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G4YSS: G/NP-007, G/NP-018, G/NP-003 on 17-02-17

G4YSS Activation Report for NP7, NP18, NP3 on 17-02-17
Issue-2. (One callsign, one name, one QTH & 160m QSO count corrected)

GX0OOO/P on:

NP7: 160m-80m CW/ SSB QRO
NP18: 2m-FM QRO
NP3: 80m-160m CW/ SSB QRO

G4YSS - unaccompanied
All times UTC
Sun times: 07:27 and 16:20

NP7 & NP3:
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

Moonraker MT270M, 2m/ 70cm, 25 Watt FM miniature mobile rig (400gm).

Baofeng UV-5R, 2-Band, 5W V-UHF H/H (200gm). (Not used)

NP7: One 5 Ah Li-Po
NP18: One 6 Ah Li-Po
NP3: One 5 Ah Li-Po plus one 2.2 Ah in reserve (part used)

Packweight: 9.7kg (21.4 pounds) inc. 250ml water

Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player
DAB Radio
Go Outdoors lightweight windbreak (420gm - NP3 only)

This was closely based on the expedition of 12 days earlier. Two six point G/NP summits featuring 80m and 160m with a quick 2m-FM activation of a 4-point NP at noon to make it all possible in the time available.

The aim once again was qualification of the 6-pointers on 160m with at least four QSO’s. As always it was necessary to be on the air early and late to make best use of 160m propagation conditions. There is much reliance on teamwork, which is where the goodwill and co-operation of a small but growing number of 160m chasers comes in.

Chasers on 160m also need greater than average skills due to the highest levels of noise, which affect the lower frequencies. They also need a 160m band antenna - something which hardly any of them actually have, so ingenuity is required in order to get the best out of what can be tuned up.

Yes, the poor old chap had to get up in the middle of the night again to enable the 03:50 start from home. Because daylight is now increasing at a rapid rate, the Top Band opportunities are being pushed ever earlier and later which also means a later home coming. These are like the long activating days which featured in the past but which have now become ever less popular with me.

I left Scarborough at 03:50, driving 89 miles via the A170, A684 and arriving at the start point at 06:15. It was a pleasant morning at that time in Mallerstang, without rain frost or wind.

Parking is on the narrow eastern grass verge near the tree at SD 7827 9975. Getting onto this is done in reverse gear and the surface is lumpy and can be soft. There was some wheel spin during the process but I thought little about it at the time.

The walk wasn’t started until 06:38 by which time the sky was beginning to lighten from the east. After 20 minutes I was able to pocket the headlamp and continue unaided. The initial section was very muddy, it having been churned up by a large flock of sheep but guilt feelings were avoided when the farm dogs appeared not to hear me.

With over 430 metres (1,400ft) of height gain required, NP7 needs a steady plod. The sun rose as predicted just before 07:30 on the way up but as so often happens, it was only briefly visible between cloud layers. That was to be the last I saw of it which did nothing for the mood.

I wasn’t feeling at all energetic and had already determined that unlike last December, I would not be going to the trig point. Instead I chose a place well within the SOTA activation zone, overlooking the eastern scarp just beyond The Nab at SD7630 9905. This saves a total of more than 1km of walking and time that could be in short supply later in the day.

The start point is at SD7827 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. Zigzag up to the right, then cross a beck at SD7774 9975. After the gate you go up to the left (west) on a good path via High Dolphinsty (NY7655 0002) to The Nab (at SD7637 9918 and inside the activation zone). If you wish, it’s a further 500m flat walk to the small summit shelter that surrounds the trig point.

WILD BOAR FELL, G/NP-007, 708m, 6 Pts, 07:38 to 09:41. 5 deg.C. 2 mph wind. Overcast with intermittent low-cloud and occasional light drizzle. One or two tiny patches of lying snow down below the eastern scarp. LOC: IO84TJ, WAB: SD79. Trig: TP-6943 (if you go there). Orange (EE) phone coverage (and DAB radio) on the higher sections & summit.

1.832 CW - 5 QSO’s:
All was ready with the antenna 15 minutes earlier than the alerted time of 08:15. It wasn’t pleasant up there but I tried to make myself as comfortable as possible. Out of all the known 160m chasers, I knew that Mark G0VOF would be the most time critical so I called him first with 50 Watts. It was a relief when he responded immediately with a big signal of 589 with 579 coming back.

Both Roy G4SSH and Nick G4OOE were only coming in at 339 but although Nick was initially unsure, we got the QSO’s OK logging 229 from both.

Phil G4OBK called in with a fat signal of between 589 and QSB 559 on the meter but he unfortunately couldn’t hear me well enough to succeed, which was no doubt due to his local noise level. After just three in the log and some CQ’ing on my part, Roy G4SSH came in with his spare callsign - G7ROY. This was for insurance but I would be hesitant to claim it, hoping that the temptation would not arise. It didn’t thanks to GM4WCE. Peter worked me once on 1.832-CW a year or two ago and again today. He was 599, giving me 449 in return. This meant that NP7 was qualified on Top Band just with CW.

1.843 SSB - 3 QSO’s:
First to call in was Dave G4IAR (55/ 47) with Nick G8VNW in Threshfield following up with identical reports to Dave. After these the frequency was quiet apart from some strong splashing from one side which I went to investigate.

A QSY up to 1.845 found what turned out to be the Hull Top Band early morning net consisting of M0IOK; G4AON; G3NOP; M0GWU and G4ERZ. After a short while the latter asked for callers. His name was Alan and we exchanged easily at 58/ 54. I think he was surprised to work a SOTA station and offered to pass me round. I did try and fail to work Dave M0GWH (57 to me) but the others could not hear me well enough.

From Alan, I gathered that the weather in Hull was wall to wall sunshine. It was galling to realise that I had likely exchanged ‘Sunny Scarborough’ for the cold damp environment I would have to put up with all day. At that moment it was drizzling. Such is life.

3.557 CW - 11 QSO’s:
80m band conditions were exceptionally good again but the 20 QSO’s logged last time on a Sunday were never likely to be repeated on a Friday.

Stations worked with 30 Watts: G4SSH; G4WSB; G4OOE; G3RMD; G0TDM; GM4AXY; G3RDQ; G0BPU; G4OBK; PA0SK and G4CMQ. Incoming signals were mainly 599 with reports on my output between 559 (close in) and 599. I tried and better tried to bring in DL2HWI (579 to me) but Dietmar ended up disappointed. 80m CW took 15 minutes.

3.724 SSB - 18 QSO’s:
From 09:03 the following stations were worked in SSB: G3RMD; G0VWP; M0JLA; G4YTD; G4IAR; G4WSB; G8ADD; G1BLJ; G4WHA/A; MM0XPZ; M0MDA; G4HDS; MI1AIB; G0TDM; G0FEX; G0GWY and GI0AZA/M.

The majority were coming in at 59 and half gave me the same report back but there were some 55’s, 47’s and finally a 33 both ways from Esther GI0AZA/M. This final QSO took some completing; then ironically and too late to be useful, QSB allowed us up to 55 both ways! Once again - such is life. Power for the 30 minute SSB session was 50 Watts.

After falling behind time wise on the 5th of February, a glance at my watch lightened the mood. Walking off at 09:41 and arriving back at the car for 10:21 helped to maintain a half-hour lead on the schedule. However, you can imagine the change of mood after attempting to drive the car away; it was bogged! A spinning front wheel was splattering the near side with filth but we were going nowhere. I could see that one rear wheel was in a depression and that the front wheel had dug itself in trying to pull the latter over a lump in the ground.

A tractor passed; the driver merely looking disdainfully down at me. Would I be forced to get the hand winch out; something that was needed on this very grass verge some ten years ago? Fortunately it wasn’t required. With a lot of forward and reverse rocking, the car just managed to free itself and I was back on the road in only five minutes, albeit with some lost rubber. Crisis over.

With the HF gear out of the rucksack and VHF in, the 7-mile drive via Kirby Stephen to the B6270 start point for NP18 took from 10:30 and 10:45. After mild lethargy on NP7, lunch and some fluids restored energy levels noticeably and I was walking again by 10:57, this time with golf umbrella in hand.

ROUTE to NP18:
From the B6270 at NY8084 0429, a path goes via NY8079 0464 where you turn right, passing through two gates in new fences at NY8081 0469 and NY8091 0483. The path swings right at NY8096 0499, crossing a beck at NY8128 0515 and going via NY8138 0529 and a boggy section (amongst other places) at NY8151 0554. It then descends a little to cross Rollinson Gill at NY8157 0564 before veering left and up to a small shelter at NY8156 0573. The Coast to Coast Walk guidepost is at NY8173 0577.

After this there are only minor fluctuations in direction via NY8219 0610 up to NY8233 0618 where you can veer off right to the trig at NY8254 0611 or continue left on the path to the Nine Standards via the viewpoint at NY8242 0632. There’s a low ruined building at NY 8251 0651 which can provide some shelter but it’s screened for VHF. The higher reaches of the path are black and boggy; easily lost in bad visibility.

Today I went to the trig point to use it as a base for the J-Pole and in case any WAB stations called.

G/NP-018, NINE STANDARDS RIGG, 662m, 4pts, 11:44 to 12:34. 6 deg.C. SW wind 7 mph - increasing. Intermittent low-cloud. No lying snow. (IO84UK, WAB NY80, TP-5129). EE mobile phone & DAB radio coverage from start point to summit.

145.400 FM - 5 QSO’s:
All stations were worked with 25 Watts from the newly repaired Moonraker MT270. A quick text to Roy G4SSH got me the spot I needed. Just checking the frequency of 145.400 bang on noon got an immediate response from the shop in Penrith. Geoff G4WHA/A was first in the log with 59 plus both ways. After Geoff came Simon 2E0NMK, calling from County Durham and using 50 Watts to something he called a ‘white stick’ (59/ 57).

Ditch Diggers:
It was then that I thought I was hearing things. Over the local horizon to the east trundled a tracked vehicle followed by a small truck. At first I assumed that they were being used for drainage ditch digging but it’s not often you see diggers at over 2000 feet. I can only think of two previous occasions. Once on Pen-y-Ghent for laying the summit path and another time on Grasmoor.

The machinery soon disappeared into the fog apparently heading in the direction of the standards. As they passed the trig pillar against which I was sitting, I saw that the truck had a cargo of what looked like plastic sheets. Maybe they were constructing grouse butts? I would have gone over to ask but the activation was in progress.

John MW1FGQ called in from Holywell. I used to work him mainly on 4m-FM but I’m ashamed to say that the band doesn’t get aired as much these days.

The receiver on the MT270 isn’t good at rejecting rubbish, which was taking out the weaker stations. A case in point was Colin GW4ZPL/P (37/ 59). Apologising for the poor report, I told him that he wasn’t to blame.

Despite Roy’s spot, I needed to return to S20 after each QSO in order to drum up further support. What turned out to be the final QSO was the result of a CQ reply from 2E0HYG/A – Paul located at Peterlee, 10 miles east of Durham.

I found out that Paul is the owner of a small car repair business. I suspect it was partly because of his location at 160m ASL that he was keen enough to have an FT2900 permanently monitoring 145.500-FM while he worked.

Paul was running 10 Watts and reports both ways were well over the 59. In fact he marvelled at the signal strength produced when both stations are up high with nothing between them. That said, I think we were only 35 miles apart. I left him to the sound of a ringing phone that he went off to answer and thence to continue his work on a Honda Civic.

Further CQ’s produced nothing, as did scanning up and down the band. Despite Roy’s SOTA-watch spot and 25 Watts, I was a little shocked at how close I might have come to not qualifying NP18. Was this 2017 SOTA or was the year really 2002? Rob G4RQJ is right; 2m-FM is going downhill.

I was QRT at 12:24 before starting the long walk down at 12:34, arriving back at the B6270 for 13:14. Two down, one to go!

The 36-mile drive via Kirkby Stephen, Brough and Middleton-in-Teesdale to Darngill Bridge on the B6277, took from 13:32 to 14:32. Being ahead of schedule I wasn’t rushing. It wouldn’t do to be on NP3 too early. Up until a few years ago I used to drive up the track to park in the old quarry but nowadays the track has a metal gate across it. You can park in the layby opposite at NY 7742 3713.

I was off walking again by 14:46, this time selecting the Go Outdoors windbreak as an accessory. I modified this to use my own carbon fibre rods as poles. It is a bit flimsy and also a little too large for my needs but it weighs just 420 grams including a single guy rope and peg.

From my first activation in 2003, I have more or less kept to a straight line from car to summit. 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 and grassy. Apart from the trig point, there is barely any shelter, either natural or man-made and it has a tendency to be very boggy, with pools of standing water particularly just west of the trig. It’s best not to bother with the trig on this one. It’s not the true summit anyway - in fact the location of that is debatable. One listing which I think I got from Jim G0CQK, puts the highest point at NY 78410 37630 but that’s across yet another bog.

There were extensive snowfields blocking progress today but NP3 is perhaps the easiest 6-pointer in England and you are soon up it.

Today I set up at NY7840 3756 where there is a large clump of what I assume is sphagnum moss. This I planned to use as a combination equipment table and for leaning against. The windbreak was deployed around the clump albeit in a rather unsatisfactory manner. Wherever I probed around this area there was rock under the soil at a constant depth of about 10cm. This affected the mast too but the clump was deep enough to take it. Where the end sticks needed to go, 20m in either direction, the soil was deeper.

BURNHOPE SEAT, G/NP-003, 747m, 6pts: 15:08 to 17:54, 4 deg. C, 10-mph wind, Intermittent low cloud, occasional drizzle and dark by the end. No lying snow on the summit. Large patches on the slopes. Unexpectedly reliable EE phone coverage. LOC: IO-84-UR, WAB: NY73. Trig: TP-1783 (if you go there).

3.552 CW - 12 QSO’s:
It came as a surprise to see signal bars on my phone so the opportunity was taken both to fire off a text to Roy G4SSH for spotting the frequency change and to let my XYL know of my whereabouts.

The intended frequency of 3.557 had a strong printer signal on it. Starting at 15:40 on 3.552, the following stations were worked with 30 Watts: G4SSH; DL1FU; G0TDM; G4OBK; GI4ONL; G4OOE; G4FGJ; ON7ZM; LA1ENA; G0BPU; G4AZS and SA4BLM. Reports ranged from 559 to 599 with a couple of 339’s from G4OOE & SA4BLM and a 449 from Frid DL1FU. The session spanned 18 minutes.

3.720 SSB - 21 QSO’s:
Continuing with about 30 Watts but increasing to 50 Watts where necessary, the following stations were worked: G4OOE; MM0XPZ; M0MDA; G0FEX; G0RQL; G0VWP; G8VNW; G7BGA; G0TDM; M3FEH; G6TUH; G0GWY; G4FGJ; M0ZAE/P; M0JLA; PA0SKP; G4RQJ; G3RMD; G0SDD; G4WHA/A and G4SSH - to check on the next QSY.

Despite calling Brian back regularly throughout the second half of the session, it was bad luck that G8ADD did not feature in the 80m log. I worried that if he couldn’t hear me on 80m, Brian was even less likely to make it through on 160m. Fortunately I was wrong.

I gave most people 59 and six returned the compliment. Having the most difficulty were: G4OOE; G0TDM; M3FEH and G4WHA/A but all made it into the log.

Rob G4RQJ told me that he couldn’t get out activating at the moment as his car was in long term ‘dry dock.’ Also Audrey had a knee problem. I hope they both get out on the hills soon.

1.832 CW - 8 QSO’s from 16:40:
Sake PA0SKP was waiting here listening for the slightest clue that might mean activity. As I remember it, he reacted to my test ‘V’s and we exchanged at 579/ 559 with QSB. Next in was Mark G0VOF (589/ 559) followed by Frank G3RMD (529 both ways). Roy was barely reading me but I got his 229 in response to the 529 sent.

With phones on and the AF gain up high, I jumped when Marko OH9XX called in. He was 599, giving me a 529 report in return. Bringing up the rear were Rob G4RQJ; Nick G4OOE and G4IPB. Paul lives in the last town on the way to Darngill Bridge, i.e. Middleton-in-Teesdale. Reports were 589/ 339; 529/ 339 and 599 both ways respectively.

Mark came back in at the end just to make sure of his QSO. Initially he was hearing me 559 but now it was down to 339. He was struggling with noise. Despite this, he was soon reassured.

1.843/ 1.846 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 17:04:
Sticking with 50 Watts, I logged G4WHA/A Geoff in Penrith (52/ 51); G8VNW Nick - Threshfield (55/ 57). At this point the rig cut off abruptly as the 5Ah Li-Po gave up on me. After fitting the little 2.2Ah reserve battery, G8ADD Brian in Birmingham at last bagged the summit with a surprisingly good 56/ 57 exchange.

Mark G0VOF reworked me in SSB with 57/ 47 and he seemed pleased to do so. He is much less confident of success on 160 SSB than on CW. Next in was David G3RDQ (55/ 44) followed by a call from Don G0RQL, who I heard giving me 33. I tried for quite a long time to get a report back to him, counting it up, repeating it over and over again. I even tried shouting but it was all to no avail.

MM0XPZ Steve – QTH Greenock exchanged next with 57/ 55 and finally on this frequency, Terry in York G0VWP with 55 both ways. On request, Terry did his best in trying to re-establish contact with G0RQL but Don couldn’t hear him any better than he was hearing me. The result was no response.

At this point G0VOF called back in. Mark had been busy and had found a much clearer channel 3kHz up in the hope that Don would succeed there. We announced the QSY to 1.846 MHz and it was a far better frequency. Mark further announced the change in the form of a spot adding a message in the notes specifically aimed at Don but after a few calls there was still no Don.

However I did get four further contacts on here namely: G3IRQ Peter; GI4ONL Victor; G4IPB Paul in Teesdale and finally M1DXQ Mark in Stoke. Exchanges for this final group was 59 both ways. In fact the last three were all hearing me at an amazing 59 plus 10dB! Encouraged by the apparent dramatic improvement in propagation I tried Don again but to no avail.

A final attempt was made with the help of two fixed stations; G0VOF and I if I remember correctly, Peter G3IRQ. Try as we may, the noise levels at G0RQL must have been so bad that not even the strongest fixed stations could cut it, so in gathering gloom I announced QRT; Mark posting it on SOTAwatch. From the radio viewpoint, the day was over. By now the time was 17:37. With darkness imminent packing up became urgent.

Now just about fully dark, the headlamp-assisted descent was started at 17:54. There is less than a mile to walk but the hill is rounded and with no path to follow, it looks much the same everywhere, especially in darkness or fog. Tussocks, boggy depressions and today, large snowfields up to a foot deep, needed either avoiding or carefully crossing but confidence was restored when the ruin; just a quarter mile from the road, came into sight. A short bit of track guided me down to the road at 18:10 but my fingers were too cold and stiff to easily untie the short length of orange billy band that secures the gate to its post.

This should have been a two and a half-hour journey via, A66, A1, A168 and Sutton Bank but it went wrong. After managing to beat the A1 closure at Scotch Corner by an hour, I then missed exit 49 and ended up in Boroughbridge. I thought I knew the way through Brafferton-Helperby, Coxwold and Wass to the A170 because I traveled it regularly in the past. The trouble is that was in 1973. Next I ended up on the A19 to York, followed by a tedious drive round the bypass and onto the A64.

This annoying and tiring 122-mile journey took from 18:18 to 21:05 (2hrs-47min). Despite being fooled by lines of cones across much of exit 49, this was my own fault. The original plan was to go via Whitby for a change and I dearly wished I’d kept to it. I don’t like the A1 around Scotch Corner anyway. They close it at the drop of a hat.

QSO’S: Total of 95 comprising:
NP7: 37 (5 on 160m CW; 3 on 160m SSB; 11 on 80m CW; 18 on 80m SSB)
NP18: 5 on 2m-FM
NP3: 52 (12 on 80m CW; 21 on 80m SSB; 8 on 160m CW; 11 on 160m SSB)

NP7: One 5 Ah Li-Po (Est. 65% discharged)
NP18: One 6 Ah Li-Po (Est. 30% discharged)
NP3: One 5 Ah Li-Po (Fully discharged)
One 2.2 Ah Li-Po (Est. 65% discharged)

G/NP-007: 428m ascent, 6.6 km up & down, 60U/40D (to The Nab.)
G/NP-018: 172m ascent, 6.8 km up & down, 47U/40D
G/NP-003: 160m ascent, 2.4 km up & down, 22U/16D
TOTAL: 760m (2,493ft) Ascent – 15.8 km (9.9 miles) walked
Note: (Normally NP7 would be 432m, 8.2km up & down to the Trig Pt.)

TIMES: 2hr-9 min of ascent. 1hr-36 min of descent
Total walking time: 3hr-45 min at 2.6mph ave.
Summit times: NP7: 2h-3m. NP18: 50m. NP3: 2h-46m
Total: 5hr-39m

Distance driven: 254 miles. (89+7+36+122)
Activator points: 25 (inc 9 WB).

03:50: Left Scarborough.
06:15: Arrd. Matterstang (SD 7827 9975).
06:38: Walked for NP6 in dark.
07:38 to 09:41: NP7 on 160m and 80m.
10:21: Rtnd. Matterstang. Repacked rucksack for VHFM.

10:30 and 10:45: Drove 7 miles to B6270 (NY 8084 0429) via Kirkby Stephen
10:57: Walked for NP18.
11:44 to 12:34: NP18 on 2m-FM.
13:14: Rtnd. B6270. Repacked rucksack for HF.

13:32 to 14:32: Drove 36-miles via Middleton to Darngill Br, B6277 (NY 7742 3713).
14:46: Walked for NP3.
15:08 to 17:54: NP3 on 80m and 160m.
18:10: Rtnd. Darngill Bridge.
18:18 to 21:05: Drove home 122 miles.

160m CW/ SSB:
The 160m sessions went according to plan again but it’s always more difficult in the mornings. For some reason it would seem that conditions half an hour before sunset are better than those half an hour after sunrise but thanks to early bird chasers, nine contacts were logged. It was a pity that Phil G4OBK failed to QSO but these summits are further away from Pickering than were NP6 and NP9 on 5th February.

Best DX in the afternoon was Marko OH9XX and PA0SKP Sake, who proved the path east into Europe. All other stations worked; some 26 QSO’s, were located inside the UK. For 160m, a great success but as the days lengthen it will get harder. Marko has a big station so I cannot take any of the credit for working him.

80m CW/ SSB:
As was the case on 5th February, early and late 80m was very user friendly. It will soon take over completely from 40m for inter-G and near EU contacts. That said, skip was shorter than 12 days earlier and I barely got outside the country. The only EU station worked in the morning was PA0SKP Sake. DL2HWI failed to make contact. I had more success in the evening with DL1FU, PA0SKP ON7ZM, LA1ENA and SA4BLM all making it into the 80m CW log. I regret not working more overseas stations but 160m was the priority with 80 as backup.

My Moonraker MT270M had its first outing since it was reported ‘nil TX modulation’ from NP13 on 15th December. Moonraker repaired it out of warranty FOC (a new mic. supplied). The best thing about it is its power-weight ratio but some performance issues have to be tolerated. In spite of what is printed in the spec, it doesn’t reject unwanted signals at all well and the received audio is rather muffled. Also the channel selection can occasionally increment in the opposite direction to the VFO control rotation.

VHF from NP18 reminded me of the Howgill summits last December and despite the use of 25 Watts this time, I still only managed 5 QSO’s. On the plus side, the low number of contacts combined with the fact that there was no pressure on the schedule enabled a no rush, chatty approach for NP18.

Trig Points:
Unusually again, all three SOTA’s had trig points but only one was on offer. That was TP-5129 on NP18. I didn’t operate close enough to the others.

In a word, uninspiring. It was neither warm nor cold; about 4 to 6 degrees C. There was low-cloud but it was by no means constant. The same applied to the drizzle. Wind speeds started low, increasing throughout the day but never they got near the point of wind chill.

The WX in winter bonus period can be ten times worse than this but it was nevertheless quite miserable. More than once I questioned why I was bothering. Nick G4OOE made the decision to postpone his trip to Ingleborough the same day and as far as the weather (only) was concerned, I should have done the same in the hope of a settled day ahead. The trouble is it might never materialise.

Lying snow:
They weren’t all visible due to cloud but many of the NP hills still have patchy lying snow on them. There were only tiny amounts on NP7. NP18 had more when viewed from below but I never had to walk through any. There was far more snow on NP3 but like the others, it wasn’t on the summit proper. Some of the patches on the approach to NP3 were typically 20 x 40 metres and 10 to 30cm deep in places.

My EE mobile phone was useable from all summits today. That was a surprise. I have NP18 and NP3 down as ‘unreliable.’

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED, especially the ones out of bed early (again!) and to the spotters: G4SSH; G0VOF; G0UUU; G4IAR; G4WHA; G3RMD; PA0SKP and G0RQL. To DX Cluster spotters (160m): G0UUU (NP7) and G6TUH (NP3).

Special thanks to Roy G4SSH for telephone liaison and also for constant monitoring of 3.557-CW. To Mark G0VOF for QSY spots and an attempt to get an NP3/ 160m QSO for G0RQL. It was another long day.

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


NP7: 4-6-7-20-21-22
NP18: 24-28-30-32-38-42-43-48-50
NP3: 56-59-63-65-67-68

Above: Marker post half way up NP7, Wild Boar Fell

Above: 07:30 sunrise from NP7, Wild Boar Fell. Sunshine ration for the day!

Above: Activation of G/NP-007, Wild Boar Fell on 160 & 80m

Above: Descent from NP7, Wild Boar Fell. Track down to railway.

Above: Descent from NP7, Wild Boar Fell. Passing under the Settle-Carlisle railway

Above: Mallerstang; back from NP7. Tricked by a grass verge

Above: Leaving the B6270 for NP18 ahead

Above: Activation of G/NP-018 on 2m-FM

Above: Activation of G/NP-018. Mast and bungee

Above: Activation of G/NP-018. Moonraker MT270 25 Watt mobile rig

Above: G/NP-018. Approaching ‘Diggerasaurus.’

Above: G/NP-018. Driving and mobile phone rules don’t apply here

Above: G/NP-018. Kubota KX161-3. Elecraft??

Above: G/NP-018. Polaris 6x6 with mystery cargo

Above: G/NP-018 activation log-sheet

Above: Activation of G/NP-003. Setting up the windbreak

Above: Activation of G/NP-003.

Above: Activation of G/NP-003. Packing up at the end

Above: Dark descent of G/NP-003. Extensive snowfield

Above: Navigating down Burnhope Seat, NP3

Above: Navigating down Burnhope Seat. The ruin - right where it should be. Just 300m to the road


Super report as usual, John.

Many thanks for the contacts on 80m; I did listen on 160 but, as expected, heard nothing. (The G5RV tunes to 1.1 SWR but I expect it is effectively a dummy load on 160m.)
Bad luck on the convoluted journey home; always seems to happen when tired after a long day. Once dark falls I now rely 100% on TomTom unless I am on home ground.


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Thanks for the report, John. Always worth getting up early for!

You see FWD is fine in principle as long as implemented correctly. SAAB used to FWD properly. The SAAB 92/96 & 99 models were FWD and sensibly the handbrake worked on the front wheels. You could fit an LSD (limited slip diff) which is expensive to solve that problem. But putting the handbrake on the front means you can use it as a poor man’s LSD. Gently applying the brake similarly to cadence braking would had have you off that in a a few pulls. When I had a RWD Sierra, traction issues in snow were solved by applying the handbrake. The look of disbelief on the passenger’s face when you apply some handbrake and the car shoots forward on snow is something to savour!

Nowadays the ABS/traction control/EDL (electronic diff locks) would have sorted that for you. But it’s probably another 15years before those cars will be in the YSS budget :slight_smile: (If they are still working after all the electronics have packed in!)

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Not sure if you are on 4G, but it’s worth noting that since EE won the contract to provide the up coming (and much delayed) UK Emergency Services Network (ESN), their 4G coverage is increasing very quickly. I believe NW England will be the first area to migrate from TETRA (Airwave) so they are investing heavily. It’s aimed at covering (almost) all public roads, but the spin off will be much improved remote area coverage.

John’s mobile looks a little like this. :grin:


My two contacts with you on Top Band this year gave me more pleasure than the rest of this year’s logbook added together! I’m still using a 20 metres long wire fed with a 9:1 unun, I tried a 40 metre long wire earlier in the month but bringing the feedpoint close to the houses made the noise level too punishing to tolerate. Past Top Band contacts with you were with a G5RV, it just goes to show that you don’t need 80 metres of wire up high to get some pleasure out of Top Band, though I doubt that I will be logging any intercontinental DX!:grinning:

Always a thrill to get you on your expeds John, especially on top band. My plans to go to Ingleborough and Penyghent were thwarted again, this time by a throat infection. However, the good side was I was able to chase you on two out of the three summits. I am still working on making my top band coils so I reckon that I will be able to test the 160 m antenna soon on G/TW-004. However, I don’t think that I am brave enough to do the NPs in the dark!


Thanks John, both for the information and the contact, and for trying to cope with my CW. ( I passed the test in 79 but am finding it hard to remove 20 years of rust…) It is very useful to read your description of the route as I hope to activate all the local hills! The QTH here is 1000ft ASL so at least I have an idea about conditions!

For genral Info the Webcam at Forest in Teesdale ( Again about 1000 Ft ASL ) is here http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/4530?station=49 and it gives a good idea of conditions at altitude fo anyone wondering if the journey is worthwhile.

73 Paul


Hi Rod,
It’s a pleasure. I expect people hear nothing from me on 160m many times more than they hear even a squeak. It’s not the easiest of bands. Things are picking up though. There seems to be a small revival of interest.

Yes, I was using a Garmin satnav but still managed to ignore it. Tiredness I expect. I really don’t look forward to these long home runs. It’s bad enough in the morning. When I arrive I just feel like having a kip. No enthusiasm at all. When I started SOTA I set a policy of multiple and preferably high-scoring summits in the day to minimize driving but after 15 years, the sight of the A66, A59 or A648 tends to make me feel physically sick.
73, John.

Thanks for the reply Dave. It surprises me that people read such tomes. The intention is to include everything and hope that people just select the bits they want to read. Eg: My son Phil skips all the walking descriptions as he claims reading them makes him feel tired. Needless to say, I have continuously failed to get him up any summit since about 2008 but I never give up hope. Sorry about the lack of trig points this time.

Keep calling in,
73, John.

Good evening Andy,
An LSD would cost more than the car! I managed to rock it out. Slow movements at first then eventually it came out. A bit like a regenerative pendulum. Trouble is you need your wits about you when it does eventually shoot onto the road. Just my luck that a wagon would appear at the wrong moment but it’s a quiet road.

I have only had one Saab and it was a 1972 96 V4 model. It had front WD and a free wheel.

Any car that claims 2-WD is really 1-WD. 4-WD’s are really two unless of course they have LSD’s or diff. locks, both of which you mentioned. A useful thing would be the ability to independently brake the wheel that is spinning.

Oh yes, the YSS budget. When it comes to transport, it’s a very small one. Same with mobile phones but I moved on from the one in your photo a few years ago. It was the two miles of trailing wire slowing me down that convinced me.

May see you at B-Pool if I go,
73, John.

Thanks Gerald,
I am not 100% sure but I think it is. It is quite modern despite being cheap (40GBP). What you are telling me is welcome news indeed. NP and LD can be quite poor in places but when I was in Torridon last year EE was 99% non existent. I carry a spare one on Vodaphone and that was much better.

TETRA rings a vague bell. I thought it was what the police use or formerly used.
All the best and thanks for the info,

That is gratifying to know and it more than justifies adding SSB (if you’ll excuse the pun) to the activations. The fact that you get through so often on the setup you have is quite surprising but you seem to hear better than you transmit if you get my meaning. There are plenty of stations who I can hear very well but who can’t hear me. You throw me a meagre signal most of the time and I think, ‘He’ll never hear this’ but it seems that much of the time you can. It’s counter intuitive when you consider the size of the city you live in, with all that QRN, so keep calling and don’t change a thing.

Thanks for your interest in the mountains I have the privilege to visit, especially in GM. Cu you next time I hope,
73, John.

Hi Nick
Many thanks for taking the trouble to come up. It’s great when you get through on 160m. Sounds like you are getting somewhere with the coils. When you succeed, that’ll be three of us with them; all warming up the ground mainly but making the odd contact too!

I quite envied you when you cancelled that day. It was a sensible choice. There’s always another day so why toil in mediocre weather if you can do it when it’s nice, particularly when you’re below par. At the time I wished I’d done the same.

You can probably get away with it on Top Band without dark walking. An hour before sunset seems to be a good compromise. You could do a quicky on an easy summit then back to the car before dusk. Looking forward to you getting on 160.
73, John.

Not much of a route I’m afraid but probably the most efficient approach. I don’t know whether Burnhope Seat has a ‘proper’ route that people use or it’s so rarely visited or even noticed, it gets almost no visitors apart from SOTA activators and the occasional Marilyn bagger. I have noticed some heavy engineering on there to the north of my route but never been over to have a close look. I think it could have something to do with skiing but I’ve never seen it in use.

Don’t worry about the Morse. I never notice a thing. Anyway, my CW reading skills are very poor with anything other than callsigns and reports. If someone asks me a question, I tend to freeze for 30 seconds. You get all sorts of skill levels coming at you from 40wpm (which I can’t hope to read) right down to hardly any difference between the length of dots and dashes. So long as I know who’s calling and I get the RST I’m happy. Neither do I care how bad the report is, so long as I get one.

You are lucky enough to live in a lovely area and 1,000ft ASL can only be envied. Good luck with doing the local hills. I see a nice hill; Monk’s Moor to the north of you but it’s not a SOTA, or it would seem, not even a HuMP. Thanks for the webcam link. I didn’t know about that one. It’ll be useful for sure.
73, John.

Thanks for all replies and QSO’s.

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Its good to be beating the odds on receive, though sometimes it takes every trick I know to burrow into the local noise, but on transmit I can’t ignore the laws of physics, an inferior antenna remains an inferior antenna so I’m glad you hear me. I enjoy the radio, its a hobby that has been with me for over fifty years, but with me the mountains are more like a lifelong love affair. I so enjoy working the activators on summits that I know well - in a sense when you do your Helvellyn to St Sunday Crag round I am walking with you, seeing in my mind’s eye the scenery that you are walking through. I hope that’s not creepy!:laughing:


I’ve often thought that applies to some chasers. If I have time and the pile up allows, I always try to talk about what I can see or what I am experiencing from the WX. I hope that is useful to at least some.