Kinder Scout G/SP-001 - Abandoned!

Although not strictly an activation report, as the activation never happened, I thought i’d post briefly in case anyone had actually been listening for us and wondered where we got to!

Today, myself and Bob M1BBV were due to activate Kinder Scout. I’d checked the weather forecast for the peak and didnt see anything of any real concern.

Well, it all began a bit wrong when we missed our alerted start time due to the state of the traffic through Sheffield, but having re-spotted with a new 12:00 ETA whilst we still had phone coverage, everything then looked to be going our way. We arrived at Barber Booth and found plenty of parking space, the weather a tad drizzly but nothing to worry about. And we were well on target to reach the summit just before 12:00.

Just after the top of Jacobs Ladder, the rain increased a little, but still nothing of any concern. I began to consider stopping Bob for a moment to put my waterproof on. We reached the activation zone in great time for our proposed start, and so decided that since this was Bobs first SOTA, and first time up Kinder, we’d carry on, take a nosy at Kinder Downfall waterfall and then head back to Kinder Low, secrete ourselves by some rocks and set up.

Ive been going up Kinder Scout every few years since I was about 8. One of the first things I learned was that mountain weather can change in an instant. But even I wasnt ready for just how fast it changed! In the time it took us to walk perhaps 200m - the slight rain and breeze turned to gale force winds and driving, freezing sleet. The visibility, which had been moderate with a bit of hill fog, dropped instantly to about 15-20ft.

We turned back, heading for the rocks to get clear of the wind, open the flask of coffee and set up for a possibly quicker and fewer banded activation than planned. At this point, the devil in the detail revealed a slack drill and bit us hard! Knowing this part of the hill - I had neglected to record a waypoint for the cairn at Kinder Low on my GPS. With visibility extremely poor, a chance mistaken paved path led us slightly south west. Being not too far off course, we elected to drive East and reconnect with our correct path. But the wind was so strong we found that our course couldnt be safely maintained.

After some careful discussion, we decided that under the circumstances discretion was indeed the better part of valour, and whilst we were still ruthlessly insulting each other, a sure sign of high morale and good core temperature in ex-squaddies, decided the planned activation was binned and we were getting off the mountain! Conditions had deteriorated so badly that I seriously had to contemplate getting the map out! Between us we had two maps, a proper compass, and three GPS devices. Being actually lost was never an issue - getting back to where we wanted to be in that wind was!

Heading back to the last recorded waypoint at the top of Jacobs Ladder, we made our way back down, by now quite thoughly soaked, and in my case, coated with mud up one side where a slip whilst carrying the Clansman couldnt be corrected by a light weight trekking pole! By around 533m alt. the weather was again still and slightly drizzly, with great visibility - save for the very thick grey cloud on the summit just above us.

So apologies to anyone who might have been listening for us, it just wasnt happening up there today!

Martin G7MRV


Martin, it’s better to admit defeat and retreat than to become another casualty statistic.


Indeed it is!

There were two other lads got to the cairn just before us, we didnt see them again, think they went east along the plateau. Just hope they had the sense to start down as soon as the weather changed.

Hayho. It happens. At least two other objectives of the walk - to check my boots and to get used to carrying the Clansman over long distances - were both completed!

I can certainly relate to that! When you lift your right foot up and before you can put it down its been blown in front of your left is grim isn’t it!

It certainly is. I wear glasses as well, so I could see less than Bob, and he could only see 15ft or so!

It was so strong wind that we’d take a step in the direction of the bearing, glance down at the GPS and the bearing would now be towards an entirely different compass point! I thought the GPS was playing up, but my Mk4M Silva was doing the same!

Ive since discovered, upon reading the manual once back home, how to get my GPS to follow the previous track back to the start! Something I knew it could do, but couldnt for the life of me make it do up on the hill today!

My old GPS had that facility, very useful. I’ve not been using GPS on hills as my GPS units are intended for use in a car and don’t seem very good when on foot.

Maybe I need to buy another hand-held GPS as well as taking the map, but a map and a Silva compass don’t need batteries. :wink:

After my waterless perish at Mt Pomany (see post) would agree totally.

If things look bad and circumstances arise that are out of your control just turn around and get out taking great care not to have an accident of some sort.

It was only a prior event many years ago in the remote area I was in which quite literally saved me from a dire circumstances or worse.

Bad things can happen quickly that is for certain.

On GPS’s, my Garmin 450 can save tracks (routes) and has a trackback function which comes in handy.

Best to practice in a local park so as to familiarise yourself with these functions.

Cheers, Nick VK2AOH

Best to take both GPS along with map and compass and be familiar with their usage.

On GPS’s its a good idea to take spare batteries, rechargeable Sanyo Eneloop’s are a good investment.

Cheers, Nick VK2AOH

Nick that is excellent advise!

Many, many years ago, when I first started using GPS (when they were very big!) I was told ‘its a check for your own navigation - never rely on it’

These days, GPS is extremely reliable - but batteries are not! I had two pair of spares for my device, one set NiMH the other Alkaline. Both of us had GPS capable 4G phones. Plus map and compass. I never venture anywhere without my compass! Its usually around my neck down the front of my jumper!

We had no issues with our confidence of knowing where we were and how to get down, we just got a little off course by the wind.

Its always best to either retrace your route and come down, or, if you have the correct equipment, hunker down and wait the bad weather out (ive done that on Kinder several times!). Dead recconning in almost zero visability on a mountain strewn with rocks, haggs and cliffs is not a good idea!

I’m a fossil and rely on good old maps and compass myself (or maybe - I’m just too tight to splash out on a GPS) but one thing I wonder: Are they affected by aurora? If you’re out on the hills and a really big aurora starts, what’s the effect?

Big? Really big? Or “OMG the Sun’s gone Nova” big?

You can get a fix with 3 satellites. More satellites gives better accuracy and the ability to solve for height.If you imagine that when you stand on the earth there is hemisphere of sky above you and normally there’s a nice distribution of satellites of 12 or so satellites in that sky view. For you to not be able to get a fix to within 100m, 9 of the satellites would need to be “obscured” by aurora.

You should be OK then. But if there was an aurora affecting 1.5GHz signals I’d want to be playing on 2m/70cms/23cms working the DX not trying to navigate.

Sooner or later there will be another Carrington Event, a flare so powerful it can be seen in white light, the aurora will spread down to the Med, east-west running power lines and cables will develop high induced voltages and our complete satellite network will be closed down. Not a Hollywood disaster scenario, an actual event that WILL happen sooner or later - hopefully very much later, but these things cannot be predicted! A really powerful but ordinary event will change the orbits of the satellites making them temporarily unreliable. Being aware of these possibilities one should remain proficient with map and compass!


I suspect just “Really Big” would do. Enough of an X-Ray event to mess up the satellites even if it doesn’t result in an aurora as far south as where they are. Not that the Sun seems capable of anything except a small f**t these days (anyone got 50p for the meter?). But like Brian says, it will happen sometime. There was a very big event last year, except it was from the side facing away from us, that one would have been interesting. But like you, I would be putting some more coal on the VHF amplifiers and rubbing my hands in glee. It’s a long time since I last worked HB9 and I in an aurora on 2m.

Oh, I don’t know, even the current active group 2297 is producing a couple of M-class flares a day, and the prototype Carrington flare came in the waning stages of a not particularly active sunspot cycle. It pays to expect the unexpected! Last year I mentioned that the decaying part of the sunspot cycle was not a steady decrease but a succession of pulses of activity, and I predicted that another pulse would come in the late autumn - and it duly turned up! You don’t need to rub much Windowleen on your crystal ball for that sort of thing! I’ve no doubt that the current low activity will soon be followed by another burst of sunspots and perhaps some nice juicy X-class flares to gladden the hearts of those who keep faith with 2 metre DX - but I’m pinning my hopes on the summer Es season!


All being well, were planning on getting back up there on this coming Sunday!

As per the plan last time - Bob M1BBV will run HF using the 2.4m whip on the RT-320 (although this time with a trailing wire counterpoise), for his first activation. Starting on 60m, then moving progressively up the bands 40m, 20m, 17m… and so on to 10m. Our signal is expected to be quite week below 20m!

While he does that, Myself will be on 2m FM first using my venerable old Alinco DJ-F1E and 1/4w whip (now with ‘tiger tail’, not that it seems to make any difference!) followed by a crack at 70cm FM on the el cheapo Far East handie.

I dont expect to be able to spot very well by phone from up the summit, so might ask 2m contacts to spot the HF band Bobs currently shouting on!

Heres hoping for better WX this time!


Martin you can try an experiment whilst you are there. Have some contacts when you are at the edge of the plateau then when at the summit. See if you can show the plateau effect working.

I hope that you have better weather than the last trip!

As I live within fairly easy range of Kinder Scout, I’ll try to be about on 2M and 70cm FM, all be it probably on internal antennas (the wind this week blew down my 6M dipole into my front garden) but Sundays can be tricky as I do all the cooking so if you are on a hill when I’m peeling spuds then there’s a problem.

Im not familiar with the ‘plateau effect’ in radio terms? I understand it in fitness terms (im on it now with my diet :frowning: )

Is this something similar to Knife Edge diffraction?

It demonstrates a height above average terrain effect. If you stand on the path at edge of the plateau, say at Kinder Downfall, you should find no trouble working many stations using just a handheld and a rubber duck. If you then go to the centre of the plateau near the true summit, you should find significantly fewer people can hear you using the same antenna. At the edge there is no ground reflection causing destructive interference with your signal. This is not the case at the centre of the plateau. You would need to raise the antenna very much higher than you would expect to overcome the effect.