GM4OBK/P Moffat Trip GM/SS-037

Every Easter Ryedale Walking Group organise a walking break for our members. As Chairman I assist with this holiday. The organiser this year centred the break on Moffat and we stayed at the Buccleuch Arms in the town. I managed to activate on HF on 3 occasions during this short break without becoming completely anti-social with the other members of the group. As Chairman that would have been bad form!

The “Challenging” walk scheduled for Saturday crossed Hart Fell SS-037 (808m and 4 points).

I left Moffat at 0810z about 10 minutes ahead of the group, intent on making progress on the 7 mile walk to the top. My route took me past Moffat Well and over Blaeback, The Snout, Greygill Head, Blue Cairn, Swatte Fell, Falcon Crag, the coll of Hass o’the Red Roads and thence onto Hart Fell. Almost 3 hours of walking was enjoyed with one banana and water break included. Apart from two stiffish climbs this was a gradual ascent and a pleasant walk with fantastic views down into Black Hope from Falcon Crag and across to White Coomb. (From where Iain MM3WJZ/P would soon be active).

SS-037 Hart Fell 808m ASL. Easter Saturday (4 points).
Summit had been previously activated 10 times on 60m, 40m and 2m.

G4OBK’s 70th activation
FT-817 5w from LIPO battery (Link dipole for 80/60/40/30m)
VX-150 handheld (4w to 1/4 whip)
QRV on 2m 1114z (prior to setting up on HF)
The “Dial a Spot service” was in use. Good Vodafone signals from Hart Fell (Thank’s to Roy G4SSH)

I switched on the VX-150 on arrival and was surprised to hear on S20:

“CQ CQ SOTA de MM0DHY/P on SS-277 near Cupar CQ”

Lucky for me that Adrian was using a beam which must have been doing all the work over the 67 mile path. We exchanged reports and I got on with setting up the fishing pole and link dipole whilst entertaining some walkers who were eating their lunch in the shelter. A useful fence runs across the fell so it was easy to mount the pole with bungees. I knew my friend Iain MM3WJZ/P was expected to be active anytime on 2m from SS-030 White Coomb, which was less than 4 miles to my east. I gave Iain a quick call and YES he had just arrived on top and another S2S QSO was complete. I wouldn’t normally carry a 2m handheld as well as an HF rig but this paid off today.

So on to HF and “Dial a Spot” informed me that HF was in poor order.

I opened on 80m CW at 1143z putting G4SSH and G4ELZ in my log. Then a blank - how dissapointing. These were the first 80m QSOs from Hart Fell on SOTA. I then received a call from the leader of the walking group chasing me - they had stopped for lunch at 11.30z and were making their way over Falcon Crag. Great - that bought me enough time to see what I could achieve on 40m CW.

60m SSB next - and another bonus making 3 out of 5 QSOs as S2S. I was lucky to catch Andy MM0FMF/P on NS-063 Ben Stack. 57/58 reports were exchanged which was pretty good for 2 way QRP. I then called CQ 60m and got zilch…60m can be a temperamental band at times like these.

Time was running out as I expected the group to come into view shortly and I moved quickly to 7032 KHz which was busy with other SOTA traffic. It is always difficult to make oneself heard using QRP when there are one or more stations active around 7032 KHz. I settled on using Roy’s “Dial a Spot” service again and got going on 7033 KHz. 13 more QSOs were completed before I had to pack up, going QRT at 1220z. My walking group arrived at 1225z.

QSOs completed:
2m x 2 (both S2S)
80m x 2
60m x 1 (one S2S)
40m x 13

18 QSOs completed with no time left to activate on 30m.

The walk was completed with the group via Arthur’s Seat, Newton Fell, Hartfell Spa to Russell’s Brae where we were collected by minibus.

Distance walked 10.8 miles
Ascent 2634 feet.

(TO BE CONTINUED with report on SS-123 Green Hill near Wanlockhead)

73 Phil G4OBK

In reply to G4OBK:

A nice report and thanks for the S2S contact. It’s a lovely area around Moffat with some belting hills like White Coomb, Hart Fell and run of hills along the ridge starting from Andrewhinney Hill through Scaw’d Fell, Croft Head, Capel Fell, Ettrick Pen and finally Ward Law.


SS-123 Green Hill Near Wanlockhead Easter Sunday

The 21 strong Ryedale Walking Group trip spent the day around Wanlockhead - we visited the lead mining museum, old library, drift mine and cafe for lunch. The group took off to catch the light railway to Leadhills and then walk back across the hill. I set off in the opposite direction on foot to climb Green Hill SS-123.

You can’t see the top of the hill from the village even though it is less than a one mile walk to the top. I went up on a quad track via Black Hill (550m)and reched the summit (588m) in under half an hour. The top is marked by a metal fence post embedded into concrete - a perfect mount for a fishing pole.

G4OBK’s 71st Activation
GM4OBK/P SS-123 Green Hill 588m ASL Easter Sunday (2 points)
FT-817 5w from LIPO battery (Link dipole for 80/60/40/30m)
The “Dial a Spot service” was put into use. Good Vodafone signals. Thank’s to Roy G4SSH who was first in my log after my phone call at 1313z. I’ve started using 3532 KHz now - it’s easy to remember the frequency as the 40m CW centre of activity is 7032 KHz…this was trend started by GX0OOO (John G4YSS). Once the QSO was complete I cracked open a can of Fosters Lager - given to me by my friend Sally who had won it in the tombola down in the village. Very quenching it was too, as I was sweating from the walk and from setting up the inverted vee…

80m CW was dissapointing again - Roy came in at 599 giving me a 559 in return via his Butternut vertical and then…no more takers to my repeated CQ calls. This wasn’t down to condx - just a lack of 80m CW enthusiasts in their shacks on Easter Sunday afternoon I reckoned.

10 minutes after starting I was on 60m SSB and there he was again on 5398.5 KHz:

“CQ CQ this is MM0FMF/P on GM/NS-020 Ben Hope calling CQ”

It’s nice to get lucky - Andy had just set up and I was second into the log. Beaten by G7AAV/P Steve on TW-001 who was Andy’s first QSO! I moved up to 5403.5 KHz and was then called by Steve. This was for not just another S2S QSO for me but a VERY important QSO. Despite TW-001 (which lies on the Cleveland Way) being very close to my Home QTH in Pickering and having activated it twice myself, I had never worked the hill as a chaser. This was the day I finished off the TW area at long last - and it had taken me over 4 years to do this. Thank’s Steve! TW-001 is a well activated summit but the secret is being at home when someone is up there.

60m was in fine fettle and I continued to work the usual suspects including EI7CC, G6WRW/P in Clacton and GW0DSP in Wales. I struggled to make myself understood whilst working John G0TDM who was close in at Penrith. We did exchange weak signal reports but John must have been looking at his computer screen too closely as he was calling me Andy (FMF). Signals were poor but John eventually heard my repeated “NO NO NO I am GM4OBK/P” and got the message!

The bands were in better form than the previous day without doubt and a move to 40m CW around 7032 KHz brought several callers. It was still lack lustre though without the benefit of QRO and the FT-857 and my CQ calls failed to generate anything like a CW pile up and the adrenalin that goes with it. I just worked what I could once I was spotted, but many of the usual callers were obviously not hearing me as it was pretty slow. Out of the 4 bands used the best condx wise were on 30m - I discovered this after a move to 10118 KHz gave me a nice run of 7 QSOs in 4 minutes - and the enjoyment and adrenalin gained from operating CW flowed a little…This was the first 30m activity from Green Hill ever recorded from its 15 activations.

I went QRT at 1411z - just under an hour of operation on what was a super day. There had been no need to wear a jacket and only a slight breeze was experienced with excellent views over to Green Lowther SS-056 a mere 4 Km to the east. I packed up and walked down via sheep tracks west of the Glencrief gully through NS 86550 12920 to reach Bryson Terrace (cottages) near the Beam Engine. Just as I reached that point the walking group (who I had been watching on my way down) emerged from the side of Wanlock Dod on their way back from Leadhills.

QSOs completed:

80m x 1
60m x 10 (2 S2S)
40m x 5
30m x 7


23 QSOs completed.
Distance walked 2.1 miles
Ascent 769 feet.

(TO BE CONTINUED with a final report on SS-083 Andrewhinney Hill near Moffat on Easter Monday)

SS-083 Andrewhinney Hill Near Moffat Easter Monday

The walking group made for The Grey Mare’s Tail. I followed the minibus in my own car. This National Trust land lies 10 miles north east of Moffat on the A708 road to Selkirk. Above the waterfall lies White Coomb SS-030 and Loch Skeen, a Loch which contains the Vendace - an almost exstinct fish. The group spent their lunch by the Loch and told me later that through binoculars they could just see my fishing pole erected on SS-083 two miles away across the valley.

From the NT car park at Giants Grave I crossed the road bridge over the burn and went straight up the steep slope to SS-083. When I first looked at the map a month previous I felt this was impossible owing to the steepness of the hillside, however whilst talking to one of the two previous activators (Andy MM0FMF) at the Norbreck Rally he assured me that this was the way he had ascended without too much difficulty. The initial ascent of 924 feet measures 597 feet of distance by my calculations - in excess of 1in2 and some of this had to be done using hands to hold on to any greenery that was secure enough to grab hold of. It got much easier towards the top, and the summit cairn was reached in 55 mins. Slow going for one mile of “walking” which featured a total ascent of 1477 feet. This was the steepest SOTA I have ever climbed in 72 activations.
Andy was right - once I was on top this was a lovely hill and I had the best of days, clear views and my jacket was not needed. A fence runs west to east across the top of the hill - easy mounting for the pole.

G4OBK’s 72nd Activation
GM4OBK/P SS-083 Andrewhinney Hill 677m Easter Monday
Previously activated on 60m only by GM4COX (July 2005) and MM0FMF (Nov 2007)
FT-817 5w from LIPO battery (Link dipole for 80/60/40/30m). Palm Key.

The G4SSH “Dial a Spot service” was not in use. No Vodafone signals were available. Thank’s go to Brian G8ADD for spotting me on 5 MHz and Roy and others for continuing to spot my activity on other bands. Condx were the best experienced over the three day easter period - you notice this when using QRP.

The first contact with Brian G8ADD was established on FE at 1025z, Don G0RQL followed and I QSY’d to 80m CW at 1041z to work three 80m CW regulars on 3532 KHz - G4SSH, G3RMD and G3WPF. So at 1045z 80m dried up and I moved to 7032 KHz, which was in great shape producing a brief pile up and an S2S QSO with Frank DL1JET/P on DM/SX-142 who called me. My last and only QSO on 30m was at 1114z with Jozsef HA7UG - five further CQ calls produced nothing more so I finished off then and enjoyed my coffee and packed lunch.

QSOs completed:

60m SSB: 8
80m CW: 3
40m CW: 20 (one S2S QSO)
30m CW: 1
12 DXCC Countries Worked: G/GD/EI/DL/SM/F/LA/ON/9A/PA/OE/HA

The steepness of the ascent and a degenerative right knee meant it would have been foolhardy and too risky to contemplate returning down the hill the same way. Something I think Jack and Andy probably did. Discretion overpowered valour and time was not an issue as I only needed to be back in Moffat and reunite with my XYL and the walking group before 1400z. I opted to return to Grey Mares Tail via an enjoyable ridge walk across Mid Rig, Trowgrain Middle, going down from Herman Law on the side of Birkie Cleuch to reach the A708 road at Birkhill. This left a walk along the (now busy) road back to the waterfall which was now like Blackpool - packed out with cars and people. I reached my vehicle at 1320z. One mile to go up and four miles to walk back.

Distance walked 5.05 miles
Total Ascent 1652 feet

Future plans for this area: I would like to do a round from Moffat of Croft Head SS-100, Capel Fell SS-082 and Ettrick Pen SS-074 but I have doubts about my capabilities to complete this in one session.

Only G4SSH was worked on all 3 summits - thank you Roy for your assistance with “Dial a Spot” on two out of three activations and for our QSO without this facility on the last one.

Phil G4OBK

Great report: the ascent of Andrewhinney sounds challenging. Of those three I’ve only
been up Green Hill, but it’s a great walking area, and your report reminds me that I
should revisit it.

73 Caroline M3ZCB

In reply to G4OBK:

Nice report Phil. I was pleased to get the s2s with you, thanks for that. Pleased that you got the s2s with TW-001 aswell - means I don’t have to rush to do it next time I’m over :slight_smile: I saw the spot and thought you would have missed it with being up at Moffat, so getting the s2s was a bit of good luck.
As Andy says it is a “belting area” and it’s so close to the M74 - how convenient is that.

Iain, M3WJZ

In reply to G4OBK:

Thanks for the great reports Phil. I am glad to have been of service with TW-001. I can understand the mild frustration of having a summit on the doorstep that you keep missing. I always treasure the summit to summit contacts and having done Green Hill myself I found it good remember the views down to Wanlockhead and across to Green Lowther while we spoke. When we did SS-123 the quad tracks resembled a quagmire but it is a nice little hill despite that. How different the North Yorkshire Moors are in comparison.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

In reply to G4OBK:

Oooh, you did it the man’s way, up the really steep bit! Respect! I know Jack did it from the Ettrick side which is quite gentle really (relatively). I did it via Herman Law and then Trowgrain Middle, your descent route. I’m fairly sure I said park at the mast and walk from the farm. Never mind, you have bagged one of the lesser know wonders of SS summits. On a good day the views from there are glorious. Best is you can see the whole of the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall, a better view from those at the tourist viewpoint. Because it looks steep and is only worth 2pts, not many have bothered with it.

I’ve done Capel Fell and Ettrick Pen together (search the reflector). Not hard really, but there’s a fair bit of walking involved from where you can park to Ettrick Pen. Capel Fell is just a few miles further along the Southern Upland Way. Croft Head was tempting when I sat on Capel Fell. It looks very steep, especially Cat Shoulder, but the new path put in zig-zags gently and it was really easy when I did it with Brian G4ZRP and my XYL, Sarah a while back. I’d like to think I’m fitter now, but I still think it would be a hill too far to do 3 on one walk. It would just push it from being fun to being a drudge, especially the walk back. You could arrange a car at each end, but then it’s a long, long drive to get cars as the road into Etrrick is a dead end.

Andrewhinney, straight up… deep respect! :wink: