G4YSS:G/NP-008 VHF-NFD Gt.Whernside 02-07-23

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008. VHF-NFD & SOTA on Sunday 02-July-23
Pse Rprt Errors?

G4YSS/P VHF-NFD Contest on 2m SSB/ CW/ FM & 4m SSB (QRP)
SOTA on 20m CW/ SSB (QRO)
Accompanied by Finn, the family Lurcher
My 21st Consecutive VHF-NFD from G/NP-008
This VHF-NFD report is based on previous ones. They’re all much the same!

Non-radio: BST (UTC plus 1)
Radio ops: UTC (‘z’)

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M, 50 Watt HF Linear Amplifier
Link dipole for 80m thru’ 20m
Home-brew tunable loading coils for 160m (not used)
6m CFC/ alloy 5-section mast with 1m end-sticks for HF dipole
3-sections from above for VHF beams plus guying kit
Two 5,000mAh Li-Po batteries
3-ele Sotabeam (scaled up from 2m) for 4m band, converts to…
4-ele Beam for 2m band (home-brew)
J-Pole for 2m-FM

Baofeng UV-5R 2-band/ 5W H/H (not used)
Baofeng UV-3R 2-band/ 2W H/H (not used)
Pack weight : 15.5kg (34.2 pounds) including 1.5 litre drinks, an ultralight down jacket and an old fleece for Finn

Other Items:
Lichfield Viper-2 ridge tent flysheet with pre-attached poles & pegs
Groundsheet – polythene, approx 2m x 1m (260gm) with 4 alloy pegs
Dog food, bowls, treats, milk & 5m dog lead
Dog coat – waterproof/ fleece lined (worn 100%)
Garmin GEKO-301 GPS

VHF-NFD on NP8 has come of age – well for me at least. This was my twenty first consecutive one on Great Whernside G/NP-008, seven of which have been overnighters. This contest runs from 14:00z on Saturday through to 14:00z on Sunday. 6m is on the Saturday, 2m & 70cm run throughout and 4m is reserved for Sunday from 08:00z. There are other VHF bands that I don’t have equipment for. The Backpacker’s Contest overlaps the NFD running from 11:00z to 15:00z.

To keep pack weight down 70cm was not taken this year. That was a pity. I really could have done with testing a newly purchased Yagi. Because of unfavourable weather conditions and a week’s dog sitting duty, I decided there would be no summit camp this year. For the same reason I kept an open mind about whether to try to set up as usual or repair to a slight dip in the ground used in high winds in 2020.

WX for Sunday 2nd July-23:
After a record breaking June for high temperatures, the weather was sure to crack up for field day as it almost always does. More often that not the worry is lightning but there was none of that in this year’s forecast, only high winds, showers and single-figure summit temperatures with windchill factor.

The MWIS mountain weather forecast for the Yorkshire Dales 02-07-23:
Westerly 30-40mph; Drizzly Showers; 9C - feels like 0C; 80% Cloud-free from noon. In the event it wasn’t quite as bad as that but the wind was very strong and it did rain. MWIS usually errs on the side of caution but no complaints on that score.

The alarm went of at 04:00 and after loading the car we got away at 04:55 for the 89 mile drive via the A64 & A59, arriving at the top of Park Rash for 07:05. To avoid cattle damage, I park on the Kettlewell side of the cattle grid (SD 9861 7567). While driving up the hill from Kettlewell; first gear in places, I could see that the mountain was clear of cloud and neither was it raining. It was however pretty windy.

The Ascent:
As in the previous two years, I just took the 25 litre rucksack with mast, tent and beam tied to the outside. Pack weight (15.5kg) was a bit less than last year.

The walk started at 07:38 with the first job carrying Finn over the cattle grid. The climb was slightly quicker than last year due to a tail wind for the first part and Finn pulling on the lead but I did pay for the latter with time spent picking up his ‘deposits.’ On a whim we varied the route slightly this year, going up beside the wall instead of climbing the stile which I didn’t fancy lifting Finn over in the high wind. I wasn’t expecting not one but two stiles to tackle when we got to the spine path so nothing gained stile wise. However after a short-sharp section, this dog-leg variation provides easier walking.

We clocked 48 minutes to the trig with two walkers arriving when we did. They were a couple with a dog from Derbyshire. They’d come up from Kettlewell via Hag Dyke and were planning to do Buckden Pike and Birks Fell as a round. That’s some significant walking.

Our customary QTH, some 270m northeast of the summit, was attained by 08:35. I have to lift Finn over the wire fence before climbing the stile myself. It was a bit breezy to say the least but there was no low-cloud or rain on arrival. However the sky was looking dark over Pen-y-Ghent to the west; the direction that the weather was coming from, so no time was wasted erecting the flysheet. That wasn’t easy for one person in a determined wind. I had to go around and re-tension it later but the storm guys and long pegs were not quite needed.

Route in Brief:
Park south of the cattle grid at SD9861 7567. From there: Gate SD 9891 7558; Stile SD 9963 7522; 1st marker post (yellow top) SE 0005 7468; 4th marker post SE 0022 7414; Summit cairn SE 00205 73905.

(Today an ascent variation from the stile at SD 9963 7522 via two stiles at SD 9981 7523 and the shelter at SE 0017 7455).

Note-1 The 100km grid letters change from SD to SE part way up.
Note-2: Buckden Pike G/NP-009 can also be accessed from this parking place.

GREAT WHERNSIDE, G/NP-008, 704m (2,310ft) 6 pts. 08:26 to 16:56. Temp: 12C rising to 16C. Wind: West 40mph. Clear on arrival. Showers every hour or so with some sun. No low-cloud. WAB: SE07. LOC: IO94AD. Trig: TP-0703. Vodafone coverage - 4G throughout.

VHF-NFD Contest 144 MHz SSB - 17 QSO’s between 08:48 and 11:11z. 5W:
(All the references below are to reports & ser Nos received).

Switch-on brought disappointment. There were only about five stations that I could hear. One was G3CKR/P on 144.200 from IO93AD precisely one square south of me; 59-184.

M0NFD/P on Blakey Ridge IO94MJ (59-070) was next in the log. Op Chris (own call G4FZN) and I had a short chat. They’d been in the Lion Inn the evening before of course but their station had suffered in the high winds the previous day. Chris operates from the top of Sutton Bank in the UKAC evening contests throughout the year.

As activity increased, hunting up and down the band got me the following exchanges:
G5LK/P 59-479 in JO01QD; GW3ZTT/P 59-195 in IO82KW; M7STD/P 59-008 in IO92EN; French station TM5R 59-613 operating on 144.340 from JN19BQ (best DX); G4ZAP/P 54-503 in JO01PU; G1DSP/P 55-038 in IO92XR and G6IPU/P in JO02QV; 59-076.

After finding no new ones I self spotted on 144.152 and worked the following:
SOTA chaser Mark G7SXR 55-001 in IO93ES nr. Leeds (Mark asked for an FM contact later on) and G4SDX/P 59-023 in IO93AP - Mike on Marsden Moor. There were no more takers so it was back to hunting:

MM0C 53-029 in IO75XU ‘nr.Glasgow’; G4SJM/P 59-027 in IO94GC; G3PYE/P 57-174 in JO02CE ‘located in Cambridge.’ With such a callsign - where else?

Finally G4BTS/P 55-021 in IO93JL (op Sharon); GM3HAM/P 52-083 in IO74WV and G0FBB/P 59-196 in JO01LD.

The dog was looking hungry (when doesn’t he?) and I couldn’t find any more stations to work so after a trip outside to swap the 2m beam for a 4m one which really meant reconfiguring it, we adjourned for lunch. While I was out there I also erected the 2m J-Pole on the front tent pole. As well as his own food, Finn had some Scotch Egg and some milk.

Of course whenever I went out Finn would follow which made me nervous. In doing so the two coats which I’d been using to cover him would fall to the ground. One was light enough to blow away in the high winds. We could see for miles and there were no sheep but I was afraid he would find another excuse to go chasing off and disrupt proceedings.

Letting him wander was desirable but despite him never going more than 100m away from the tent, it wasn’t long before I fastened his lead to the three carbon stakes brought up for the purpose. As further insurance I had a monocular in my pocket should a search become necessary at any point and a whistle too.

VHF-NFD Contest 145.475/ 145.400 FM – 6 QSO’s & G7SXR from 12:50z:
Using 5W from the FT817ND to a vertical J-Pole, preceded by a self spot and a call on S20, the following stations were logged:

M1EYP/P Tom S2S on The Cloud G/SP-015 and 59-050 in IO83WE. We had a quick chat after which Tom apologised to the chasers for the short delay, explaining the reason for it. Next in: 2E0XLG/P Chris 57-004 up at the 1,600ft ASL Shack - IO84VB; G6XLB Walt in Leeds 59-001 in IO93FU; Alan M1DHA 59-001 in Barnoldswick IO83VW; G0PMJ 59-007 in IO94FN Darlington and Chris M0RSF QTH Leeds 59-001 in IO93ET.

Somewhere amongst the above was G7SXR, returning for his FM QSO (59/ 57) so we could dispense with the contest exchange this time around. Chris only logs FM SOTA contacts which is fair enough. Roy G4SSH pursued a similar one-mode approach except his was CW.

VHF-NFD Contest 70 MHz SSB - 11 QSO’s between 11:55 and 13:51z. 10W:
The Ukrainian transverter was linked to the FT817ND. As for the aerial, it’s a case of removing the 2m elements and screwing in the 4m ones. It was a fiddly job made more difficult in the strong wind. The elements are soft aluminium welding rods with 4BA threads – not too bad as half-waves for 2m but twice as weak at 4m. It is simply a double-sized Sotabeam with elements stored inside the tube. Those very elements were the ones that fell out on the way up NP6 for a summit camp in May but this time I made sure that the bung was good and the boom was carried on the rucksack the right way up.

First in the 4m log was G0OLE/P - Goole Club located ‘near Warter’ on the Yorkshire Wolds. Op Ken gave me 59-029 from IO93PX and as always we had a brief conversation. It was such a relief when he came back to my call as I’d spent the past 10 minutes calling CQ on an apparently empty band after a self spot. From all the various connections that must be altered or made to get 4m working from the 817 on 10m, I’d only omitted to connect the aerial! The transverter would have been quite within its rights to blow its PA due to the mismatch so I was very lucky. If I had wrecked it there would have been scant chance of replacement. Ukraine is not really open for business at present. Let’s hope that changes sooner rather than later.

Scanning around I heard some CW on 70.168 and worked GM4ZUK/P – 579-072 in IO86RW, after turning the beam north. Back on SSB I reworked M0NFD/P on Blakey Ridge 59-034 in IO94MJ; G4KCT 55-020 in IO93LW and G4SJM/P 55-020 in IO94GC came next.

Pointing north again briefly my 10W got me GM3HAM/P 59-042 in IO74WV then GW8ASD 57-026 IO83LB and G5LK/P 55-084 in JO01QD. Sadly no sign of Andy MM0FMF this year though I’m sure he’d be behind the scenes somewhere.

Who should I come across calling CQ in CW but our very own ‘SOTA boss’ G3WGV. John was going very fast – too fast for my skill level but we just about managed an exchange. As far as I can be sure John gave me 559-022 from IO84QN and called me by name.

What came next caused slight panic on my part but this was done with great skill by G3ZME/P in IO82NN. He called me on John’s frequency then held the key down and tuned up the band. I heard the note rising then worked him 2kHz higher up without delay. We exchanged 599 both ways and serial numbers 10 and 60. It’s the first time I have come across such a method used in CW so it could have gone embarrassingly wrong on my part.

Wrapping up the NFD contest with minutes to spare was G3PYE/P Cambridge 59-083 in JO02CE. The Backpacker’s Contest carries on for an hour from here but I didn’t extend into that.


14.052.6 CW - 11 QSO’s from 13:12z
With the power set to 50W (5W into the MX-P50M) the following stations were worked on 20m-CW following a self spot:

HB9FAB Pat in Camignol; OH3GZ Jukka in Toivakka; HB9BHW Hans in Illnau; OK/ DL6GCA/P Armin S2S on OK/LI-010; F6EAZ Chris in Dijon; WX1S Alfred in Strafford NH; G4OBK Phil just 50 miles away in Pickering and almost LOS; EA1NL Pablo in Pontevedra; I/DL5AZZ Alex on holiday in Italy; EA2DT Manuel in Pamplona and KF7WI Dwight in Kelso, Washington USA.

The session took 20 minutes and reports were mainly 599 going out and ranging 529 thru 559 and two 599’s coming back. The S2S was easy enough once I got the callsign - 579/ 559. Manuel and most of the other Spanish stations seemed to have the lowest strengths. 11 QSO’s on 20m-CW compares badly with 25 two years ago.

14.245 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 15:00z:
This wasn’t meant to happen. The 7.160 MHz WAB net was supposed to be next but when I listened on 7.160, I could hear nobody familiar. Also by now I had become a little fed up of going outside for any reason other than the obvious. Every time I did, Finn would rise from his slumber and follow me out. If I zipped up the door he would stick his head under it. He’s a strong lad and I didn’t want any damage. I had already spotted multiple small cuts in the flysheet caused by rolling it up roughly with the pegs attached so I stuck with 20m so as not to have to change the links. I can’t complain; the tent is 35 years old and has seen a lot of service.

Continuing with 50 Watts and rain battering, after another self-spot the log shows:

SV3IEG Dinos in Patria; EA1DHB Ricardo in Burgos; EB5TT Frank in Alicante (I grow those tomatoes every year); EA3EVL Pablo in Tarragona; SV1RVJ Kyriakos in Athens; EA6/ M0DLL Dave on holiday in Menorca (originally from Co Durham via Twickenham, Dave told me he was basking in 34C heat!)

Moving on: F5TGC Antoine in Saint Louis; LA9DSA Knut in Elverum (‘NE Norway’); EA2CKX Pedro in Onati Gipuzkoa (I really struggled to get his suffix); EA5FPL (this was something of a guess as I don’t know if I got his callsign right) and finally 9A3BOX Igor in Zagreb.

Reports were mostly 59 going out except for 55 for two of the EA’s. I received ‘59 plus’ from Zagreb but only 43 from Pedro EA2CKX. The rest were an even sprinkling of 55’s, 57’s and 59’s and the session spanned 20 minutes.

160m – Sorry!
I had the coils with me and by now I should have been fitting then and advertising 160m but on the one hand time had more or less run out. On the other, after 8 hours of being battered silly by the weather - wind and rain not to mention the awful racket it produced - I had just about had enough. I think after all that time with limited freedom, Finn was probably ready for off too.

Of course I regret it now; not putting on my favourite SOTA band! For a further expenditure of 15 minutes or so, I could possibly have had G4OBK Phil and G8VNW Nick my the log. So apologies to anybody hoping for 160m. I will try to do a better job in future but this now feels like an incomplete activation and unfinished business.

Packing up and Descent:
The rain had stopped for now which was another pointer to leaving. Fortunately I had packed up the beams earlier along with some of the clutter on the floor of the tent. We ate all the spare food between us and what we couldn’t drink; about 500ml, was poured away. It only took a further half-hour to pack up the rest. With a careful eye on him, I allowed Finn to release his pent-up energy by running around as distinct from running away, the latter extremely undesirable in this situation. I remember only too well reading about Treacle, Phil’s (G4OBK) dog, missing on a summit for an extended period. It was another nightmare when my walking friend Will lost Jess his Spaniel on Kirk Fell for over three hours one day in 2010 when we were doing that with Pillar and Gt. Gable. She had climbed Kirk Fell from below Black Sail Pass on her own dragging a retractable lead and was only found by chance when a walker spotted her with the lead stuck in rocks.

By the time I swung the rucksack on it was looking angry again towards the west. We had the choice of hanging around amongst the rocks near the trig to try and dodge it there or heading straight to the car. Just walking across to climb the stile was difficult, then I had to lift 28kg over it but at least he doesn’t wriggle. About 1/4 way down the rain peppered us and it felt like hail. Finn panicked and dragged me uphill to shoot behind a rock not much larger than a wheelie bin. There we stayed for 10 minutes, with the groundsheet wrapped around us, while the rain eased. Another shower caught us near the rocky gullies so it took 72 minutes summit to car where we arrived grateful at 18:06.

Drive Home:
It’s no use going near York at that time of day even on a Sunday, so I took the traditional route via A684, A1M, A168, A170/ Sutton Bank, which took from 18:18 until 20:30.

QSO Summary:
VHF- NFD Contest:
2m-SSB: 17
2m-FM: 6
4m-SSB: 8
4m- CW: 3
TOTAL (Contest): 34
(VHF-NFD Checklog submitted to RSGB by G0UUU – Thanks Phil)

2m-FM: 1
20m-CW: 11
20m-SSB: 11
Total (SOTA): 23
Overall Total: 57

Battery Utilisation:
55% of 5,000mAh HRB Li-Po (Contest)
35% of 5,000mAh Turnigi Li-Po (SOTA)

Ascent/ Distance (round trip):
217m (712ft)/ distance 5.5km (3.4 miles up & down)
plus 2 x 270m to/ from QTH position.
Up to trig: 48min. Down from QTH: 72min. Summit time: 8hr-30min

Times (BST):
Drive to Start: 04:55 to 07:05 (89 miles via A64-A59)
Walking from SD 9861 7567: 07:38
Arr. Trig Point: 08:26
Left QTH: 16:56
Arr. Car: 18:06
Drive home: 18:18 to 20:30 (83 miles via A684-A1M-A168-A170)
Distance driven: 171 miles
Total driving time: 4hr-22min

Countless times a fixed date has clashed with the weather for this event and Sunday was all I felt able to manage after ruling out a summit camp. Rain showers combined with windy conditions just barely allowed pitching out in the open – a prerequisite for VHF and as high as possible. Another 5mph and I would have been forced to set up in one of the ‘dips’ in the ground as per 2020.

My 5W and 4-ele beam did well to get me to TM5R in France on 2m-SSB and that was the furthest station at 570km. On 4m it was G5LK/P at 403km, though no doubt my station was only doing a fraction of the work for both these. It helps when you’re consistently the highest NFD contest station in the UK. I can’t vouch for the overseas. I hope I can do it again next year though just how long I can keep this up is anybody’s guess and in the lap of the gods. Thanks to Phil G0UUU for posting my contest QSO’s as a checklog.

20m-CW, 40m-SSB and Top Band were the intentions but the weather interceded. I’m sure Europe and the USA were likely more than happy with 20m CW/ SSB but that didn’t give much of a chance for UK stations apart from an opportunity to work me on fixed spots in the contest, should people have the necessary equipment of course. Having failed the last few times I’ve put on 20m, I was hoping to reach USA chasers but certainly didn’t expect a QSO with Washington State.

I regret not putting on 160m. Once again apologies to any interested parties. We’d put up with the weather for hours on end; another few minutes wouldn’t have made much difference.

The SOTA spotting service did us proud again. The NP8 (NP9) Vodafone signal is gradually improving year on year from just about absent a decade ago to reliable now. Whenever I looked there was 4G indicated. The phone is 5G capable but I’m not paying for that! According to my son Phil, the fact that this one has a lower frequency band (800MHz) than any phone I took previously, is likely to help. It might have been a different story if I’d had to resort to setting up in one of the ‘dips’ due to high winds; another incentive to grin and bear it.

Thanks to all SOTA chasers, VHF-NFD contest stations, for the Sota spotter and to G0UUU for contest log assistance.

73, John G4YSS

Photos: 3-5-11-19-30-32-40-116p-113p-118p-121p-69-126p-76-82-91-103-107-2m & 4m Contest Maps

Above: NP8 from the parking place. No low-cloud and no rain yet

Above: Underway

Above: Today’s route variation. One of two stiles to be crossed at SD 9981 7523 and the path to the summit

Above: A substantial shelter with 650m to go to the summit but within the AZ

Above: Summit cairn G/NP-008

Above: The couple from Derbyshire with their dog Leia. Next on their list was Buckden Pike followed by Birks Fell (NP9 & NP31 to us SOTA people)

Above: At our familiar place 250m NE of the summit. There’s no shelter from the wind here - you have to bring your own. Note for Phil G4OBK: I’ve stopped storing cans of sardines here after one froze in winter and went rotten.

Above: 4-ele for 2m-SSB is ready for the contest
while Finn waits patiently

Above: He doesn’t put up with a cold wind for long

Above: The same boom but now with three elements for 4m-SSB. A sunny spell.

Above: A similar scene but with ugly weather approaching

Above: The 10m to 4m transverter switched off. FT817ND ready for 2m-FM

Above: Mast with surplus sections added is now 6m. Dipole links pulled out for 20m-CW & SSB

Above: Almost ready to leave

Above: Wind stronger near the western edge and more weather on the way

Above: Cowering behind a rock with the groundsheet while the rain passes. With wind that strong it doesn’t take long

Above: Road in sight at last. VHF-NFD over for another year

Above: VHF-NFD Contest map - 2m band. SSB-CW-FM; 5W to 4-ele

Above: VHF-NFD Contest map - 4m band. SSB-CW; 10W to 3-ele

Above: SOTA and Contest QSO map


Great report and photos. Thanks John well done. :+1:

Geoff vk3sq


Finn is lucky has you to act as his Sherpa :grinning::grinning::grinning:


Imagine what the wind and rain was like only 3km from the coast!

My tent was nearly dry when I put it away and it took only a few hours to dry out at home. But we had 3 Scout tents for station tents (6/4m, 2m, 70cms) and they take some real drying. The 2m is still drying in someone’s garage as I type.

I’m not sure I could cope with camping and 24hr contests if it wasn’t for our cook, we had bacon rolls, unlimited tea, instant coffer, filter coffee, a BBQ followed by fresh Crepe Suzettes with toppings and Caribbean Coffee (coffee, Rum and cream) and more bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. We need a new contest “popty ping”, the timer is jammed on so no more pings and you control the cooking by opening and closing the door as needed :wink:

I’m always impressed with your one-man-band VHF FD activations… we had 13 people for 3 stations. With that many bods, it means lots of other setup can run whilst a team hoist the antennas. And getting the 6m 9 ele / 4m 11ele Yagi up to 10m AGL in the wind with 8 people was still a bit dodgy!


Thanks for the report and photos, John.

Sorry we seem to have missed you on both bands. I was with G3SRT/P located geographically between GW3ZTT/P and G3ZME/P, so contact would have been possible as you worked both of them, I think.

Probably down to our operating - not enough compass boxing or tuning around and listening!



I think I was on 2m when we worked you.


I was on 4m and 6m. I remember working GM3HAM/P on 4m, I think one of the other Ops got you on 6m.
I also dabbled on 23cm just using my SOTA portable kit, 2.5W and 15ele Yagi on a tripod. I didn’t hear any GMs, but did work a couple of stations over 300Km to the South East, possibly assisted by aircraft…



VK3SQ Geoff:

Thanks for reading yet again. You’re a stalwart.



You’re right Dave - I’m too soft with that dog. Now looking on ebay for some panniers!


MM0FMF Andy:

Scout tents are a nightmare wet. If they’re the canvas type, they already weight a ton dry. As well as soaked, my tent got damaged – needed stitching and glue but that was caused by tent pegs which had their sharp edges removed today.

Ah a manual microwave but other than that you boys are ultra civilised even perhaps bordering on the posh. I bet you even have chairs to sit on – the thing I miss most on my simple jaunts.

Eight people! More than I saw all day. I find if I do it on my own it takes T minutes but if someone ‘helps’ it takes 2T minutes. If two people help it’s 3T and so on. It’s the same with everything. I can’t delegate.

Thanks for the QSO’s with your station even though it wasn’t you this year.


G4AZS Adrian

I have G3SRT/P in my log about 6 times over the years and once when you were the op Adrian! Yes I did work GW3ZTT/P on 2m and G3ZME/P on 4m with CW so we should have been OK to work. Chance has a lot to do with it though as far as where beams happen to be pointed at the times we tune across one another. Another factor is that I’m afraid that I don’t take it at all seriously and I’m far from exhaustive – just usually exhausted or at best in pain. There’s always another time – all being well that is!

23cm! Well done on 300km plus. I wouldn’t know where to start with that band. 70cm is as near to light as I’ve ever been and it’s a scary long way from Top Band!


Thanks for all comments and the likes too. Very kind of you all.

73, John