I’d been looking forward to the Lake District weekend for quite some time but I couldn’t decide which radio I should use. I decided that I’d like to do St Sunday Crag G/LD-010, Fairfield G/LD-007 and Seat Sandal G/LD-022. The distance is somewhere around 14 miles of walking. I didn’t fancy carrying a lot of gear, so I thought I would take my KD1JV SSB rig, which can also do CW. I reckoned that the 20m SSB rig would be handy to contact other LD activators via groundwave, along with contacting overseas chasers.
A little while ago I bought a cheap headset from Poundland, with the idea of modifying it to work with the KD1JV SSB rig. With the LD weekend coming up, earlier this week I made a little device to combine the separate mic in and AF out lines from the SSB rig and add in a PTT toggle switch. The device meant that I didn’t have to modify the headset in any way. I could also use a standard trrs mobile phone headset probably too.
To test the headset I activated Hutton Roof Crags G/LD-052 on Friday, I thought it would be a good way to kick off the LD weekend. The headset worked, although in my rush out of the house (my primary focus that day was an eye test in Lancaster in the morning), I neglected to pack the needed 3.5mm plug cables! I happened to have one 3.5mm cable with me, so I was able to connect up the mic/ptt line, but not the audio line. Thankfully I’d also taken an MTR-3B to test, so I had some earphones with me.
I worked 9 stations on SSB but I found the operating to be difficult, the pace just seemed so fast. I made one contact on my LNR Precision MTR-3B on 17m. The MTR-3B was rescued from a scrap pile and re-worked by me into a working rig.
I made my mind up that I wouldn’t offer SSB on my Saturday activations. To keep my bag light, I packed my original 2 band Mountain Topper and my FT60 handheld. I’d use 2m FM to offer S2S contacts.
Working from the timings of the last LD weekend, I reckoned that I needed an early start to make sure that I was at the pub in good time later on - the last time I’d missed the start of John, G3WGV’s talk. My alarm went off at 0415BST. As per usual, it took me quite a while to get out of the house (breakfast etc). I must’ve been still half asleep as I forgot to fill my water bladder!
My journey to Grasmere was fine and I parked up near the Patterdale bridleway at around 0600BST. I walked for about 25 minutes up the bridleway and then it suddenly hit me why my bag felt light! I’d forgotten to add my water! I stashed some water in my car the day before for my ‘lay by shower’ and car maintenance (don’t ask!), so I turned around and headed back to the car. With my water bladder now filled with 2.5l of water I could set off again. I’d lost about 45 minutes in total but I couldn’t manage a 14 mile day without any water.
I thought about dropping St Sunday Crag, but then I remembered that I was still ahead of last year’s time. With some podcasts on my phone and superb visibility, the walk to St Sunday Crag seemed to take no time at all.
St Sunday Crag summit G/LD-010.
I had a quick tune around 2m FM and found Alex G7KSE/P on Red Screes G/LD-017. I had a short chat with Alex before firing up my MTR on 20m. I made 6 QSOs before the frequency went quiet. A further CQ call produced no replies, so I packed up, knowing that I had two more summits still to do.
Some more podcasts passed the time as I headed over Cofa Pike towards Fairfield G/LD-007. Thankfully I had a 3G data signal as my alerted time was well off and I was worried that RBNhole would trigger incorrect spots. The walking just seemed too easy.
I started off on 2m again on Fairfield and had 4 S2S contacts before I fired up the MTR, again on 20m. I used the same tiny lipo that I used on St Sunday Crag. I added 12 CW contacts in the log, including 3 S2S to Europe. Having a final sweep round on 2m brought in another 11 QSOs including 4 S2S plus a dupe S2S with Andy GQ6PJZ/P who requested a spot on SOTAwatch for his 20m SSB frequency from Helvellyn G/LD-003.
I packed up and then sat and ate lunch looking at the view. I then headed off Fairfield down to Grisedale Tarn before heading up the steep flank of Seat Sandal G/LD-022. On previous occasions it’s been rare to see a walker going up Seat Sandal but it was busy as I was ascending. At the top there were about 20 people sat about in various groups eating sandwiches. One fellow came to ask me if my antenna pole was something to do with hang gliding! I explained that my pole was for a radio aerial.
2m FM seemed quiet, so I went straight to 20m CW with the Mountain Topper and fresh 3S lipo. Looking at the QSO numbers (31CW in total) it doesn’t seem that bad, but gosh, at the time it seemed crazy! It was just a wall of noise everytime I finished with a chaser. I’d worked the 31 stations including 6 S2S in just 33 minutes! Trying 2m FM brought in 2 more S2S to bring my QSO total for G/LD-022 to 33.
Seat Sandal residents
It was 1400BST when I switched the radios off on my third and final summit. I was well ahead of my timings. I really had the urge to have a coffee, so I thought that I’d head to Ambleside. I had saved just enough water to have a roadside wash and got changed into some fresh clothes (I missed the luxury of the motorhome I borrowed for my Ben Nevis trip - I could have had a hot shower, got changed in private and made my own coffee!) I made it to Ambleside for just before 1600BST, just as most of the cafes were closing! I had a look around the gear stores and then I saw some bikers, with one of them carrying about 3 coffees, it was about 1630BST. I discovered a cafe that was still open. Yes! That coffee tasted delicious. A few more gear stores and then I left Ambleside and headed to the pub in Windermere.
I thought that some fellow activators might have already have been at the pub but it appeared as though I was the first there. A little while later I spotted David G0EVV and he sat with me whilst he quizzed me about why I did SOTA in research for his upcoming presentation / Q&A session at the RSGB Convention next month. Not so long after, the pub filled with SOTA activators. I had a great conversation with Nigel, M5TUE about Morse and CW rigs. Mark M0NOM did a small speech and raised a toast to Guru EA2IF, a man who enriched SOTA for many of us and was lost far too soon. Andy G6PJZ had reached Mountain Goat by activating Helvellyn G/LD-003 that day, so Allan GW4VPX presented him with a Mountain Goat SOTA patch. Mark M0NOM gave Andy a personalised lucky anvil.
It was a fantastic event, my voice has sounded weird today as I’m not used to talking so much!
Thanks to Mark M0NOM for taking on the organiser role once again, and thanks to the other activators, and of course, those well behaved chasers on CW which made my task of getting stations in the log much easier.
Oh and congratulations to Andy G6PJZ on becoming a Mountain Goat!