Helvellyn in the mist G/LD-003

An early start this morning meant I was at the Wythburn Church car park at 6:15 local (5:15 UTC). The pay and display was out of order. I was the first car.

Path from Wythburn Church to the Summit

Empty Car Park

The Ascent

Wooded start

Views of Thirlmere on the Ascent

Mandatory Lake District Sheep Photo

Popping through the clouds

The path up is fairly consistent in gradient for the first 2/3 then gently slopes off on the last third. This time round it took me 1 hour 35 minutes to reach the Trig Point - with stops for photos, water and breathing. I hit cloud base around 300m. You’d have to try hard to get lost on this path, even when in cloud.

A Westerly Summit

About 100m vertical before the summit I started popping above the cloud with some atmospheric wispy mist adding to the majesty of the sudden views.

A brief respite in the mist

Red Tarn. Ulswater in the distance, Swirral Edge on the left

Wild Campers

Swirral Edge

The Activation

I’d brought the SOTABEAMS Compact 10m pole (less top 3 sections), FT-817, MiniPA50, Spectrum Communications SlimJ and FT1XD handheld. Summit phone signal was a bit variable, but definitely better towards the Easterly ridgeline. At one point I got data roaming information as I was registered with Isle of Man.

The last couple of times I’ve activated Helvellyn I’ve not had the best of results radio wise, so with some time to play I was hoping to rectify that.

HF & VHF antennas on Compact 10m pole

20m Activation

Starting with 20m at 0720 UTC it was clear this was going to be different - a steady stream of chasers and S2S indicated the flexibility of the band distance wise - S2S with John @G4TQE John on GW/NW-043, Bill @G4WSB on G/SC-006 then Fabio @IK2LEY on I/LO-243 together with 22 European chasers.

40m & 80m Activation

40m was short - lots of inter-G and nearby continental contacts but no S2S. 22 contacts in total. 80m was very quiet - S0 noise, so either I hadn’t clipped the antenna properly (always a possibility) or the noise was genuinely very low. Five chaser contacts on 80m. At the end I jumped on 20m again to get @HB9DQM Manuel in the log on HB/GR-157 and then I had a really good try to get a S2S with R9WCJ/P on R9U/SO-045 but after 10 minutes I hadn’t communicated anything meaningful so reluctantly called it quits.

2m Activation

The Slim-J was reporting high SWR on the FT-817, so I switched to the FT1XD knowing the handheld would do a better job of limiting power output. 20 FM contacts including a S2S with @G1RVK Ian on G/LD-024, then switching to the C4FM calling channel/centre of activity 144.6125 nice to get contacts with Douggie G7CDA and Reg 2E0LDF. Clearly the antenna was working in some fashion!

Second 20m Activation

At this point I had a guy standing patiently and it turned out to be Dan KB1FAK. I think this is the first time a licensed amateur has approached me on a summit. He had lapsed a couple of years, and was living in the UK, I hope he saw and heard enough to take the hobby back up.

With a wander around I got SOTA Spotter to update and found a number of other activators had been on 20m, so figured I would have another quick run. This was a good idea as I was able to confirm S2S with another four activators as well as another 10 chasers.

17m Contacts

Then the phone happened to update on its’ own and I found @HB9BCK Albert as OE/HB9BCK/P on OE/VB-431 17 CW and was able to work him. I then braced myself and spotted for a 17m CW activation that resulted in five chasers and one S2S with @HB9DST Paul (man of chocolate plenty) on HB/GR-161. It was only when I was logging that the Summit Brain cleared and I remembered that I had clipped for 30m for all this - no 17m clips on this antenna!

Swarming the Trig Point

Striding Edge

Plenty of folk milling around - some ‘have you caught anything yet mate’ shouted over but also some very interested muggles with good questions and genuinely impressed by the range of this setup.

Contemplating Red Tarn

The ever popular Striding Edge

Most of my activation had been in mist - I was very glad I had bought windproof trousers and jacket, long sleeved base layer, puffer jacket, hat and gloves - they all got warn. Had I been bathing in warm sunshine it would have been a very different experience!

Last 2m S2S

Having packed up it was nice to get @M0PLA Paul and M7XOC activating GW/NW-012 before I left the activation zone.

The walk down was around 1 hour 15 minutes and the car park looked very different on my return! Thanks everyone on the other end of the radio this is a record summit for me now with 105 contacts in total - a very different story to my previous visits.

Longest DX was @KA1R Matt on 17m. Thank you to all.

Path back down

Snaking back to Wythburn Church

Skiddaw in the Distance

Different Story in the Car Park

Click Image or here for Interactive Map via http://qsomap.adventureradio.de/

SOTA Mapping

All Photos


Brilliant report. Thank you. :slight_smile:

Dear Mark,
Congratulation for a very good activation and report with beautiful pictures.


It wasn’t easy, but we managed that S2S contact. If my trip to LD works out this fall, I’ll count on you to point out on my map where this parking area is and the same for other visitor-friendly summits – and your reward will be more Swiss chocolate! 73 Paul


That would be the completely wrong antenna at my end! Had to explain to my wife who you were Paul, but when I mentioned the chocolate the penny seemed to drop. I don’t know your callsign off by heart, so it was very nice to discover it was you at the other end Paul!

Cheers, Mark.

A nice report Mark - and I’m glad I worked you - even if it wasn’t an S2S.

To the next comment, “Are you fishing”, I think my reply will be along the lines of; "Yes but I’m having difficulty pull the fish out of, Red Tarn/Ennerdale/Buttermere etc., etc. Well, maybe not. I’ll let them have their little joke.


Thanks for the report and sorry I missed you. I activated Stony Cove Pike (G/LD-018) today (Sunday) and with hindsight I think I got the wrong antenna going for 80 (no takers), 60 and 40 but could not hear and European S2S. ( I used the KX2 and took the amplifier too so was running about 40w ). Thanks again to all the chasers who followed me round the bands so I qualified on 60 and 40. Next time - I probably need to be brave and use the recently constructed end fed so I can get on the higher bands… and I also probaly need to do an activation without helpers and try the morse key…It also seems that that Saturday was more popular for activations… 73 Paul

What’s the current cost for the car park Mark @M0NOM ? And, are the costs pretty standard for the LD car parks at the start of popular mountain routes?

Prices vary, it was £7 for 8 hours there, generally it’s around that sort of price although National Trust tends to be a bit more expensive.


Not if you are a member!

I was wondering about costs as I will be parking once or twice in the Lake District when we have the next mass meeting and almost needing a defibrillator after the shock of a few hours parking charges last time I want to be prepared this time.

NT for Scotland is £63 a year and gives me access to nearly all NT car parks in England & Wales too(*). NT membership is £72 and gives me the same but the other way around. To maximise VFM I could sign up and decide to pay monthly and then cancel which would cost £5.35 for one month and give a return on parking charges.

But to do that would get me Cad of The Year award. I could always scab about trying to find free parking but that normally ends up causing blocking issues or significantly more walking. To be honest, I just don’t have enough minutes left on Earth to waste them when I can simply budget for a worst case cost of £15/day and ensure I have enough cash with me. Covid and working from home has meant that I have not taken any cash out of the bank since Christmas 2020 and before then it was February 2020. There just has been no opportunity to spend cash as everyone wants card payments to minimise contact.

(*) Of course I get the benefit of what the NT does for my membership, not just the “free” car parking.


My wife and I have been NTS or NT joint members for most of our adult lives (except when we lived abroad). We had to make some tough decisions when I retired a few years ago and cancelling our NT membership was one of them (I cancelled my RSGB membership too but subsequently rejoined).

Even though I activate frequently in the G/LD area the number of times in any year that the starting point is near an NT car park would not come close to the annual cost of joint membership. I’m content to pay the parking fees [as they must be an important contribution to NT’s income] but note from the lack of stickers in car windows that many don’t bother to pay.

BTW: NTS membership is accepted in England & Wales and NT membership in Scotland. We had both [not at same time!) for decades with many cross-border visits.