G4YSS: G/SP5, SP8 & SP2 on 2-fm, 05-03-15

G4YSS Activation Report G/SP5, SP8 & SP2 on 05-03-15

GX0OOO/P on:
G/SP-005 Pendle Hill
G/SP-008 Boulsworth Hill (Lad Law)
G/SP-002 Black Hill

All times UTC.
G4YSS - Unaccompanied.

Kenwood TM702-E; 25 Watt 2m/ 70cm Mobile.
Home-brew vertical J-Pole for 2m. Two-section short aluminium mast.
Icom IC-E90 Four Band (6-4-2-70) H/H in reserve (not used).
One 6Ah Li-Po Battery for all three activations (77% depleted.)
Pack Weight: 8.1kg (17.9 pounds) inc 250ml water.

The target was intended to be a handful NP’s but today’s mountain forecast was better for the SP region. MWIS indicated ‘no rain and summit temps of around 3 degrees’ Winds would be 25 mph for the Peak District and 35 to 45 mph, combined with possible drizzle and low-cloud for the Yorkshire Dales. These summits are more or less between the two regions, though SP2 is on the Derbyshire border.

I have been suffering from sore throats and latterly bronchitis through from mid October albeit with a couple of three week gaps so I had no desire to get wet through with drizzle and low-cloud combined with wind chill. Another minor consideration was the fact that I did these three last winter so planning would be reduced along with the report afterwards. Every little helps.

I didn’t mind that they were just 2-pointers. Only the bonus interests me at present but it was with regret that once again, I chose 2m-FM only activations. To try and balance a little of that out and help a few extra chasers make it into the log, I took 25 Watt capability with me; though I ended up using 10 Watts most of the time.

The down side to adding SP2 at the end is the tortuous route that must be followed from SP8 through seemingly endless small towns and villages that bar the way. It works out at 39 miles and upon firing it up, the satnav stated ‘1-hour.’ In reality, with all the delays and roadworks etc, it takes 90 minutes. Thank goodness I no longer have to do it with a map, a home made route sheet and a GPS intended only for walking.

I left Scarborough for the 94.5 mile drive at 04:33, arriving via York & Harrogate at the start of the route, Barley Lane by 06:42. It was just past daybreak and the WX was fine if somewhat blustery.

From Barley Lane at SD 81451 41617, you walk WSW up the farm track to turn right onto a footpath at SD 80963 41335, passing through a gate at SD 80892 41358 which gives access to the hill proper. From there it’s steeply up a stone cobbled path via SD 80801 41395 to the lip of the ridge at SD 80625 41798. It’s then just a matter of turning left and following a gentle, though boggy path along the flattish top, to the summit (SD 8046 4141). Starting at 06:59 and helped by steps, the short ascent took 29 minutes. Some care was needed on the upper sections where melting snow over ice created a minor hazard.

I hesitated for a while at the wall, looking longingly at it in the hope that some respite from the cold wind could be obtained for the duration of the activation. Sadly Murphy’s Law states that nine times out of ten the wind shall blow precisely down the wall’s length. Obviously that is an exaggeration but it certainly was the situation today.

I pressed on to the summit and settled a few feet from the trig. Next I tried to deploy my newly acquired windbreak but ironically, it was too windy for a windbreak! Neither would its home-brew carbon sticks penetrate the stony ground to any useful depth. With rucksack and gloves under threat from the 25 mph gusty draught, I ended up in a fight with the windbreak but eventually got it under control and rolled up. After erecting the mast and readying the station and log, the umbrella was pressed into wind breaking service. That old brolly has proved it credentials many times.

G/SP-005: PENDLE HILL, 557m, 2 pts. 07:28 to 08:19, 2 Deg.C. 25 mph wind. Overcast but no low-cloud. Slight drizzle on the descent. Small patches of lying snow. IO83UU, WAB SD84. (EE - Orange phone signal.)

145.400 FM - 16 QSO’s:
Yet again G0VOF responded to my initial CQ with a 59 report on my 10 Watt signal. Mark kindly spotted me and at the same time informed chasers of the day’s targets; namely ‘G/SP-008 & G/SP-002 along with time estimates.’ 2E0DIJ/M was a fleeting contact who called in at the same time as Mark and was given mobile priority. There was no time to exchange names or even a QSY to a working channel from S20, before he went down a hill and out of range. Prior to that however, reports were hurriedly exchanged making it a valid QSO.

After Mark and the /M came 14 other chasers as follows: G0AKU Bob in Ellesmere Port; M0RSF Chris in Leeds; M6PXP Chris in Settle (who gave me a second spot); G8MIA Andy in South Staffs; M1MAJ/A and M3ZCB/A (Martyn & Caroline in their back garden in Blackpool). G4OBK Phil in Pickering; G7MRV/M Martin in Cumberworth; G3NPJ Alan 12 miles north of Chester; G6XBF Walt in Leeds (550ft ASL); M3RDZ Roy in Burnley; M6JFS Rich at Parson’s Cross, Sheffield; G8VNW Nick in Threshfield and M0RES Bob in Barnsley town centre.

Martin G7MRV/M plans to do the Lyke Wake Walk in June this year for the MIND charity. This was of interest to me as I completed this walk in the 1970’s as it is on the ‘doorstep’ of my home QTH in Scarborough. I don’t envy Martin though. Being long and rather flat, it really is a ‘killer’ of some 42 miles and it destroys the mind as well as the body!

Phil G4OBK has spent some time mending his 2m antenna and there was no signal fluctuation today. Nick G8VNW is always appreciative of VHF contacts, living in a Yorkshire Dales valley as he does.

The descent took until 08:43 followed by a 9.9 mile/ 30 minute drive to a point near Beaver Farm, Trawden for SP8, where I parked at 09:16.

For Boulsworth Hill I walk from a farm track east of Trawden at SD 9256 3738. There is space for one car to park without blocking either the road or gates. I always make sure mine is touching the fence. I don’t mind a few scratches, especially if it’s in a good cause and it’s one reason; though not the only reason, why I run an old banger.

The route goes east along the track towards Beaver farm, near where in 2004 I found ladders and stiles (marked then at SD 9281 3736; SD 9282 3731 & SD 9286 3712) that take you over farmland to the hill. Last year I wasn’t paying proper attention and ended up walking east along the track to a gate exiting the farmland at SD 9333 3724. I then had to walk back west to climb the hill from SD 9276 3693 via the planned route. All very annoying but this year I found the first stile and all was well. To locate it, you must turn sharp right from the track at the cattle grid and follow the wall up to the right of the farm. The stiles take you through the farmland and downhill to a metalled road probably build to service the tiny reservoir.

You follow the service road as far as a United Utilities building at SD 9283 3679; skirting that to the left to find the grassy path. Just beyond at SD 9294 3664, a kissing gate allows access to the open fell. After that it is plain sailing going SE up a boggy but well defined path for a distance of 1.2 km to the summit ridge at SD 9336 3604 then a further 600m SW along a very wet ridge path to the trig point.

The start time for the ascent of SP8 was 09:22 and took 47 minutes. Stupidly I had left the umbrella in the car. I tried the windbreak again but it was no good. The carbon sticks were bending alarmingly; the wind pressure on it being too great.

G/SP-008: BOULSWORTH HILL, 517m, 2 pts, 10:03 to 10:50, 4 Deg.C. 25 mph wind. Overcast but no low-cloud. Small patches of lying snow. LOC: IO83WT, WAB: SD93. OS Trig Point No: S1540. (EE (Orange) phone signal.)

145.375 FM - 14 QSO’s:
There is never enough spare coax to get completely out of the cold wind so I sat near the trig point. The announced QRG of 145.400 was in use. Putting out a 10 Watt CQ on S20 brought in G8MIA Andy in South Staffs using 100 Watts to a 10-ely beam! He gave me a 57 report with QSB. It had been 52 from Pendle Hill. Andy was coming in at 59

After that first contact I logged: G6HMN Ray in nearby Winewall; G0HRT Rob in Southport; 2E0JCM John in Blackburn; M0MDA Mick in Leeds; G0VOF/M Mark H/H near work; G8VNW Nick in Threshfield near Grassington; G4WHA/M Geoff in Penrith; M6RUG Dave in Crewe; GW7CEA Dave near Wrexham; M1MAJ/A and M3ZCB/A (Martyn & Caroline in Blackpool); G6XBF Walt in North Leeds and G6LKB Dave in Ulverston. Incoming reports ranged between 34 (M6RUG) and 59. Many of the chasers were 59 to me.

G0HRT, Rob’s thin disguise was immediately spotted but did he have a heavy cold or was just a different microphone? It turned out to be a DX mic. from the MH family, which I think is Yaesu.

Dave G6LKB seemed pleased to bag the SOTA, the WAB square and the trig point. The latter had a serial number plate which was painted blue with lettering picked out in white. I think someone must have been going around painting the trig points. I noticed this one and later the one on SP2 were both clean and very white.

A blustery descent in the south-westerly wind was completed by 11:21 which put me the better part of an hour ahead of last year’s schedule. The tedious 39 mile drive to Holme Moss through Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Luddenden Foot etc etc followed. This took up one and a half hours to 12:57.

Last year I went from the A635/ Pennine Way layby but today I thought I would give the infamous south-eastern approach from Holme Moss mast a try. It’s a long time since I walked this route. In fact it was August 1977 and I have completely forgotten what it’s like. Several bad reports from SOTA ops made me avoid it last year but I do remember carrying an aluminium casting in the form of a nose wheel yoke belonging to one of a pair of crashed Gloster Meteors (1951) from well beyond Black Hill to the road at Holme Moss, so it can’t have been that bad. The item, wanted for a museum, was heavy and I carried it around my neck all the way.

The path wasn’t easy to find and I lost it in short order after straying too far to the right towards the imposing radio mast. At SE 09199 04246, I was surprised to find a 1m high conifer, stunted by the wind. The ground was rough in places but I found sections of quad track here and there. I won’t use them again however; having found the path on the way back, I will follow that in future. The last part was via the correct path and I was able to back-track it on the return and tie it down using the GPS (see below). I reached the trig point (GPS’d last year at SE 07816 04683) in 36 minutes which compares favourably with 43 minutes for the northern route ascent last year. One reason for that is ascent. 269m for the northern route and approximately 65m from Holme Moss.

The path was GPS marked on the return but the waypoints listed here are in order from Holme Moss: Leave the roadside (free) car park (more a large layby) at the stile - SE 09615 03704 then follow a boggy path through: SE 09552 03716; SE 09450 03762; SE 09279 03928; SE 09135 04140. The path veers towards the deep gully to your left and then starts to follow its lip going via SE 08988 04252; SE 08881 04370; SE 08662 04576 until it crosses the stream at the head of the gully (Heyden Head) - SE 08431 04754. Here the loss of altitude is insignificant.

After the crossing, the direction changes from NW to W and it is followed to the summit, much of the time in waterlogged gullies via: SE 08293 04691; SE 08149 04741; SE 07947 04721 and SE 07848 04697. It is not such a bad route after all. I half expected bare black peat but the area is well ‘clothed’ with grass and in places, heather. I have experienced much worse but there’s always that danger of turning an ankle on tussocks.

G/SP-002: BLACK HILL, 582m, 2pts, 13:41 to 14:24. 4 deg.C. 30-35 mph wind. Part overcast, no low-cloud. Small patches of lying snow. LOC: IO93BM, WAB: SE00. (EE (Orange) phone signal.)

145.400 FM - 9 QSO’s:
As on SP8, I had planned to activate short of the summit proper but force of habit drove me up to the trig for the third time today. There was nobody around and in the windy conditions prevailing, that was unlikely to change, so I set up in the lee of the trig point’s stone built plinth. It was still very draughty but the scant advantage it gave would suffice for the short time I expected the activation to take. I had to use stones to weigh down my gloves and sit mat etc. In winter I always put on a Primaloft jacket for the activation but I don’t walk in it, making a point of removing it for the descent.

The antenna was erected just beside the trig which I suppose resulted in a bit of screening. I had not changed the 6Ah battery used for the other two summits, so elected to start on 10 Watts with the intention of 25 Watts near the end.

A CQ on S20 brought in G6CHD Paul in Wigan with 59 both ways. After this came: G6XBF Walt in Leeds. G0VOF/M Mark had taken the trouble to install himself on a high spot near Darwen. Then came G0OHY Arthur in Worsley; G0RLN Keith in Pontefract; 2E0LKC Peter next to Manchester Airport; G0UXC also Peter 10 miles east of Liverpool; M0MDA Mick in Leeds and M6AIA Andy in Dewsbury.

25 Watts were used for the final four stations including at least two CQ’s on S20. Incoming reports were mainly 56 to 59 with a 51 from G0UXC revised upwards to 58 due to a ‘lazy meter.’ The exchange with Mark G0VOF was 56 both ways, proving it was worth the trouble of relocation.

I was expecting similar numbers of QSO’s when compared with the earlier two summits but in fact there were fewer callers. I finished with 25 Watt CQ’s on .400 and on .500 but went QRT without making double figures.

Final Descent:
The walk down took 34 minutes to 14:28 but I didn’t rush as there were a lot of waypoints to be captured as well as photos when the sun appeared briefly for the first time in the day. I was also tempted to look for the Fairy Swordfish wreck which I had visited at Heyden Head at SE085046 in 1977 but it was the gullies that had collected most of the snow, which would have made it hard to find. That and the fact that there was precious little of it last time I saw it put me off. Also, I was now so far ahead of schedule, if I got my skates on, I could be home before the rush hour. In fact, if there’d been another summit available, I could have slotted it in and still got back at a civilised time.

I saw a nice Mountain Hare on the return. It was losing it’s white winter coat. There were also a few noisy Red Grouse and the sound of generators coming from the base of Holme Moss Mast.

The 99 mile drive home via the A628 Barnsley Road, M1 and A64 took from 15:08 to 17:08. The traffic was reasonable. The MP3 retransmitted into the car radio on 87.5 MHz, kept me company again and a total of 243 miles were driven in the day. I can’t remember getting home from a SOTA expedition this early; in fact just in time for evening meal.

SP05: 16
SP08: 14
SP02: 9
Total: 39

Battery Utilisation:
6Ah Li-Po - 77% discharged (tested) for 35 x 10 Watt and 4 x 25 Watt QSO’s.

Ascent & Distance:
SP05: 287m ascent/ 3.6km. Times: 29U, 24D.
SP08: 287m ascent/ 5.5km. Times: 47U-31D.
SP02: 65m ascent/ 4.8km. Times: 36U, 34D.
TOTAL: 639m (2,096ft) Ascent - 13.6km (8.5 miles walked).
Times: 1hr-52 min of ascent; 1hr-29 min of descent. Total: 3hr-21 min at 2.5 mph ave.

Activator points: 15.
Good DAB reception in most areas.

Left Scarborough: 04:33
Arr. Barley Lane (94.5 miles): 06:42
Walk for SP5: 06:59
SP5: 07:28 to 08:19
Rtn. Barley Lane: 08:43

Drive 9.9 miles via Trawden: 08:46
Arr. Beaver Farm: 09:16
Walk for SP8: 09:22
SP8: 10:03 to 10:50
Rtn. Beaver Farm: 11:21

Drive 39.2 miles to Holme Moss: 11:27
Arr. Holme Moss: 12:57
Walk for SP2: 13:05
SP2: 13:41 to 14:24
Rtn. Holme Moss:14:58

Drive Scarborough 99.4 miles: 15:08 to 17:08.
Distance driven: 243 miles.

The MWIS WX forecast was about spot on. No low-cloud, almost no rain, temps of 2 to 4C and fairly high winds.

This was a quite an easy day with just 2000 feet of ascent and 8.5 miles walked. What made it seem more were the drives between summits. The one band, one mode approach from the Kenwood TM702-T 25 Watt FM Mobile was a winner though chasers further afield won’t see it that way.

There were no S2S’s and I was surprised by this until on returning home, I saw the meagre number of SOTAWATCH spots for the day.

In theory at least, two pointers should be the most efficient way to pick up winter bonus. Sometimes I wish there were a few more of them in NP & LD.

Buying a lightweight windbreak and going to the trouble of modifying it for quick deployment, seemed like a good plan at the time. In fact a lot of strength is required to erect it in winds over about 10 to 15 mph. Though I haven’t given in yet, it is somewhat disappointing though possibly it’s just a matter of working out a better technique.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the spotters: G0VOF; M6PXP and G8MIA.
17 down, 7 to go.

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


Above: The G/SP-005 Trig Point and H/B two section VHF mast. (Poor quality photo in dull condx)

Above: G/SP-008 Trig & VHF Activation

Above: G/SP-002 Trig & VHF Activation

Above: G/SP-002/ Holme Moss ‘path’ showing wet gullies.

Above: G/SP-002/ Holme Moss path. The better sections below the Heyden Head crossing point

Above: G/SP-002/ Holme Moss path. Closer to Holme Moss.

1 Like

Hi John,

Another excellent report & it was very nice work you on all three summits. I was up early & saw your alert and an email from Roy G4SSH stating that you would be out, which is much apreciated.I got ready for work early so I could be near a radio when you called, either at home, or on the bike on the way to work. As it turned out you were QRV a good 20 minutes before your alerted time so for SP5 it was an easy contact from home. I listened to the end of your activation from the bike on the journey to the salt mine.

I assumed you would be early for SP8 as well so monitored Sotawatch on my tablet from well in advance of your alerted time, intending to monitor 145.500MHz FM with the handheld as the time got nearer. You were very much ahead of time on Boulsworth so the first inkling I got was when I caught sight of the spot from Andy G8MIA. Switching on the handheld I could hear you on your chosen QRG in my office through the computer QRM. A quick dash out onto the car park & you were easy copy, although the handheld I was using (Baofeng UV5-R) does suffer a little from a nearby paging transmitter, burbles from which competed with you at times.

From where I was stood there was only one metal-clad industrial building between us so signal strengths were good both ways. From the end of the road I work on you can actually see Boulsworth Hill so I had no doubt that we could work.

G/SP-002 Black Hill is another matter though, I have chased the summit from home on 145MHz & in some ways it is easier for me than it would be for stations nearer to the hill due to the relatively large flat area at the summit. From work, the local topography in the direction of Black Hill blocks the RF path more than it does from home so I checked out the path from a few other possible nearby locations on the computer. The usual high spot I occasionally use to chase from would have been ok but the best spot I could find that I could easily get to & return to work in a short time was a location I have chased you from before. This was back in May 2010 when you activated GM/WS-002 Aonach Beag on 80m. The reason I had gone out that day is because it was hot & stuffy in the shack, so I opted to operate from a pleasant out-door location instead. I posted a video of you working a few chasers on youtube at the time. What is interesting about that video now is how good conditions were on 80m in the middle of the day, as the activatioin took place at Solar minimum. It would not be possible to do the same on 80m at the moment as the Sun is too active.

In any case, the weather today was decidely cooler with quite a brisk wind at “The Stone” & no sooner had I parked at the side of the road than I heard you calling on 145.500MHz FM. After a QSY to 145.400 we worked easily 56 both ways & I was pleased to be number three in your log. I had guessed you would be considerably earlier than your altered time so setting off from work in plenty of time paid off. After working you I fired up my tablet & with a reasonable 3G signal spotted you via Sotawatch. I listened for a while before heading back to work, via a different route to that which I had taken earlier to avoid the horrendous traffic jams on the Grane road leading towards Blackburn, even at 2PM in the afternoon!

A quick call whilst properly mobile as you were closing down & I started to descend towards Darwen.

Thanks for the summits & an anjoyable days chasing, as well as a good test of the radio setup on the bike.

The video I mentioned earlier is below, showing the location I worked you from, although yesterday I was parked at the side of the road & used the antenna on my bike.

With the Solar eclipse due on 20th March I am tempted to activate a summit on 160m/80m that morning to take advantage of any dip in D-Layer absorption there may be. Unfortunatley, this is just outside the winter bonus period, but in any case I would probably only be on a 1 pointer anyway.

Thanks & best 73,

Mark G0VOF

HI John

Thanks for as ever a most comprehensive report… it was a good decision to go to the South Pennines rather than the North. I switched the computer on yesterday and there was a spot showing you were on Pendle Hill SP-005 and I also had an e-mail tip off sent by Roy G4SSH late the previous night to say you were out on a South Pennines run that day. I was working in Scarborough yesterday and had to leave the house at 8.30am returning at 6.15pm but I was chuffed to get the one contact with you on Pendle Hill, the only SOTA QSO that day.

The report I got from you on Pendle was most useful as I have been doing some work on my VHF antennas. I have an Innov antenna for 2M. This is a short boom length 5 ele yagi (1.8m boom) set for vertical polarisation. Since I moved it on to a pole on my shack at 9m AGL last year the SWR has been around 2.5:1. It performed “OK” through the winter, but last week I noticed when G4OOE and 2E0NON were on Calf and Yarlside. I expected to copy them, but could not hear a thing from them on 2m FM. A subsequent check of the SWR showed it to be “off the clock”. The fault was found to be caused by an errant N Socket at the antenna feedpoint, where the centre pin had worked its way back into the moulding on the N antenna connector and become open circuit. That connection was replaced and I did some checks. I still found the SWR was around 2:1. As a metal stub mast always seems to affect the impedance of a vertically mounted yagi I already had a fibreglass 3 feet section on the top of the aluminum scaffold pole so I extended this a further 3 feet and that cured my 2:1 SWR. Now the SWR throughout 2m is 1:1 unity.

While working on this I noticed my 2m and 6m horizontally polarised yagi antennae were pointing in the wrong direction as was my weather station anenometer. These are on a 12m Tennamast. This explains why over the last few months I have been unable to hear Gerald G(M)4OIG/P on his 2m activations in Scotland! The head unit clamp on my Tennamast had lost its springiness and was no longer clamping sufficiently to keep it where it should be and the whole lot had turned around 270 degrees. I should look at my aerials more often and see where they are pointing, not assume that what the controller says is correct! I reorientated the head unit to the correct heading and drilled it out to take a 10mm 100 mm long through bolt - all sorted and now ready for the 6m challenge on May 15th…bring it on Andy!

I can imagine your frustation with the traffic driving from SP-008 to SP-002 but you did really well to complete your mission in not much over 12 hours - well done and also on establishing that better route over Holme Moss to the summit of Black Hill.

I hope to be here when you are on the remaining summits you may activate before the winter bonus ends in 9 days time. I noticed that you are the highest scoring activator of winter bonus points in the UK (Northern Eurpe also?) by far, with 972 points scored up to your North Pennines activations on 9th Feb…brrrrrrr…

73 Phil

YES please.

Will be interesting day on 20th march


Hi Karl,

It is quite a while since I last activated a summit so I am long overdue another trip out. Whilst I now prefer CW, I do like to include SSB in my activations as well, certainly when I am the only activator on a particular summit.

Besides the RSGB propagation studies committee experiment, many others like yourself & Walt G3NYY seem interested in the possible effects this eclipse may have on low band propagation.

I have been around long enough to have experienced the highs & lows of the Solar cycle, not as long as Walt though :wink:

I don’t think we are due another eclipse this good in the UK until 2029 or something like that so it seems like good sense to make the most of this one.

As it stands it is my intention to be QRV from a summit on the morning of the eclipse for a couple of reasons:

  1. A much quieter RF environment for observing any effect on propagation.
  2. A much better view of the eclipse than I would get from inside my shack.

I may start a topic to see what interest there is in low band activation’s during the eclipse.

As you may know, John G4YSS is the worlds leading Top Band activator by quite some margin & his exploits on 160m are the main reason a Top Band report was added to the SOTA News several years ago. It is very challenging to activate on 160m in the daytime, so the chance to experiment on the low bands with a touch of twilight conditions in daylight does appeal to me.

Thanks & 73,

Mark G0VOF