G4YSS: Wild Boar Fell,G/NP-007, 17-10-09

G4YSS Act’n. Report, G/NP-007, 17-10-09

Wild Boar Fell from Mallerstang. All times BST = UTC plus 1Hr. VHFM only.

Yaesu VX150 5W / 2m FM H/H to half-wave J-Pole or 3-ely SOTA Beam.
ICOM IC-E90 5W / 4-band VHF H/H to half-wave vertical for 4m band.
6 x 2.7 Ah, AA Ni-Mh rechargeable cells in series. 2m mast support.

This was a low-key, token effort on a spare afternoon during part of a long weekend spent with friends in Cumbria. It was never the intention to try and meet the usual multiband HF standards and no pre-announcement was possible. Wild Boar Fell was chosen mainly for reasons of proximity, being a mere 25 minute drive away from where we were staying in Killington but also because a new route (to me) could be tried. In fact the ‘new’ route I intended to follow is just one of a few recognised routes and starts from SD7739 9697 on the old quarry at Cotegill Bridge on the B6259 Kirby Stephen – Moorcock Inn road. Here there is space to park several cars. All my previous approaches have followed a path from SD 7826 9973 up Turner Hay Hill via High Dolphinsty and The Nab. Whilst this way is reasonably efficient, a change is as good as a rest, as they say.

Research revealed that it would be necessary to parallel the railway line after leaving the road but I neglected to do this, instead leaving the car at 13:49 and taking a bee-line from the stile to the summit via the distinct rocky ‘lip’ which surrounds the big flat top of Wild Boar Fell. I don’t know whether a path exists or not but I found none. Also at least one deep valley straddled my route (SD7688 9751) and there were several areas of waist-deep reed beds which had to be negotiated. The ground was boggy in places and it was necessary to sight well ahead if re-ascent was to be avoided over hillocky ground. The final push to SD 7608 9828 was quite steep between easily avoidable rock-fields.

WILD BOAR FELL, G/NP-007, 708m, 6 Pts, 14:45 to 16:31, 6 deg.C, 3 mph. Overcast with occasional sunshine. (IO84TJ, WAB SD79.)

For once, I was not concerned with making a large number of QSO’s; NP7 is not the best of SOTAs on VHF anyway. It would suffice just to air the summit on 2m and possibly 4m FM then get back to my hosts. I was looking forward to an easy-going, no-pressure activation resembling the ones of 2002.

2m FM:
After finding a large flat rock on which to sit, I assembled the antennas; first deploying the 4m vertical. Disappointment quickly followed the discovery that the battery on the IC-E90 was completely discharged. Perhaps today’s approach had been a little too relaxed but the substituted VX150 / 2m vertical combination did actually work. A CQ brought in Andy M0GGR/M in his ‘Landie’ travelling a green road at 2000 feet above Hawes and quite near to Dodd Fell (NP16.) After comparing notes on his activity; I ran Land Rovers in the 1980s, I worked him under his club call of GX4NOK/P for insurance purposes.

Further CQs on 145.500 MHz were not answered so I elected to replace the vertical with the SOTA Beam I had carried up. With this pointing west of south, there surely would be a chance of reaching that part of Lancashire with the big concentration of SOTA chasers. The theory was good but its best if after erecting the beam, you actually remember to plug it into the rig! There followed three difficult QSOs with Mike G4BLH, Dave G6LKB and his XYL Marjorie M3ULV. None of us could understand the lack of performance until I realised that the antenna in use was the vertical which was now lying in the grass. Once this was corrected, the revised reports were much more complimentary.

The final four QSOs on 2FM were all with mobiles; G3WTO/M – John on the M6, G4FBC/M – Ron on the A66 near Blencathra, G0HIK/M – Nick walking on Kirby moor and M1AVV – Simon, after testing a 6m vertical antenna on Gummer’s Howe. John and Ron were both having their respective troubles; namely avoiding debris on the road. On the M6 a policeman was dicing with death trying to remove the ‘front part of a car’ from the carriageway, whilst the A66 westbound had the contents of a roof box strewn across it.

4m FM:
With a flat battery on the 4m rig, this wouldn’t be straightforward. Luckily I had a DC lead to fit the IC-E90. After plugging this into its side and removing the battery from the VX150, I tried to manually press the wires against the pos. and neg. battery terminals. Though intermittent at times, I was lucky enough to raise Mike G4BLH on 70.450 MHz with 59 / 49 reports using my 4m half-wave vertical. After Mike was Geoff G4WHA/M who had failed to QSO on 2m but easily made it through on 4. Finally Mike’s spot brought in John MW1FGQ.

Wow! 12 QSOs. It had been a totally different SOTA experience and really easy going for once. There was less to carry too, which was no bad thing on path-free tussock. I chose what I thought might be a better return route; initially following the path which goes along high ground to Swarth Fell but leaving it at the pond (SD7542 9740). From here I walked a semicircle back to the car; again finding only the occasional animal path and enough hidden bog to fill one boot. The car was gained by 17:18 and I was back in Killington for 17:48.

Total: 12 QSO’s, comprising:
9 on 2m-FM.
3 on 4m-FM.

Approx 390m ascent / 7.1 km (4.4 miles.)
(6 points)

Thanks to all stations worked and for spotting by G4BLH.
Thanks to Susan & John of Killington for a nice weekend.

73, John G4YSS (using SSEG Clubcall GX0OOO/P)

Great stuff John, and an unusual approach for that hill. I must return to that one, as I loved it when I did it, but think I will repeat the same route I did before - Little Ing Farm / High Dolphinsty / The Nab, which was great walking.

The NPs are great on crisp winter days, and I hope to return to some of my favourites - Ingleborough, Wild Boar Fell, Pen-y-ghent, The Calf, Great Shunner Fell and Lovely Seat this coming season.