G4YSS:G/NP-006 4m-Contest,Camp,Finn,15/16-07-21

G4YSS: G/NP-006 4m-Contest, Camp & Finn 15 to 16-07-21
Issue-1 (errors?)

G/NP-006 Gt.SHUNNER FELL QRO on 160m-80m-20m & QRP on 4m-SSB, 2m-FM
Using own call G4YSS/P for SOTA and the 70 MHz UKAC contest evening
Accompanied by Finn (Grandson’s Lurcher; 67% Greyhound/ 33% Saluki)
Overnight Summit Camp 15 th to 16 th of July 2021
BST (UTC+1hr) for walking etc.
UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
Sun Times: 21:33 & 04:58 BST

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF 50 Watt Linear Amplifier (80 thru 10) with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with loading coils for 160m
6m home-brew 5-section CFC/ alloy mast with 1m end sticks

Transverter 10W (Ukraine), 70MHz from 28MHz/ 2.5W i/p. 400gm inc leads & 2 Amp CB.
3-Ele Home-Brew Yagi based on Sotabeam and up-scaled (480gm)
PVC tube extension for use atop lower three sections of HF mast
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on front tent pole
Two 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po batteries

Turnigy 11.1V, 2.2 Ah Li-Po battery (not used)
IC-E90, 4-Band VHF Handheld with 1.3Ah battery (not used)

Viper-2 Ridge tent – 1988 (flysheet only with separate poly groundsheet)
Sleeping bag Mtn. Eqpt. Nova-2 synthetic 1.2kg
Sleeping bag synthetic (Finn) 0.7kg
Sleeping mat half length (Finn)
Spiderman Airbed (Grandson’s) 116 x 62cm, 340gm (not used)
Goretex Bootees worn for use around camp
Pack-weight: 22.2kg (49 pounds) inc. 3.9 ltr fluids

There were three reasons for arranging this summit camp. Firstly to take part in the RSGB UKAC 70 MHz VHF Contest evening, to do some 160m night operating and to initiate the dog - Finn into the arts of camping.

Great Shunner Fell G/NP-006 was chosen because it is over 700m in height, not too difficult to climb and has reasonable lines of sight. Other than FM which goes back a long way, my experience of the 4m band is limited to an evening contest from NP4 in 2018, for which the 3-ele beam was constructed and the VHF-NFD contests.

The 4m antenna consists of a 20mm dia x 2m long PVC conduit boom and six 1/8 inch aluminium welding rods. The boom is in two parts for carrying and to house the elements. It was built to adapt into a 4-ele beam for 2m. The design is a straight upscale of the original G3CWI 2m-band Sotabeam, which I think is brilliant in its simplicity, light weight and effectiveness. Sadly they don’t make them anymore.

Top Band has been a favourite SOTA feature of mine for many years and opportunities are always welcome. Since the contests finish at 10:30pm, staying the night is convenient.

I had the owners permission to take Finn along. I had planned to take him on VHF-NFD two weeks prior but I went alone. Not only were severe lightning storms in the afternoon forecast, they actually took place.

WEATHER - MWIS mountain forecast at 700m ASL :
Thursday afternoon: 15C at 750m, Friday morning: 15-18C. Up to 22C in the valleys. Northerly wind 5 to 15mph, sunshine, no rain, no low-cloud and high pressure. Considering the amount of gear to be carried, that sounded too warm for my liking but these contests only come around once a month. Finn doesn’t like heat either.

NP6 ROUTE (again):
Follow the quad track all the way. It loops round via Coal Pit, Grimy Gutter Hags, Grainy Gill Moss and Little Shunner Fell, mainly following a fence.

Park at SD 8688 9570 on Buttertubs Pass. Go via Coal Pit to the fence corner at SD 8694 9639 (turn left). The fence bends again at SD 8680 9653 at Grimy Gutter Hags. There’s another direction change - left (WSW) at SD 8586 9707. The track passes the end of a wall at SD 8542 9687 and after some steep sections you eventually reach a stile (now broken so don’t cross) at SD 8503 9723. Carry on beside the fence to the Pennine Way paved path, turning left there and passing through a gate a short distance from the summit. 200m of ascent and 2.2 miles.

Starting at 13:20 , the 89 mile drive via A170, A168, A1M (J49 to J51), Leyburn and Redmire, took until 15:50 . This proved a pleasant change which, apart from the 40 miles of A170 via Sutton Bank, avoided all the boring old ways of doing it since time immemorial. A change of scenery made for a more relaxed drive and Finn wasn’t car sick this time.

A SOTA Chase:
A couple of miles before Buttertubs Pass, while monitoring 145.500-FM on the FT1802, I heard 'CQ SOTA.’ This was 2E0MDY/P on Fountains Fell G/NP-017 and I was first in Judith’s log a minute before we arrived at the parking spot. I think Judith mentioned that this was her first solo activation as she usually goes with her Husband John M0VCM who I was to work on 2m-FM the following day.

After the demise of Lovely Seat (ex SOTA G/NP-030) I park at SD 8688 9570 which is some 200m past (on the Swaledale side of) the cattle grid and also where the track starts.

The first job was to lash the antennas & mast to the rucksack using luggage straps and after the long journey Finn was showing his impatience by whimpering. I couldn’t let this put me off however and continued to go carefully through my checklist. The climb took 53 minutes from 16:20 which surprised me considering an almost 50 pound pack on a sultry afternoon. In some places the breeze dropped to nothing but at least the sun was only out some of the time.

With Finn pulling this way and that on a 5m lead, trying (but failing) to do it in one push, had me lathered in sweat with sore shoulders. A brand new rucksack made no difference to the pain of ascent; in fact it was worse because the shoulder straps slipped every 10 paces. It’s every time the same, ‘I’ll never carry this kind of load ever again’ but I never actually learn. I was hoping that Finn might pull me up some of the steep bits. He didn’t oblige, merely pulling me down one of them the next day. Behave boy, or next time it’s panniers for you!

Like the last time when Sasha and I camped on NP6, I did a lot of walking around trying to find flat ground. I ended up erecting the tent 7 metres from the summit shelter to maximize VHF but it was quite a lumpy pitch. With sheep in the distance and a young dog, I got cold feet about letting him run free and he had to be secured to the fence for the duration of setting up. It was only later that I found he could be tied to the base of the front tent pole without too much worry about him suddenly shooting off and wrecking our home for the night.

Once the groundsheet was down and his sleeping bag deployed I introduced Finn to a tent – his first time. No dramas thank goodness but he did go back out again and tried to climb up one side. All I could see were two front paws pressing down on my gear and sharp claws threatening the waterproofing. Sasha was much more considerate but she was a lot older than Finn’s 20 months.

Setting Up:
Just to be sure it would fit and to allow a quick QSY to 160m after the contest, I put up the dipole first. The idea was to use it for a few contacts on 20m and/ or 80m then lay it down to make way for the 4m beam which would be accommodated using the lower three sections of the mast plus a extender made of PVC conduit. There are a few hidden rocks but generally the ground is quite good.

Once inside I set up the radio gear to one side with a small RS Components freeby clock in front. The RS rep had given me this and though I finished work in 2005, it still works perfectly and is quite light with large figures. Set to UTC it’s a Godsend. Trying to log with an analogue wristwatch which I normally do, is a nightmare in summer when you have to do a double conversion while in QSO. My brain just isn’t up to that nowadays, especially in a contest environment.

G/NP-006 GT. SHUNNER FELL, 716m, 6 pts. 17:13 on Thursday 15-to 10:53 on Friday 16-July 2021. 16C on arrival dropping to 10C at night. Moonlight. Wind 7 mph dropping to zero at 2am and building to a 10+mph cooling breeze starting at first light. Sunshine from sunrise. IO84VI, WAB SD89. Trig: TP-3468 (integral with shelter). Reliable Vodafone signal with intermittent 4G.

14.061 CW – 2 QSO’s at 17:45z:
We were ahead of the schedule but this wasn’t on it. A self spot brought in F4WBN Christian with 599 both ways and EA2DT Manuel 599/ 339. Power was 30W but further CQ’s were met with disappointment. What now?

3.760 SSB - 21 QSO’s from 18:00z:
Other than the VHF contest later on, this frequency won hands down when it came to general log health. Excellent band conditions and a power of 30 Watts, combined to produce the following QSO’s:

All reports were 59 both ways UOS below.
GI0AZA/ GI0AZB Esther & Ian; G4WSB Bill 59/ 57; MM0XPZ Steve; G0RQL Don - Devon; M0IAX/P Mark in SS83 55/ 59; GW0RYM/A 59/ 55; G8KBH/P Dave in SD43 nr. Blackpool; G8BHB Phil; G4HPE Steve in TL34; GW4NOO Mike; G8VNW Nick; M1DYU Gary in SD50 57/ 55 - ‘wire in an apple tree’; G0FGI Tom-SS72 59/ 58; 2E0FEH Karl 59/ 58; EI3GYB Michael in Co.Mayo; G4IAR Dave - Loughborough; MM3PDM Peter in Peterhead; G0FEX Ken - Leicester; G0FVH David 59/ 57 and M0MZB Matthew 59/ 46-58 QSB.

Someone told me that Graham G4JZF was calling and I heard him once weakly. After trying a few times to make a QSO of it, I reluctantly had to concede defeat. Sorry Graham! I miss your callsign in my logs these days but your trophy is on my mantlepiece.

Ken mentioned that he’d had a failed SOTA activation on his local hill when his battery let him down. Lithium batteries can be a bit temperamental but I bet Ken will carry a spare next time. Then of course it’ll be something else that goes wrong. All that effort for nought.

The majority of chasers were after the WAB area of SD89 so I was able to offer the trig as well (TP3468). Quite a few wanted the SOTA but well done to the WAB organization and frequency once again!

RSGB UKAC 70MHz Contest Evening 19-04-18, 19:00z to 21:30z, 54 QSO’s:
The Contest Evening was the main reason for all this effort with Top Band a bonus. The beam was ready assembled and lying on the grass. Fully intending to fit and tune the 160m coils for later on before laying the dipole down, I completely forgot.

Thinking I might be under stress because of the dog, I had written the setup procedure for 4m-SSB on the lid of the 10W transverter:
Remove the 12V power connector for the HF linear and plug in the transverter.
Remove the coax plug from the back of the HF linear and plug it into the transverter.
Plug the 4m beam BNC and the PTT line into the transverter.
Push in the transverter circuit breaker and switch on.
Select 28 Mhz-SSB and 2.5 Watts on the FT817ND.

I called the first station I heard several times but he didn’t come back. Maybe he was using big power compared with my 10 Watts? I twiddled the beam but eventually noticed the red TX light on the transverter wasn’t coming on. Once the flying (PTT) leads from the two bits of equipment were mated we were away but by now 7 minutes had been wasted. No worries, we weren’t here to set the World on fire, merely for the enjoyment. Nevertheless, I was now ‘working’ for the 807 Contest Club; my son having proposed me the day before. I was accepted. No vetting and no subs either!

The exchange for these contests is RST, Serial number and Maidenhead locator. Now with the intention of making an entry, it meant that I could no longer self-spot the SOTA. The rules apparently say ‘no’ but I am allowed to alert before the event. With that in mind I’d alerted a frequency of 70.236 MHz on Sotawatch for four different times on the hour and half hour. That freq. was just ‘plucked out of mid air’ the last time I did this 4m contest from NP4 in 2018.

From 19:07z - Various Freqs. (Ser Nos: 1-4):
I started by ‘hunting’ up and down the band and answering calls of ‘CQ Contest.’ In the log: G4KUX in IO94BP; G8PNN/P Gordon in IO95AF; GI4SNA in IO64XM and G4ASR Dave in IO81MX.

From 19:25 to 21:11z on 70.236/ 70.235 (Ser Nos: 5 to 52):
G4IOQ in IO82KT; G0UUU/P Phil in IO94SE; G4OBK Phil in IO94OF; G4ODA in IO92WS; GW8ASD in IO83LB; G8AOE/P in IO84XQ; G4YHF in IO92XW; M0UKR in JO02OR; G6HPR in IO92KO; G0EAK/P in IO93NI; G8ONK in IO83MR; G4BEE/P in IO84RC; G3ZWR/P in IO85XF and G0VAX in IO83JJ.

After suffering side band splash for the last two QSO’s I nudged down 1kHz to 70.235, continuing as follows:

G3VCA in IO93MG; G4HGT/P in IO93EV; MM0GPZ in IO75WS; G4RQI in IO93IR; G4IPB Paul in IO84XP 'See you on 160m SOTA later; G4KPZ in IO92WK; M7DON Donna in IO93KD; G0LGS/P in IO81WU; M0KOV in IO93HX which completed page one of my contest log which holds 27 contacts.

Back on 70.236 and continuing:
G4EII in IO83PM; GW1YBB/P Steve in IO81KW; G8DMU/P Tony in IO94CB; G8OVZ/P in JO01AV; G8YIG in IO83WK; M1MHZ in IO92WV.

SOTA S2S at 20:36z:
G1ZJQ in IO95BM/ Derek on Ros Hill in the Scottish Borders SOTA G/SB-009. He had already put on Shillhope Law G/SB-006 in the afternoon. We had a brief chat and exchanged the usual SOTA camaraderie.

GW4SHF in IO82HP; G4EHD in IO93BS; G4OAR in IO82PV; G4XTF in IO82OA; G3TDH in IO83WI; G1EZF in IO93FT; G0SKF in IO91OQ; 2E0MDJ/P Matt in IO81WU and G0WUS/P in IO81ED.

SOTA S2S at 20:55z:
G1ZAR/P in IO92IR, Stuart on Bardon Hill - SOTA G/CE-004. Again a few words exchanged despite the pressures of the contest.

Moving on:
G0CER in IO82RV; G4CLA in IO92JL; G8KWX/P in IO91MB; GW4MBS in IO71XW; G4CLB in IO92HM; G3MXH in JO02LF; GM4JTJ John in IO86RP and G4FZN/P Chris in IO94JF at Sutton Bank Top.

The Final Two (Ser Nos: 53 & 54):
I called G6DOD/P and G4FEV on their own frequencies. Locators were IO90KQ and IO92RG respectively. It was a mistake to leave my own spot but I was looking to see if I had missed out on any far-away stations. I didn’t hear any and going back to hunting took up the final 19 minutes of the available time for a gain of just these two stations. That brought me to the foot of page-2 in the log. Good job too; I had only brought two pages of contest log with the printed serial numbers, not imagining I’d get more than the 45 worked in the 2018 NP4 contest.

End of Contest:
I knew the end of the contest had arrived when I was called by G0UUU/P Phil over on Binnington Wold near Scarborough, wanting to know how I’d got on. I was in quite a lot of pain by then. The discomfort of kneeling, elbow propping or sitting had taken its toll and I felt weary. No worries, a sortie outside would help and Finn could be involved if I thought he could be trusted.

Swapping VHF for HF and a Night Walk:
After rewiring the rig and amp, Finn came out to ‘help’ take the beam down and re-erect the dipole in readiness for Top Band at 11pm. I didn’t bother to take-on the intricate task of dismantling the 3-ele and threading the elements back inside the boom in the dark. That could wait until morning, so it didn’t take long.

With time to spare until the next alert, what better than a short dog walk? Off we went down the Pennine Way in the direction of Hawes, me in shirt sleeve order with the head torch and the dog wearing his illuminated collar. Despite that precaution, he was quite excited so I dared not let him off the 5m lead. What a beautiful night with a perfectly clear sky, the moon shining and lights in the valley below. There was a very slight breeze, in fact almost still and it was still quite warm. It could have been a summer night’s walk down a country path anywhere as there was no hint of being at well over 2,000 feet ASL.

These experiences are priceless which live on in the memory forever. More memories too when I realized that the last time I walked this bit of PW was on an Outward Bound Course run from Gildersleets (Giggleswick) in 1968 in the pouring rain. The two week course was a gift for two of us from International Harvester Company for being good apprentices. I carried a similar weight to the one hauled up here today and we were all very glad to get down into Hawes. I would have liked to go further but with 160m in mind, we split the available 15 minutes and turned back after seven.

1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 22:05z:
The first 5Ah Li-Po battery was still at 11.4 Volts but not wanting any delay or confusion during Top Band offering namely, ‘Where’s has he disappeared to?’ I swapped it after the contest for a fresh one of the same capacity.

Bundling Finn inside the tent at exactly 11pm – he wanted to stay out – I settled in to do 160m. We wouldn’t need to go out again so I fastened the tent door and took off the boots. Switching on, I heard Phil G4OBK calling. He was very loud but when I hit the key with the amp switched off, the SWR flew to the stop. ‘What’s wrong now?’ I had only omitted to fit the coils let alone tune them.

Where the heck are they? I found them at the bottom of a bag stuffed with all sorts of soft things like sleeping bag stuff sacks and foam rig wrappings. I was intending to use it as a makeshift pillow. With this stuff spread all over the tent and telling Finn firmly to ‘stay put’ I rushed out to fit the coils. There wouldn’t be time to tune them so I ‘winged it’ and guessed, setting them both to 4.5 on the scale – a setting that usually works depending on the wind and how much the mast is bending and sagging. Back inside a quick check revealed a fairly high reading but just acceptable.

Phil was still sending ‘de G4OBK’ so I answered him ASAP. We exchanged at 59/ 57 but he was actually well over the nine. At least now there was the reassurance that all was well at my end and that the skip hadn’t gone too long for the ‘usual customers.’

After Phil I logged David G3RDQ in Hants at 579/ 599 then G0CKP (M1X) Steve in Sevenoaks with 599/ 579 – new to me and evidently to SOTA but very welcome! The 160m qualification came from Swindon in the form of Bill G4WSB with 559 both ways. Power was 50 Watts and we were right on time fort SSB which after a few more CQ’s, was announced in CW before moving over.

1.846 SSB - 5 QSO’s from 22:17z:
Continuing with 50 Watts, I worked the following stations in SSB: EI3GYB Michael with 56 both ways, ‘Enjoying a beautiful evening on the West coast of Ireland’ (Co. Mayo) and MM0XPZ Steve in Greenock – 59/ 58 and 2E0FEH Karl coming in from Cornwall at 57 with 55 for me.

Next to be sorted out from a rare Top Band mini pileup was G4IPB Paul 59 both ways at Middleton-in-Teesdale – range 35km according to my 70MHz log. Paul was staying up later than he ought in anticipation of an early start the next morning – thanks Paul. Finally I worked G8VNW Nick also even closer but suffering noise in Threshfield, Wharfedale 59/ 47-59.

Unfortunately there was one ‘gotaway’ at the end. I heard the letter ‘A’ coming up out of the noise and on responding a ‘G0’ but I couldn’t get the rest and regrettably no QSO resulted despite getting my report of 46 OK and sending the same back. What a shame that was. I may never know who it was and I tried calling back for some time afterwards plus further CQ’s but never heard another thing.

After a quick return to the CW freq and a few more fruitless CQ’s, I closed for the night. The ‘QRT’ at 22:34z was heard by my son Phil G0UUU, who was listening on the Nantwich web receiver after having arrived home from his contest efforts on 4m. All in all a pretty good night on 160m using only CW and SSB.

The Night:
By midnight, Finn had been tucked up in his sleeping bag for a while and after an exciting evening with little time for drinking much, I retired to bed too. It was a mistake. What should have happened was attention to detail beforehand and some wind-down time. Due to the heatwave, we had with us almost four litres of fluids and ice, some of which should have been consumed then.

Added to that, though Finn was comfy enough on his carry mat, my grandson’s Spiderman airbed was had not been inflated. I really couldn’t be bothered to make myself even dizzier than the dehydration had left me so I just lay on the grass with only the poly groundsheet over it. On the plus side there was no cold to strike up into my back but a hump in the ground was in the wrong place with the result that I looked to have acquired a very fat belly as well as back ache.

With an occasional gentle breeze outside Finn kept thinking we had intruders and would stare in the direction of the rustling for a full minute or more, sometimes even standing up. It also made the wire aerial sing softly. I didn’t get a wink until well after 03:00 but an hour before that we had given up in favour of a midnight feast including a bottle of shandy and a scotch egg plus sandwiches, the latter two items shared with Finn.

At 02:30 I tried switching on the 817. There was nothing but noise on 648kHz but the top band dipole brought in music with Dutch announcements on 1395. I thought I heard, ‘Radio Sea Breeze’ or something like it. At 03:15 it began to get light and after that the bird QRM started up. Sleep was limited to two sessions of an hour each and I don’t think Finn did that much better.

Friday 16 th July 2021:
Looking under the brailings in the early hours, I thought I saw low-cloud but by 6am it was clear and sunny. After breakfast it was time for Finn’s morning walk so we set off to a nearby feature on the map called Great Shunner Well, in brackets ‘Spring.’ This was 600m to the SW but when we got there it was more of a bog in a sloping gully and much less of the spring that I had imagined. As well as great views to the west, there were thistles and pretty wild flowers there but it was just somewhere to walk and we came back along the PW path.

Back to radio and as expected at that time of morning a call on 3.760, immediately after the frequency was vacated by the Horizontal Net at 07:15z, yielded nothing. I didn’t spot it; instead going to 2m-FM to fill the time until an alerted appearance on 3.557-CW. My sleeping bag rolled up and shoe-horned into the base compartment of the rucksack provided a rudimentary seat. Note to myself for future expeditions!

145.300 FM - 4 QSO’s from 07:25z
This was only mentioned in the notes of an alert the day before but I felt duty bound to give it a chance. Using 5 Watts from the FT817ND to the J-Pole, I first checked .300 was clear before self spotting and calling on S20.

Straight back came a big signal from M0VCM/P, just finishing his activation of Great Knoutberry G/NP-015, 12km to my SW. John and his wife Judith, who I had worked on NP17 as 2E0MDY/P the day before while mobile, were staying at their holiday home in High Bentham. We had a nice chat for well over 10 minutes, John mentioning that Judith was waiting to chase his summit and also that they were all going on a linear walk taking in the summit of Ingleborough via Trow Gill that afternoon. It was to be a family outing with a short time allotted to the SOTA aspect.

Next I was found by Peter GM3VMB in Eaglesfield who is not a SOTA chaser but had merely recognized my voice – probably the ‘Wessie’ accent. It was 59 both ways and a promise to meet later on 80m CW.

A second S2S was supplied by GM4VFL/P on GM/SS-150. Andrew commented that after an easy track on the approach, the rest of Craiglee was difficult, the only path being made by cattle. There were even cowpats in the summit. 57 both ways. Bringing up the rear at 07:53z was M1DHA, Alan in Barnoldswick also with 57 both ways.

3.557 CW – 3 QSO’s from 08:13z:
2m-FM had overrun a bit but G4WSB Bill in Swindon picked up my call – 599/ 579. Next in as arranged was GM3VMB. Starting in 2003, I have worked Peter 38 times when I’ve been on SOTA summits but always in FM. His CW skills turned out to be much better than mine, which are only geared to SOTA activating and I didn’t get much of what he sent.

Now to the final QSO of the two-day expedition. M5TUE – Nigel in Kendal in the Lake District, with 599 both ways was the last entry. Power was 50 Watts to the dipole.

7.032 CW – Nil at 08:30z:
With 30 minutes to spare before we planned to pack up, I tried 40m. After a self-spot, some 50 Watt CQ’ing followed by another spot, I received no calls and due mainly to fatigue and a desire to go home, I gave up.

A Visitor:
Ever since we got back from the morning walk, Finn had been sitting patiently at the end of his lead on the grass surveying the scene in sunshine but enjoying the lovely cool breeze of a perfect summer’s day. I was inside the tent rolling up Finn’s bag when I heard barking. I could see nothing at first but then spotted a ‘dot’ on the horizon. It’s why they call them Sight Hounds I suppose.

Over the next ten minutes the dot became a person with a big rucksack. The dog was getting embarrassing and wouldn’t be put off from his noise. He had been living on this mountain for the past 16 hours and obviously now he owned it! Fortunately the girl with the rucksack was merely amused as we went over to say hello. A sausage was quickly passed over to her to give Finn and we were all suddenly friends again.

She looked in awe at the dipole strung up at 6m and asked, ‘Is that your washing line?’ I think she was semi-serious when you consider the ends low to the ground but though I’ve heard many, it’s the first time I’ve heard that particular one. I explained about the radio and camping over.

She asked my name and also the dog’s and introduced herself as Rachael from Bristol going on to say that she was doing the Pennine Way, having left Edale five days before. Commenting about the load she had just put down, I tested the weight. ‘That feels like 40 pounds at least!’ ‘How many miles do you do in a day?’ The answer was 15 which I thought was a lot considering the WX. ‘Can I take your photo for my internet report?’ ‘Yes, where can I find it?’ I gave the answer on a scrap of paper and hopefully she will find her photo. If you get to read this Rachael, I hope you made it to Alston OK. Pleased to meet you.

Packing Up:
The drill is to consume as much of the leftover food and drinks as possible, apart from, in this case, the half a litre of ice which remained. Packing up took under an hour with Finn tied up to the fence while I took the tent down. He had demolished a can of sardines, a Scotch egg, a pie and some sausages. I wouldn’t normally give him remotely this much human food but I was saving weight today.

The descent took from 10:53 to 11:38 with no issues apart from Finn pulling on the lead a bit too much and running into a bog a few hundred metres from the car. His front legs sank right in and inertia did the rest, burying his long snout right up to his eyes. He soon pulled that out and gave it a good shake. No harm done and a bowl of cold milk for him at the car.

End of Part-1



QSO’s - Thursday:
2 on 20m-CW
21 on 80m-SSB
54 on 4m-SSB (Contest)
4 on 160m-CW
5 on 160m-SSB
Total: 86

QSO’s - Friday:
0 on 80m-SSB
4 on 2m-FM
3 on 80m-CW
0 on 40m-CW
Total: 7
Total – 2-days: 93

Battery Utilization (11.1V Li-Po’s):
5Ah No1: 90% approx
5Ah No2: 85% approx
2.2Ah not used

Ascent & Distance:
200m (656ft) ascent, 7.1 km (4.4 miles) 2.6mph
6 SOTA points

Walking Time: 1hr-38 min.
(53 min up/ 45 min down)
Summit Time: 17hr-40 min
Distance driven: 178 miles

Chronology (BST):
13:20: Left Scarborough
15:50: Arrived Buttertubs Pass (A170/ A168/ A1M/ A684/ Redmire)
16:20: Walked for G/NP-006
17:13: Arrived G/NP-006

10:53: Left G/NP-006
11:38: Arrived car
12:00: Drove for home
14:35: Arrived Scarborough (reverse of yesterday’s route)

70 MHz Contest Results:
Claimed – subject to adjudication:
QSO Points: 9,755
Bonus Points: 8,500 (17 Squares)
Total: 18,255
Best DX: G6DOD/P in IO90KQ (on IOW) at 415km (259 miles)


RSGB AKAC 70MHz Contest Evening:
4m band conditions seemed to be above average and this has been my favourite VHF band for a long time; the ‘long time’ being FM until three years ago. As with the last 4m contest evening done from Whernside G/NP-004 in April 2018, the QSO total exceeded expectations.

I was also surprised by how easy it was to sit on one frequency and call CQ, especially with the help of the voice keyer. From the total of 54 stations worked, 48 were gained by this method including two SOTA S2S’s. The main advantage is time saved in checking each contact to ascertain whether they are already in your log. That doesn’t really apply for the home based big-boys with their computer logging systems but it means a lot to an op with two sheets of paper log, crouched uncomfortably in a tiny tent in the dark.

I wasn’t allowed to spot myself but it may have helped that I alerted four times on a fixed frequency for SOTA chasers; who knows? It certainly helped that my son bless him, put me on the DX cluster once or twice as well as on Sotawatch. The IO84 location may have had a lot to do with it too.

Perhaps too lazy but more like too uncomfortable to turn the beam much, I mainly pointed south but that didn’t stop me working stations in other directions including Aberdeenshire off the back, though I didn’t work into the EU. Best distance was The Isle of Wight at just under 260 miles but that’s all presupposing there are no errors in my entry. This all adds up to NP6 being at least as good as NP4 though it is a little lower and a bit more surrounded.

The Ukraine built transverter and lightweight but delicate 3-ele ‘overgrown Sotabeam’ gave good service again for a weight penalty of well under 1kg. When combined with the FT817ND, it’s not overly power hungry either. One 5Ah battery did the whole contest and twenty three 30 Watt HF SOTA QSO’s with a bit to spare.

The voice keyer, that I put together a few years ago, came in handy again for fixed frequency contest CQ’ing and it saves your voice. This is a stand alone device with a small speaker. You simply hold the microphone over the speaker and press both the start button on the keyer and mic PTT simultaneously. You can program in what you want – in this case, ‘CQ Contest; CQ SOTA, Golf Four Yankee Sierra Sierra Portable.’ Adding ‘SOTA’ to the CQ call when using your ‘own’ frequency enables the announcing of the SOTA ref. without feeling too guilty about the extra few seconds it takes.

These contest evenings seem to have gained in popularity while the early July 2-day VHF-NFD event appears to be on the decline.

Highlight of the night, conditions seemed good on here too. Four QSO’s in CW and five with SSB was about average but one or two ops, such as Brian G8ADD for example were missing. Noise levels are only going one way and in a city it is becoming impossible. Starting at 11pm was about right when the contest ends at 10:30 but it is getting late for people who have important things to do the next day unlike myself, a retiree.

3.760-SSB on Thursday evening did the log a lot of good with 21 QSO’s. Conditions were certainly good enough for QRP if that was all that had been available. A further three callsigns were added in CW on Friday morning when conditions were just as good.

It came as a bit of a shock that 7.032-CW, the mainstream SOTA channel of the past, delivered not a single QSO and that with two self spots. The second spot was accidental. Maybe it was too early in the morning?

Much like 40m but I did manage two QSO’s. Maybe it was too late in the afternoon?

Four QSO’s including two S2S’s on this user friendly chat band at half past eight on a Friday morning.

Too warm for a winter activator for sure but it’s got to be done. Climbing up was purgatory and coming down wasn’t much better. The rest was bearable due to a nice cool breeze. No waterproofs or mountain jacket were taken but many things I didn’t use or need were.

For some reason I ended up as more of a ‘pack mule’ than usual and on a hot day too. Close to 50 pounds was too much after thinking the new rucksack might improve things. I didn’t inflate the small airbed; lying on the ground instead. I never sleep well anyway so what’s the odds in summer at least? Maybe a standard foam carry matt is easier though bulky. I must remember to use my sleeping bag rolled up in the rucksack as a seat next time. It was much better than nothing on Friday morning.

Finn was mainly a good lad, though a bit too enthusiastic at times – natural of course for a young Lurcher. I took a tennis ball up but it wasn’t used. He would undoubtedly have enjoyed chasing it but I was too nervous about sheep to let him off the lead much. He needs further indoctrination about that. It took three years but after a bad start, I was able to trust Sasha in the presence of sheep. Talking of Sasha, who we still all miss terribly, Great Shunner was her final summit camp and she died less than two months later. It was also the mountain where Finn was initiated to SOTA, on a day’s outing a year ago.

Finn took to the tent very well and quickly understood about his sleeping bag. I kept him tucked up all night and at times I could feel him using my legs as a head rest. It never got what you could call cold overnight but he can shiver a bit if he’s inactive. We proved one thing. G4IPB - Paul’s Woody is not the only dog to bark on summits. It would now seem that Finn owns Great Shunner Fell as well as the street he lives on!

Not taking the inner tent meant that we were susceptible to unwanted visitors. We only got one green caterpillar, a spider and a black slug which climbed up the condensation on the back wall. There was no evidence of ticks, though Finn carried one up from the day before. Despite a proper extractor and magnifying glass I couldn’t remove it at the summit due to wriggling. It’s out now but it took the efforts of two people.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED. Many thanks to the 160m chasers who loyally tuned in after 11pm on Thursday night! Thanks to the VHF contest ops too and to those who organize the contests. Thanks to Finn – you were great company. Finally thanks to Phil G0UUU for help with the contest log.

73 John G4YSS

Photos: 1-3-8-13-17-22-24p5-30-34-38p2-46-44-49-58-60-70-74-83-97-99-101-104-109-112-114-120-123-124-125-130-131-Contest Map

Above: Thursday’s start point at Buttertubs Pass

Above: Finn. ‘When are we setting off Grandad?’

Above: On our way up the track. Me with an 85L rucksack but Finn is carrying his own LED collar

Above: Approaching the summit

Above: Gravity took too great an interest in this one!

Above: Unpacking. Birks Tarn (Swaledale) in the background looking N.

Above: Summit shelter, Finn and our home for the night - an ancient but practical ridge tent

Above: The sight hound ready to sight. Keeping a check on the Pennine Way

Above: Set up and ready for HF SOTA

Above: Much later - the 70MHz contest evening awaits

Above: The ‘overgrown Sotabeam’ for 4m made 2018 from stuff I found in my shed

Above: A bit blurry but FT817ND set to 28MHz feeding the 70MHz transverter

Above: Finn - first time in a sleeping bag and a tent

Above: A bit of the Pennine Way. A short walk between the 4m-contest and 160m at 11pm.

Above: Can’t sleep! A feast at 02:30. Finn adores scotch eggs

Above: The price of not bringing the inner tent. A slug climbing the back wall.

Above: The morning walk looking back. Tent and shelter

Above: Morning walk target. ‘Great Shunner Well (Spring).’ Less of a spring and more of a bog

Above: Some nice wild flowers though.

Above: Back from the morning walk and ready for some SOTA on 3.557-CW and 2m-FM

Above: Trig point TP3468 is unusual in being integral with the summit shelter. You could miss it? View North. Some cloud inversion and the end of the 80m dipole

Above: Our first visitor introduced herself as ‘Rachael from Bristol.’ Carrying a 40 pound pack she is doing the 268 mile Pennine Way solo in two halves. Valiant! Her opening comment, ‘Is that your washing line?’

Above: Rachael getting ready to leave after a nice chat. Friends with a now quiet Finn after sausages were passed over. Good luck in your quest!

Above: View SW down the Pennine Way. HF and 2m-FM aerials

Above: Packing up. Reeling in the dipole

Above: Parting company with NP6; our ‘home’ for 18 hours

Above: Turn right off the PW after the gate.

Above: Half way down

Above: Careful indoctrination about sheep is gradually working but we’re not there yet. Note the stance!

Above: The pain and sweat is about to end. Our car in the distance

Above: 70MHz contest map. 54 QSO’s. 10W/ 3-ely at 2,350ft


Thanks again for the brilliant report. I’ve only ever done Gt Shunner from Hardraw which is a bit of a longer walk so good to hear about your route. Thanks also for my first ever 4m QSO (in 42 years…) which given that my QTH is completely surrounded by hills and the antenna was a wire one for HF is probably quite an achievement.

Our attempts at training Woody are still a bit mixed - he is brilliant in the shack but is very excited when outside. I now have a lead which clips around my waist to allow for hands free dog handling and sometimes quite a tight rope pulling me up the hill. The tight rope on the way down isn’t quite as useful.


(Woody doing radio in the shack…I’m not sure 4m is his best band…)

73 Paul

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Brilliant report, as usual, John. Evidently a very successful trip - apart from the above.
I think the missing callsign was probably M0JLA. Your signal was holding up well but my aerial (standard 80m G5RV) is not great at 160m. Not wanting to disrupt your activation with a poor transmission I waited until your replies were getting a bit sparse and when I called you were still a good 46 - and then nothing, you just vanished. Not even that little bit of change in the noise that lets one know that someone is transmitting. I listened on for a bit but still nothing. I assume that it was not just QSB but a slight increase in local noise just suffiicent to mask your signal. Very please to know that you did hear me and disappointed to leave you with a failed QSO. Before next time (?) I will investigate receive using my loop aerial (never tried on 160m) and see if that will cut down noise while favouring signals incoming from the North.

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Sorry to have missed you John, no antenna at home for the time being, and not out for the UKAC, but I enjoyed reading your report as ever.

Yes! I tend to call CQ more than I tune around for this reason. When I do find another station, I tend to listen to their QSO and note the details. To see if I have worked them, I scan down the last two characters of the Locator column in my log. Brain seems to process this much faster than searching callsigns with their varied prefixes etc.

Finn seems to be settling in to SOTA well, though you may get through a lot of sausages on a busy summit :rofl:


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Hi John,
I feel I need to make a comment about displaying your contest results on the Sota Reflector.

Sota is specifically not a contest activity. We are permitted to use the warc bands and other frequencies where contest style operation is not permitted. I see no problem in taking part in a contest whilst out in the hills during a Sota activation. However, in my opinion, displaying those contest results on here is a step too far, which may encourage others to miss-understand the nature of Sota.

Perhaps a MT opinion is needed?


I see no problems with these reports. The distinction between SOTA activating and contesting and contesting from a SOTA summit seems clear enough to me here.


Hi John,
Thank you for the S2S on 4m.
I saw your alerts for your trip so was able to keep checking around the posted frequency, hoping for the chance to exchange summit info.
I do quite a lot of the UKAC’s from my local summit, and try to add in a couple of other local ones (G/SP) during the summer months, but there are not to many accessible with the time constraints of working.
My equipment was Icom IC-7100 and 5 element beam at approx 2m height.

All the best.
Stuart - G1ZAR/P

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Hi John,

Thank you for another excellent report, for the S2S contact, and an enjoyable conversation! That was an unusually early start for me, but G/NP-006 is difficult on VHF from the holiday cottage in Bentham and the opportunity for a SOTA Complete of Great Shunner Fell was too good to miss.

To my surprise a further 11 contacts followed, including a S2S with Andrew GM4VFL/P on GM/SS-150, making a total of 19 from a hill I often activate quickly as a safe and easy climb in poor weather.

Unusually the wind was parallel to the shelter, so for the first time in ten activations of G/NP-015 I sat behind the wall and deployed the umbrella as a sunshade. I really must visit Great Knoutberry Hill more often in sunshine, the views of the hills around are splendid!

73, John M0VCM


Reply to ALL:
Many thanks for all the responses and also for the popular modern-day phenomenon - the ‘likes.’ Sorry for the delay due to watching Olympics. Yet again the organizers have overlooked SOTA.
G4IPB Paul:
OK on the route. I have only ever walked that section once and it was in 1968, downhill. The outward bound instructor dropped a group of us off at Thwaite for a 4-day hike to Settle. Great Shunner was the first section but it poured down. I remember the weight as much as anything. Lightweight gear wasn’t that light back then. We had some Helly Hanson waterproof suits that felt like wet suits.

It’s quite surprising that you managed a QSO on 70MHz with an HF wire but it seemed OK signal wise. 42 years was a long time to wait! Pleased to oblige and thanks too for coming up on 160m later on, despite having to be up early the next day. Good old Top Band delivered again.
As for Woody. Don’t know about his best band? Looks like dreamland is his best DXCC country!
M0JLA Rod:
Ah, the mystery is solved after all but I got your prefix wrong. It was close to a QSO. Yes, I remember reading long ago that a G5RV will work strapped and tuned against ground on 160m but it seems that noise got the better of us on this occasion as it often can on the lower bands. In theory a loop could well be better in noise; I’m sure I’ve heard that said plenty of times over the years. G4OBK used to regularly work me on Top Band with two aerials, one for TX and one for RX but I think these were a Beverage and an inverted ‘L.’ Phil had a very big garden back then.

Looking at my log tells me that from of our many QSO’s we did manage to work once on Top Band. 1.848-SSB on 07-09-19 and guess which summit? NP6. We have also had two S2S’s. You were on NP26 and CE1. Keep trying with 160 and better luck next time.
G4AZS Adrian:
Yes, sorry not to get you in the log especially after that 160m S2S last time. You’ll have to tune the bed springs. You also stick to a freq and call. Up north it seems harder to get success that way unless you are in a very high position with a wanted LOC like I happened to be. We had good conditions too so I was lucky enough to be able to do it like that.

My son, working from much lower down, is more or less forced to hunt or he wouldn’t get very far. I have joined him for quite a few of these contest evenings in the past, not since about March-20 though and that’s how he does it. He is a much better op than me, not least owing to the fact he still has a short term memory that works.
Thanks for that tip about looking down the right side of the log in the locators. I hadn’t thought of that. I am the same with callsigns. In fact I can look but not see in that respect. I called one station twice and two stations called me accidentally. Everybody is so nice and polite so after the apology – no problem. I don’t bother about the mistakes of others, just my own, which can be an embarrassment at times. Otherwise we soldier on.
David G0EVV:
I must say I never thought of that one. As an aside, I have spent most of my amateur life thinking contests merely existed to spoil weekends after a hard week at work but that was on HF. Good though if you’re collecting for DXCC (not me) in which case calling contest stations can be a means to an end. G4SSH taught me that. Much later I discovered that they had contests on VHF which is a completely different matter. What a revelation. The demise of the ‘B’ licence took away most of the VHF expertise and following that the interest and then the activity too. These VHF contest evenings are the bees knees for getting VHF woken up so I have come to love them.
Going back to the main subject which is the results & map (not official yet by the way). It’s just a good and easy way to show at a glance where you got to on a particular VHF band. ‘A picture saves a thousand words.’ It would be nice if SOTA had them too. Maybe one day? I usually have a facts and figures section at the end of my reports so the contest prelim results are just added to that. I think it can do SOTA no harm as it brings it to the attention of contest stations and vice versa. I always call ‘CQ SOTA – CQ Contest’ and give out the SOTA ref unless it’s marginal or I sense that someone is in a particular hurry. Hopefully some of this might create enough interest to get us the odd recruit? After all VHF and ASL do go hand in hand.

An example of this kind of cooperation is the brilliant WAB trig point scheme which has been of benefit to both disciplines and brought SOTA & WAB closer together. I hope no one would get the impression that SOTA relied on contesting to any great degree. The reflector is brimming with evidence to the contrary in line with the general thrust handed down by the creators from the outset in 2002. In conclusion, I think it’s OK but if it’s ever ruled not to be, I will comply.
MM0FMF Andy:
Thanks for clarifying the position Andy. I was hoping I wouldn’t be told off by the MT - HI. I will never be a serious contester. I don’t have the skills or the equipment but I do like the odd foray for enjoyment. First a SOTA/ WAB op.
Stuart - G1ZAR/P
Ah, I see that it was worth the effort of putting a few alerts on. Pleased you noticed them resulting in a second S2S on 70 MHz-SSB for me. I see that you got the IOM and well south into Cornwall. Both my son and I liked the look of the IC7100 when it came out apart from it being split in two and we’d certainly love to get our hands on a 5-ele for 4m! Beams are starting to get a bit large at 4m and at 6m they start to be a problem for carrying up mountains.

Considering that you have work to fit in, you do very well to get so many VHF contests in. Nottingham is not an easy place for what you do and to a lesser extent neither is Scarborough, if you’re looking for anything higher than a one pointer that is. Your interest is primarily VHF contests but it’s good to know that you are also a SOTA op which shows from the database.

I have been giving out points in VHF-NFD from NP8 for almost 20 years purely for enjoyment, never thinking to make an entry until recently. VHF contesting can be good for SOTA and it works both ways apart from one problem. Sometimes stations are vehicle based, have no knowledge of activation zones or they may be on a generator. In contests it can be hard to know if you’ve worked a SOTA or not. However we will always know that you fulfil the requirements.
I hope we have more S2S QSO’s and thanks for the latest one plus the one from Great Whernside to SP4 in VHF-NFD 2020.

John M0VCM
Another op to use the alerts to his advantage. Thank you for a good chat and the summit-to-summit from NP15, which is a nice one. That wall comes in handy when faced with a mean winter wind too. It was worth hanging around then? A total of 19 quite early in the day is very good especially with fairly simple kit that you and I were using, though your mast is impressive! I hope that somewhere in the tally, Judith’s callsign featured otherwise my name would have been mud for delaying you.

Good to know that I am not alone in carting brollies up mountains. They are under-rated for SOTA I feel. The Mary Poppins quip that I’ve had a few times is like water off an umbrella to me now. Also great to attenuate the sun it would seem from your photo. For those who like summer, it was a nice day. The breeze made it bearable but it wasn’t evident everywhere on the way down. Hope you and the family got Ingleborough climbed in the afternoon with 4 contacts in the log and down via Trowgill. A lovely walk.

Many thanks for all the comments. I’ll prepare for the next one now, whenever that may be? Disappointingly SOTA PA/PA-006 booked for September (Arnhem Holiday) is almost certainly off for the second year running due to Covid. We will try to get the ferry fee back or defer until 2022 which I sincerely hope will be a better year.
73 and stay safe,


Nothing that sophisticated, John. Just the auto ATU. It evidently transmits well enough but the base S5 noise makes QSB on incoming signals a real contact killer.

Hope you get a refund or deferral OK for your PA trip and better luck for next year.

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Hi John,

It was worth hanging around then?

Definitely, and your advice to announce my return to S20 towards the end of our conversation brought in many more additional calls than I had expected. I did hear from Judith eventually, she was cheerful enough to ask what I wanted for a cooked breakfast when she realised I would still be home in time!

The family spent an hour on the summit of Ingleborough and another hour at Gaping Gill relaxing in the sun, and encouraged me to take my time on the radio. 21 contacts from my favourite hill made a splendid valedictory activation before our return to the flatlands of Cambridge the next day. Many thanks to all those who called me and Judith during our holiday!

I hope your plans for Arnhem work out in due course John, and I look forward to reading about and learning from your next adventure.

73, John M0VCM