Friday, 28 September 2012

Pendle Hill G/SP-005 - a quick ascent on 28 Sept 2012

Friday 28 September and I was taking some family members, notably Stepdaughter Sarah, Son-in-law Andy and Granddaughter Amie to Manchester Airport to pick up their connecting flight back to Sydney, Australia.  As I often do, I try to fit in some Summits On The Air (SOTA) Fellwalking with a journey of this type, so I chose the Southern Pennine summit of Pendle Hill (557m) near Burnley as my target. 

Shortest route up and back from Barley Lane 2.25 miles / 750ft ascent
The simplest and shortest route to the trig point is from Barley Lane, north of Barley village. There is plenty of roadside parking there most of the time (don't try and park there on Halloween though!). The total round trip is a mere 2.25 miles there and back with an ascent of 750 feet.
Youth group on Pendle Hill

After leaving Manchester Airport at 2.00pm I was parked up and walking by 3.15pm. It took me 26 minutes to join what was a large youth group at the freshly painted trig point on Big End or Beacon, as it is known.

As a Lancastrian Pendle Hill was the first hill I ever climbed on 29 November 1964 with my school, and this was my 3rd visit, having last been here with a walking group in September 2005 when I also operated ham radio for SOTA. 

As the youth group were hugging the trig point I moved away slightly south west to take a little shelter behind a cairn where I set up my radio equipment, a Yaesu FT-857 running 50 watts from a 5 amp lithium battery and  my vertical dipole antenna.
The writer's operating position at the cairn on Pendle Hill
The weather stayed cool but dry and I operated for a 30 minute period completing 27 contacts on VHF 2m FM and SSB. I did attempt to operate in CW (Morse) but no stations called me back.
Trig point on Pendle Hill Big End looking east
At 4.20pm I left the summit reaching my car at 4.45pm. On my way down at grid reference SD 806418 where the path turns, I noted the height here was only 12m below the summit top. This would make a good operating position, especially for HF work, if weather conditions were bad and shelter was sought from the elements behind the wall. 
The well maintained path up Pendle Hill from Barley Lane / Pendle Side
The path up to Big End is well maintained to reduce erosion, as the photograph shows. This path is well used.  The next time I visit I will likely take up a walking group and make a day of it from Barley village, on the popular circular route of around 8 miles. 

My walk statistics
After making contact on the summit with my friend Geoff Peel G6MZX, who lives in Thornton in Craven,  I was invited to call in on my way home for a cuppa. Fortunately I had the time to do this and enjoyed the company of Geoff and his wife Joan for around half an hour before continuing home to Pickering. 
Phil G4OBK and Geoff G6MZX in Geoff's garden at Thornton in Craven
As I approached Bolton Abbey I noticed the bottom end of a strong rainbow emerging from cloud:

The drive back was not the easiest. This was due to several road closures caused by the flooding earlier in the week.  I was routed via Harrogate and York on the A59. The A59 access on to the York ring road around Poppleton was very congested due to all the traffic using the same road due to other closures.  This meant I reached home in Pickering at 8.00pm, around an hour later than should have been the case. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Our Lamborghini Diablo has been sold

My brothers Lamborghini Diablo the day it was sold to a buyer from London

Not many people know this but until this week my brother owned a Lamborghini Diablo. He bought this car many years ago and it has now been sold to a buyer from London. Pictured right to left, my younger brother Chris, my nephew Scott and Chris's partner Sharon with her sausage dog Lincoln. 

Here is an earlier picture of the Lambo, taken in 2004 in Chris's garage. Scott is quite young then as you can see:

My younger brother has always been a "petrolhead". His first motorised vehicle was a Yamaha FS1E moped but he eventually graduated to this car!  He went on to serve his time as a car mechanic, he ran a car dismantling business and now buys and sells the odd car. 

Chris's latest project is to build Britain's fastest van. More information can be found here and on his Facebook page: Tom Catt

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A walk with the Ramblers

Today's 9.25m route around Castle Howard from Welburn
Sixteen of us had a great walk today in fine autumn weather around Castle Howard. We were led by Ramblers' member Alan.  We started from Welburn Church and completed a 9.25 miles circuit of the Castle Howard estate. 

Castle Howard from new river bridge
The villages of Coneysthorpe, Ganthorpe and Bulmer were visited and we were back in Welburn by 3.00pm after a 10.30am start.  The woodland paths in a few places, in particular Bulmer Hag were quite overgrown but the group managed to negotiate them thank's to Alan the leader bringing two pairs of secateurs on the walk! 

Crops gathered and fields ploughed in many places, but not this one yet
There really are some great public rights of way around Castle Howard, I've walked round here many times and never failed to enjoy it. 

Our Ramblers' group of eight ladies and eight men leave New Bridge
We passed by The Temple of the Four Winds

The Ramblers' Ryedale Group have over 170 members. If you are interested in joining us then click on this link: Ramblers 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Trip Advisor - published reviews

I've just had two reviews published on Trip Advisor for the Pheasant Inn at Keswick and the Filling Station Cafe also Keswick which I visited last week:

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Swinside for Summits On The Air G/LD-057

Swinside - route taken
I've been wanting to climb Swinside for a few years now. This is one of the few Lakeland summits worthy of being included in A Wainwrights pictorial guides but which isn't. The reason for this is that the summit lies on a private estate near to Derwentwater, so permission must be obtained from the Estate Manager before entering the woodland, which is used for rearing pheasants.

The forestry track leading up to Swinside 
Swinside was the last of the 55 Marilyn summits in the Lake District that I needed to climb to finish them all off. It was also the last one which I needed to activate on ham radio for Summits On The Air.

After obtaining permission from Mike, the estate manager, I parked inside the double gates at grid ref NY 247221 at 2.30pm and walked up the track towards the summit. The weather was fine, sunny and dry after rain had fallen earlier in the day. After 300m I left the track to contour up rough ground to the summit. The time to reach the top was less than 15 minutes.

The view from Swinside summit (244m) to Catbells and Maiden Moor
The top was mostly cleared of trees, which I know was not the case when Terry G0VWP visited here two years ago. The deforesting made it easy to erect my fishing pole and short wave dipole antenna.

The ridge over Barrow and Outerside with Grisedale Pike G/LD-015 in the background
I first operated on VHF 2m FM and completed 3 contacts with Terry G0VWP who was staying in Borrowdale. This contact was followed with the two stations in Penrith of John G0TDM and Geoff G4WHA. 
After alerting Roy G4SSH in Scarborough of my operating plans I then moved on to the short wave using 40m CW and SSB, finishing off on 30m CW. As often happens Roy was my first HF contact. There were plenty of callers despite the lack lustre conditions.  I took time to take several photographs as the summit is a superb viewpoint in all directions. 
I returned to my car at 5.00pm to find Terry G0VWP there by the gate. We had a good natter and then I returned to the cottage we were staying at in Keswick and Terry returned to his site in Borrowdale.  

My pole on the summit of Swinside
Conditions on the 40m band were fairly poor, especially on SSB. CW was more successful however but I was troubled by the station of OM7DX who was continually calling me over the top of the other stations I was specifically calling. This was frustrating and slowed progress and I failed to work him on 40m after putting him on my blacklist. When I moved to 30m CW he was calling me at good strength whilst I was setting up so I reluctantly worked him.  This operator is proving to be a real nuisance to chasers and activators alike. I just hope he improves his bombastic and ineffective operating standards sometime soon, or better still takes up fishing! 

Distance walked: 0.75m
Amount of ascent: 400 feet

Number of contacts completed: 77
2m FM: 3
40m CW: 35
40m SSB: 23
30m CW: 16
Countries contacted: 16

Equipment used:
Yaesu VX-170
Yaesu FT-857 (running 50 watts from 5 amp LiPO battery)
Palm Morse key
2m Rucksack special half wave vertical
30/40m link dipole on 7m high fishing pole

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Blencathra and Skiddaw (with Lonscale Fell, Little Man and Carlside)

I was staying at Keswick this week and on the Sunday I caught the 8.15am Penrith bus out of Keswick alighting in Threlkeld. My planned route was to climb Blencathra via Hall's Fell ridge and then drop down to Blencathra centre via the Blease Fell path. From there I planned to walk round to the Latrigg car park at the bottom of the Skiddaw tourist path which I intended to use to climb Skiddaw.  In actual fact as I descended Blease Fell I could not resist the temptation to revisit Lonscale Fell so I made a detour up the bridleway leading to Skiddaw House.  Here is my route, which ended at the cottage we were staying at in Crosthwaite, near to The Pheasant pub on the outskirts of Keswick:

Threlkeld - Blencathra - Lonscale Fell - Little Man - Skiddaw - Carlside - Crosthwaite
I left Threlkeld at 0830am and took the Hall's Fell ridge route to the summit.  When you see the southern front of Blencathra in full sun on such a beautiful morning you realise why A. Wainwright devoted 36 pages to it in his Northern Fells pictorial guide. This route to the summit, which is one of twelve routes detailed in the book, is not the easiest but does not expose you to as much risk as the Sharp Edge route. I found that some scrambling was needed above the 700m point, indeed AW said in his book "For active walkers and scramblers this route is positively the finest way to any mountain top in the district".  I can vouch for that. 

View from the top of Blencathra down the Hall's Fell ridge route
I reached Blencathra summit at 0945am, the climb taking 75 minutes. After making 14 contacts with fixed amateur radio stations I left the summit on the Blease Fell path at 10.10am. On my way down Blease Fell one or two fellwalkers were making their way up, I realised as he approached that one of them had some sort of antenna on his back. As he neared I realised it was fellow radio ham Andy MM0FMF who was on a cross border activation on his way up to Blencathra for a full days activation in the SOTA UHF "Fun Day". We had a good natter - I hadn't seen Andy face to face for several years having previously met at the Friedrichshafen Hamfest on Lake Constance, although in between we had spoken on the radio many times.

Andy MM0FMF/P on his way up Blencathra with his 14 Kg rucksack on his back
After leaving Andy as usual I lifted my eyes to the higher ground, as we fellwalkers always do and my gaze caught the north east ridge of Lonscale Fell. After studying the map I decided to adjust my route from Blencathra Centre and proceed north to ascend Lonscale Fell via the north east ridge beyond the Ford at the bottom of Sinen Gill.

Lonscale Fell (left) as I approached along the bridleway to Skiddaw House
On my way I contacted Andy who was now operating as M0FMF/P on 2 metres from Blencathra.  When I reached the bridge at 296278 I couldn't see an obvious route up Lonscale so I followed the easiest contour slightly north of an old quarry which avoided the scree. It was still a hard climb before I reached the summit at 12.50pm.  On my previous visit here I operated from the highest point. This time I set up on the top of the north east ridge, the sharp point which is so clearly visible from the A66 road when passing by.  This is 12m down from the highest point on LDW-080.  The weather had now changed, the wind was getting up to some strength and rain was starting to threaten. Time to batten down the hatches and put my coat on. I proceeded to the remains of a stone wall nearby to eat my lunch and to make a few last contacts as I was still within the activation zone.

The end of Lonscale Fell with Blencathra in the background
When I reached the busy tourist path up to Skiddaw the weather was starting to look ugly, I proceeded as quickly as I could reaching Little Man for more contacts and finally reached the summit of Skiddaw at 3.05pm.
My penultimate summit of Skiddaw with an angry sky threatening
This was my 3rd ever visit to Skiddaw and I was as brief as I could completing 20 contacts on 2m FM before departing down the slant path towards Carlside for my final radio activation of the day.
The operators on other summits were also having a hard time of it with the rain and wind - there were a great many radio hams out fellwalking that Sunday. It seemed that the first station to get rain had been Mark G0VOF, who was putting out a good signal from an all day sitting on Pendle Hill.
After some final contacts for Wainwrights On The Air I left Carlside via the Allerdale Ramble long distance path. This is a steep descent into Millbeck via White Stones and I was glad of my walking poles. The lanes and a lovely footpath took me back through Applethwaite and to the Crosthwaite roundabout which was next door to the cottage in which we were staying.  I finished walking at 5.45pm.  
I can't recommend this exact route - I had made the walk more difficult due to my late decision making. I should have decided to climb Lonscale Fell as I left Blencathra, rather than later on.  Then I could have followed Roughten Gill down to the bridleway and saved myself a 1.5 mile walk and 450 feet of ascent.  Indeed, when I read my Wainwright guide (Blencathra page 36) on  my return, AW had said: "Go down anywhere over this 'edge' (easy grass slope) to Roughten Gill for Skiddaw House". 
The writer on the day

Distance walked: 13.2 miles
Total ascent: 5315 feet

Summit stations contacted:

Blencathra M0FMF
Seat Sandal - Nethermost Pike - Dollywagon Pike GO0VWP
Pendle Hill GO0VOF
Pen-y-ghent 2O0YYY & M0TUB
Crag Fell MO6EPW
Pike o'Blisco GO0OOO
Scafell - Slight Side 2E0MIX & G4UXH & M6UXH
Brandreth - Green Gable - Great Gable 2E0XYL & 2E0TDX
Red Pike - High Crag M0AYB

Total contacts completed: 77 (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

Equipment used: Yaesu VX-170 2m handheld 5 watts output
Antenna: Rucksack special half wave vertical

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Trip Advisor

I submitted a review on Trip Advisor describing a recent visit to Figaro's Italian Restaurant in Pickering. You can read it here 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

RSGB VHF 2m Activity Contest

This conditions in this evenings RSGB VHF 144 MHz contest were excellent.

The high pressure area over Europe provided some tropospheric propagation and I enjoyed contacts into mainland Europe as this map shows. I was active in the contest from 8.00pm until 10.30pm using an 11 element directional yagi antenna, Yaesu FT-847 transceiver with a 100w KLM Power Amplifier.  

Blue markers show stations contacted - black marker shows my station location in Pickering IO94of

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday 2nd September 2012
Moonrise this evening in Pickering at 8.20pm - just after sunset
The moon came up low and bright this evening over my garden in Pickering just after our local sunset.  Judy and I have been walking with our walking group today near Helmsley, but I can't think of much to write about so I hope this photograph will suffice.