G4YSS: G/NP-015, NP-016, NP-031 & Sasha 22-02-19

G4YSS Activation Report for NP15, NP16, NP31 on 22-02-19

GX0OOO/P on:

NP15: 2m-FM QRP
NP16: 2m-FM QRP
NP31: 20m-80m-160m CW/ SSB QRO
G4YSS - with Sasha (Lurcher – Greyhound/ Staffy Cross)

All times UTC
Sun times: 07:13 and 17:32

VHF 2m-FM: NP15 & NP16
Moonraker MT270M, 2m/70cm, 25W mobile tcvr
2m Band J-Pole on carbon stick mast
2m Band Sotabeam & mast (not required)

HF: NP31
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver
MX-P50M HF (80 thru’ 10) 50 Watt linear amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with loading coils for 160m
6m x 5-section home-brew aluminium alloy/ CFC mast with 1m end sticks

Icom IC-E90, 6m-4m-2m & 70cm, 5W V-UHF H/H (not used)
UV-3R 2m/70cm, 2W V-UHF H/H (top pocket)

NP15 & NP16: One 5 Ah Li-Po battery (part used)
NP31: One 5 Ah Li-Po battery (part used). One 2.2 Ah (not used)

Garmin Geko 301 GPS
DAB/ FM Radio
Dog TX
Dog headlamp
Dog bowl & treats
Dog coats (2)

Pack weights:
NP15 & NP16: 8kg (18 pounds) inc. 2 x 250ml water
NP31: 10.8kg (24 pounds) inc. 2 x 250ml water

The trouble with reaching milestones is the aftermath. Once they’re achieved further incentive can suffer. That’s the position I found myself in before this activation with no new target yet identified, in the numbers game at least. Not that this situation made much difference; for years now I have had to force myself to go out and activate. A life time spent as a worrier, the anxiety and potential lack of sleep before an activation has gradually crept up on me since about 2005.

Gone are the early days of SOTA when I couldn’t wait to get out on the road and drive the two or three hours to my beloved NP or LD peaks with real enthusiasm and gusto, sometimes two or three times in a week. What keeps me going now is experience; the knowledge that the pre-SOTA emotional downer will be more than balanced by the post-SOTA euphoria. Pre-SOTA I’m well known to be distracted, moody and a little snappy whilst afterwards I’m floating on air.

As we climbed for the final activation of the day, I listened to Nick G4OOE on Ingleborough, working a steady stream of chasers, nodding my head in sympathy each time he told someone that he’d driven almost three hours to get there and it would be the same going back. All this time spent on the road is the killer for me. If the mountains were in my back yard it would be different. I know that’s a fact without doubt because I have no lack of enthusiasm walking around my home anything up to ten miles a day and put simply I dearly love mountains.

So, in line with a self-imposed policy going back to 2002 of keeping the ratio of winter activations to hours spent behind a wheel as high as possible, I agreed to sally forth for the umpteenth time and try to do three in the day. Based on previous times (and there are many to chose from) I put some alerts on SOTAwatch. 9am for the first one, 12 noon for the second and 16:00 for the third. To fit these in without setting off from home at the ‘old standard’ time of 03:30, the first two would be done on 2m-FM only. So long as the schedule didn’t slip, there would be the opportunity to ‘go to town’ on the last one with HF QRO on 80 and 160m.

At least I would have a companion but Sasha the lurcher, who is now ten years old had hitherto done only one SOTA summit per day and a few times just one per two days. She was about to have a surprise or would that be a ‘shock’ but in the end she rose to the occasion admirably.

The mountain weather forecast was good apart from 20 to 35 mph winds which fortunately never remotely materialised. In fact we continue to enjoy a February heatwave with day time temperatures up to 17C or greater! Furthermore there have only been short-lived episodes of snowfall in the Northern Pennines and Lake District this winter. Winter bonus is largely being ‘stolen’ under false pretences.

The plan was to start from home at 6am but we did better than that. It was only 05:35 when we drove out into the low-lying fog to the accompaniment of BBC Radio 4. It’s always tedious via the A648 but the Coal Road parking place was reached at 07:50 with the trip odometer reading 88 miles.

Just in brief as it’s been included many times before. Leaving the Coal Road at SD 7796 8805 you walk via the track, turning left at the gate and sheep pens at SD 7768 8744 and thereafter, up beside the fence. It’s indirect and boggy in places but better than the bee-line I used in the early days, which was rough underfoot. The ascent was started after Sasha’s breakfast at 08:13.

G/NP-015: GREAT KNOUTBERRY HILL, 672m, 4 pts. 08:43 to 09:35. 7C and 7 mph southerly wind. Overcast at first then hazy sun. No lying snow in the Pennines or Lake District. IO84KP; WAB SD78. Trig Point TP3461. (Vodafone signal).

The J-Pole was set up by weaving the mast into the pig wire at the top of the wall then connecting it up the Moonraker MT270M 25W miniature mobile rig. This weighs just 565gm including mic, wiring and circuit breaker but it has a poor receiver from the noise rejection viewpoint. This wasn’t to trouble us today however.

145.525 FM - 8 QSO’s:
There can be no further reliance on G4WHA/A listening at the computer shop in Penrith. Unfortunately Geoff has been transferred to the Carlisle shop. Geoff’s mate John G0TDM came back to my CQ however and we exchanged with 55 reports, followed by a repeat using John’s ‘B’ class callsign, G7GQL, just in case. John told me that Geoff was listening out for me but nothing meaningful was detected at my end even with the squelch disabled. Maybe tiny changes in noise level indicated that Geoff might be transmitting but that’s all there was to go by.

John’s spot brought in G6XBF Walt in Leeds; M0PXP Chris at Settle; 2E0FQT John in Scunthorpe; M6TUC Geoff in Great Horton, Bradford (I went to school there); G1YQY Bill - 5 miles south of Richmond and finally G4BLH/M Mike who was half way up Pendle Hill for an activation. With the exception of Mike (2 x 51), signals were 55 or 59 to me with the same coming back apart from a 44 from Scunthorpe. Mike was still 20 minutes away from his activation area and regrettably we couldn’t wait. At least he got NP15 in the log.

Descent of NP15:
Sasha had been curled up in the grass with her two coats on for the duration of the activation but now we had to get moving again. Half way down to the track the UV-3R in my top pocket sprung into life and I heard Nick G4OOE calling Phil G4OBK on 145.500. There was no sign of Phil however, who was somewhere in the GM/ SS region. Nick informed me that he was approaching the final ridge on Ingleborough NP5 and would be setting up shortly.

I dread to think what state she’d be in if she were a Labrador but Lurchers are normally quite good at avoiding bogs and we got back to the Coal Road early, at 10:01.

Drive to NP16:
The drive round via Hawes and the Cam Houses Road took from around 10:07 until 10:38. Just after leaving the parking place I worked Nick G4OOE/P again, this time at the summit of Ingleborough G/NP-005.

New Cattle Grids:
There are three gates on the Cam Houses Road and I noted with great pleasure that two of them had been recently furnished with adjacent cattle grids, saving valuable time. When my father bought his first car in 1957 and we began to explore the Yorkshire Dales, I used to beg to be taken on gated roads so that I could be the one to open the gates. Sad to say that the novelty has now worn off. The first gate at the Hawes to Buckden road junction remains as before, with no grid but it was open today anyway.

At this point another signal was audible on the car’s FT1802. The words ‘CQ SOTA’ grabbed my attention and I worked GW4TQE/P on GW/NW-021 Rhobell Fawr with 59 signals. If we were after S2S’s, we were going the wrong way about it.

Starting in 2008, I have been in the habit of driving an extra 320 metres up the Pennine Way track from Kidhow Gate to park on the grass verge at SD 8304 8367. Today I drove a little further than that but it’s a bit rough for an ordinary car. Nonetheless, every little helps when doing multiple summits.

A minor path leaves the Pennine Way track at SD 8339 8434 but it is not obvious and easily lost. From there it’s steeply up via SD 8344 8435, crossing a beck at SD 8352 8432 and following a boggy track via SD 8364 8434, SD 8376 8439, SD 8386 8443 and SD 8397 8453 to the ‘moated’ trig. Starting at 10:46, Sasha and I walked up in 25 minutes but it was very boggy and detours were necessary.

NP-016: DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 11:11 to 12:08, 10 Deg.C. 7 mph southerly wind. Sunshine throughout. Vodafone mobile signal LOC: IO84VG, WAB: SD88. Trig: TP2795.

145.550 FM - 9 QSO’s:
Sitting on grass with no windbreak required, I called CQ on S20 with 25 Watts. Knowing Dodd Fell’s VHF reputation, I wasn’t expecting great things but it just shows you how wrong you can be. Once again I got John G0TDM and another spot, followed by G6LKB Dave using a H/H to a co-linear in Ulverston. Upon hearing the ‘/P’ and thinking he was on a summit, I actually worked GW4ZPL/P John in Bangor first. Then I remembered he lives in a caravan which he told me is covered in solar panels.

Thence followed: G6NHW/A Pete in Morecambe; G4RQJ Rob in Walney Island; G4ZRP Brian in Wirral. The squelch had to be defeated to detect Brian’s 2W from an FT290. Next to call was G6XBF Walt in Leeds; M1SPY Steve in Redcar (I used to live there) and G7OEM/P Tony S2S on G/SP-014 Longridge Fell using an FT817 to a J-Pole . At one stage there was a minor pileup and MW0TTK didn’t come back when called in after the resultant delay. Apologies for that. I know how it is though. Folks can get called away to the phone, the door bell or have to go out unexpectedly.

The majority of reports fell in the range 55 to 59 with a 42 from G0TDM, GW4ZPL/P and I swapping 53’s, G4ZRP 51/ 54 and a 33 coming back from Redcar.

Descent of NP16:
A sunny descent was completed by 12:29 which brought us 75 minutes ahead of schedule. The 21 mile drive around to Litton followed at 12:48 after a repacking of the rucksack with HF kit and a lunch for Sasha in the form of a can of sardines. To make maximum room for her, the rucksack complete with mast travelled the short journeys between summits on the roof rack.

I had promised Roy G4SSH that I’d phone him with an update after Dodd Fell but there was no phone signal from Fleet Moss at that time. However, the traditional red phone box in the remote hamlet of Oughtershaw had a working phone in it. Unlike many which only allow the use of cards these days, this one still takes coins. Once I’d remembered to put the money in before punching in Roy’s number we were away and the minimum fee of 60 pence gave sufficient time to tweak the forthcoming procedure from Birks Fell. Since we were ahead of schedule I wanted to insert 20m prior to going on 80 and 160m. NP31 is at best poor for phone signals so I arranged to meet Roy on 3.557 CW when I got there. That would give me the essential spots for the unalerted 20m CW and SSB frequencies, without which I would have had little chance of success.

On the way through Buckden Village I noted that unlike a year ago when a notice stated that it closed at 11am in winter, the shop and presumably the café were open. In Starbottom, the pub’s small beer garden was almost full. Unfortunately the exceptional weather had brought out a whole crop of drivers that were apparently not used to narrow country lanes so by the time we got to our next start point we were only an hour ahead.

Parking at SD 9070 7409 in Litton Village at 14:03 and setting off walking at 14:13, the sultry conditions (16C and almost no wind) became immediately noticeable. For me to put three or more SOTA’s on in the day usually presupposes cold or freezing conditions but today I was forced to carry my fleece along with the dog’s two coats in the rucksack, which meant leaving the primaloft activation coat in the car. With the knowledge we’d be facing a minimum two and a half hour activation taking us up to and after sunset under clear skies, this was a reluctant choice.

The route is via a well used Bridle Path. Bear left onto the bridleway in front of the pub and walk through the farm yard. At SD 9093 7411 leave the concrete farm road and go straight on through Gate 1. Going downhill on grass (losing about 7m), pass between walls to a slippery footbridge at SD 9114 7409 then up to Gate 2 at SD 9129 7406. Gate 3 is further up at SD 9146 7397. Continue to follow the path where it bends sharply left at SD 9171 7389. This is Sasha’s favourite spot after her encounter with a rabbit last year. The next point is Gate 4 at SD 9204 7438. Gate 5 is set in the spine wall at SD 9245 7492 and it’s also well within the 25m zone but in deference to WAB chasers, I normally turn right to activate near the trig point which stands at SD 9260 7484.

Despite shirt sleeves for me and both dog coats in the rucksack, the climb today was a bit of a sweat for us both. The dog was panting and stopped by a stream for her first drink of the day. Nick G4OOE/P, recently installed on G/NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent, a name I later heard him spell out to someone, was quickly worked using the top pocket rig; easily done when Nick’s hill was right there in plain sight across the valley. Listening to Nick’s slick activation and a brief chat with Derek 2E0MIX in Whitehaven, took the mind off leg pain and presently we were re-working him, this time S2S from the trig. Nick passed his 73’s for G4SSH and these were later relayed to Roy in CW on 80m.

G/NP-031: BIRKS FELL, 610m, 4pts, 15:04 to 17:44. 11 deg.C. Less than 7 mph wind. Sunshine until sunset at 17:30. Poor Vodafone mobile coverage (EE is usually nil). LOC: IO84WE, WAB: SD97, Trig: TP-3179.

145.525 FM – 1 QSO:
As described above Nick G4OOE/P on Pen-y-Ghent was worked S2S using 2W from a UV-3R H/H with rubber duck antenna. I gathered that Nick was using 5W to a vertical dipole and reports over the 8.8km line-of-sight path were of course 59 both ways.

3.557.5 CW - 1 QSO (G4SSH):
First job after setting up the dipole on a taller than usual (6m) mast by the wall, was to work Roy G4SSH at 15:30 to confirm that the 20m band would be inserted into the schedule. Roy got on with spotting the 20m frequencies for me, both CW and SSB while I went to open the subject dipole links. Roy’s signal was 589 and I got back 449 from him.

Electric Bike:
Just at this point a cyclist arrived at the trig. We had a brief chat. He asked what I was up to and I in turn was curious about the bike which turned out to be electric, assisted by pedal power. There were no obvious bulges which might denote a large battery pack but I was told that this like mine, was his third summit of the day! You can imagine my first though but I think I’ll stick to traditional methods of doing SOTA. The man was there for some time before riding off the way we’d come but not before asking me if it what he’d heard was Morse code and whether I could also do voice. Judging by some earlier comments about, ‘These days of internet, Skype and mobile phones’ and whether all this gear was really necessary, I think he probably thought me more than a little eccentric.

Equipment Failure or Finger Trouble?
It took a while to get ready probably because I hadn’t yet donned my spectacles? Initial tests of VSWR proved satisfactory then I proceeded to adjust the power up to 5W on the FT817. That would give me 50W output but SWR tests must be done with the amp switched off. Yes, the amp was off and I even remembered to select the 20m output filter, something that caught me out one time on a Scottish Munro.

Ready to go I thought but when I switched the amp on and touched the key to send ‘QRL?’ the 817’s meter shot right across to FSD! ‘My goodness, the amp’s broken!’ Or is it the aerial? I could hear questionings on the frequency. Evidently Roy’s spot been seen and folk were wondering where I’d got to and what all the disjointed signals were about. In case it was the changeover relay problem again, I gave the linear a serious bat with the flat of my hand.

Next the receive signals cut out altogether and still this massive SWR. Maybe I shouldn’t have hit it so hard? Going round the rear panel, I tweaked the patch lead plugs and antenna BNC’s. Still the receive signals were cutting in and out, the chasers were getting ever more impatient and I ever more embarrassed. The bike man must surely have heard the swearing. Not only 20m but 80 and 160 were now in serious jeopardy and most of the 2m-FM people needed to qualify, would be starting to go QRT by now. Panic, sweat!

Finally the dullard worked it out. For one thing I’d hit the wrong button (the middle one) to alter the power; instead switching the meter function to ‘Power Out’ when I always have it on SWR. Hence the FSD on TX. Not only that, the last time the rig was used it had been left on VHFM with the squelch on. No wonder the receiver kept cutting out. Talk about relieved but I still felt very silly!

14.052.6 CW – 6 QSO’s:
The session was started with a ‘SRI’ as I replied to N4EX, probably by now on his tenth call-in. Still flustered by recent events, the Morse wasn’t up to much but I managed to work the following stations in 10 minutes: N4EX Richard in North Carolina 589/ 549; AC1Z Robert in New Hampshire 589/ 559; OK2PDT Jan 529/ 339; OH3GZ Jukka 579/ 599; K0RS Larry in Colorado 579/ 539 and SV2OXS Christos – Katerini 599/ 579. The final op was bit quick on the key for my liking. Power was 50 Watts for the first QSO and 30W for the rest. Success.

14.282/ 14.285 SSB – Nil:
14.285, the alerted and recently spotted frequency, was blocked by QRM and maybe a QSO. I tried to self spot but as far as I know, it didn’t go. Three down was clearer but none of my CQ’s were heard there and I only had a few minutes to spare. A last ditch was to call on .285 and try to QSY any reply down to .282 but there were none. Sorry to disappoint but this change of modes on 20m has gone wrong before. Not least, the problem is that Roy cannot help with this as he’s too close to hear me on this band.

3.557.6 CW - 10 QSO’s:
The log entry for QSO number one on here was 16:00 which put us back on schedule. Keeping to time was important for two reasons. Top Band was the final and critical session. Too early before sunset and it might not work too well. A dark descent was accepted and prepared for but too late and we wouldn’t be home until nigh on 10pm.

Stations worked with 30 Watts: G4WSB Bill 599/ 579; G0HIO Mike 2x 599; GW4VPX Allan 2x 599; MW0BGL 599/ 579; G0TDM John 2x 599; PA0B Rob 599/ 549; GW4CQZ Martyn 2x 599; DJ5AV Mike 599/ 549; OZ6ABZ Jens 2x 559 and G4RQJ Rob 2x 599.

3.760 SSB - 22 QSO’s:
Until I checked for alternatives the WAB channel which was the alerted frequency, sounded rather noisy but the band was generally quite busy. At 16:17 a QSO developed with Bill G4WSB 59/ 58 followed by M0JLA Rod 59/ 58. After these a steady flow ensued; I with my WAB hat on as well as the SOTA one and not forgetting to mention the trig point number.

Next in the log: MI0AIH David; G3YZY Howard; GB50WAB Dave (G4IAR) running the Worked all Britain 50th anniversary station; M0VKC Mike; GM6ZAK Andy; ON7DQ Luc; G0RQL Don; G7LMF Graham; G8VNW Nick.

Now a surprise - IW3AGO Heinrich in St Martin 46/ 33. Italy wasn’t expected on this band at this time. There followed: GI0AZA Esther (no Ian – he was out); ON5SWA Frans; GM0AXY Ken; M0BKV Damien; G0ELJ Dave 44/ 58; GM4YMM Christine (Ken’s XYL); G0HRT Rob; G7AFM Phil; 2E0FEH Karl 57/ 44 and PA0SKP Sake 59/ 34.

Apart from those noted above, all reports were in the range 57 to 59 with a power of 30 Watts throughout. The session took 33 minutes.

1.832.9 CW - 1 QSO at 17:00:
The coils tuned first time and covered both CW and SSB frequencies. No finger trouble this time but 1.832 was blocked. There must have been some DX station on there, inaudible to me but every 15 seconds or so, a very strong ON4UN was launching his callsign in batches of three.

Despite my weak signal, G4SSH Roy quickly sussed the QRM-dodging exercise and came back with a 229 report. He was 559 to me and quickly spotted me but as it turned out, Roy in Scarborough proved to be my only contact on 160m CW. G4OBK would likely have been another but Phil was away activating in Southern Scotland. Power was 50 Watts but a further 10 minutes of fruitless CQ’ing was all I could afford.

1.846 SSB - 8 QSO’s from 17:13:
With the power setting left at 50 Watts, the following chasers were logged: G3VNW Nick close-by in Threshfield, Wharfedale 2x 59 using an old military TX and 300 Watts; G7LMF Graham in Telford 56/ 55; Dave G4IAR using GB50WAB 50th anniversary station 58/ 45.

Next in were: G6WRW Carolyn Kiddermister 57/ 45; M0BKV Damien in Cornwall 56/ 44; M0NMI Dave in Swindon 59/ 57 & QRM; SM6CNX Dan 55/ 44 and finally 2E0FEH Karl in Saltash, Cornwall. I heard nothing from Karl until Graham alerted me to the fact that he was trying to contact me. Straining my ears I could barely hear Karl but the QRM let through a ‘5’ followed after a second transmission, by another. It was optimistic but I sent back a 33, repeating it and counting it up. In due course Graham confirmed ‘good contact.’ Without Graham’s help Karl would not be in the log. If you read this Graham; thank you.

By now it was 17:30 and the sun was dipping below the horizon. It left little time for packing up which takes 10 to 15 minutes for a 160m station. I gave the last of the corned beef cubes to Sasha, who was curled up in the grass with both her coats on.

Final descent:
We left the summit in gathering gloom at 17:44, listening to Dave G6LKB on 2m-FM and it was dark well before our arrival in Litton. Both the dog and I had headlamps and she was wearing her transmitter just in case. It was a wise precaution that might have been needed. As we got nearer the ‘rabbit region’ Sasha became animated eventually taking off into the half-light at speed. Oh no, not again! I’ve had too many of these episodes but fortunately it didn’t last long. With the lead safely on her, we completed the walk down by 18:24.

The minor niggle on this route is the final 100m of the bridleway as it passes through the farm yard. A carrier bag kept my cow-clap contaminated boots from touching anything that mattered but not so the dogs feet. If there’d been a nearby beck it would have been pressed into service but time was short if we were to get home in reasonable time.

The 83 mile drive home (18:35 to 20:42) was via Grassington, Pateley Bridge, Ripon, A168 and Sutton Bank but we went slightly wrong coming out of Pateley Bridge due to me, the map and the satnav all fighting one another.

NP15: 8 on 2m-FM with 25W
NP16: 9 on 2m-FM with 25W

2m-FM: 1
20m-CW: 6
20m-SSB: 0
80m-CW: 10
80m-SSB: 22
160m-CW: 1
160m-SSB: 8
Total NP31: 49
TOTAL Overall: 66

Ascent & Distance:
NP15: 176m ascent, 3.9 km. (2.4 miles). 30min up, 26 min down
NP16: 94m ascent, 3.5 km (2.2 miles). 24min up-21mim down
(NP16 is 4.2 km from Kidhow. Reduced by driving 380m along the PW today)
NP31: 371m ascent, 5.5 km (3.4 miles). 51min up, 40 min down
TOTAL: 641m (2,103ft) Ascent – 12.9 km (8.1 miles walked)

Times: 1hr-45 min of ascent; 1hr-27 min of descent
Total walking time: 3hr-12 min at 2.5mph ave.
Summit times: NP15: 52min. NP16: 57min. NP31: 2hrs-40m
Total: 4hr-29m

Left Scarborough: 05:35
Arr. Coal Rd, (88 miles): 07:50
Walk for NP15: 08:13
NP15: 08:43 to 09:35
Rtn. Coal Rd: 10:01

Drive Kidhow Gate & 380m up Pennine Way (14 miles): 10:07 to 10:38
Walk for NP16: 10:46
NP16: 11:11 to 12:08
Rtn. Car: 12:29 (lunch & repack eqpt.)

Drive to Litton (21 miles): 12:48 to 14:05 (inc 5-min at phone box)
Walk for NP31: 14:13
NP31: 15:04 to 17:44
Rtn. Litton: 18:24
Drive home (83 miles): 18:35 to 20:42

Distance driven: 206 miles (88+14+21+83)
Activator points: 21 inc 9 bonus

Good weather, a good companion and good radio made for an enjoyable day out precisely one year after 2018’s three NP SOTA’s. To make these fit into a 16-hour day the first two were done on 2m-FM only. A multi-band HF QRO activation, the third summit G/NP-031 was a more involved affair partly due to a greater physical effort required than on the first two and more summit time than those two put together.

Summit temperatures were high for the time of year and in the afternoon valley temperatures reached 16 to 17 degrees C. On 26th/ 27th February, four days after the activation, a record winter temperature for the UK of 21 degrees C was recorded.

I have this thing about NP16 Dodd Fell, always assuming that 4 contacts will be hard to get. It’s a legacy of the past, beginning in 2002 and the reason I used 25 Watts as well as taking along a SOTA Beam just in case. A combined tally of 17 contacts using an omni vertical for the first two summits came as a surprise, especially considering the reduced level of 2m band activity in recent years.

Best ‘DX’ was GW4ZPL/P in Bangor, worked from the least good VHF summit, Dodd Fell with 53 reports. The Moonraker MT270M 2-band, 25W mobile rig, the receiver of which I hold in some contempt, performed apparently faultlessly today and I did get one compliment on the TX audio. Later I must have got a bit more animated, evidenced by a recording that my son Phil made via the Nantwich web receiver. In this you can hear muffled voice peaks, the result of which is a sticky label on the microphone reminding me not to speak to loudly next time!

The ‘extracurricular’ activity on 2m made a welcome change and helped to pass the time between mountains, both while walking up them and driving between them.

20m Band:
The afternoon is often a good time to work across the Atlantic whilst also giving the Europeans half a chance. This was not planned or pre-announced but I was hoping that enough time could be made up in the day to allow it from the final summit. SSB was a disappointment with no contacts but the six worked in CW made it worthwhile.

For once signals from the USA were generally stronger than the stations in Europe and when I returned home to find out I’d worked into Colorado I was chuffed to bits. It’s my favourite US state, in fact the only one I’ve visited whilst working on-loan to the USAF. Reports of 539 both ways for that contact were not bad either.

80m Band & WAB:
In the past year, 80m has grown in popularity and almost completely taken over from 40m for Worked-all-Britain operating. Many more people are using it but not that many more SOTA activators. Perhaps few have an antenna long enough but as far as WAB is concerned, I cut my teeth on 80m and have remained faithful to it ever since.

More than half the QSO’s of the day were worked on this mainstay and the WAB frequency of 3.760 brought most of these. It’s always great to hear the familiar ‘heart beat’ on there as sunset nears, along with the friendly voices of course. I’m certain we’ll be hearing much more of GB50WAB as we celebrate the half centenary of a system devised by John Morris G3ABG in 1969. I do worry a little about bunging up the WAB freq. for mobiles but as far as I know, no mobiles called in during this half-hour session.

WAB info: NP15: SD78/ TP-3461; NP16: SD88/ TP-2795; and NP31: SD97/ TP-3179.

160m Band:
For me, Top Band is ever the star attraction but it’s advisable to get as close to dark conditions as is practicable. Each summit is assessed on its own merits of course, regarding safe walking. Sad to say that only one station was worked in CW but glad to see it was my friend Roy G4SSH using a tuned Butternut for 80 thru’ 6m. Signals were nothing to write home about if reports are anything to go by but we rarely seem to fail over the shorter and medium paths. Perhaps the Butter-it’s-Not is what makes Roy’s antenna work so well. Is this just a posher version of the excellent ‘SWAR grease’ which used to be available from CB shops?

160m SSB was as good if not better than expected. I was pleased to work SM6CNX on Top Band despite Dan and most other people reading me at R4. Pity that G4OBK was not available. Phil was busy activating in GM/SS but along with Nick G4OOE doing the same in Three-Peak country, it seems we all ‘went for it’ as soon as we saw the good weather forecast. I didn’t hear Brian G8ADD on Top Band this time but I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities.

G8VNW Nick was a big signal and it’s hardly surprising with 300 Watts and a QTH just five miles from NP31. On 80m his audio was distorted but he’d fixed in time for 160m. Apparently the poor audio was due to the failure of a tantalum capacitor which only have lives of about 30 years.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the Sotawatch spotters: G4SSH; G0UUU; G4WSB; G0TDM and the SOTA self-spotting service. Thanks to Roy G4SSH for monitoring the backup channel of 3.557 CW and for phone messages. Finally thanks to Sasha who handled the three summits without complaint.

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


Photos: 2-7a-15a-20-23-31-38-48-52-64-76-87-95a-99-101-106a-110-115-118-120a-134-138-150

Above: The Bridleway to Gt.Knoutberry G/NP-015 from the coal Road.

Above: Activation of Gt.Knoutberry G/NP-015 on 2m-FM only. 25W/ Omni.

Above: Leaving Gt.Knoutberry G/NP-015. Working Nick G4OOE/P on Ingleborough G/NP-005 which is behind the top of the antenna.

Above: Turn right on Pennine Way at Kidhow Gate for Dodd Fell. (Fringing due to windscreen heating elements)

Above: Parking beside Pennine Way for Dodd Fell G/NP-016.

Above: Leaving the Pennine Way SD 8339 8434. Right and up for Dodd Fell G/NP-016.

Above: Dodd Fell G/NP-016; SD88 & Trig Point TP-2785.

Above: Activation of Dodd Fell G/NP-016 on 2m-FM only. 25W/ Omni.

Above: Leave no stone unturned. Geocache a few yards from Dodd Fell’s trig point

Above: Back to the Pennine Way from Dodd Fell. Rucksack repacked with the HF station while Sasha attends to her sardines.

Above: Kidhow Gate. Dodd Fell was the easiest 4-point SOTA before the new cattle grids. Now it’s even easier

Above: On the way to NP31. Oughtershaw phone box and an opportunity to update G4SSH

Above: On the scent of G/NP-031 Birks Fell. Arriving at Litton Village. The white building is the Queens Arms Pub.

Above: Bridleway from Litton to G/NP-031 Birks Fell.

Above: Bridleway from Litton to G/NP-031 Birks Fell.

Above: Part way up the bridleway from Litton to G/NP-031 Birks Fell. Looking back.

Above: Warm work, cool drink.

Above: Birks Fell. Is that a rabbit?

Above: Activation of G/NP-031 Birks Fell on 20m; 80m & 160m.

Above: Man on electric bike on G/NP-031 Birks Fell at the trig point.

Above: Top Band (160m) configured dipole just after sunset on G/NP-031 Birks Fell.

Above: Dark descent of G/NP-031 Birks Fell.

Above: Dark descent of G/NP-031 Birks Fell. Crossing the beck beside the footbridge.

Above: Please can we go home now?


Hi John.

Thank you for another interesting read and photographs. For me it brought back memories of activating 2 of your 3 summits quite a few years ago…quite a journey for me also :grinning:. Your spot for Great Knoutberry popped up so I swung the 5 ele beam towards you…I got excited as at times I could hear you then qsb set in…that would have been a good contact :grinning:

My cw contact with you got off to a bad start with uncontrolled dits. When fiddling with the key the previous day I had tightened one of the adjustments…nevertheless we completed the contact…key now fixed😀

Many thanks John and I’m looking forward to your next outing.

73 Allan

One dog, two coats?
My two cocker spaniels and I must be thirstier. I have to carry 1 litre in winter, 2L in summer. Water is heavy!

Thanks for another most comprehensive report John. You’ll see from my report on my blog that I did hear your voice briefly on 2m FM on Friday morning when I was setting up for HF on Cairnharrow GM/SS-191. I think you were in the car travelling between summits at the time. I also heard Nick on NP-005 Ingleborough just after that, but failed to make myself heard with just the handheld and RH770 whip.

I love to see Sasha in her natty red coat - a goodly companion for sure!

73 Phil

Good morning Allan.
Thanks for your reply and efforts in trying to work me on 2m. Last time I was a bit higher and nearer but only had 5W. This time 25W but poorer locations. Always worth a try though. I should perhaps do a VHF only day and take a beam. I do actually like VHF as I started amateur radio with converted CB’s and in 1984 sunspot low, 10m behaved just like VHF apart from some E’s. I also got my SOTA MG with just VHFM.

My son Phil G0UUU has rekindled an interest and I occasionally go with him with a modest station, to local high spots round Scarborough on RSGB 2m or 70cm Tuesday or 6m Thursday SSB contest evenings. We have recently found a promising new QTH up on the Yorkshire Wolds and tried it on 6m getting 34 contacts. It needs to be tried on 2m though and will be on 4th March 20:00 to 22:30.

I can’t remember if you are horizontal, vertical or you can change it. This horiz/ vert issue is perfectly logical but not knowing which polarisation to go for can put you off erecting a VHF aerial at home. Also there’s the annoying issue of ‘coax through field’ with vertical. In my case I live at 100 feet ASL between hills to north and south but if I ever had to become a SOTA chaser it would likely have to be a 2m vertical beam as HF is far too noisy. I could cover some eastern G/NP’s and northern G/SP’s from here. Pendle Hill would be possible for instance.

I didn’t notice all the dots; it seemed normal CW to me and it was easy to complete with such a good 80m path. I did however notice some ‘rust’ with my CW, not done any since New Year. Thanks very much for adding to the tally. Pleasure to work you and see you next time.
73, John

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Hi Dave,
You reminded me of when a friend Will and his Spaniel, a small black one, used to come with us on mostly winter activations. She (Jess) was mostly ‘naked’ but sometimes had a coat. She never felt the cold whereas Sasha a Lurcher with thin fur over ‘tin ribs’ as my mother used to call mine as a kid, can shiver for England. It’s OK when she’s moving but stationary for 2 or three hours is the problem.

Two thin coats are better than one thick one. Like human clothing they give more options, especially if one’s waterproof. It wasn’t very cold this time but on some I’ve had to take 2 coats, a mat and a put my coat over her too. All down to wind chill. Her owner accuses me of ‘making her nesh’ which is a South Yorkshire term for soft. There may be some truth in it! It’s probably me who’s soft in not wanting her to suffer. Wish she had longer fur but it’s the breed.

As for drinking. I don’t know how she survives, drinking very little any day. I can shove the bowl under her nose and she’ll just turn her head and won’t drink. The photo of her with the beck was not just a nice to have photo, it was cause for a minor celebration! You’re right Water is heavy unless you buy the dehydrated version from outdoor shops which is expensive. NP summit are great. You need little water as most are one summit, car and back. LD can be different and you need more water for the rounds or even for one big GM mountain in the day.
Thanks again. Good to hear from a fellow dog lover.
73, John

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Hiya Phil,
Well Nick and I didn’t hear you but you were certainly in our thoughts. What a pity you heard us and not vice versa. I was using 25 or 50W from the car so you’d never get back to me. Even Nick was fading in and out as I drove. I hope you had a successful trip. I’m sure you did as it would be well planned as always. I will take a look when I get some time. You report well, a good style.

Yes, Sasha is great to take along. She and I are as thick as thieves. 1st time for three summits and she handled it well. Not much rock of course. There’s just the thought of doing a bunk after some rabbit or deer like she does often round home and I won’t forget the Treacle episode in a hurry either! Yes, you are also a fellow dog lover for sure.

You were really missed on Top Band but Roy made it in CW otherwise it would have been zero in Morse.
Thanks for your comments Phil,
73, John.

PS: Just read your blog for the 22nd. You have been busy. While we have been going round repeats, you are on pastures new and unheard of summits. As I said, I like the presentation with walking maps, QSO maps and photos the number of words required can be significantly reduced.

You are certainly getting through the road miles and many of your targets are either a long way to walk or bad underfoot or both. You’re putting in a lot of effort for sure and it must mean a lot of research in advance.

If you heard me at 09:35 it would have been on the way down NP15 (09:35 to 10:01) using 2W to a duck. Sounds unlikely but I was in the mobile and transmitting about 10:10 'ish. Maybe it was then.

Congrats on yet another success.

Hi John

Beam is vertical (5 ele) but there are plans to change it to horizontal for ssb then have another with a few more elements for vertical to try and get those difficult contacts when activators are only using a handheld on some summits in North Wales and further afield…work in progress :smile:

73 Allan

Excellent report John and thanks for all the name checks and WAB references. I hope your comments about 80m are read, marked, learned and inwardly digested!

Good Afternoon Dave,
Thanks for your input and also for the QSO’s with GB50WAB, especially the one on 160m! As for WAB. It was a gift and seemed precisely made for me when I started it 1987. It was the /P’s that I loved. Roy G4SSH told me about WAB and the fact it would suit me. He was right! I may do mainly SOTA now but I owe a lot to WAB from the viewpoint of enjoyment, pleasure, fulfilment and also for the training in portable ops it provided. I’ve never had much enthusiasm for any type of amateur radio operating that doesn’t get me out of breath!

73, John.