Pillar G/LD-006 activation 16-AUG-2020

Another opportunity this weekend to tick off one of my ‘to-do’ summits and also take in another four Wainwrights!


2m FM QSOs

RIG: Yaesu FT-817ND
ANT: Spectrum Communications Slim-G
PWR: 2.5w
Case: PowerPort WorldPouch for FT-817


RIG: Yaesu FT-817ND
ANT: SOTABeams Quadband Dipole
MAST: Decathlon 6m travel pole
PWR: 5w via ZIPPY Compact 2100mAh 3S1P 30C LiFePo4 Pack

All power connections standardized using PowerPole connectors.


Logging: Rite in the Rain 4x6 Notebook and STAEDTLER Noris HB Pencil
Rucksack: Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek 45:55
Phone/Camera: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
Water 1.5 litre, with supplemental water via stream and Chlorine tablet
Snacks: Trek High Protein Flapjack Cocoa Coconut bar x 2, Trail Mix 200g
Clothing: Technical T-Shirt, Marmot moisture wicking base layer (not worn), Regatta trousers, shorts, gloves, extra layers.
Footwear: Salomon X Ultra 3 Prime GTX


Strava Tracking



With the weather report for Saturday indicating good conditions, with a maxium summit wind of 20mph gusting 30mph, little chance of rain and warm (oh yes) temperatures I decided that today was as good as any to tackle Pillar, having looked at it so longingly during my High Stile expedition.

I deliberately decided to take the extra effort required to travel by motorbike, as I new I wasn’t going to be early and anticipated the chances of getting a parking place were limited. I wanted to start on South-West approach of Yewbarrow, the most obvious parking spot being the Over Beck Car Park.


My prediction was spot on, the car park was full. Initially I pulled the bike in at the side of the road but my spidy-senses were tingling when the family in the car behind me rearranged into one car and then moved off again, so I decided to pull the bike into the car park onto a spare piece of grass. Now I don’t know whether they would ticket a bike, but what I found out on the walk back is that the entire road to Wasdale Head is a clearway, and all of the remaining cars had fixed penalty notices attached.

Parking sport in Over Beck Car Park

You might be wondering what I do with the motorbiking gear. Sometimes in the winter I’ll risk riding in walking clothing if it isn’t a long run out, but with this being a full hour-and-a-half from Windermere I dug out some old but serviceable gear then left it with the bike. The helmet is locked ot the bike and I put the gloves in the locked tail unit, so I knew if someone tea-leafed the other gear I’d still have minimal protection on the way home.

Just have to say this is my first visit to the Wasdale valley (I’ve seen it from several summits of course) and that initial vista you get from the road is simply breathtaking, especially on a day like today. That is saying something living in the Lakes. It’s no wonder it is popular.

I’ve omitted details of Wainwrights on the Air activations in this report, if you would like to read about them please open the expanded version of this report including the WOTAs.



I decided I’d like to walk the ridgeline of Yewbarrow so this was always going to be a tough start.

Impending Climb

I did of course, in time honoured tradition, make a navigation error early on, following the path by the river, however it was easily corrected. Off-line maps are essential here as the entire valley appears to be mobile signal free.

Obligitary diversion

On the climb up Yewbarrow before Dropping Crag

The climb is steep but good under foot, although some rock traversing is required at Dropping Crag.

Dropping Crag

Views to the West

On the summit

I decided today to take a risk by not having rig or battery redundancy. I pulled the FT-817 internal battery in favour of the higher capacity and lighter external 2200 maH LifePo4, to save weight on such a long trek. This time I got lucky, no more no less.

I descended Yewbarrow to Dore Head via Stirrup Crag. Much like Dropping Crag on the way up this requires some rock traversal. Nothing too tricky but probably not much fun in the wet and poor visibility. As Derek 2E0MIX pointed out there is an alternative path that is a much gentler descent. I noted the path as I passed it before reaching the final set of Cairn stones.

View towards Red Pike via Dore Head

Looking back at Stirrup Crag from Dore Head

Looking back to Stirrup Crag on the ascent to Red Pike

The ascent was thankless in the heat. I was being followed by a lady a little way back which kind of kept me going. She was kind enough to take my photo at the top, and made a hasty descent back to her friend who wasn’t up for Red Pike.

With light cloud gathering there seemed to be no cover for me all the way up to Steeple. The air temperature appeared to rise as the day went on and you can tell that my factor 30 didn’t survive the sweat today!

Red Pike


View to Kirk Fell from Red Pike

Scoat Fell (left) and Pillar (right) in the background

Following by the edge as you now finally reach Red Pike (and beyond) rewards with magnificent views and you suddenly forget the tired legs.

Scoat Fell


Another 20 minutes walk and you arrive at Scoat Fell. A wall divides the East/West side of the ridgeline here and only after crossing the wall does the magnificent vista towards Steeple reveal itself. The summit itself is a giant boulder field for the most part.

Scoat Fell

View towards High Stile



Oh my goodness me. I think my comment to a walker who I passed on the way to Steeple summed up my mood here: “If I die now, I’ll die happy”. Wow, what a breathtaking summit.

Steeple from Scoat Fell

As I was traversing the narrow path to the summit my thoughts were definitely in the Tolkein universe. Surely this summit must have influenced the novels?

The walkway to Steeple

Summit Cairn Stones

Very, very happy to be here!

Whilst on Steeple I heard a drone flying over head. Whilst packing up the owner arrived at the summit, a VLOGger. His YouTube channel is Blackcrag. I noted that photos of folk on the summit looked really good from Scoat Fell, so I was especially made up when he said the drone footage would make it into his VLOG. Can’t wait to see that.

Black Crag VLOGGer using his GoPro selfie-stick on Steeple

And so to Pillar! The cloud was kissing the traverse making this a wonderful part of the walk.

Wind Gap

View to Crummock Water from Wind Gap

On the final ascent you could see the tops of the Scarfell range peaking above the lower cloudbase.

Scarfell summits above the cloud



Highest point of the walk

Having viewed photos of the summit pre-activation I knew there would be plenty of space for the 80m 1/2 wave dipole. I took a bit of time to walk around the summit to see the views from all directions. The majestic Pillar Rock is a magnificent sight with the Ennerdale valley as a backdrop, the photos really don’t give a good sense of scale!

Pillar Rock

Clouds on the summit

Like Red Crag there was a really healthy insect population on top of Pillar, there being very little wind. A standing VHF activation was called for, I kept to the high part of the summit for this, but then found that venturing towards the slope off of the summit reduced the insect infestation remarkably. Thankfully they weren’t biters as I didn’t have Alex with me for distraction!

2m Activation

Predictably the SOTA status of this summit brought in more chasers including the regulars - good to get Geoff GM4WHA in the log from here as this was the first summit where I found a free frequency above 145.500 (he has QRM below at home), although I guess this time being /M it wouldn’t have mattered. Mike 2E0IKM doing a great job of chasing as well as activating!

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|14:43|G1OHH|2m|145.575|FM|IO84ob|England|Susan Griffin|
|14:43|GW4ZPL|2m|145.575|FM|IO73wd|Wales|Colin John Barwell|
|14:44|2E0IKM|2m|145.575|FM|IO84fp|England|Mike Moffat|
|14:45|M7XUP/M|2m|145.575|FM||England|QTH: Penrith|
|14:45|2E0MIX|2m|145.575|FM|IO84fn|England|Derek Edge|
|14:48|G0TDM|2m|145.575|FM|IO84oq|England|John Sutton|
|14:49|G7CDA|2m|145.575|FM|IO83qt|England|Douggie G7CDA|
|14:50|M0MHW|2m|145.575|FM|IO83ro|England|Gary Hardman|OP: Gary, QTH: Pilling|
|14:52|GI0THZ/M|2m|145.575|FM| |Northern Ireland|OP: Harry|
|14:52|GM4WHA/M|2m|145.575|FM||Scotland|QTH: Headland Garden Ctr|
|14:53|2E0LBI|2m|145.575|FM|IO84jc|England|Leslie Bell|OP: Les|

HF Setup

I noted that the mobile phone signal was much better on the Northerly side of the summit, so this is where I setup the HF antenna. It was really nice to be able to operate standing on HF, now with the mast supported via the HF antenna setup I was able to wander around and enjoy the views in between QSOs.

Standing HF operation

80m Activation

Great list of contacts on 80m and the 5w was surprising both myself and those at the other end of the QSO. Douggie was doing really well with his AMPRO antenna and Phil sounded simply amazing with his great QTH setup. Lovely to have a chat with David G8KAP near Carlise, 88 years young. Hope I still have a mike in my hand (and still understand what it does) if I get there!

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|15:16|G7CDA|80m|3.720|SSB|IO83qt|England|Douggie G7CDA|ANT: Ampro Vertical|
|15:18|MM0XPZ|80m|3.720|SSB|JJ00aa|Scotland|SW Groves|OP: Steve|
|15:19|G8CPZ|80m|3.720|SSB|JJ00aa|England|Andy Barth|OP: Andy, PWR: 30w, CMT: 43KM from Pillar|
|15:21|G4OBK|80m|3.720|SSB|IO94of|England|PHIL CATTERALL
|15:23|G0RQL|80m|3.720|SSB|IO70uv|England|DON ROOMES
|15:26|G8KAP|80m|3.720|SSB|IO84mt|England|David Patrick|OP: Dave, QTH: 5 miles SW Carlisle, WAB: NY34, AGE: 88, RIG: ICOM 7610, QSL: TX|
|15:32|2I0FIP|80m|3.720|SSB|JJ00aa|Northern Ireland|John Miskimmin|
|15:33|G6PJZ|80m|3.720|SSB|IO94hl|England|Andy Clift|OP: Andy|

40m Activation #1

Good to get my regular SOTA chasers of Karl and Manuel in the log on 40m. Mike G0RDF was doing a great job from his /M setup.

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|15:38|2E0FEH|40m|7.180|SSB|IO70VJ|England|Karl Kruger|
|15:39|2I0FIP|40m|7.180|SSB|JJ00aa|Northern Ireland|John Miskimmin|
|15:42|G0RFD|40m|7.180|SSB|IO92FS|England|MK SMITH|OP: Mike, RIG: ICOM 706MK2, QTH: S. Derbyshire, ANT: 1/4 wave on car, PWR: 100w|
|15:44|MW0XOT|40m|7.180|SSB|IO82hf|Wales|John Messenger|QTH: Central Wales, PWR: 50w, ANT: G5RV|

20m Activation

I wasn’t expecting great things from 20m as it has been poor as of late but oh my - Iceland S2S as the first contact! It didn’t quite hit me how unusual this is - I think I have one other in the log. Tony was booming in Groundwave but generally the contacts on 20m quite light today.

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|15:50|TF/HB9GKR|20m|14.335|SSB||Iceland|SOTA S2S TF/SL-199
|15:51|G1OAE|20m|14.315|SSB|IO84fp|England|TONY STEEL|OP: Tony, QTH: Seaton|
|15:52|DL2HWI|20m|14.315|SSB|JO61hu|Germany|Dietmar Falkenberg|
|15:53|OK2PDT|20m|14.315|SSB|JJ00aa|Czech Republic|JAN LAVICKA|
|15:53|DL6MST|20m|14.315|SSB|JO51ku|Germany|Klaus Stieglitz|

40m Activation #2

I re-clipped to 40m to get Jordan in the log S2S into Wales. Good to hear him out and about, and then I re-spotted for a final couple of 40m contacts. At the end I heard Jose EA2IF asking if I could go back to 20m as he was struggling to hear me on 40m. He is such a SOTA legend I couldn’t disappoint!

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|16:00|MW3TMX/P|40m|7.181|SSB| |Wales|OP: Jordan, SOTA S2S GW/SW-006|
|16:07|G0VWP|40m|7.184|SSB|IO93kx|England|Terry Sayner|
|16:08|DK6HS|40m|7.184|SSB|JN39xd|Germany|Sven Hammer|

20m operation for EA2IF

It took about 5 minutes to complete the QSO with Jose but we got there in the end, a case of repetition until the transmissions got through the deep QSB.

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|16:15|EA2IF/P|20m|14.313|SSB| |Spain|

Final 2m QSOs

Checking Whatsapp after packing up I found Nigel wondered if I was still doing VHF. Using the stock whip he was 59 with me and so was Steve who piggybacked on the end of the QSO for the points.

|Time|Call|Band|Freq|Mode|Grid|Country|Operator Name|
|16:39|M5TUE|2m|145.525|FM|IO84qi|England|Nigel Wadsworth|


I’d decided to descend Pillar via Black Sail Pass for a couple of reasons:

  • I was running very low on water and had spotted that Gatherstone Beck had a very healthy flow.
  • More ridge line traverse, never a bad thing - keep those views coming!
  • I don’t like retracing steps if I can help it.
  • Originally I had thought of activating Kirk Fell, until time ran away from me.

Traverse to Black Sail Pass

Looking back to Pillar

saving Kirk Fell for another day

At the pass crossroads

Just after the descent started I took the opportunity to fill my water bottle from the beck. Nigel M5TUE told me before that he’d never had any ill effects from drinking water straight from becks, if you use your head. The water tasted wonderful! However, I was curious to see what effect the chlorine tablets would have on the water, so dropped one in and 30 minutes later was happy to find that I could hardly tell the difference.

Easy descent

The descent was easy if not long! My phone was now low so I took the opportunity to use the 12v to USB adapter I carry to charge it from the LifePo4. As it happens my Strava tracking stopped when I was ready to at the Wasdale Head Inn, where I had a very well earned beer and pork pie!

Beer and a quid pork pie

The walk back to the car park was about 2.5 miles but good under foot and flat!!! Fortunately I wasn’t feeling any ill effects, either muscles or feet, so this was a nice unwind.

Thank you so much to all the dedicated chasers! What a day!

My final message: you simply must visit Steeple on a nice day


Great report!
Great photos!
Thank you for listening to me on 40m and making QSY to 20m for me. With S9+ noise level on 40m it was impossible to copy you, but I luckily guessed you would copy me. The QSO on 20m wasn’t easy at all, but we finally made it. You just need to take the /P out of my callsign, as I was chasing you from home. Should I had been /P from a summit my QRM would have been low and the QSO would have probably been possible on 40m.
Thank you!


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What a wonderful day out and especially starting with the well anticipated parking problem. We did the shortish valley aproach from Wasdale Head on a baking hot July day in 2018 having managed Scafell (and the 70cm UKAC from Irton Pike) the day before. With that amount of ascent I now have to leave the HF gear behind and we are reduced to 2m and 70cm only - well done on taking the necessary hardware across all those hills. You certainly earned that beer.
I think the M0JCA in your log is actually M0JLA - I notice that I have to make sure of a sharp corner when recording a capital L :slightly_smiling_face:
Looking forward to some more LD chasing - I still have four to do.


Hi Guru,

I guessed /P to be fair and you didn’t tell me that, need to listen more! I’ll correct the logs.
Always a pleasure to work you Guru!

Really enjoyed that report! Thanks for jumping back to 40m for the S2S - I did try to find you on 20m, but had no luck. I remember you apologising for having good views during our QSO, as I was sat with only 50m visibility - I now understand why! You had the perfect day out for such an epic trek and I’m glad you had a great time :smiley:

Jordan M3TMX

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Corrected, thanks Rod, I need to retire my 2 inch pencil :wink:

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What a glorious day out!

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Hello Mark, you certainly had a great day out…really enjoyed you report and the fantastic photos, thanks. 73 de Geoff vk3sq

Hope Wasdale wasn’t too busy. Looks like things are calming down a bit from the local jungle drums. Pillar is a great activation spot because there’s so much room. I must go that route too. I’ve gone all the other ways :slight_smile:

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Hi Mark,
Fabulous report, I completed that round when doing Wainwrights, magic. It was perhaps wise to leave Kirk Fell for another day, the ascent/ descent from Black Sail is a tad technical with a big rucksack.
Pleased to see that the beer and piglet pie went down well, to refuse would have been rude.

Regarding water supplies, I remember ascending Warnscale Bottom (Buttermere) with my parents 60 years ago on a very hot day. I slaked my thirst in the river, only to discover the rotting carcase of a sheep in the middle of the river 20 feet up stream. Water tasted wonderful, and ill effects, none (that I know about)!


Hi David. I knew there was a reason why I tried to get water at the first possible opportunity from the source! I’ve lived here for 17 years but only ventured onto the peaks 5 years ago, so I have a lot of catching up to do!

Regards, Mark.

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Hi Alex. It was normal summer busy, not bank holiday busy, although I suspect it would have been a very different experience in a car. Bowness and Windermere continue to be like Blackpool, and someone from Blackpool the other day said that was out-of-this-world on Saturday. Strange times…


Thanks Mark for the brilliant pics and write up,also the qso. Mny tnx Don G0RQL.

Ennerdale was a lot quieter yesterday. We arrived around 9am and left at 1pm and whilst the car park at Bowness Knott had spaces the Bleach Green end was full. loads less than a few weeks ago.

Linn of Dee car park was heaving when I arrived just after 10 yesterday There no more than 10 spaces left which means 70 cars there already. A lovely old lady (70s) drove up and parked next to me but left a big gap and got out with her husband. I suggested she could get a good bit closer and leave space for more cars. “Why should I do that.” Her husband rolled his eyes in dismay and scuttled off to get a parking ticket. Lovely attitude.

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That shows how long it has been since I was there - it used to be rough parking for perhaps ten cars.

… Or 6 horse drawn carriages :roll_eyes:

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Multiple parking meters, toilets etc. all nicely landscaped to hide it from view.

Even I am not that old, Steve! I’m thinking of the last years when you could get a decent pint at the Mar Lodge bar, handy for Muir Cottage but sadly closed.

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I must have tempted fate when I wrote [on Mark’s previous G/LD report] that I was avoiding G/LD honeyspot summits this month due to bad parking. Cos yesterday I did High Street (G/LD-011) and 3 WOTAs. The little car park was nearly empty when I arrived at 8:45am but when I got back 5 hours later a load of cars had formed a big ‘island’ of steel in the middle. Good job someone was around to help me get my long estate car [station wagon] out into the small gap they had left me and the other early birds. Roll on the start of the school year.

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