SOTA – Lake District 28th-31st July 2019

Skiddaw

Members of the club (2E0MXA, 2E0GGA and M0VVA) travelled to the Lake District where they attempted to activate various summits.

The plan was to activate:

28th July – G/LD-020 Dale Head (tentative)
29th July – G/LD-004 Skiddaw
30th July – G/LD-003 Helvelyn
31st July – G/LD-012 High Stile (tentative)

G/LD-004 Skiddaw

Equipment used:

Elad FDM Duo transceiver (5W) HF SSB
Kenwood TH-D74 handheld (5W) VHF FM
Baofeng GT-5 handheld (5W) VHF FM
SOTAbeams 40/30/20 trapped dipole
SOTAbeams 10m mast

28th July – Travel up to Lake District

After a late departure from our Hertfordshire QTH, we took the direct motorway route up to the Lake District: M25, M1, M6, A590, A591, B5289.
The weather was not with us, we had rain most of the way and driving conditions were awful. The “smart” motorway upgrades gave us reduced speed and to top it off we were parked for an hour on the M6 south of Stoke-on-Trent due to a fire in a camper van only a dozen or so cars in front of us.
A good listen to the Elon Musk biography on Audible whiled the time away and we arrived in Seatoller around 3pm. Too late for any activations today but time for a stroll around the area to get our bearings.

Seatoller House
View North-East from Seatoller House, Seatoller

A quick aside, the folk at Seatoller House have kindly offered to extend a 10% discount to any members who mention SOTA and The Online Radio Club when booking. Contact Nigel Dixon (Manager) via email at seatollerhouse@btconnect.com or call him on 017687 77218. I can thoroughly recommend the location if you enjoy peace and quiet and a comfortable, home-like setting.

Whilst at Seatoller House we were surprised and blessed to meet fellow SOTA activators Fred (GI4MWA) and his wife Joy (MI6JOY). They are both regulars at the guest house and had many tales to tell of activating the Lake District summits over the years.

29th July – G/LD-004 Skiddaw

Skiddaw is the third highest peak in the Lake District behind Scafell Pike and Helvellyn. On the advice of GI4MWA, we parked at the Undeskiddaw car park which was quite clear with plenty of room available. The weather was reasonable, no rain but low cloud. We started the ascent, what would be considered a gentle incline compared to the leg tiring hike of Y Garn earlier in the year!

View from Skiddaw to Keswick & Derwent Water

Just before reaching the summit, the cloud level dropped and the wind picked up. We continued through drizzle and cold Northerly to the summit. Next time I will remember to pack gloves – my hands were frozen! Reminder – this is the end of July!!!!

Skiddaw Trig Point

As the conditions were less than favourable, the wind was blowing what felt like 20-30 knot gusts, and the top of Skiddaw did not appear to be suitable for HF aerials in low cloud with hill-walkers meandering around, we decided to activate using VHF only. HT’s out and crouched behind some small stone wind-breaks, 2E0MXA and M0VVA busied themselves calling CQ SOTA. Thankfully it is a popular site and quickly we filled the log book with QSOs with Daryl (GI4KSO), John (G0TDM), Reg (2E0LDF) and John again (G7GQL) (thanks John!). Interestingly GI4KSO was a Summit-to-Summit contact into GI/MM-008 Eagle Mountain, Northern Ireland.

The descent was uneventful, the skies clear and the views were fabulous. We decided one 10 pointer was enough for the day and spent the afternoon in Keswick and later resting at Seatoller House.

30th July – G/LD-020 Dale Head

Another wet day in the Lake District, the forecast was for rain all day, regular thunderstorms with some occasional breaks. The original plan was to attempt Helvelyn – looking at the weather forecast and given the advice of the seasoned fell-walkers at Seatoller, we decided to take the easier option of the local G/LD-020 Dale Head.

Dale Head Trig Point

We had a short drive from Seatoller up towards Honister Pass, parking at the public car park at Honister Slate Mine. The heavens opened, rain poured down, we sat, we waited. After 20 minutes or so, a break appeared in the clouds – a smile formed on my face – we had an opportunity! We quickly gathered our belongings and hurried across the road to the foot path up Dale Head. It’s a steep-ish walk – not quite Y Garn but not as gentle as Skiddaw either – but thankfully a short walk. It took around 45 minutes to get to the summit and we had no rain and lifted cloud all the way!

After the previous day’s VHF operation we decided to mix it up with some HF too. Using the Kenwood TH-D74 we worked Sam (2E0WEY), Dave (2E0GKE), John (G0TDM)(thanks again, John!) and then Helen (M0YHB/P) and Carolyn (G6WRW) both Summit-to-Summit on VHF at G/LD-047 Loughrigg Fell.

We erected the Sotabeams 10m mast, Sotabeams trapped dipole and switched to the Elad FDM-DUO QRP SDR on HF, we worked Andrew (G4AFI) in Fleet, Hampshire on 40m SSB and Phil (2E0ZDX/M) on 20m SSB. Then also worked G6WRW on 20m SSB Summit-to-Summit too.

6 points in the bag and some interesting HF contacts – I certainly was not expecting to have a 5W QSO into the South of England on 40m SSB!

Then came the distant rumble of Thunder. It appeared to be coming from the Skafell Pike area and the clouds were definitely closing in. A rapid packing up of the gear and super rapid descent of the hill got us to the car without a drop of rain and thankfully no thunderstorms. That being said, when we shut the car door the rain started – and did it start!

Day 2 was great! – a short-is walk, some good SOTA and a lot of fun. Super enjoyable.

31st July – Homebound

The weather was yet again unfavourable, so after a hearty breakfast and a farewell to our new friends, we headed homebound. This time we took the alternative route of A66, A1M, M25 which was more scenic and I managed to get into some D-Star repeaters on the return journey!

All-in-all and despite the weather, we had an enjoyable few days in the Lake District and we’re already planning to return in 2020 – this time bringing sunshine with us! If you decide to visit the Lakes for SOTA, do consider Seatoller House as your rest stop – it’s a lovely location with great food and hospitality.

73 Andy M0VVA

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