Kinder Scout 2011

It had long been planned to jointly activate Kinder Scout on Sunday 30th January 2011. This would be a four-way expedition by M0TGT, M6NSR, M3EYP and M1EYP. However, at 0530z on the Sunday morning, Jimmy M3EYP reported a cough and a sore throat and elected to bail out. With Ed M6NSR due to be picked up at 0620 and Simon M0TGT to be met for breakfast, I pressed on with final preparations.

I arrived outside Edward’s house, and out he came with his gear. I explained that Jimmy was not coming and asked him if he still wanted to join us. “Yes, definitely” was the reply, so he jumped in the car and off we went to McDonalds to meet Simon, and his kids Jos and Lucy. McDonalds is not my breakfast of first choice, but it is the only choice at that time of day in Macclesfield. My Big Breakfast meal and coffee were acceptable enough, although Edward and Jos did their best to ruin the experiences by polluting the atmosphere with the stench of hot maple syrup, which they both then poured over their sausages. Disgusting.

Simon followed in his Land Rover as I drove through darkness up through Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith. The road up to Edale was busy with early-starting hikers and lots of cars parked on whatever verge they could get onto. I feared that there wouldn’t be any parking in Edale village itself, but on arrival there were exactly two spaces free. That was a convenient stroke of luck, and we were soon booting and kitting up.

Kinder Scout may be accessed in at least three easier ways, but it is a super place and I always like to enjoy a good day’s walking on it. Hence, much to my anticipation, and Simon’s trepidation, I had planned for one of my favourite circuits, which is basically original Pennine Way up, and current Pennine Way down. We were still treated to some stunning ice formations as we progressed up Grindsbrook Clough, but there was relatively little of the treacherous underfoot ice that dramatically slowed me one year ago. Our expedition team was now swelled to six, by the introduction of Morgan, Simon’s black labrador, who entertained us with her grouse-nudging expertise, even though no-one was shooting!

We rested briefly to admire the views as we rose out of the clough and onto the plateau, but soon marched on along the flagged path to meet the head of Crowden Clough. At this point, we headed right to follow a wide frozen stream, opting for the winding graded approach, rather a more direct route on difficult terrain. The sides of the clough got quickly steeper, until they were high than our heads and we couldn’t see beyond them. Nonetheless, we trusted in the fact that the ground underfoot was still rising, and therefore we must be heading to the watershed.

After emerging from the V-shaped trenches, we had a view across the Kinder plateau, picking out landmarks like Crowden Tower, Pym Chair, and even Kinder Low which was just visible in the distance. I used these to find my way over to the cairn at the true summit. I had map and compass with me, but had already boasted that I knew my way around Kinder’s summit plateau, so wanted to get there quickly, but without having to double-check. Of course, such an attitude can be foolhardy to the point of dangerous, but it was a good day with excellent visibility, and we were soon at Kinder’s summit cairn.

It was not too windy, but it was cold, so even the gentle breeze had a vicious bite to it. The decision therefore to press on to Kinder Low for the activation, and avail oursleves of shelter afforded by the large boulders, was unanimous.

Setting up on Kinder Low was tricky. The peat, which I have known to be so gooey that it won’t hold a peg in place without slipping, was frozen so hard as that there was no way it would take a peg. Instead, I used some loose rocks and Ed’s help to get the 20m Magic Moggy antenna erected. I settled down behind my boulder-shelter for some Lobster Bisque soup (a whole litre to myself without Jimmy), while Edward M6NSR and Simon M0TGT got on with activating.

It didn’t take long before Jos and Lucy were chuntering about being there for so long doing nothing, not to mention feeling very cold. However, I was just settling into a very satisfying 20m CW activation, so we were going nowhere fast! Edward and Simon both qualified their activations on handhelds, having taken the easy option of “setting up” atop frozen peat, with Ed going on to make eight QSOs including a S2S with Aled MW6UPH/P on Snowdon GW/NW-001.

Edward M6NSR did very well. It was only his second SOTA activation, and the absence of Jimmy M3EYP meant that he was suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the frontline. On the previous activation, Jimmy had logged for him, and helped him know what to say at each stage of each QSO. But it seemed Ed only needed the support through the stagefright on that single occasion, because he took it all in his stride on Kinder Scout.

On 20m CW, Jimmy M3EYP kindly spotted me courtesy of a message passed by Edward. A couple of regular SOTA chasers found and worked me, but the WFF chasers were very quick out of the blocks, and I soon had the most almightly pile-up. Now I’m not over-enamoured with WFF to be honest, but I must admit to enjoying the challenge of managing a large pile-up, and testing my CW reading that it affords - when I’m in the mood for it. This weekend I was, and so I had advised Charles M0OXO that I would be active form the Peak District WFF GFF-014. The result was 58 QSOs in 47 minutes. The last one took me by surprise as I received “M0GGM” in much slower morse. Roger came back with his correct callsign of M0GMG, and it was my pleasure to work the Macclesfield & DRS vice-chairman for what I suspect was his debut CW chaser contact.

Just as Jos and Lucy were sensing relief at my packing away of the 20m antenna, I announced that I was now intended doing 40m! Simon said that he didn’t want to leave the summit yet either, for he wanted to walk to see Kinder Downfall. Hence Jos, Lucy and Morgan went along with him to warm up while I settled on 7.032MHz. That is the frequency where you don’t need to self-spot, but be confident that a chaser will hear you, work you and spot you. And so it was, with Daniel F5SQA taking the honours.

Edward was offered the chance to join the Faulkner family to Kinder Downfall and back, but elected to stick around at Kinder Low and make some more contacts. Good form that man! My tally on 40m CW was 14, before packing away nearly all my gear. I just left my handheld transceiver and logbook out for a final fling on 2m FM, which I commenced just as Simon, Jos, Lucy and Morgan returned. Notable contacts here included Alan MW1EYO/P on Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051, and Jimmy M3EYP in the shack at home. Seven QSOs resulted on VHF, taking my tally for the activation to 79. Simon made one or two further contacts on his 2m HT as well, before we all set off downhill past the Edale Rocks and onto the main track.

This was now a very familiar route to me as we dropped down to Jacob’s Ladder, and then the long walk down to Lee Farm and Upper Booth farm. The tea room was closed, so there was to be no tea and cakes on this occasion, so we pressed on over the fields to Edale village. Returning this way does have a sting in the tail right at the end with a punishing little climb before the final stroll into the village.

The pub was open, so it was a pint before heading back to Macclesfield. Simon had insisted on a post-activation meal at the famous Weston Balti Raj, so we met Jimmy, Liam and Marianne there for a very enjoyable meal. The food was delicious and ordered in copious quantities, but little remained when the waiters came to clear up. It hadn’t touched the sides, so to speak.

Thanks to Simon and family (and dog), and also Edward who were all great company on the expedition. We will have to team up again soon, as Jimmy missed this one. I am thinking of a ten point day outing at Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042 and Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043, with lunch at the Ponderosa - a classic SOTA day out if ever there was one.