Wednesday, 13 February 2013

G4OBK SOTA Shillhope Law G/SB-006

The XYL and I were staying at Longhirst Hall Hotel near Morpeth on a short winter break which we booked through Travelzoo. We had planned to tour the area and climb The Cheviot.

The weather intervened when it snowed so we had to "lower the bar" and do something else. Instead, we drove up towards the Scottish Border at Rothbury and thence on for a considerable distance up the Coquet Valley north west of Alwinton to a parking place near an old school at Wedder Leap.

Wedder Leap in Coquetdale - the old school and parking spot is in the background
This was to be our start point for a short climb in the snow up to Shillhope Law G/SB-006. The route is well documented in other reports - here is picture of the track we took taken from my GPS:

This is a two mile return walk with an ascent of about 850 feet
The army uses the land on the opposite side of the valley, but with it being misty we couldn't see what was going on across the valley. And !!BANG!! it was. As we neared the gate and the right turn at NT 8731 1017 there was the loudest bang I have ever heard in my life. It sounded so close to us. We both sensed something, like a change in air pressure I'm not sure, a fraction of time before it happened. After this we heard smaller arms being fired; thankfully the loud bang was not repeated - it was pretty scary. 

G4OBK XYL Judy arrives suffering from shell shock at Shillhope Law Trig Point
We reached the summit in falling snow in less than 45 minutes. I had problems with a high SWR, I think this was due to snow melt in the N connector on the coax feeder. I was carrying my Yaesu FT-857 and vertical dipole as I was not hopeful of qualifying the summit with the usual 5 watts. In the event I did manage it, making just four contacts:

I had to be as brief in QSO as I could be. We were becoming concerned for our safety, so we packed up and got back down to the car as quickly as we could once the 4th station was logged.

24 minutes it took to leg it back to the car at Wedder Leap 
It was no trouble getting out of the valley and back to Rothbury as the road had been gritted. We found a cosy cafe and had some lunch. Getting back to Morpeth from Rothbury later was different though, when a bus got stuck on a hill ahead of us. The police arrived and somehow managed to get the bus moving and we were only held up for around 15 minutes. This was to be our only activation of this trip north, but I planned to re-visit the area for the SOTA International Cycle Weekend in the spring and bag some more Marilyns then for SOTA.