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G4YSS Four G/NPs: NP6, NP30, NP16 & NP31, 09-01-09

G4YSS Four G/NPs Activation Report for 09-01-09

G/NP-006 Great Shunner Fell.
G/NP-030 Lovely Seat.
G/NP-016 Dodd Fell.
G/NP-031 Birks Fell.
On 80m CW / SSB and 160m CW (QRO).

All times UTC on 09-Jan-09. G4YSS using GX0OOO/P. Unaccompanied.
IC706-2G, 5m mast with 1m end supports. Link dipole for 20-(30)-40-60-80-(160).
Jingtong 208 2m FM – 2W in reserve (don’t laugh!)

The intention was to put on two NPs and if all conditions were favourable after those, follow up with a third. Often in the past, plans have gone awry as the day unfolded and adjustments have had to be made. Normally a little built-in slack takes care of circumstances which give rise to time delays. Rarely does reality exceed expectations but this time the upshot was that time was gradually gained throughout the day. A major consideration was a reduction in activation time. This was partly due to there being fewer chasers around and possibly a slightly faster QSO rate with the ones that did call in. As before, there was no attempt to pursue an ‘all bands, all singing & dancing’ activation but preserving a ‘fighting chance’ for as many chasers as possible was still the priority.

Left Scarborough at 04:13, arriving via the well gritted, fog-free A684, at Buttertubs Pass for 06:15. There was almost 90 minutes of darkness left to run but I booted up without rushing and left, using the headlight at 06:43.

There is plenty of space at the cattle grid (SD 8678 9552) and a boggy track leaves the road at SD 8688 9570, running up via Coal Pit to the fence corner at SD 8694 9639. The track more or less parallels the fence all the way up through the aptly named Grimy Gutter Haggs and over Little Shunner Fell. Keep to the right (north) side of the fence until it is crossed via a stile not far short of the summit, at SD 8503 9723.

The temptation to take a bee-line from the road to the top (as I have done in the distant past) must be avoided on this one. Bogs and uneven ground are both quite severe. The route described is quite long but it bypasses most of the ‘badlands’ and it is easy going in terms of ascent rate. This morning a terrified Red Grouse flew noisily up in response to the beam from my headlight.

G/NP-006: GT.SHUNNER FELL, 716m, 6 pts, 07:30 to 09:19, minus 2 deg.C. Wind 5 mph. Overcast with low-cloud. 20mm lying snow. IO84VI, WAB SD89 YSN. 195m ascent, 7.5 km up / dn. Pack weight: 13kg.

The excellent wooden-seated, crossed-wall shelter hove into view through the fog. I was ahead of schedule and at 07:30 it was still quite dark. The mast had to be bungeed to the seat but as was to become a feature of today, it was impossible to drive in the end supports in most places. Different positions had to be tried and the vigorous action of trying to punch through varying layers of frozen crust took its toll on muscles and time. The hardest ground was where the wind had impinged or where there were vertical surfaces or undercuts, which added a second route in for the frost. All today’s hills have grass over peat tops. Despite all this I was ready to get on the air by 07:47 with Top Band loading coils fitted and adjusted in quick time.

1.832 CW:
After having minor reservations regarding ops wanting to get up this early just to chase Great Shunner Fell, I was pleasantly surprised. Roy G4SSH was already at his radio (with a bowl of porridge) and came back to my VSWR-checking V’s with a 569 report! The all important spot resulted and in a short time F6ACD was also calling.

Stations worked on 160 were: G4SSH, F6ACD, F6CEL, EI2CL, G4OBK, G0TDM (G7GQL / GX0ANT) DL7VKD and G4BLH. Powers were mainly 50W with 100W for Dieter but only 30 Watts were needed for Mike EI2CL and the two French stations. Thanks to everyone who denied themselves a lie-in but this was a flying start.

3.557 CW:
G4SSH did the same again! After Roy and mostly using 30W, I worked a further 11 QSOs with UK and overseas stations in the ratio 25% / 75%. Frid (DL1FU) was second caller with a big signal.

3.721 SSB:
A one channel move was needed to avoid early morning nets but Steve GW7AAV soon located the correct QRG. This time the 13 stations worked with 30W were all UK based. The final QSO was with Gerald G0OIG who was QRP. Geoff G6MZX gave me the position of a wrecked Beaufighter near Grassington and Helen gained the 6 points using her new callsign 2E0YHB and new permitted power of 50W.

I was QRT by 09:06, packed up and walking at 09:20 and back at Buttertubs Pass for 09:59. The car stays in place for NP30 but a short stand-up lunch was shoe-horned in. By 10:06 it was off again, over very wet but thankfully frozen 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. Once again you keep to a path on the right hand side of a fence and again it is crossed via a stile at SD 8784 9503.

G/NP-030: LOVELY SEAT, 675m, 4 pts, 10:27 to 12:03, 0 Deg.C, 5 mph wind. Overcast & low-cloud. 30 mm lying snow. Minor icing conditions. IO84VI, WAB SD89 YSN. 151m ascent, 2.9 km up / dn. Pack weight: 13.5 kg. (No O2 phone signal).

Someone has rammed a metal loop shaped fitting into the side of the ‘Lovely Seat’ which is no more than a small seat-shaped dry-stone windbreak on the smooth summit similar to the one on Gt. Knoutberry. The wind direction was such that this loop could be pressed into use as mast support. Again it was hard to force the end sticks into frozen ground but I also know this top to be deceptively rocky under a thin coat of soil & grass.

3.558 CW:
Roy (SSH) had accurately worked out my ETA from last year’s report and posted it accordingly. He was also there replying to the tuning Vs again. 17 stations were logged and power was 30 Watts apart from Bert DF5WA who needed all available ‘umph’ and two attempts. Despite the time now approaching 11am, it was pleasing to note that almost half the callers were overseas chasers.

3.724 SSB:
40W on here brought in 13 stations with reasonable reports on a busy band. PA0XAW Age stood out alone amongst the UK stations and the QSO rate was quite leisurely compared to CW. I thought it only fair to give periodic warnings that the 7.5 Ah SLAB used already for NP6, was about to fail. Arthur GW1LDY called just as it did. Three minutes later, after connecting the 8.8Ah Li-Po and despite calling him with 100W, he was gone, probably thinking I’d gone QRT.

1.832 CW:
Conditions on here were unmistakably ‘day time’ and in the absence of Phil G4OBK who was not available, it was hard work. G3RMD could be clearly heard calling at the beginning and end of the session but try as I may, I could not get back to Frank. G4BLH was almost a casualty too but I did manage to work Mike with ON4ON, G4RQJ, G4SSH and G3WPF following on. 100W was used throughout and by 11:48 CQ’s had gone unanswered. I heard nothing further and left at 12:03.

This is a short descent and getting back to Buttertubs Pass by 12:19 left more than enough time to follow up with NP16 Dodd Fell. The drive was foggy at first but clear through Hawes. From there you take the Buckden Road south past the Wensleydale Cheese works then along Cam Houses Road to Kidhow Gate. Because it was covered by a layer of icy snow in low-cloud and due to there being a few ‘side-drops,’ the Cam Houses road needed great care today. Luckily all three gates were open which saved twelve operations and valuable time with the result that I was striking out for NP16 along the Pennine Way by 12:52.

Park between the gate & sign at SD 8298 8339 and take the Pennine Way North. It’s not at all obvious but a minor path leaves the track at SD 8339 8434. From there it’s steeply up via SD 8344 8435, crossing a (frozen) beck at SD 8352 8432 and following a boggy track via SD 8364 8434, SD 8376 8439, SD 8386 8443 and SD 8397 8453 to the ‘moated’ trig. Today I found a parallel path but there is little difference in efficiency and the poor track detailed above is perhaps easier to follow.

NP-016: DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 13:19 to 14:43, minus 2 Deg.C, 10 mph wind. Low-cloud with rapid icing conditions. 40 mm lying snow. IO84VG, WAB SD88 YSN. 94m ascent, 4.2 km up / dn. (O2 phone signal.)

Apart from the cement-repaired trig pillar, this is a bare top but a little comfort is to be had using one of the shallow depressions to sit in. One problem was caused by freezing fog which rapidly built up on the aerial wire, gradually reducing its height, especially when rigged for 160m. I had to clear this three times and reposition an end stick due to a change in the wind-speed combined with the ice problem. I was reminded of a notice we used to put on every production aircraft instrument panel: ‘This Aircraft is not Certified for Flight in known Icing Conditions.’ The Geocache I’d stumbled upon last year was invisible under snow today.

3.557 CW:
Without the aid of any phone calls so far today, G4SSH consistently had me found and spotted in seconds. It happened here on NP16 too and within 3 minutes in came Karim, F4CTJ. As well as the UK, signals proved to be available to chasers in France, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and not forgetting our two friends in Eire. Again the compromise power of 30W was used unless more was needed. As is usual I turned up the power at the end of the session to try and pull in any stragglers. Just ten were worked in CW but SSB was somewhat more successful.

3.719 SSB:
16 were logged in this mode and reports were mostly good. All were G’s, M’s or 2’s except for ON4ON and F4CTJ. There is often trouble with splash and splatter on SSB and this session was no exception. Two club calls were worked: MX0BCQ/A (CRAG - Geoff) and GX0ANT (Eden Valley - John).

1.832 CW:
This was the most disappointing session of the entire day with only 2 QSO’s. Despite full power, the worst thing was not being able to get RST’s back to Mike EI2CL and Frank G3RMD. Both could be heard calling weakly but in the end successes were limited to Reg G3WPF and Phil G4OBK (both worked with 50W). Phil’s signal, I’m certain would be audible by all prospective UK chasers but I would be willing to bet even that would have been significantly down on previous summits. Further CQs went unanswered before QRT at 14:30. I left the bleak, forlorn trig point behind at 14:43 before spying the car through mist at 15:06.

So the day ‘ended’ with three successful activations completed but with significant daylight remaining. On the 11th of December having completed NPs 13 & 19, I was ‘cheated’ out of a third summit (NP15) by a snow-bound and impassable road. This was starting to look like an evens chance of taking ‘revenge’ on the NPs for this annoyance! All that was required was the formulation of a plan extension, the acceptance of slight additional risk, a little more work and enough daylight to reach a fourth summit. Getting down afterwards would have to take care of itself.

Thoughts turned to what to do next. Half of me was all for going home early, another bit said, ‘you should have stayed to work more bands from NP16’ but the small adventurous portion which still remains was spurring me on to a fourth summit. The problem was that the first two personas wouldn’t let the third commit and I knew that apart from a telephone box, NP16’s summit had been my last chance to notify Roy.

With time to ponder on the way down I’d managed to narrow it down to a choice of three. NP15 Gt. Knoutberry; NP9 Buckden Pike or NP31 Birks Fell. The easy NP15 would mean going further west so I ruled that out. Both the other two were in my log from just 10 days ago and both were moderate undertakings. Of the two only Birks Fell NP31 had mobile phone coverage, it was the closest to me and conveniently was more or less on my route back home. Unhappily, it is the hardest option of the three; having an ascent of almost 1300 feet and adding over 4 miles of extra distance.

I passed the phone kiosk at Oughtershaw, slowed but didn’t stop. Still dithering! After Hubberholme I saw the track entrance for Redmire Farm and halted there. There wasn’t time to drive the 300m further to the bridge parking spot and walk back. With no traffic about, the car could stay where it was so long as I could manage to ‘ram it’ closer up against the wall.

After filling in my ‘destination form’ and placing it in the window, I got out at 15:39 with as much purpose as could be mustered, grabbed the pack from the back seat and made for the Redmire track, not giving myself a second in which to change my mind. By the time I’d walked 100m, I was at last firmly committed to activating NP31; my only worry outside collapsing half way up, was the state of the part-used battery I was carrying and notifying the unsuspecting Roy by phone.

I used this route on 31st December 08 after first surveying it in 2007 and I have come to know and love it. It has the advantage of being a direct route to the SOTA recognized summit. It starts at Redmire Farm (SD 9365 7747) & passes through Kirk Gill Moor Wood before following up a grassy path beside a wall. Unfortunately (in snow) there is at least one steep section. For full details see: http://www.sotawatch.org/reflector.php?topic=2663#

There was more snow than on either of the first three and as the time approached 4pm, I entered low-cloud and the light began to fade. I kept trying the mobile phone bought recently for £9.50; an attractive pink one with flowers. ‘Emergency only.’ It wasn’t until I reached the ‘lip’ at SD 9198 7675 that coverage began. ‘Hi Roy, please could you post me for Birks Fell?’ Scarborough radio station ‘G4SSH’ had been closed down for the night but after exhibiting some surprise, Roy swung swiftly into action. ‘Shall I post you when you get there?’ I wasn’t going to be hanging around for long and wanted no delay. I also knew that there might be precious few chasers remaining. ‘No, please tell ‘the boys’ ASAP.’ Time and Ampere Hours wait for no man and knowing that something would have to be dropped from the ‘usual’ schedule, 80m CW became the casualty. With the proviso that it would soon be dark, we would have to make do with 80 SSB then 160 CW.

Today the cold wind was from the SW so I headed past the summit, making for the ‘spine’ wall where respite could be found. The ascent had taken 49 minutes but considering it was almost dark, it didn’t take much time at all to set up the dipole beside the wall with the mast in a couple of inches of fluffy frozen snow. This is just practice over the years.

G/NP-031: BIRKS FELL, 610m, 4Pts, 16:28 to 17:52. Minus 2 deg.C at first, falling to minus 5 after dark. Wind 15 mph. Low-cloud with icing conditions. 60mm lying snow. (IO84WE, WAB SD97) 390m (1280ft) ascent / 6.8km (4.3 miles) up/down. Pack weight: 11kg. (Orange phone signal)

3.724 SSB:
SSB is not Roy’s speciality and neither is it Phil’s but it was G4OBK who answered my QRL. Unusual this late in the day, that the alerted channel could be this quiet, so with the power set to about 30W, we chatted briefly to allow stations to net. 14 regulars were logged in the light of a headlamp in as many minutes and any concerns about not making 4 QSO’s evaporated. What did surprise me was the D-layer which did not appear to have retired to bed yet. This resulted in expectations of roughly 50/50 mix of UK and European stations not being met. Most QSOs were with G’s and just two called in from overseas; ON4ON and F6FNA.

1.832 CW:
Whilst tuning I heard evidence that Phil G4OBK and perhaps a few others were waiting here and had perhaps interrupted a meal to gain their 4 points. Not knowing for sure how much was left in the battery or what band conditions would be like, the rig was set to about 50W for starters and turned up when required.

The following 19 stations were worked on 160 CW: G4OBK, G3RMD, SM6CMU, G4SSH, EI2CL G3WPF, SM1TDE, DJ7MI, G3PQA, G4RQJ, G4WSX, G4OWG, G4CPA, DL6ATM, GW0DSP, G4BLH, EI7CC, G0NES and finally Heinz DL7RAG for an HNY.

I must apologize for the reports. The backlighting is routinely switched off to save power and I could barely focus on the log let alone the S-meter. Perhaps that’s an excuse and chiefly I was now getting a little weary after what was to become a 17-hour day. That said, some of the rubbish I made up for reports was just that; rubbish. Here’s hoping nobody with a top-o-the-range 160m setup was offended by 559 when I meant 599! I know I did this but in reverse for Mike G4BLH who, struggling to hear me, must have thought a one-way duct had opened between Nelson and Birks Fell.

1.846 SSB: (Nil)
That morning, Carolyn G6WRW had asked me about the possibility of 160m SSB. I gave one of my patent ‘half-baked’ non committal answers but there are always genuine concerns about time, power, propagation and the WX. ‘There might be a chance from the last one.’ Well that turned out to be enough to confuse anyone; knowing now that I can’t even define ‘last one!’ Though greater than the expected numbers of regulars had been logged from this ‘late news’ SOTA, it was significant that many (including Carolyn) were missing from the log.

I was here so I would give it a go. Finding a clear spot for phone at 1.846, I nipped back to announce it in CW on 1.832 in case anyone was listening, then set off to retune the dipole coils onto the new spot. It isn’t that straightforward in the dark as the wire is invisible. You have to walk from the mast towards the end sticks until the headlight picks up the reflector at its top. At that point you must reach out, grasp the wire and walk back towards the mast until the coil is found (at the 40m break point) and the slug moved. That must be repeated for the other coil and if a new VSWR test is failed, off you go again. It sounds like a lot of messing about and indeed it is but on cold days the exercise is often welcome and with the carbon mast’s slender top now bent over by 90 degrees, I had to go and clear a weight of ice which had collected on some 40m of wire anyway.

Close to 10 minutes (on & off) of 100W CQ’s up until 17:43 produced not a squeak and this can be put down purely to a lack of advertising and conviction on my part. In truth, I would rather have had it that way than feel guilt about chasers waiting for something that may never have happened. Thanks go to Frank G3RMD for posting this last gasp. The final descent started at 17:52.

If the headlight had packed in then it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. There seemed to be a tiny trace of ambient light and a snowy surface makes the most of it. After dropping through 450m ASL the low-cloud suddenly evaporated and the full moon shone out over the wintry scene. SOTA can be hard graft but the rewards are priceless. Over my shoulder I could see the planet Venus but concentration was needed to get safely down the snow-covered steep sections, to the gate and into the forest. Once there I stopped worrying but switched off the light, sneaking down to the road unobserved at 18:31.

It took from 18:37 to 20:35 to get home which was close to the time given to my XYL before leaving. I hate the bit where the rucksack and everything else has to be got back into the house.

34 on 1.8-CW.
40 on 3.5-CW.
56 on 3.5-SSB.
Nil on 1.8 SSB (NP31 only)
Total: 130 QSO’s.
Breakdown: 33 on NP6. 36 on NP30. 28 on NP16. 33 on NP31.

NP6 & NP30 80m band only: One 7.5Ah SLAB (100% discharged).
NP30 160m band plus NP16 & NP31: 11V - 8.8Ah Li-Po (86% discharged).

Total ‘ON-AIR’ time for 130 QSO’s: 4 Hr – 24 min.
(30 to 100W QRO. Tuning before and off times between QSY’s are not taken into account).

Total ASCENT: 830m (2723ft).
Total DISTANCE WALKED: 21.4 km (13.4 miles).
Distance driven: 187 miles.
Activator points: 30.

Walking (min): NP6:47 + 40. NP30: 21 + 16. NP16:27 + 23. NP31:49 + 39. Tot: 4hr-22m.
Summits (min): NP6: 109. NP30: 96. NP16: 84. NP31: 84. Tot: 6hr-13m.
Driving between: NP30 & NP16: 33min. NP16 & NP31: 33 min. Lunch: 7 min. Tot: 73 min.

It had been a reasonable day weather-wise with light winds, temperatures safely below freezing and no precipitation. Apart from the low-cloud on all four tops, the conditions suited me and many of the numerous boggy stretches were solid. 13 miles doesn’t sound much to a long distance walker but is a fair way in SOTA terms in England. However, I had not even climbed 3000 feet and it was the latter fact combined with the cold conditions that made this not too demanding.

At this time of year, one thing is certain. For multiple undertakings of this kind, you have to be prepared to face the darkness at both ends of the day but the fact that loyal chasers are there in these lonely places when you really need them, is a blessing which guarantees real gratitude and friendship.

The NP region is the most attractive to me in terms of convenience and distances driven, walked & climbed. The easier summits can be successfully combined in what I call a radial manner, though I wish there were more because combining just makes them run out all the faster. On the other hand certain ones can be savoured singly.

It’s perhaps a double edged sword but apart from a single set of footprints on NP6 from the day before, I found no evidence of any other walker on any of the four summits.

I have been suffering quite severe right foot pain in recent weeks, even limping the quarter mile to Seamer Chip Shop last Thursday night. My old mum used to say, ‘Keep going!’ She was right, the pain was there but it was not too severe and did not get much worse during the course of the day.

I now find out that not only has my XYL found out how to ‘spy on me’ via SOTAWatch but now also my Daughter-in-Law. I suspect this has a lot to do with my duties as a grandfather.

Thanks to all stations worked, especially those early & late and to G4SSH, G4OBK, G3WPF & G3RMD for the essential spotting services. G4SSH put in a long day delivering outstanding liaison work and real help on this expedition. The activator / chaser relationship in SOTA is a special one which was really noticed today.

73, John G4YSS.
(Using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)
A Happy New Year and my gratitude go to the SOTA MT and all participants.

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John, excellent report as usual.

I also hate unpacking the car after a SOTA trip, in fact my antennas are still in the car boot from Saturday!!

It’s cleaning the mud off things and drying them that I find I have least motivation for after a day on the hills.

73, Colin M0CGH

In reply to G4YSS:
Thank you once again for a superb report. I think we would have made it on 160 from the two missed summits, if I had the wit to switch from the vertical to a horizontal aerial on receive. Noise levels on the vertical (which seemed to be audible on TX)is very high here. What I really need is a north facing beverage!
I could hear you on 160 ssb, did call you, but no success. Thank you for effort above and beyond etc.

73, Frank

In reply to G4YSS:

I was sorry to miss you on 160m SSB, John, you were S7 on the meter on CW so I tuned down to your announced frequency, found it clear, and settled down to wait. Unfortunately the previous night had been late and the white noise lulled me into dozing off! When I woke I found that you had just been on 3 kHz away and I had missed you by minutes! If my eyelids hadn’t become so heavy I am absolutely certain we would have made it. Thanks for trying, anyway.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John

Sorry I missed you on the last one, wasn’t expecting you to do another one :o(

I’m slowly learning cw (but keep having too many other distractions) and did hear you on 160m cw on the previous hills (your call is quite distinctive) hence the ssb comment.


In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John,

Another truly excellent report. Four summits in January is extremely hard going - something I aspire to. I was with you much of the way in your account as three of these are summmits that I’ve actually done. Unfortunately I could only make contact on the first summit and on SSB at that due to work commitments. 3.721 was fortunately reasonably clear for me whereas 3.724 was noisy as well as occupied. Most unusual as 80m is generally wall to wall QRM and noise here.

73, Gerald

Terrific read again John. I have done all those summits, and enjoyed revisiting them in your company.

The backlighting is routinely switched off to save power and I could barely focus on the log let alone the S-meter.

Increasingly, I find that I am ignoring the S-meter indication, and giving the reports that my ears tell me. That’s what all the SWL guidebooks told me to do when I was first getting into HF radio in the 80s anyway. So your reporting method is fine, and some would say a better way of doing it. I think that the important part of the report exchange is the verification of the “good contact” rather than the information given anyway. I had a QSO recently where I received, and acknowledged a 119 report. Now that cannot be a correct report, because it would class me as “unreadable”, but he got my report, and I got his, so what the heck, it’s a contact!

I hate the bit where the rucksack and everything else has to be got back into the house.

Interesting. My “most hated” is the bit where the three bladders have to be rinsed, filled, wiped and placed into rucksacks at the start of the day or the night before. I can’t think of any good reason, but I find that a real chore.

I now find out that not only has my XYL found out how to ‘spy on me’ via SOTAWatch but now also my Daughter-in-Law. I suspect this has a lot to do with my duties as a grandfather.

I cannot get Marianne interested in that. I have left the PC monitoring SOTAwatch, and the 2m radio monitoring my most likely operating frequency, but she simply isn’t interested in eavesdropping on Jimmy and I. My mum monitored SOTAwatch religiously when I did the Pennine Way in 2006!

Thanks for the HNY wishes. The same to you of course.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John. Just another cracking report.I missed you on Birks Fell.You must have sneaked that one in after I had gone QRT.I heard you say I have time for another but did not know you were going ahead and doing one ATB 73 Geoff G6MZX

Wow…what a day you had…think I will go for a lie down now, and take slightly longer than your 7 minutes (lunch break) to recover from reading about your adventure!

Comparing it to the activation Geoff G6MZX and I did last Thursday: drove up Rombalds Moor, parked up. Walked 10 metres, set up FT-857 on 2m with RSS and SLAB made 7 QSOs for one point…bah HUMBUG!

The activator is KING and you certainly were last Friday.

Great stuff


In reply to G4OBK:

Not a bad report I suppose:-)

Shear brilliance again John and great to be able to join you every step of the way on each summit. Thoughts of your 4 summit day crossed my mind today when I bottled out of doing GW/NW-051 after a miserable activation of Moel Famau, I felt a right wimp, hi. Well done on a cracking quartet John.

Mike, GW0DSP

FB John,

I used to clean the bladders in a similar way, but now I don’t bother. First of all, I only ever put water in them, never any cordial, soup etc. Secondly, I only ever now buy the more expensive anti-bacterial versions. These prevent the build up of “grime” in the tubes. Thirdly, I don’t worry too much about making sure they get completely dry, but I store them away in the bottom drawer of the freezer. Richard G3CWI told me this tip that was in Trail magazine.

This regime means that cleaning is no more than a quick rinse through, and the bladders stay very clean and hygenic. The mouthpieces get a bit more attention, but the extra cost of the anti-bacterial bladders actually provides very good economy both in terms of cost and time.

No, we still have two NPs to go - Hoove NP-024 and Cracoe Fell NP-032. We might get one or even both done on Saturday. Probably just Hoove though. It will be nice to get such a big region completed in terms of activator uniques.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:
Well, what can I say? You can’t get any more ‘sorted’ than that. Why am I surprised? You are a well organised mathematician. I would expect nothing less. HI.

You told me something I didn’t know though; that anti bacterial ones are available. Mine are Platypus & the other was made in USA. The USA one cracked around the neck & leaked. I fixed it with insulating tape but, always found it hard to get it sealed at the stopper; cross-threading was a real hazard. I haven’t used the other more than twice but they’re OK for summer ‘bowser’ use if carrying 2m FM with the ‘Lakes’ walking group in June.

Thanks for that, 73, John.

In reply to G4YSS:

I’ve never been a fan of anything other than cheap water bottles of the spring water variety. Certainly not sports bottles or the type that clip into holders on bikes. The use of spring water bottles refilled with tap water is both zero cost (squeak squeak) and a lightweight solution, though Richard G4ERP recently had his freeze up during an activation. That’s never happened to me, but then I’ve only been out in minus 10C.

No decision made on the choice of battery yet - it’s on the discussion agenda for Saturday. Still erring towards the more costly single battery solution.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi John, thanks for reply! Totally agree with your comments. My bladder was filed in the bin on Sunday! I got a really cheap one and the water tasted disgusting out of it,even after repeated washing! Got a nice green Sigg bottle in November, so I’ll stick to that! (Got a few other Sigg-type bottles also.) My wife is also intent on getting me one of those new Sigg ‘Vintage’ bottles, she thinks they look really nice - problem is what would happen if I scratched it?!

My wife would agree with the 3 step activation plan also! It normally takes me a whole day to get ready to activate a summit as I don’t go walking that often I have to pack my bag from scratch. It normally takes me a good few days to get all my batteries discharged and recharged also. (I’m still in the habit of charging from completely flat, whether this is right or wrong! My handheld batteries are 12 years old and still usable, so it’s working for me!)

About entering log - you’ve just reminded me that I have to enter my log for last Saturday! I normally like to do it as soon as possible to see my scores increase!

73, Colin

In reply to M0CGH:

I’ve been considering investing in a bladder for a while. All part of the rucksack upgrade plan. In the meantime I use Sigg type bottles. I’m a fully paid-up member of the Gerald school of expense and so one of my Sigg type bottles came free for filling in a questionaire at Stansted Airport. You had to answer some questions about LG TVs and you got a goody bag and the chance to win a plasma TV. 4 years later that bottle is still in use. The other one I have is an ASDA cheap clone of a Sigg bottle, I think it was £1.95 compared to the £11.95 for a Sigg. I’ve had them freeze up once on Ben Chonzie in 2007, a bitterly cold day as you can see http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf/2100660871/

When I filled in the questionaire I didn’t think there was a chance of winning anything, I just wanted the goody bag, so I was less than honest with my details. A travelling companion filled it in properly and 8 months later a 42in plasma TV was delivered to his house. D’Oh!


In reply to MM0FMF:


Perhaps you are too close to the Gerald School of Expense to win anything of value - you must distance yourself!
I know as cheapskate-meister I certainly have it off to a tee and only have a bottle of Mateus Rose and a £1 premium bond on my all-time winnings list.

73, Gerald

In reply to MM0FMF:

All noted!

My favourite Sigg clone cost £1 from Poundland! I’ve not had a Sigg bottle freeze on me yet, but a lad sat next to me at the summit shelter of Helvellyn had the misfortune to have his freeze. My Sigg was inside the main compartment of my 'sack, whilst his had been stored in the wand pocket of his 'sack.

As an aside I once put a Sigg type bottle full of water in the freezer to quickly chill it. I forgot about it and it froze solid. I would have thought that the bottle would have split, but it didn’t! There seems to be a fair bit of give in the metal.

I’ve also just upgraded my rucksack, I got an Oprey Mutant 38. Was drooling over an Osprey Variant, but I had to concede that it had too many bells and whistles that I would never use! I did like the colour though and it very nearly came home with me! (Colour should never be the deciding factor!!)The Mutant is the opposite - it has the main compartment and thats it apart from lid pockets!

Bad luck with the telly! I think 42" is too big anyway :slight_smile:

73 Colin

Interesting that bladders don’t seem popular amongst our fraternity. We find the convenience of the drinking tube, while walking, not having to stop to retrieve from the pack or even open a bottle, really convenient. And the location of the bladder at the back of the packs next to our backs means that they never freeze up, although the mouthpieces and external parts of the tubes have done so in the subzero expeditions recently.

That isn’t a problem though, for a dribble can usually be extracted from the mouthpiece, and the ice in that area soon melts.

We experienced all the same problems and inconveniences with the cheaper models in the past. But with a good one - like the antibacterial Camelbak ones we use - and used only with water and stored in the deep freeze between outings, the problems disappear and the cleaning is really quick and easy.

I still find filling them and loading them in the packs a chore, but it’s worth it!


In reply to M1EYP:

My liquid intake on a hill comes from a thermos flask, usually lemon tea or Earl Grey, and its warmth can be really welcome on the summit. I used to carry a litre of squash but found it tempted me into drinking too much - it is really antisocial getting rid of the surplus on a stance of a rock climb! I realised I was drinking on the walk-in because my mouth would get dry, and my mouth got dry because I tended to breathe through it when exerting myself, so I trained myself into breathing through my nose and regulating my exertions. As a result I needed far less fluid and got rid of far less fluid. To me those people who go around sucking on a tube look like astronaut wannabees!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

tempted me into drinking too much - it is really antisocial
getting rid of the surplus on a stance of a rock climb!

Not such a problem on an activation of course Brian, but nevertheless halting for a “relief stop” can often make you realise that you are not alone on the seemingly deserted hill. If you just kept walking, you’d never see another person all day!

73, Gerald