Just when you thought you were safe and that I had stopped writing activation reports… well you were wrong!
Even more Lake District and North Pennines summits
Sunday 20th June 2010 to Tuesday 22nd June 2010
For this round of activations we were based at the Travelodge in the centre of Carlisle. This was more convenient than being based at a Travelodge on the motorway since we would be approaching from the west and the activations planned for Monday and Tuesday would be to the east in the NP’s.
Sunday started early with an alarm call at 01:45z (02:45 a.m.) – fairly typical for our activations. The 80 mile run out to Paul’s QTH started at 02:20z and despite a section of roadworks, I arrived on schedule at 03:40. There were further roadworks to be negotiated as the M6 was closed between junctions 10 to 11 which meant a familiar detour into Wolverhampton, but thereafter it was an easy if somewhat lengthy drive northwards to our parking spot. This was located in the valley of Mosedale where we parked up at NY330326 at 07:18, just 3 minutes adrift of our estimated time. I chose to park just beyond the small bridge at the end of the tarmac road where there is a grassy parking spot to the left of the bridleway. We weren’t the first in the valley and it was positively heaving when we returned to the car later in the day.
We started our ascent at 07:40 by crossing back over the bridge and forking left to ascend to the track running up by the side of Grainsgill Beck. This took us up to the former mine workings and this section was easy very going. The track thereafter reduced to a footpath and was reasonably well defined, though we did need to ascertain the most appropriate route at a number of points. There was one small stream (Arm o’ Grain) to cross close to a shady tree, but that was the only feature that resembled anything like an obstacle on the route. Once at the col, the path heading off to the left was very clear and we could see our route running in a south-westerly direction up a sharp incline onto the plateau that lies to the east of the summit of Knott G/LD-023. The route thereafter was very easy to follow.
It was 09:02 when we arrived at the summit which was marked by a cairn. I decided to stay close to the highest point to work the higher bands, while Paul moved off to find a suitable spot to set up for HF. It was very pleasant to be able to sit on the dry grass in the sun and set up the stations with a little time in hand, since we were alerted for 09:30. Paul just pipped me getting on air and made his first contact on 60m with Frank G3RMD at 09:17. Propagation on the band was reasonable, though restricted to England, with 12 of the regulars making it into Paul’s log in 30 minutes. After signing with Phil G4OBK, there were no other takers, so Paul moved to 80m where propagation was decidedly towards Scotland, with just Ian GM0NBG/P and Geoff GM4WHA worked. After several calls without further response, Paul decided to call time on the activation and started to pack up at 10:10z.
With the summit lying behind Blencathra and with further summits beyond, I did not have high hopes for making many contacts from this one. John G0TDM was ready waiting for me at 09:18 and it soon became apparent that qualification of the summit would not be an issue since the locals and other regular chasers were out in force. However, I was rather surprised to have 11 in the log in the first 20 minutes of operation. At that point I took a short break to work Geoff GM4WHA who had gone out to a high spot near Annan to attempt to work me on 23cms – the result was a solid contact at 59+ both ways and a new band for the summit. Indeed I was to record the first contacts from Knott on 6m, 4m and 70cms as well during the activation.
After signing with Geoff, I returned to 2m to find Don G0RQL waiting, his signal like many others coming off the edge of Blencathra. We decided to try on 70cms and as we were making the QSY, John M0JDK slipped in to exchange reports on 2m. Surprisingly signals on 70cms were able to skirt the higher ground and a good contact was achieved with Don using SSB. John G0TDM and Geoff GM4WHA, still out at his high spot, tail-ended the contact with Don before I once again got back to 2m to see whether there was anyone waiting. This time I found Phil G4OBK on frequency and after exchanging 59 reports on 2m, we moved up to 70cms where we exchanged 57 reports. After signing, I put further calls out on 70cms SSB and CW, with John G0TDM taking the opportunity to exchange reports on the key, but there were no other takers. I announced a move to 4m FM where John was ready waiting and we also made a quick QSO on 6m by me hooking up the 4m slim jim to the 857 running QRP. Back on 4m, John GD0NFN and Geoff GM4WHA were worked, but a 4th contact eluded me. I went QRT at 10:40z well pleased.
Knott G/LD-023: 60m SSB - 12, 80m SSB – 2, 6m FM – 1, 4m FM – 3, 2m SSB – 14, 70cms SSB – 4, 70cms CW – 1, 23cms FM – 1.
We were just 7 minutes adrift of our schedule when we started our descent at 10:52. It was an extremely pleasant walk back to the car which was reached by 11:50. The walk kick-started the appetite and I was ready for something to eat as my 3 a.m. breakfast had long since disappeared. We set off back down Mosedale at 12:10 and all went well until I had a lapse of concentration in Mungrisdale and turned right on the narrow road to Scales. After four sets of gates (sorry Paul) and a conversation with a car full of young ladies that followed us down the road, we eventually reached the A66 and turned right towards Keswick and thereafter up the A591 towards our second summit for the day, Binsey G/LD-041.
We reached the parking spot adjacent to the sheep pens at NY235350 still ahead of schedule at 13:00 despite having “lost” 10 minutes on the journey. I added the 12AH SLAB to the backpack for this one in order to save LiPo power for the higher summits and we set off through the new pedestrian gate just 6 minutes after our arrival. The ascent up the hill was straightforward, reasonably steep (or was that the 15kg load?) and somewhat uninteresting, but at least the views started to unfold as we neared the summit. It was 13:33 when we touched the trig and since we did not expect to have visitors on this summit I bagged the side of the summit shelter to set up against while Paul once again moved slightly downhill for his HF activation. In fact we did have several groups visit the summit during our activation, which just goes to show what a popular area this part of the Lakes is for walking.
Neither of us rushed to get on and it was 13:57 by the time that we were ready to activate the summit. Paul found Geoff G6MZX ready waiting, but despite being spotted, 60m was hard work and only G4OBK, M0COP, G0RQL (number 4 once again Don!), G0NES and G3OHC were added to the log. After a lengthy period of calling, Paul moved to 80m and Geoff once again was waiting, but there were just 3 contacts on this band, the others being MM0USU and G0RQL. After another barren period of calling, Paul returned to 60m and worked Martyn MM1MAJ/P on Meall a’Choire Leith GM/CS-041 for the only S2S of the day.
On 2m it was Colin 2E0XSD who was waiting on my normal frequency. Signals were predictably weak, but solid. After a chat with Colin, Phil G4OBK called followed by G6LKB, G7OEM and G0TDM. After a few minutes calling, I managed to optimise the beam and raising the power to the maximum 50 watts available from the 857 and managed to get my signal down to Don G0RQL in Devon. Don was Q5 with me which was surprising given the heavily obstructed path. After completing with Don, Matt 2E0XTL called me, but I couldn’t make myself heard. Several others told me the following day that they were calling as well, but Binsey managed to preserve its reputation for being a difficult summit on VHF. It was a shame that Geoff GM4WHA had family commitments at the time of the activation as there was no other activity from north of the border which is the best direction from this summit. The sunshine and the fact that it was Father’s Day certainly had an effect on the numbers sitting in their shacks.
With signals being low on 2m, it was little wonder that I failed to raise any contacts on 70cms. On 6m I found that there was a Sporadic E opening taking place, so I decided to self-spot in case there was an opportunity to work chasers on the band. In hindsight, the value of using this band for SOTA really has to be questioned, as the only chaser contact was that with John G0TDM. I did however manage a decent chat with Brian EA3/G6YXT that made a pleasant change for this band and its embedded semi-contest type operation. So that was my 300th summit – an interesting if not spectacular activation for this milestone. At least the weather was superb!
Binsey G/LD-041: 60m SSB - 7, 80m SSB – 3, 6m SSB – 8, 2m SSB – 6
We were well adrift of our timings as we started back down the hill, but it didn’t really matter as we were only going to the Travelodge in Carlisle. On reaching the town, I found that my satnav didn’t know where the Travelodge actually was, so Paul phoned home for a more precise address after which we found it quite easily. We booked in, sorted our kit out (totally dry for a change) and then had some of the excellent scoff that Paul had prepared before taking a reasonably early night. Paul had some work reports to write on his laptop, so I went back to my room to watch TV. Unfortunately I discovered that the remote was missing and in the morning I discovered that Paul didn’t have one either.