G4YSS: Activation of G/NP-011 & G/NP-004 on 21-09-20

Morning act’n of GREAT COUM G/NP-011 on 2m-FM QRP
Afternoon act’n of WHERNSIDE G/NP-004 on 2m-CW & SSB QRO
G4YSS using SSEG Club Call GX0OOO/P
Accompanied by Finn (Grandson’s Lurcher)

BST (UTC+1) for walking etc.
UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)

IC-E90 5W, 4-Band VHF H/H with 1.3 Ah battery
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on 1m carbon rod

IC706-2G HF/VHF/UHF 100W Transceiver (50W on 2m)
3-section, 3.5m mast (ali base and mid sec’n; carbon top)
Two Turnigy 11.1V nom, 5Ah Li-Po batteries in parallel
Home-Brew 6-ely prototype Yagi to the design by M0UKD/ DK7ZB -
(510gm inc 6.7m RG316 coax)

Reserves (not used):
UV-5R 2m/ 70cm 5W H/H in rucksack
UV-3R 2m/ 70cm 2W H/H in top pocket
Sotabeams 2m-band QRP filter

Pack-weights (approx)
NP11: 7kg
NP4: 10kg

Dog coat, food, treats and water bowl etc.

This was as much about dog walking as radio but I thought some 144 MHz SSB might make a pleasant change from HF or just 2m-FM. SSB is always going to be heavier than FM and there wasn’t time to use it from both summits. For that reason NP11 was just done on 2m-FM using 5 Watts to a vertical.

The afternoon activation of NP4 would require more serious equipment and though I could have gone for the FT817ND, I chose the IC706-2G powered by 10 Amp-hours of battery power. Though I expected no more than two or three SSB contacts when coupled to my 6-element Yagi on a 3.5m mast, this setup should give a better chance of success. Best to advertise it first of course so a couple of alerts were put on the night before.

The Yagi was home-made in my garage a couple of years ago, using available parts namely 1/8” dia aluminium welding rods and a 2m length of PVC conduit but I didn’t design it. Credit for that should go to M0UKD and DK7ZB (see later in report).

With a possible second lock-down, or at least more severe Covid-19 restrictions looming fast and with the weather window on offer, the saying ‘make hay while the sun shines’ came to mind. Judging by the number of summits-on-the-air in the morning, I wasn’t the only one thinking that way!

Finally I was relying on the dog to behave well enough so as to complete the activation, especially the SSB one in the afternoon. He’s had some practice as he came with me up Great Shunner Fell in July. He was good then and that was an HF activation so why not this time? He would have to ‘endure’ two SOTA’s however and he’s still only a playful pup of 10 months. I walk this lanky Lurcher 4 or 5 miles daily so we have an understanding of sorts. That said, I wasn’t banking on anything.

A fairly tight schedule would be needed if we were to achieve both activations in what I would describe as a short day. This would not be a 4am, 5am or even 6am start so I would need to keep a sharp eye on the clock while on the air.

WEATHER - MWIS mountain forecast at 600m ASL:
Wind W to SW at 20 to 25mph. Temp 11C and rising. Between 50% and 90% chance of cloud-free summits, no rain and sunshine likely. By all accounts this was being billed as a kind of ‘last day of summer.’ As I sit here typing a few days later and after two soakings in one day of dog walking, I think they were right.

My Grandson Jack gets up for school at 7am so I picked Finn up from Cayton at that time. Finn is like me; he doesn’t do breakfast, so there was no delay beyond a quick wee on the back lawn; for Finn that is.

On the way to the Dales I worked Miles G0ODS (QTH Whitwell-on-the-Hill) on 145.400 MHz FM and we kept it going from Pickering roundabout to the top of Sutton Bank. (There was no chance of going via York today and hitting it at rush hour). Better to go via Wensleydale and come back York way in the evening.

Finn doesn’t travel too well so we stopped down a handy back-lane next to a stubble field just before Masham, to give him a break. The route after Hawes and through Dent Dale can be considered a bit tedious and I met a Landrover coming the other way. After backing up to a gateway we both realized we knew each another. This was Brian, who was taking a trailer-load of sheep for dipping. He farms in Dentdale and I have known him since 1985. It was a coincidence but it happened in the same lane in 2018 after camping on NP11 with Sasha.

After parking where the track goes off to Barbondale at 10:20 and after Finn finished off some dog food, we set off walking in overcast at 10:42. Helped by a very light pack and a pulling dog, summit arrival time was 11:41 but at least 5 minutes were taken up with stops for sniffing etc.

Route to NP11 (repeated):
The walk-in is about 2.5 miles but NP11 is made less difficult due to the start point. White Shaw Moss at SD 7232 8226 is 1,500 feet ASL. Initially the bridle track is rough; the worst part being a steep section at SD 7176 8224 which is not negotiable with 2WD but only because of ground clearance. (I broke my old Ford Fiesta’s exhaust system there in 2008, though eventually getting as far as SD 7099 8205).

A gated wall-stile which accesses the open fell lies 30m left of the track at SD 7064 8237 and from this you go diagonally up the grassy, reedy flank, through a gap in a fallen wall, to the saddle at SD 7019 8287. After that you can follow the ridge-wall north but I use a path going from SD 7025 8258; SD 7021 8275; SD 7021 8298; SD 7019 8325 and through another wall gate at SD 7016 8333. You can cut across to the summit from there via SD 70135 83425 or alternatively stay to the right of the wall (today), walking along two sides of a triangle and over a wall stile at SD 7016 8350.

There were no sheep around initially but that changed half way up whence we seemed to pass through the ‘sheep band’ something I’ve noticed in the past. Finn sometimes pulls on the lead – a significant advantage for me when walking uphill but pretty rubbish when you’re on the descent. This is when I realized that my camera was still at home. Needing two hands, the phone is much harder to use but if we were going to take home any memories of the day, it would have to be pressed into service.

We stopped short of the wall stile today, which enabled the N-S wall to act as protection from the cool westerly breeze. Some kind person, almost certainly another SOTA activator, had left a flat stone there for use as a seat (SD 7016 8346).

G/NP-011 GREAT COUM, 687m, 4 pts. 11:41 to 12:36. 11 Deg C. Wind WSW 20 mph. Overcast with occasional low-cloud. LOC: IO84SF - WAB: SD78 (No Trig. That is 1km to the west at Crag Hill but still in the AZ). 50% reliable Vodafone coverage.

145.400/ 145.375 FM – 13 QSO’s from 10:55z:
Reminding me of the early days of SOTA, this morning’s was a simple setup taking under 5 minutes and consisting of the IC-E90 set to 5W and connected to a J-Pole on a 1m mast wedged in the wall top. What a surprise – stations everywhere and several on S20.

Someone calling ‘CQ SOTA?’ This must be a rarity – hearing a summit at the moment of switch-on. Little did I realize that half of Britain seemed to be out activating summits. I called the MM0 back about three times but every time I assumed he’d replied to me I got someone explaining over the top of him that it was all hopeless and nobody could hear anyone else. This was mostly because someone kept on explaining that it was all hopeless and nobody could hear anyone else – and so it went, apparently ad infinitum. This had the effect of blocking out S20 pretty efficiently.

Fortunately when I was beginning to get slightly frustrated, in came a familiar voice and strong signal to rescue the situation. The voice was Nick’s G4OOE and we QSY’d to .400 and swapped refs. There followed a second exchange between NP11 and NP6, this time with Nick’s companion for the day Geoff M0PYG/P making the trip. All four reports were 59.

We enjoyed a brief chat in which NP6’s boggy approach was mentioned, then in called a customer for all three of us. This was Vicky MM6BWA/P on GM/SS-087 (59/ 52) and the three of us duly obliged. Blow me down if another summit station didn’t immediately call to make it four S2S contacts. GW4TQE/P was John on top of Cadair Idris GW/NW-009, 59/ 57.

It had taken only seconds to realize that there must be enhanced propagation on 2m which concerned me for the afternoon summit on SSB. I’ve had this on activations in the past and although it’s just what you need for a VHF contest for example, it can make it harder to hear the regular chasers. It can also be a problem if you’re pushed for time. That wasn’t the case then but I was trying to keep to a schedule which lacked much slack.

G4BLH called me from near Clitheroe. As is Mike’s habit these days, he goes out to get better signals, not only on 2m but as far down as Top Band. We exchanged 59’s. Somewhere in the mayhem of the first five minutes I heard Dave G6LKB call me. Not in a position to answer at that time, I called him in now and he came straight back. 59’s and ‘73’s to you and Marjorie.’

Settling into a steadier routine I logged the following stations: G0LWU Andrew near Heysham; G4ZRP Brian in the Wirral 57/ 55; GW4VPX/P Allan on GW/NW-035 and GW4ZPL John 59/ 57, the latter station brought to my attention by Allan. Before I could get John logged, a QSY to 145.375 was needed to avoid a QSO which had come up out of the noise without warning. After a successful QSY and exchange with GW4ZPL it was the turn of 2W0XYL/P – ‘long time no hear’ Karen S2S on GW/NW-011. Lastly there was GW0UXC/P Peter S2S on GW/NW-044 followed by M7MCG Mick in Barnoldswick.

All the above signals were 59 both ways (UOS above) but Andrew gave my 5 Watts a 59 plus 40dB report. It was great to get the summit exchange with Allan as he’s usually fixed in Pencader when I work him and it was a really nice surprise to work Karen again after a 5 year gap. Welcome back Karen!

The sheep were way down below our level so all this time Finn had been free to run round the area at high speed, sometimes rolling around with legs in the air or just resting on the grass. However, when I looked up during the QSO with Mick he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Quickly giving my ‘73’ I dropped the rig and stood up to locate him. He wasn’t far away but in a slight dip. Nonetheless, with nobody else calling I thought it prudent to ‘slope-off’ quietly. The time saved might be needed later on and it was only a matter of time until the young dog got bored and started disrupting things.

Descent - NP11:
As before the lead was needed for the middle section but Finn walked down in sunshine without too much pulling. If he so much as looks at a sheep I pull him to a stop, lift his front end to my level and say firmly several times in his ear, ‘SHEEP – NO!’ This worked with Sasha but it took three years! She like Finn, chased anything that moved including deer. Unlike Finn, Sasha had been the ‘employee’ of a ‘lamper’ before running away then being rescued, so she was trained to ‘dispatch’ anything she caught up with; not a practice I particularly approved of. In contrast Finn just wants to play and let’s hope it stays that way.

We reached the car at 13:24. There had been no one on this mountain for the duration but that was about to change on Whernside in the afternoon. Depending on your number of legs, lunch comprised tuna sandwiches or more dog food (supplemented by bits of tuna sandwich). I spent 10 minutes repacking the rucksack with the IC706-2G, beam aerial, mast and the 10Ah’s worth of batteries. More weight to carry but at least I didn’t need my mountain jacket today.

Next - Whernside:
To make life easier I just lifted the rucksack onto the roof rack and without tying it on, drove 440m slowly down the road to the NP4 parking place. The poor dog had just settled down for a rest when he was informed about his new challenge. After a second pre-hydration we were once more underway at 13:57.

The first problem was the stile over which the dog required lifting. It was now mostly sunny but not overly warm thanks to the cool breeze affecting this west side. We made steady progress with a few stops, arriving at the trig in 40 minutes.

NP4 Route (again):
The Whernside path which initially parallels a fence, starts at SD 7215 8176 on the four-gated Ingleton to Dent Road, which runs north-south to the west of NP4. Park in a minor layby or on the verge at SD 72320 8226. Only 2km of walking (one way) with a height gain of 280m is required. Waypoints are as follows: SD 7244 8173, dog-leg right at SD 7310 8163 then SD 7316 8150 and up a steep section at SD 7354 8143. A grassy quad track can be followed to half way up. About 300m from the start there is a boggy low-point to cross.

G/NP-004 WHERNSIDE, 736m (2,415ft) 6 pts. 14:37 to 16:24, 14 Deg C. Wind W at 20 mph. Mostly sunny. WAB: SD78 YSN. LOC: IO84TF. Trig ref: TP-0702. Vodafone mobile coverage.

As expected with this popular peak, there were a dozen people on top; some with dogs. It took a while to persuade Finn through the narrow wall gap near the trig and then back again once I’d shown him the view down to the east over Ribblehead.

With everybody sitting out of the wind it quickly became obvious that we’d have to set up in it. I picked a place on the west side of the wall and 20m NNE of the trig, where there was a shallow dip with a few stones scattered around in it. If this had been an HF activation we would have gone well away from the crowds and Finn could have been off the lead like on NP11. There were no sheep up this high today, though in the past I have seen tame ones visiting the top to beg people’s lunch from them.

Once the dog had his coat on he settled down nicely just behind my rucksack. Wrapping nylon line around a big stone, I attached the other end to his lead. I half suspected that the peace wouldn’t last the activation out and I was right.

6-ely beam:
The method of construction is cribbed from the original 3-ely Sotabeam and similarly, this beam has to be assembled on the summit. The 20mm x 2m plastic boom is in two halves with the 1/8” diameter aluminium welding rod elements stored inside one of them. The latter push through holes in the boom and once in position, are retained by slipping insulation, cut from 0.6 sq mm 3-core mains cable, over them.

The trouble is it’s hard to drill several holes in a tube and get them truly in-line. I have a method using a drill stand, V-block and plum-line but it didn’t work very well in this instance which is why I call this example a prototype! Fortunately the RF doesn’t seem to mind if the elements are a little skew-whiff but it does annoy my engineer’s eye.

I know two people, SARS members, who have constructed this beam and one is a SOTA activator, namely M0HQO AKA ‘Pickering Pete.’ The other is Dave G0VXE. Dave’s trade is motor vehicles so his was made from car brake pipe. Weight not being a consideration it was only required to point at GB7RW repeater from his loft and it does the job admirably.

The mast consists of the bottom two sections of my 4-section HF mast with a bespoke section made from 3/4” alloy aircraft tubing supporting them. The latter is made sharp enough to go into the ground but all sections must be pinned with ‘R’ clips to prevent rotation relative to one another. It’s fiddly work but today not too bad owing to the clement weather. The beam, now mounted at 3.5m AGL and in its starting position of south, moved about a bit in the breeze but nothing serious. Next job – create a self spot for CW.

144.050 CW – 1 QSO at 14:17z:
The spot must have ‘taken’ quickly as only a short time later my CQ was answered. I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t expected to get much interest in SSB on here, never mind CW! The signal wasn’t too strong but in the absence of noise in the narrow filter it was easily copied.

Good Morse was coming in and I was hoping for good CW going back too but unfortunately Finn got up and started wandering around trailing his string. I grabbed the lead but the odd tug upset the keying and the distraction of having my mast potentially pulled sideways destroyed my already poor ability to read. However, this was Phil G4OBK giving me 439 and I was thankful for his call. Turning the beam east on the second over boosted his signal right up to 599 with 579 coming back. Power was 30W. Brilliant. A rare (for me) 2m-CW SOTA QSO had been made. Thank you Phil; I’ll treasure that one!

144.345 SSB – 9 QSO’s from 14:25z:
First up in SSB and in response to my 30W CQ was G3MAE. Tony who gave his QTH as Northallerton, was using an IC7000 to a vertical co-linear. Despite the cross-pol. Tony’s signal was quite strong at 57 with 52 coming back.

Next G4OBK called in for an SSB contact and quick chat. I was 57 on Phil’s meter and he mentioned that he’d worked into Germany on 2m more than once recently, using 20 Watts to his beam, which I believe is a 7-ely. We exchanged on the subject of dogs too. His dog Treacle was also adept at what Finn was currently engaged in; namely digging a hole in the summit. I was getting showered with grassy soil and pulled about quite a bit, which made microphone distance vary somewhat. It might have sounded like QSB? Phil was using a recently acquired FT991 and the audio sounded really punchy. Just right for DX. Power was 50W which matched Phil’s output.

After Phil came 2E0FTU Mark in Guisborough 59’s and I was told Mark had been waiting for me to come up. Next in line was G0LWU Andrew in Overton (Morecambe) with 59’s; G1PIE Mark – WAB and railway enthusiast, vertically polarized near Preston 58/ 58. Then M0WBG Neil in the Wirral - 59 plus 20dB/ 59; G6XBF Walt in north Leeds 55/ 43 (57’s with the beam turned SE); M7AOZ Duncan in Bradford 59’s and G4JNN Paul, also in Bradford at Dudley Hill with 56 both ways.

It’s always a pleasure to work into the city where I lived from 1949 to 1973 and there were two stations there today. They got to know that I’d lived at Wrose and attended Swain House Junior School, Grange Grammar and Bradford Tech.

At intervals throughout the activation I was having dog trouble. If he wasn’t tying me and the equipment up with his tether, he was biting my arm for attention and at one stage even jumping on me. For one thing he was bored and for another I was down at his level which to him meant that I wanted to play. Oh well, he’s not going to be good all the time at 10 months and he may improve as he matures. Such a contrast to Sasha though; she was so careful and wouldn’t so much as step on my pencil. Tony G3MAE came back at the end with a few comments about Scarborough Club but Finn was misbehaving so badly at that time I couldn’t respond in the way I would have liked (but see ‘Discussion’).

Finally and with some difficulty because of the dog, I turned the beam to all eight compass points and called CQ without result. However my son Phil, listening on the Nantwich web receiver told me afterwards that my rig was up to its old tricks again and abruptly cut out on TX. Nobody mentioned this so thankfully it must have been only right at the end.

As mentioned before, this 706 has done it for years. Icom had it on soak for weeks and it didn’t fail then but it still gives me grief. If you know it’s happened and you don’t always unless someone tells you or they don’t respond to a call, there are a few things to try. Transmitting briefly on HF can clear it as can wrapping it with even more ali mesh than already surrounds it. I also give it a bash and sometimes using a ground spike gets it behaving again.

It only happens on 2m so I will have to continue to live with it. It’s not that bad really. I have used it for VHF-NFD from NP8 on 2m for many years and only had a few incidences but I remember ‘disappearing’ during an S2S QSO on 2-FM with Robin GM7PKT from Ben Nevis of all places. Before leaving home, I put a couple of square feet of kitchen foil in a pocket just in case. If it had played up mid-activation I would have tried covering it with that.

Final Descent - NP4:
At least Finn behaved while I packed the beam away. I think he sensed that we were about to get walking again. As far as I could see, everybody had left the summit so I let him have a run until half-way down whence the lead was required due to sheep. We arrived back at the road for 16:58, lifting him over the stile again.

The 111 mile non-stop drive back home to Scarborough took from 17:15 to 20:00 which is when when I dropped Finn off at Cayton. It was safe to go via Skipton, Harrogate and up the A64 from York because rush hour was avoided.

Summing up the day. We managed to get the dog over 200 miles there & back without him being sick this time. We had four nice walks in good weather and got a few QSO’s too. Summit stays were necessarily short. Concentrating on radio work was not straightforward, especially on NP4 in the afternoon, so I may well have come out with more nonsense than usual on the air or not responded as I should. Example: Calling Allan ‘Brian’ more than once. Apologies.

There was an obvious ‘lift’ in the morning but that appeared to settle down while we were between summits. It’s a long time since I heard so many summits on 2m-FM. I only scratched the surface. Many thanks to those who called me.

The 144.050-CW contact with Phil G4OBK was a rare one for me, though I can remember getting a handful of QSO’s on that frequency and mode from Scafell Pike in 2009. Many thanks to Phil for coming up in CW. Made between two SOTA Top Band enthusiasts, this QSO was possibly even better than a Top Band one! I should try it more often.

Quite a few of the stations worked from NP4 on 2m-SSB were vertically polarized. My antenna was of course horizontal but signal reports were still good or very good. That said, all chasers worked were relatively close-in and this beam has worked much further in the past. In fact I could probably have made most or all of the SSB contacts using 5W on FM and a vertical? No matter, it was still a good exercise.

Tony G3MAE (worked from NP4) is an ex-SARS (Scarborough Am. Radio Soc.) member going back to the 1950’s. He was acquainted with the likes of Henry Wiggins G2CP (QRP & a founder member in 1932); Ernie Stankiste G4FCH; Ernie Brooks G3HFW and possibly Tony Blythe G3LOJ – initially of York club before joining Scarborough.

Distracted by the cavorting dog, our conversation was all too brief but in case Tony reads this, here are some more names that he may recognize: Geoff Pritchard G4ZGP (ex deputy UK-CW examiner under Roy G4SSH) etc. The long-serving SARS chairman Pete Tipper G3JBR (& Muriel G6AFZ - Peter’s XYL) and Bob Wilkinson G4YKP. They are all SK now except Muriel who has recently survived Covid-19 aged 84. Great amateurs in the truly traditional sense.

G4DAX Dave is now the member going back the furthest and is overall the club’s most technical member. I remember Ian Blowers G4DWU, Andy Gauld G0KFG, Jim Yarker G3GJY, Geoff Obermire (QTH The Flask), Bill Peak G4VDH, Peter Robson G3FYP and Mick Jefferson G8WYB.

We also have a relatively new member moved over from Cheshire - Rev. Keith Ranger - G0KJK 9M2RK-V56US who is still doing talks on QRP construction for us at age 90. They won’t all ring a bell with Tony but some no doubt will. SARS still meet at Scarborough Cricket Club on Monday evenings but like most clubs we are currently closed until further notice.

I’m told that seemingly I managed to tire the pup out. When asked later that evening if he’d like to go into the back garden briefly before bed, I’m told that he got to his feet, put on a look of disdain and flopped down again. Nothing else was heard, not even the usual whining. I may sound like a glutton for punishment but let’s hope we can do it again.

QSO’s - 23 comprising:
13 on 2m-FM from NP11
1 on 2m-CW from NP4
9 on 2m-SSB from NP4
10 SOTA points

Ascent & Distance:
NP-011: 244m (800ft) ascent, 8 km (5 miles) walked
NP-004: 281m (921ft) ascent, 4.2 km (2.6 miles) walked
TOTAL: 525m (1722ft) ascent, 12.2 km (7.6 miles) walked

54 min up (net)/ 48 min down
Summit Time: 54 min

40 min up/ 34 min down
Summit Time: 1hr-47 min

Total walking time: 2hrs-56 min at 2.6mph

Distance driven: 213 miles
Out:102 miles via Cayton, Seamer, Thirsk, Hawes and Dentdale 3hrs-20min (3hrs net)
Rtn: 111 miles via Skipton, Harrogate and York to Cayton in 2hrs-45min

Chronology (BST):
07:00: Left Scarborough (Cayton) -102 miles via A170, A684, Hawes, Dentdale
10:20: Arrived White Shaw Moss (on Ingleton-Dent gated road)
10:42: Walked for G/NP-011
G/NP-011: 11:41 to 12:36
13:24: Returned White Shaw Moss (lunch & eqpt. change)
13:45: Drove 440m south
13:57: Walked for G/NP-004
G/NP-004: 14:37 to 16:24
16:58: Returned to car
17:15 to 20:00: Drove home (Cayton) 111 miles via York

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED including seven S2S’s from NP11. Spots: Thanks to G0UUU, G4OBK and the Sota Spotting App. Thanks to Finn the long, lanky Lurcher pup, who was great company if a little boisterous at times!
73 John G4YSS (Using SSEG Club station GX0OOO/P)

Photos (from my phone): 3-17-18-24-27-43-47-52-58-60-61-70-75-79-82-105-114-112-122

Above: A chance meeting with a friend in the narrow lanes of Dentdale. Brian is on his way to dip sheep. More dipping should mean fewer ticks for activators but deer are the worst carriers.

Above: On the way up Great Coum NP11. The wall stile just off the track.

Above: Lingering morning murk on the slopes of NP11

Above: G/NP-011 QTH just short of the wall stile and final approach to the highest point

Above: Finn and VHF vertical G/NP-011

Above: Coming down Great Coum. Finn in Sasha’s coat, surveying the path ahead

Above: The large cairn near Gatty Pike on Gt.Coum. Cloud across the valley on Whernside

Above: Going back down the track from NP11 in sunshine

Above: Parked ready for Whernside NP4 (background). Car with 5/8 for 2m and 1/4 wave for 4m. Finn eager again after a short rest.

Above: The way up G/NP-004 Whernside - looking east

Above: Looking back on Great Coum NP11 and the track we just walked down from the slopes of Whernside NP4.

Above: Arrival at the trig point which is looking starting to look dilapidated these days

Above: One of the best views in Yorkshire - Ribblehead Viaduct

Above: Walkers on the lee side of the wall. To avoid other dogs we would have to do this one on the windy side.

Above: Activation of G/NP-004 Whernside on 144.050-CW. 6-ely beam on 3.5m mast with NP11 in the distance

Above: On the way down Whernside.

Above: View out towards The Howgill Fells where NP13 (The Calf) & NP19 (Yarlside) can be found

Above: Returning to the car at the end of the day

Above: The last gate on the drive out to Ingleton. Kingsdale Head Farm and shy sheep dog

Above two photos: The 6-ely beam being used on Irton Moor

Above: Beam dimensions as built by M0UKD. Mine came out at VSWR 1.1:1 and 42 Ohms across the 2m band.


Thanks for the excellent report again, it sounds like Great Coun (NP-011) is slightly easier from the East than it was from Barbondale. Your activation of Whernside sounded similar to mine on Great Coun with a bored dog. Mine ( Woody ) likes to join in the QSO’s with a good bark so managing to hold the microphone, log and dog simultaneously seems to require at least one more arm than is available. Sorry no chance of any 2m contacts from home as despite living up a hill there are bigger ones all the way round.
73 Paul

Finn is such a fine looking hound. I just looked at the dog pics and will read the words later!

1 Like

Good morning Paul,
Thanks for the thanks. Long reports I’m afraid but they’re done mainly for the future G4YSS so he has plenty to look back on when he’s in his nursing home. My best friend Roy G4SSH has reached that stage and I was asked by his family if I would remove his Butternut vertical from his back garden. It feels like betrayal. It will take some doing.

Anyway enough of the maudlin. Of course other people read the reports as well. They are mainly unremarkable but on a fine day the photos can be worth a look. There are a lot with the dog in but he makes a good subject and after all, there are plenty of dog lovers in this country.

Yes I think I remember you mentioning Woody before. I chuckled about the extra arm required for success and the barked overs but it’s so true. Finn hasn’t tried the latter yet but barking at you is his final go-to if he feels he’s being ignored in favour of a small lump of plastic.

He’s young so we hope for better behaviour in due course but I’m sure it will not be soon. If I can just about get away with an activation, I’m willing to take him along. His owner encourages it in fact and I walk him every afternoon anyway; she doing the mornings.

It’s a coincidence that you mentioned an alternative from the west. I was looking at the map while doing the report - the bit about the trig on Crag Hill - when I saw the possibility of walking from Barbondale along a boundary line from Short Gill Bridge. No sign of a path marked on the map and more ascent than from the east but boundaries usually have fences or walls which people and animals tend to walk beside. It may be just a line of boundary stones but I reasoned that there might be a minor path and I’d quite like to try it that way. If I took HF I could put the trig on the WAB net at the same time. It would make a change.

When you mentioned hills in the way of VHF I had another look at the map. Bastifell (Nine-Stds - NP18) is in the way I see, plus high ground to east and west.
Thanks again,
73, John


Hi John, thanks for a great report and photos. Also, thank for the 2m beam design, good specs, did you use it with your HH?

73 de Geoff vk3sq

Thanks John!

Woody can be angelic and it certainly makes for a more interesting walk up.

The last 2km of the “path” from Barbondale was less of a path and more trying to avoid “Deep Pete” It might be Ok in either dry or frozen weather but it was hard work when I did it.

The home QTH is hopeless for VHF, we are in a valley off the main dale so are literally surrounded by higher ground. This is one of the places where until satellite people had antennas on poles up on the hillside to get any TV signal. I can just about get a DAB signal but nothing usable on band 2 and unless there is an activation on either Hoove or Burnhope Seat nothing breaks the squelch on 2m - ever.

The picture of the dog is just testing to see if Andy is paying attention!

PS Also used the same design for a beam but have not really cracked the mechanical bit so still a work in progress which makes 2m on a summit a kind of Extreme Meccano Challenge!



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Morning Andy,
Thanks for your comment.
Yes I thought you’d like him as you have one similar. He can be a bit of a handful when he’s distracted and then just ignores you. Otherwise he comes back pretty well to my special sine-wave modulated whistling and a treat. Yesterday he had a high-speed chase with a deer but the latter was far too clever for Finn. Then he chased a hare which disappeared into a wood. He’s got no road sense either despite our best efforts of teaching a procedure.

Considering his vast speed, he’s only ever managed to catch one animal - a rabbit last week and that was mixy. He didn’t attack it, just ran round as if playing. I wish he had in this case as I used to finish off mixy rabbits myself if I saw one staggering about. Shocking to see what it does to them, especially the eyes.

Later he was ambling up the wrong side of a fence and treating me, standing holding the gate open, as if I wasn’t there. In that scenario I either run in the opposite direction or lie on the ground. He comes back to see what’s on. Hiding usually works as well.

Why we love these creatures so much when they cause us all this trouble to say nothing of the vets bills, is a mystery. We must all be soft.
73, John


Wow you came straight back!
Wood is drop dead gorgeous for sure but I can certainly see mischief in those eyes. I would say that should ‘hook’ Andy in if he sees it.

Thanks for the info on that route. Oh yes, one of those routes - to be avoided if possible unless rock hard in winter. I see a chalybeate spring and lots of streams. There are a few like that. Rogan’s Seat from Tan Hill Inn is one and White Hill another. My favourite hill, NP2 up the boundary too - the way they make you go!

It’s like that in Garsdale. Way back one householder, slightly better placed than the other dwellings, used to unofficially re-transmit TV programs across and down using (I’m told - by someone non technical) a VHS video machine.

Tragedy about 2m at yours. Right in the middle of the SOTA action and can only hear two. I’m no better off at home though. 2m is pretty quiet around Scarborough.

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Good evening Geoff,

It’s not often I get a reply from that far away. You are maybe a dog lover too.

The aerial is great for SOTA apart from what Paul mentioned about putting it together - meccano kit - especially in cold weather. Plenty of gain. I didn’t use it with the handie but you could. If I have beams vertical I always use a non-conductive top mast section. Trouble is the coax has to come through the field or if not off the end; the latter upsets the weight balance and the former the pattern, though they still seem to work fine vertically. A balun would help but I don’t use one to save a bit of weight.

My son borrowed this antenna to take up to Aberdeenshire. He worked me OK in Scarborough (350km) and also down as far as North London - about double that distance (50 Watts).

Weight is everything for SOTA and I think just over a pound is pretty good. I had to compress it very slightly lengthwise to make it fit on a 2m stock length of plastic conduit. Hope you make one.

Oh the XYL has just come in with the shopping. I have to help!
73, John

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Sad news indeed

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A little addition with a doggy theme.
On Thursday last I activated The Old Man of Coniston from a spot about 50m NW of the summit cairn.
Whilst minding my own business, on what was a fairly quiet summit, I workied a pilup on 30m CW. Suddenly I was disturbed as I saw the muzzle of a dog at my left knee. Quickly the dog ran off, but not wishing to loose the pilup I continued to send. I heard the owner shout to his hound (no lead). He then came over to me and apologised for his dog having eaten my sardine sandwich!
I continued to operate whilst I explained to the owner that not only had it eaten my lunch, it had also downed the plastic bag.

I hope the vet’s bills are within his means!


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Mrs. FMF is already making preparations to dog-nap both Finn and Woody :wink:


To Barry,
It is sad. I can’t visit Roy - not since March. We speak on the phone but the conversation is not what you’d call normal. We used to meet every Tuesday evening ever since Roy loaned me an SWR meter in 1983. Lockdown isn’t doing anybody any good but it is of course necessary. Sad to say, in this case there’s a bit more to it than that.

A true dilemma. Defend your dinner or attend to the pileup! I think I might have been with you on that one unless the summit was really remote and it was a very cold day. As an aside, years ago I came across a man with a collie dog on OMC. The dog had a coat with panniers.

As for the poly bag. A similar thing happened with Finn back in May. Topping out on our local steep cliff path, immediately at the top were a couple having a picnic. It was very unexpected at that time. A medium sized bag made from light, transparent polythene, was beside them. Finn grabbed it and ate it before I could catch him. It must have been used to contain food. I got my fingers down his throat but too late. Thankfully the next morning it came back out the way it had gone in. So hopefully ‘your’ OMC dog wouldn’t have needed the vet.

I have had a dog come over and sniff in my pockets or rucksack a time or two but I can’t remember an actual theft. Trouble with me is I tend to encourage them and say hello. You are right though. A lead should have been in use. When they are off it, you have to spot everything well before they do.

Lemon curd sarnies perhaps? Don’t think they’d nick those.
All the best,

Thanks for the warning Andy. I have had to employ a security man at great expense. On the plus side he’s agreed to carry my rucksack.
73 - thanks to all. J