G4YSS Activation Report, G/LD-010-G/LD-007-G/LD-022 on 2m-FM, 08-06-18
G/LD’s: Day-1 LD8; Day-2 LD4; Day-3 LD3; Day-4 LD13; Day-5 LD10-LD7-LD22
ST. SUNDAY CRAG, FAIRFIELD & SEAT SANDAL
SOTA’s: G/LD-010, G/LD-007 & G/LD-022 on 2m-FM QRP only
All times BST (UTC + 1). UTC for radio operations (denoted ‘z’)
G4YSS using GX0OOO/P
IC-E90 4-Band VHF, 5W H/H
2m-Band vertical J-pole on two section aluminium mast
Extended set-top helical for 4m-FM QRP (not used)
Baofeng UV-5R, 5W, 2m/ 70cm H/H
Baofeng UV-3R, 2W, 2m/ 70cm H/H
Pack-weight: 8kg approx
Garmin Geko 301 GPS
Hitachi MP3 Player
DAB Cube (not used)
This was Day-5; the final day of our annual ‘Lakes Week’ holiday; a six night stay in Keswick. There were just six of us this year with just three serious walkers. Four were on their way home today which left me as the only walker and my XYL to wander the shops and cafes in Keswick.
After four days of HF activations at the rate of one per day, I thought I’d earned a change. Not only that but I needed a way of getting some easy points that would help to take me up to my next personal milestone of 5k. What better way of getting a lot of points than the Helvellyn round from Patterdale, though for the full 44 points, it has to be done in winter. The trouble was I’d put on Helvellyn two days earlier but no matter, I could still do the remaining summits in a round, namely St. Sunday Crag, Fairfield & Seat Sandal, together worth a total of 22 points in summer.
The rucksack was repacked. FT817ND and linear amp were replaced by a UV-5R Handheld radio but the IC-E90 and 2m Band J-Pole were retained. The HF dipole and 5m mast were replaced by a 2-section aluminium tubular mast, which when deployed measures about 1m.
Because it’s the shortest distance to walk and the highest start point available, the best place to access this trio of summits is from Dunmail Raise (240m ASL).
The weather was still very good . In fact it was better for walking. The temperature had gone down a little and the sun wasn’t full-on all the time.
Dunmail to St. Sunday Crag:
The route is quite simple. From Dunmail - NY 3277 1164, walk east and uphill beside Raise Beck via NY 3352 1194 to the 574m spot height - NY 3438 1208, which overlooks Grisedale Tarn.
Skirt around the Tarn (I went anticlockwise via a fairly efficient path - NY 3441 1206; NY 3453 1191; NY 3480 1174; NY 3488 1171; NY 3517 1201; NY 3536 1220 and NY 3595 1263), then climb up to St. Sunday Crag NY 3693 1340 via Deepdale Hause at NY 3609 1258.
St. Sunday Crag to Fairfield:
Retrace back to Deepdale Hause and climb to Coffa Pike on a steep path via NY 3581 1198. Keep climbing up through NY 3578 1194; NY 3573 1189 and NY 3572 1185 where you make a sharp left turn towards Fairfield’s summit - NY 3586 1173.
Fairfield to Seat Sandal:
Head west to NY 3580 1174 and down the steep, gravelly path via NY 3547 1176 and NY 3535 1182 where a minor path leaves right (NE). Don’t take it but I was forced to use it as a snow traverse of Fairfield, all the way to Deepdale Hause in early March 2006 when Coffa Pike was too dangerous without crampons.
Once you reach the low point at NY 3490 1168, there’s only Seat Sandal left to climb. It’s a rough and loose gravelly path via NY 3463 1150 to the summit at NY 3439 1152.
Seat Sandal to Dunmail Raise:
Downhill all the way, the path off Seat Sandal goes due north via NY 3440 1169 and NY 3437 1193 to the 574m spot where you turn left by the remains of a steel fence post, to walk down beside Raise Beck again.
The drive down to Dunmail took under 20 minutes. The only bit that concerned me was getting off the dual carriageway quickly enough to park up without forcing cars to slow down from a possible 70mph. Luckily traffic was light when I got there at just after 9am. There is space to park a few cars between the kerb and the fence but only in single file. I tried to get as far off the road as possible but the verge is only about 4 metres wide at that point.
I left the vehicle at 09:20 and the lighter rucksack was like a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t much different in reality, due to the fact that some of the weight of HF gear had been replaced with extra fluids for the longer walk. However, weight and perception of weight are a different thing, and then there’s the psychological aspect.
THE WALK TO LD10:
A ladder stile takes you safely over the barbed wire fence and onto the path which goes up the right hand side of Raise Beck. Due to fiddling with the MP3 player, I immediately went wrong, climbing too high to the right and having to ‘bracken bash’ and lose height to get back to the beck. I made a mental note to inspect for ticks that evening.
On reaching Grisedale Tarn there was a decision to make. Do conform to the GPS route loaded for the occasion and I go clockwise round the tarn as far as the big cairn (NY 3518 1234), or should I take the path tempting me to the right? The latter won and I think it was a good decision. Possibly less height is lost but it does go up and down a bit (see the waypoints I marked).
Once round the tarn and on the slant-path up to Deepdale Hause, it really seemed that progress was being made. The path turns sharp right just before the hause but I was soon up and turning left for a straightforward approach to LD10. Here I met my first walker and he said the same about me. The summit is still 1.2km away and undulations in the ground give repeated impressions of imminent arrival. Eventually I reached the deserted summit. Deserted that is, apart from flies.
ST.SUNDAY CRAG, G/LD-010, 841m, 8 pts, 10:58 to 11:30. 16 deg C. Sunshine and almost no wind at times. LOC: IO84MM. WAB: NY31 (No trig). (EE Mobile phone coverage. Vodafone not tried).
145.550 FM - 7 QSO’s:
Sitting at the cairn overlooking Fairfield, I was set up in less than ten minutes with the mast propped up in the rocks. My usual frequency of 145.400 has interference on it local to Penrith. Since I was hoping that two of my QSO’s might come from that source, I pre- alerted 145.550 and called G4WHA/A at 10:08z. Geoff came straight back with 59 (both ways). This was a good and quick start, to say nothing of the spot I would no doubt get.
LD10 is not the best on VHF so I wasn’t expecting much. Using the UV-5R initially, then swapping to the IC-E90, seven contacts were made as follows: M0NOM Mark - QTH Windermere (59 x 2); G1OHH Sue in Lancaster (59 x 2); G7CDA Dougie near Garstang (55 x 2); G1NGR Rod at Blackpool (57 x 2); G0HRT Rob in Southport (59/ 54) and G0TDM John at Penrith enjoying a noise-free QSO with 59/ 55 reports.
Power was 5 Watts to the vertical J-Pole and I tried a call on 145.500 too. Just as I shouldered the rucksack to walk off, my ‘replacements’ arrived - a man and a woman. After a ‘Hello’ I left them to the flies.
THE WALK TO LD7:
Once down to Deepdale Hause, there are 183 vertical metres to make good before arriving at Fairfield. The pace slowed appreciably on this section, not only because of the gradient but also due to the path meandering around to find the best line and the surface underfoot.
I came across a man who seemed to be saying he’d bitten off more than he could chew in terms of energy. I knew how he felt but plodded on up.
For once I stayed on the path for the final section up Coffa instead of going sharply up steep ground to the left. I think this is where I have gone wrong so many times in the past. Every time I’ve done this route in snow and ice, I’ve been coming in the opposite direction. This can be dangerous ground to descend when it’s slippery. The path (see waypoints) is much better graded and therefore safer. To my mind, in winter conditions, Coffa Pike coming down, represents as big a crux as going up Swirral Edge.
Once the path eased, I turned left and up to the summit. There are plenty of choices of where to sit on this extensive rocky top but I avoided the large shelter; setting up out of the way next to a small cairn at NY 3584 1178.
FAIRFIELD, G/LD-007, 837m, 8 pts, 12:08 to 12:56. 16 deg C. Overcast with 2 mph NE wind. LOC: IO84ML. WAB: NY31 (No trig). (EE Mobile phone coverage. Vodafone not tried).
145.550 FM - 12 QSO’s:
LD7 has a better overlook than LD10 which all other things being equal, invariably means more QSO’s. More often than not it has more people also but there were only four of us today.
I worked twelve before the frequency dried up and S20 had been tried a couple of times. Stations worked with 5W to the omni: G4WHA/A and G0TDM Geoff & John in Penrith (all 59 reports); G1OHH Sue in Lancaster (59 x 2 and a brief chat); 2E0MIX Derek – Whitehaven at 460ft ASL (59’s) and G7CDA Dougie near Garstang (59’s).
At 11:28z: MM0NRD/P Andrew on the Island of Arran (HuMP GM/HSI-068. 260m ASL & 51 both ways); M0NOM Mark - QTH Windermere (59/ 58 and a chat about the Top Band loading coils he’d made); M6PHF/P Steve on an outlying WOTA G/LDO-041 (59’s); MW0BYT Ross – Bangor (59/ 57); G4ZRP Brian – Wirral (2 x 59 and recovering from illness); M6ZVD/P Mark at a high point with his dog on Walney Island (51/ 59) and MI0RRE Robbie on the Irish border 35 miles south of Belfast (59/ 52).
As before just after half-way through, the UV-5R was replaced by the IC-E90, in case people were calling and I couldn’t hear them. There wasn’t much evidence for this; it was merely a precaution. Why didn’t I use the IC-E90 throughout, you may ask? The answer; I had omitted to pack an auxiliary external battery.
THE WALK TO LD22:
I packed up and made my way off, soon passing the point where Colin M1BUU and I had stopped for a yarn a few years ago. It’s not a long way to LD22 but going down Fairfield can be a bit slow due to steep, gravelly paths and the danger of slipping. The views across Grisedale Pike to Dollywaggon and Helvellyn grab the attention so a few stops were made for photos.
It was a bit sultry in the col but this was a case of having to make one last effort. To qualify for SOTA, Seat Sandal has to be a Marilyn but the map belies it; or at least it’s not clear. For the purposes of this report, I put the ascent required at 150m.
SEAT SANDAL, G/LD-022, 736m, 6 pts, 13:32 to 14:35. 20 deg C. 0 to 3 mph variable wind. Alternate overcast and sunshine. A grassy top with a cairn, wall and small shelter. LOC: IO84LL. WAB: NY31 (No trig). (EE Mobile phone coverage. Vodafone not tried).
145.550 FM - 7 QSO’s:
I set up at the large summit cairn and nobody turned up while in was there. On the final summit of the day and the final activation of the holiday, I worked the following stations: G4WHA/A and G0TDM Geoff & John in Penrith (59 reports) then G1OHH Sue in Lancaster (59 x 2) Sue should have been on the bus to town. In fact I asked her if she should be signing /M from the top deck but she’d hung around to work me, bless her!
From 12:47z: M6ZVD/P Mark on Walney Island (59/ 59); G4YTD/P Tim camping in Penrith – home QTH Great Driffield (59 x 2); G7CDA Dougie near Garstang (59/ 58) and G7OEM Tony in Blackpool with a SOTA activation planned (59/ 57).
Power was 5W throughout from the UV-5R/ IC-E90 handhelds. The frequency dried up before 2pm local time. After a week of multi-band, multi-mode single activations, it was hard to believe I’d got through three SOTA activations in a total summit time of under two hours so far, so I sat around for half an hour, enjoying the view and having lunch, while thinking about whether I could fit in a fourth activation. If so, the choices would have been LD17, LD37 or possibly LD20 or LD21 but I decided against it. There was barely enough time to drive somewhere and climb another as I didn’t want to be late back, knowing I’d have to pack for going home the next morning.
All downhill, the walk back seemed easy enough and there was the opportunity to think about the great week in the Lake District. The walk took 40 minutes and I was back climbing the ladder stile to the road at 15:15.
It was far too early to go back to the B&B; my XYL suffers from MS and sleeps in the afternoons, so I went round the shops in Keswick, buying some walking socks. I also tried to find the museum which was featuring a Chris Bonnington exhibition but I failed to find the place which seemingly is way out of town. Walking round Keswick’s streets in sunshine feels far more wearying than SOTA so I gave up and went back to the Sandon.
That night was curry night. Not as good as you can get in Bradford of course but not bad, albeit a lot more expensive.
QSO’s on 2m-FM:
09:20 Left Dunmail Raise (240m ASL)
LD10: 10:58 to 11:30
LD7: 12:08 to 12:56
LD22: 13:32 to 14:35
15:15 Arr. Dunmail Raise
Drive from/ to B&B: 17min.
Dunmail to LD10: 1hr-38 min
LD10 to LD7: 38 min
LD7 to LD22: 36min
LD22 to Dunmail: 40 min
Total time spent walking: 3hr-32 min
Average walking speed: 2.1 mph
Summit Durations (min): 32+48+63
Total Summit time: 2hr-23min
Ascent & Distance: 940m (3,084ft) ascent/ 12km (7.5mls)
(Dunmail – LD10-LD7-LD22 - Dunmail)
STATS for the 5- DAYS:
SOTA’s/ Points: G/LD8/8; LD4/10; LD3/10; LD13/8; LD10/8; LD7/8; LD22/6
Activator points for seven summits: 58
Total Ascent/ Distance Walked…
3,778m (12,395ft)/ 40.9km (25.4 miles)
Total distance driven for week: 380 miles
(Inc. from/ to home in Scarborough)
QSO’s by Band:
QSO’s by Mode:
Total QSO’s: 289
With the walking group already on their way home, there was no choice today other than my own company. The weather was cooler, which suited me better but there was no rain or low-cloud.
Going for a multi-summit sortie using simple VHF equipment turned out to be a good decision. Compared with my normal mode of operation, this was so much easier and the amount of activation time saved was unbelievable. On the down side it’s not as satisfying but I can put up with that when I think of the number of activator points gained! These are required for the next milestone.
The band which provided the most QSO’s for the week was 40m and the winning mode was SSB. HF band conditions were generally good or very good, so I was lucky. By now the summer doldrums have often arrived and furthermore, we’re in sunspot low. Only one DX contact was logged all week and that was Japan from LD4 Skiddaw on the 5th June. This was also the day which scored the best QSO total of 83.
I was lucky too with the weather. In five days of operating there was no rain and apart from the first day on Blencathra and a little on Helvellyn, there was no low-cloud. Sunshine accompanied by light easterly breezes predominated for the most part; the side effect of this being flies and on LD13, flying beetles.
What a lot of visitors my summit stations attracted throughout the week especially on Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Coniston-Old-Man. I did my best to promote amateur radio and I hope I succeeded. We could do with a few more joining us, especially those at the younger end of the scale.
On that note, we seem to be missing a few regular chasers of the past. There are many reasons for that no doubt. Work, loss of interest, illness or competition from other activities but I do worry that we may be loosing a few to data modes like FT8 for instance. If that’s the case, I hope there’ll be a return to more personal cheery chats on phone or using hard won skills on CW.
Our ‘Lakes Week’ break has been going since the early 1990’s and I’ve been a part of it by invitation, since 2002. Only six people made it to Keswick this year and from these only three were serious walkers. On the plus side, it’s looking like we can expect better support next year.
Let’s hope so; Lakes Week has been instrumental in getting an awful lot of SOTA points over the years not to mention the friendship and exercise.
We started at Bluestones but for the past 12 years most of us have stayed at the Sandon in Southey Street, Keswick with others at the Edwardean or the Avondale. Unfortunately the Sandon will close in October because Steve & Margaret are retiring. I’m sure walk leader David will make alternative arrangements for our accommodation next year but it’s a sad blow. We have been very comfortable there.
Thanks to all stations worked for your repeated support and to the spotter: G4WHA/A Geoff.
Roy G4SSH wasn’t needed on the last day with it just being 2m-FM but he did a great job for the first four days. Thanks again to Roy for looking after HF and to Geoff G4WHA/A for 2m/ 4m-FM monitoring & VHF spots. This was the final day.
(G4YSS using Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call GX0OOO/P)
Above: Dunmail Raise. Ladder stile and beginning of path up Raise Gill
Above: Raise Gill waterfalls with very little flow
Above: West end of Grisedale Tarn near 574m spot height. Path around lake starts in foreground and contours around, right to left.
Above: East end of Grisedale Tarn and path to Deepdale Hause & St.Sunday Crag (right of frame).
Above: East end of Grisedale Tarn. Foot of Dollywaggon Pike & path in background.
Above: Looking back at Grisedale Tarn. Seat Sandal (LD22) beyond Tarn
Above: Slant-path up to Deepdale Hause from Grisedale Tarn
Above: Activation of St.Sunday Crag G/LD-010 on 2m-FM. LD7 left of photo; LD22 centre and Dollywaggon Pike right.
Above: Looking back at St.Sunday Crag (right of frame) from Coffa Pike
Above: Grisedale Tarn from Fairfield path up Coffa Pike
Above: Looking north and back at Coffa Pike with St.Sunday Crag behind
Above: Activation of Fairfield G/LD-007 on 2m-FM.
Above: The path down Fairfield with Seat Sandal G/LD-022 ahead. Hause Gap to left & Grisedale Tarn to right
Above: The path down Fairfield heading for Seat Sandal G/LD-022 (right). Hause Gap at centre.
Above: The rough path up Seat Sandal G/LD-022 but only 150m left to climb.
Above: Looking back at Fairfield G/LD-007 from the path up Seat Sandal G/LD-022. St.Sunday Crag G/LD-010 further away and left of photo.
Above: Seat Sandal G/LD-022 wall/ summit shelter. Tops of Fairfield and St.Sunday Crag behind.
Above: Activation of Seat Sandal G/LD-022 on 2m-FM. Looking south.
Above: Activation of Seat Sandal G/LD-022 on 2m-FM. Looking east.
Above: Old fence post near 574m spot height - NY 3438 1208. Turn left here for Dunmail from Seat Sandal.
Above: Path beside Raise Beck, approaching Dunmail
Above: Dunmail Raise and ladder stile. Car parked beside A591. End of final day Lakes Week 2018
Links to other Lakes Week 2018 reports:
G/LD-008 Blencathra: G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD-008, 04-06-18
G/LD-004 Skiddaw: G4YSS: 'Lakes Week' G/LD-004, 05-06-18
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