G4YSS:G/NP-011 Summit Camp & 160m, 23 & 24-05-18

G4YSS: G/NP-011 Summit Camp 23 & 24-05-18

G.NP-011 – GREAT COUM on 160m-80m-40m & 2m
G4YSS using SSEG Club Call GX0OOO/P
Accompanied by Sasha (Grandson’s Lurcher)
This expedition was broadly similar to G/NP-004 camp-over in April except the VHF contest was swapped for a dog.

BST (UTC+1) for walking etc.
UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
Sun Times: 04:54 & 21:18 BST

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF 50 Watt Linear Amplifier (80 thru 10) with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with loading coils for 160m
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
One Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po battery
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on 1m carbon rod

Two Turnigy 11.1V, 2.2 Ah Li-Po batteries
UV-5R 2m/ 70cm 5W handheld (used briefly for listening)

Viper-2 Ridge tent (1988/ 2.2kg)
Sleeping bag 1.2kg synthetic
Sleeping bag 0.7kg synthetic (Dog)
Sleeping mat full length
Sleeping mat half length
Goretex Bootees worn for use when leaving the tent
Pack-weight: 16.6 (36.7 lbs) inc. 2 ltr fluids & 0.5 ltr Ice

Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player (not used)
DAB Cube (not used)

The main reason for this expedition was, ‘What would it be like to go camping with a dog?’ Not forgetting Top Band of course! Unlike 160m, having never owned a dog, let alone taken one camping, I didn’t know what to expect.

After a rare burst of enthusiasm, I was itching to do something and this replaced a crazy idea to try WAB area OV00 in the evening. Low tide was at 18:30 but I just couldn’t face two miles of slimy rocks and Sasha certainly wouldn’t have liked it. I would never have taken her of course. Whatever I opted for, one thing was in my favour. I was my own boss. My XYL was away in Scotland with her friend, looking at castles.

G/NP-011 was chosen from a few NP’s remaining this year. All of the primary ones had been activated so Great Coum was getting on for Hobson’s choice. I did have a 6-pointer left over – Wild Boar Fell (NP7) but I camped on that one a few years ago.

There wouldn’t be a trig point on offer, that is on another part of the summit called Crag Hill, about 800m to the west. Walking the track from White Shaw Moss with a heavy load can be a bit of a drag but the rest is more or less typical of NP’s. At least I would be carrying about 3kg less than last month’s RSGB 70MHz Contest/ SOTA 160m camp-over on NP4.

Like all SOTA summit camps, this one took quite a lot of planning and preparation. Nothing like the anxiety of the New Year outings but there wasn’t just me to consider. Sasha, my Grandson’s rescue Lurcher from Greyhound/ Staffy stock, needed a sleeping bag, carry-mat, food, water, bowls, lead and treats to be used as rewards for not chasing sheep. The latter took the form of small cubes of corned beef – a powerful incentive to behave well in most situations.

WEATHER - MWIS mountain forecast at 600m ASL:
When you are planning to camp high in any season, the weather prospects become much more interesting than for a ‘normal’ SOTA. Instead of a weather window, you have to find two; not that easy in the UK. The MWIS Dales forecast predicted an easterly wind of 15 to 25mph, 8 to 11C, sunshine and no rain so the decision to ‘Go’ was easily made in this instance.

To save their Scarborough to York train fare, I had agreed to take Grandson Jack and his Mum Hazel, down to York for Jack’s scuba training. Cramming all the SOTA and camping gear in the already half-full boot and on the roof rack, I picked Hazel up at Cayton and we left from Jack’s school in Seamer at 15:35.

I had a brief chat on 145.400 MHz with Roy G4SSH on the way, until the QRM took over from the back seat, ‘I’m hungry, why didn’t you bring me something to eat?’ We made him wait, then ‘found’ a pack of Rocky biscuits in the glove box. Peace again but by now we were well out of Roy’s range and down the A64.

I dropped the two of them off just south of York and rushed on at 16:50, hoping to miss the rush hour. Travel wasn’t as bad as I thought, going via Rufforth, Otley, Ilkley and Skipton instead of Harrogate; a bottleneck if you’re going cross-country. It did seem a long way round however but we eventually arrived at 19:00 having clocked 126 miles in total. (It’s 95 via Thirsk and Hawes).

If we were going to get set up before dark, there was no time to lose but it wasn’t until 19:45, after Sasha finished her supper, that we got walking in sunshine and a stiff, cold breeze.

Route to NP11:
The walk-in is about 2.5 miles but NP11 is made less difficult due to the start point - White Shaw Moss; SD 7232 8226, being at 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 should know, I lost 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 (today’s option) or alternatively stay to the right of the wall; walking along two sides of a triangle and over a wall stile at SD 7016 8350.

We reached the chosen camping area at 20:42. ‘Chosen’ is perhaps the wrong word. Quite a lot of walking around was done before a level patch of ground without too many tussocks, was selected by the wall (SD 7006 8353 – 120m ESE of the summit cairn) ten minutes after arrival. The ascent had taken 57 minutes.

Unpacking the rucksack without further delay was imperative; by now there were only 25- minutes remaining before sunset. There was plenty to do. Tent outer, tent inner, mats, sleeping bags, rig, batteries, dipole and 2m-FM vertical, all need setting up. This included hiding the food from the dog; not that she’s much of a thief these days. The task took 45 minutes which is quicker than normal.

Sasha is a thin dog with a thin coat and feels the cold unless she’s moving about. Once the sun had gone she was shivering. Her warm coat was in the rucksack but my ruse was to see if she’d go in the tent first. Despite having no qualms about things like vets, on G/TW-001 last year, she’d become frightened of a flapping windbreak. Now the tent was flapping in the wind which kept dropping to nothing then returning. Taking her to the door, I pointed out which was her bed. There was hesitation but a good shove from me and she was first on and with help, into her sleeping bag. The shivering soon stopped and she was a happy dog again.

G/NP-011 GREAT COUM, 687m, 4 pts. 20:42 on Wednesday 23rd May to 10:50 on Thursday 24th May 2018. Est. 10 Deg C on arrival, 6C overnight and 13C next morning. Wind E variable from 3mph to 15 mph, decreasing slightly overnight. Blue sky & sunshine both days. Moonlight overnight. LOC: IO84SF - WAB: SD78 (No Trig). 50% reliable Vodafone coverage.

Evening of 23rd May-18:
3.557 CW - 12 QSO’s from 21:00z:
After a conversation with G0UUU despite a poor Vodaphone signal, Phil pre-spotted me for the opener. With 30 Watts to the dipole I called Roy G4SSH. He came straight back with a 559 report. He was 589 on my meter. A good start!

After Roy I worked a steady stream of chasers: G0HIO Mike; G0TDM John; PA0SKP Sake; G0BPU Mike; M0BKV Damien; GW4VPX Allan; IK2LEY Fabio; EI5HJ Gary; G4TJC Simon; M0DLG Jay and G4RDQ David.

Outgoing reports were in the range 579 to 599. Coming back; anything from 559 to 599 plus with one 339 from G0TDM. I was mildly surprised to work into Italy.

3.760 SSB - 11 QSO’s from 21:25z:
Roy G4SSH picked up the SSB QSY and spotted the frequency. Waiting there were: MM0XPZ Steve (Greenock); G6NHW Pete; G0VWP Terry; 2E0KVJ/M Dave (SS53); GM4WHA Geoff; 2E0VMD Helen; M3FEH Karl; G4IPB Paul; G8ADD Brian; PA0SKP Sake; G1YFF Jake.

Again with a power of 30 Watts, reports were 59 except Helen 58 and Karl 55. In the right hand column there were six at 59 with the remainder 56 to 57 and a 47 from Helen.

Because something spooked Sasha in the middle of this session. I failed to record the reports for Geoff GM4WHA at 21:34z. The QSO was good but I have nothing in the log for the exchange. Sasha must have heard a sound which could have come from outside the tent or maybe just from the radio. She took it as a threat, stood up and then started shaking. After some reassurance from me, she went back to sleep. It was established that Geoff GM4WHA would be on his way to work the next morning and would monitor 2m-FM.

The signal from Brian G8ADD was the biggest of the expedition. By some quirk, maybe optimum skip distance, or perhaps freak antenna lobes aimed at one another - who knows, we exchanged with 59’s plus many dB.

With just 10 minutes to go before Top Band, I had to move fast with the loading coils. Out into the dark I went, fitting the coils by the light of a headlamp. When I went back in and checked, I could see that they were a little LF, which meant going out again to pull one slug out a little. In the end I had good readings on both 1.832 and 1.846.

1.832 CW - 4 QSO’s from 21:55z:
It was now just before 11pm BST; nice and dark with propagation sounding good but I left the power at 30 Watts. It’s reassuring to have a bit in reserve, though an additional 20 Watts would not amount to much when translated into ‘S’ Points at the remote end.

First I called G4SSH in Scarborough but there was no sign of Roy. However Mike G0HIO heard me from Burton-on-Trent. I got 339 in exchange for the 559 that I gave him. A fair swap when you consider the noise that chasers have to put up with. OZ7JZ Jan called in to give me 579 and he must have been well equipped for 160m because I could give him no less than 599 in return. G4SSH was next and we swapped 559’s. ‘Good!’ My friend Roy was now in the Top Band log.

What turned out to be the final two callers for this session called in. These were EI5HJ Gary - 559/ 599 and G3RDQ, David in Hampshire 2 x 579. I must say I can tend to get a little carried away with reports, especially on 160m. Because the rig was at a low angle and at times, partly eclipsed by a sleeping dog’s head, I had the devil’s own job seeing the meter. Being inside a tent I wasn’t using headphones either, something you really do need for 160m.

After the 160m SSB session detailed below, I made a brief reappearance on CW to bring in PA0SKP at Sake’s request. After some perseverance we had managed a QSO in SSB with reports QSL’d both ways but like me I think Sake is a fan of CW. He must have been waiting on 1.832 because he came quickly back to my call and at 22:42z we exchanged with 579/ 559. Power for this QSO was 50 Watts, the maximum available.

1.844.5 SSB - 7 QSO’s from 22:20z:
What I feared came to pass. There was a strong station on 1.846, the alerted frequency along with squeaks and whistles on 1.843. I don’t have much bandwidth to go at so I had to squeeze between the two as best I could and hope for the chasers would cope. It wasn’t ideal but with chasers possibly waiting to go to bed, I had to get the job done somehow.

Continuing with 50 Watts, I worked the following stations in SSB: G1YFF Jake (59/ 57 in TL64); G0VWP Terry (2 x 55 in York); PA0SKP Sake (55/ 52 with a struggle in QRM/ QSB); G8ADD Brian (2 x 57 in Birmingham); GM4WHA Geoff (55/ 33 in Annan); M3FEH Karl (2 x 55 in Cornwall) and finally G8VNW Nick in Threshfield, 35km to my southeast with 58/ 47 reports.

Jake seemed extra pleased to bag another square on Top Band. He told me that he was chasing the Bronze award for 160m and only had another 16 squares to work. He gave me his book number and I responded with 11,000 for the SSEG clubcall and 7664 for G4YSS, my first WAB book (a yellow one, bought in 1987 which I still treasure). Including a brief chat with everyone and a few unanswered CQ’s at the end, the session took about 20 minutes.

As detailed above, I went back to CW to work Sake PA0SKP. After another trip outside was needed to remove the 160m coils in readiness for 80m in the morning. Reflective tape helps to locate them and it was worth the effort. The high half moon was shining bright and I could see the lights of Lancashire; possibly Manchester and Liverpool, to the south. It’s a shame that the camera was incapable of recording this vista with any quality.

The Night:
Unlike the night on Whernside (NP4) for the 4m contest a month prior, there was no airbed to blow up; no bad thing when it makes you dizzy. Sasha and I had carry-mats this time. Weight was 500gm for two mats (actually one and a half) against 450gm for one thin PVC airbed which might easily have been punctured by the dog’s sharp claws.

It’s hard to sleep properly in these circumstances but Sasha seemed to be making a success of it. At least the night was shorter than a month ago and it didn’t feel particularly cold. Nevertheless, I was glad I’d brought the inner tent as it was still quite breezy outside.

After making sure the dog was well fed and tucked in, the light was switched off at around 12:30am. I was woken a bit later by feet in my back. Sasha was dreaming and her legs were twitching wildly. Was this rabbits, a deer or another dog? The movement was accompanied by subdued barking. There’s little doubt that I paid her back with some snoring.

At precisely 03:13 a Skylark struck up. I think it must have been on the ground at that point because it was still dark. An hour later it started to get light. Sasha somehow managed to turn over without tangling up her sleeping bag and went promptly back to sleep. By 6am, I’d had about enough of the discomfort. At 7am the sun was out and we got up. Least ways, I did. The canine took a little more persuading but was soon running around outside. This was OK as there were no sheep to be seen.

Morning of Thursday 24th May 2018:
145.550 FM – 4 QSO’s from 07:00z:
I traditionally use 145.400 but John G0TDM gets severe interference anywhere below the calling channel. After it’s grudging performance the day before, the shiny new phone was now showing a strong signal. I tried a self-spot and it was John G0TDM, QTH Penrith, who responded with a 55 report.

Next was Phil G4OBK with a 56/ 54 exchange. His antenna did 90% of the work. He was running 40W to a 7-ely and we had a brief discussion about the lack of activity on WOTA and its organization.

G4DEE Tony, located near Bury, followed Phil and we exchanged 57/ 52 reports. Tony was running 150W to a Diamond X-300 vertical colinear. At my end, power was 5 Watts from the FT817ND to the vertical J-Pole erected beside the tent. There’s little wonder that he was struggling with my signal in QSB much of the time.

At 08:15 local time I heard Geoff G4WHA/M trying to make contact on his way to work in Penrith. He must have been running power and was not hearing my puny 5W return signal over vehicle noise etc. No matter, I would log him on 80m later on.

Last in the log on VHF was M0NOM located down in Windermere but it was difficult for Mark, who gave me a 33 report, though he was mid-scale on my meter.

3.557 CW – 9 QSO’s from 07:30z:
G4SSH was the first station to be called on here. Roy gave me 339 and the offer of a spot while I responded with a 579 report. The spot worked well and it helped that I was bang on the alerted time.

Stations worked with 30 Watts: G0TDM John (599/ 559); M0BKV Damien (599/ 449); G3RDQ David (2 x 559); DL1FU (Frid needed the 50 Watt option – 559/ 229); G4TJC Simon (579/ 339); GU3TUX Chris on Alderney running QRP (449/ 339); G4OBK - Phil 599 plus quite a lot both ways and PA3BYW Durk (559/ 549).

3.760 SSB – 16 QSO’s from 07:55z:
The Worked All Britain frequency seemed clear but when I checked it a response was heard. Fortunately it was Phil G7AFM (2 x 59) and he was waiting for me to appear. M3FEH was also on the channel but much weaker at 55, Karl giving my 30 Watts a 57.

No doubt helped on by Roy’s spot, after the QSY frequency was relayed on 3.557, a mini pileup started: Giving out the SOTA and WAB square as often as possible, the following stations were logged in 26 minutes: G0TDM John; G0VWP Terrry; G4IAR Dave; G0RQL Don; G0NBI Graham; G0GWY Geoff; GM0SEF Dave; G4HPE Steve; GM6ZFI Doug in Kelso; G8ADD Brain; G6NHW Pete; MW0ISC Steve; G4WHA/A Geoff in Penrith and MM3PDM/M Peter on his way to Ullapool, no doubt to put on some squares.

Reports were very good with twelve 59’s going out and ten coming back in. The remainder reflected the QSB in force at the time and the most difficult QSO’s were with G0TDM 58/ 51 and G4WHA/A 51/ 33 both in Penrith, 50km to my NNW. Probably ground wave was the only thing helping us over that short path and there were hills in the way. Also the usual dreadful QRM was being suffered by Geoff at the computer shop.

At some stage in this 30 Watt session, the 5Ah Li-Po failed and had to be replaced with one of the two 2.2Ah’s. A short delay was inevitable. I didn’t announce what was happening after this, as I didn’t know myself, so while I gave an enthusiastic, sunbathing Sasha a belly rub, I had a think about where on the bands to go next.

7.032.3 CW – 18 QSO’s from 08:36z:
With battery power and time available, I decided to try 40m CW. Phil, G0UUU picked up my signal after a random search using an on-line receiver in Sweden and later one in Germany. This wasn’t quite random; it was more a case of knowing where to look. The result was that Phil’s spot appeared on Sotawatch just 4 minutes after I started calling CQ.

Stations worked: DL2HWI Dietmar; IK2LEY Fabio; F6EWB Jean-Paul; OK2PDT Jan; SM7SPG Per; ON4VT Danny; HB9AGH Ambrosi; I2CZQ Pietro; LA9XGA/P Tor S2S on LA/RL-153; DL2EF Frank; SA4BLM Lars; HB9AFI/P Kurt S2S on HB/VD-027.

F2YT Paul; OE7PHI Hans; F5LKW Roger; IK2CFD Graziano; PA0B Rob and the final QSO of the day was with OH6KSX. RF output power, derived from the spare 2.2Ah battery, was 50 Watts throughout.

Just before the end of the 30 minute session, the frequency was unceremoniously pinched. That made the last two QSO’s difficult but then calls seemed to dry up which was timely.

I would have liked to try 14MHz but there were other priorities. I knew from experience that it would take the better part of an hour to pack everything back into the rucksack for carrying off, so ‘I’d better start now.’ I needed to be at West Ayton (nr.Scarborough) at 4pm to pick up my XYL and her friend from the Lochs & Glens coach.

The Descent:
With the dog looking on between frolics and rolling on the grass, I set about the task of taking the antennas and tent down. It helped that no extra guys and pegs had been required and that the weather was excellent. With no time for niceties, it was all bundled into and onto the rucksack.

Sasha had a final drink of water and we were off in sunshine and a nice cool breeze. With lots of stops for photos on the way, we reached the car at 11:43. You can’t always be certain that a dog won’t chase sheep, so the lead was needed for the middle section. Sasha showed too much interest for my liking and there were both sheep and lambs in abundance. She got a reward every time she passed some without reacting much.

Between Thirsk and Sutton Bank on the drive home via Hawes, where I called at Elijah Allen’s for some Wensleydale cheese, I worked Morgan M0RGZ on 145.475 MHz, QTH SOTA G/NP-014 Rogan’s Seat.

QSO’s - 83 comprising:
4 on 2m-FM
21 on 80m-CW
27 on 80m-SSB
6 on 160m-CW
7 on 160m-SSB
18 on 40m-CW

Days/ QSO’s:
36 on Wednesday 23rd May
47 on Thursday 24th May

Battery Utilisation (Li-Po’s):
5Ah: 100%
2.2Ah No1: 86% (tested)
2.2Ah No2: Not used
Total used: 6.9Ah.

Ascent & Distance:
244m (801ft) ascent, 8.1 km (5.1 miles)
4 SOTA points.

Walking Time: 1hr-50 min.
57 min up/ 53 min down (at 2.8mph)
Summit Time: 15hr-5 min.

Distance driven: 221 miles
Out:126 mls. via Cayton, Seamer, York, Rufforth, A1M (J46 to J45), Otley & Skipton
Back: 95 via Hawes & Thirsk

Chronology (BST):
15:40: Left Scarborough (Seamer School)
17:50: Left York (after dropping off Hazel & Jack)
19:00: Arrived White Shaw Moss (on Ingleton-Dent gated road)
19:45: Walked for G/NP-011
20:42: Arrived G/NP-011 (57min)

10:50: Left G/NP-011
11:43: Arrived car
12:00: Drove for home (met friend on the way - 20min)
15:00: Arrived Scarborough (via Hawes, Thirsk & Sutton Bank)

Despite having further to walk, this summit camp-over seemed a lot easier than the one on Whernside in April. Pack weight was down below 37 pounds (actually 16.6kg) and that was mainly due to the lack of VHF equipment for the RSGB 4m contest. Because of the shorter nights, less time was spent crammed into a small tent. There were fewer contacts made which translates to less elbow, leg and back pain.

Finally, I had a companion. Sasha was as good as gold possibly with a couple of caveats. Firstly she ended the night in the middle of the tent with me crushed down one side! After I fed her breakfast, she still wanted some of mine but that’s dogs for you!

In radio terms, this was the star band and conditions seemed pretty good. 11pm (local) seems to be a good compromise between reasonable propagation conditions and not keeping chasers up too late, though that might not be have been the case had this been late June.

No great distances were worked; just PA, OZ and EI and there were a few callsigns missing. Nevertheless, thirteen QSO’s with twelve different ops more than satisfied the requirements and I was very happy with this.

After going to significant effort to be there, it is very pleasing to witness the enthusiasm of SOTA 160m chasers time and again plus in this case, at least one WAB op who was going for an award on the band. Activating can be a very rewarding experience and that was no exception here. Thank you to chasers who came on in the late evening just to work the station.

This band was the winner with 48 QSO’s. Both UK and European stations, one as far as Italy, were workable on the Thursday evening after sunset with good reports. As expected the next day, skip was a lot shorter in daylight but Frid DL1FU still managed a QSO, albeit only just.

I have no complaints about propagation apart from QSB. That said, QSB only affects chasers and it affects them badly at times. I can’t vouch for other activators but I barely notice QSB, or to be more accurate, its effects. If there’s no noise, how can a signal go below it? That’s obviously an over simplification and a slight exaggeration but it’s not far from the truth; noise floors can be very low in open country.

There was only time for CW on here but in daylight and especially in the last year or two, it is a band which normally supports communications with Europe. I may be wrong but it seems to me that there are more CW SOTA ops in Europe than in the UK. Though it’s not as certain as it used to be, you can still put out CQ’s between 7.032 and 7.034MHz and have a chance of a SOTA chaser hearing you. After a few failed attempts to self spot I chose CW over SSB in this instance.

With a total of just four QSO’s on this band, I should perhaps have tried harder. This summit is not that great for QRP VHF contacts but the main reason was a preoccupation with HF.

In the April NP4 summit camp report, the word used was benign. Once again it was close to perfect for the task. There was sunshine on both days, something I don’t like on the ascent but it was moderated by a cool breeze. Again, no waterproofs or coat were required. A fleece was used for the ascent because that was done in the evening. After that, apart from sleeping, it was shirt sleeve order.

Mobile phone:
Having recently swapped from EE to Vodafone, mainly because of lack of coverage in parts of the west coast of Scotland, I was hoping for a good signal. I had around one pixel of signal on the meter on Wednesday evening which resulted in poor performance with text messages and self spotting. In the morning I had nearly FSD early on but that dropped later. I did manage one self spot 2m-FM but other attempts failed. However, all went smoothly due to either Roy G4SSH hearing my QSY-SSB messages at the end of the CW sessions or Phil G0UUU, listening to me on various internet receivers located in Cheshire, Sweden or Germany.

This, my fifteenth summit overnighter for SOTA, was less uncomfortable than normal mainly because of the fewer operating hours. In the past, for sleeping, an airbed was used but with the dog’s sharp claws in mind, I took carry-mats for this expedition. Despite concerns to the contrary, they seemed to do the job quite well. Not only that, they were quicker and easier to manage. The only thing I really missed was a decent pillow. The result was an aching neck. As far as sleep quality and quantity is concerned, I keep expectations low. That way I’m not disappointed.

Having never taken a dog camping before, I had only a vague idea of what to expect. I never owned one and Sasha is on loan daily. Half a carry-mat (0.1kg) and my 10 year-old Grandson’s sleeping bag (0.7kg) proved perfect for the job. A thin dog with a thin coat, this is an animal that likes to be covered up if it’s cold and that’s how she stayed all night. She also slept with her coat on.

She is normally quite placid and not liable to trample the radio equipment or anything else. She was trusted to wander freely on the summit where, luckily there were no sheep. In fact she never ventured more than 30m from the tent, preferring to explore and sunbathe.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED. Many thanks to the ops who came up late on Wednesday evening for Top Band. Thanks also to spotters: G4SSH and my son G0UUU and finally thanks to Sasha – you were great company!

73 John G4YSS (Using SSEG Club station GX0OOO/P)

Photos: 7-17-33-34-36-37-46-54-90-93-96-102-108-120-128-142

Above: Heading up the track from White Shaw Moss to NP11 Great Coum

Above: Wall stile and gate not far from the top at SD 7016 8333

Above: Sunset on NP11 Great Coum

Above: G/NP-011 Great Coum camp-over. Radio station and Sasha

Above: G/NP-011 Great Coum camp-over. FT817ND, HF Amp and 5Ah battery. Working on 3.557-CW

Above: G/NP-011 Great Coum after 160m QRT. Midnight moonlight and the lights of Lancashire.

Above: G/NP-011 Great Coum camp-over. Rise and shine with reluctance

Above: G/NP-011 Great Coum camp-over

Above: G/NP-011 Great Coum. Ready to leave

Above: Great Coum’s summit pond

Above: The way down Great Coum. Ingleborough G/NP-005 in the distance

Above: Sasha in Staffy mode

Above: Looking back towards G/NP-011 Great Coum

Above: Op in daft 'at

Above: Track & Great Coum behind

Above: The final section of track & the car. Whernside G/NP-004, scene of April’s summit camp, in the background


Interesting, because my G5RV is actually close to end-on to you so I would expect a null, but it is not very high to favour NVIS so I guess that smooths things out.

I like carry-mats, nice and warm, but an inflatable pillow is to my mind an essential piece of gear to go with them - and you can sit on it, too, if you don’t over inflate it. Millets used to have flock-covered inflatable pillows, which are better because your head doesn’t slide on them, I imagine they are still available.

I don’t do morse code - well, I can read it if it is a bit slower than you send, but somehow it has no appeal for me. Despite that, I still listen to you on CW (your call is unmistakable!) because if the blue light flashes on the FT857D then I know that I am going to be able to read you on SSB!

I’m looking forward to your next Top Band foray, though with mid summer looming I guess it won’t be soon!

Hello Brian,
Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I agree. I take no notice of directivity theory for lower band dipoles used at the height we amateurs can get them to. In fact years ago I went to the trouble of turning mine through 90 degrees on the summit when trying to work EI2CL - Mike on 160m. It made no difference - I still couldn’t work him!

Guess what I found when I unpacked the rucksack at home. An inflatable pillow. Flocked and from Tesco. £1.50/ 89gm. So I carried it up and forgot I had it. Just my age.

Do try CW if you wish. Come in slow and I will slow down for you with Farnsworth.

Next 160m? No plans and I don’t think there’ll be any from LD next week. There may be some for VHF-NFD in early July if I camp over.

Thanks again Brian & 73,

Hi John,

Thanks for the really interesting report (and awesome pictures)! It looks like you & Sasha had a great time :slight_smile:

I’m planning on activating the three Yorkshire peaks in a couple of weekends’ time, with a one night stopover on one of the summits (not decided which one yet), to try and catch a summit sunrise. Fingers crossed we get weather as good as you had…

73, Simon

Hiya Simon,
More power to your elbow! Hope it comes off with the weather. If you’re walking right round it’s 5,000ft and 23 miles but you’ll know that. I remember doing it for SOTA in 2003 but just on 2m-FM.

Not stayed over on Ingleborough (yet?) but overnighted for new year on both the other two and again on Whernside last month. I can honestly say it’s a thrill, despite the hard work. It’s certainly better with a four-legged friend. They’re good company.

If you are just doing them singly, I would suggest Pen-y-Ghent, a fairly easy carry from the road to its southeast or Whernside, going up the west side. Ingleborough would be the most difficult and it’s got a rockier top, unfriendly for tent pegs. The other two have walls to pitch behind if its windy and you can be out of the way of other summiters.

Good luck to you,
Thanks for your interest,
73, John.

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Thanks John for the info.

We’ve not made firm plans on which summit we intend to overnight on, as it is a bit weather dependant. We are doing all three in one hit. The last time we visited, we climbed Ingleborough and Whernside, but ran out of time to do P-y-G. This time we’ll have a bit of flexibility with the tent.

Do you know any good pubs/restaurants in the area that we could visit?

Thanks again,

Hi Simon,
Good luck with The Three Peaks of Yorkshire. It’s ironic that you’ll be putting in extra effort by lugging a tent up at least one peak but won’t officially be able to get the badge and certificate by checking in at the shop. I can’t remember but I think you have to check back in inside 12 hours.

Can’t help with pubs etc. Don’t know the area very well apart from the mountains. There must be something of what you need in Horton in Ribblesdale.

This is quite a demanding undertaking so I wish you the best of luck, especially with the weather. I wouldn’t like to attempt it in Summer but that’s just me.
When I did it, the temp was about 2c. It took 8 hr-12min plus 45min at each summit for radio. 2m-fm with a J-pole. Order was NP5-NP4-NP10, i.e…reverse order. The walk between NP4 and NP10 goes on for ever and ever. 8 to 10 QSOs on each summit.

If it’s really poor WX this time, there’s always next year.

Take care,

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I recommend the New Inn pub in Clapham village, conveniently close to Ingleborough - good beer, good food!

Many thanks John,

We’re not too worried about the certificates, it’ll just be a great challenge to complete. You do still have to complete within 12 hours if you want the cert, although there are now other options from the National Park website where you can just put your time/that the 3 were summited etc.

As you say, it is very weather dependant; if it is rainy, we’ll be giving the overnight stay a miss for sure… I’m keeping a very close eye on MWIS at the moment.

2m FM/70cm FM will be my capability too, although I’m not too sure my partner will let me stay on the summits for 45 minutes. I’m lucky to get 10 minutes before she starts giving me a hard time about chatting on the radio ha ha!

Will post some alerts once we have a firm plan for the weekend.
73, Simon

Thanks for the info Brian.

I’ll let my partner know about this one, so we can work it into our weekend away.

73, Simon

The climbing club that I hang out with had their annual dinner there a few years ago!

Just out of interest, there is an interesting approach to Ingleborough from Clapham: a broad track follows the river on its west bank, passes a lake and runs above the river in its ravine, passing a grotto and Ingleborough cave. Eventually the track turns left into a ravine with limestone cliffs that attract sports climbers, then when the ravine peters out you pass Gaping Gill and the route to the summit is unmissable. I just mention this because many people ascend from Newby Cote which may be quicker in dry conditions but is far less interesting!

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Hello Jonh,
I always go to SOTA with my dog “Duna”… :wink:
Liked to see Sasha in the tent! Ihih

José Praça

Ref: CT/BL-004 (Serra da Freita) 21-04-2018

Findind the best propagation…

Learning to work SOTA… :wink:


Hello Jose & Duna,

Thank you very much for posting the photos of Duna. She is a very good looking dog and in shape similar to Sasha. She certainly looks like a Lurcher as I think I can see some greyhound in her. She will be a fast runner.

Sasha doesn’t know how to find the best propagation yet but Duna has inspired me to try teaching her! I see Duna is also learning CW.

I can recommend camping with Duna. If Sasha is anything to go by, she would enjoy it I think.

Thank you once again for the photos of Duna on Serra da Freita summit. Inspirational stuff.

73, John


Are her biscuits under that plastic bag Jose?

As always I enjoyed your report John! I never dared taking our black lab on the hills. She did love the water though.
Your account reminded me of my attempt to introduce my wife to the joys of camping. After many “discussions”, she agreed to try it in the back garden (close to known and trusted facilities). I pitched the tent on a sunny afternoon, but by the time she came home from work it was pouring down. Did I mention that her condition for trying camping was that the dog would join us? I knew it was a bad idea, but…
Taking the dog outside at a time we would all normally be quieting down for sleep, alerted her (the dog) to the prospect of an ADVENTURE. My wife was less enthusiastic. We settled in to the sounds of a monsoon outside and I tried to encourage Poppy (dog) to settle just outside the inner tent under the fly sheet. NO! This was far too exciting and called for urgent exploration around the garden. The zip proved no barrier (and why would it, even the garden fence is no obstacle), she burrowed out and returned periodically to dry out (over us) and tell us about her ADVENTURES. After several such trips I brought her (Poppy; my wife was already inside the tent with me) into the inner tent hoping she would settle better between us. 5 minutes later I turned over to gaze adoringly at my wife and hound. Poppy was lying on top of my wife gazing even more adoringly at her face from a distance of about an inch whilst drying out. I was pleased that both the ladies in my life were so settled on their first camp, but was (very) soon informed that appearances might be deceptive and this status quo could not continue.
I reluctantly took Poppy to her kennel at the bottom of the garden (yes it was still raining). When I returned to the tent to try and convince my wife how wonderful camping really was, Poppy started to howl to express her agreement (it was after midnight now). Sorry neighbours!
My wife gave up in disgust and went in the house to sleep and I followed meekly to salvage my marriage.

The marriage thrives, but joint camping is out. RIP Poppy :cry:


Ahahah!!! Nice One Andy!!! :wink:
Nooo, no biscuits! :wink:
Maybe it was the sound of the splatter of the big ones, Kw (next to my frequency)! Grrr
At weekends is very hard to find a free space in almost all bands to do some contacts in SSB (QRP).



Maybe there is an amateur radio book in the same series…



Close :dog:

I laughed like a drain at that. The trouble with dogs is that they can get a bit over enthusiastic. As you say Labs love water. I once had to help pull my friend’s golden Lab out of a sewage bed at Esholt near Bradford. He wasn’t so golden afterwards. Next was walking half a mile down the road on a long lead to be pushed in the canal. Sasha hates water and will walk around puddles if she can. A big advantage when camping.
73, John

Love the humour!