On Saturday this weekend I braved the M6 closure on the way from Windermere to Southport for my eldest Daughter’s hockey match. With terrible weather in the Lakes that was OK but I was somewhat disappointed to find that the weather forecast for this Sunday had changed from ‘lovely but cold’ to ‘decidedly dodgy’.
Having dropped 2nd daughter off at a more local hockey match I ventured up to my normal lunchtime SOTA chasing spot of Queen Adelaide’s Hill for an hour - a rather grandiose title for a small hillock overlooking the centre of Lake Windermere. I’d taken the new-to-me FT-817ND, barefoot, and was very made up to get a FT-817 5w both-ways QSO with S51ITS sharing a summit with @S55X on S5/KS-024 Čofatijev and even better then another with Roberto EA2DXY on EA2/VI-023.
The opportunity presented itself after lunch for a quick summit grab as the weather had definitely improved. My go-to summits are Gummer’s How G/LD-050 and Red Screes G/LD-017 - the latter is much higher setting off from Kirkstone Pass (the highest pass in the Lake District) so this generally only gets picked when the cloudbase allows.
I always feel sorry for folk who aren’t hill walkers as they flock to the Kirkstone Inn but the view is actually a bit disappointing because of the narrow view between the hills. As you ascend the 45 minute stone staircase that is Red Screes via Kirkstone Pass the view slowly opens up. You notice the view due to frequent stops due to the punishing ascent.
As the footing changes from staircase to hillside, just before you reach the summit, you start seeing glimpses of the stunning view to the North East. If health and safety were involved there would be a guard rail on the other side of the trig point - the drop off is quite severe.
Trig-stone selfie done…
Following a two minute walk to a spot just slightly out of the wind I followed good practice of getting all my protective clothing on, then I setup a tarp shelter which did a good job of taming the biting winter wind.
I’m still getting to grips with summit shelters but this is a definite improvement over a bothy bag. I had taken the Decathelon 6m travel pole bought in Spain last year - it is about 1/2 the weight of the SOTABeams 10m compact mast. It seemed a bit hypocritical using the FT-817 with a heavy weight pole, and I’ve had good results with this 6m mast. Being light weight it seems to cope with higher winds really well compared to a standard 8m mast.
Starting on 20m I had enough to qualify but there appeared to be more QSB than earlier limiting QSOs. 40m gained me a couple more QSOs than 20m including a hard won S2S with OK7MCS on Spálený vrch who had persevered on my frequency with the QSB.
Not sure how much 80m is used in Europe - certainly it appears to be limited in appeal in North America. Now you’d think 5w with an inverted V dipole at 5m would be totally useless on 80m, but that wasn’t the case - 11 QSO’s confirmed this. The QSB was probably the worst however on 80m.
Finally, but not least, I stuck with the FT-817 dream and put the standard whip on and proceeded to get 10 2m QSOs in the log with the rig in between my knees. Only @GM4WHA Geoff in Annan got me on my feet to complete our over-the-hills QSO.
My two year hiatus without an FT-817 is over. Love this rig. I had bought a WorldPouch Power Port case first time around and have finally worked out how to use it and come to appreciate what a great case it is. It cost me an arm-and-a-leg in taxes and import duty, but it works really well (you need to use the rig ‘strapless’). I bought this case with the notion of pedestrian mobile, give it a couple of years and lots of sun spots and I’ll take a serious stab at it. In the meantime I have an additional battery in the pouch consisting of 3 x 18650 cells - extending the internal battery life considerably, without increasing weight significantly.
The descent was still in light, but always a bit scary in places.
Thank you to all the chasers - and activators! I hope to do a lot more SOTA and WOTA activations this year. Happy new year!