I don’t normally activate on Saturdays but today I had to drive down to Liverpool to start the painful process of clearing my late mother’s house. With thought of that unpleasant task in mind I decided I’d definitely need something to lift my spirits and that something was bagging a unique on the drive down from near Edinburgh. I’ve done a couple of more substantial summits on previous trips down including Cross Fell NP-001 and Cold Fell NP-020. The last summit bagged was the very pleasant but easy Hutton Roof Crags LD-052 and so today’s obvious target was Lambrigg Fell LD-046.
Lambrigg Fell is a simple SOTA summit, it’s only a mile or so from the M6, there’s plenty of car parking space, you can see the summit from the start and best of all, it’s just over 1km and 100m, if that, of ascent. Definitely trivial. Another reason was that I was hoping to an S2S on 23cms with Gerald G4OIG who was going to be on Scafell Pike, being “goated”! So that decided it apart from the fact the weather was going to be a bit wet and windy. Or as it turned out, a lot wet and windy!
I was a little late leaving home and the WX on the way down was grim, I had to slow down to around 40mph and have the wipers on double speed a few times on the M74 and the nearer I got to Cumbria the grimmer the sky looked. I pulled in for an essential break at Tebay Services (best in the UK) and picked up a large coffee. I’d normally ransack the Farm Shop picking up treats for my mum but not this time Anyway I sat in the car talking to Brian G4ZRP discussing the plan. The WX was horrible and I didn’t fancy getting soaked. We talked about me doing a smash and grab on Winter Hill but it was unlikely I’d get there in time to catch Gerald but it was likely the WX would be better by then. In the end I decided to park for Lambrigg Fell and suck it and see.
As it was, the WX was brightening up nicely when I arrived about 15 minutes later. Brian told me he spoke to Richard G1JTD on Lambrigg last week and he said it was more than “trainers wet” so I put my boots on. But even after all the rain it was still a trainers doable summit, more so if you have GoreTex lined shoes. I put the SOTAbeam on the ground ready to be put in the bag, put the 23cms gear in the bag (Icom IC21XT and double quad antenna), locked the car and wandered off following the route Richard G3CWI describes on the summit info page. Of course as I was approaching the wall near the summit I remembered the SOTAbeam was on the ground and also the external battery so the 23cms handy will run 1W was in the car. All I had for it was a dodgy battery pack some 17 years old. Drat and double drat. Now it only took 15-20mins to get to the top so I could have gone back for them but I thought there would hopefully be enough juice for an exchange of calls and that would do.
I set up a J-pole for 2m on the fishing rod and coupled that to my Icom IC80 handheld and went for a nice lightweight activation using the club call GX3PYU/p. I had the FT817 and HF gear if I needed it. So on 2m FM the first 3 contacts were easy then I was calling CQ and getting no response. I self spotted with the wrong callsign and was just fixing that when Brian G4ZRP rang to say he hadn’t heard Gerald or Paul. When I told him I was on 145.450 he tuned there from 144.300, I blipped the PTT on the Icom and I heard his squelch open over the phone. Ah, technology makes getting simple FM contacts much easier!
Yes, it had to rain whilst I was up there. The drystone wall was a great wind break and also kept most of the heavy showers off me. Apart from when the wind was exceptionally strong and the rain heavy and the water was blown through the gaps in the wall. I worked David 2E0DAI and Ian M3WJZ on LD-040 and NW-027 and they were waiting for Gerald too. By the time I decided it was time to quit due to the driving still to do and tasks waiting 2m had gone quiet.
I’d tuned (on FM) around 144.300 and heard nothing so I decided I tune about on 70cms. Big signal on 432.225ish, aha there he was. Now at this point I had a dual band 70/23cms FM radio with a flat battery, an FT817 and no 70cms antenna and a dual band 2m/70cms set with a 2m J-pole or its rubber duck. Rubber duck on and send callsign in Morse. Jiggering with leads meant I could resolve Gerald on SSB on the 817 as he worked Rick M0RCP/p and moaned about someone calling him on FM. So he had heard me! Gerald finished with Rick, switched to FM and we had my third S2S.
He was Goated by now… I was hoping I might be the 4th contact but was the 7th. Still it’s not everyday you get to work someone actually on their activation that takes them to 1000pts especially as Gerald’s was also 100% unique summits and qualified on VHF each time. That’s a wonderful combination and something he can be proud of. We tried 23cms and I could hear him now and then at up to S2 but he couldn’t hear me. I tried to call on the IC80 but it said “Low Battery” and shutdown. I couldn’t believe that I had 3 radios and couldn’t find a working antenna/radio combination to finish my QSO with Gerald. No alternative but to pack up and walk back to the car. So now you know why I disappeared and never spoke to you again Gerald.
I took 12mins to get down, so this is a really easy summit to do. I took my boots off, picked up the SOTAbeam from where it had been for the past hour or so and got ready to finish the drive. A quick check and the IC80 was happy to transmit and stay powered up. I’ve no idea what happened there but I think it needs some extended testing in case there’s an intermittent fault.
Lambrigg Fell is a nice quick leg stretch and easily qualifiable with a vertical and hand held. It did its purpose of lifting my spirits nicely and is another unique towards my tally. Talking of spirits, I’ve found a stash of hooch I’d forgotten I’d left here after the funeral so I shall away and have a quite moment of reflection with a bottle of ice-cold Carlsberg before trying to decide which room to start clearing first.