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G4YSS: G/NP-003, G/NP-007 on 01-12-16

G4YSS Activation of G/NP-003, G/NP-007 on 01-12-16

BURNHOPE SEAT on 160m-80m & WILD BOAR FELL on 80m-40m-160m QRO.
G4YSS using SSEG Club-call GX0OOO/P. Unaccompanied.
All times UTC.

EQUIPMENT:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt Linear Amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with loading coils for 160m
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
One 11.1V/ 5 Ah Turnigy Li-Po battery for each summit

Reserves (not used):
J-Pole vertical antenna for 2m-FM
NP3: Icom IC-E90 4-Band, 5W V-UHF H/H with IC-BP217 (1.3 Ah) battery.
NP7: Baofeng UV-3R; 2W VHF/ UHF
One 11.1V/ 2.2 Ah Li-Po battery.

Introduction:
With three months elapsed time since the last SOTA activation, I had stopped dreading the next one. In fact I was quite looking forward to it despite knowing that an HF QRO activation in December using LF is rarely straightforward or comfortable.

All the good intentions of October and November had passed me by. I had found excuses not to go to the mountains, satisfied with the easy option of walking my Grandson’s Lurcher around the Scarborough area anything up to 8 miles a day. The reluctance included the cancellation of a trip down the cliff at Ravenscar for WAB square OV00 that I’d planned for either October 2nd or the 16th. On those two days, the WX was not good enough.

To be fair, I did have plenty to do in October. My old Ford Fiesta failed its MOT in August with a sizeable hole on the floor under the drivers seat which was making a determined bid for freedom. That and along with suspension and brake problems made it BER. It was early October before I found a replacement; a one-owner ‘Y’ reg Fiesta at 550 GBP but with only 45k on the clock. It had to be the same model and age so that I could swap over my 2m-FM rig, antenna, roof rack and towing gear without modification. That and extensive waxoyling wiped out the rest of the month. Now there are two scrap cars on my front lawn. No bad thing with all the scrap yard closures around here lately.

As well as the weather, there were further valid reasons for SOTA sloth which were outside my control, such as the ongoing pathetic state of the HF bands. This much I knew from my daily updates of SOTA activity from Roy G4SSH. We talk regularly on VHF; my UV-3R handheld rarely getting a day off. It’s a great way to stay current without reading the reflector. In this way, I follow with interest the activations of the SOTA ops in Europe and the ones that I know who live around here. Namely Phil G4OBK; Nick G4OOE and SARS members Dave G3TQQ and ‘Pickering Pete’ M0HQO.

Chaser points for Roy G4SSH have all but dried up in recent weeks and I thought it was about time I did something about that, however minor. With miles and miles of driving to the nearest summits of any size, I like my outings to be worthwhile. That doesn’t always mean activator points of course but when the first of December arrives, it’s as good a motivation as any and believe me, I need motivation these days!

With 40m so often in bad shape I planned an 80m and 160m activation for both summits. The truth is I like those bands and being out early and late would give me the best chances for QSO’s in the log. On the down side, I worried that two of the keen Top Band chasers would not be available. Phil G4OBK is currently between houses and it being month end, Mark G0VOF had a particularly busy day at work. Mark would be gutted to miss out on a 160m contact and how would chasers gauge band conditions without the massive G4OBK signal, famous for travelling the length and breadth of the country in daylight? Somehow the Top Band chasers and I would have to manage without these two.

Execution:
I left Scarborough at 04:12, driving the 105 miles via Whitby and Middleton in Teesdale, as far as Darngill Bridge on the B6277. I parked in the pull-off beside the road (NY 7742 3713) at 06:43. The short track up to the disused quarry now has a locked gate across it so I couldn’t park there. Progress! With the wind gusting unimpeded from the west, I was reluctant to leave the protection of the vehicle. It was also pitch black outside so I waited until it was almost light, setting off for NP3 at 07:28.

Being my first summit for months, the walk up came as a bit of a shock. I am not in the habit of over dressing for ascents or descents; just a base layer and 200 weight fleece. The latter has seen better days but it has a windproof Pertex lining. A Primaloft jacket is available for the activation but I hardly ever walk in it and the same goes for waterproofs; instead preferring an umbrella.

There were at least two extensive areas of lying snow on the way up which could not easily be bypassed. Unfortunately the crust was not always supportive and it was a foot deep in places. Once on the flat summit, routing around or across the bogs was tedious work. In its favour NP3 doesn’t take a lot of time and effort. In fact I have long regarded it as the easiest 6 pointer in England.

ROUTE to NP3:
There is a ruined building on the way at NY 7770 3719 and a faint Quad track at NY 7810 3738 but I have yet to find a path that’s any real help for any useful distance. The summit is extensive, large and grassy. Apart from the trig point, there is barely any shelter, neither natural or man-made and it has a tendency to be very boggy, with pools of standing water particularly just west of the trig.

Normally it’s best not to bother with the trig (NY 78792 37525) but today I had to go that extra distance, almost collecting a boot full of bog water for my trouble. It’s not the true summit; the exact location of which is debatable but I had to try to base myself at the trig for the benefit of WAB chasers. One listing which I think I got from Jim G0CQK, puts the highest point at NY 78410 37630 but there can only be a few vertical inches in it.

Another fact that you need to be aware of, particularly if working VHF is that the north/ south dividing line between IO84TR (West) and IO83UR (East) runs across this summit approximately 160m west of the trig point (say around NY 78633 37528 on today’s track). Not me but Derek G1ZJQ must take credit for the latter information.

BURNHOPE SEAT, G/NP-003, 747m, 6pts:07:56 to 10:16, 5 deg C, 25 mph wind, no low cloud (though it was forecast). Grass with small patches of lying snow. No other walkers. Unreliable to non existent Orange phone coverage (Vodaphone not checked). (LOC: IO-84-UR at trig, WAB: NY73; Trig: TP-1783).

To be honest, when I was thinking of the WAB fraternity and their interest in trig points, I must have been thinking also of myself. I had with me a lightweight windbreak but doubted whether it would remain in place. Going to the trig solved the problem due to the fact that it is raised on a large concrete block which afforded a little respite from the significant wind chill of today. Not only that but I found it to be hollow and open to the sky. The mast was therefore easily supported and because the trig was half full of small stones, I gained nearly a metre of height to boot; handy for LF.

1.832 CW - 2 QSO’s:
There was no point in trying to call Roy for a spot as the phone was clearly announcing ‘No Service.’ We would instead have to rely on radio which after all is what the day was about.

Despite it being just 20 minutes after sunrise, I didn’t assume contacts would be readily forthcoming. However, on calling G4SSH, Roy came right back with a 339 report on my 50 Watt signal. With spirits lifted at the thought of the forthcoming spot, I was able to give him 529. Much to my surprise, next was Geert PA7ZEE, also coming in at 529 but right on the edge of failure giving me 219. This was a good start but I wasn’t too surprised that further CQ’s did not add to the tally.

1.843 SSB - 2 QSO’s:
On the one hand there are more people with SSB capability than CW but SSB doesn’t always go where CW can. With an open mind I called CQ quickly getting a reply from G8VNW - Nick in Threshfield. The exchange was 55/ 47 and power was 50 Watts. Next and what turned out to be the final contact on 160m was with Geoff GM4WHA in Annan. He was weak but readable. I gave him 44 and got 31 back. Scratchy both ways but nevertheless an unmistakable ‘good contact.’

SSB had saved the day in enabling a Top Band qualification so why didn’t it occur to me to use it on 160m as a regular feature until around 2012? I was mistaken in the belief that daylight 160m would only succeed with CW and even then it was next to impossible. I had long forgotten that before 145 MHz, 160m AM was the band of choice for mobile operation. Since adding SSB, suggested amongst others by Carolyn G6WRW, my 160m QSO count has risen significantly and I am qualifying more summits on the band.

The walk to remove the loading coils was a stiff but welcome one. Generally speaking, I was not too bad but both feet and the fingers on the exposed right hand were suffering due to wind chill and a lack of acclimatization this early in the season. Juggling gloves, log, microphone and CW key, especially in a brisk wind is never easy. Chasers must often wonder why the frequency has gone quiet.

3.557 CW - 11 QSO’s:
Sticking with the 50 Watts I called Roy first. With G4SSH in the log and the surety of a spot, I could have a short break while the latter took effect. With 80m a bit more lively than 160, I plodded slowly on through the QSB, logging the following stations:

Z Freq W Md S / R Call Comments
9:00 3.557 50 CW 579/339 G4SSH ROY - IRTON
9:01 3.557 50 CW 579/599 M0CQE PAUL - OLDHAM
9:03 3.557 50 CW 599/579 GM0AXY KEN - EDINBURGH
9:04 3.557 50 CW 599/579 G0EVV DAVE - MORPETH
9:07 3.557 50 CW 579/549 DJ5AV MIKE - Heiligenberg
9:10 3.557 50 CW 599/559 G4CMQ DAVID - IPSWICH
9:15 3.557 50 CW 579/339 PA0ZEE GEERT - Amstelveen
9:18 3.557 50 CW 579/559 G3TJE PETER - Weston Super Mare
9:19 3.557 50 CW 579/329 DL6WT JUERG - Windesheim
9:20 3.557 50 CW 559/559 G0TDM JOHN - PENRITH
9:23 3.557 50 CW 579/229 G4OOE NICK - SCARBOROUGH

Exchanges were in the range 559 to 599 but I also received a 339 and a 229. The latter was from Nick G4OOE, who lives near the QRM emitting hospital in Scarborough and who had to wait 20 minutes to hear my signal well enough for a QSO. Stations who I tried hard with but could not get a report to were DL2HWI and PA9CW so they go down as ‘heard only.’

3.723 SSB - 18 QSO’s:
The 80m SSB log looks like this:

Z Freq W Md S / R Call Comments
9:25 3.724 50 SSB 55 / 55 G0TDM JOHN - PENRITH
9:27 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G0RQL DON - HOLDSWORTHY
9:30 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G4IAR DAVE - Loughborough (WAB-Trig)
9:31 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 M0MDA MICK - LEEDS
9:34 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G0VWP TERRY - YORK
9:37 3.724 50 SSB 57 / 55 SM6CNX DAN - SVENLJUNGA WAB
9:38 3.724 50 SSB 57 / 58 G8ADD BRIAN - BIRMINGHAM
9:39 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 GI4ONL VIC - BUSHMILLS
9:40 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G6MZX GEOFF - THORNTON IN CRAVEN
9:41 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G7AFM PHIL - HEREFORD
9:42 3.724 50 SSB 57 / 59 GM4WHA GEOFF - ANNAN
9:43 3.724 50 SSB 55 / 55 M6HMK HELEN - GLOSSOP
9:44 3.724 50 SSB 57 / 55 ON5SWA François - Zandhoven
9:45 3.724 50 SSB 57 / 44 G4OOE NICK - SCARBOROUGH
9:47 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G4RQJ ROB - WALNEY ISLAND
9:48 3.724 50 SSB 51 / 44 G4SSH ROY - IRTON
9:50 3.724 50 SSB 58 / 58 2E0RFF MARK - ELLESMERE PORT
9:52 3.724 50 SSB 59 / 59 G3VVT BOB - KENDAL

If anything signals seemed stronger than on CW. There were more 59’s logged but there were also some 44 reports coming in and one of ‘53 to 59 plus 20dB in QSB.’ That’s 56 dB’s worth of QSB! It was undoubtedly the severe QSB which caused failures to QSO’s as follows: 2E0RFF; a station with ‘LA’ in the suffix and an MK3 or MK0 station which could have been Damien?

Vic GI4ONL suggested a 2m-FM S2S with Bill G4WSB on a Welsh mountain but by now I was cold and just wanted to get away. It could have been worse however. There was none of the forecast low-cloud or drizzle and the 10 minutes of sunshine cheered me up, though without any noticeable effect on the temperature.

The WALK OFF NP3:
All was packed away in under 20 minutes and the descent was started at 10:16. Heading into the wind was difficult even though the terrain was flat but it was the bogs which impeded me the most. Without a path to follow, the navigation needs care because the hill is rounded and looks much the same whether you’re on track or off it. Often it has been dark when I’ve come off NP3 but daylight and the absence of hill fog made navigation easy today.

I was soon onto the short track down to the road. Climbing the gate to reach the car, I arrived at 10:39.

Drive to Mallerstang:
The drive to Wild Boar Fell via Middleton in Teesdale, Brough and Kirkby Stephen is a 37 mile one, today taking 65 minutes without rushing and eating lunch on the way. After reversing onto the verge (SD 7827 9975) near the track which goes to Little Ing Farm, I sat back and tried to sleep. The best propagation conditions on 160m start to occur close to sunset so with the cold wind in charge, I resisted the temptation to set off too early.

A car pulled up and a man of about my own age got out with a rucksack. As his wife drove away as he set off apparently for Wild Boar Fell and I watched as he passed under the railway after 10 minutes. NP summits can be bleak, lonely places in winter and his was to be the only walker I would see all day. I saw him further up but he didn’t go to the summit and must have gone over into the next valley where presumably his wife would pick him up. A nice arrangement I thought. With SOTA you are so often coming back the same way.

After checking on the map that WBF has a trig point (I had actually forgotten) I set off walking at 12:20. With more than 1,400 feet of climbing, this was to be a greater undertaking than Burnhope Seat and I was planning to activated from the trig which is 700m after the start of the SOTA 25m zone. I could have hidden under the eastern lip of the hill, sheltered from the mean wind but because I was only doing two summits today, I promised myself that I would take my time and offer the trig points to WAB members. By way of compensation there is some shelter there; the trig being surrounded by a low circular wall. The only downer is that the surrounding ground is rocky and difficult to penetrate with masts etc.

Route to NP7:
At SD 78274 99749, about 30m north of the farm track on the east side of the B6259 near a tree, there’s sufficient space to park. The verge is wide enough to get the car completely off the road with a foot or so to spare. It can be soft however, a hand-winch was needed to extricate the car on one occasion but I think that was from the clutches of the western verge. The eastern side is better drained but it’s worth checking before committing.

The start point is at SD 7827 9975 where the farm track leaves the road. The farm is bypassed to the left via SD7799 9976. Take the tunnel under the railway at SD7787 9960. Zig-zag up and right, then cross a beck at SD7774 9975. Just past there at SD 7776 9979, a good path goes up to the left (west) via High Dolphinsty (NY7655 0002) and The Nab (SD7637 9918). From there bear right to follow a path via SD 7607 9900 to the trig - SD 7579 9883.

Alternatively, at SD 7617 9850 there is a three sided wind shelter near some stone stacks which overlook the Mallerstang valley. Just follow the eastern edge to get to this.

WILD BOAR FELL, G/NP-007, 708m, 6 Pts, 13:25 to 16:30. 6C dropping to 3C. 25 mph wind. Overcast with a short period of light drizzle and 5 minutes of sunshine. No low-cloud. Very little lying snow on summit. (LOC: IO84TJ, WAB: SD79, TRIG: TP6943.) Orange (EE) phone coverage initially but it failed later. DAB radio on most of route and at summit.

The unguyed mast was wedged using detached wall stones but the dipole refused to come off the reel. Occasionally wire gets trapped under the links and refuses to budge. I had little choice than to pull coiled wire off the side of the reel in the knowledge that this process can sometimes end in a tangle. Once off the reel, I had to pull an entire dipole leg through a knot in the other half. With the links catching each time, this was both time consuming and very annoying considering the wind chill. There was minor resistance when pushing in the dipole end sticks and this was due to a layer of semi frozen soil at grass root level.

3.557 CW - 5 QSO’s:
Roy G4SSH was first in the log at 13:54 (589/ 449 QSB) and his spot brought in Frid DL1FU followed by John G0TDM. Ken GM0AXY and Paul M0CQE brought up the rear. Despite the 50 Watt output, incoming reports did not exceed 579 and there was a lot of QSB about. There were no other takers.

3.724 SSB - 13 QSO’s:
It was immediately obvious that a teleprinter bang on the advertised channel was going to make things difficult but I could hear voices too. One turned out to be Mike G6TUH. He was describing my working conditions. ‘He uses 50 Watts, so we should be OK.’ In fact we were OK for a while but eventually I had to look around for a clearer spot and announce a QSY ‘4kHz down.’ This was backed up by a spot from Mick M0MDA in Leeds. After that it was much easier but sadly G6TUH, who I tried to call in once or twice, didn’t end up in the log. This was apparently down to his local noise levels but the band was also in the process of opening to the continent and QSB was rife along with increasing QRM.

Worked on 3.724: 2E0KVJ; G0RQL; G4IAR; M0MDA; M0CQE; G0FEX and G0TDM.
Worked on 3.720: EI3GYB; G8VNW; GI4ONL; G4SSH; G8ADD and PA7ZEE.

With a few exceptions, reports were mostly in the 55 to 57 region and power was 50 Watts again.

7.033 CW - 22 QSO’s:
A short discussion with Roy G4SSH on 80m SSB helped to decide the next step. It was too early to QSY to the next planned frequency of 1.832. I might just as well be doing some good on the bands as just waiting it out in the cold wind. My first thought was 2m-FM but Roy told me that 40m was in better shape than of late. I was pleasantly surprised by this and elected to try 7.033 CW with SSB to follow if there were time. Roy replied that he would need an SMS message regarding the SSB frequency as from NP7, 40m might be ‘going over his head.’ Having successfully texted my XYL and son Phil G0UUU, receiving a reply in both cases, I thought Roy’s request could be met without difficulty.

I had brought a small standby battery to cover any unplanned operation. Nevertheless, power was reduced to 30 Watts for the 40m session as I didn’t know how many QSO’s I might make. There would be ‘no prizes’ if all power was used up before the much coveted QSY to Top Band! That would have been very upsetting.

Roy’s announcement of forthcoming 40m operation must have been seen as I could hear my callsign coming out of 7.033 immediately on selecting that memory channel. This was G0FVH sending quite fast and romping in at 59 plus 20dB, so I thought I would reward his enthusiasm by going straight back but why wasn’t he responding? Surely he must be deaf! Flicking the power temporarily up to 50 Watts, I tried again but he just kept on calling me.

It took a further futile repetitions before realizing that the linear still had it’s 80m LPF selected! I’m afraid this wasn’t the first time I have fallen into this trap. The MX-P50M amp has manual selection and the one I had before, the MX-P50A was automatic. With the selector rotated to ‘40m’ G0FVH Dave (QTH Poole, Dorset) came back immediately with a 579 report and I was ashamed to have messed him around to say nothing of the time wasted. If nothing else it proves that the filter works.

Once this little glitch had been overcome, there came a steady stream of chasers 80% of whom were located overseas. Below is the 40m-CW & SSB log:

Z Freq W Md S / R Call Comments
14:42 7.033 30 CW 579/539 DJ5AV MIKE - Heiligenberg
14:48 7.033 30 CW 579/599 PA0SKP SAKE - ZUILICHEM
14:50 7.033 30 CW 559/549 EA5FV DANI - Cehegin (Murcia)
14:52 7.033 30 CW 599/599 F6EAZ CHRIS - DIJON
14:53 7.033 30 CW 599/599 ON7MD MICHAEL - Bruxelles
14:54 7.033 30 CW 599/559 OK2PDT JAN - Velka Bites
14:55 7.033 30 CW 599/559 DL3HXX LOTHAR - Wittenberg
14:57 7.033 30 CW 599/599 G4FGJ GORDON - BIGGLESWADE
14:58 7.033 30 CW 599/559 M0CQE PAUL - OLDHAM
15:00 7.033 30 CW 599/559 DJ9BX MICHAEL - Krakow am See
15:01 7.033 30 CW 599/599 G4CMQ DAVID - IPSWICH
15:02 7.033 30 CW 579/579 S52CU MIRKO - Ljubljana
15:03 7.033 30 CW 599/559 HB9AGH AMBROSI - ZURICH
15:04 7.033 30 CW 599/599 OE7PHI HANS - KUFSTEIN
15:05 7.033 30 CW 599/559 SA4BLM LARS - SILJANSNAS
15:06 7.033 30 CW 599/579 DL6UNF FRANK - GUBEN
15:08 7.033 30 CW 599/559 OH9XX MARKO - FINLAND
15:12 7.033 30 CW 559/559 SP9AMH Mariusz - TYCHY
15:14 7.033 30 CW 599/599 F5SQA DAN-Brancourt-en-Fleuris
15:16 7.033 30 CW 599/559 PA0B ROB - HEEMSTEDE
15:18 7.033 30 CW 599/559 YO2BP ALEX - TIMISOARA ROMANIA
15:20 7.128 30 SSB 59 / 58 M1AWX STUART - NEWQUAY

If the wrong filter debacle wasn’t enough, half way through this session, the Morse key started sticking on dots. It had done this several activations ago and electrolube had sorted it out then. My CW is not of the best standard but once again the key was up to its old trick of making me sound even more like a village idiot. I could barely get reports out let alone callsigns and the only way to proceed was to switch the radio off, and vigorously exercise the key. It would then be good for one more QSO before letting me down again. How frustrating in what was still a minor pileup but the chasers are experienced and they helped me through.

7.128 SSB - 1 QSO:
Somehow I cleared the CW QRG and with the malfunctioning key, I was glad to do so. The trouble was I needed CW later for the session on Top Band. It helped that Roy heard the excess of dots and spotted me again with ‘Key Problems’ in the notes.

I managed to convey the intended SSB QSY of 7.132 SSB to an unknown recipient after checking it was clear but on returning there I found it was far from clear. Sliding down to 7.128, I put out some CQ’s. There was no pileup of eager chasers; in fact I only managed one QSO with M1AWX, Stuart in Newquay. In frustration I SMS’d Roy later finding it stuck in the out box. I tried phoning. ‘No Service - Emergency calls only!’ After a few more CQ’s I was out of options so I stiffly rose to fit the 160m coils but who would hear me on Top Band unannounced?

1.832 CW - 3 QSO’s:
Once again with only the radio to rely on, I called CQ with the maximum available 50 Watts. Faintly in the background I could hear a DL who was also calling CQ and getting no replies. I tried but he couldn’t hear me and quickly went away. Transmitting again and thinking that this could be a long job, immediately into the headphones jumped G4SSH with a 449 report! In terms of morale boosting, this was the best moment of the day. Roy would spot me and the 160m session would presently be underway. I rattled back 559 hoping that the key would behave a while longer.

After watching a watery sunset, briefly visible between land and cloud-base, I had to wait five minutes or more for the next QSO but worth the wait it was. Marco OH9XX called me from near the Arctic Circle. I’m told that he has antenna arrangements that us mere mortals could only dream about and he was getting me 519. With 559 going back, the QSO was quickly completed despite the deep QSB.

As soon the traditional ‘dit-dit’ was exchanged G4OOE Nick, who had failed by a small margin in the morning on Top Band, called in from Scarborough. This time we succeeded in short order with a 559/ 229 exchange. After these, further CQ’s went unanswered so if I was going to qualify a second summit on 160m, it would have to be in SSB mode again.

1.843 SSB - 5 QSO’s:
With the battery still good and another in reserve, the power was left at 50 Watts. Helped by Geoff GM4WHA in Annan and a 42/ 31 exchange, the desired milestone was soon passed.

In the next five minutes I was pleased to log the following additional stations: G0RQL Don in Devon 55/ 44 and EI3GYB Michael in Co. Mayo in the west of Ireland with 55 both ways. Next in was PA0SKP Sake in Zuilichem 58/ 54 and true to his promise made earlier on 80m, G8VNW Nick in Threshfield, Wharfedale with 57/ 47.

Five more minutes of CQ’ing brought nothing further and by 16:15 in gathering gloom, I was only too relieved start the activity of packing up and getting down.

Final Descent:
This was my tenth SOTA sortie to this summit and I knew the way back but the GPS route and track created on the ascent gave added confidence when facing a dark descent. Had there been low-cloud also, I would have been even more reliant on this. With the coat back in the rucksack, the journey over the flat top and down as far as High Dolphinsty in the brisk westerly wind was a cold one.

After that the effects of wind and the small but deep snow patches were behind me. The only tricky bit remaining is a poorly defined crossing between the path and the track which leads down to the road in the Mallerstang valley but there are posts to follow. It was very dark but a good headlight helped. With no cloud to reflect it back in my face and a good path to follow, there were no problems and I was back to the car in 49 minutes at 17:19.

Setting off at 17:30, the 90 mile drive home via A684 and Sutton Bank, took until 19:52.

Ascent and Distance:
G/NP-003 - Burnhope Seat: 160m (525ft) ascent, 3.3 km (2.1 miles) to trig & back.
G/NP-007- Wild Boar Fell: 432m (1,417ft) ascent ,8.1 km (5.1 miles) to trig & back.
Totals: 592m (1,942ft) ascent, 11.4km (7.1 miles) walked.

Chronology:
Left Scarborough: 04:12
Arr. Darngill Bridge B6277: 06:43 (105 miles)
Walk for NP3: 07:28 (awaited first light)
NP3 Trig: 07:56 to 10:16 (Times: 28u/ 23d)
Rtn. Darngill Bridge B6277: 10:39
Drive to Mallerstang B6259: 10:45 to 11:50 (37 miles)
Walk for NP7: 12:20
NP7 Trig: 13:27 to 16:50 (67u/ 49d)
Rtn. Mallerstang: 17:19
Drive home: 17:30 to 19:52 (90 miles via A684 & A170)

232 miles driven in the day
Walking time: 2hr-47min at 2.6 mph ave.
Summit time: 5hr-43min (two summits)
18 SOTA points including 6 bonus points.

QSO’s:
NP3:
160m-CW: 2
160m-SSB: 2
80m-CW: 11
80m-SSB: 18
Total: 33

NP7:
80m-CW: 5
80m-SSB: 13
40m-CW: 22
40m-SSB: 1
160m-CW: 3
160m-SSB: 5
Total: 49
TOTAL: 82 for the day

Observations:
NP3 is poor for VHF and also for mobile phones but last time I was on NP7, I had good EE phone coverage. That wasn’t the case today; there was almost none from mid afternoon.

Life would have been much more difficult and tedious in the absence of help from G4SSH. Roy was at the other end of my radio calls when a spot was most needed and I’m sure that I was not the only one to appreciate his efforts. Teamwork aids success.

There is not much to report on the hills themselves apart from the fact that both were deserted. There were the snow fields to cross on the way up NP3 Burnhope Seat and the bogs along the top; otherwise there was very little lying snow on either. There was actually more snow on the NP and LD hills in November.

Summit temperatures were about average for early December but the wind was cold. However, there was none of the predicted low-cloud and in stark contrast, southern Britain was ice locked. If the requirement was to just sit on a windy summit for three hours you’d suffer a lot. A high mental workload, coupled with occasional physical exercise when changing the dipole links, goes a long way to compensate for the discomfort. Successes on the bands along with a total of 15 minutes sunshine lifted the spirits a little too.

I don’t often go to either of these trig points but Wild Boar’s has become more dilapidated since I last saw it. NP3’s is the standard concrete structure whilst NP7’s is built of stones and cement. The top is intact but frost damage must have forced open the cracks and sizeable rocks have tumbled out of its east side. The main reason for going the extra step of activating from the trigs today was for WAB chasers but apart from a small shelter on the eastern edge, some stone stacks and ground hollows, there is very little wind shelter available elsewhere.

Conditions on all three bands used were favourable. With two of the main stations missing from the bands (Phil G4OBK and Mark G0VOF), I was grateful that 160m still provided a qualification on both NP3 and NP7. Key to this is operating within half an hour of the sun times. 80m had a lot of QSB on it but would 40m have propagated any better for chasers at those times? I have no idea but 7.033-CW was a very worthwhile mid-afternoon addition with 22 QSO’s logged. It also gave more of the Europeans a chance.

On returning home I have three maintenance items to attend to. Firstly the CW toggle switch in the microphone (RS Components 317-033) needs replacing. These are hard to get and (compared with 99p from China on ebay) expensive items at 5.24 GBP a couple of years ago. Fortunately I ordered more than I needed and found one in the loft.

My high spec fleece needs repair or replacement as the Pertex lining has worn so thin that it has ripped. Finally the GPS was dragged along the road once too often on its lanyard when doffing the rucksack. The two corners which were knocked off had to be fixed with Araldite but I wouldn’t swap my tiny, battered old Geko-301 for any modern unit unless most of my walking was in forests.

Acknowledgements:
Thanks to all stations worked and congratulations to those who made it through on 160m! Also to G4SSH; PA7ZEE; GM4WHA; M0CQE; G6TUH; M0MDA and OH9XX for spotting.

Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for his unstinting monitoring of the various frequencies in use. Much of the time he listens on at least two frequencies, whilst skilfully managing to gain a few points from other activators in the meantime.

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

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Photos: 13a-19a-22a-26-31a - 38a-39a-43a-50a-56a-64a-66.


Above: G/NP-003 on Top Band. In background - Burnhope Reservoir in Weardale.

Above: G/NP-003 Burnhope Seat Trig. Looking west with Cross Fell in the distance.

Above: G/NP-003 Burnhope Seat summit looking west with Great Dunn Fell; Little Dunn Fell and G/NP-001 - Cross Fell in the background.

Above: G/NP-003 Burnhope Seat descent and snow field.

Above: G/NP-003 Burnhope Seat descent and ruin. B6277 road below.

Above: Mallerstang and start point for Wild Boar Fell. Summit of G/NP-007 just peeping over.

Above: Looking back to Mallerstang and start point for Wild Boar Fell having crossed under Settle-Carlisle railway. Car parked at centre of photo.

Above: Summit Plateau of G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell with trig point ahead.

Above: Summit of G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell with wall surrounding frost damaged trig point.

Above: Activation of G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell,

Above: Summit of G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell. The onset of darkness so good for 160m.

Above: Activation of G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell on 160m CW.

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6 Likes

I think that was me, John, and we might have made a QSO if I had not turned up the power a bit.

That upset the auto-ATU which in turn upset the PA and the PSU both of which appear to have gone into shut-down mode. By the time I had sorted it out you had very wisely moved on. Thanks for trying.

Sorry I was unavailable for Wild Boar Fell.

Hope to work you again soon.
73,
Rod

Hi Rod,
Thanks for your reply.

That’s interesting and I bet it was you I heard. Sorry I didn’t wait a bit longer but you know what it’s like. Onward and upwards and it was pretty cold. One consolation is that you were not alone. Several ops fell victim to QSB that day but it sounds like the various contents of your shack were conspiring to be the greater enemy!

May I wish you better luck next time and thanks for trying.
73, John

Hi John
Another entertaining, inspirational report.
I was really chuffed to work you on top band with my modest equipment. I was really interested in your “new” car and wonder if there is a way of transferring the SOTA trophy dents from the old one? Probably not so you will just have to keep going!
73
Nick

Hi John great to read your report (especially as I followed you up WBF on 4/12 - they must have been your boot prints in the snow. By the Sunday the snow had frozen so hard I made no imprint in it!).
Hope to work you one of these days

Thanks for the reports and activations, as usual John. Pleased to have made both of them. Had a little smile at the (WAB-Trig) comment against my callsign. I do actually collect summits as well!

73, Dave, G4IAR

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Morning Nick,
Thanks for the comments. Every contact made on 160m is a bit special but to get not one but two Scarborough stations was unusual. I don’t know how you cope with the QRN from the hospital but I suppose it’s just a matter of rattling out a QSO ASAP at the top of the QSB. The time of day helped but enhancement on the shorter distances sometimes appears less than further away stations as darkness takes hold. There have been a few times when I couldn’t work Roy at midnight despite often having success in daylight from NP’s at least.

As for the car. Apart from a rotted rear wheel arch which I fixed with glass and resin, it was far too shiny and posh but after last Thursday’s SOTA’s it is filthy. I hardly dared turn up to take G4SSH to the station in it on Tuesday! You should be able to get rust transfers. A scruffy car is avoided by people in posh ones often making your passage easier. No doubt there will be trophy dents to look forward to in the future judging by the tight places you have to park in for some SOTA’s. It’s nearly as bad at SARS these days! Too many Umpires meetings.

CU on 145,
73, John

Thanks for the reply Andy and for wading your way through the report like I waded my way through the snow patches. Yes, I did notice that you’d added to the NP7 callsign list and it sounds like it was better underfoot for you. Those are the conditions you need for Great Shunner’s Grimy Gutter Haggs and a few other NP’s. I didn’t see anybody else at the summit the day I was there so I guess the footprints must have been mine if the was only one set plus a return. It reminds me of a similar experience when I followed the prints left my Clive G1YAM made the day before on Thorpe Fell (now Cracoe) years ago. You don’t see the person but you can still feel the camaraderie.

Yes, one day you and I will be on and S2S I hope.
73, John

Hi Dave,
Thanks for your input. I must dump this mind set that there are two separate things nowadays as they compliment each other. After some early friction (I believe) WAB and SOTA work very well together. The idea of the trig award was an inspired one and it helps greatly in the dual purpose aims. I will stop pigeon holing people. We have a great deal in common. I am proud to say that I have been a WAB activator since 1987 but a SOTA op only since 2002 which is probably why I QSL a lot during SOTA.

Looking forward to the next time we can work,
73, John.

Whilst the world is going to hell in a hand cart all around me, I can rely on you to not be spending much money on your motoring. This consistency in your outlook I find reassuring in today’s world. I shall allow you to suck your teeth and shake your head now by telling you I have been quoted a price for new front pads/discs and fitting that is more than your new car cost. Although I think the discs themselves are bigger than Fiesta wheels. :wink:

Nice to see you out and doing top-band. I have to concur about walking dogs. Since we got our dog-share (she lives with us part-time and at my son’s house the rest of the week) I’ve been doing a more dog walking that SOTA. In fact I took it out for 3miles of around the lanes when I got back from Scald Law last Sunday. Anyway, there seem to be a few who are replicating your top-band loading coils. I get the feeling that maybe a top-band day may soon be a feasible proposition. I’m tempted to experiment myself.

Like you, I have become attached to my GPS. It had a funny session a few months back but some strong swearing at it and a few slaps got it running. I don’t like the modern touch-screen units at all, I have a phone+GPS for that. I found the same model as mine on eBay (Garmin Vista HCx) and bought a mint looking example for £35.03 (the .03 was to take it over 35.01 as I placed the bid 5 secs before it ended). It’s hardly been used and best of all came with a complete set of very expensive Garmin maps ready installed. Bona! I use it and the other on alternate weekends now. If you have a look out you should be able to bag a spare Gecko for a price that will please your wallet.

Where are you going next? And when are you doing OV00 next?

Hi John,

Many thanks for the 2 QSO’s on 160. Sorry I could not give you any better report than 31 but it was a very difficult copy at home. I was only running about 20 watts from the radio but a lot less from the aerial! I was lucky to get you on NP-007 as I had just got in.

My aerial at home is a full size G5RV but quite low off the ground so it is not efficient but I have restrictions at home so it is a compromise. However I was still pleased to get you on 160.

Look forward to listening out for you again when you are next out.

73’s Geoff GM4WHA

Yes, OK Geoff,
You helped to qualify me on 160m and for that I am grateful so we are both pleased! 160m QSO’s remain fairly rare but there seems to be increasing interest judging by a few more amateurs asking about aerial arrangement. coils etc. Of course it’s all horribly inefficient but somehow it works - after a fashion. Nonetheless, Colin M1BBU got four fine 160m QSO’s with just 5W from Buckden Pike the other week.

You can strap a G5RV or other antenna systems and tune against a ground system for 160m. That’s probably what you did or maybe you get a match through the twin feeder.

Yes, see you on the next one and I hope by then John is getting some news about his op.
73, John

In fact, John, you do not need to strap a G5RV, just use it as is with a tuner. I have contacted you several times on Top Band using a G5RV set up as a doublet and tuned with an MFJ-949E - and no earth, my shack is upstairs, earths proved more trouble than they were worth! Yes, our antennae for Top Band are terribly inefficient, but somehow the band is pretty tolerant - I remember that when I first got the ham radio bug (in the late 1950’s) Top Band was the mobile band of choice: they used loaded whips and had a power limit of 10 watts IIRC and despite that you could follow mobile stations for miles!

I’m sorry I missed you on Top Band though I was about for 80 metres, our schedules didn’t match! Better luck next time!

Brian

Another great report John.

If I’m attempting a new (to me) LD or NP summit my first port of call is to look up your activations reports!

I was a bit short on time on Remembrance Sunday as I had to be at the memorial cross for 11 am. I reckon that 80 and 160m could have yielded further QSOs. I wonder if you picked up the copy of a top band information sheet by G0KYA that I sent you? I think it’s fair to say that propagation on top band is still an emerging science, there’s many phenomena at work.

I hope to give 160m another go in the coming weeks, I want to check off Ingleborough before the end of 2016. I was hoping to do it sooner rather than later but at the moment I’m under the weather.

OK on the car, I think that’s great! I was very fond of my Ford Fiestas, I keep thinking it would be nice to obtain one for nostalgia. I stayed with my parents back in April, (I was trying to chase VK0EK) and my step dad was surfing a well known auction site. I was summoned to the computer to give my view on a listing. The listing was for a 1989 VW Polo, one owner from new, all original with 25k miles on clock. The car looked pristine and my enthusiasm was obviously very evident, as within a week, the gleaming red Polo was sat in the garage!

We (Myself, xyl and kids) showed the car at a few car shows this year and it even won ‘Best Original’ at BugJam, held at Santa Pod Raceway. It’s simply amazing that these old cars are hidden away in garages and can be had for very little outlay. I think the Polo has found a good home - we all love it and it’s being pampered, it’s currently in hibernation to emerge again in spring.

73, Colin

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A bloke I work with has an old Polo, not as old as that though. His is 15years old and has 185k miles on it. He commutes from Glasgow so about 70miles a day. He bought it secondhand at 5 years old and said he’d run it into the ground and that was before he started doing 70miles a day commuting. Except it wont die! He’s had consumables only, discs, pads, rear shoes, tyres, oil, cambelt etc. It keeps going like an Energizer Bunny.

Hello Andy,
Thanks for your kind words about my approach to motoring. Despite offers of mental help from my family and others, I haven’t succeeded in shaking off this mind set yet. I’m just 8 GBP short of the four thousand for 19 cars since 1969 but whilst 25 quid used to be the norm, I now seem to be paying over 500.

Just like you, Sasha is someone else’s dog but I get to walk her almost every day. Now we are firm friends and I can easily see how you have been drawn into this too. You could ask permission to take your ‘loan dog’ on a SOTA but better weather is preferable. Our lurcher shivers for England when stationary on a winter activation until you wrap her up in two dog coats, a human one thrown over the top and a mat to lie on. It’s quite an undertaking if you’re doing HF as well. I wish I could find a really good waterproof and lined coat that goes under the dog as well as over. Not much fur under there.

There’s always the problem of them running away too. After a short disappearance 2 months ago, I caught her with her teeth round a deer’s neck. She vanished for 55 minutes since then too. Poor thing can’t help it; she’s a sighthound and before rescue, a lamper. It’s very worrying so I have ordered various transmitters and phone system locators to try out.

A 160m day! I never thought of that. Lets hope that interest builds up so we could do it. Trouble is to link up with more than a handful of others it needs to be dark or nearly so. Even so there might be quite a few up for it.

You sound like me, last minute bids on ebay. I have bought a few Jingtongs like that. Yes, you can so easily become fond of some SOTA thing and never want to let it go. The Geko is small which is what I like about it. I don’t need mapping, I carry a map for that. I have two but they’re obsolete so it’s only a matter of time. I will keep an eye out on ebay for a spare to the spare. I still have two GPS-12’s which are circa 1999 and I started with a Garmin GPS-38 in 1998. Though I came up from the map and compass fraternity, GPS was (and is) a dream come true which I will never cease to appreciate.

OV: No plans at the moment. I have missed the boat as we are now into SOTA season. The weather has to be pretty good as the cliff tends to get a bit glippery gloppery in places though there’s a rope to help. Also if it’s wet, the foreshore with over a mile of green rocks can be a bit of a nightmare. Also, from time to time, others like to have a go. I try to assist with info but it doesn’t always come off. Tides, band conditions and WX all have to coincide and it’s better on a weekend. That can make it quite limiting, especially if you live away.

As for SOTA, I have some western NP’s left to do. There are too many to do in December but I hope I can get out and do at least a couple more. Trouble is we’ve already had two trips to Hull hospital in three days this week and Christmas lunches keep coming up.

73, John.

Hi Brian,

No worries Brian but I did wonder where you’d got to on 160m. I was half expecting you to call as you’re a good customer! We can’t all be sitting near our radios 24/7. Life is much more diverse.

Oh, that must be a good tuner. If I remember right a G5RV is close to being optimal on 80m and 160 is going to be far out on impedance. I think it’s whatever works for Top Band. People use all sorts of contrivances and many can’t even get an 80m dipole or G5RV in their gardens, therefore anything goes on 160. Roy G4SSH manages to tune a butternut vertical designed for 80 up. He doesn’t have the 160m coil kit which costs the earth but nevertheless, he chases quite well onto NP and sometimes LD summits on 160m. Of course we are missing the 160m ‘datum station’ Phil G4OBK, at present.

I came into amateur radio a bit too late to witness cars with paint tin sized loading coils but I have been told about them. Efficiency probably less than 3% but they put something out, enough to actually work. That’s really what amateur radio is about. Compromise and getting on and a doing what no self respecting professional radio engineer would even think of.

Cu on the next one and thanks for the input,
73, John.

Hi Colin,
Wow, what a nice looking motor! No rust there. I would love to do some event with an old motor. I have a 1966 Austin Sprite in the garage but I’m sorry to say, it’s neglected.

I always look for cars at the bottom of the graph. 16 years old or so. Much older than that and they can start to increase in price if they’re in exceptional nick like yours. I had to get a Fiesta Mk4 Facelift sometimes known as a Mk5 as the Mk6 would likely not fit around my ham radio gear.

Thanks but I failed to pick up on that information sheet by G0KYA. I have just found his blog though. I’ll take a look.

Yes, you need a bit of time for 160m. QSB is usually in charge, (chaser) noise is high and signals can be miniscule so you have to wait as long as you can afford for the chasers to hear you. Against that is the pressure of weather, time and possible dark ascents/ descents of course.

Ingleborough is on my ‘2016 - not done’ list too.

Thanks for all these replies. My single typing finger is getting numb so I’m off to watch TV with the missus,

Look after that car and make sure the garage roof is waterproof!
73 and thanks for posting,
John.

PS: Get well soon!

Andy - don’t get me started on old motors, I’d never shut up! Yeah, the Polo’s of old were solid cars, my uncle had a ‘breadvan’ a little older than the one we have, someone sold it to him as scrap for £100 - he ran it for about 5 years as a daily commute car! :laughing: My mother in law gave us a 1998 Polo Variant (estate), that was a solid car too, although badged as VW, really it was a SEAT. I don’t want to hijack John’s thread so maybe someone should start an ‘it ain’t like it used to be’ thread :smile:

John, I’m sorry, it’s my mistake, I didn’t send the info, I had intended to and obviously thought I had. I’ll send you a copy now to your m1nnn@ address.

A 160m event sounds like fun and certainly it will be a challenge! 160m S2S, how fun! My current project is definitely to achieve MG, I’m not far off. A few nice days in the new year should see me complete my 13 year endeavour (ordeal?).

73, Colin