G4YSS: G/NP15, NP16, NP31, & Finn,15-03-22

G4YSS Activation Report for NP15, NP16, NP31 on 15-03-22
Issue-1 Please report errors

G/NP-031 /4 BIRKS FELL on 2m-FM QRP (160m attempted)
Here also is the account of the rucksack left on a grass verge near NP31
Accompanied by Finn – my Grandson’s Lurcher
All times UTC

All Three SOTA’s:
UV-5R 2m/70cm, 5W V-UHF H/H with Sotabeams 2m-band BPF
2m Band J-Pole on 2-section mast
UV-3R 2m/70cm, 2W V-UHF H/H (top pocket)

Moonraker MT270M , 2m/70cm, 25W Mobile Transceiver with…
PYE Cambridge Tunable Antenna Filter Type AT29908/AB, 132-174Mcs (0.6kg)
Turnigy 11.1V, 2.2 Ah Li-Po battery for above combination
Sotabeams 3-ely Yagi (carried but not req’d)
3m x 2-section mast (carried for Yagi but not req’d)

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 5-section mast with 1m end sticks
Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po battery

Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Windbreak (NP16 only)
Water/ wind proof dog coat
8m retractable dog lead
LED dog collar
Dog food/ treats/ water/ sardines
Lightweight down jacket to cover dog

Pack weights (approx inc. 500 ml water & Primaloft jacket)
NP15-NP16: 8.5kg.
NP31: 10Kg (HF/VHF)

These were my first activations of 2022 and all routine repeats. The last expedition was on Boxing Day 26-Dec-21 in the Lake District. After that winter bonus complacency set in. My excuses were Covid-19 which my XYL and I caught in January (just after I was asked to teach the local scout group navigation and emergency signalling) and successive winter gales.

A lack of motivation and an aversion to driving the four or five hours round-trip to the nearest summits of any significance continue to be a disincentive. The older I get, the worse it is but an email from Colin M1BUU, who was wondering where I’d got to, helped to spur me into action.

On another positive note Finn, my Grandson’s Lurcher who is now 2-years old, was available to accompany me on this trip. Including the latest three, he’s now had experience of seven SOTA’s including an overnighter on NP6 last year. His indoctrination in the presence of sheep is ongoing but we’re not there yet. I was hoping the sheep would all be down for lambing in the lower fields at this time of year which proved to be the case except for NP31.

The Yorkshire Dales MWIS forecast was very encouraging. A good job too. This couldn’t be postponed to a later day or there would be no winter bonus! After picking up Finn in Cayton, we got underway at 07:15 while listening to harrowing news from Ukraine on the BBC-WS. The 92 mile drive via the A170, A684 and the Coal Road was completed by 09:57. There was no lying snow anywhere in the Dales that I could see.

NP15 ROUTE (again):
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. The ascent was started at 10:20 and the usual minor detours round boggy areas followed. Finn was on his 8m retractable lead and he seemed to be enjoying life after the car journey. I was forced to lift the Finn’s 27kg over both summit fences as he doesn’t do stiles.

G/NP-015: GREAT KNOUTBERRY HILL, 672m, 4 pts. 10:51 to 11:35 . 2C and 15 mph cold SW wind. Sunshine. No lying snow. 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 to the UV-5R via my Sotabeams 5W BPF.

145.550 FM - 1 QSO:
While I was doing that I heard a call coming from my shirt pocket. Using the UV-3R with 2W to a rubber duck on 145.550, I worked Shane G6WBF/P, S2S on Great Shunner Fell G/NP-006 . A great start to the day.

145.400 FM - 2 QSO’s:
Now using the UV-5R setup, a 5W CQ on S20 brought in two more stations – G0UOK/M and M7SHZ/M. Mark and Sharon, both fellow 807 ARO members, were currently employed in climbing Pen-y-Ghent but I would work them at the summit later in the day. Further CQ’s on S20 were not responded to. Besides, there was now QRM from a QSO which had suddenly started up on .400 making it unusable so I moved ‘down two.’

145.350 FM - 4 QSO’s:
Next came the reason for carrying the pocket rig. I was expecting Colin M1BUU/P as he said in his email he’d be up on Birks Fell NP31 today. Now here he was answering my CQ. We had a brief chat before Colin QSY’d to 10MHz CW to try out something he called a ‘Soda Pop 30.’ I tried looking this up, initially only coming up with photos of coke cans, one with an FM radio in it before eventually finding a picture of a Soda Pop 40. By all accounts it worked as expected.

Next in were GM1VLA Tony near Eaglesfield (a friend of Peter GM3VMB); M7MCG Mick in Barnoldswick and finally G6LKB Dave in Ulverston. Thanks for the spot Dave. Due mainly to the several moves back to S20 to call CQ, the session spanned 25 minutes and 5W was used throughout. No report was less than 55, in or out. Checking S20 one last time, there were no further callers and it was past the time to leave.

With the dog beginning to show frustration with things radio, we made our way back down to the Coal Road, arriving there at 12:03 . Having checked for sheep on the way up and finding none, I let the energetic mutt off his lead part way down for a good run around. Boy can that lad go! By way of a change, we walked along a path at the north side of the fence as far as SD 7825 8736 where there is a cross fence. If anything this path is less boggy but then you have a fence to get over. I could stride across but Finn needed lifting again. ‘Swings and roundabouts.’

Drive to NP16:
At 12:17, just after leaving the NP15 parking place I worked G4YTD/P on 145.525 FM. Tim was on an LD SOTA in fact G/LD-017 Red Screes, having climbed up from the Kirkstone Pass. I was using 50W from an FT1802 to a home-brew 5/8 on a mag-mount.

The 15 mile drive round via Hawes and the 1,900 foot ASL Cam Houses Road took from 12:15 until 12:55. The first gate was closed but the other three are now bypassed with cattle grids making the process much less time consuming.

While driving along I called M0KPW/P on SOTA G/LD-003 Helvellyn. Though I’d heard him fading to nothing two minutes before, we exchanged 59 reports on 145.475 FM as I turned onto the PW at 12:52. Chris mentioned that he was using a Yaesu FT60 H/H linked to a home-brew ladder-line Slim Jim antenna and that it was pretty cold where he was. I replied that I was between summits and if he was still there in half an hour, I’d give him NP16.

As is normal now, I didn’t stop at Kidhow but drove some 320m north up the Pennine Way to save time. Parking on the grass verge at SD 8304 8367, a glance at the schedule told me that we were running more than 30 minutes late. Too much sniffing and leg lifting (not me) and not enough walking.

NP16 ROUTE (again):
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 point.

Leaving the car at 13:06 , we reached the boggy top in 22 minutes but it was too late for an S2S with Helvellyn. Listening to Chris on the handie as we walked along, he’d gone QRT at around 13:15.

Until we could ascertain that no sheep were present on this hill, Finn stayed on his lead all the way up but I wish he’d pulled on it a bit more than he did. On arrival I erected a windbreak, more for him than for myself, as there was the ever present cold wind with nothing on Dodd Fell to stop it. Thinking he’d welcome some protection I was surprised when at first he refused my offer of a foam mat in its lee, preferring instead to sit out on the waterlogged grass visibly shivering in the wind. Eventually after I’d put his fleece lined windproof coat on, or rather the one that had once belonged to Sasha bless her and not really his colour, he seemed happy to come over and sit next to me.

Just as I was about to start the radio bit, two couples with two dogs arrived to ask what we were up to. The dogs came over to meet Finn and fortunately he barely reacted. He can’t have seen them as a threat but it helps if I make a fuss of the dogs we meet and ask to give them a treat. He seems to have an aversion to the Boxer breed as I think he sees their facial features as aggressive and it scares him. Time was slipping away but while holding Finn by the collar throughout and the lead wrapped around my thigh, I explained the SOTA system and its aims to our visitors.

G/NP-016: DODD FELL HILL, 668m, 4 pts, 13:28 to 14:37 , 3 Deg. C 15 mph cold SW wind. Overcast. LOC: IO84VG, WAB: SD88. Trig: TP2795. No lying snow. Sparse Vodafone mobile signal.

145.400 FM - 2 QSO’s:
Described by a fellow SOTA activator at Scarborough radio club recently as a S*** Hole, which probably refers to the boggy ground and considering its 2,200 foot height, Dodd Fell is pretty dreadful on VHF with 5W to a vertical. However, that’s initially what I had set up and CQ’s were not answered for quite some time. However I thought my fortunes had turned when at 13:50 the J-pole and filtered UV-5R brought in M1BAC/M. ‘I’ll just work you before I go down the hill into Skipton.’ By the time I’d reeled off the SOTA ref and a report he was gone, never to return and I don’t even know if the callsign was correct.

Further CQ’s produced greater success in the form of double-act G0UOK/P Mark and M7SHZ/P Sharon S2S on G/NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent. Sharon mentioned the cold wind and a decision to don thermal base layers. ‘Too warm on the ascent but glad of them on the summit’ was her comment. The next several CQ’s produced only silence so now to ‘Plan-B.’ A five fold increase in power.

145.450 FM - 4 QSO’s:
The Moonraker MT270M 25W miniature mobile rig (570gm) was dragged out of the rucksack with a big filter and battery in tow. The receiver in this rig can suffer badly from overloading. The Sotabeams filter only handles 5W so I had to use an alternative.

Since I was only carrying VHFM gear to Dodd Fell, I’d brought a PYE filter which weighs 607gm (see ‘Equipment’). It is a two stage unit adjusted for 145 MHz but can be made useful anywhere between 132MHz and 174MHz. Evidently designed for the PYE Cambridge, it is solidly constructed and easily capable of the 25 Watts asked of it today.

With this set-up, which included a 2.2 Ah Li-Po, I worked stations that were not reachable with 5 Watts: G7KUJ Nathan nr Colne; G7SXR Mark in Leeds; G6XBF Walt in North Leeds and G0PMJ Dave at Darlington, enjoying 12C and sunshine which I wasn’t.

More CQ’ing on 145.500 added nothing further to the log but at least now, Plan-C, the mast and Sotabeam, wasn’t needed. I let Finn wander around while I packed up all the equipment. We walked off at 14:37 and he had another run around until reaching the PW.

The descent was completed by 14:55 at which point the rucksack was repacked with HF kit. The 10 mile drive to Redmire Farm between Hubberholme and Buckden followed at 15:01 and I was parking there by 15:45.

NP31 Route (new to me):
I have used this start point to directly access Birks Fell’s 608m summit cairn a few times in the past but never via this particular route. It is actually the bridleway to Litton which conveniently passes close to the trig point. The trig point is not the proper summit but it is in the AZ and seems to be popular with activators. Nonetheless, Colin M1BUU/P had made the extra effort to put on NP31 from the small cairn, which denotes the recognized summit, that morning and not from the trig. Though there is only 1m of height difference, the distance between the cairn and the trig is 1.7km, well over a mile!

Directions (Redmire-Trig) are as follows:
The road, called Dubbs Lane, widens out at a minor bend - SD 9356 7753. This is 100m or so NW of the Redmire Farm entrance and a small car is out of the way if positioned as close to the dry stone wall as possible. An alternative is to park down by the bridge at SD 9395 7734 but that’s a longer walk.

Take the Redmire Farm track from SD 9365 7747 and cross a cattle grid. A few years ago Sasha took-on the one near the parking place for NP8 Gt. Whernside, injuring her thigh with a nasty graze in the process. Fortunately Finn doesn’t attempt to cross those but a neat double-gated corridor bypasses this one to the right. Follow the gravelled track uphill, swinging right at SD 9355 7734 and then left past SD 9344 7739 to SD 9335 7678.

Leave the track to the right just after fording Water Gill (no water today) at a wooden sign SD 9334 7681 which points the way up the bridle path. Follow the path all the way up the hill initially over grass & mud SD 9304 7595 to gravel and later pavement at SD 9280 7550. Follow the wall and pass through a gap in it at SD 9259 7524. Once the gate is reached at SD 9245 7492, turn left for the trig point - SD 92597 74838. This is a somewhat longer walk coupled with slightly more ascent when compared to the route from Litton but it saves 11 miles of driving if you’re coming down Langstrothdale from Dodd Fell via Oughtershaw.

The Birks Fell walk got underway at 15:36 but I knew that unlike the first two, this would be a more challenging climb. With tired legs and Finn trying to drag me in all directions, we eventually reached the trig point at 16:42 . Even though there were none after half way, the dog had to remain on the lead throughout because of the many sheep on the lower slopes.

G/NP-031: BIRKS FELL, 610m, 4pts, 16:42 to 18:16. 6 deg. C. Less than 10 mph wind. Overcast. No lying snow. LOC: IO84WE, WAB: SD97, Trig: TP-3179. NIL Vodafone mobile coverage.

I secured Finn to a mast section stuck in the ground and then set up the link dipole parallel with the dry stone wall’s NE side, trapping the end strings under coping stones then interposing the 160m coils at the 40m break points. Finn couldn’t relax. Every time I got up to do something, he tried to follow me.

1.832 CW/ 1.846 SSB NIL QSO’s:
I had alerted the day before for 16:30 but by the time we’d set up, we were half an hour late. For this reason I chose to go straight to Top Band and next came the tuning process. I couldn’t announce my QRV because the phone had a big no entry sign where the signal meter should have been. No amount of CQ’ing with 50 Watts of CW or SSB brought in any replies but I did hear a French station further up the band. It’s still daylight at this time of day in mid-March so I thought it best to try 2m-FM and come back to 160m later.

145.400 FM – 2 QSO’s:
With the J-Pole mast persuaded into the top of the wall and 5W from the FT817ND, I worked two stations: G0DFO Jim in Nelson and G7SXR Mark in Leeds. There were no further takers and the 2m band seemed dead apart from a faraway QSO on one channel. No worries though, Top Band will surely provide the third and fourth QSO’s.

1.832 CW/ 1.846 SSB NIL QSO’s:
As a return here quickly proved, it wasn’t to be. I tried 3.760 SSB – the WAB frequency to no avail but skip was long. I twice answered a CQ from DF2SJ in CW but he never heard my 50 Watts, probably due to his local noise levels. Back to 2m but unlike NP16, I only had 5 Watts, a vertical and no means of spotting.

145.400 FM – 3 QSO’s:
I wouldn’t say that this was either quick or easy but after what seemed a long time, MW1FGQ John in Flintshire finally came back to my CQ followed by 2E0XLG Chris in Thornton-in-Craven who had heard my increasingly desperate pleas via his smartphone. The phone was being used to monitor a receiver in the Yorkshire Dales Shack up at 1,600ft ASL but would he be able to work me from his home down in the Aire valley? Yes, it proved easy.

With the 4th contact in the log, the anxiety receded so Chris and I had a good chat about this high shack and VHF contesting, which he’s given up. In his words, ‘Burnt out after winning every award under the sun.’ I was invited to try the shack out at any time. Apparently you can drive to 1,000 feet ASL on the road then walk the half mile to the shack, gaining 600 feet as you do so. Chris has a sister at The Flask on the Whitby Moors which is not too far from my home QTH in Scarborough.

What turned out to be the final QSO of the day was with M7MCG Mick in Barnoldswick, who had chased NP15 in the morning. Further CQ’s brought nothing but NP31 was finally qualified plus a spare.

I paused to give an increasingly restless Finn a can of sardines and some tasty buffalo treats before a final and once again fruitless try on 160m. I wasn’t at all concerned about that though. The rules were met and though a very modest day from the radio standpoint it had been a great one weather wise and my friend Finn had helped make it too.

Final Descent:
This was a mostly dark descent but there’d been countless examples of that going back through the twenty years of SOTA. What could go wrong? The answer – nothing did. Well not with the descent at least, except that it seemed like a long way; but afterwards.

We reached the car at the end of the Redmire Farm track for the final time at 19:04 . Dumping the pack down, I unstrapped the HF mast from the outside and put that and Finn in the rear of the car. After removing his coat, LED collar and securing him to the seatbelt system, we got underway at 19:08. Reversing the morning route via A684 and A170, we shared some leftover food on the way and I dropped Finn off at his home at 21:28.

See Part-2 below



On returning to the car it was fully dark. After the final activation, I often dump the rucksack onto the car bonnet to remove the mast; one of the advantages of running an old vehicle. This time I put it on the verge at the back of the car. Whilst loading the dog and mast into the rear, a couple of cars came slowly by with bright headlights and I was somewhat distracted.

It was fully half an hour after unloading the car at home that I realized - no pack! I phoned Redmire Farm, which is also a B&B run by a lady who gave her name as Julia. Her husband John went out to look where I’d been parked but it was later ascertained that the rucksack was already 1km away at The Buck Inn at Buckden Village, having been found by a cyclist who unfortunately didn’t leave his name.

First North Yorkshire Police then Phil G4OBK phoned to ask if I was safe. Phil had read the disturbing report on the local Grassington Information Updates Facebook Group, about a rucksack being found with my callsign on an antenna and a SOTA patch on the lid but no sign of the owner. There was even a photo of it and the information about where it had been taken and handed to Janet, an employee at the Buck Inn.

The report had been picked up by the SOTA fraternity, seemingly via Facebook but until then I had no idea that SOTA had anything to do with Facebook but what do I know? Then I found two emails. One from Simon, G4TJC who’s XYL Helen M0TMD had seen it and another from John M0JFE who just happens to have identical Christian and Surnames to me.

I phoned the Buck Inn the next day and got Jo, the landlady. ‘Ah, you’re the bag man are you?’ Rather than do another 5 hour round trip, I’d already purchased a very large mailing bag to send to the pub with transport carrier labels. Jo thought that was far too complicated telling me she had to go to Skipton soon so could box it up and take it to the main PO there in exchange for a donation to the local mountain rescue.

Naturally I would donate to the MR, as I might need them one day but in addition I would send a full reimbursement of course. However, I said it could be lot of trouble for her; the process could fail at an unknown juncture and that I’d come across and collect it. She persuaded me but it would have saved some of my guilt if she’d just dropped it in my mailing bag and let the carrier pick it up. Jo asked if she could unpack it to better fit the box she had. ‘Yes, of course.’ A few days later I am very happy to report that the box arrived safely with all the contents in perfect condition. What a relief! I am now in the process of refunding The Buck Inn and not forgetting the donation to the MR.

I am extremely fortunate that that my lost property was found by an honest person but I think it’s not such a long shot for that part of the World knowing the kind of community-minded people who live there and those that frequent the Dales. If I’d put it down in the street in the centre of a big city and gone back 5 minutes later it would likely have been a different story.

What I stood to lose:
As well as the rucksack: An FT817ND, MX-P50M Amp, UV-5R and UV-3R handhelds, HB 80m link dipole with test & repair kit, 160m loading coils, 5m HB carbon mast, J-Pole & short mast, Paclite Goretex jacket and overtrousers, 5Ah Li-Po battery, Garmin GPS, primaloft jacket, lightweight down jacket (to cover Finn if req’d), spare Nokia 8210 phone, headphones, first aid kit and a whole load of small but useful items that can get you out of trouble if you ever find yourself between a rock and a hard place. Much of the gear is home-brewed or modified to do SOTA, involving many hours of work based on decades of experience.

It’s astounding when you add up the contents, even though a lot of it is quite old now, or in the case of the GPS and Nokia phone for example - long since obsolete. Replacement costs are what must be considered. On the plus side, I have duplicates for the GPS and radio gear apart from the FT817. I would have needed to make another set of 160m loading coils – the third. I lost one set in a snow drift on Ben Wyvis.

Up to now I have been suspicious of Facebook and social media in general, so much so that I closed my FB account in 2009 or should I say my son Phil did it for me as I’d no clue how to. There are enough family members who monitor it so we don’t miss much. I won’t be rejoining but at least I can now see the up side of it. The ‘network’ certainly played its part. Key to it was the SOTA patch and my callsign on the 2m J-pole. Activators please note.

QSO’s on 2m-FM:
NP15: 7
NP16: 6
NP31: 5

Ascent & Distance:
NP15: 176m ascent, 3.9 km. (2.4 miles)
NP16: 94m ascent, 3.5 km (2.2 miles)
(NP16 is 4.2 km from Kidhow & back; reduced by driving 380m along the PW today)
NP31: 379m ascent, 7.2 km (4.5 miles). Redmire to Trig & back.
TOTALS: 649m (2,129ft) Ascent – 14.6 km (9.1 miles walked)

Left Scarborough: 07:28 (Cayton)
Arr. Coal Rd, (92 miles): 09:57
Walk for NP15: 10:20
NP15: 10:51 to 11:35
Rtn. Coal Rd: 12:03
Drive to Kidhow Gate & 380m up Pennine Way (14 miles): 12:15 to 12:55
Walk for NP16: 13:06
NP16: 13:28 to 14:37
Rtn. Car: 14:55 (repack for HF/ VHF)
Drive to Redmire (10 miles): 15:05 to 15:30
Walk for NP31: 15:36
NP31: 16:42 to 18:16
Rtn. Redmire: 19:04
Drive home (87 miles) : 19:08 to 21:28 (Cayton)

Distance driven: 204 miles, inc 12 miles for Finn (92+15+10+87)
Activator points: 21 inc 9 bonus

From the radio standpoint this was not the best but 2m-FM is the easiest option. Apart from the Top Band attempt on NP31, the day was more about dog walking exercise than radio. As age advances ‘easy’ becomes more and more attractive. Actually, I owe my mountain goat to 2m-FM all those years ago because at the time I’d had more than enough of carrying heavy HF gear and lead-acid batteries up hill and down dale to remote or never-before activated WAB squares.

Today was made as low-key as possible with a late start time and with never any rushing either on the roads or climbing the hills. It’s hard to rush with a dog. They have their own pace which normally includes a lot of stopping to sniff. Yes the target was three summits but the first two are easy. I may have been imagining it but were there a few less cars on the roads? If so have the latest fuel cost hikes (to £1.70/ ltr.) perhaps had an effect? At 4,000 miles a year, I don’t really consider it but I feel sorry for people who’s livelihoods depend on a lot of travel.

160m was a failure. Self spotting may have helped but the Vodafone signal was entirely absent on NP31. I don’t think solar flares affect Top Band much. It was more the fact that it just wasn’t dark enough and I only put the alerts on the day before.

Several S2S’s brightened things up a bit but there were none from the last summit. Most people seem to clear the hills by 4pm. In the morning there was plenty of activity both activator and chaser.

Planning SOTA on the last gasp of WB is tricky. The weather is liable to bite you but we were lucky and had a good day We got some good exercise too with 9 miles walked.

I’m certain Finn enjoyed his day but any real enthusiasm was confined to walking, running or eating. Sitting around for an hour or more eventually made him whine softly if only now and again. Treats, chicken cubes, bits of pizza and a can of sardines distracted him sufficiently and he didn’t seem to mind too much being restrained on an 8m lead during the activations and for the majority of the walking.

Despite there being no sheep on the first two summits, I am very nervous about giving him too much freedom as he’s liable to chase anything that moves. As well as deer, the greatest dangers concern Hares. He’s quick enough to keep up but they out-turn him. His efforts at fast cornering, especially on the chalky Yorkshire Wolds, has resulted in minor injuries at least three times so far. That’s Lurchers for you but vets are expensive. When you’re 1/3 greyhound and the rest Saluki, you really can’t help yourself.

Despite the above caution, he had a couple of good runs and still came back to my whistling. I have three different modulations which mean three different things. One to come back for a treat, another for a high value treat such as corned beef or chicken (emergencies) and one which tells him I’m about to throw a treat and he has to find it. If I sit down and shout ‘picnic’ he rushes back for a buffalo stick. He knows all the sounds and responds well but if he has his own ‘urgent’ agenda he appears to hear absolutely nothing! Sasha was just the same as are many dogs.

He may not realise it but Finn now has 7 summits to his name including one overnighter last July. He has 43 points including 9 WB. His total ascent figure stands at 1,574m (5,164ft) with 54km (34 miles) walked. I wouldn’t want him to get swell headed but it’s not a bad start for a two year old and I hope we’ll be able to build on it.

Three worthless bits of paper went into the rucksack the night before but particularly when you’re doing multi-summit, multi-band operation (not today) those completed logs assume a very high value. For that reason I got into the habit of putting them into a zipped trouser pocket following the activation after first photographing them. I did that for these three so thankfully they were not in the rucksack. My greatest fear is seeing them blow over an edge in high winds or otherwise become lost like potentially on this occasion.

How could anyone drive 90 miles home and leave his rucksack full of expensive gear on a dark grass verge in the Yorkshire Dales without even noticing? Apparently it can happen. It’s taken me 20 years of activating but it has now proven possible. Scatterbrain!

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to Sotawatch Spotter G6LKB (NP15)

Special thanks to all those involved in the rucksack saga. Joanne Nelson and Janet Mudd of the Buck Inn, Buckden, Julia & John Horner at Redmire Farm B&B, Phil G4OBK, Simon G4TJC & XYL Helen M0TMD of Glossop, John M0JFE and the WPC at North Yorkshire Police. The Grassington Information Updates and SOTA Facebook groups. Lastly but most importantly – the unknown cyclist who rode his bike to the Buck Inn carrying my 10kg pack! If by chance you happen to read this please get in touch so I can show my heartfelt gratitude.

My cheque went off to The Buck Inn today but no amount of reimbursement/ donations will salve my embarrassment or the feeling of ‘how could I do such a stupid thing?’

The Buck Inn:
‘An attractive Georgian coaching inn,’ located on Grassington Road BD23-5JA, right under Buckden Pike G/NP-009 and close to Birks Fell G/NP-031. 01756-761933 and website, landlady Jo (Joanne Nelson).

Redmire Farm B&B:
Buckden, BD23-5JD: This stands at one of the start-points for Birks Fell G/NP-031. 01756-760253 and website. Mrs. Julia Horner.

Both these places are also a short drive from G/NP-016 Dodd Fell; G/NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent; G/NP-017 Fountains Fell and G/NP-008 Great Whernside. Having never been inside either of them, I can’t vouch for the food or accommodation but I do know for sure just how kind and helpful their people are! Since becoming an activator, I have traditionally done G/NP’s within one day from Scarborough but if I ever need a night or two in the Dales it’ll be one of the above.

73, John G4YSS/ P

Photos: 1-10-16-21-33-38-50-55-62-66-67-74-PyeFilter-76-83-86-92-100-104-112-116-120-123-Pack items-Buck Inn-Redmire

Above: Finn & I on our way in the morning. From the Coal Road to NP15

Above: Activation of G/NP-015 Gt.Knoutberry on 2-FM

Above: I’m always fascinated by solitary trees making the best of life at 2,000ft. NP15

Above: Back at the Coal Road. Having the rucksack up there most of the day contributed to it not being missed until after reaching home

Above: Start of the Cam Houses Road for Dodd Fell

Above: A drinks stop. Crossing the beck at SD 8352 8432 on the way to Dodd Fell NP16

Above: G/NP-016: The only shelter on Dodd Fell but it’s unusable as such

Above: Prep for activation of G/NP-016 Dodd Fell on 2-FM

Above: NP16. The only people and friendly dogs seen on any summit today. Curious about SOTA

Above: NP16. Finn and the human he likes to take for walks. UV-5R and Sotabeams 2m/ 5W filter. The ‘Go Outdoors’ lightweight windbreak modified with my own home-brew carbon sticks.

Above: The much larger Pye Filter used with the Moonraker M270M, 25W mobile rig needed to qualify NP16 on 2-FM

Above: A hard-earned Dodd Fell NP16 qualification and time to move on

Above: En route to Birks NP31. Outside Redmire farm entrance. Car parked on wide bend

Above: Redmire farm entrance and bridleway.

Above: Leaving the track for the bridleway to NP31 at Water Gill SD 9334 7681. Looking back. The bridleway goes all the way to Litton

Above: There’s nothing like a good roll! Depends what you’re rolling in?

Above: Paving higher up the Redmire to NP31 path but it’s intermittent

Above: G/NP-031 Birks Fell. Ready for 160m in hope if not expectation

Above: G/NP-031 Birks Fell on 2-FM QRP. Nil on 160.

Above: Almost back to the car. Footpath entering Redmire Farm property.

Above: Between Finn and the car is where I left the Rucksack full of SOTA gear. I didn’t see it for a week but thanks to a lot of kind Yorkshire Dales people I got it back.

Above: A small car doesn’t cause an obstruction if parked at SD 9356 7753 up to the wall but care is needed not to scratch the stones!

Above: What I would have lost were it not for the unknown cyclist

Above: The Buck Inn, Buckden. Jo the landlady boxed up the rucksack and it’s contents. Parcelforce delivered it back. Phew!

Above: Redmire Farm B&B. John tried to find the lost rucksack in the dark lane but by then it was safely at the Buck Inn

Thanks to all concerned!

In case he reads this, recommended for ‘Mr.P’ is ‘Peace’ by Peter (Gosling) Peace - Peter - YouTube


Hi John
What a great adventure you and Finn and especially the rucksack had - hi hi!
It is good to know that you are now recovered and back in action again.
I wouldn’t worry about leaving the rucksack behind, I have done similar things and I know of one fellow SARS member who drove all the way to the Whernside parking place only to find he had left his rucksack at home! No names, no rucksack drill!

Nick G4OOE


Thanks for the report and glad you are out again. I missed your spots otherwise you might have managed another 160m QSO …. The reports are very useful.
In my opinion Facebook has changed and although I don’t like the way it Hoovers up personal data the worst excesses seem to now be on other apps….

PS I really should look at the alerts more carefully as Dodd Fell is on my wanted list for a complete!!

  1. Paul


Glad to hear that you and all of your kit made it home safely in the end.

You need to get saddlebags for that dog. :smiley:


Hi John

What a comprehensive report! I’m glad you are back out on the hills again.

I’m surprised you struggled with 2m FM on those hills. I managed the following 2m FM QSOs recently:

G/NP-015 18 QSOs on 18/3/22
G/NP-016 13 QSOs on 10/3/22
G/NP-031 10 QSOs on 13/1/22

These are Thursday and Friday activations which I wouldn’t have thought would be much different to a Tuesday in terms of 2m chasers being around.

I use a Baofeng GT-3TP into a slim jim at about 5m. The rig claims to output 8W but I’ve just measured it as 5W (although my test set up is unlikely to be very accurate). And there will be some loss in the RG174 that feeds the slim jim.

I always start on HF CW which usually qualifies the activation quickly and don’t always switch to 2m if I am running out of time but I do enjoy hearing the familiar local chasers plus the chance of some occasional surprising S2S.

73 Richard


Hello John
Another superb read of your adventures with Fin.
Great photos also !
Glad that you got all your gear back safely
I think that I might know the SARS member hi Hi
73 Dave


Thank you for the extensive report John, besides all of the fun and interesting stuff, your reports are also a useful resource for others planning their SOTA trips.

Really happy to have learned via our emails that you were OK after leaving your rucksack behind unintentionally. You mustn’t berate yourself over this, it’s easy to do and the main thing is that you’re OK. In my opinion, you generally find that people are nice and willing to help, it’s not just a Yorkshire Dales thing. Yorkshire folk are known for being frugal, but I actually think us Yorkshire folk are actuallly quite generous when it matters.

It was good to get you from Birks Fell on the FT60, and also Shane, G6WBS. I’m glad that I carried the handheld now :slight_smile:

The Soda Pop was built from a limited run of around 50 kits put out by Steve Weber KD1JV. Steve used the Texas Instruments MSP430 processors and AD9834 signal generator chips in his designs, but wanted to try the cheaper and more current Arduino / SI5351 combination instead. The Soda Pop was the first of Steve Webers ATmega328 / SI5351 rigs offered. The name was a play on the words ‘SOTA op.’ The kits were offered as a PCB plus parts only, with no case. I made an aluminium enclosure for my kit and did a Tizer livery, as the tag line for Tizer is ‘The Great British Pop!’. I’m not sure how many Soda Pop kits ended up in Britain, but certainly no more than a handful. I actually have two. :slight_smile: I also have a Fanta branded rig that was built from faulty PCB originally supplied by KD1JV, intended for use as a drinks coaster!

KD1JV Soda Pop

Soda Pop Coaster built for 40m with self-sourced parts

Both rigs worked OK, I was quite pleased by them.

73, Colin


When I saw the missing rucksack thread, I immediately thought you might in trouble… then I gave myself a good telling off for thinking such thoughts. This is John, the man that ascends by torchlight, the overnighter during VHF NFD, the man of experience… it just wasn’t possible. Then it all unravelled, thankfully as I had expected and with all your possessions retrieved. Excellent news!

Well done on another superb round of summits John. I always enjoy reading your reports. Hopefully it won’t be long before you are out on the summits again.

73, Gerald


Thanks for the fine report and glad to hear that it turned out well.

'How could you? "

In rallying we had a saying," there are 2 types of driver, those who have driven away without doing up the bonnet pins, and those who are yet to"

Such things happen to us all.

Good work with Finn, not sure my pair would be as well behaved!



There are two types of radio amateur. Those that have connected up the power with the wrong polarity and those that are yet to.

I’m working on my next SOTA transceiver. I connected the DC back to front the other day. Fortunately I put a diode in the power line because I know how stupid I am.


Replies to all, plus the usual ramblings:


Nick G4OOE

Thanks Nick. You make me feel better. I will try to forget mistakes and move on while promising myself I won’t be doing it again. I think there’s the hint of an admission about NP4 and the other rucksack lower down but unlike mine, at least it was safe at home even though it scuppered the day. I hope you are better now after the procedure. Good luck with the activating.


Paul G4IPB

I must say I’m guilty of not giving SOTA the attention it deserves these days such as looking at the alerts to see who’s going out. That can give me encouragement. I’m not at all certain we could have worked. Dodd is quite a bad spot for VHF QRP. Something I have found several times with a few exceptions since 2002 and before that when my son and I activated it on 2m using an HB9CV in 1994.

I think we’d have made it on 160m though but I agree, more notice is needed particularly when I’ve not done anything for 3 months.

I know little about (anti)-social media but at the time the reason for leaving FB was also spying. Seems it has its uses and a good side though. I see that now.


Fraser MM0EFI,

More routine than epic this one apart from the lost pack. These three are a mainstay of repeats. You certainly fulfil the epic role very well yourself. I see you’ve been on some great mountains.

I once came across a dog with side panniers on Old Man of Coniston while doing SOTA. I’ll show Finn a photo and see if he’ll agree to it before splashing out but I doubt he’d go for it. When his coat needs to be on, due to shivering, he has a habit of trying to roll it off. Wouldn’t like my Li-Po’s getting damaged. He can be a bit of a wuss but that’s mainly regarding rain.


Richard G4TGJ

You did very well and perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was too late on NP31 for 2m-FM though. Everybody had gone for tea and I couldn’t spot either. That’s in contrast to Top Band which is ‘the later the better’ but I failed there too! Not a brilliant day for radio but I didn’t mind too much. I enjoyed the outdoors and the dog did too.

I think your RG174 is very much similar to the RG316 that I use which was free from work. Offcuts from the sense antenna on the aircraft ADF system. They always ordered 50ft kits from Bendix King and it was only a small aircraft. I also use RG178 which looks more like wire. I don’t worry about loss as the lengths are so short and as with 174 there’s a significant weight and bulk saving.


Dave G3TQQ

Hello again Dave. You know the saga first hand now, we having met at the club last night. I got the full run-down on your rucksack ‘event’ too, none of which I’d heard before. Now you carry all kinds of spare rigs, boots, coats, etc in the car so you can always mount a reduced operation should something be forgotten. As for carrying your wallet inside your rucksack, I don’t do that any more. I have £150 in cash plus a spare plastic card in my walking trousers zip pocket and leave the wallet at home. Thanks for that salient comment ref Dodd. See you in 2-weeks.


Colin M1BUU,

You’re right about easy to do. I found that out alright. Hope I won’t try that trick again. That’s not to say I might not find something else equally stupid to do though?

I couldn’t disagree about Yorkshire folk especially around that area. Yes, I’ve been known to introduce myself as a ‘Scot with his pockets sew up’ but it’s not tightness. It’s called thrift because a Yorkshireman can’t often thoil it. A word my parents used to use. A kind of self denial which is a very healthy thing to be afflicted with. I can’t count all the times in a past life of ‘skintness’ caused by the horrors 15% mortgages with mouths to feed on one crummy wage, when I’ve wanted a particular thing but said ‘No’ to myself. After a year you find you don’t need it and a year after that you don’t even want it. It doesn’t apply now sadly, mainly because I don’t have to earn the cash any more, I only have to spend it or give it to charity.

I like the decoration on your rigs but even more so the great folding. You must have access to a folding machine as I had long ago when I was at Slingsby’s. They look just like bought boxes so well done on that. I assume you used 24 SWG Ali. Useful little rigs too I would guess like the one you showed me that day on Fairfield. I see now that they are made specifically or at least primarily with SOTA in mind.


Gerald G4OIG,

You seem to have more faith in me that I have in myself and more than is justifiable nowadays! On the serious side though, Phil G4OBK was concerned I’d disappeared and he’s right. It’s easy to forget that SOTA activating carries its fair share of hazards, especially in winter. A few people have come a cropper. G1INK slipped down an ice field on Glyder Fawr ripping his coat in two and one chap fell and did his ankle on the rocky descent of Gt.Gable on the Kirk Fell side but there has been worse than that. In fact I thought one SOTA op had actually died. That would take some confirming. Certainly there is the high profile case of Robin Cooke on Ben Stack which was an internal problem and not SOTA of course.

Yes I hope I’ll be out again in the not too distant future. One of the VHF contests perhaps, combined with 160m. I quite enjoy those especially after all the hard work is over. Weather windows are always a problem. My son just cancelled this evening’s VHF contest due to snow. He drove up to 2,100ft near Tomintoul only to find he couldn’t get off the narrow road for massive snow ploughings down each side which is why I’m writing this tonight instead of going up to Ravenscar to try and work him on 2m. The British weather on a collision course with fixed dates again. Story of my SOTA life too – and yours no doubt.


Alan MM0VPM,

Thanks for that Alan. A kind comment. I suppose I can be forgiven for doing it once. Twice and people might not be so kind so I really must stop day dreaming. Bonnet pins. Not a big issue on a 105E Ford Anglia or a Triumph Herald but a disaster on an escort. You can tell how old I am!

Yes, Finn wasn’t too bad but I’m very nervous letting him off the lead after several deer and hare chases around home. Hares out-turn lanky dogs and the latter hurt their paws or ankles. This lad has already cost a pretty penny in vets fees. I would like to take him again though and the owner doesn’t mind.


Richard G4TGJ,

Ah you mean the Phlogiston theory,

It was thought for years that electrical things ran on electron movement but that’s wrong. They run on smoke which flows round the circuit. Swapping the leads over is the best way to prove it. It lets the smoke out and low and behold it doesn’t work any more. Proved!

Yes, I’ve let the smoke out a few times in my life too. Now I put a parallel reverse diode across the line after the circuit breaker or fuse but a series diode works just as well and is simpler.



Thanks for the kind comments ref the rucksack debacle. It reminds me of one day at work decades ago when I spent an hour or more soldering 37 wires into a multi-way connector, only to find at the end that the back-shell was still on the bench! I did learn something from that. I hope the same will apply to rucksack safeguarding!