G/LD-023 KNOTT on 14th March 2019
QRO on 80m-CW/ SSB, 40m-20m CW & 2m-FM QRP
G4YSS using GX0OOO/P unaccompanied
All times UTC
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver without internal batteries
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier, 80 thru’ 10m (+160m)
Link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20m
Four section, 5m CFC mast with 1m end sticks
One 5Ah Li-Po (no reserve)
Unitone ‘D shape’ ear-cup phones.
Baofeng UV-3R with set-top helical (used to call G0TDM & G4WHA/M)
Half-wave vertical J-Pole for 2m-FM (not used)
UV-5R, 5W-VHFM Handheld (not used)
Garmin GEKO 301 GPS
Viper-1 ridge tent (flysheet, poles & pegs only - 865gm)
QRO Pack-weight: 10 kg (22 pounds) including 0.5 litres fluids (not used)
This was the third and final day of a 4-night stay at the Derwentwater Hotel with my XYL. Blencathra G/LD-008 was activated on the first day with Little Mell Fell G/LD-023 on the second. Both featured cold conditions and high winds. Blencathra was snow covered and only VHF was used. Little Mell Fell featured HF and VHF. Both these have separate reports.
For the third activation I chose Knott G/LD-023 and planned it with HF. An obscure summit you might think? You’d be right but the main reasons were as follows. Not too far to drive from Portinscale, 6 points, fewer than average activations, especially on HF and it overlooks both Penrith and Carlisle. The latter was mostly to give the best chance to work local chasers G0TDM and G4WHA on VHF but it was also in case the HF equipment should fail.
Like Little Mell Fell, Knott has a bare top. There is no shelter and not even a trig, just a small pile of stones in the middle of a bare patch surrounded by grass. So this was another mission for the old ridge tent used the previous day on LD37 and still wet, attached to the rucksack having been badly rolled up.
There are other more subtle downsides to Knott. The most obvious is that it’s a bit of a ‘bog fest’ but the worst thing is the fact that no matter where you stick your mast, it only goes in two inches. It’s almost as if this is nature’s ancient design feature; a prior knowledge of the future when SOTA ops would come along and try to activate it. Every time I go and this was my ninth time, I have had the same problem whenever HF is needed. For unguyed masts, the dipole plays the major part of holding everything up but getting the mast to stay put while you rig the antenna is far from easy. Today I had help. The front tent pole was used as a support for the mast which made the process a lot easier.
I remember activating this summit once standing up. For several miles around there were caterpillars everywhere; in fact I counted 30 in a square foot some of which moved into my rucksack unseen! A day or two later, I noticed from afar that the birds were having a wonderful time – great flocks of them.
Leaving at around 12:20, the drive from the hotel took 27 minutes. The journey was east along the A66 turning left for Mungrisdale and Mosedale on a minor road going north, In Mosedale you turn left (west) to drive the two miles to the disused mine, parking where the mine track bears right off the road at NY 3274 3267, being careful not to block the barrier (not that it’s opened very often by the look of it?)
From the car at NY 3274 3267 (295m ASL), follow the mine track passing an information board. After that the track bears left towards Grainsgill Beck. Instead follow the path ahead and slightly right but be careful as it’s ill-defined in places. (The alternative is just to follow the beck which is what I used to do but that is not recommended owing to the fact that it can be rough, awkward in places and through heather.) Go up to the Cumbria Way on a path which gradually takes you away from the beck. This goes via: NY 3228 3294; NY 3210 3304; NY 3189 3315 at which point you cross a small tributary. Today I managed to lose the path after NY 3158 3327 but marked the next path point on the way down later - NY 3147 3339.
With the hut in sight pass through NY 3126 3353 and go straight up to turn left at the T-juction onto the Cumbria Way thence heading SSW. If you want to cut the corner like I did today it’s OK but the path is either absent or not very good.
Losing a little altitude, follow the boggy Cumbrian Way, via NY 3114 3347 to stride across the higher reaches of Grainsgill Beck at NY 3100 3325 and up a steep bank between heather to NY 3062 3296. Just after the beck and at the approximate half-way point, a massive snow drift forced me into the heather today but normally the path is easy to follow gradually uphill via NY 3039 3296 to the summit cairn at NY 2962 3298.
The only sunshine of the day soon disappeared and I set off walking in overcast at 13:09. The 4km ascent took 66 minutes into a constant strong head-wind all the way up but though the sky looked threatening at times the rain conveniently held off until the tent was up. Murphy’s Law was not complied with for some reason. A few hundred metres before the summit where the path steepens, my way was blocked by a large and deep snow drift and I was to sink down into this later in the day.
KNOTT, G/LD-023, 710m, 6 pts. 14:15 to 16:20. Overcast with one or two light rain showers. 4 Deg. C. Wind West 35 mph. LOC: IO94KQ - WAB: NY23. Vodafone coverage at summit & on higher parts of route.
Closely following the MO of the day before on LD37, both tent and dipole were erected without too much trouble at NY 2969 3303, the only difference being that the tent pole was holding up the mast today due to poor soil depth; a feature of this summit as mentioned earlier.
145.550 FM - 2 QSO’s:
At 14:40 I called John G0TDM with 2 Watts on the rig I’d carried up in my top pocket. The UV-3R with its rubber duck, the one I use to talk to Roy G4SSH on a daily basis, worked well and before long I had Geoff G4WHA/ M in the log too. It was all too easy compared with yesterday’s struggle.
Fully intending to come back to 2m later in the day, I got the vertical out and ready to erect. In fact it was never used when I ran out of time. Reports for John were 59/ 59 and Geoff 59/ 44 initially and readability 5 after moving slightly. I’m going by memory now as I was standing outside the tent at the time and the log was keeping dry under cover.
3.759 SSB - 16 QSO’s:
There was a strong CQ on 3.762. I thought about answering it but not for long. I don’t tend to answer random CQ’s when activating as it can be time consuming. Time seems to be something I rarely have plenty of on summits. Subtracting 3kHz, I checked the channel and called CQ myself.
Ken G0FEX answered straight away, something I was grateful for and he was 58 on the meter. The FT817ND has a meter which reports the strength numerically.
Next in the log: G7AFM Phil; G4WSB Bill; M0JLA Rod; GB0WAB op Tony (G3XKT); G0RQL Don; M0IAA Ian; G0GWY Geoff; G6UBM Les; GB1ABG being aired by Dave (G4IAR); G4AFI Andy; G6LKB Dave; 2E0FEH Karl; GM6ZAK/ P Andy (Trig TP-3907 in NO31); MM0ATI Geoff and finally G0VIM (QTH Kent).
Remarkably ten of the first eleven stations were all a steady 58 to me read directly from the meter. It was bizarre. I began to think there was some weird fault until I got one at 59. It did tail off near the end however when we were down to between 55 and 57. Most incoming reports were in the range 57 to 59 except 44’s from LKB; FEH; ZAK and VIM and a 53 from UBM. Power was 50 Watts for the first eight and 30 Watts thereafter. Two or three people thanked me for a ‘first’ and Bill G4WSB said he’d been ‘waiting ten years’ to work Knott.
At 15:10 the frequency dried up and it was now the turn of Andy to give out NO31 and his trig point. Like me he was experiencing high winds and I think I heard him say that the log had blown away. On that subject I take the precaution of photographing the log as often as I can and certainly before I take it off the backing board.
3.557 CW - 2 QSO’s:
The QSY to CW was spotted on Sotawatch both by Bill G4WSB and Phil G0UUU. Stations Worked were G4WSB Bill 2x 599 and ON4VT Dan 599/ 559. Power was 50W but no more CW CQ’s were answered.
14.052.6 CW - 1 QSO:
Changing the dipole link gave some welcome exercise and warmed me up a little. I wouldn’t say I was cold in the tent but there are gaps under the sides and it was a bit breezy. Instead of a primaloft jacket which I normally wear just for the activation, I’d walked up in an old Goretex waterproof from 1988 because the weather forecast convinced me it was going to rain. The reasoning was that I had a tent so I diidn’t need a coat.
Like the day before, my self spot did the trick and I was called by K4MF Gary in Florida but despite several further CQ’s, nothing else was heard. Reports were down on the day before with 579 from Gary, which was generous and 449 coming back. After a fruitless try on 20m SSB 24 hours earlier from LD37, I didn’t try it from here, instead substituting 40m-CW.
7.033.5 CW - 10 QSO’s:
At this stage I was in touch with my son Phil by text so both he and I spotted this QSY. Better two spots than none of course but I should have left it to Phil who is far more competent in these matters than I’ll ever be.
It didn’t take long before my 50 Watt CQ call was answered on 40m by DL8DXL. Fred and I exchanged 599/ 559. Next: IK2LEY Fabio; OH3GZ Jukka; DJ5AV Mike; SA4BLM Lars; F5JKK Eric; ON4FI Karel; HB9DBM Mark and OK1HCG, a second Karel.
Last in the 40m log and what turned out to be the final QSO of the day was HB9CBR. After typing his callsign scores of times in the G4SSH chaser bulk uploads when helping Roy with his huge database backlog, I quickly recognized him as Bruno. Judging by the way Bruno sent back his ‘R’ for ‘Roger’ with the long dash, he seemed pleased and surprised at unexpectedly hearing his name coming from GX0OOO/P which as far as I know is a callsign he has never worked.
Bruno has chased me twice in the past but he wouldn’t know it. I was using M1NNN/ P from EA8 and the same from CT3 a year later. Roy works Bruno very often and tells me about it over our 2m link when I’m out walking Sasha, so Bruno’s callsign is very familiar to me. After all, a friend of a friend is a friend. I have several of these ‘adopted friends’ via Roy but many of them wouldn’t know me from Adam.
Reports incoming and outgoing were in the range 559 to 599 apart from a ‘339 QSB’ from OK1HCG. I usually set a descent deadline but forgot today. A quick calculation showed that it was time to start packing up so the planned return to 2m-FM never came off. I doubt there’d have been many QSO’s if I had erected the vertical and called with the available 5 Watts. I was 80m ENE of the summit cairn and a few metres lower. Normally I can reach the Cumbria coastline from LD23 but that’s from the very top. 99% of potential VHF chasers are blocked by Skiddaw, Blencathra and the central LD mountains to the south. Knott overlooks the north and NE England but apart from Jim G0CQK, there are few SOTA chasers there and I might not have been lucky.
Packing up was done in 15 minutes with the tent last in case of rain, which held off. The descent took 50 minutes to 17:10 but I did go on my backside on a glippery gloppery slope.
At the car I tuned in 3.760-SSB on the IC706-2G and heard two stations testing voice recordings which they’d made and which seemed to be aimed at calling ‘CQ DX.’ Along with the heartbeat, ever present when sunset is near, this gave me something to listen to on the drive back to the hotel. After a while I swapped them for BBC-WS but then swapped back again; the broadcast station’s subject being Brexit. The drive back took 25 minutes to 17:50; just enough time for a bath and to get the gloop off.
2m FM: 2
80m SSB: 16
80m CW: 2
20m CW: 1
40m CW: 10
Ascent & Distance LD23:
425m (1,394ft) of ascent / 2 x 4.0km (5 miles) walked
1hr-6min up/ 50 min down
3-Days Stats (G/LD8+LD37+LD23):
Total ascent & distance: 1,210m (3,970ft)/ 17.3km (10.8 miles)
Total times: 2hr-37min up/ 1hr-58 min down = 4hr-35min at 2.4mph ave
SOTA Points: 25 (inc 9 bonus)
Despite the forecast, the weather was not bad enough to cancel activations so long as shelter from the strong westerly wind could be obtained. The flysheet which weighs 865gm including poles and pegs, is a Godsend. This is what MWIS had to say about the wind: ’
West to northwesterly, 45 to 60mph, but at times 70mph during morning, particularly
around dawn; speed decreasing slightly during day.’
That forecast was typical for the three days I activated, though wind speeds of 90mph were mentioned for the 13th. So far I have always banked on MWIS overestimating wind speeds and so far it has worked well but there may come a day when I get caught out at this game. Activating LD’s in winter winds is harder than in the NP region due to far fewer summits having substantial dry-stone walls which can be used for shelter. Also on average, LD is a higher region.
2m-FM yielded two contacts but I was only using 2W and a rubber duck, or if we want to be formal a normal mode helical. The session was spotted but I regret not having the time to put up a better antenna. To do justice to VHF I would have had to relocate to the summit cairn. That was an area of higher wind chill and the extra time was not available.
80m was again the day’s top scorer but only two stations were worked in CW which is a bit worrying. The WAB net frequency did a great job again for SSB. Comments such as,‘Thank you for the new one’ or ‘I’ve waited ten years for LD23’ deliver a morale boost every time, especially when you are really suffering which didn’t apply today because of the tent. It was good to log the two 50-year WAB anniversary stations once again – GB50WAB with Tony the op and GB1ABG run by Dave.
20m seemed significantly down compared with the day before and only one CW chaser was worked, albeit this was a DX contact with Florida. Discouraged by no further callers and getting nil contacts on 20m-SSB the day before, I decided not to bother with the latter, instead going for 40-CW in the hope that it might be more fruitful. When looking up the summit beforehand, I noticed that it had not been activated that much and for that reason offering it to as many as I could, especially overseas chasers, was desirable.
40m was a worthwhile choice which brought in 10 contacts in CW. Like 20m I didn’t QSY to SSB. Once the main activating band outside of 2m-FM, 40m has been neglected by me and possibly others, in the past couple of years. Today it showed that it can still deliver the goods and as far out as Italy to boot. (Excuse the pun, I only noticed at the checking stage).
No other walkers were seen on any of these SOTA’s and the subject car parking areas were all empty too.
Just a word about the Shearings-owned Derwentwater Hotel, which we also used at Christmas. The staff are both friendly and efficient and there is WiFi not just in the foyer but now in the rooms too. It’s not expensive at this time of year either. The cost for the two of us was £304 for 4-nights which works out at £38 pppn for dinner bed & breakfast (via a 10% off voucher). The manager Karl is from our town of Scarborough too. He attended Scalby School.
While driving home to Scarborough on the 15th we called at some friends of ours at Sedbergh. On the way I spotted a small diversion from the M6 to the A6, which would bring us into a WAB Golden Square, so called because of the 50th anniversary and in this case NY50. At about 10am I called CQ on 3.760 from the car. All was quiet for a while but then I heard MM3PDM/ M Peter. We exchanged good reports considering we were both mobile, of 58. A few more CQ’s went unanswered but the job was done and we were on our way. That was my first Golden (50) Square.
Roy G4SSH was absent from this set of activations when normally he would have been supporting me from home. I’m afraid he is far from well and has just had to cancel a visit to his son in 5B at 24 hours notice. I sincerely hope his state of health allows this break at some time in the future, one he has done a few times in the past but he has serious issues.
Roy has not been on the air chasing SOTA for the past ten days as his shack is upstairs and living alone, he can no longer safely get there. We plan to run a coax downstairs to get him back on the air but it’s going to take a lot of encouragement. Yesterday he asked if I would post a ‘Goodbye’ message on the reflector but I will do my best to talk him out of that.
To all stations worked over the three days and today’s spotters: G0TDM; 2E0FEH; G4WSB and G0UUU. Also Andy’s phone ap SOTA spotter. Thanks to WAB for almost guaranteeing contacts on 3.760.
(G4YSS using Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call GX0OOO/P)
Above: Driving the two miles west from Mosedale to the old mine start point
Above: Start point and first half of the route to the hut which stands beside the Cumbria Way at 580m ASL. The hut is on this photo as a speck on the centre horizon above the snow patches
Above: Crossing ‘Arm-o’-Grain’ a tributary of Grainsgill Beck, on the way to the hut
Above: Past the hut now and crossing the upper reaches of Grainsgill Beck (NY 3100 3325) as named on the 25k map. ‘Gill’ and ‘Beck’ mean the same thing so one is superfluous
Above: Looking back towards the hut and the justification for calling Knott a ‘Bog Fest!’
Above: Bypassing a big drift on heather on a steep slope at around NY 3080 3305
Above: G/LD-023 Knott’s summit cairn at NY 2962 3298 with Skiddaw’s northern slopes in the background (G/LD-004)
Above: A slightly different view this time with G/LD-008 Blencathra, activated 2-days earlier but now with less snow, in the background
Above: Tent up, antenna next
Above: Activation of G/LD-023 on HF. Ready for action.
Above: Welcome respite from a strong westerly
Above: The return. A big deep drift just off the summit
Above: The drift but no way around
Above: Turn right down the valley
Above: Bypassing the hut on grass
Above: View looking east and down to the start point
Above: A mark left after the fall
Above: What remains of the disused mine
Above: Information board at the disused mine, a couple of hundred metres from the car
Above: Start and finish - NY 3274 3267 (295m ASL)