G4YSS: Six G/NP's - NP10, NP17, NP4, NP13, NP19 & NP24, 10-03-15 (Part-1)

G4YSS: Six NP SOTA’s: NP10, NP17, NP4, NP13, NP19 & NP24 on 10-03-15

GX0OOO/P (G4YSS) on:
G/NP-010/ 4 Pen-y-Ghent
G/NP-017/ 4 Fountains Fell
G/NP-004/ 6 Whernside
G/NP-013/ 4 The Calf
G/NP-019/ 4 Yarlside
G/NP-024/ 2 Hoove

2m-FM QRO on first five summits
160m CW/ SSB QRO on NP24
All times UTC. G4YSS - Unaccompanied

Equipment (first five summits):
Kenwood TM702-T; 25 Watt 2m/ 70cm Mobile Tcvr.
Home-brew half-wave vertical J-Pole for 2m
Short two-section aluminium mast

Equipment (NP24):
FT817 ND, HF-VHF-UHF 5W multimode
MX-P50M HF Linear Amplifier (1st SOTA test)
80-60-40-(30)-20m inv-vee link dipole on 5m mast for HF
Centre Loading via 2x H/B coils with slug tuning for 160m

One 6 Ah Li-Po for NP10, NP17 & NP4
One 6 Ah Li-Po for NP13, NP19 & NP24
(Neither battery was fully discharged)

Reserve Rig (all summits):
IC-E90 Quad-band 5W H/H with integral 7.2V / 1.3Ah Li-Po battery. (Not used)
Pack Weight: 8.1kg (17.9 pounds) inc 250ml water. (First five summits).

This was just another in the continuing series of winter bonus ‘grabs.’ To pack in as many summits as possible, it needed to be quick and easy so once again I chose 2m-FM with a maximum power of 25 Watts. To be certain of qualifying the final summit NP24, Hoove (a late decision) in a reasonable time, HF-QRO kit was ready in the car boot. For the second time, to reduce time and effort, I would not be visiting the summit of NP24 proper but rather exercising the ‘25m down’ rule.

The MWIS mountain forecast was for a west to northwesterly wind of up to 30mph, with significant wind chill, progressively dropping to 10-15mph by afternoon. Summit temps were predicted to be 1C. Precipitation was low risk and there would be some sunshine and minimal low-cloud.

The plan was to put on at least four summit in the day but due to the predicted early wind chill the order was changed to provide summits with walls for the duration of the morning.

I left Scarborough at 03:30, driving 98 miles via A64, York, Harrogate, Skipton and Burnsall; arriving at the honesty box (1GBP) near Dale Head Farm (SD 8426 7145) for 05:50. The Burnsall, Halton Gill route was decided by the satnav. To a ‘human’ this looks erroneous. Before satnav’s I used to stay on the A65 and drive up from Settle.

It was still dark and a bit too early to expect chasers to be around after a short ascent, so I spent the next half hour relaxing; only getting ready to leave at 06:30.

Passing the farm without the dogs barking was a departure and I noticed three vans which implied that the building is now used for race horses. Smooth FM on DAB radio helped make the climb more bearable, especially after entering low-cloud near the crags but I couldn’t seem to pick up the latest additions to the multiplex; namely Radio York, Yorkshire Coast Radio and Stray FM (Harrogate). A new stone path over the rough muddy section from crag-top to Pen-y-Ghent’s trig point, under construction 12 months ago, is now complete.

Thinking I’d have it to myself at this early hour, I was quite shocked to meet three chaps at the trig point. The two experienced ones had brought their friend on a 1-week walking holiday. He was from the deep south and though he had never climbed a mountain before, he sounded as though he was enjoying it. After a brief chat, they forced their way off towards Horton, pushing into the cold NE wind, which left me the shelter. It’s not often I set up in a shelter but at just turned 7am, I wasn’t expecting visitors and so it transpired.

  1. PEN-Y-GHENT, G/NP-010, 694m, 4pts, 07:07 to 07:43. 1 deg C. Wind 25 mph. Overcast with low-cloud. Lying snow beside walls (2ft drifts). (LOC: IO84VD – WAB: SD87). Orange (EE) phone coverage.

145.400 FM - 7 QSO’s:
The time alerted was actually 07:45 but I was fortunate. Roy had alerted Mark G0VOF and Phil G4OBK the previous evening and it was Mark who answered my first CQ call on S20. After moving to the working channel we had a chat to give time for Mark’s spot to take effect. A sotawatch spot is a valuable thing to be offered at 7am.

After that my 10W signal was heard by: G1JAK/M John in Bradford city centre; MW3UDA Gareth in Holywell; M6PXP Chris in Stainforth; G4OBK Phil in Pickering; M0RSF Chris in Leeds and GM4WHA/M Geoff just leaving Annan for work at Penrith. Incoming reports were mainly 59 plus 10 or 20dB with a 57 from Mark and 56 from Phil. Geoff’s QSO was a bit more tricky at 51/ 31 and I closed at 07:38 after a final 25 Watt call on S20.

My XYL was surprised to receive a text saying I was leaving the first summit at 07:42 but I still met two people coming up; such is the popularity of Pen-y-Ghent. By 08:15 I was getting into the car for the 1 mile drive to Blishmire cattle grid for NP17. After a bite to eat and a drink, the Fountains Fell ascent; steep and direct beside the wall, got underway at 08:24.

  1. FOUNTAINS FELL, G/NP-017, 668m, 4pts, 08:51 to 09:29, 1 Deg.C, 20 mph NW wind. Low cloud. Lying snow beside walls (2ft drifts). (LOC: IO84VD – WAB: SD87.) Orange (EE) mobile phone coverage.

With the cold wind decreasing but still in charge, I wedged myself uncomfortably in the narrow gap between the long 2ft deep by 8 ft wide snowdrift and the dry stone wall. As usual the half-wave vertical antenna was wedged into the copings.

145.375 FM - 10 QSO’s:
145.400 was in use. First into the log was M6ANX Peter in Barrow (FT7900) followed by a sotawatch spot, this time from M6PXP - Chris near Settle.

Further stations worked with 10 Watts were: M6CVD Clive - Walney Island; M3CTW Fred in Holmfirth; G6XBF Walt in Leeds; G6ODU Bob in Ormskirk; G0VOF/M Mark at work (Shadsworth); G4WHA/M Geoff also at work in Penrith and at the end, after switching to 25 Watts, G4OOE/M Nick on Oliver’s Mount Scarborough. Finally it was the turn of G4OBK Phil in Pickering. The latter two were scratchy contacts (51/ 33 and 58/ 45). Neither could hear me on 10 Watts but NP17 is a bad one from the east. I later discovered that Nick was running 50 Watts to a 3-ely beam and he had driven up to the local high point especially to try to work me. Like more I could name, that’s dedication.

M3CTW Fred told me he was 94 years old and has attended a SARS club night as a guest of Ray Nellis; a 2E recently deceased. Apparently Fred joins in on the Saturday morning Scarborough net on 3.650 MHz. QRT was at 09:24 and after packing up, a fairly quick descent brought the car in reach by 09:46.

Drive to NP4:
With minimal time wasted the navigator was set for Whernside; a drive of 24 miles which took 45 minutes. Precious minutes were squandered however due to the crazy behaviour of the machine, which took me off the A65 down a minor road than back on again. These things certainly need supervision! Once on the minor road two gates needed opening and closing. By now the weather had improved markedly. The wind dropping a bit, when added to some sunshine lent a totally different feel to the day.

Walk to NP4:
I was away from the car three minutes after arriving at White Shaw Moss on the Ingleton to Dent road. By now the time had reached 10:35 and there was still much to do.

The Whernside path starts from a gate SD 7216 8177 on the four-gated Ingleton to Dent Road, which is west of NP4. The first obstacle is a beck but it’s not usually deep. Approximately 2km of walking with a height gain of 280m is required. Waypoints are as follows: SD 7244 8173, dog-leg right at SD 7310 8163 then SD 7316 8150 and up a steep section at SD 7354 8143.

  1. WHERNSIDE, G/NP-004, 736m, 11:10 to 11:50. 4 Deg C. 15 mph wind. No low-cloud. . Lying snow beside wall (2ft drifts). WAB: SD78. IO84TF. Orange (EE) mobile phone coverage.

145.300 FM - 13 QSO’s:
The setup was the same as on NP17; a little uncomfortable wedged between wall and snow drift. Again 145.400 MHz was blocked so I ‘QRL’ed?’ a ‘backwater’ in the form of channel S12.

A CQ on S20 with 10 Watts attracted the attention of G6LKB. Dave sounded pleased by the news of, ‘Only 10m from the trig point.’ There followed: G1PIE Mark in Preston (also after the ‘triple’ of SOTA, WAB square and trig point); G4IBS Geoff in Darwen; G6HMN Ray in Colne; M6PXP Chris in Stainforth; G4ZRP Brian - Wirral; G4MYU Art in Briarfiled; G4WHA/M Geoff in his Penrith workplace car park; G6XBF Walt in north Leeds (5W to a 7-ely/ 59 plus 20dB); G0TDM John in Penrith; 2E0WAE/M Andy driving on the M6 motorway and M0BIU Steve at Clifton just north of York (5W to a colinear).

For stations who possibly weren’t hearing me well on 10 Watts, the power was increased to 25 Watts. This yielded just one extra contact, namely George G6AGZ mobile near Brough. Reports were mainly 59 both ways with nothing under 56 in or out.

The one good thing about climbing Whernside from the west is that the descent is quick. The short, steep section of broken rocks by the wall on the steep section half way down can be avoided by taking a lightly defined quad track which swings out a little to the south at SD 7306 8160. This alternative is not so critical on the ascent but rough paths are always trickier coming down. There is a boggy sump near the bottom which surprisingly wasn’t too bad today. The time at the car was 12:14.

One thought during the planning stage was to activate NP18 Nine Standards Rigg and NP24 Hoove after the first three but the choice to do The Calf as the fourth summit was deliberate and in a way, self sacrificing. Because they are a pair, once committed I would be almost compelled to do Yarlside as well. At over 9km and 715 m of ascent, it’s a significant slog and certainly not two for the price of one.

This was merely a bit of psychology but sometimes mind games are helpful to the cause. I have been doing SOTA activating for long enough to know that it is largely an activity requiring a generous portion of mind over matter. From a purely personal viewpoint, I am more likely to fall short mentally rather than physically. What goes on in my head is often a wrestle for me.

Drive to the Howgills (NP13 - NP19):
Only a 14 mile drive was required this time but two more gates on the road down into Dent delayed proceedings. I arrived at the Cross Keys Temperance Inn on the Sedburgh/ Kirby Stephen road in 35 minutes at 12:54. Walking started once more at 12:58 after a precautionary battery change but with three activations already logged, I was not looking forward to the substantial climb ahead.

Lately I have used the route which passes Cautley Spout waterfall on a path up the valley. This goes via SD 6833 9751, crossing the beck at SD 6798 9752. The path goes up the right bank of a second beck to a ‘T’ junction with the major path at SD 6688 9677. Here you turn right for the summit. However, today I just couldn’t face this route and had the idea of stopping short of the summit and activating The Calf from its north end. With that in mind I headed straight on up the steep path then added a bit of cross country to meet the slant path which comes in from the north between Yarlside and The Calf.

Though it was still only 6 degrees C, in sunshine and ever decreasing wind this ascent was rather unpleasant and at one point I resorted to crushing a handful of snow onto the top of my head. What a contrast after wearing hat and gloves much of the morning. It seemed like an age before the agony was over but on a whim, I passed the map point originally selected for operation and proceeded to the trig point; almost another 10 minutes.

There must have been concern in the back of my mind that Dave G6LKB would come up wanting NP13’s trig point. Another worry was the possibility of signal blocking from intervening rising ground which could have made it more difficult for chasers to the south. In this case the latter were likely to be the majority. Though there was no firm plan at this stage for a sixth summit, this extra 20 minutes would push me well into darkness if I did eventually add one. The difficult decision was put on hold until after NP’s 13 and 19 had been tackled. At that stage we would see what time and more to the point, determination and strength remained.

  1. THE CALF, G/NP-013, 676m, 4 pts, 14:17 to 14:56, 6 Deg.C, 10 mph wind. Mostly sunny. No lying snow on the summit. (IO84RI, WAB SD69). Orange (EE) Mobile phone coverage.

145.400 FM - 13 QSO’s:
Settling into a shallow ditch a few metres from the trig point, I called CQ with 10 Watts to the vertical. Three portable stations came back to me: M3ZCB/P Caroline S2S on G/NP-001 Cross Fell. Martyn M1MAJ/P was with her and due to me thinking that I had another summit waiting, we quickly exchanged reports. Caroline informed me that in fact this was GW4ZPL/P John in his caravan in Bangor. When I worked him, John told me that he was using solar power.

Looking down at the rig, I was visibly startled by a passing couple. The man apologized and we exchanged pleasantries. I noticed that he was wearing a tweed jacket; not the outdoor country squire style either. This one was the every day sort. Who says you need the latest Mountain Equipment or Berghaus jacket for walking the hills?

The next five stations were: GM4WHA/A Geoff in Penrith; M6ANX Peter in Barrow; G1OHH Sue in Lancaster; M0SSD George in Dalton and G0EPY Colin in Fleetwood.

After these and with the power up to 25 Watts, I worked five more chasers with one or two returns to S20: M0XSD Colin in Frizington; 2W0JCN John in Bangor; G1PIE Mark in Preston; G0GGT Barry - Southport and G6ODU Bob in Ormskirk.

G1PIE Mark was pleased to work the SOTA along with the Trig and SD69 square for WAB all in one QSO. QRT was at 14:50.

Walk to NP19:
By this stage I was getting a little weary, the walk between The Calf and Yarlside taking 54 minutes. It was mind over matter with a lot of stops.

Crossing the low point at SD 6809 9818 (430m ASL) I came upon four or five horses grazing but my offer of polo mints was looked upon with disdain. One whinnied loudly before they all turned their backs and walked away. It must get cold up there at night but I noted they had thick coats including faces almost obscured my long hair. I have seen horses on top of High Street (G/LD-011) at around 800m but not in the winter bonus period.

The direct but pathless route up the steep grass of Yarlside’s western flank is always demanding but seemed relentless today. Even after the gradient eases there is still some way to go. It was a great relief when the summit cairn was spotted ahead indicating that the day’s climbing was to all intents and purposes finished.

  1. YARLSIDE, G/NP-019, 639m, 4 pts, 15:50 to 16:25, 3 Deg.C, less than 10 mph wind. Low-cloud. No lying snow on the summit. (IO84SJ, WAB SD69). Orange (EE) Mobile phone coverage.

145.400 FM - 8 QSO’s:
With the expectation of fewer QSO’s from here compared with NP13, before putting out a CQ on 145.500 MHz, I first checked the working frequency. Geoff G4WHA/A in Penrith, was waiting there and we exchanged 59 reports. This was good news and a third spot was immediately forthcoming from Geoff. Past experience has shown that VHF signals don’t reach out to many places from Yarlside. Even with all the available power of 25 Watts I expected delays but once the spot appeared, in the chasers came. Not in any great numbers I might add but I was soon qualified and for an activator that’s always the first priority.

In the log: G0TDM John Penrith; M3ZCB/M Caroline and M1MAJ/M Martyn, now on their descent to Kirkland from NP1 with a handie. After these G1OHH Sue in Lancaster; 2E0PXP Chris in Stainforth - trying a QSO with his newly won 50 Watts and intermediate callsign. M6EPW and M0XSD - Liz and Colin in Frizington provided the final two QSO’s. They were using a vertical today after loosing their Yagi in storms.

Reports were very good considering the QTH. The first four were 59 both ways, Sue gave me 55 and the remaining three 51. The latter were obviously not in any kind of line of sight but it’s surprising how 2m can bend around obstacles to a significant extent.

The initially tussocky and later steep descent via Ben End to Cross Keys took 34 minutes today. I did find and GPS mark more of the path than in previous years but where it is really steep it seems to all but disappear. Later it either peters out altogether or perhaps curves around Ben End. At that point the ground is no longer steep making a bee line for the bridge practical apart from the wet river flood plain.

I was back at Cross Keys for 16:56 having already promising myself a sixth activation. It was planning it on the way down NP19.

Drive to NP24:
The 32 mile drive via Kirby Stephen, passing Nine Standards Rigg on the way, took from 17:00 to 17:55; arriving just prior to sunset. I stopped in Nateby village on the way where there was a good phone signal to inform G4SSH of my intentions. Roy passed them on to Mark G0VOF, Phil G4OBK and Nick G4OOE in the hope that I might at least get three or four contacts for starters.

NP24 is close to hopeless for VHF so reluctantly I had to plan for HF. Since I love 160m, why not use that. It wouldn’t be particularly inclusive for chasers but time would be short and one band was all I could manage. Beside that, what would Mark G0VOF put in next month’s Top Band news if I didn’t make an effort? Possibly nothing?

As discussed at length in my March 2014 report, the boggy and featureless Hoove can be done from just inside the 25m activation zone which starts half way to the summit. That avoids twice crossing the ugly scar of a natural ditch that is Hurrgill Head along with about an extra mile (total - both ways) of bad ground. A down side to that is the lack of shelter, should it be a windy day. In contrast near the trig there is a deep hole to sit in. Alternatively they tell me that there is a nearby shooting butt. By now the wind had dropped well below 10 mph and it would drop further so sitting out in the open would not be unpleasant.

Before leaving the car parked at The Stang on the Durham Border, I had to remove all the VHF gear from the rucksack, swap the battery and pack the FT817, my 50 Watt linear, the link dipole and the all important Top Band loading coils. After strapping on the mast I was underway by 18:05 with the knowledge that daylight would be gone in another half hour or so. On the plus side, I have done this one more times in pitch darkness than in daylight so there were no real concerns. One thing was certain though. If I was going to get safely back to the car, I would really need my GPS so a new pair of AAA batteries were hastily substituted for the almost exhausted ones.

  1. HOOVE, G/NP-024, 554m, 2 pts, 18:16 to 19:17. Minus 2 deg C and falling, wind 3 mph at first dropping to zero. Clear skies. No lying snow just wet & boggy. (LOC IO-94-AL, WAB-NZ00) Orange mobile phone coverage with low or absent signal.

I set up the dipole as quickly as possible but the ubiquitous (here at least) Red Grouse objected to the intrusion. Their feeder trays were dotted around. They are a pretty bird when you see them close up as I had done from the Pen-y-Ghent boardwalk in the morning. It’s good that they don’t know of the murder ahead of them.

The coils were set to the usual 4.7 and inserted, No time for the niceties of SWR checks tonight. Like Little Miss Muffet I sat on a ‘tuffet’ in this case one of the many tussocks of coarse grass. Headlamp on, specs on and ready to go. During the course of the activation the wind dropped from 5mph to zero and the temperature to minus 2C. Despite the frost that was forming on me and the equipment, this was easily the most comfortable I’d been all day and it was spot on 18:30 - the estimated QRV time I had given to Roy an hour earlier.

1.832 CW - 5 QSO’s:
Roy’s alert had been on sotawatch for half an hour by now and G0VOF responded to my call giving me ‘579 with QRM.’ Mark was 589 to me but fast fading was present on the band. Next in was Phil G4OBK with a 59 signal dropping occasionally to 58 on the FT817’s meter.

G4SSH made it through next with a 339/ 229 exchange in deep QSB and after Roy I was surprised to hear DK1WI Erhard call in. It wasn’t too difficult to work him either despite only 229 coming back to me in response to 579 sent. Finally there was Bill G4WSB. This was an easy QSO with 579/ 559 reports. At the time I thought I’d worked Nick G4OOE in Scarborough but it was just Roy telling me that Nick wasn’t hearing me at all. I sent ‘SSB, SSB QSY’ and got a response; I think from Mark who was now doing the spotting.

1.846 SSB - 8 QSO’s:
The announced channel of 1.843 had a loud Italian (?) QSO on it. Luckily I could stretch to the next clear spot, 3 kHz up. Any further and I would have had to think about adjusting the loading coils. That might have taken 10 minutes in the dark.

After the noise on CW, I wasn’t holding my breath here but in fact I worked more stations in SSB than in CW. Into the log went: G0VOF Mark in Blackburn; G4OBK Phil in Pickering North Yorkshire. I tested the linear by switching it off and back on. The reported difference was 2 or 3 ‘S’ points so it must have been working. Mark told me not to log the SSB contact which he was really only using for ‘control’ purposes; Roy being on the edge of signal range. He was transmitting on his own equipment but listening via a web receiver. It mattered not, the earlier CW contact, being all Mark’s own work, was fully valid.

Carolyn G6WRW called in and I tried several times to complete the QSO but she couldn’t get her RST. There was a lot of noise on the frequency so she said she would call again later.

G8VNW Nick in Threshfield had been trying all day to work me on VHF without success but he made up for it here with a 58/ 47 to 58 QSB exchange. After our VHF QSO’s in the past, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him calling me on 160m. After Nick came G8TMV Colin in Cambridge with an easy 58/ 57 and G0RQL Don in Devon struggling slightly with my 47 signal.

I spent 3 or 4 minutes trying to get my callsign over to PE5ROS (Gert in Engwierum NL) but he finally got it when QSB took me up to 57 with him. The QSO with OH9XX was completed rapidly but try as I may I cannot discover his name. I worked him a year ago on the same band from the same summit so I know he’s a SOTA op. G6WRW at last got the ‘57 varieties’ report which I counted up for her. Carolyn seemed happy with her success.

With no further callers and time getting on I was about to QRT but just as I reached for the two circuit breakers, Mark G0VOF informed me that G8ADD was calling. Brian was very quiet and I gave him 339. It took a little time to hear his 55 in the QRN and QSB but what was going on locally didn’t help. I had forgotten to deploy the headphones and shrill calls from noisy Lapwings wheeling unseen overhead forced me to raise the AF gain to an unprecedented level. Lapwings are early nesters and they build on the ground. I must have been right in their territory. Despite their hindrance, Brian bagged the last place in the days logs.

Aided by fluorescent strips on my mast and dipole end-sticks I got the aerial down fairly easily. As I was strapping the mast onto the backpack, I noticed frost all over it.

Final Descent:
Descent isn’t the right word as this hill is far from steep. I knew I had to take care not to get lost which meant hand carrying the GPS while trying to keep the descent and ascent tracks together. With reading specs on, it was hard to see the bogs and ditches but I’m pleased to say I didn’t get my feet wet this time. I was almost on the car before I saw it at 19:30 and old heap that it is, it was a sight for sore eyes. At last I could go home!

Drive home:
The 89 mile drive home via A66-A1-A168 and A170 was completed between 19:35 and 21:21 arriving almost 18 hours after setting out. As activating days go this was up there with some of the longest. It felt great to settle into an easy chair with a pint pot of tea. What better time to arrive home too. All the XYL’s soaps were long finished.

NP10: 7
NP17: 10
NP4: 13
NP13: 13
NP19: 8
Subtotal: 51

160m-CW: 5
160m-SSB: 8
Subtotal: 13
TOTAL: 64.

S2S’s - One from NP13 on 145.400
G/NP-001 Cross Fell: M3ZCB/P Caroline & M1MAJ/P Martyn.

Ascent & Distance:
NP10: 284m ascent / 5.5 km
NP17: 241m ascent / 4.4 km
NP04: 280m ascent / 4.2 km.
NP13: Combined with NP19 below -
NP19: Total: 715m ascent / 9.5 km.
NP24: 30m ascent, 2.4 km
TOTAL for six NP SOTA’s: 1,550m (5,085ft) ascent / 26 km (16.3 miles) walked.

Walking Times:
NP10: 37 min up/ 32 min down
NP17: 27 min up / 17 min down
NP04: 35 min up / 24 min down
NP13: 79 min up
NP13 to NP19: 54 min
NP19: 31 min down
NP24: 11 min up - 13 min down (Act’n Zone)
Total: 6hr-0 min at 2.7 mph average.

Distance driven: 258 miles (Inc 98 to NP10, 71 between SOTA’s and 89 home)
Activator points: 42 (inc. 18 Winter Bonus)

Good DAB reception throughout all walking routes except in the NP13/ NP19 col.
Orange (EE) phone service on all summits but ‘scratchy’ on Hoove.

03:10: Out of bed
03:30: Left Scarborough
06:20: Arrived Honesty Box - Dale Head Fm. (Odometer - 98 miles)

06:30: Walked for NP10
07:07: Arrived NP10
07:43: Left NP10
08:15: Arrived car.

08:18: Drove for NP17 start point.
08:22: Arrived NP17 start point. (Blishmire cattle grid - Odometer 99 miles)

08:24: Walked for NP17
08:51: Arrived NP17
09:29: Left NP17
09:46: Arrived car

09:47: Drove for NP4 start point
10:32: Arrived NP4 start point. (Ingleton - Dent Road - Odometer 123 miles)

10:35: Walked for NP4
11:10: Arrived NP4
11:50: Left NP4
12:14: Arrived car

12:18: Drove for NP13/ NP19 start point (Cross Keys Temperance Inn)
12:54: Arrived Cross Keys Inn - (Odometer 137 miles)

12:58: Walked for NP13
14:17: Arrived NP13
14:56: Left NP13 for NP19

15:50: Arrived NP19
16:25: Left NP19
16:56: Arrived Cross Keys

17:00: Drove for NP24
17:55: Arrived NP24 start point. (The Stang - Odometer 168 miles)

18:05: Walked for NP24
18:16: Arrived NP24
19:17: Left NP24
19:30: Arrived car

19:35: Drove for Scarborough
21:21: Arrived Scarborough. (Odometer - 257.5 miles)

The one band/ one mode activations on the first five summits allowed six to be activated in the day. That said, given the number of summits planned (five - give or take) some pacing was required resulting in walking times 10% slower than last year at this time. Well, that’s my excuse at least and in addition, I did find the afternoon sunshine on the Howgills quite debilitating.

Significant effort was saved when it really counted by activating short of the Hoove summit but still within the activation area. Though perfectly ‘legal’ I am not fond of this practice and thankfully I didn’t get any trig point chasers on that one.

With predicted wind speeds quite high in the morning, summits with walls were the chosen targets. The first two tops were in cloud which thankfully cleared not to return. Apart from a shallow ditch on NP13, none of the afternoon summits had any shelter but short, simple activations in decreasing wind caused little discomfort. Terrain could not be used as shelter as a VHF antenna must be at the top of the hill for best effect and mine only has a minimal length of coax. In fact I forgot to take a 5m extension for this purpose but since it is miniature coax (RG316 which I use at HF) that approach would have increased losses at VHF.

I’m afraid that as far as chaser numbers and QSO tallies are concerned, today was never going to set the world on fire but there are only so many hours in the day and choices have to made. The object of the exercise was to get around and qualify as many winter bonus summits as I could, preferably in daylight, so pack weight was a major factor.

I did my best to ameliorate the shortcomings of the VHF modus operandi by using higher powers than the average handheld. Mostly that was 10 Watts but with 25 Watts at the end of each activation on the working channel to bring in the more distant stations along with at least one return to S20 before QRT. Because of NP19’s VHF reputation, 25 Watts were used throughout but this routine was too much of a risk for NP24 Hoove which, despite overlooking the conurbation of Teesside, has a significantly poorer VHF reputation (with me) than Yarlside. Unlike activations in February, I noticed no signs of lift conditions today.

The Kenwood TM702-T, 25 Watt FM Mobile rig and one 6Ah Li-Po Battery with hindsight would likely have covered all five VHF activations but I took the precaution of fitting a fresh battery for the Howgill pair.

PLEASE NOTE: the observations in this report relating to 160m are annexed off to part-2 due to word count restrictions of 32000 characters. Apologies for this - G4YSS.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED. Thanks must also go to the spotters: G0VOF; M6 (2E0) PXP; G4WHA; G4SSH and for telephone liaison with Roy G4SSH. This priceless support is much appreciated. Also thanks to Phil G4OBK for emailing the recordings of the 160m operation. I will get around to listening to those in due course.

I hope to get out one final time before the ‘summer recess’ commences on 15th March after which we can all relax for a while.
23 down - one to go!

Photos: 7; 22; 29; 42; 43; 56; 61; 86; 92; 114; 123; 126; 127.

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

Above: 7am activation of Pen-y-Ghent G/NP-010 on VHF (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Fountains Fell G/NP-017 on VHF (G4YSS)

Above: Gated road on the way to Whernside G/NP-004 (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on VHF (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on VHF (Kenwood TM702-T - G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Whernside G/NP-004 on VHF - Ribblehead Viaduct (G4YSS)

Above: Approach to The Calf G/NP-013 via Cautley Spout (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of The Calf G/NP-013 on VHF (G4YSS)

Above: Horses between The Calf G/NP-013 & Yarlside G/NP-019 (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Yarlside G/NP-019 on VHF (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Hoove G/NP-024 on 160m CW/SSB. 817 & Linear (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Hoove G/NP-024 on 160m CW/SSB. Mast & Tesside lights (G4YSS)

Above: Activation of Hoove G/NP-024 on 160m. loading coil (G4YSS)

Please note: Observations relating to Top Band for this expedition can be found on the reflector via the following link


Excellent report as ever and thanks for the QSO from G/NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent before I went out to work. Always a pleasure to exchange a few overs with you John. I heard you call and I know that you often make a list of call signs so I threw mine into the hat after I heard Phil G4OBK call you (quite a respectable signal into Leeds for your info Phil) and I apologise again if I doubled with you John. I know you heard a /M station after me so I cleared off pretty sharpish before the mobile station went out of range.

73 Chris M0RSF

What a cracking day in the hill! A great read. Thanks!

Hi John

Another inspirational report. I was disappointed that I didn’t get up to Oliver’s Mount in time for a crack at you on Penyghent, still I was delighted to get through on Fountains Fell. I also worked M3CTW Fred in Holmfirth who I think said that his xyl was from Scarborough. His signal was fluctuating, not helped by the wind turning my quickly lashed up 3 el beam! GL on getting your last three points to get to 1000 WB points!


Hi John,

Thanks for all the summits especially Penyghent as I cannot normally work that from Annan. I was working late that night and I called at John’S (G0TDM) to see if we could hear you on Top Band from Hoove but we heard absolutely nothing!

Look forward to working you again when you are next out.

73’s Geoff GM4WHA