Return of the SOTA Beam

Rumours of the demise of this item from my activating equipment inventory have been much exaggerated. However, I will concede that it hasn’t enjoyed the same high profile as in previous years, due to our migration to HF and my enjoyment of CW. My carrying, but not using the SB270 has caused amusement to some, anger to others, and total indifference to most.

However, tomorrow it will be on from both summits - The Calf G/NP-013 and Yarlside G/NP-019. It will be flatside, whether for SSB, CW or FM. There might also be a bit of vertical FM from Jimmy’s handheld. The ‘running order’ on each activation should be: me on 2m CW, Jimmy on 2m SSB, me on 2m SSB and Jimmy on 2m FM. Then again, I find I can hardly ever stick to a well intended plan like that, so who knows?

I would like to qualify both hills on 2m CW though, so here’s hoping that the VHF CWers will be monitoring. All being well, these will be Uniques 196 and 197, and activations 697 and 698.

Lymm TS here we come…


In reply to M1EYP:
Sorry will miss first one Tom - working :frowning:
Should be home for second if your eta is correct.
Beam in that direction ready.

Roger G4OWG
(ps have you tried M&S Thai green chilli chicken soup?)

Hmmm, what exactly is a retired schoolmaster doing working in the school holidays? I think you may have missed a couple of key points there Roger.

I look forward to working you tomorrow. Shame you won’t be there for the first, as one of the 2m CW regulars. I’ll probably struggle to get four without you!

Not tried that soup, but I’ll get some. Tomorrow’s offering is Baxters Root Vegetable and Butternut Squash.


In reply to M1EYP:
Well Tom what time you setting off from Macclesfield, as I will be on GB3VT from 4-00am and on GB3MN from 5-15am till I reach Birch services on the M62, hopefully the M6 should be open southbound By that time, serious incident @ junction 14 near to Stafford services, As for the two summits won’t be around for the chaser ints as sleep time hi hi,
Have a good activation by the way,

Steve m0sgb

Would you believe, that in six years of SOTA, I have never activated in the Howgills? I wasn’t going to this time either; today, long identified as a SOTA day out opportunity for Jimmy and I, was earmarked for Welsh pair of Pen Llithrig y Wrach GW/NW-013 and Creigiau Gleision GW/NW-028.

One look at the Met Office website changed all that. Wales looked appalling, if you will excuse that clumsy phrase. So, for that matter, did all southern and central England, and Scotland, with the Lake District also under threat. However, equally clear was that North Yorkshire looked odds on to escape everything. So I changed my plan from NW-028/NW-013 to NP-013/NP-019.

We were at the iconic Lymm Truck Stop for a mug of tea and bumper fry up each shortly after 7am, and then bombing up the M6 to Junction 37, known well to us as the Lambrigg Fell G/LD-046 turning. But here we headed right into Sedburgh, and through to the Cross Keys Inn and the large parking area shortly after.


We crossed the long narrow footbridge and followed the river for a short while around the foot of Ben End. Then we took the right fork in the path and headed over boggier but straightforward ground towards the waterfall. The sun was out, and although it was very cold - about 2 degrees - we were just in shirts and fleeces, the coats, gloves, hats and spare fleeces in our rucksacks.

If we hadn’t warmed up already, we certainly did as we began to climb steeply up the grassy bank beside Cautley Spout. The sign requested that we vary our route up, zigzagging and avoiding eroded areas. We obliged - for a while. For when it got really steep, and quite narrow, the level bootprints eroded into the ground were difficult to avoid. My knees, ankles and thighs were well in need of some respite, so I abandoned my conscience and followed in the footsteps of others - literally.

By the higher section of the waterfall, the path became even steeper yet, climbing up big cubes of rock. It was more like a ladder than a path! At the head of Cautley Spout, the ground eased and we turned south to walk by Red Gill Beck and Force Gill Beck towards the saddle. Here we intercepted a wide gravel bridleway, and five more minutes in a NNW direction led us to the trig point at the summit.

Our coats had now been on for twenty minutes, and the bitter cold at the summit demanded that we also add a second fleece each. The SOTA Beam was set up, horizontally polarised, and I kicked off on 2m CW. Three contacts made here, then Jimmy had a go on 2m SSB. Just one here for Jimmy, so we had a go on FM. It was nice to get Andy M0FMF/P at Tebay Services (at the bottom of the hill we were on!) and a S2S with Gordon G0EWN/P on Fairfield G/LD-007.

We finished with 3 on 2m CW, 1 on 2m SSB and 7 on 2m FM. 5 contacts for M1EYP and 6 for M3EYP. As we began packing the gear away, several large groups of walkers consecutively arrived at the summit. No sooner had I arranged for one walker to take a photo of Jimmy and I by the trig, than I was being made the same kind of request myself for the other groups. We were pretty cold, but soon warmed up when walking again back down to the top of Cautley Spout.


Here we continued straight on, following the green path ahead towards the big green dome of Yarlside. It was looking superb in the bright afternoon sunshine. Despite the cold, it had remained dry and bright with only minimal wind, so we were pleased with that. That morning’s BBC TV forecast had indicated the possibility of a sharp lunchtime shower. This was looking less likely in increasingly clear and deep blue skies.

We crossed the saddle and followed the faint path up the steep grassy slopes. Here, the walking became less pleasant, with the route much less distinct, and the steep slopes putting extra pressure on the ankles. We intercepted the gully at Bowderdale Head and followed that upwards until the land suddenly became much steeper. Jimmy wasn’t sure how to proceed. I was sure - that I needed a rest and a spot of lunch.

We got the foam mats out and plonked down by the babbling brook on very steep ground. A couple of cups of Root Vegetable and Butternut Squash soup (delicious - recommended) and a Cadbury’s Boost bar each replenished our energy and mental resources sufficiently to attack the remaining climb with renewed vigour and confidence.

It was still a steep pull up onto the ridge which took lots of effort, but once there we were greeted with an easy distinct path to the summit. After the customary photographs by the summit cairn, we set up the 2m SOTA Beam (horizontally again) a couple of metres down in lee of the wind. The views from our operating position were stunning. This time we made 4 contacts on 2m CW, 5 on 2m SSB and 3 on 2m FM, a total of 5 for Jimmy and 7 for Tom.

For the descent route, we followed the ridge down over Ben End, and dropped down to meet the bridleway back to the layby and the Cross Keys Inn. Although the ground was definitely damp, it was not the unpleasant bog that Steve G1INK had encountered here two days earlier. Plus we had the added bonus that it didn’t rain at all, all day. My mind began to turn to the prospect of hand-pulled Black Sheep Bitter and homemade pork and black pudding pies. Until we saw two depressing signs on the inn: “Unlicensed” and “Closed”.

So homeward bound it was for a Weston Balti and a bottle of red wine. A splendid day out with a super circular walk. Plus two SOTA uniques and 8 points. Thanks to all callers, especially the intrepid 2m CWers.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

It was good to work you and Jimmy from Tebay Services. I pulled up to have some lunch and raid the farm shop and was just playing with the fabulousness of 3g data services (just using the browser on the phone, not the eeePC/phone combo) and saw a spot saying Jimmy was looking for calls. I’m sure you can see The Calf summit from the car park so a quick blip with the VX170 and that was Jimmy in the bag. The car said it was 2C there, cold, sunnyish and no wind. I was going to do Lambrigg Fell and Hutton Roof Crags but an ankle injury on Moel Siabod on Sunday put play to that. I checked the parking and starts for the next time I’m down there… it was snowing quite hard at Lambrigg!

The WX as I travelled North was magnificent, so much so that I had to go and inspect the masts at Skelton and Caldbeck. They’re still working on the new mast at Caldbeck that carries all the digital TV services and the old mast is still in-situ as it carries BBC Scotland analogue programes. I watched some dudes ride up in the basket from ground level to the summit (750ft I think) of the mast. It took about 15mins to get to the top and I watched the man in an orange boilersuit get out onto the mast. That’s more than I could do! I’ll post some photos tonight.

Bah! Work today.


In reply to MM0FMF:

I hope your ankle is mending well, Andy, I presume you are another victim of the summit boulder fields!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G8ADD:

I presume you are another victim of the summit boulder fields!

No! I’d been watching Brian slip on the wet grass all day thinking he was rehearsing for a part with Charlie Coroli’s Falling Down Clowns and he’d just gone doodah over apex and said “It’s slippy there!” I came down with two walking poles and stopped and said “I though you said it was slippy?” with a big grin on my face. Brian looked at me with a look of disbelief and then whilst I was standing still all hell broke loose and I found myself 10ft further down the path in a tangle of legs and poles. One sore ankle and 2-3kms to walk. Grrr!

It’s much better now, but I don’t think it’s up to the strain of uneven ground yet. It’s still swollen slightly so I’ll probably have next weekend off, the hills aren’t going anywhere and it would be daft to work the joint when there’s no need.

First injury of any kind in 106 summits.


In reply to MM0FMF:

I recommend a hot footbath then Radian B!

I remember many years ago travelling by train to Roman Bridge, climbing Siabod, and just starting back for Bettws to catch the train back when I got my foot caught in the boulders, and ripped the sole off freeing it. The spare bootlace held it together to the road but I just about caught the last train with one foot just wearing a sock!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to M1EYP:
I heard you calling on cw from NP-13 and called you a couple of times. I wonder if you were hearing me? The Angus beacon was quite strong here, so I think conditions were reasonable.

73, Frank

Ah. I thought I might have heard your suffix at point Frank, but it was very faint. When I turned the beam and called QRZ?, other stations answered, and I assumed it was them all along. I continued to call, mainly with South pointing beam for a while after the contacts dried up, but didn’t hear you again.