Anniversary Waltz ? Hang On, I’ll Nip Up Skiddaw First…..

Derwent Water from the ascent
Derwent Water from the ascent

I’ll explain the blog title first.

I have now been happily married to Katie for 30 years, 30 great years ( she’s behind me !).

We had planned just a couple of days away, first thoughts were in the Lora area at Connel near Oban, the second Fort William, both got shelved for a trip to the Lake District. We had spent a lot of time in the 80s in the Borrowdale area and I was to get to play radio.

SOTA Activation of Skiddaw G/LD 004 27/07/2011

SOTA Activation of Skiddaw G/LD 004 27/07/2011

Maps scanned and three hills chosen, first was Dale Head, next was Skiddaw and lastly Saddleback (or Blencathra). Maps were duly printed off.

I had mentally chosen Skiddaw as it is always better to bag the biggie first, I wondered if my old pegs could do more than one hill in three days.

Skiddaw it was then, we set off early heading through Glasgow then going south down the M74 on a blue sky day until we hit Gretna. Grey clouds mingled with blue sky but as we headed to Keswick, it started to brighten up.

I decided the ‘Tourist Route’ from the car park at NY 280253 which at midday was total chaos, why cannot people park properly, side on….10ft gaps between cars etc , moan over.

I looked and mmmmmmm, the start to the hill was along a grass field THEN it was up, up and up a steep stony path. I did my usual ‘stop / start’ routine whilst chatting with those going both ways.

I took my usual scran break after 60 mins and sat for 10 mins enjoying the views over Derwent Water.

Derwent Water from the ascent

Derwent Water from the ascent

I headed off up the steep rocky path until I found a signal for my phone and posted an alert for the hill although I initially posted for Helvellyn, oops !. I was giving myself a target of operating within 90 mins.

The path eventually started to level out and it was a welcome break strolling alongside the east face of Little Man until starting to ascend again in a gradual climb. This is when I heard strange noises behind me, mountain bikers 6 of then peddling furiously but not moving fast but they slowly ascended until the last gate which leads through on the last push for the summit. I reached the start of the ridge and headed along to the trig point. I had arrived in just under 2 hours 30 mins ( 2 mins less !!), I had allowed for another 30 mins, I was well chuffed. I touched the trig.Arrived !!

I had 15 mins before I had alerted for so I quickly erected the 4m Jpole and sat down and had a bite of scran before I called. It was tough getting the pegs in as the top has some grass but sparsely spread over rock.

4 m FM

First station to return to my call was Clive based across the border in the Isle of Whithorn area, we had worked before from the Luss Hills. A quick hello and chat and next in the log was Malcolm XAT in nearby Seaton, a strong signal as expected.

Another station in GM land answered my call, regular activator and chaser Mark MBP in Annan (thanks for the spots!) who had activated some Lake District Fells the previous week. A quick ragchew then off to call again, another station I had spoken to before Geoff WHA called in from Penrith, I had worked Geoff on my activation of Minch Moor in 2009. Note to anyone thinking of Minch Moor, use HF !!!!

The hill was now activated on 4m FM, good !

Next in the log was another Penrith station, John whom I also worked later on 2m FM. He had told me of stations out and about on the Fells for STS (summit to summit) on 2m. I  was called by Mike in Nelson, Lancashire, a quick exchange of details and finally on 4m FM was a cracking contact into Ramsey, Isle of Man, Iain BUE said I was his first contact on 4m FM, a good end to the first part of the activation.

2 m FM…

I headed to .500 where I heard John VCO calling from Arnside Knott, we tried to find an empty frequency which was difficult at first but made contact and quickly exchanged details and I headed off back to have a quick look through the band. I heard John JOH who was on Pillar, once again an exchange of details and then I  moved down frequency with Jimmy EYP who was on Slighty Crag in the Borders region, a good run of STS’s contacts.

I next hooked up with activating team Colin UXH and Heather UXH, confused ? A different prefix to the front of each call ! They had been on Walla Crag and were now heading down.

Next was another STS with Derek MIX whom I last worked from Ben Lawers, this was a welcome change to work some of these stations on their own patch. John TDM from Penrith was next followed by XSD from Frizzlington. A visit from Sue OHH from Lancaster was finally followed by a contact with Tony OAE in nearby Seaton.

The summit had been busy all the time I was there and now, I was the only one left but I could see more walkers heading my way. It was time to pack up and head back down. It was a quick walk along the stony ridge before a descent down from the summit then through the first gate and along the bridleway on which you could have driven a car, the path as most Lake District ones are was a good wide rocky walk, it was relief to find the odd section where I could walk on a grass bit. I had tried using my mobile phone on the summit but signal was not constant, I received one text and I thought words of encouragement ? No, your mobile phone bill is ready, typiske !

Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake

Ullock Pike and Bassenthwaite Lake

Downwards I headed until I arrived at top of the steepish section where I suffered slightly, not tired just the constant tramping downhill on stone, I’m sure you know what I mean, I used the grass where I could as the effects of walking on stone makes my ole knees rattle.

I saw Katie walking towards me on the level grassy walk from the car park so roughly 90 mins after I had left the summit, I arrived back at the car park. Not bad, I thought.

Seventeen contacts in the log, the hill got qualified on 4m FM which was pleasing, it was worth trying the band first and the contact in the Isle of Man was my first so a new DXCC into the bargain. A big thanks to all who made the activation of my first G land summit a memorable occasion, I was having to keep remembering to keep the ‘M’ out of the call Hi. It certainly proved much easier than my last GM land midweek activation.

Skiddaw is not the prettiest hill I’ve done but is one of the most rewarding as when I had my first look at the uphill path, the usual thoughts started appearing but I persevered and made my way to the top. Unfortunately the views were not at their best due to the heat haze and the scurrying cloud over the summit but occasionally it lifted but I was busy on the radio. I did see fleetingly some of the hills I have made STS’s with from GM land, Knott, Great Calva (WOTA) and of course, Skiddaw.

Saddleback, Helvellyn, Dale Head were among the hills within view but not being up to running on LD summit views ( see panorama link below) except some near 25-year-old recollections from the summit of Dale Head and other Fells such as Latrigg.

The waltz ? Only in my mind…

It was back to married life….until the next hill.

Click on photos for full size…

Information Overload…

Skiddaw means  ‘Hill of projecting cliff’ but there are numerous others around the web.

is the fourth highest hill in England.

Geohack Info <HERE>

Trig Point info <HERE>

Panorama info <HERE>

Once again… a big thanks goes to Wikipedia

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3 Comments

  1. Bikes on the summit !,almost as strange as seeing a j-pole on the top.Congratulations on your 1st G activation.
    You got a fair old scattering of contacts in the bag.Well done.
    For the xyl to let you do sota on your anniversary trip there must still be Love on the air or even SOTA- summits on thirtieth anniversary hi.
    At least you never had to worry about the scots midge down there.

    Graeme.
    2M0GIL..

  2. I would like to have seen them descending the final part of the hill…
    Aye, a biggie to start G land although it’s lower than Ben Lomond…but the 10 pts were too tempting.
    Next visit is already being planned..
    I did hear of one WOTA station being plagued by midges…they are moving south.
    Anniversary? I don’t shop and the XYL don’t ascend…good to save boredom.

    Bobby

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