Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

LD activation reports

With a degree of trepidation, I offer my activation reports from last week’s Lake District expedition. No doubt I will again be savaged by the baying masses (OK, the baying 2 or 3), but what the heck, I think a good number of folk might still like to read the reports.

This was Liam’s last year at primary school. Now what has that got to do with the price of cheese? Well, it meant it would be the last year that Jimmy and I would break up for summer a week earlier than Liam. It was our last chance to use this as an excuse to clear off to some ‘proper’ mountains and do some ‘proper’ hiking. And Marianne kindly agreed. Already, Jimmy was demanding that Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018, Scafell Pike G/LD-001 and Gummer’s How G/LD-050 were inserted into the schedule. Why? Because I’d activated them and he hadn’t. With those, his LD unique record would catch up with mine.

I rarely read Trail magazine, but it is a good read, so I tend to pick one up at the airport when we go on holiday, so I do get to read it once every two years or so! The last such occasion was February half-term when we went to Fuerteventura, and I bought the March issue of Trail from the WHS in the departure lounge area of Manchester Airport.

“Look at this” I called to Jimmy in the first half-hour of the flight. There was a featured route in Trail. It was a three day circuit starting at Haweswater, and taking in five SOTA summits - High Street G/LD-011, Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018, Red Screes G/LD-017, Fairfield G/LD-007 and St Sunday Crag G/LD-010. I initially thought it was six, because the third day, beginning with a ride on the Ullswater Steamer from Patterdale to Howtown, then passed over “High Raise” en route back towards High Street. However, this was not the SOTA High Raise as Jimmy pointed out. Nonetheless, I still figured we could reasoanbly bag Hallin Fell G/LD-043 near to Howtown to avoid a SOTA-less day.

I discussed the route with G/LD region manager John G3WGV, who seemed to think that the walk from Howtown to Haweswater was a “darned long way”! He suggested to me an alternative route direct from Patterdale, which gave the option to ‘nip up’ and activate Place Fell G/LD-027 early on that day. Hence the plot was hatched, and up went the alerts for those first three days. 2m FM it would be; no way was I carting the FT-817 and SLAB around with me - this looked a serious proposition.

The fourth day had to be Scafell Pike G/LD-001; we were supposed to be doing it last year on a long route from Honister Hause, but we were magnetised to the pair of Great Gable G/LD-005 and Kirk Fell G/LD-014 instead!

That left the fifth day to allocated. The closing summit of the trip had to be Gummer’s How G/LD-050 - an easy ‘wind-down’ summit, and the last of Jimmy’s “catch-ups”. I quite fancied doing Loughrigg Fell G/LD-047 ahead of that, as it is the one and only SOTA summit left that I have climbed in my life, but not since I started participating in SOTA. Nearer to the time, we also added in Great Mell Fell G/LD-035 as an early morning plan. This one needed to be “sorted”. We had activated it before - but only got one contact each on there due to static rain!

The pass-outs were not stamped and signed by Marianne until Monday 21st July 2008, but as soon as they were, I was on the blower. The first night away absolutely had to be at the Kirkstone Pass Inn. Fortunately, they had a room, which I booked. Patterdale Youth Hostel was full - booked out by a private group - for the second night, so I looked up some B&Bs. The first one I rang was the Old Water View, and we booked in there.

For the other nights, I was just going to ring around the youth hostels at teatime each day. Excellent, the plan was coming together. We prepared our gear and rucksacks on the Monday evening, and eagerly anticipated Tuesday morning.


Tuesday 22nd July 2008

High Street G/LD-011

We didn’t get up too early on the Tuesday morning. We weren’t taking soup, so there wasn’t that little job to do, but we were taking Liam - to school - that was part of the deal with Marianne. I wanted to be up there a bit earlier than that, so I booked Liam into the before-school breakfast club, which meant I could drop him off at 7.30am!

Jimmy wasn’t ready for his breakfast as we passed Lymm Truck Stop, so we headed onto the M6 and aimed for the Westmorland Farm Shops (Tebay) services much further north. Here we enjoyed a bumper breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, black pudding, haggis, toast and tea. We exited the motorway at the next junction, and Jimmy called out the directions to Haweswater. We arrived at the remote cul-de-sac at around 10.45am, and baggsed the last slot in the car park. Soon, we were walking by Haweswater, with slightly heavier rucksacks, necessarily containing spare socks, shorts and shirts - we wouldn’t be reunited with our car or suitcases for 54 hours!

Several groups of people were looking upwards at Swine Crag, where England’s last golden eagle was gliding around. We got a better view as we ascended the ridge towards Racecourse Hill. This was a good ridge with great views back over Haweswater. It became increasingly narrow and steep, but never exposed. Soon the fell opened out, and I was about to do some compass work as recommended by Julia Bradbury herself. we were now in cloud, the cloudbase being at around 700m, but the trig point was near, and we could see it easily.

On-air we went with Jimmy’s Yaesu VX-110 and the RSS, making 8 contacts in 3 DXCCs. Everything went quiet, there were no other callers, so we packed up and continued along the ridge towards Thornthwaite Beacon and onto Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018.


Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018

This is as good as SOTA gets. Finishing one activation, then walking to the next one without using transport or meeting a road. Even more satisfying, when the remote walking route is quicker than any alternative!

From High Street G/LD-011, we walked along the ridge in poor visability until we reached Thornthwaite Beacon, a very high stone cairn. This then demanded a steep and taxing descent down to Threshtwaite Mouth, where I decreed it was lunchtime. Jimmy and I rested for ten minutes, munching on Ginsters Pepper Steak Slices.

Trail magazine describe the next section as “a funky little scramble” onto Stony Cove Pike. If it was a scramble, it was very very mild. A few hands-down and pull-ups on some rocky steps, but not really a scramble - not in the eyes of a purist like G3WGV in any case! We reached the large cairn, but couldn’t remember if this was the true summit or not. It was November 2003 that we were last here - a third of a lifetime ago for Jimmy! The OS Explorer OL5 1:25000 sheet seemed to indicate that the highest point was in the adjacent field. We pottered around for a bit, but from everywhere we tried, the cairn looked higher. Hence we decided that it was the summit after all, and got cracking with our second activation of the trip.

This time there were eleven callers. Just as I was about to switch off at 1536z, a voice was heard. It was Gary M3WFV in Southport. He just caught me in time and I worked him, and he was tail-ended by Dave G6LKB in Ulverston. This time I double-checked that there was no-one left to work, and we set off for Kirkstone Pass.

It was nearly 5pm local, so we had made decent time, although I figured we would have to step up the pace tomorrow. We were now on a route that was familiar, although it was five years ago and in much better visability last time. Although the cloudbase had been at 700m on the ascent to High Street G/LD-011, we were in the clag all the way down.

We met the A592, but could not see the pub. In fact we were only yards from it, a single meagre light over its front door twinkling dimly in the fog. We went in, checked in, and were looked after superbly by the owners and their attentive staff.

After a shower and change in our comfortable en suite room, listening to BBC Radio Cumbria on the clock radio, we descended back to the bar. For dinner, it had to be the Steak & Ale pie, as that’s what the writers of the Trail article had when they piloted the route! There were three very fine hand-pulled real ales on the bar, one of which was called “Red Screes”. It was a very enjoyable evening, and we were joined in the bar by Stan, the landlord’s British Bulldog, whose favourite pastimes were drinking water and lying down!

We went up to the room at about 9.30pm, with two DVDs offered to us by the bar staff. One was the Everest episode of Michael Palin’s series, while the other was the Kirkstone Pass Inn episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Haunted” series. Would it freak M3EYP out before bed? “What a load of old rubbish” he announced, before going to sleep.


Wednesday 23rd July 2008

Red Screes G/LD-017

I had always, kind of, avoided this one. I was always told that the route straight up from the Kirkstone Pass Inn was too steep and and exposed for someone like me, who doesn’t “do” heights.

However, today there was no choice. That was the route. Nonetheless, the excellent full English breakfast at the Kirkstone Pass Inn went down a treat, as did the pot of tea that accompanied it. We thanked our hosts for a very comfortable and well looked-after stay, and set foot outside the inn.

As yesterday, the cloudbase was hovering around the 700m ASL mark, a little below the summit of Red Screes. We walked across the pub car park and through the gate, and followed the stone flagged path to the start of the steep staircase.

What a gift! This stone flagged stairway may strike disgust into the hearts of the purists, but for me it enabled a swift 45 minute ascent to the summit without a hint of exposure. After a rest, a bite to eat and a few photos, we were QRV on 2m FM by 10.20am local, and making 19 contacts.

This really was a very good start to the day. The height had been quickly gained, and we would now be walking over 2000 feet for most of the day. The Kirkstone Pass Inn looked a long way below us, but it really had been a rapid and straightforward approach.

Jimmy did a little map and compass work before leading us off on the long traverse over to Fairfield G/LD-007.


In reply to M1EYP:

I’m so jealous! Sounds like you had a great time. I can’t wait till my son (Alex 2) is old enough to go on expeditions with his dad!

Alex is already fascinated by ‘rayjo’ and now he has taken a liking to ‘clocks’, which is anything with a dial! Hopefully before long he’ll be using a compass with ease!

Hope your upcoming trip to Ben Nevis is good, I wish I was coming along too!

73, Colin M0CGH

In reply to M1EYP:

I like your reports, Tom, they bring back so many memories! I particularly remember being bitterly disappointed by the “scramble” at Stoney Cove, fantastically overhyped in its descriptions but with nothing to make anyone hesitate over the best moves to make.

I suppose I’m a purist, I hate these beautifully engineered paths that are spreading round the LD like a rash. They might be easy on the walker, but you don’t go up a mountain for easy. And as for these wire net cages full of rubble…! Why do the authorities worry about a bit of path erosion when erosion is what the mountains are all about?

Ah, well, bring on the next episode!


Brian G8ADD

Fairfield G/LD-007

From Red Screes G/LD-017, we had to drop sharply to Scandale Pass. Our walk was then a fairly long, but easy-ish route towards Fairfield G/LD-007. Jimmy became my mountain guide, informing me of the the features we were passing by or over, such as Little Hart Crag, Dove Crag and Hart Crag.

Priest’s Hole Cave was a diversion included as part of the Trail route, but with two SOTA activations still to go on today’s route, Jimmy and I agreed to give it a miss. At Hart Crag, the ridge narrowed and a steep drop at Rydal Head lurked to our left.

We picked up the increasing frequency and size of the cairns, indicating that we were on the final approach to Fairfield summit. Indeed, this was the case, and we settled into the large summit cairn, moulded into a four-section cross shelter.

Jimmy posted a spot to advise that we would be QRV after lunch, but first we enjoyed the excellent cheese and ham baguettes prepared for us by the Kirkstone Pass Inn that morning. We were carrying our usual water bladders plus Kendal Mint Cake, Nutri-Grain bars and the biscuits from the tea/coffee tray in our hotel room, so there was no need for the standard packed lunch from the accommodation. I agreed a price with them for just the sandwich (baguette) component, and that’s what we took.

Just nine contacts were made from Fairfield, but that was more than enough for us both to qualify the summit. Perhaps I was a little over cautious running just 500mW from this summit, but with not carrying the FT-817 or a SLAB, I wanted to guarantee we wouldn’t run out of power on St Sunday Crag G/LD-010 later that afternoon. It wasn’t a problem; nothing worse than a 54 report was received, and we were on foot again by 2.10pm.

Now came the bit I was least looking forward to - the descent of Fairfield via Cofa Pike!


St Sunday Crag G/LD-010

We took a compass bearing from the summit plateau of Fairfield G/LD-007. Visability was poor, but our compass reassuringly pointed us in the direction of a cairn. We were soon finding it very tough going descending, almost scrambling extremely steeply down loose scree. A brief respite along slightly kinder terrain, and we were at Cofa Pike, which I had been warned could offer a degree of exposure. Apart from a steep drop lurking rather close to my left, it wasn’t too bad, and I later realised we had come down the side of it rather than over the top of it!

As we hit the saddle between Fairfield and St Sunday Crag G/LD-010, suddenly we were on a good wide path with easy walking terrain underfoot. The gradient up to St Sunday Crag’s summit was much more reasonable, and we were at the summit cairn in good time, just after 4pm. Nine contacts were made using the VX-7R and RSS, with lots of 59 reports passing back and forth.

So we had completed the three SOTA activations on this fine mountain traverse route, and now just remained the descent into Patterdale. This seemed to be a long descent which went on forever, one of those where you can see the valley far below, but never seem to get any nearer down to it! Ultimately of course, we did, and the final walk along the track into the village was accompanied with a sense of achievement.

We checked in at the Old Water View B&B, run by Ian, a mountain guide by day and a veteran of the Coast 2 Coast, Pennine Way and LEJOG routes. He was excellent, in ensuring our boots were dry and offering to tumble dry our damp clothes. It hadn’t rained at all, but walking in hot weather can make your socks and shirts nearly as damp! I was carrying a spare shirt in my pack, but I had changed halfway through the day, meaning they were both damp. I suggested keeping my England away shirt for the evening, figuring that would dry faster over the next hour or so, but Ian insisted on taking both shirts to tumble dry, and kindly lending me a shirt of his own for me to wear in the pub. An excellent landlord!

Ian also passed me a piece of paper that informed that John G3WGV would be arriving at 8pm to join us in the pub. A shower and a change later, and with me sporting a shiny and comfy LDWA polo shirt, I was browsing the reflector on the computer in the guest lounge. John arrived shortly after, and we went across to the White Lion for a very satisfying meal - Cumberland Sausage in my case - washed down with Jennings Cumberland Ale.

A very pleasant evening, and a successful day.


Thursday 24th July 2008

Place Fell G/LD-027

This was the day where we departed from the route published in Trail magazine. We were supposed to have taken the Ullswater Steamer around to Howtown, then followed the ridge nearly to High Street G/LD-011. Instead, we would be following the Coast 2 Coast route out of Patterdale.

First, we enjoyed an excellent breakfast at the Old Water View. The notably good sausages, bacon, eggs and mushrooms were served with smoked salmon and a very good pot of tea. Our dried clothes were waiting for us in a washing basket outside our room when we arose, but no charge for this had been added to the bill. The name immediately before us in the guestbook was the comedian Frank Skinner, who had stayed the previous evening and was walking the C2C route.

We left the village on a glorious and hot morning, and were soon ascending fairly steeply along the side of a ridge. At Boredale Hause, the C2C path we would be following veered up to the right, but we had other business to attend to first. We turned left, and headed up the punishingly steep path to Place Fell G/LD-027.

We were overtaken by a chap, but his dog was lagging way behind. It seemed to be struggling physically, and it looked an old, tired and sorry specimen. Five minutes later, it overtook me.

Turning the corner past the helicoptered-in bags of stone, the path continued steeply to where the man seen earlier was lazing in the grass, enjoying his breakfast. His dog was also lying down, and I’m sure it gave me a sneaky wink of superiority! This man was working on the footpath restoration, and told me that he and his dog did this ascent five mornings every week.

Jimmy and I pushed on for the summit, which we attained fairly soon after, having got the hardest parts of the climb over and done with. The views were excellent on this hot sunny morning. Nine contacts were made on 2m FM with the VX-110 and RSS, and we were commencing our descent by 10.45am. Not a bad early morning’s work.

The hard steep paths back to Boredale Hause were taxing on the thighs, but after that, the day’s walking was a joy. The C2C route weaved its way between and around crags, opening up new vistas and beautiful mountain tarns. We made rapid progress back towards the High Street ridge, and even considered another ‘pointless’ activation of G/LD-011 as we passed back over it.

As we began the final ascent back onto the ridge, we paused for lunch, which was Ian’s packed cheese and Branston butties and other bits and bobs from our rucksacks. Climbing onto the High Street ridge, the summit of G/LD-011 looked to be a long climb above us, whereas the Trail route descent via Kidsty Pike looked distinctly more manageable. In fact there was barely 40m in it, but I opted for Kidsty Pike! My mind was turning towards a second SOTA activation for the day, but one that would score points.

We hauled ourselves down the grassy slopes of Kidsty Pike and over to the side of Haweswater, and we were back to where we were two-and-a-half days ago. This time, the golden eagle was not to be seen, as we walked by the reservoir back to the car, which we were pleased to see still there!

A short distance up the road was the Haweswater Hotel, which provided a welcome refreshment stop, as we began to plot our evening activation of Hallin Fell G/LD-043.


Hallin Fell G/LD-043

Satisfied with completing the Trail magazine 3-day circular, with six SOTA activations along the way, we were now enjoying the relative comfort and relaxation of the car. As soon as Jimmy announced that his mobile had detected netowrk coverage, I pulled in and started 'phoning around the Youth Hostels. The only feasible one with availability was Buttermere, so I booked in there.

Next, it was a drive up into Penrith in the quest for chips! In the town centre, we enjoyed two large helpings of steak & ale pie with chips and gravy, in the warm early evening sunshine.

I now aimed the car at Pooley Bridge, and then Howtown to follow the long cul-de-sac winding its way up the back of Hallin Fell. A large parking area was available right by the start of the main route upwards, which was a steep wide grassy path.

However, the effort was soon rewarded. It may have been steep, but it was also short, and we were rounding off onto the summit in little more than 15 minutes. The views over Ullswater were lovely, but we needed to bed down in a less-favourable vantage point in order to get out of the strong wind.

I set up the 80m dipole antenna, and attempted to make a CQ call. Problem - my paddle was refusing to do dots! A bit of frantic fiddling eventually got this problem resolved, but my first CQ call after that was awful. Richard G3CWI answered it, but I ignored him, determined to a least send a proper short CQ call before answering anyone! I mucked it up again. Richard answered again. I ignored him again. I sent CQ again, and this time got it right. Richard replied again, and this time I worked him!

I went on to make seven QSOs on 80m CW, following which Jimmy had a go on 80m SSB. He was getting no joy, so resorted to his VX-110, which brought in John G0TDM and Geoff G4WHA straight away. Jimmy did then manage a contact with Barry 2E0PXW on 80m SSB, before a fourth contact was achieved back on 2m FM.

The steep descent down the bank to the car park was made a little unnerving by the sight of a gang of teenage boy-racers who had driven six Ford Fiestas up here. A couple of them shouted abuse at me as I completed my descent, and swiftly got into my car. As we pulled away, they were seeing if they could reverse their cars up the steep grassy bank, which made me wonder who the cars belonged to!

We now had to return a few miles East to pick up the A66, on which we would be heading West! It was a longish drive to Buttermere YH, but we got there just after 9.30pm. I got a couple of bottles of Jennings Cocker Hoop from reception. Jimmy went to bed, and I relaxed with the beer in the lounge.

Tomorrow would be the big one - Scafell Pike G/LD-001.


Friday 25th July 2008

Scafell Pike G/LD-001

We slept well at Buttermere Youth Hostel, and there was no need to get up too early. It was one of those new-fangled B&B hostels - ie where a hostel breakfast is included in the price, making it kind of compulsory! Anyway, the croissants, yoghurt, tea, toast and bacon & eggs went down very well, before we stepped outside into yet another gloriously sunny morning.

We drove over Honister Pass and down to Seathwaite, where we turned right and headed up the long cul-de-sac to the farm and tea room. Many people were parking here for their day out on England’s highest mountain, but fortunately there remained a space right near the end, only a few yards from the farm gate. Other walkers would have already done a quarter of a mile by this point!

Jimmy and I marched along at a fair pace to Stockley Bridge, but at this point we would divert from out last route in 2005. This time we turned right to climb steeply to follow Styhead Gill up to Sty Head Tarn. This was a very enjoyable section of walking, and we made good progress.

We had already decided to try the Corridor Route from this point. Visability was excellent, and you could see the Corridor Route path snaking its way around the fells and climbing up towards Greta Gill. Upon reaching a downward scramble, I realised we had reached the point where G6DDQ and myself “lost” the Corridor Route when we tried to descend it back in 2004. If only we had had the assurance to scramble upwards to continue on that path then!

Upon reaching the point where the path bends sharply to the left, for the final steep uphill push for the summit, we came across a large group of walkers sitting admiring the view. I took the excuse for a chat and a rest, before pressing on in a vain bid to catch up with Jimmy.

Once at the summit, the weather was different in one major respect. It was still hot. It was still sunny. It was still dry. There were still excellent views in all directions. But blasting across the summit was a rather menacing wind, that needed to be sheltered from.

We settled down on the north side of the summit cairn and had a bite to eat. I then connected my VX-7R to the Rucksack Special antenna and made my initial calls. From that point, Jimmy and I enjoyed a non-stop pile-up for nearly three-quarters of an hour. However, when I heard Arthur GW1LDY calling me, he clearly couldn’t hear my reply. I completed the remaining stations in the pile-up, then moved around to the south of the summit cairn to improve my take-off.

The wind was still battering in from that side, and in contrast to the over-populated conditions of the other side of the summit, the only souls on this side were huddled in the several shelters - except me! Several more stations were now worked, including Arthur, before the frequency was quiet, and we went QRT. 24 stations worked, from Scotland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Wales and Cheshire, all on 2m FM.

For the descent, we went over to Broad Crag - a section I never really enjoy, but then down by Sprinkling Tarn to Sty Head, and then back via the route we came up. We reached the car by about 6pm, and set off into Keswick looking for mobile network coverage. Once achieved, I 'phoned around the Youth Hostels, but could get nothing more convenient than Cockermouth. Cockermouth it was then!

We stopped for a quick pint in Keswick, and then drove out to Cockermouth, which did not take long on the A66. After locating the Youth Hostel, we showered and changed, and made our way to the Taste of India restaurant in the town. There were some very heavy rain showers knocking around now, in total contrast to the day. Jimmy began to replan our final day over his curry, pointing out that our surprise stopover in Cockermouth perhaps opened up some summits we hadn’t considered.

It would be the neaby Watch Hill G/LD-054 to kick things off in the morning.


Saturday 26th July 2008

Watch Hill G/LD-054

Our unexpected Youth Hostel stopover in Cockermouth brought about this unexpected hill. Jimmy felt it would be wrong to stay in Cockermouth and completely ignore both Watch Hill G/LD-054 and Binsey G/LD-041. I agreed, and so checked the map for which one looked the easiest!

Watch Hill got the nod, and Jimmy directed me out of Cockermouth on a minor road. We parked at the start of the forest track at NY161314, where there was plenty of room. A Forestry Commission sign advised walkers to beware of fast mountain bikes, so I was assured that this route was OK for public access.

Jimmy and I made our way up the gently ascending zigzagging forest rides, but knowing that some hard work was to follow, looking at the steeply rising banks to our left. Eventually, we reached the wall, and looking westwards was a gap through the trees up a steep muddy grassy bank. This was hard work for two lads who had just done a 35 mile circular followed by Scafell Pike G/LD-001, but at least we were getting pretty fit!

The summit itself was out of the trees in a corner of a field. We set up the 80m dipole antenna on the fishing pole, and I kicked off on 3.557MHz CW. Just seven contacts were made before things went quiet, so Jimmy took over and called on 3.659MHz SSB. He made four contacts, and then there was nobody else calling him either!

Not to worry, there were other summits to do today. We descended a different way, down a small but steep-in-places path through the woods, more or less straight down to the car without touching the forest roads. Jimmy directed me back to the A66, and off to Great Mell Fell G/LD-035.


Great Mell Fell G/LD-035

We had first activated this one in November 2006. But despite deployment of the FT-817 and the SOTA Beam, we made only one contact. The weather was awful, and the presence of static rain rendered things nigh on impossible. We made one contact each, and that was it. Richard G3CWI, who was with us that day, got his QSOs using 40m CW, but even he struggled through the static rain.

So although we both had the ‘SOTA Unique’ for this one, it was “unfinished business” and we wanted the 2 points each as well! From Watch Hill G/LD-054, we returned to the A66 and headed East. We looked out for the A5091 as a ‘marker’ for we knew our turning was the next right after that.

We pulled in by the track into the forest at NY407247, and set off along what we recalled to be a short easy stroll. However, that it most certainly was not. We were tired out by our exertions of the week so far, but furthermore, we had managed to completely forget about the punishingly steep hauls up slippery grassy paths that were required. Nonetheless we laboured our way up around by the edge of the wood, and reached the summit just after a quarter to midday local.

After contacts with John G0TDM, and a S2S with Terry G0VWP/P on Fairfield G/LD-007, things went a little quiet. On the radio front that is. On the hill, thinks were getting pretty lively, with determined midges attacking us from all angles. Despite the hot and humid weather, I was into full waterproofs as soon as I could, with my hood up, yet still they wanted more pieces of me! It was quite a relief when the 3rd and 4th contacts each came in, and we were able to escape the midge hell.

It was so hot, that we decided to brave the swarms while removing our coats and over trousers, and then leg it off the summit. Jimmy got into a right pickle, tangling up his coat and then dropping the fishing pole from his rucksack, the sections cascading out onto the fell. As these mishaps occurred, Jimmy was dancing animatedly trying to stave off the midges. I told him it was like watching an episode of Mr Bean, which he took in good spirit!

The midges followed us off the summit for about 50 metres, but then gave up, thank goodness. What a horrible experience. We made sure we got down the steeper sections safely and returned to the car. Although we had made good time on the day so far, it was definitely too late to consider trying to shoehorn in Loughrigg Fell G/LD-047, so we made for our last summit of the expedition, Gummer’s How G/LD-050.


Gummer’s How G/LD-050

This was the ideal last summit of our Lake District expedition. It’s a quick and easy (allegedly) summit to do, plus it was the only one now remaining in G/LD that I had activated but Jimmy hadn’t. Of course, he had climbed it with me before, but that was before he gained his amateur radio licence. So it had to be done!

From Great Mell Fell G/LD-035, Jimmy directed me onto the A592, which saw us drive up and over Kirkstone Pass, pssing the inn where we stayed four nights previously. We passed through Bowness-on-Windermere, which seemed to be absolutely heaving, perhaps something to do with that afternoon’s air show.

We continued along by the lake, until Jimmy directed me to turn left sharply uphill. This turning, at Fell Foot, was actually signposted “Gummer’s How”, and we were soon up to the high car park, which was pretty busy.

The humidity that was in the air on Great Mell Fell G/LD-035 earlier had now burned right away, and it was a scorcher of an afternoon. Jimmy and I set off along the good path to the summit, but really laboured on the steep sections. This is a really easy hill, but we were really on our last legs by now!

Rather than scramble straight up the front of the summit area, we walked around to the right hand side and followed the graded path to the top. I set up the SOTA Beam and WASP, but found that I only had one guy string in my rucksack. I must have been a little over-zealous when reducing pack weight for the earlier days of the expedition! I managed to improvise a structure with my other walking pole, plus Jimmy’s two poles, which maintained the SOTA Beam in an upright position throughout the activation.

Initially, I mounted the beam horizontally for 2m CW. I wanted to see if I could qualify for the points on 2m CW alone, without needing to supplement it with contacts from 2m SSB or 2m FM. Well, I could! With a little help from SPOTlite, I managed to record five 2m CW QSOs in just over half-an-hour, to claim my activator point. I then switched to 2m FM for a S2S with new activator Dave MW3VSG/P on Moel Famau GW/NW-044.

Jimmy then took over, worked Dave for his own S2S, and then went on to work five more on 2m FM. Many people had walked to the summit of Gummer’s How to gain a good vantage point for that afternoon’s upcoming airshow, but little seemed to be happening in the skies. I was continually asked what the latest was, with everyone assuming I was an airband enthusiast, or even part of the communications network for the event! I did at one point switch to the airband on the 817 for some interested passers-by, but received only a passenger 'plane over High Wycombe!

With the 2m band very quiet, we packed up and returned to the car. The journey down the M6 was swift and unimpeded, and we were home fairly soon after 6pm. Marianne and Liam were up for an evening out, so I booked us a table at the Viceroy Indian Restaurant in Bollington for a satisfying end to the day.


Totals for the LD expedtion:

Activations: 11
SOTA points: 55
Chaser S2S : 10
QSOs 2m FM : 107
QSOs 2m CW : 5
QSOs 80mSSB: 5
QSOs 80m CW: 13
QSOs total : 130

Many thanks to everyone we worked, especially John G0TDM who worked us on every activation.

73, Tom M1EYP

I am now starting to get the new website pages, with the expedition photographs, online.

So far, I have added:

High Street G/LD-011

…which is selectable from the SOTA index on http://tomread.co.uk

More pages will be added shortly, as will the direct links on SOTAwatch Summits info.


Stony Cove Pike G/LD-018 added.

…and now Red Screes G/LD-017.

Fairfield G/LD-007 added.

…and St Sunday Crag G/LD-010 (not for the faint hearted).