Slieve Donard - 850metres - 19 May 2019
As I’m sure many of you know, Slieve Donard is one of those mountains where you climb every single metre. Meaning of course that you start walking at Sea-Level, (the Donard carpark in Newcastle) and hike all 850metres. We made our way along the unmarked footpath through the deciduous woodland to meet the Glen River. Following the Glen River valley straight up to the saddle between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh where we met the Mourne Wall. At that point we turn left and followed the Wall at close to a 45 degree incline straight up the 270 metres to the summit. The final hike from the saddle to the summit is a serious climb.
We left Newcastle at 10:00am and reached the summit at 12:30. The antenna used was the 2m Roll-up J-Pole I homebrewed a couple of weeks previously. Hauled up to a 5 metre telescopic fishing pole and fed from a Yaesu VX-6 transmitting with 5watts.
I’m constantly amazed at the reach one can get with 5watts, a piece of wire and 850metres of elevation. You can see the range achieved in the log l isted above. From Fred in Dunlop Scotland to Don in Cardigan Bay, South Wales. East to Phil and Jamie in the Lake District and west to Phil in Sligo.
My mate Dom put together a small graphic from Google Earth to show the breadth of reach we achieved.
Google Earth tells us that the area of coverage is approximately 76,500 square kilometres. Amazing.
Lesson learned here, if you want to be heard, get up high.
The calculated distance to the horizon at 850metres is 104km. However Cardigan Bay is over 200km’s away, so there must have been some Tropospheric propagation happening. All the help I can get.
The Weather on the day was dry, just about. The temperature was about 6 degrees Centigrade on the summit, (14 degrees in Newcastle), wind was from the North West at about 20km/hr. Clouds were coming and going. Visibility to the east was excellent for most of the time on the mountain, With one of our party spotting the summits of the Isle of Man of in the distance, the day was complete.
However, as we know, getting to the summit and activating it is just half the story, getting back down safely and home for dinner is the most important stage in the expedition.
We made our way back down to the saddle in about 20 minutes. A very treacherous descent if it had been raining, the loose rock in the worn footpath being a hazard to the unwary SOTA activator, and even more dangerous if a rock becomes dislodged and starts down the mountain at speed !
We got back to Donard car park at about 15:20, dying for a cup of coffee and a lemon meringue in the nearby café.
Frank MI/ strong textEI8HIB/P
Climbing the last 250metres from the Saddle
Setting up on the Summit cairn.