SOTA Activation Reports 2009 part 2

Activation reports previously submitted  to the Summits On The Air Reflector 

Which hill? Witch Hill. Activation of Pendle Hill G/SP-005 24th May 2009

The American Author Helen Keller said “Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see the shadow.” well that is a great quote but we don’t get much sunshine around here but Saturday 23rd May 2009 was an exception and when the sun is shining this SOTA guys mind turns to summits. The question was which one to do?

I had in mind a quick jaunt up the road to one of the Clwydian Range that I haven’t done yet GW/NW-053 Moel Gyw but suddenly out of the blue Helen said “If it is nice tomorrow we could do Pendle Hill”. Which summit to do? Witch summit of course.

The Pendle witch trials of 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history and twelve people were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft. The accused witches lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire, a county which, at the end of the 16th century, was regarded by the authorities as a wild and lawless region: an area fabled for its theft, violence and sexual laxity. Not much change there then. It was okay because we would keep our face to the sunshine and never see the shadow.

Pendle_Hill_SP-005_24-May-2009 _004

There was some concern with both of us that we might be caught up in bank holiday weekend traffic so we decided to leave it until after lunch on Sunday. This left time for some chasing in the morning and my observances of 60 metres seemed to show that around 1600hrs has been when the band has been most stable. This is contrary to observations from previous years were the band seemed to die at around this time.

Following the Tom Tom’s directions we took exactly 1hr 30 minutes as predicted with no hold ups and no excitement, only a little disappointment. The disappointment came in the guise of ON9CBQ/P on ON-014 who called and called and called on 7.118 for ages before he got a contact. I was listening on the FT-857D but the Atas was not doing it. I tried with100w mobile until he went to 20m and then I tried again when Peter ON4UP took up the mic.

Soon I was spotting the dark satanic mills and I knew we were in witch country. A sign pointing the way to Nelson appeared to the right and I commented to Helen “We can not be far from Mike G4BLH’s here, I hope I can get him on 23cms”. My mind drifted off to the greatest British hero of all time who shares his name with that town and for a few minutes I was cruising the Mediterranean stood on the poop deck with the wind in my hair. What hair? I was suddenly rocketed back into the land of the living and we were in Pendle.

"This doesn’t look like Inky’s parking spot,” said Helen. “I think we need to go over there,” I said recognising the summit from Steve’s video. A little way on we saw a line of cars and pulled over. “It doesn’t seem as easy as it did in the video,” said Helen. “We have done bigger ones,” I replied and we set off.

Pendle_Hill_SP-005_24-May-2009 _006Maybe I set too fast a pace from the start but Helen started to have tightening of the calves on the flat and by the time we were one third up she was in some pain. We took it very slowly but by half way she persuaded me to go on ahead. Without Helen or the kids to regulate my pace I charged on too fast coming to a grinding halt about three quarters of the way up. I sat down and waited until I could see Helen below and made the final push for the top. Our fitness levels are obviously a lot lower than we would like, but I did not seem to notice the two and half stone of my rucksack, breathing seemed to be the problem. My lungs seemed ready to burst and this by anyones standards is just a tiddler. It was extremely hot though, fantastic but “phew!” hot.

I have got used to being passed on hills by hill runners on their way down who already passed me on their way up, but to be passed by mothers carrying their babies and Asian women in Burkas wearing high heel shoes is as embarrassing for me as it is stupid for them. Snarling hounds of hell they might not have been but just as dangerous were the dogs descending the hill as I climbed up it. Hurtling towards you fearless and oblivious they could easily have knocked dozens of walkers off their feet. I can understand why none of them were on leads, I certainly would not have liked to be dragged down that path be a mutt.

I arrived at the summit plateau and looked back, Helen was nowhere to be seen. The plateau and the site of the trig point was like someone had just replaced my batteries with Duracell Energiser and I sped off for the summit like one of those pink bunnies. I touched the trig and then headed away from the madding crowds and pitched camp. I gave Helen a quick call to find out were she was and by the time I saw her I was set up ready to go.

Helen did really well getting set up quickly on two metres as her first contact, which was with Jordan M3TMX was only 11 minutes after mine. First in my log was G4OBK on channel Fox Echo 5.3985mHz at 1549UTC. I had a run of 14 contacts with G, GM, GW and one GI, which was not a bad tally on 5mHz, the way the band has been lately. There were notable calls missing from the list including the two regular EI stations and the two Dons, maybe I was too late in the day or maybe they had taken advantage of the WX to do some gardening. Who knows?

Pendle_Hill_SP-005_24-May-2009 _017After finishing on 60metres I dispensed with tradition to give Mike G4BLH a call on 23cm. I was only on the rubber duck and Mike’s signal was a bit iffy at first but I moved up to the trig point and Mike moved out into the Garden for 5/9 each way, H/held to H/held. Apparently Mike can see the trig from his QTH so I gave him a quick wave. I told Mike I would call him on the Woxoun 4 metre hand held and put out a CQ call as I walked back to the rucksack. John MW1FGQ who is a fellow member of the Mold and District ARC answered me and we too exchanged 5/9 reports. A few calls later I gave up on 23cm and called Mike again. Not surprisingly we exchanged the same reports. John followed close behind and was end stopping even on the Woxoun’s rubber duck but spoiled the party by giving 5/8. The intention had been to try again later with the half wave antenna on the mast but we never got around to it.

The next QSY was to 80m and I found the band in much worse than expected state. Only seven in the log this time on 3.660 but it is always nice to work the younger amateurs such as Jimmy M3EYP and Jordan M3TMX and indeed give them some chaser points back.

I announced I was QSYing to 7.118 but found the top portion of the band useless due to broadcast stations and moved down to 7.090 where Mike BLH found and spotted me. I had a fresh battery and when after a few calls I got no reply I turned up the wick to 70 watts from the 20 I had been using on 60 and 80m. Shortly after I received two calls from Croatia, Miro 9A4MF and then Ozren 9A7W followed by Rudy ON4CMT from Belgium. Mick M0PVA and Geoff M6MZX made it five on 40 metres. 14.285 yielded Mike and Mick again plus Roland SM1CXE. 20m was busy further down the band but rather than work other peoples pile ups I moved up to 10m on 28.500 where I did a little better getting five in the log, including Mike, Mick and Geoff again but also Nel YO2BBX. After a lot more CQ calls I did a quick QSY back to 60metres and wound the power to full but there were no stragglers.

The sun seemed to be rapidly disappearing so we started to pack up for the descent. As we packed Helen told me she had worked three on 70cms FM and twenty-one on two metres, with my thirty-nine that was sixty contacts, I was well pleased. Once again the two metre SOTAbeam had been humped to the top of a hill to remain unused and I never got to use the half wave verticals for four and six metres but everything else had been tried more successfully than ever before. If we had been two hours earlier we may have had chance. Oh well! Our late start meant I had no summit to summit contacts in the log, which is unusual but Helen managed to get Chris M1DTJ/P on G/SP-004 Shining Tor and Richard G1JTD/P on G/NP-007 Wild Boar Fell.

Pendle_Hill_SP-005_24-May-2009 _021I had tried to keep my face to the sunshine but the shadows were lengthening as we headed off the hill. The descent down felt somewhat precarious as we have both grown used to using walking poles and I forgot them today. They would have helped on the ascent too and I usually use them to keep the ends of the dipole above the ground. I was somewhat miffed that there were no witches dancing around the trig as I had my matches ready for a bonfire, my Van Helsing hand book and several cloves of garlic, but there were no trees for a witch burning anyway. Helen too was hoping for a witch so she could mug her and steal her broom to fly down from the top. Maybe next time we head that way we will see Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, who knows?

Back at the car we changed out of our walking boots, tipped the remainder of our water supply over our heads and opened a bottle of Pepsi. The Pepsi was just warm it was close to boiling on our dry throats it burnt like Nitric Acid, “Arg!” The journey home was as uneventful as the journey there with just a quick stop for some ice cold drinks. We both felt a little stiff next morning but while Helen wants to start Flat Places on the Air I have said if we did more summits we would not feel it so much when we do. We will see!

Thanks to all those who worked us, to Mike G4BLH for all his Spots and to G4OBK for his initial one. I did not need me mobile this time out.

This report first appeared on the SOTAwatch reflector and includes photographs that are available at

Date:24/May/2009 Summit:G/SP-005 (Pendle Hill) Call Used:G7AAV/P Points: 2 Bonus: 0


Date:24/May/2009 Summit:G/SP-005 (Pendle Hill) Call Used:G7AAU/P Points: 2 Bonus: 0   

16:11zM1DTJ/P144MHzFMS2S from G/SP-004 Shining Tor
16:14zGB2TER144MHzFMTraction Engine Rally - Leeds
16:23zG1JTD/P144MHzFMS2S from G/NP-007 Wid Boar Fell

MADARCs go out in the baking sun. Activation of GW/NW-051 Foel Fenlli 4th June 2009

As life passes by at pace and I find my self getting less and less done that I want to do I spend more time running about on errands or sitting around waiting for others and my mood drifts to darker places. Often I find in my darkest moods my most creative and inspirational thoughts, but when the sun shines I can be happy despite whatever life throws at me.

It was Monday 1st June 2009 and the sun was shining so I was in a good but flippant mood and it was during one of those periods running around on an errand for somebody else or at least not one I wanted to do that I was monitoring the seventy-centimetre repeater GB3CR that is located on Hope Mountain GW/NW-062. I had spoken to a quite a few different people that morning and put them right this was the (former*) Clwyd Repeater not the Chester Repeater, that it was between Mold and Wrexham and not on Moel y Parc with the much abused GB3MP. No, there was a much more discerning clientele on here (who am I kidding I use it don’t I) and no the North West Repeater Group have nothing to do with its up keep. After being put in my place that Hope Mountain is actually one and a half miles closer to Wrexham than Mold and after my replying that it was nearer the town of Hope than either Wrexham or Mold someone came on and changed the subject. [* The borders changed it is in Flintshire now]

Dave 2W0PWR is the Secretary of the Mold and District ARC of which I am the Chairman and after a little discussion of the work going on to the club’s new shack/workshop facility he mentioned he was thinking that as he had a day off on Thursday he would do a SOTA activation. “Where are you thinking of?” I asked and when he said Moel Famau GW/NW-044 I suggested that seeing as I was off too I could reciprocate and activate Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051, which is accessed, from the opposite side of the same road. We would discuss it at the Wednesday night meeting in the Mold Rugby Club over a pint of Guinness.

The errand in question had been to get a couple of noises emanating from the Land Rover Discovery that had been spotted by Helen and her brother Phil checked out. There was a squeak from the nearside front and a rumble (that I could not hear) from the offside right. I suggested that the rumble was not as ex-car mechanic Phil thought a wheel bearing but simply the knobbly off road tyres of the concrete road and the squeak just a bit of grit in the brake callipers. One out of two was not bad and the garage agreed with me, but the brake pads on the back would not last too long. I booked it in forall the pads to be done next morning.

I dropped off the Disco at 8am and was told they would phone me when it was ready. At 1pm I had a call from the garage to say the suppliers had sent the wrong pads, but they now had the right ones and it would be ready for 3pm. After collecting the kids from school it was on the mountain bike for a pleasant bike ride down the banks of the river Dee with its inspiring views of the steel works. How I hate our industrial wastelands.

I arrived at the garage to be told they could not work out what was wrong with the car. The brakes were working but the brake pedal would suddenly push back up when you were almost at a stop and you had to stand on it and push with all your might to stop it rolling. They had ordered a sensor for the anti-lock system and would try it next day. Fortunately they gave me a lift back home in a pick up and I threw my bike in the back.

All day next day I waited for news. It was looking more and more like the activation on Thursday was in doubt. Finally a knock on the door at about 4.30pm and the Discovery was back. That was the trigger and all the batteries were put on charge.

Wednesday night confirmed that Dave was still up for it and over a pint we made the massively detailed plans. “I will head there after I drop the kids off,” I said. Okay, see you there” said Dave. Arriving home later I logged on and put up an alert. I was surprised when Dave’s alert said 12:00 UTC but next morning it had changed to an hour before mine.

Next morning after dropping my daughter at school and waiting with for granddaughter to be picked up by her mother I was talking on GB3CR and Dave came on. He was arriving at the car park for Moel Famau. He had the jump on me and would be set up before I had even left home.

A little later I was on the road. There were no real problems just slow drivers and I never got once got to within 10MPH of the speed limit all the way there. Tractor, learner, tractor, man in hat, lorry in wrong gear up the hill, two old women talking, but soon I turned left off the main road and put my foot down on the single track road with the antennas ping ping pinging on the overhead branches. Suddenly I was testing those new brake discs as a coach load of school kids reversed down the lane towards me. They worked!

The coach backed into the bottom car park for Moel Famau and I pressed on for the top car park on the Foel Fenlli side. I gave a little sigh; at least they were going up Dave’s hill not mine I thought.

I parked the Discovery, removed the dual band antenna and the ATAS, and booted up but as I put my rucksack on the dammed coach full of kids pulled in and the hoards of hell emerged to potentially ruin my beautiful peaceful sunny day.

I pushed on up the hill calling Dave from time to time to see if he was set up, but soon I was standing aside to let the ant like procession of school children wend there way shouting, screaming and moaning their way up the path. I swore quietly under my breath as I watched a crisp packet drift away on the breeze. I made contact with Dave and let him know I was on the ascent.

At the halfway mark where you turn left of the winding route and head up towards the summit the school party was having a rest. I smiled at them even though I did not feel like smiling and pressed on to the top. Pressing on through knee-deep heather. “Boy, this has grown over” I thought but I had missed the proper path because the children were sat on it. Eventually I picked up the real path and was soon at the summit. I called Dave and a small group wanted to work me but I told them to wait while I got set up.

I got the FT-857D from the rucksack to find the ‘select knob’ was missing. I hoped it was in the rucksack and not back on Pendle Hill. Unfortunately an intensive search yielded nothing so I guess it is somewhere on the witches hill. Anyone know where I can get a new one?

With the dipole and a 2m J-pole set up I called into Dave on 145.400mHz at 0959z for a S2S and then QSYed down 25kHz to work the waiting chasers. I had intended to do 2m last so after the waiting chasers had been worked I started up on 5mHz getting Frank G3RMD almost immediately. As Frank attempted to get a spot on for me Phil G4OBK called in to say he had already done it. A run of eleven contacts followed including a second S2S from Mike GW0DSP/P on Hope Mountain GW/NW-062.

I did not hang around too long when the calls dried up and pulled the links in the dipole to move to 3.666mHz. As I did this I put out calls on 1297.5 and 70.450. Nothing on 23cms but Graham GW0HUS came back to me on 70mHz for my one and only contact on this band.

80 metres yielded only a few contacts but I did get one ON station in the log and a tip off that Dave GW6DTN/P was further down the band. So I called him for a third S2S from GW/NW-039 Foel Goch.

40 metres started well with DL, ON, and HB9 stations in the log as well as G and GM before the FT-857 shut down because of overheating in the sun. This was somewhat annoying as I still had one 7amp hour battery left unused.

I left the Yaesu to cool down and tried 23cms and 70mHz again but got no replies. I was expecting Mold club member John MW1FGQ to be listening on these frequencies so I resorted to the mobile phone and gave him a ring, but got an engaged tone. I picked up the dual band Kenwood hand held and started calling on 2m FM. First up was Brian G0JCQ operating the RAFARS call sign of G6RAF/A followed by a run of familiar call signs some chasers others not before I was called by Alan GW3NPJ/P on GW/NW-32 Carnedd Y Filias for the forth S2S of the day.

After working Roger MW1IDX/M the calls once again dried up and rather than give another call on S20 I gave John MW1FGQ another call first on 23cms then 70mHz and then on the mobile phone. This time it simply rang and rang. I tried the FT-857 that was now cool again on 10 metres. There were voices up and down the band talking in some language I could not make out but no one was coming back to my CQ calls. I stood up to intending to change over to 20 meters but was called by EA1DKF. As I wrote the time in the log I realised I needed to pack up and get down to pick up the children from school.

At this point the school party passed by heading back off the hill and a pretty, but sour faced, young woman approached and announced, “I am an archaeologist. Do you know what you are doing is illegal?” “How?” I asked. “You can’t drive poles in the ground” she said. “I haven’t driven any poles in the ground they are on the surface” I explained. “Only the tent pegs are in the ground and they are just an inch into the soil at an angle.” “It is still illegal.” she said “You can’t drive anything into the ground it is an Iron Age site”. I tried to explain that my pegs are no further into the surface than a walking pole and that bringing 40 school kids up here throwing litter around did more damage than I would do in a lifetime but to no effect. I said that next time I would find a none-intrusive method of erecting my antenna and inform the SOTA group of the restrictions. I restrained my self from saying what I really thought, that that biggest damage to ancient sites is done by licensed grave robbers and vandals like her. People who ignore the past are fools but those that dwell in the past are bigger fools. As she walked off I hoped I never saw the jumped little Nazi ever again and wished her every misfortune but did not let it ruin my near perfect day.

While taking down the fishing pole I called Dave to let him know what I was doing and found him working Dave GW6DTN/P and so I grabbed GW/NW-039 Foel Goch on 2m FM too. Then packed up and headed down. Total score for the day was 46 contacts from 80m to 2m. Dave 2W0PWR concentrated on 2m and had 27 in his log.

Packing up seemed to take longer than normal and Dave left his summit ages before I did. The quick route down from Foel Fenlli was out of action due to rebuilding of the steps but despite this we arrived back in the car parks simultaneously. After a refreshing bottle of water and a chat with Dave I replaced the antennas on the car and was about to head home when the mobile rang and it was John MW1FGQ. “Too late I am in the car park. You missed me.” I told him. It was a little disappointing to not get John on 23cms and 4 metres as he was an easy line of site, but he had forgotten I was on and left his mobile phone behind after a tea break.

It was an absolutely fabulous day despite my knob falling off, the Nazi protector of dead people, and the St Trinians School day out. Oh and the fact that I carted up the camera only to find I could not take any pictures because the batteries were flat. Luckily the possible sunburn has turned to a nice shade of tan but how long it will last in this typical British weather is anyone’s guess.