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Third Time Unlucky?

Having completed rebuilding my portable dipole and eliminated the hidden fault, I was keen to try it out and with Tosson SB-007 being my nearest summit, planned to activate it on Saturday. It was a grim gray morning in Newcastle with some occasional smurr but the forecast was improving so we planned a later afternoon activation never anticipating that it would end up being a late as it did.

Drove north from Newcastle with the sun breaking through the clouds, parked in the Simonside forest car park and headed to the summit where we set up by some rocks just beyond it. Kay M3YEY was established on 145 FM while I set up for 5 mhz and as I completed, and she made her fourth contact we spotted some people with dogs approaching, two wearing the distinctive garb of game keepers. They were not happy bunnies. What were we doing here? Who gave us permission to be there? I explained what we were doing, cooled the situation, and offered to move off, so as not to disrupt their grouse shoot but we agreed that it was probably better for us to stay put as that would actually cause least disruption. So we took cover to avoid flying pellets.

After their first drive now 5pm local I managed to work 3 stations before their second drive began, and I had to go QRT once more. Finally at about 5:45pm the second drive was over so I had a quick burst of activity to qualify the summit - one point and my third activation of SB-007 complete - no time for any other bands.

As I started to pack up, yet more keepers arrived again not happy bunnies, but we were able once more to cool the situation and after some discussion the situation became more amiable and they departed with a smile.

The moorland is open access but there was no closure listed on the open access website. Also there were no notices at the common access points advising of a grouse shoot. I would certainly never take any action regardless of open access to disturb a grouse shoot. However as stated on the countryside access website: “What you can do on access land - Most recreational activities that are carried out on foot, such as walking, bird-watching, climbing and running.” Some interesting additional examples are given such as climbing, caving, abseiling, hang gliding, orienteering, metal detecting, and surprisingly clay-pigeon shooting. My perspective is since the rules of SOTA require walking to a summit and setting up a light weight fully portable radio transmitter, then such activity should fall into the category of recreational activities that are carried out on foot.

After we were packed up, there were 3 miles back to the car in failing light which we reached in the dark at 7:40pm. We were home hungry for 8:35pm. At least I now have the headkeeper’s phone number so I’ll check before going back again. Apologies to those who may have looked for this summit mid afternoon. Thanks to those who were there late, and particular thanks to Steve GW7AAV for spots and explaning the situation.
73 jim g0cqk

In reply to G0CQK:
Hi Jim,

It was great to contact Kay on 2m FM… I was at Cat Cairn, next to Sky Space at Kielder, and quite surprised to get through with the VX150 and rubber duck. Cat Cairn isn’t very high up, but does give an excellent view of Peel Fell… it gave me an idea of how steep the climb is… for a future activation!

I’m interested in your comments about the Game Keepers on Tosson… I know this is open access, and the rules are, in my humble opinion, far to complicated and ‘open to interpretation’. However… I thought that a public right of way (path) now existed, across Tosson. I know the old private signs have gone, but I’m sure I read somewhere that this was a right of way…

In reply to G0CQK:

Many thanks for putting this one on Jim. It was a unique for me and leaves me only ten English summits to chase. I must admit to being a little worried for you. We don’t want anyone getting shot for the sake of a point or two. Maybe we should include tin hats and flak jackets in our equipment at this time of year.

The rebuilt dipole seems to be working well as you had the best signal I heard on 5mHz yesterday. Propagation was not at all good so you did well to qualify the summit.

Maybe you could post the head keeper’s telephone number into the summit information for the use of others.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

You are correct. The path across Tosson moor is a public right of way since April 2006. However apart from a waymark at each end it is as yet not fully waymarked. There is also the issue of the definitive map as held by Northumberland CC so where exactly is the public footpath. I have seen the so called definitive maps and frankly they are rubbish. I fail to understand how councils can call maps defintitive when clearly it appears they never actually check them with a GPS. I gave up belief when I found a defintive bridleway that went straight over a cliff!!!

The dipole did seem to work well as most stations I heard were 59 and the rig SWR although through the ATU was stable unlike my previous three activations. I think the fault may have been under two layers of heat shrink - not sure but highly suspicious. Also I was working a slightly QRO vs the 817 as I took the 857 and ran 10 watts first session and 20 watts second session. Had planned a longer activation so had 2 7ah SLAbs one of which never got used. I will add the head keeper’s phone number to the summit info.

I think I too will stick to warmer times although I would really recommend all activators to be careful with heather moors especially grouse moors from about mid April to about mid June as this is a very sensitive time for all ground nesting birds. The grouse breeding in south Northumberland was badly hit by the bad summer weather and there are few birds around while north Norhtumberland mainly the Cheviots did a lot better.
73 jim g0cqk

In reply to G0CQK:

Ta for the info… still think I’ll get a bullet proof vest!!