Thursday, 27 April 2017

A one day trip to Scotland with the "new" Muncaster Fell top on the way home

My approach to Tinto - an easy clear route
GM/SS-064 Tinto

On Thursday 27th April the weather forecast was pretty good. I left my home in Pickering at 5.50am making for the Lanark area in Scotland so as to visit and activate the summit of Tinto (Ref GM/SS-064) for SOTA. After a problem free drive with one stop I was walking by 9.20am from Wiston Lodge - my approach to Tinto would be from the south via Pap Crag. This was a good place to park the car with others, parked at the educational establishment there.

Signage to the summit in the grounds of Wiston Lodge
A GPX file of the walk can be found in the SOTA Mapping Project tracks section. Here is my route:

GM/SS-064 Tinto - 1.63 miles with 1450 feet ascent in 51 minutes
Topographic view from Tinto
The days activations were to be a proving ground for my radio gear - the next week I was heading to the Czech Republic for a 5 day SOTA Tour with GI4ONL. On arrival I made just two contacts with MM0GOR and GM0GAV on 2m FM using a handheld and RH770 whip before erecting the HF bands linked dipole.  I was using my Elecraft KX2 with the built on KXPD2 key. Within 10 minutes of starting up on 40m CW I had a problem - the KXPD2 key started to fall to pieces and I couldn't send dashes!  The key has made less than 500 QSOs. On inspection I found the terminal posts for both contacts had worked lose. I had no screwdriver to tighten the small crosshead screws, however I did have the small allen key for adjusting the contacts and this served as a makeshift screwdriver for tightening the screws enough to complete the aborted contact I had with John G4RGV! Apologies to the previous stations worked for the sending errors I made prior to realising what was wrong. Continuing on with the operation I worked summit to summit on 20m with Juerg CT7/HB9BIN/P on CT/AL-003 in Algarve and after switching to SSB I was called by Stavros SV2RUJ/P on SV/MC-005 in Greece. 

Total contacts: 28
(2m FM = 2)
(40m CW = 11 SSB = 2) 
(30m CW = 6)
(20m CW = 2 SSB = 5)
Operating time 59 minutes. 

Returning to the car for some lunch I then headed across the valley towards nearby Lamington Hill GM/SS-172, whilst making a mental note to obtain some loctite for those small screws when I returned home..... The issue was later reported to Elecraft so they can ensure that locking compound will be used in future on their paddle keys. 

GM/SS-172 Lamington Hill

Like previous activators I used the car park on the other side of the A702 to start the walk to Lamington Hill. Before setting off I removed the 2m handheld and whip from my rucksack. In doing that by mistake, I also removed the bag containing the HF dipole - only realising my mistake when I reached the summit 40 minutes later! So this was a none SOTA visit to Lamington Fell. I thought the rucksack felt light....
Trig point on SS-172 Lamington Hill
Track to SS-172 - 1.9 miles 920 ft ascent in 39 minutes - GPX track shared in the SMP
Returning to the car with one local summit left to climb, Dungavel Hill SS-165, I started thinking.... Either I could return to the car, collect the dipole and walk back up Lamington Hill or instead immediately go to Dungavel Hill and then head south to the relocated G/LD-059 Muncaster Fell on my way home - and that is what I decided to do. 

GM/SS-165 Dungavel Hill

Gate and signage at Cattle Grid leading to path up Dungavel Hill
As a Rambler I've come across many signs when walking warning of bulls and cows. There are rarely bulls grazing and this was the case here...this was just an attempt to frighten walkers off. This was a rougher more tussocky and slightly boggy and steep walk in places than the previous two, so the 0.7 mile walk with 610 feet of ascent took me 26 minutes at an average speed of just 1.6 mph. It was tiring and I arrived breathless on the summit at 2.30pm... At least this time I was able to operate on HF with my dipole and make another 28 contacts in just under 30 minutes on 7 MHz and 10Mhz with just one QSO with RW3XZ on 14 MHz CW. There were no summit to summit contacts available. The GPX track is shared in the SOTA Mapping project:

On my return to the car I made my way back to Carlisle and the long drive down the Irish Sea coast to the appropriately named Fell Lane which leads to Muncaster Fell. 

G/LD-059 Muncaster Fell
If you read my previous blog you will have realised that Muncaster Fell was troubling me. Its relocation meant that I could no longer say that I had SOTA Completed all 175 SOTA Marilyn summits as an activator and chaser. I believe that I am still the only SOTA activator and chaser to have achieved this. My status needed to be restored which is why this awkwardly positioned summit needed to be activated by G4OBK...
The walk from part way up Fell lane to the new summit - GPX file shared in Track section of SMP
There was a tallish narrow protruding rock about 5m down from the highest point at the new location and I managed to tie my 5m pole to this and make a handful of contacts. As I have found in the past in SOTA once you get beyond evening dinner time there is a shortage of chasers hunting for contacts:

These are all great guys these chasers. I have met most of them in person apart from Manuel EA2DT and Mariusz SP9AMH. Thank you Mariusz, Luc, Jan, Manuel, Terry and Pedro for making my day. 

I had a 30 minute fast food stop at the A59 Burger King near Skipton on the way home and arrived back home in North Yorkshire at 11.40pm, making this an 18 hour day with 472 miles driven. The distance walked was 11 miles and the total ascent on foot was 3400 feet.  

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