7490 9202, you are forced to cross through a gap, to get onto the north side of it. To avoid the strong west-wind for the activation, I had to re-cross the wall at the summit, finding somewhere semi-comfortable to sit at SD 7404 9161. NP12 has a grassy top with a huge choice of activation points and you could save some walking if you so desired. I arrived on this, my third summit tired to say the least. A long, route-marking ascent over very wet, spongy ground, directly into a gale of wind, and with a ‘QRO pack’ had taken its toll. No wonder this ascent took so long today.

G/NP-012: BAUGH FELL, 678m, 4 pts, 15:50 to 17:37, 4 Deg.C, 45 mph westerly wind, overcast with low-cloud and wind-driven drizzle. WAB: SD79 Cumbria, IO84TH.

80m CW: The ‘advert’ stated ‘3.557’ but there was a terrific racket on there. Turning up the wick, I sent a message through it; ‘QSY down 10,’ repeated several times. This was heard and shortly afterwards, I was doing my level best to cope with a big pile-up on a QRG of 3.547, which stayed clear enough for the duration.

Mike G4BLH must have breathed a sigh of relief after successfully spearheading an onslaught of 29 (plus two more after SSB) eager CW chasers. At first, it was tricky to pick out a single full call and I thought how frustrating it must have been for any chaser calling for the whole 35 minutes that it took to clear it, then only getting heard at the end! Callers, who were giving my 20W signal quite good RST’s, were mostly from the UK and Eire but by increasing to 100W, I also worked F6CEL, DL1FU, DJ5AV, HB9AAQ, OK1AOV, ON4CAP, PA0XAW and LA1ENA. Yes, this really was the 80m band but it gave a very good imitation of 7.032 for sheer weight of traffic.

80m SSB: With ears ringing after the CW, a pile-up (though smaller) soon developed on 3.724 MHz. With occasional sorties up to full power where required, there were 18 QSO’s with British stations. At the end, Des G3HKO called me in CW and switching to his preferred mode on the same QRG, he was soon logged along with Michael, G0HIO.

160m CW: Seven made it through to NP12 on 1.832 MHz as follows: G3HKO, G3RMD, G4RQJ, EI7CC, GW0DSP, G4OWG and G4BLH. 50W did the job but sadly, increasing to 100W to call Mike EI2CL was unfruitful because of his high local noise level.

Spurred-on by thoughts of dry socks, the walk down in gathering gloom took me until 18:31 and I drove home 18:40 to 21:26, having covered 232 road-miles in the day. That wasn’t the end of the sorry saga with the car, however. Approaching the main A684 from the Grisedale Road, I noticed that the footbrake was very spongy and less effective than normal. Perhaps the grounding episodes had damaged a brake pipe but using my brand-new headlamp, I could see nothing untoward and the fluid reservoir was almost full. The next day I found a leaking pipe under the wheel-arch. This too may have been a casualty of the dirt-track on the approach to Gt.Coum, 12 hours earlier. I drove slowly home via a massive diversion caused by the closure of Middleham Bridge. There was very little traffic about and the brakes were available if I really needed to use them. I simply elected not to; slowing to a stop in 1st gear when required.

NP11- Gt.Coum: 177m (581 ft) ascent, 2.9 miles (4.6 km) up & down. (Car up track)
NP22-Calf Top: 312 m (1023 ft) ascent, 4.3 miles (6.8 km) up & down.
NP12-Baugh Fell: 325 m (1066 ft) ascent, 5.3 miles (8.4 km) up & down. (Grisedale route)
Total: 814 m (2671 ft) ascent, 12.5 miles (20 km) up & down. 21 points.

13 on 1.8-CW.
70 on 3.5-CW.
54 on 3.5-SSB.
Total: 137 QSO’s.

Battery utilisation (one ‘fresh’ 7.5 Ah SLAB taken to each summit):
NP11: 68% discharged.
NP22: 85% discharged.
NP12: 76% discharged.

On balance I think I prefer my old route up Baugh Fell. It may be steeper and has greater ascent but it is much shorter, quicker and a lot dryer too! As for the car; the cost of 2 miles and half an hour saved was half an hour and a slow journey home, to say nothing of the expense! Lesson learned; this puts me in the same ‘club’ as Steve GW7AAV!

Thanks to all stations worked and to G4SSH and GW0DSP for ‘special monitoring and spotting duties.’ Also to EI2CL and G3HKO, for their inputs.

73, John G4YSS
(using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough-Special-Events-Group Club-Call)

In reply to G4YSS:

As always, a thorough, graphic and interesting report, very enjoyable to read John.

Thanks for the summits and the points, I hope your long suffering Fiesta is feeling better, hi.

73 Mike GW0DSP

Another excellent report John - very graphic indeed and packed full of information for others intent on ascending these summits. Good to work you on the first two.

The incident with your Fiesta just goes to show what “fun” chasers are missing. I must admit to being rather more cautious with my Audi when off tarmac since I can’t push its 1.4 tonnes on a level tarmac road, let alone on the rough stuff. I have had a couple of trials and have had to take a route quite literally off-road in order to extricate the vehicle from soggy parking spots which looked fine visually on arrival - I find heather gives quite good traction! No external pipes thankfully on my motor as they are all inside the floor pan and the stainless exhaust is built robustly.

Very much looking forward to the report on your next adventure.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4YSS:

Lesson learned; this puts me in the same ‘club’ as Steve GW0AAV

If I was you would get me on the key instead of ssb ;0) (maybe one day!)

Great report sorry to hear about the ‘exhausting’ trip home.

“What did you say officer? I can’t hear you over this noisy exhaust”

73 Steve GW7AAV

In reply to G4YSS:

Another excellent and interesting report John.

73 Roy 5B/G4SSH
Internet Cafe
Laraca beach, Cyprus 25c
(Guess I am not missing many SOTA expeditions with the terrible weather in EU this week)