Wednesday, 26 February 2014

G4OBK G4OOE G0VWP SOTA road trip to Hownham Law SS-197, Rubers Law SS-210 & Belling Hill SS-244

Wednesday 26th February 2014

Our designated driver Nick G4OOE pulled out of my drive in Pickering at around 6.00am and we made our way north for about 150 miles via the A170 and A1M to the middle land of the Scottish Borders. Riding shotgun in the back was Terry G0VWP. I was on the maps in the front seat.

Due to our limited operating time for completing three summits in one day, our strategy was to use 2m FM at a power level of 40 watts with a vertical dipole about 3m off the ground. Our experience on the day proved that the chances of qualifying each summit by making four contacts from the eastern side of the border country on 2m FM were not feasible.  Wisely, NIck was carrying his Yaesu FT-817, a 40m dipole and a 7m fishing pole.  

Equipment used

Yaesu FT-1500M on 2m FM powered by 3S1P LiPO battery - 40 watts 
Yaesu FT-817 on 40m CW/SSB powered by internal battery - 5 watts.
Palm morse key, standard microphone.
Antennae: 2m home made vertical dipole & 40m half wave dipole on 5m pole

Hownham Law GM/SS-197

42 minutes ascent and the same to come down - I'm not sure why
Hownham Law SS-197 seen above us as we climbed it
We were walking by 0940z and reached the summit within 42 minutes. The route was straighforward over fields with gates and finishing on roughish moor towards the top. The wind was strong.

G(M)4OBK and G(M)0VWP take the station down on Hownham Law SS-197
The 2m FM band dried up after we had worked G1ZJQ and GM7LUN so we erected the dipole and with the FT-817 worked another 17 stations on 40m SSB before closing down and returning to the car. 

Nick (left) and Terry (right) stood on a sheep grid on our way back from Hownham Law
Our next destination was Rubers Law SS-210 - resting, eating and driving time being 75 minutes before we were walking again to the next summit....

Rubers Law GM/SS-210

GPS traces of our walk to SS-210 - the south track is the best one to take both ways
The prominent Rubers Law from where we parked at the drive end to Billerwell 
It was a 40 minute walk to the top where there is a beautiful topograph, various plaques and a painted trig point. This is a summit with a history and is well worth a visit. 

Operation on 2m FM was more successful on Rubers Law which meant we qualified on that band only. As the above picture of Terry and Nick shows it was extremely windy and we would have had difficulty had we needed to erect the pole. We worked only five stations however, so it was a close run thing:

View from Rubers Law GM/SS-210
We chose a different route down but the fields were much wetter and in retrospect we would have been better using our track to the south on which we walked up. 

Leaving the parking spot at Billerwell we were parked up at Falside for Belling HIll, SS-244 and walking within 30 minutes. This summit is only four miles from Rubers Law. 

Belling Hill GM/SS-244

Belling Hill is forested with little prominence to the immediate surrounding land. The hill lies nine miles west of Hawick. There is a large parking area on the roadside at Falside grid reference NT 644114:

To reach the best operating position at the corner of a wall on Feast Knowe we turned sharp left on to an overgrown forest track from the main forest track.  Within ten minutes we were at the summit. A CQ call on 145.500 produced one caller - a GM/M station on the M74 at Beattock. The contact was not completed...further CQ calls on two meters proved fruitless, so the 40m dipole and pole were erected against the wall. Nick and I took turns on the key on 7032 KHz, but it was obvious some chasers were getting confused about who they were working despite sending our own callsigns for every QSO. We won't be operating like that again.... 

Stations logged by all three operators
Nick and I enjoyed a CW summit to summit QSO with our friend John G4YSS who was on Black Hill G/SP-002 near Holmfirth. John was operating GX0OOO/P, which is the club callsign for Scarborough Special Events Group. 

After we finished on CW Nick and I had a few SSB contacts before Terry got stuck into the pile up of callers - twelve stations were logged before he closed down.  

G(M)4OOE G(M)0VWP & G(M)4OBK about to leave Belling Hill SS-244
We headed south and found some sustenance at a KFC near Gateshead before heading back to North Yorkshire after a great day out on the fells with our radio's. One thing we proved - don't expect to qualify the summits in that area on VHF FM, even when you are running power. Lesson learned!

73 Phil G4OBK (Mountain Goat achieved in Wicklow, Ireland January 2013)

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