Harter Fell (Eskdale) – 25th March 2011
SOTA – G/LD-028
WOTA – LDW112
Living in the lake district or rather just outside it brings a few benefits. Being close to a bumpy backdrop and the views out across the irish sea and being in the north west generally mean its either windy or raining, or windy and raining. The days when the air is still and the sky clear are not too common and those which fall on weekends seem to be precious few. Last Friday was one of those days. It was warm and sunny outside which meant it was like a furnace in the office I am currently working in. Time to go outside.
So far my SOTA activations are limited to Dent, which is a gentle lump on the edge of the national park with a well groomed fire road almost to the summit. The second was an activation of goat fell on Arran covered under a a good 50cm of snow towards the summit and howling winds. Not a comfortable experience. Third time lucky then for Harker Fell.
Now this was not a planned trip, until the evening before (after I had finished painting the kitchen!). At mid day I left work and headed out on the roads to get to the duddon valley via Birker Fell. I cycle the roads regularly and know my way round them quite well. Parking up at Birks Bridge car park instead of the side of the very narrow road (something that really ought not to happen when theres a useful car park – don’t get me started on those who park cars or even camper vans on the passing places on Hardknott). Started up the access road until I met the path.
Having never been there before I checked then looked for the path as is went up the fell, rechecked the map and made a mental note that this looked a bit steep. Onwards and upwards then. The path seemed to follow a dried out run off stream and I was not entirely convinced that I was going the right way. The path had reassuring footprints in the parts that weren’t rocks and so I carried on. A couple of small cairns reminded me that I was heading in the right direction and that this was the right path. After about 40 mins of ‘up’ I came across a stile and the ground flattened off for about 50 metres before heading up again to what was clearly the summit.
I hadn’t met a soul on the way up and met only a couple who were heading down when I rounded the last corner. I made my way to the triangulation point and unpacked the gear. My VX8-GE, SOTA beam and fishing pole. The VX8 takes a while to get a GPS fix so I set it off and started using some velco straps to secure the pole to the triangulation point. Right now where’s that SMA to BNC adapter? Agggghhhhh its not in the bag. It’s in the …..car! Oh well at least all that setting up and taking down had given the GPS a chance to get a fix and the APRS beacon was merrily starting to bbuurrrppppp its tune.
I checked up and down the band and heard a couple of station, one of which was Phil, G4OBK on Scafell. Calling CQ on 145.500 Mhz gave me an instant response from Derek, 2E0MIX. He had been trying to get Phil but couldn’t get through the pile up. He suggested I give him a try to see if my rubber duck was worth carrying on with. Hey presto it worked. Excellent my first summit to summit.
For the next 50 minutes I had some nice QSO’s and a second summit to summit in the south pennines. Within the hour I had 15 QSO’s, 2 of which were S2S’s and it was time to head back down and home to St Bees so that my XYL could go out at 5pm. Just as I was finishing up another couple came round the corner, inquired as to whether I carried all this gear up with me and what on earth was I doing. After explaining what I was up to they seemed a bit puzzled but interested.
The route down was the same as that going up as you’d expect. The possibility of being a statistic for the mountain rescue was fairly high so I was taking it easy. Not surprising but going down was a lot quicker than going up. All in all a good afternoon. So whats on the list for things to do next time.
1. Put the SMA to BNC on the radio before leaving.
2. Check to make sure its on there before starting the car
3. Double check…..
In all seriousness until I can work out exactly what I need for these trips then I should do myself a little checklist or to put a pack together that is just for portable operations. A small tupperware box should do it or a tool roll type thing.