NP in our sights

In reply to M1EYP:
A good read Tom - thanks for route info for when I get up that way. In your reference to the John Shuttleworth CD - is the title a reference to Thomas Dolby (80’s recording artist) or the Dolby noise reduction system? I think John Shuttleworth is a northern comic who takes on different guises if I recall correctly. Don’t know much about him.

Wish I could have had made it for the fish and chips in Settle.

73 Phil

It refers to the noise reduction Phil. His previous album was called “The Yamaha Years”! The chap who plays him - Graham Fellows - also did Jilted John (Gordon is a Moron etc) years ago. John Shuttleworth’s songs often feature the geography of the Peak District, with references to Kinder Scout, Win Hill, Mam Tor, Lovers’ Leap etc.

Regarding the other Dolby, unfortunately, I can’t seem to find my Thomas Dolby CD with “The Key To Her Ferrari” on it. :frowning:

You missed a real treat in the fish & chips in Settle.


In reply to M1EYP:
That’s answered my question. I remember Jilted John and often recite Gordon is a Moron as there is one who lives quite close to here…I think that was released about the time when punk was first in vogue. Late 1970s. Interesting bloke that Graham Fellows.

I had about 5 Thomas Dolby vinyl albums as I quite liked his electronic stuff. I sold them all last week on e-bay as part of a batch of 42 vinyl LPs. I do have his “Best Of” though on CD, but I don’ think The Key to Her Ferrari" is on it.

Sorry about the “off topic” guys.


“The Key To Her Ferrari” was definitely on the ‘Best of’ CD I had. It is a rare TD track that isn’t electronic. It is from the album “Aliens Ate My Buick” which was recorded with a “live” band. Wish I could find it. Graham Fellows also currently does a character called Brian Appleton - singer/songwriter/guitarist, and sound recording lecturer at Newcastle-under-Lyme college! He often “appears” in-between John Shuttleworth’s two sets in concerts. We saw JS at Buxton Opera House in November.

In reply to M1EYP:
"We saw JS at Buxton Opera House in November."
Guess who`s going to see Hawkwind at Buxton Opera House in May :wink:

Whoever it is, I do hope they will be travelling there on an impressively silver machine, and choosing an appropriate masque.

With out activation of Hoove NP-024 today, it was 31 down and one to go for M1EYP and M3EYP in the Northern Pennines region. It is a safe bet that out next outing, whenever that is, will be to Cracoe Fell G/NP-032 for the completion (and we intend taking up Geoff G6MZX’s kind offer of a brew on that occasion).

Plenty to report today, and I will do so sometime later in a proper activation report. It was a good day out that we did well to contrive, considering the distinct lack of anything this particular summit has to offer!

Due to conditions I will describe in the later report, our activation was riddled with QSB and QRM (mainly splatter from nearby QRGs). Several of our attempted QSOs were incomplete and therefore not logged.

Apologies to G3RMD, F4CTJ and GM7UAU where the final exchanges were not completed. We really appreciated your efforts to work us - sorry it didn’t work out.

John G0TDM - your contact with me was almost complete, with reports exchanged, but there was unintentional QRM by a chaser that couldn’t hear you and was struggling with me. The result was that we both sent our reports, you confirmed what I sent back to me, but I didn’t hear you confirm the report I sent to you. I was about to, reluctantly, mark it as a no-contact, but Jimmy said that he clearly heard you repeat back the report I gave you.

Accepting that young ears are better than old ones, I will log our QSO, so any chaser claim by you should be good.

Hope that is OK everyone.

73, Tom M1EYP

Saturday 17th January 2009 would be the day Jimmy M3EYP and I would complete the original list of the 30 NP summits, and move to within one of the entire region completion. Activating Hoove G/NP-024 meant that we now only required the “new boy” Cracoe Fell G/NP-032 for our largest ever region completion as activators.

After the usual 6am get-up, and the usual home final preparations (with all the soul-destroying ‘grotty’ jobs like rinsing, filling and loading the bladders completed the previous evening), Jimmy, Liam and I were on the road by 0655z. Audio on the road was provided by Canalside Community Radio 102.8MHz FM until the signal deteriorated in the Knutsford area. It was then the new John Shuttleworth CD “The Dolby Decades” - not for the first time, but it’s a good ‘bribe’ to get Liam up and out. When that finished, it was over to good old medium wave radio, and Fresh Radio (formerly Yorkshire Dales Radio) on 936kHz to see us up the M6 to J37 and down into Sedburgh.

Here, we called in again at The Dalesman Inn for breakfast. This is a pub/inn-based B&B establishment, but which offers its breakfasts to non-residents. It isn’t the cheapest at £7.95 per head, but with cereals, fruit, fruit juice, toast, preserves, tea/coffee and a monstrous full English, it certainly does represent value for money. There’s only Jimmy and me I know of that could actually finish one of these breakfasts! Liam opted for the grilled kippers and poached eggs for the cooked component of his breakfast.

From Sedburgh, Jimmy directed me out northwards, heading out to the right of Wild Boar Fell G/NP-007 and up Buttertubs Pass between Lovely Seat G/NP-030 and Great Shunner Fell G/NP-006. As usual, Jimmy offered Liam and I a running commentary on which surrounding hills were what and when we last activated them.

When Jimmy directed me onto a minor road that was signpost “Barnard Castle”, it hit me that we had driven a long way for our walk today! When we were parking up at NZ018067 by signs for County Durham and Teesdale, I realised that we really had come a long way from home this morning!

In my planning for this walk, I had been checking the weather forecasts. The latest information for our target area indicated torrential rain in the early and later parts of the day, but with a five hour dry window between about 10.30am and 3.30pm. This turned out to be very accurate, and shows that it pays to do your homework.

Even in the dry part of the day, the gale force winds were still apparent, and so we were keen to get moving once alighting the car. A vague track over the boggy moor leads out from the parking area, in the general direction of the Durham-Yorkshire border, but soon fizzles out. For most of the way towards the summit, it was a trackless plod over indistinct soggy moorland.

I was on good form, and kept my feet dry all the way there and back. Both Jimmy and Liam failed to match the care and concentration of their father, and were soon reporting wet sock syndrome. Liam was particularly indiscriminate in where he was placing his feet. It was as though he had been on the Pennine Way for two wet weeks and no longer cared!

We were grateful that the cloud was both sparse and high, and that visibility was good. This was particularly featureless moorland, and I wouldn’t relish trying to locate the summit in clag or any reduced visibility. As it was, we could see for miles, and could pick our approach for a good distance ahead.

The only obstacle was a deep ditch, flanked with steep banks of gooey black peat and a boggy stream lying along its base. Liam and I picked a way across it quite separately to Jimmy, who found his own crossing further up towards the horizon. Now the going got slightly steeper, but it was getting firmer underfoot, and we were right on the shoulder of the broad summit plateau.

The trig point came immediately into view, thus deeming our choice of approach as successful. The true summit lies a couple of hundred metres further along. Jimmy was left to tootle of with the camera to survey it, while I started to erect the antenna. Close to the trig point was a deep wide hole which we would use for shelter during the activation. The wind strength was picking up all the time, and it was important to be out of it.

I had difficulty getting the 80m dipole up in the strong wind. Eventually, with Jimmy’s help I achieved it, but time was cracking on. I was already well behind my alert time, and there was no Vodafone coverage to solicit a spot either by SOTAwatch Spotlite, or via ‘Dial-a-spot’.

Further difficulties were encountered with the failure of the Mini Palm Paddle to produce a dot. No amount of prodding and pressing persuaded the MPP-817 to dit, so I resigned myself to a 100% SSB activation. Early callers tried to persuade me to set the 817 to accept the buttons on the microphone as the dits and dahs, but I wasn’t having any. I have tried this before, and all it does is quickly reduce my acceptable quality 26wpm to a very poor quality error-strewn 5wpm. I got the impression that some chasers were particularly keen to work me on CW, but there was no way I was prepared to reduce my own enjoyment of the activation to that level!

Tuning first to 3.660MHz SSB, I heard Geoff G6MZX in QSO with a special event station. Geoff mentioned the probability of SOTA stations coming on frequency, and even took a pause to listen for such. I took my chance and called in, but having established that it was the special event station’s frequency, I would have to QSY. Phil G4OBK advised me to move to 3.656MHz SSB.

Some contacts were easier than others, it has to be said! Some were 59 both ways, while others were struggling with marginal copy from me and reporting deep QSB. They needn’t have reported this to me - I could see the cause with my own eyes, as the wind rocked my antenna system like a pendulum pushing the dipole legs to within inches of the ground every few seconds. QRM became an additional issue, with strong EU stations coming up on the adjacent channels both above and below me.

Worked without difficulty were G4OBK, G6MZX, MX0BCQ/A, G3CWI and M0JDK. Worked successfully, but not without a little extra effort on both parts, were G0TDM, GW0DSP, G4CPA, 2E0YHB/P, G6WRW/P and G4BLH. The S2S with Helen and Carolyn on Botley Hill G/SE-005 was a pleasing one. Incomplete, and therefore unsuccessful QSOs were attempted with GM7UAU, G3RMD and F4CTJ. We heard all three stations perfectly clearly, but obviously could not reciprocate.

After topping up on the Sweet Potato and Chilli soup from the flask, we packed up the gear and commenced our descent. Visibility was now even better, and we could see our objective - my arctic steel Picasso in the parking area - for virtually all of the return trip. We made good time, and I still managed to keep my feet dry.

Reinstalling the FT-817 as a mobile rig, I found a Cleveland-based net on 144.750MHz FM. I joined for a little natter before driving back down the road. However, we did not reverse our earlier outward route, for we turned right and headed for the Tan Hill Inn - the highest pub in Britain at 1732 feet, and a highlight of our 2006 Pennine Way campaign.

The Theakston Old Peculiar and Black Sheep Bitter were on fine form, and the landlord was keen to exchange chat and pleasantries despite serving a very busy bar. He even invited Jimmy, Liam and myself round to the staff side of the bar for a photo. A Mars bar each accompanied the drinks as we went through to the back room for a relax. Here, Liam found two little kittens which he fussed and played with for the next hour.

I spotted the acoustic guitar on the wall and Jimmy the steam piano. I checked with the bar staff, and got the reply “Definitely, we encourage that sort of thing in here”. Jimmy and I then unleashed “The Blue Danube” on The Tan Hill Inn, entirely predictable but entirely good fun! Jimmy also played a spot of Beethoven as solo piano, but I restrained myself from subjecting the patrons to my vocal chords, sorely tempted as I was to perform “Parchment Farm” on the guitar!

After a stop at the Tan Hill Inn that was an hour longer than intended, we hit the road, returning to Macclesfield for 7.45pm. The audio entertainment was reversed, with Fresh Radio 936, John Shuttleworth and Canalside, with a spot of chatter on GB3MN thrown in. We had enjoyed a good day out, and it took some doing, turning this most unremarkable and featureless SOTA summits into a fulfilling full day excursion. We managed it though, and there was a sense of satisfaction as we were tucking into Marianne’s excellent homemade shepherd’s pie at 8pm.

Thanks to all that called us.

73, Tom M1EYP
(& Jimmy M3EYP & Liam)

PS Did I miss anything out Gerald?! :wink:

In reply to M1EYP:
Well done Tom! Quite a story and I would have liked to have joined you at Tan Hill for the impromptu entertainment. I know you play guitar from what I read on your website yonks ago. You certainly eat well on your forays up north.

Just out of interest after yesterday I tried to key my FT-857 with the microphone this morning - a none starter even when I drop the speed of the elekey to 15 wpm. The dah button is controllable but the reaction time of the dit button is too slow to control the amount of dots sent. I suppose it may be possible at about 8 wpm to control it but I am not prepared to sit on top of a hill and send at that speed. I can’t blame you for not bothering with it. It would just take too long to make contacts.

Hope to be about when you finish off the NP area with NP-032 Cracoe Fell, a nice one to finish with, unlike the boring Hoove.


In reply to M1EYP:
Thank you Tom for an interesting account of your latest travels and congratulations on achieving your last original NP. Look forward to your final push for glory!
Sorry we did not complete our qso (with Jimmy). You were loud and clear, at times, but the qrm won the day on this occasion.
Great effort, and especially enjoyed your description of the pub entertainment session.


It turned out that today was the day. A full account will appear some time in the next few days; there isn’t time to do it now in the 5 minutes before MOTD starts!

But yes, Jimmy M3EYP and myself M1EYP can now both claim to have activated all 32 past and present NP region SOTA summits, completed today with Cracoe Fell G/NP-032. It was a nice walk with great clear views and deep snow.

The 817 and SOTA Beam certainly did the business with 5 watts on 2m taking us to Devon and Cheltenham amongst other places. I even had a pile-up at one point on 2m CW - fantastic!

Thanks to Roy G4SSH for the ‘dial-a-spot’ (last minute activation plan so hadn’t updated the new abbreviated Spotslite URLs in the phones) and to Geoff G6MZX for a pleasant after-activation pint and natter.

Right, footy on telly, gotta go…


It was 31 down, one to go, in terms of the NP activator uniques for Jimmy and I. The next opportunity to go out walking would see us in one place only, and that would be Cracoe Fell G/NP-032, with everything from Cross Fell G/NP-001 to Birks Fell G/NP-031 already chalked off. This included the two now deleted summits Horse Head Moor G/NP-021 which we did in a bit of a rush once its “card was marked”, and Thorpe Fell Top G/NP-025.

Saturday 7th February 2009 was never earmarked as the day, for Macclesfield Town FC were schedule to play a home game versus Notts County. Nonetheless, Jimmy, Liam and myself were up at 6am as we would be for a SOTA expedition, as we were going down to help clear the snow from the Moss Rose pitch at 7am, in return for complimentary bacon butties and coffee.

However, upon arriving at the ground with our spades, a chap left it and said “No chance, it’s frozen solid, even under the frost covers”. Jimmy pounced. “Let’s go to Cracoe Fell then instead”. My thoughts exactly! We returned home via the Co-op to pick up some soup which I warmed while Jimmy got changed as he didn’t feel he was in walking-appropriate clothing. Liam and I already were, and the gear was already pretty much ready, so it was a quick turnaround.

Today’s route saw us head up the A34, M60, M66, M65 and A56 towards Skipton. We were accompanied by Canalside Community Radio, Silk FM and BBC Radio 5 Live as we awaited official confirmation that the match was indeed off. In Colne, we pulled in by “Laura’s Larder” and ordered filled hot oven-bottoms - sausage, bacon and mushroom for me, spam and egg for Jimmy and garlic chicken for Liam. It was all very tasty, and a good substantial breakfast for the three of us, costing just £6.

Jimmy continued shouting the driving directions, and eventually we pulled up on a small lay-by on the B6265. On with the boots, and a short road walk back to the start of the bridleway. An icy track led up the fellside as we glanced across at the high-above Rylstone Cross, and the memorial on Cracoe Fell summit, that appeared to be only a short hop further along the ridge.

As we gained height, the lying snow soon got deeper, especially where Jimmy decided we were to cut left uphill towards the wall, rather than turn at the gate. A few times we lost our legs up to our thighs, but it was quite fun in the pure driven snow.

We climbed up to the high wall, and I mentioned to Jimmy that I was sure we were supposed to be on the other side of it. Indeed, other walkers were, but a reasonable path was also on our side, albeit far more undulating than on the south of the wall.

After a pause for photos at the impressive and imposing Rylstone Cross, we climbed the ladder stile and resumed our walk up to Cracoe Fell summit. It turned out that our vista from the lay-by had been misleading. The climb to the Rylstone Cross was quite quick, but the traverse now to Cracoe Fell was lengthy. It was however reasoanbly good going on the frozen peat, and we recognised that we were avoiding the bog suffered by previous activators. Some sections of ice and compacted snow were quite dicy, so some care was needed.

On approaching the summit, I realised that I still hadn’t updated the 'phones with the new shortened SOTAwatch URLs. I gave Roy G4SSH a ring, and he kindly posted the ETA spot and further intentions (ie Jimmy going on SSB after) for us.

Just in front of the obelisk, I set up the SOTA Beam, horizontally polarised, and made a start on 2m CW. This was my best 2m CW activation yet, with eight stations in the log in swift order, and even that wonderful sound of a pile-up at one stage. Stations worked included Roy G4SSH in Scarborough down to Frank G3RMD in Cheltenham. It was good to hear Mike GW0DSP calling again from Connahs Quay after his recent exertions in GM-land.

Chuffed with the number of stations worked, and the DX achieved on 2m CW, Jimmy soon usurped me with loads more worked and better ODX (Don G0RQL in Devon) when he took over on 2m SSB. I dished up a few servings of lentil soup for the lads and myself in-between logging duties while Jimmy was operating. Finally, I put the beam on vertical on did a run of QSOs on 2m FM. It was a very satisfying joint activation.

The descent was pleasant again in the snow, but contrasting with the ascent, it now being largely trodden down on what was a busy route today. No longer we were losing limbs to deep drifted snow! We were on the road again by 4pm, and in 2m FM mobile contact with Geoff G6MZX, who we were meeting for a beer in the Tempest near Thornton-in-Craven. Here we spent a very pleasant 45 minutes before getting on the roads and motorways south to Cheshire.

Marianne, who is now a textaholic since getting a new 'phone from her hubby for Christmas, inundated Jimmy with texts during the drive back, a process which culminated in me collecting a box full of fine Indian cuisine from the Weston Balti Raj. Some days are just meant to be perfect!

So Jimmy M3EYP and me M1EYP now join Richard G3CWI, Steve G1INK and Clive M1YAM as NP region activator completists. For ourselves, we can now claim G/CE, G/NP, G/SE, G/SP, G/TW, G/WB and GI/AH as completed regions for SOTA. NP was definitely the most difficult and challenging out of all those, but we will definitely be back for the likes of Whernside G/NP-004, Ingleborough G/NP-005, Wild Boar Fell G/NP-007, Pen-y-ghent G/NP-010 and Fountains Fell G/NP-017.

Many thanks to all stations that called in on a memorable activation, and especially the 2m CW, which was a real highlight for me.


In reply to M1EYP:
Well done to you and the lads and thank you for the report of your day - it was in a interesting move to start on 2m CW and it really paid off for you. I like Cracoe Fell, and its a pleasant walk to the top of it whether in snow or not.

Congratulations on activating and bagging all the NP’s, something I aspire to. I reckon it will take me another year at least but it’s dependant now on finding out what’s wrong with my knee and then getting it fixed.

73 Phil

In reply to M1EYP:

Well done Tom, especially with regards to the CW contacts. Congrats on the full 32 out of 32.

I was pleased to see that the snow wasn’t too much of a hinderance on Cracoe. Paul and I would have joined you, but for the problems we experienced getting through the snow to the summit of Black Hill. Must say I have never less looked forward to making a descent before!

73, Gerald

Yes, sounds like the snow went beyond the “fun” stage that we enjoyed, for you. Did you approach on the PW or from Holme Moss? I can well imagine that the latter could have been taxing in such condx.

Ours was a lovely day with great views and enough snow to make it more lovely without impeding progress. Photos will be on my website in a few days.

Thanks for the congrats. I was surprised to find that me and Jimmy are only the 4th and 5th to do a “full” completion of the NPs. The 32 out of 32 can only be matched by someone who was around a while back, and activated NP-021 and NP-025 before they bit the dust.

Very pleased with the 2m CW. I’ll have to make more of that now that people are chasing it, and perhaps to 70cm CW on the same activations.

Cheers, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom,

We used the PW, but couldn’t find the stone slabs - they were a metre below the snow surface. After a decent start, we ended up breaking the trail as the initial lead we got from an old track laid down the day previous suddenly stopped in the middle of an area of virgin snow. Obviously the person did a 180. Though it was tiring and slow going and we had at the back of our minds that we would have a bit of a battle on our descent, it was actually good fun out there and we ended up laughing each time we sank in up to our backsides - something I haven’t done since Dovedale in January 1969…

I managed to cop NP-025 and 031 on their final days, so should eventually make the 32, but that will be a long time coming.

With regards to 70cms CW, yes do try it as I made 3 contacts on the mode from Black Hill and there is the potential for more.

73, Gerald

In reply to M1EYP:
Congratulations Tom & Jimmey for completing all the NPs.And I realy enjoyed having a drink and a natter with you in the Tempest arms.The Tempest Arms has connections with amateur radio and famous sportsmen.lets see who will be firt to come up with what it is.I must also congratulate Liam for making it to the summits of many hills with you.My local radio club(Craven Radio Amateur Group will be running a station at Burwen Castle (Roman Fort)for Castles on the air this is only a couple of hundred yards from the Tempest Arms Date of activation 22/02/09.See our web site.ATB Geoff G6MZX.

In reply to M1EYP:

Congratulations Tom and Jimmy on your achievement. It was nice to work you both from Buckden Pike NP-009 on Saturday, a great day to be out on the hills. I think I mentioned on the air that we saw your car on the way up to Buckden, or at least one one with a SOTA sticker in it, but assumed it was a rather early Gerald OIG, so were a bit surprised to catch the end of your activation. Thomas and I have a long way to go in the completion stakes though we may well manage NP by the end of the year.


Rick M0RCP

Congratulations to you both. It was good to work you on cw; surprising how little use is made of this mode, on vhf, by SOTA activators. (including myself!)
Could hear Jimmy quite well on ssb, but he did not reply to my calls. I was running 50W compared with his 5W, so in theory he should have heard me. so much for theory!!

I can confirm that you were not heard on SSB Frank, despite your QRO and earlier making it on CW. Thanks very much for trying though, especially having already got the chaser points.

Cheers, Tom