Well, we had a good day. The main objective was to see if Jimmy could activate on 40m using SSB, QRP and SPOTlite. The answer was yes, although it didn’t work out on the third summit of the day. Dusk was approaching though, there were no gaps between the contest stations, and they themselves could no longer hear our QRP as the skip started to get longer. But considering that we wanted to test these working conditions in order to have a better chance of qualifying Kisdon G/NP-026 (and others with poor VHF take-off) the next time we go there, it was good to confirm that we could either nominate a frequency (or be spotted) on SOTAwatch via SPOTlite, or answer the contest stations if an event was on. This all worked fine before 4pm.
We kicked off with a cooked breakfast at the big Tesco in Macclesfield - bacon, scrambled egg, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash brown, beans and pot of tea. We then parked in the usual spot just short of the Cat & Fiddle pub on the A537 and walked to Shining Tor G/SP-004.
Although the temperature was rather mild (varying between 9 and 11 degrees), the winds were strong again all day, adding significant windchill. We were able to get comfortable in shelter. We found this huddled at the foot of a wall on Shining Tor. Unfortunately, the 40m dipole and fishing pole remained exposed to the conditions, and collapsed several times during the activation! This problem did not repeat itself on the two later summits, which are of course both a good 500 feet lower than this one.
I made a few contacts on 40m CW, and Jimmy some on SSB. We made S2S contacts with Luc ON6DSL/P and Klaus DF2GN/P, both on 40m SSB. After quite a long stop on summit, I sent the lads down with my car keys, and volunteered to pack everything away alone. When I returned to the car, Liam was inside it, but Jimmy wasn’t. “Where is he?” I asked. Liam told me that he was “over there somewhere looking for a geocache”. He returned, triumphantly, a couple of minutes later.
We now headed along the lanes via Bottom o’th’ Oven, Forest Chapel, Wildboarclough, Wincle and Danebridge towards Gun G/SP-013. The walk up was simple enough, and somewaht less waterlogged than a visit a couple of days earlier. The wind was at our backs on the ascent, so we continued on the path beyond the summit to set up a few metres lower on the other side. This time, establishing one’s own QRG was more challenging, but Jimmy was able to pick up his contacts by answering the contest calls. Unfortunately, one DL contest station refused to work him - I had already worked this station, and he said to Jimmy “Already in the log”. Jimmy replied “No, you worked M1EYP/P, I am M3EYP/P, a different station”. The DL station replied “Already in the log, no QSO, 73”! Hmmm - maybe the matching suffix idea was not one of our best after all!
Time was getting on, and we were at least an hour behind our published SOTAwatch Alerts schedule. Straight on with the ten minute drive across to Cloudside, and up the steps to the summit. We set up the dipole and dropped the feeder into the “hole”, which provided excellent shelter. Unfortunately, it was a waste of time, for the skip was now lengthening, and the contest was dominating. Jimmy now found that he couldn’t make himself heard in answering the contest stations, and the strongest of those were now from Russia and Ukraine, as opposed to the earlier Belgium and Germany. I was called by Fritz DL4FDM on CW, but the QRM rendered things impossible there too, and the QSO was not completed.
In the end, we admitted defeat on this one and packed the HF antenna away. We then activated in rapidly failing daylight by the trig point using the Yaesu VX-7R handheld with RSS, so all on 2m FM.
Overall, a good day, rounded off with a good meal with the XYL up at The Highwayman at Rainow - now more of an a la carte restaurant than a pub, but still serving Thwaites Lancaster Bomber - heaven!
73, Tom M1EYP