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New parking spot for G/SP-015 The Cloud

…my driveway!

I decided that I was taking advantage of my favourite SOTA summit by using the Cloudside parking area, and walking a third of a mile and ascending 250 feet to the top. Surely a summit I visited so often deserved better?

What greater respect could I pay than walking to it from home? It is about seven miles as the crow flies, but I devised a circular route that stuck to public footpaths and avoided roads. I will describe the route in detail, so perhaps someone with the mapping software could calculate the distances, but my guesstimate is about 9 miles outward and 11 miles back.

The plan was to walk out on a Tuesday afternoon, participate in the 6m VHF contest on the Tuesday evening, play HF in the late and small hours and again in the morning, then walk home on Wednesday.

My pack consisted of FT-817, 7Ah SLAB, 6m delta loop antenna, SOTA pole, guys and pegs, 40m dipole, 80m dipole, microphone, palm paddle, logbook & pencils, OS map and compass, fleece, Berghaus jacket, hat, small tent/shelter and poles (£11 from Sainsbury’s), foam mat, sleeping bag, 1.5 litres of water/bladder, 4 Chorley cakes, litre flask of soup and two headtorches (easier to change a headtorch then batteries in the dark!). I don’t know what it weighed, but it was a lot heavier than any pack I have previously carried! I guess I could reduce the weight for future expeditions by getting lighter (more expensive) backpacking tent, sleeping bag etc, but this was manageable. The only tricky thing was putting it on…!

I set off from my front door on the western edge of Macclesfield (SJ898735) at around 3pm on Tuesday 25th August 2009. Shortly, I was walking past the Weston pub (SJ895733) on Earlsway (recently renamed back to its original name after 20 or so years as “The Ridgegate”) and was called over by some drinkers in the “smoking area” (back yard). These included my next door neighbour Mick, and they wanted to know what on earth I was doing. I told them, and the question became why on earth I was doing it. “You’re odd” was the response. Hmmm, give me a long country walk over wasting a sunny afternoon in the boozer any day!

At the top of Earlsway (SJ893728), I turned left onto Gawsworth Road, and I was soon leaving the town behind and heading into the country. It was a lovely sunny day, and I was already enjoying my solitary expedition. For some reason, I seemed to think there was a permitted route from Tansy Moss Farm / Penningtons Lane across to Brownhills Farm, but my recollections were wrong, and there wasn’t. This caused some wasted time.

The correct route was to turn onto the PROW to Dalehouse Farm at SJ893713, then bear right (south) down through Deans Farm. This was a strange little section through small unusually shaped grassy fields and over rickety stiles with very low branches hanging over them, making progress with a large pack with poles sticking out quite a challenge!

From Deans Farm to the Congleton Road A536 (SJ896712) was better going along good farm tracks. Crossing over the main road, I passed through Danes Moss Farm and New Home Farm, after which I was entering Danes Moss. Not the town’s landfill site, but the adjacent ‘Cheshire Wildlife Area’ which gave very pleasant walking along good paths and boardwalks through a lovely protected habitat. I wondered which part of it would get ripped up to make way for Macclesfield Town FC’s proposed new stadium?

As I reached the footbridge over the West Coast Mainline (SJ909706), a heavy shower started, and full waterproofs were quickly donned. The big pack was then returned to my back, but not so quickly! On the other side of the railway, I emerged onto the towpath (SJ910706) of the Macclesfield / Cheshire Ring Canal. This gave very easy pleasant walking that enabled me to get a good few miles under my belt “relatively” easily.

The views were good, with Gawsworth Common, Sutton Common and Wincle Minn to my left (behind the Fools Nook Inn), and a certain Bosley Cloud, ahead and slightly to the right edging, very slowly, nearer. The canal was busy with many passing barges, the crews of which were all happy to exchange pleasantries - and the inevitable wisecracks about the fishing pole! I noted several moored barges with 2m aerials on magmounts, and one with a huge vertical for 11m CB. One chap was steering his barge with one hand, and holding a can of Carlsberg in the other. I couldn’t resist a comment about “drink driving”, which went down like a lead balloon. I put my head down and my best foot forward!

TBC.

Although my pack was heavy, and I could certainly feel it (!), I was pleased, and relieved that there wasn’t any pain at all setting in, and a few miles into the journey, I felt just as “comfortable” as I did when setting off.

More canal boaters were chatted too, and with more conviviality, as I overtook them all down Bosley’s flight of 13 locks. The aqueduct at SJ906652 provided a moment of airing walking over a very deep river valley below, shortly after which I was exiting the canal onto the Dane Valley Way trail route at SJ904651.

This brought me out at SJ911650, very close to the Bosley Wood Treatment works (of Tug o’ War fame), and the first bit of enforced road walking since Macclesfield. I was getting tired now, and the pull up the road became a bit of a slog. Nonetheless, it was a nice feeling to be actually climbing the slopes of my target hill, even if it was from much lower down then usual. I was now behind on time, and resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be QRV for the start of the contest at 8pm.

At SJ908642, I turned left into a long cul-de-sac lane, still part of the Dane Valley Way. However, very shortly after, I was turning right (south) over a stile and into a field, for a steep grassy climb up to Tunstall Road. It was here that I delayered my waterproofs, and was back walking in my new black and gold Macclesfield Town away shirt, which was very comfortable with the large areas of breathable panels. The footpath brought me out close to the peculiar static caravan, seemingly a permanent residence at SJ906637. A 300m walk along the gradually ascending road would bring me up to Cloudside.

Here, a car pulled alongside. It was Andy M1LOL, who told me he was coming to visit me in the contest. I was pleased to be having some company for the final ascent to the summit, which now seemed to pass quickly although I’m sure not as fast as I normally do it!

It was very useful having Andy around to help at the summit. I took advantage of this surprise opportunity, and got all antennas - 6m, 40m, 80m - up at once, as well as the little shelter. At 9pm, everything was ready to go, and at least there was 90 minutes left of the contest. Andy M1LOL departed to return home to Congleton, and I opened up on 50.195MHz SSB, with a certain Jimmy M3EYP first to find me.

In the following hour and a half, I worked 32 stations - 29 on 6m SSB and 3 on 6m CW. Virtually all QSOs were into 83 or 93 squares (uncharacteristically lots of activity in 93 tonight), so the number of multipliers was rather dismal.

At the end of the contest time I had a half-hour break to relax, rest, and enjoy some of my Baxters Flame Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup. This was really tasty, but it did have some annoying bits of tomato skin in that I found impossible to digest. I guess such an addition is supposed to be posh or sophisticated; I just found it annoying!

TBC.

At 11pm (2200z), I opened up on 7.032MHz CW, working six EU stations culminating in a pleasing, and rather unexpected S2S with Gerd F/DF9TS/P on Mont Aigoual F/CR-023. On 80m CW, it was just three stations - G0AZS, DJ5AV and 2E0BKW, and just two - G0AZS (again) and G0VOF on 80m SSB. The quantity was disappointing, but not the quality with excellent reports being passed both ways in all QSOs.

After another rest (or was it 39 minutes in which I tried but failed to make a contact?), I was back on 40m CW after the 0000z / 1am dateline. I worked just UT5EO on Wednesday 26th August 2009, before realising that my logbook was going nowhere fast. I had a natter with some of the regulars on the GB3MR 70cm repeater, then climbed into the sleeping bag for a snooze.

I was awake again shortly after 6am. Howling gales and heavy rain had been my unwelcome alarm call, but at least my £11 Sainsburys tent was able to resist all attempted intrusions. Things got off to a slow start on the radio, with a couple on 40m CW and a couple on 80m cw, but not takers on SSB on either band, nor on 2m FM.

At last, from 0610z, I got a run going on 7.032MHz CW. Things then began to diversify with successful QSOs on 2m FM, 6m CW, 70cm FM, 15m CW as well as more on 40m CW and 80m CW. The weather improved slightly just after 0820z, so I decided to pack away. This took some time, but the backpack was ready to be donned again eventually. Before doing so though, I checked if there were any more takers on 2m FM with the handheld. There were - two more. They were worked, and I set off on my walk.

I kicked off by walking down the track through the wood towards Timbersbrook. Emerging onto Tunstall Road at SJ896630, I noticed a sign for a “Coffee morning - every 2nd and 4th Wednesday, Key Green Chapel”. Although early into the second day’s campaign, a sit down and a brew would go down very nicely. ‘Where is Key Green?’ I asked myself. The answer was that it was bang on my route, in about ten minutes time.

I hastened my stride on the downhill path to SJ891631 and north up the road to the Methodist chapel in Key Green, SK891638. The regulars enjoying the coffee morning were incredibly friendly and accommodating, and very keen to hear about my expedition in progress. I was very keen to sample the tea and biscuits on offer, and I did enjoy the warmth of the reception and interest shown.

Moving on after my unscheduled rest, I turned right into Pedley Lane, and quickly left onto a PROW starting at SJ892638. This initially passed by “The Timbersbrook Project” - a touristy-looking place with a nature reserve and various animals on display. I was soon back into regular farmland though, and out onto Peover Lane at SJ895646.

I now had a rather uninspiring road walk down to the A54 at SJ899650, and an even worse one along the main Congleton to Buxton road until the stile at SJ891658. The walking was set to improve again now though.

TBC.

A short PROW took me to the edge of North Rode village, and a hairy walk along a narrow twisty lane, dodging many passing cars. In the village itself, I turned north by the church (SJ889665) and followed the path through Manor Farm. Gawsworth was my next objective, and this long path took me all the way there.

On Pexall Road (SJ888677), I turned right and walked up to the T-junction, then straight across onto the PROW via the new fishing pools at Gawsworth Hall. These pools are beautifully landscaped, and clearly popular with fisherman. On this still damp and drizzly day, there must have been over a hundred anglers or all ages and genders around the pools.

At the end of the path (SJ889696), I turned left and followed the road to the Harrington Arms pub. I was just in time for a lunch of roast ham sandwiches and vegetable soup. An accompaniment, which I assume was named after one of the regulars, was ‘Crusty Roland Butter’, or something like that. A couple of pints of Robbie’s (Hartley’s) Dizzy Blonde washed this down very nicely, and it was time to get walking again.

I could have “cheated” and just followed the main A536 Congleton - Macclesfield road to my next PROW, but what would have been the point? No, I returned back towards Gawsworth Hall, and double backed onto the PROW from SJ889697. This had a closure notice on it, but this stated that it was from a date in early July and “for a maximum of four weeks”. That would have certainly passed by now, and sure enough the footpath was in ‘good nick’ all the way to the A536 at SJ885698.

It was straight over the road at SJ881703 and onto another public footpath, that took me around to Warren at SJ885707. Thence followed the last really tedious road work of the route (and to be fair, there had been hardly any of them), up to SJ878713 opposite Trevors Close Farm.

I was now aware that some ascending would need to be done from the current 120m ASL, in order to attain Great Weston Fell (183m ASL), and indeed my home QTH at 160m ASL. Indeed, the footpath climbed the gradual hill to Underbank Farm, where I had to patiently pass some edgy cattle. My final significant act of navigation in the expedition came at SJ886726, where I turned onto the PROW through Hopedale Farm, and by the trig point atop Great Weston Fell.

Emerging over a stile onto Gawsworth Road (SJ891725) meant that the ‘circular’ phase of my walk was complete, and I would now be retracing my steps down to Earlsway and Merebrook Road to my home QTH. First though, had to be another stop at the Weston pub to give some symmetry to the expedition, only this time, with beer involved!

I eventually crawled over the finishing line of my front porch at nearly 6pm, which was a reflection of the extra distance in the return route, and my fatigue from both my exertions and lack of quality sleep.

It was a good expedition though, and one I think I would like to repeat. I would reverse the circular route though, and set off earlier, leaving the easier walking for the return home. I would also investigate reducing the weight of my pack, although I managed just fine his time.

Many thanks to everyone that called in and worked me. The results:

Date --------|80m CW |80m SSB |40m CW |15m CW |6m SSB |6m CW |2m FM |70cm FM |
Tue 25 Aug -----3------ -----2----- -----6----- -----0----- ----29---- ----3---- ----0---- -----0----- (43)
Wed 26 Aug -----3----- -----0----- ----24----- -----1----- -----0---- ----3---- ----4---- -----2----- (37)
Totals ------ -----6----- -----2----- ----30----- -----1----- ----29---- ----6---- ----4---- -----2----- (80)

Maybe do it all again next year!

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Thanks for the report, Tom.

It’s a graphic demonstration that it’s not always about points and that you can always find a different approach to a familar summit - in your case a very familiar summit! It sounds like you were carrying quite a load. Have you worked out the weight yet? My starting rucksack weight for the SDW was just about 13kg, reducing to around 11kg as I walked into Eastbourne. That was heavy enough for me.

Both Frank and I regularly walk up onto Cleeve Hill from our respective homes - around 4 miles each way in our cases. Nothing like your marathon but good enough to keep the legs working.

Perhaps we should all be encouraged to add alternative routes to the summits database. Now, how far is it to Bredon Hill… ?

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

10.1 miles. Mmmm…

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

Sure as eggs is eggs, I’m not walking to my nearest summit!!!

73, Gerald (home QTH in the SOTA summit desert)

P.S. for anyone who is wondering - by footpaths it would most likely exceed 55 miles / 90km each way, but I don’t have the OS maps to check it out.

In reply to G4OIG:

I see your point …

R

In reply to G4OIG:
Inspired by Gerald’s comment:-
80.8 miles each way for me to G/CE-005 my nearest.

I’m keen, but not that keen!

James
G7MLO

PS Swap keen for daft if you wish. Either is appropriate!

In reply to G7MLO:
Oh dear. I have no excuse now…

3.06 km (1.9 miles) and only 160 m of climb to the G/CE-005 trig point.

Walk from home activation now obligatory. Thanks Tom! :slight_smile:

73 Marc G0AZS

Full report, and a few photos are here:

http://tomread.co.uk/thecloud.htm

Unfortunately, the really enjoyable (and very long) walking routes used are not really covered adequately by the photos, as the camera was packed in the rucksack, and the thing was too heavy to be taking off and putting back on again too often. I really should have had the camera in the map case so that it was accessible!

We live and learn. I have another stunt along these lines (but different, bigger and better hi!) for next summer. Watch this space…

And yes Marc, there’s really no excuse for not doing that particular walk from home activation. But some have it even easier. What about residents of Crowborough, or whoever lives in that big house atop Detling Hill, or the house on Cheriton Hill?

Cheers, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

"I will describe the route in detail, so perhaps someone with the mapping software could calculate the distances, but my guesstimate is about 9 miles outward and 11 miles back. "

Okay, bait taken, then. Try: http://www.flickr.com/photos/91098242@N00/3888498289/in/pool-sota_pics

I reckon you’re pretty close with the distances. I usually find that the actual track is about 5% longer than a waypointed route that I plan and these came out at 9.4 up and 10.1 miles down.

Well done, Tom. I wait with baited breath (sort of) for the next outing you mention.

73, Richard

Thank you Richard. My gut feeling that it was a 20 mile round trip wasn’t far wrong then!

The next plan, for sometime next year, is to walk from home to Shining Tor (actually marginally closer to my home QTH than The Cloud, but with significantly more height gain), then a long high level route to Gun, and then over to The Cloud. The route home then would be the same as my outward route described above.

I am thinking of three days with two overnight camps to do the expedition, but not sure if I can coordinate both camps to be on SOTA summits. Probably one but not both.

Anyway, that’s for another time! There’ll be no more of this nonsense until some nice warm dry weather next year (if we ever get any).

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi, Tom.

That looks like a good circular route with some super countryside - and a surprising number of pubs on the route. It looks like a route of around 36 miles so perfect for a relaxed three days.

What after that? Another LDP?

73, Richard

Just checked, I hadn’t realised this, but the evening activation after walking to The Cloud from home - was the 500th SOTA activation of that summit!

Tom M1EYP