Tag Archives: Blencathra

2012… in retrothingy…….part one

‘Twas the night( four sleeps actually) before Christmas !

It has come around to that time again but this year being a pessimist I thought waiting just to make sure those Mayans had it totally wrong SO at 11.12 UTC (December 21st) I sat down to write this as I still know I have an audience. You are still out there, are you or has it all past me by ?

Sitting comfortably are we ?

2012 almost started with an activation but due to the weather being extremely seasonal the trip out was abandoned. It took me until late April to make my first appearance on a hill although the local hilltops got pounded in pursuit of points. At the beginning of February I did activate Corlic in its guise as a ‘HuMP‘, the official title being GM/HSS 088. I had headed there to try and catch fellow blogger Neil 2MØNCM who was on Cruach Tairbeirt in the Arrochar area so a hybrid summit to summit to start.

The first SOTA activation took place in April with a visit to that hill which no one likes, the Hill of Stake the highest point in Renfrewshire although on the ’11 visit I got put wise to a drier route which was still boggy but not sink to the knees boggy. I did manage four STS (summit to summit) that day including one to EI land (Ireland). I think a visit in ’13 why not ?.

GAX on a'Mhanaich

GAX on a’Mhanaich ® Roddy 2MØIOB

This was quickly followed at the start of May to another of my now yearly visits, I headed to Beinn ‘a’Mhanaich on the west side of the Luss hills only this time, Roddy 2MØIOB had accompanied me but we split hills, Roddy headed to the nearby Beinn Chaorach which managed to evade a visit this year, I’m sure we could have had a STS in semaphore but we did have one not only on 2m FM but also using PMR, a first for us both. We had used PMR to keep in touch during the ascents.

The next weekend on what was a boomerang visit to Duncolm in the Old Kilpatrick hills, I had done an activation there in 2009 and on what was a sunny but very breezy day, I headed up an exellent aggregate track before following an occasionally damp grassy track until a short, sharp ascent. It was a busy day out on the GM slopes as I worked another 4 STS. As I researched Duncolm I came across the inference that Duncolm was a major part of ‘Glasgow’s Secret Geometry’, interesting. I like that kinda stuff as it makes you think. Unfortunately the main links to the original site with this info has a malware warning.

I now turned to serious stuff ( for me anyway !) as mid June saw me heading to the Arrochar Alps and on what turned out to be a miserable wet, cloud day I headed to the summit of Beinn Narnain and after a pleasant ascent, the weather or more to the point, a dark cloud decided to position itself over the hill and kill visibility and later on another activation I saw that the descent from the summit was one I’d rather have done in clearer conditions. I still enjoyed my day as it cleared up literally as I left the rock field just before the summit.

Narnain summit from Beinn Ime

Narnain summit from Beinn Ime

Four weeks later I headed the same route only this time, I had set my sights on the Cobbler but after a good walk in, I saw the path heading up Beinn Ime was kinda saying ‘ C’mon Mhor’ so off it was. Was it worth it ? I bet as the views in all directions were exceptional, a hill worth a return ( the Cobbler to do first though).

This was my last GM activation for 2012 but on my now regular yearly Lake District visit, I took the time to ascent Blencathra and although I had RX problems with a hand-held I enjoyed a day on a hill I had often looked at, I did the opposite route from the guidebook starting up Blaise Fell from near Threlkeld and although I did have a look down Sharp Edge, I thought better of it. I had read that this hill was riddled with paths and on the descent and I had to consult the map on more than a few occasions. I had finally exited down Mousethwaite Combe then a short walk to Scales. A good activation.

The following day, Katie and I headed to Latrigg which overlooks Keswick and I managed to sneak a handie and  activated the WOTA fell. A good day for a stroll plus it was fun to take my beloved with me plus Katie toddled along too. I meant my 2m handie ..what did you think I meant ?

Following on from the previous years visit to Mull and Ben More, it was off to the Lakes with both Roddy 2MØIOB and Patsy UPG. I’d planned more than a few hills but the main target was Scafell Pike, the highest point in England-shire and on what turned out to be four seasons in a day, the cloud lifted as we topped the hill and even the RAF saluted us with a 360 fly past as we arrived on the summit proper.

Mr Mhor on Scafell Pike

Mr Mhor on Scafell Pike

The following day I’d pencilled in a double activation, Robinson and Dale Head and surprisingly there was no achy legs and both hills proved no problems, Dale Head is worth the walk just to see the view northwards. It did end with Bob being slightly forgotten.

Two days later was to finish my outings for the year, Stony Cove Pike is ascended from the top of the Kirkstone Pass and I activated the hill as I had done the previous three hills on 4m FM only popping on to 2m FM to give out the odd WOTA point.

Highlights ?

Them all of course.

I enjoy heading out even it is only on to my local hillsides to work those who have taken the time to head out and on a sunny day there is nothing better than turning the beam round to bring in someone. I did manage to pass what I call my portable chasing sloth (1,000 points) at one point, it fair beats sitting at home.

Next year ?

I have already chosen 2013’s intentions and pinned it to my computer desk, I did the same last year and managed one or two of them but this year I have downsized and have only three…

The ridge walk to Hallsfell Top

The ridge walk to Hallsfell Top

We will see….

For my blog posts for the above…just go HERE

Yep you have guessed it, a pt.2 will be in production soon. Keep an eye out.

My thanks as usual to Wikipedia, Peakbagger and Roddy IOB for use of an image taken through a monocular !

I hope that the holiday period has been good for you and I look forward to either ‘chasing’ or working you from a hilltop in ’13.

Nollaig Chridheil dhuibh !

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr dhuibh uile!

To embiggen any image just click on it…

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(Aug) Radio Days

Mr. Mhor is not a creature of habit eh?

All those recent ‘Radio Day’ posts being up to six weeks late and now I post within two weeks of the end of the post’s month in question.

Let’s get going…

Activation….

One SOTA and two WOTA this month.

There is a twist on that last sentence as my SOTA activation of Blencathra is also a WOTA hill to those who are unfamiliar with SOTA and WOTA, follow these links below and the explanation is there for you

SOTA HERE

WOTA HERE

Back to business…

On what now seems an annual trip to the Lake District, I had planned hills to activate but due to circumstances only Blencathra (Hallsfell Top) was done under the SOTA banner. We had travelled down with intentions being dropped off near Threlkeld and doing a round route whilst activating on the way. My descent took in a quick look at Sharp Edge then a quick descent back to Scales via Mousthwaite Comb, a good day contact and weather wise.

Blencathra from Latrigg

Blencathra from Latrigg

I followed up Blencathra with an activation of Latrigg Fell which over looks Keswick.  Accompanied by Katie, my long-suffering XYL and the scran option was far superior to the previous day. An idea for the future although I must get a lighter car battery for her to humph up the hill.

Chasing..

This was another non stop month contact wise so take a deep breath.

First in the Aug log is Duncan CXM who activated Dumyat on the western end of the Ochil Hills whilst Colwyn YCJ was on the Isle of Arran but I only caught him on the one hill Caisteal Abhail the middle one of his triple activation that day, I had headed out to Corlic to work him on his third but was on my way back home due to the worsening weather and I missed him.

The following day I worked Craig HCF, a fellow Paisley club member on Ben Ledi whilst Robin PKT turned up later on Beinn Bhreac-liath near Glen Orchy.

Next chased points were during my activation of Blencathra, first contact( and Summit to Summit) was Terry VWP who was to the south of me on Claife Heights on the west bank of Lake Windermere whilst one of my last contacts that day was Terry CJJ who was on the Isle of Anglesey high point Mynydd Bodafon, Terry was using the Baofeng UV5R with its stock duck antenna. It works well as this was over approx 170 kms.

Returning home it was soon back to serious business as Robin PKT appeared what turned out to be a day to remember on Stob Choire Easain east of Fort William and he proceeded to work into the near continent, I think only the oncoming darkness and long trek out forced him off the hill.

The next day I made my way to the trig point on Lurg Moor where I first worked Jim GLM who appeared on Ben Chonzie and back to a ‘liftless” activation was Robin this time on Stob Ghabhar whilst waiting to talk to Robin I heard Iain WJZ calling him from Creag nan Damh part of the south Glen Sheil ridge. A fine contact of over 140 km.

Busy ? we are not even at the mid part of the month yet.

Meall Corranaich from Ben Lawers lower path

Meall Corranaich from Ben Lawers lower path

The next weekend at Lurg Moor, I first got Robin PKT who was on Carn na Caim in the Drumochter Pass area whilst I had a longer than normal contact with Neil 2MØNCM who was on Grey Hill between Girvan and Lendalfoot. The next day on a busy day from the same trig point, Iain WJZ was first in the book, Iain was on Gael-charn then next was Robin on Beinn a’Chlachair and was pleased to contact fellow blogger Roddy 2MØIOB who was almost 150km away on Larriston Fell in the Borders area. There was some QSB but the contact made with no problem plus I had checked the elevation profile between our two points and had reckoned earlier there was only a slight chance. Roddy’s activation blog post HERE. Next was Jim GLM who turned up on Meall Bhuide just north of Lochearnhead whilst Robert GUF had returned to his normal haunt Tinto before I finally worked Robin PKT on his second hill of the day Geal Charn, note this is a different hill than Iain’s before mentioned for this day. Robin’s hill that day Gael Charn is to the south-east of Loch Laggan whilst the Gael-charn Iain WJZ was on is just to the west overlooking the Drumochter Pass. That ended what was a busy Sunday.

Still with me ? I did say a busy month..

On the last weekend, on the Saturday I worked Robin PKT on Meall Corranaich and just as I was leaving for Cappielow, I caught him on Meall a’Choire Leith both in the Lawers area. The following day I waited at home and caught Robin PKT from the daddy of all Scottish hills, Ben Nevis then I left to head to Corlic with my youngest, Ailsa in tow and as we headed on to open moorland I received a text from Roddy IOB telling me Colwyn YCJ had turned up on Cat Law to the north of Kirriemuir and using only my wee 2w Baofeng and a Nagoya 701 worked him over 130 kms, a fine contact on what was almost a line of sight contact. Returning home I had just turned on the radio and heard Bob AWV out on what is a line of sight Duncolm in the Old Kilpatrick hills.

Grey Hill summit © Neil 2MØNCM

Grey Hill summit © Neil 2MØNCM

A busy month and a few miles walked to make some of these contacts.

HF..

As you read above I had not much time to ‘play’ HF but still made contacts in Europe, Asia and N America mostly on JT65. On the last Sunday of the month whilst having breakfast I worked into Anchorage, Alaska a very good start to what was a good day SOTA wise as well.

Other Stuff…

Firstly I must recommend a book I read towards to the end of the month.

The title ? “Rocket Men, a story of the first men on the moon” by Craig Nelson, a well written account of how Neil Armstrong finally made the first step on the moon. It deals with the history leading up to JFK’s declaration of sending a man to the moon to the background politics, training plus a revealing insight into each astronauts life. A book which some reviewers say fragments at times and leaps from the story but I found this added to the overall story. Worth a read.

I’m still learning about SDR and hope over the winter months to do something along building a Softrock rx but still to look at what frequencies I’m really interested but if the new work being done on another tuner chip bears fruit then I’ll stick to this line of thought.

Finally..

If you have been a long time reader of the blog, you will have read how my oldest Euan was with me on most of my first SOTA activations but fell away but all this paid off for him as he recently graduated from the University of Glasgow as a BSc with First Class Honours in Computer Science, Sergey Brin & Co watch out..

Euan on Duncolm trig

Euan on Duncolm trig

and a mention for my youngest Ailsa who also recently completed the ‘ hike’ part of her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, she only has her presentation of her days spent in the Border hills to do. The hike was done over what could be described as horrendously wet for the first two days.

Phew !! a biggie post this month, I hope you are still with me at the end…

Thanks again to all sites I have linked.

My thanks also to Neil 2MØNCM who let me use © his image of Grey Hill in South Ayrshire.

Latrigg

Blencathra activated the previous day, the sun was shining the sky was blue and the day just couldn’t be wasted by driving or lazing around. Where ?

Latrigg ….

A word with Katie and a quick explanation of how she would enjoy the views over Keswick and beyond. I thought going to the high level Skiddaw car park and then what looked like a easy path to reach Latrigg’s highest spot.

Skiddaw from Latrigg

Skiddaw from Latrigg

We set off from our base in Cockermouth and picked up some eatables on the way. The road to the high level parking area is a well-kept single track but starts to deteriorate as you near the parking area and no words can describe some of the parking you see and as it is where the tourist route starts for Skiddaw and at midday it is jam-packed so we made our way back down the hill and parked in as close to the roadside as we could.

Katie on Latrigg

Katie on Latrigg

A steep uphill start but with knowing Latrigg isn’t the haul of many WOTA/SOTA hills we walked slowly gaining height before heading on to a well made path which skirts the side of Latrigg and soon we were taking in the excellent views of Keswick below us. I had intended of activating this as it is a WOTA (Wainwrights On The Air) summit but due to an intermittent internet connection, I never managed to post an alert.

The walk of just over a mile took no time at all and with a rise of only 337 ft it was more a leisurely stroll after the previous days Blencathra effort. We sat just off the summit area and the next days target hills looked so close.  Some cloud was covering the higher hills to the south and behind us Skiddaw was clear and we could see the conga line of people snaking its way up what is a well made path on its steep start to its ascent.

We had a picnic lunch, this is the way it should be done I must try to encourage this more often instead the usual gulping water and eating another alleged healthy eating biscuit but if I mention anything higher, funny looks fly my way but today I was enjoying this one.

I sat down and using only my 2w 2m FM handie I called and called with no response so it was time to try 4m FM, same as before nothing. I had just switched on my 2m handie and I heard my call sign so I dropped down frequency with Mike BLH who was in the High Rigg area just outside the town.

Keswick and Derwent Water

Keswick and Derwent Water

Mike is the webmaster of the excellent Summitsbase website that you see the image link on the right hand side of this page. You need to register to get the full benefits of this site.

After chatting with Mike it was time to go back and call again but on both bands I could raise no other stations but as WOTA requires only one contact I had activated the hill but I would have preferred more but on a sunny day I think radio would be last choice for many..

It was time to have  a last look at the views as Latrigg is in an excellent situation but I remember my first visit to its top, it would be mid 80s and I was taken up the fell using the direct route  straight up the hillside with a rise of 880 ft in only a 800m climb, I was grateful as this area now was planted out with trees plus this time I guess I cheated.

It was a pleasant easy stroll back to the car and off we drove to get catch some cooler air.

Oh and I never made it out on the next day…..

PS.. I mentioned ‘alleged’ healthy eating bars in the post and not long after I put this ‘live’, I came across this HERE

Blencathra

The now annual short trip to the Lake District was nearing and my thoughts turned to ‘Where this time?’.

Pouring over maps and routes which seems to be an enjoyable part of all this activating lark, I settled on Blencathra.

This hill had been activated many times but as one of the most popular hills in the Lake District I expected to see this plus I noted that earlier this year in March regular blog reader Iain WJZ had been one of those.

SOTA Activation of Blencathra G/LD 008 on 8/08/2012

SOTA Activation of Blencathra G/LD 008 on 8/08/2012

I had passed many times beneath the south face of Blencathra or Saddleback as local friends use when talking about this impressive sight as you head along the A66 towards Keswick. It was my hill of choice on this short three-day visit.

I had prepared maps for this and other alternative summits but as we left home to head the just over two-hour journey south, the sky had nary a cloud to be seen. After days and days of almost daily rain this sight was most welcome and as we headed south along the M74, the sky was now showing more cloud the nearer we came to the border.
We stopped outside Carlisle for our brekkie and soon fully fed and watered. ASDA do one heck of a breakfast.
I had seen the Northern Fells as we headed towards Carlisle and soon we left the motorway  heading west on the A66 to Threlkeld where after a short drive through the village I would get dropped off at OS ref NY 302256.

Katie said goodbye and straight from the off it was straight up steep, I had chosen to take the route up Blease Fell from the ‘car parking’ area behind the Blencathra Centre.

Derwent Water from the ascent

Derwent Water from the ascent

Slowly and relentlessly I headed upwards pausing to take in the cracking views looking back towards Keswick, Derwent Water and the nearby fells. I met a few walkers who had made it a round trip accessing the hill from the more common ascent of Scales Fell. Keeping heading up what was a dry well-worn path I stopped after an hour to have my customary scran break, I was watching a walker doing the direct route and soon he passed as I had a final swig of water and headed towards where the path zig-zags before finally starting to ease towards Knowe Crags and soon I saw my intended target Hallsfell Top the summit of Blencathra. Looking back towards Skiddaw, I could see nestled in the hillside Skiddaw House which is the highest hostel in Britain, more information HERE. Isolation at its finest.

Once I reached Knowe Crags, the ascent was more gentle rising towards another high point above Gategill Fell before the last easy ascent along the ridge towards Hallsfell Top, the views in 360 degrees were stunning, I looked NW to the Cairnsmore of Fleet, the Merrick among other  Galloway Hills and to the SE, S , SW and W the fells of the Lakes with the odd cloud covering the higher tops and just to the west Skiddaw‘s summit was clearing.

I took in the views whilst dropping just slightly below the summit to set up the mast and beam. I had been in touch with fellow blogger Neil 2MØNCM on my way south and had asked Neil to post an alert on the SOTA site for me, time of arrival had been almost left open but I was more than glad of my ascent time being a bit under 2 hours and only one person passing me on the ascent, we had a quick chat and he said that the guide books point you in either Scales Fell or for the more adventurous Sharp Edge and how they recommend you stop occasionally to look back and take in the fantastic views but this way you get the ‘alleged’ better views on the descent.

The ridge walk to Hallsfell Top

The ridge walk to Hallsfell Top

I set up the 2m beam to quips of ‘ What time are the Olympics on?’ and ‘ You don’t need a satellite up here’, yep the hill was full of wags today, the comments kept coming all the time I was there.

I had first looked for Neil as he and Cat CNC had headed out to ‘chase’ me from Pinbain Hill in South Ayrshire but no joy initially but you will find out later why.

Off it was to 145.500 and first to reply to my call was Geoff WHA in Penrith with whom I had spoken on my Lakeland visit last year. Next in the log was John TDM also from nearby Penrith. To the west Malcolm XAT from Seaton called me and next was Colin XSD in the same area. I spoke with Ed PYE who was passing beneath me on the A66, Ed was also in the area for a short break.

Coiln UXH called in from west of me and he had told me that Terry VSP was on Claife Heights a WOTA/ SOTA summit to the south of me near Windermere, the first of two summit to summit calls. Further SW was Brian ZRP who called me from the Wirral area approx 140 kms away.

I had swung the beam around in a 360 direction stopping occasionally to call out as I knew Irish or Scottish contacts could be made  from here but the band had gone quiet or so I thought.

I heard my phone ringing and it was Neil asking me to beam NW as I was loud and clear to them so off I beamed that way again, nothing….Something isn’t working here. I had just worked a station in the Wirral area with no problem and had never thought I had any problems but I removed and replaced the handie with my 2 watt Baofeng, I called and voilà !! Neil and Cat with no problem at all. Following Neil and Cat was another summit to summit to North Wales to Phil CJJ/p who was on Mynydd Bodafon on the Isle of Anglesey, this being made with Phil using the bog standard duck antenna that came with his handheld radio, excellent contact. Lastly another contact to the Isle of Anglesey with John GUX. Both of these contacts were roughly 170 km away under normal conditions. A good sea path obviously helps.

The other handie had been deaf on receive and I am wondering if it had been that way all along on the earlier part of the activation. A call to Neil later that evening had confirmed my suspicions that it had been deaf from the very outset, I will have a look at it but if nothing obvious I may just replace it. I wonder if I had missed any other contacts.

Sharp Edge

Sharp Edge

After the last contact, I started to strip down the beam and mast and noticed that I was the only person on the ridge and summit area it was an eerie silence after the constant stream of folk summitting. I sat at the summit taking a last 360 look whilst taking on more water and food for the descent. A lone fell runner came towards the summit from Anderson Pike and I decided to head that way to have a look at the ‘white cross’ which has been laid out on the grass, the origins of the ‘cross’ is split between two camps, a memorial to either a fell walker who died nearby or a late gamekeeper from nearby Skiddaw House, Wainwright himself had gone with the fact that a local Threlkeld resident had ‘built’ the cross to its present day size. I was not too far from where Sharp Edge meets the plateau but I headed back down the main path off the  summit whilst marvelling at how impressive Sharp Edge looks from the main path, I could see a couple of brightly coloured figures slowly ascending.

Looking to Scales Fell and beyond

Looking to Scales Fell and beyond

Down a well-worn path and passing a large family group who had decided to turn back just short of reaching the summit plateau, 10 mins would have had them at the top. Strange decision.  I slowly descended taking in the views and yet another fell runner ran breathlessly upwards past me and before long off she passed descending quickly into the distance. There is a maze of paths at this side of the hill so I followed the main one down and decided to head and take the path which steeply descends Mousethwaite Comb and comes out to a track which leads back to the village of Scales where I had arranged my pick up point, I crossed the busy A66 and threw my equipment into the car and off we headed back to Cockermouth.

An excellent day spent on a more than worthy hill, I will look at this hill each time I pass ans who knows I may do the reverse route some day. It was good to find good dry paths with no boggy patches to find your way around.

My thanks to Katie, Wikipedia and Peakbagger and those I have linked to.

I did a quick activation of Latrigg Fell the following day (  short blog post to follow in a few days)

Information overload….

Blencathra means ‘ the bare hill shaped like a chair’ from the old Cumbric….

or Saddleback is self-explanatory.

Height is 868m (2,848 ft) asl..

Computer generated panorama HERE

Peakbagger info HERE

For further reading on Fell Running, just google Billy Bland or Joss Naylor and just to put all this into perspective, Billy Bland holds the record for the Bob Graham Round, a race which takes in 42 Lake District peaks over 66 miles long, his record ? 13 hours 53 mins. Joss Naylor expanded the round to 72 peaks involving over 100 miles and 37,000 feet of ascent in 23h 20m. Incredible achievements.