Tuesday, 11 June 2013

SOTA Cycling Weekend June 2013 - G/SB-008 Long Crag

Monday 10th June 2013 (pm)

Trig point nameplate on G/SB-008 Long Crag near Rothbury, Northumberland
The parking spot for Long Crag is about 300m off the A697 north of Rothbury at grid ref NU 0918 0723. The gradual ascent to the summit is ideally suited to the bike, especially in such dry conditions - a good well surfaced track and on the moor there had been no rain to speak of for some time, so it was bog free. This route would also make an easy pleasant walk and was without doubt the easiest of the four summits ascended on my two day tour.

Route from Rough Castles to the summit of Long Crag G/SB-008
From my car to the summit on the bike took a mere 27 minutes. My return took 10 minutes, such was the graded quality of the track - less potholes to look for than on the metalled roads in my home town!
Summit of Long Crag G/SB-008
With my broken fishing pole I set up my station around 250m back along the path at around 5m down from the actual top - I was able to use a Waymarker post on which to support my pole. 
Operating position on G/SB-008 Long Crag
With the centre of my inverted vee again at only 10 feet and with the ends of my dipole 3 feet off the ground I was able to make 20 contacts on 40m, 30m and 20m (CW of course!).  Conditions were similar to what I experienced on Tosson Hill SB-007 earlier in the day.  In addition I made just two contacts on 2m FM with George G2ARY and Lesa M0BQD in New York (Near Newcastle!). Best DX was with YO2LIW on 20m with 4 watts and low dipole.  The YouKits HB1B (Purchased recently from SOTABeams) was proving to be a useful tool to have in the rucksack for SOTA - complete with batteries it weighs just 520 grams and is a delight to operate.  

SOTA HF Station: HB1B Transceiver -  Palm Key - earphones - Write in the rain notebook and pencil
After 40 minutes of operation the callers dried up so I closed the station down, satisfied that I had now completed the Scottish Borders SOTA area, to add to my completions of the Lake District and Northern Pennine area. My next target is to finish activating the South Pennines Area later in the summer and make more inroads into the Welsh Border area Marilyn Summits. 

Notable points about this two day Scottish Borders tour:
  • Miro OK1DVM was the most worked station with 5 contacts. 
  • I never saw a single person along the tracks or on the summits on all four activations, even though the weather was good.  
  • The YHA Bunkbarn concept is a good one. It enables you to have the freedom you want with no time schedules other than your own. Perfect for a one person short tour and very cheap at £17 per night. 
  • QRP CW on HF is effective providing at least 3 bands are covered. This way if conditions are bad you will always make sufficient contacts to qualify the summit - on Peel Fell, the highest summit, I only scraped 7 contacts over the three bands.
  • I'm glad I was carrying a spare inner tube!
  • I can understand the reluctance of SOTAists in staying away from Sighty Crag (activated 17 times, the last time in 2011). The summit is so hard to get to and has no redeeming features, I recall the tune "1000 miles from nowhere" by Paul Hardcastle, and it felt like it was! 
Bike: Ideal Traveller Hybrid
Distance cycled: 4.25 miles
Total ascent: 450 feet
Time taken out and back: 2 hours 2 minutes
Radio's used: YouKits HB1B 5 watt CW Transceiver and Yaesu VX-170 5 watt FM Transceiver both internal batteries
Antennae: Homemade 3 band link dipole, homemade 2m vertical dipole 
Amateur Bands used: 40m CW, 30m CW, 20m CW, 2m FM
Contacts made: 22
Countries worked: G, ON, PA, HB9, OE, OK, DL, OM, YO.


  1. Good article Phil. I followed your route, naughtily passing several entry forbidden signs, until forestry workers could be seen in the distance with heavy machinery. The plantation to the south of the access road has been clear felled this season. At 078 066 on the large sweeping bend we walked up a pleasant path in a fire break to reach the fell above. Being a man-made forest, it was parallel to the track you used. Good views to the Cheviot from the top and all around were on offer. I used the same way marker post to support my mast - thanks. With the sound of Diesel engines still going strong at 1820 we crept down the same fire break to evade the work force.

    David M0YDH

  2. PS Cragside is very good but £43 entry for our family. It has the worst admissions setup I have encountered in a long while. You queue in your car to find out that you must pay cash or join NT on the spot. A large car queue is now behind you before you've had time to reason that £9.50 pcm direct debit is worth signing up for despite pissing off all the folks behind. NT no longer do refunds if like me 15 minutes later you decide you'd like to join.
    Brilliant house with innovations and dramatic gardens. Just bring fists of banknotes!