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G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD-004, 05-06-18

G4YSS Activation Report, GLD-004 Skiddaw on 40m-20m-4m-2m

G/LD’s: Day-1 LD8; Day-2 LD4; Day-3 LD3; Day-4 LD13; Day-5 LD10-LD7-LD22

G/LD-004 SKIDDAW on 40m-20m QRO & 2m-4m-FM QRP
All times BST (UTC + 1). UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
Ascent part way with walking group David & Rob. Return solo
G4YSS using GX0OOO/P

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. (160m loading coils not taken)
5m home-brew CFC mast with 1m end sticks
One Turnigy 11.1V, 5 Ah Li-Po battery

IC-E90 4-Band, 5W, VHF H/H for 4m-FM
2m Band Vertical J-Pole on 1m (pink) carbon rod
Extended set-top helical for 4m-FM QRP

Reserve Rig: Baofeng UV-3R, 2W, 2m/ 70cm H/H…
(carried for possible PMR comms. with group)
Pack-weight: 9kg approx

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

This was Day-2 of our annual six-night break in the Lake District with the walking group. There were only three walkers including myself this year, so not wanting any breakaway’s, walk leader David arranged for a walk that a SOTA op would approve of. In fact the route sheet had come from Lakeland Walker Magazine with the start point at Millbeck.

At the front of Underskiddaw Village Hall in the village of Millbeck, there is a car park (NY 2561 2613 – 118m ASL) with space for three cars. The cost is minimal – just £2 per car per day into an honesty box. The cash helps with the upkeep of the building. If this is full, there are a few roadside spaces further along the road to the NW.

Walk NW along the road for a short distance to NY 2553 2621 (this is the 125m spot height on the 1:25,000 map). Turn right here then immediately left and through a gate at NY 2558 2622. A narrow path passes under trees to the open fell after which you bear left onto a steep path at NY 2559 2632 crossing a stile at NY 2554 2645.

The path is initially on grass and then gravelly where the zig-zags begin at NY 2553 2649. This phase ends NY 2546 2665, after about 15 direction changes but it does make life easier. The area has the name of ‘Doups’ and this is where we sat admiring the view and watching a hunting Kestrel, for 10 minutes or so.

At NY 2541 2693 you pass through a gap in a low wall and immediately above Whitestones there is a path junction at NY 2538 2721. Here a minor path goes off left (west) to Dodd. This is where I lost my companions David and Bob who subsequently reached Dodd summit and its monument and then turned back for Millbeck while I carried on up to Skiddaw via Carlside (NY 2548 2809) passing Carlside Tarn (not yet dried up) at NY 2559 2823.

From there I elected to take what I call ‘The Slant Path’ via NY 2578 2855, which joins Skiddaw’s summit ridge at NY 2605 2881. From there the trig point is an easy walk of 300 metres due north. Time at the car was 09:46. The lads peeled off for Dodd at 11:10 and I was photographing the trig point by 12:07.

Lost Lamb:
Walking a little further north to choose an operating site, I came across something mildly amusing but also a little distressing. A lone lamb, which had been wandering around and bleating profusely, was now standing in front of a couple who were sitting sunbathing with a dog. Unfortunately the lamb mistook the dog, which was somewhat sheep looking, for its lost mother and was bleating at it imploringly from a distance of a few metres. The owner had to restrain the dog, which rose to its feet. After a while the lamb realised its mistake and sped off.

This story does have a happy ending however. After another 20 minutes of the poor thing frantically running all over the north part of the summit ridge, things settled down and it went quiet. While erecting the antenna, I noticed that mother and daughter were reunited and happily grazing by the cairn which marks the north end of the ridge.

I found a low wind shelter to sit in. It was looking like a warm day so I set up at the east side of it to take advantage of the breeze. There was just enough soil mixed in with small stones, to get one of the end sticks in and the mast was ‘winkled’ into the shelter’s rocks to be steadied with a trapped bungee. A pile of stones just happened to be in the right place for the southern end stick.

SKIDDAW, G/LD-004, 931m (10 pts) 12:07 to 15:57. 15C. Wind: NE 3mph, later 12mph. Sunshine. (IO84KP, WAB: NY22, Trig: TP6001) Vodaphone coverage 50% of the time.

145.400 FM - 8 QSO’s:
Using 2.5W from the FT817ND to a vertical J-Pole, I worked G4WHA/A Geoff; G0TDM John; 2E0MIX/P Derek on G/HLD-021 (a Wainwright outlying fell and HuMP called Great Bourne); G1OAE Tony; 2E0DIJ/M Duane on the M6 Blackpool exit; G7CDA Dougie; 2D0GIQ/M Martin and MI6LMP Norman 7mls N of Belfast.

All reports were 59 to 59 plus 60db apart from 2E0DIJ, G7CDA and 2D0GIO who gave me 55, 56 and 57 respectively.

7.033.5 CW - 15 QSO’s from 12:00z:
Using 30 Watts to the dipole at 5m centre height, I logged the following stations on 40-CW: DL3HXX Lothar; DL6UNF Frank; HB9AGH Ambrosi; HB9AFI/P Kurt S2S on HB/BE-102; DJ9BX Michael; G0TDM John; OZ7JZ Jan; G0FVH David; ON6ZQ Christophe; M0IML Barry; DL1FU Frid; PA0B Rob; OE7PHI Hans; GI4ONL Victor and DJ9TP Falk.

All outgoing reports except two were 599 and the range coming back was 559 to 599 with a 459 and a 339. A return was made to 40m-CW after the SSB.

7.160 SSB - 26 QSO’s from 12:27z:
Once again the top scoring session and too many to mention by name. Callsigns as follows: G0FEX; G8ADD; GM6ZAK; G4OIG; MM3PDM; G0RQL; M0JLA; G4WSB; G0TDM; MW0XOT; I2CZQ; EA2CKX; SM6CNX; G0GWY; G1OCN; GW0PLP; EA2HP; G4SSH; 2E0VMD; M0BKV; G4WHA/A; 2E0PGT; DB7MM/P Michael S2S on DM/BW-228; M1DBB; G7AFM and M0NJH.

Power was initially set to 30 Watts (later to 50W) and signals were good to very good. Like the day before, this band was carrying inter-G comms very convincingly. More than 20 chasers worked were located in the UK.

7.033 CW - 9 QSO’s from 13:05z:
Later on, after the 40m SSB session, a return was made to 40m CW: G4SSH Roy; ON6ZQ Christophe; OK1ZE Vaclav; IK2LEY Fabio; GW4VPX Allan; M0BKV Damien; DJ2MX Mario; G0EUN James (86) and SA4BLM Lars. Everybody was 599 to me except Fabio with 559 both ways.

14.052.6 CW – 11 QSO’s:
First in was OK2PDT Jan, followed by HB9JOE Andy; HB9BQB/P Guido; G0DPU; ON5TC Cecile ‘73 & 88’; I3WUB Giulio; S59BXX; EA1AER Juan; JE4CIL Fumio in Tottorii; OH3GZ Jukka and HA6VH Geza.

Power was 30 Watts for this 25 minute session with plenty of CQ’s. Most reports were in the range 559 to 599 but most were 599. Fumio was an unexpected visitor to the activation who turned out to be from Japan when I looked him up. I can’t ever remember working a station from Japan since I was licenced in 1984 so that was a first. The reports for this DX QSO were 579 both ways but when you look at QRZ.com, Fumio had a mega setup.

14.285 SSB – 8 QSO’s:
With 30 Watts again the first caller was JE4CIL Fumio who must have picked up my ‘QSY to 14.258’ sent in CW. Reports were 57 both ways and asking for a QTH, I received ‘Tottorii’ which left me non the wiser as to the country at the time. Though Japan dcome to mind, I didn’t think it could be out of Europe as the signal was far too strong and it was a one-off. Sadly I have forgotten a lot of what I learned about callsigns when I was first licenced and had the simplistic view that Japan was just JA.

Next in the log: RX6FR; EA4EQF Juan; IK2JYT John; M0JAH John; I0KHY Claudio; OH3GZ Jukka; SV1HAV; DL1FDY/ QRP; UA4PKN Valery; G0FVH David and DG2ST Bernd.

70.450 FM - 3 QSO’s:
After packing up the HF gear, the IC-E90 brought in Geoff G4WHA/A. I was using 3 Watts to an extended 2m band rubber duck and reports were 59 both ways. There were no other callers.

Just as I walked off the summit ridge and down the steep slant path, I heard Derek 2E0MIX/P on the pocket radio and called him. He was on his third WOTA of the day and we had a lengthy chat on 145.400 before he worked his final station and went QRT. With the return route identical to that of the ascent, the car was reached in 68 minutes at 17:05.

24 on 40m-CW
26 on 40m-SSB
11 on 20m-CW
12 on 20m-SSB
8 on 2m FM
1 on 4m-FM
Total: 82

Walk data:
09:45: Left Millbeck (118m ASL)
12:07 to 15:57: Skiddaw summit
17:05: Arr. back at car
Drive from/ to B&B: 10min

Summit time: 3hr-50min
2hr-22min up (with group until final hour)/ 68 min down
Total: 7.2km (4.5 miles) / 859m (2,818ft) ascent

This was the second day of walking and again it was partly with the group. Regrettably it would also be the last. They were scheduled to have the next day off with their XYL’s and no subsequent route featured any SOTA’s. Hopefully next year, we will get a few more people. We never did need the PMR facility and the only thing I heard on it was base to mobile business based traffic. David and Rob made it across to Dodd OK, had lunch at the monument and walked back down debris strewn forest tracks back to Millbeck.

It was sunny throughout with a cool easterly breeze which increased in speed later. Half way through the activation I moved to the west side of the shelter where it was much warmer. Walking up was hard on the south facing slope, a case of grin and bear it but the company and slow initial pace made it a lot easier. Sunshine and a cool breeze made it ideal at the top.

I liked the route. It was a change from the ‘means to an end’ Underscar ‘motorway’ but being steeper albeit shorter, it seems to take a bit more energy and certainly more time. Balanced against this is the variation from grass to gravel to bare rocks, which tends to take your mind off the pain.

I initially thought I’d taken my two sons, aged 11 and 13, up this route when we all did Skid for the first time on 28th August 1992. On reflection it might have been the valley route immediately to the east up Slades Beck that we used. I well remember their method of descent which was rolling through grass and heather for hundreds of metres. I stuck to the path but could barely keep up. An old notebook records a single fact, ‘4 hours, including 30 minutes at the top.’

I don’t think I’ve ever worked Japan under any circumstances and even if I had, it’s unlikely that the QSO would have resulted from a CQ by me. However it shows you what SOTA can do. It was a pleasure to work Fumio with good reports and what a bonus… in SSB as well. I can’t claim any technical ability for this. My ‘squeak’ was picked up and converted into powerful audio at the other end. A look at JE4CIO’s QRZ page would convince anybody that little of this was down to anything I did. Of course, that’s the basis of SOTA. A capable station at one end and a compromise at the other.

I was really glad I’d tried 20m but I didn’t try 80 because the day before it hadn’t been half as efficient as 40m. No band let me down but 40m was the winner by three lengths. The 50 QSO’s shared roughly equally between CW and SSB, provided the basis for making Skiddaw the top scoring summit of the week. The magic 100 QSO’s was not reached but 82 is not too shoddy.

Thanks to all stations worked and to spotters: G4SSH; G4WHA/A; G4OIG & DL3HXX.

73, John
(G4YSS using Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call GX0OOO/P)

Photos: 1-12-20a-25-29-31-36-46-49-51-52-56-60-99-71-85-89-93-110

Above: The start point for G/LD-004. Underskiddaw Village Hall 1896 in Millbeck. 2 x two pounds in the honesty box.

Above: Open fell and the first section of path.

Above: David & Rob taking a break near the top of the zig-zags at NY 2549 2662

Above: Looking up from the wall crossing at NY 2541 2693 (410m ASL). Skiddaw summit visible right of photo.

Above: Looking west along the wall from NY 2541 2693 (410m ASL). In the distance: Lords Seat (G/LD-033) extreme left and Dodd to the right

Above: A little further up the Millbeck-Skiddaw path. Walking through Bilberry and Heather.

Above: The aptly named Whitestones. David and Rob taking the path to Dodd which branches off here (NY 2538 2721)

Above: The final summit ridge of G/LD-004 and ‘slant path’ viewed from Carlside Tarn.

Above: The ever steepening ‘slant path’ takes you up the final summit ridge of G/LD-004

Above: Looking down the ‘slant path’ to G/LD-004. Small wonder that Frank G3RMD calls Skiddaw, ‘The biggest slag heap in England.’ The diminutive Carlside Tarn (right) and the west side of Derwent Water are visible below.

Above: Looking WNW over Ullock Pike, which is an alternative ascent route. The north end of Bassenthwaite Lake is beyond and to the right.

Above: Nearly there!

Above: Trig Point TP-6001 at the top of Skiddaw G/LD-004, the lowest of England’s three 10-pointers

Above: Skiddaw G/LD-004. Distances and directions to neighbouring landmarks

Above: Skiddaw G/LD-004. Photographed just after the moment of realisation, a lost lamb mistook this dog for it’s mother. This ended well but not for another 30 minutes of running around bleating

Above: Skiddaw G/LD-004. Activation.

Above: Skiddaw G/LD-004. HF Dipole and mast

Above: Skiddaw G/LD-004. Rig & Trig

Above: On the descent and almost down to Whitestones. Keswick and Derwent Water below


Links to other Lakes Week 2018 reports:
G/LD-008 Blencathra: G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD-008, 04-06-18
G/LD-003 Helvellyn: G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD-003, 06-06-18
G/LD-013 OM Coniston: G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD-013, 07-06-18
G/LD10-LD7-LD22: G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD10-LD7-LD22, 08-06-18