Whin Rigg & Illgill Head – 7th May 2011
It isn’t always easy to plan a activation of any kind of suimmit when you’ve got a young family, they tend to come first and most weekends are spent keeping them entertained and educated or whatever the old BBC motto was. So when I was offered the chance of a morning off I took it with a pinch of salt. It was grey and murky outside and the threat of rain looked more like a certainty.
A quick plan was hatched to activate Whin Rigg and Illgill head. Drive to wasdale and park up on the wastwater shore as close to the pump house as possible. Sprint up the gulley and onto the top to get to Whin Rigg as quickly as sensible and to enjoy a longer time onthe summit before hopping across to Illgill Head. This would give me the best available time actually on the radio.
I did enjoy the walk through the wooded area that was full of bluebells. Something you don’t get too much of when you’re up on higher ground but the view of the lake and the wood was very nice and worth a sit down and enjoy the saturday quiet.
Looking at my watch signalled the time was pressing on and the ‘sprint’ up the gulley to Whin Rigg was on. After a shortish climb I did start to sound like an asthmatic donkey as the remnants of a chest infection that refused to go away reared its head. Time to slow down. You get a couple of choices as you go up the gulley, either stick to the main path which is very well maintained or follow some of the sheep tracks and cut the corner at the risk of getting wet feet. I chose the former and cut off a small part of the corner where the ground was obviously firmer.
Whin Rigg summit has a nice sheltered cairn and good view down to wast water. With your back to the westerly ‘breeze’ it made for a nice spot. After the first few QSO’s it was time to make it across to Illgill Head which was by my reckoning 20mins away before I was settled down and ready to transmit again. The sprint continued first down then back up again to meet the exposed summit cairn at Illgill. TX again with some GR stations as well as GD4YUM in the IoM. All using the VX8 and Sotabeams MFD. then catastrophy the battery died during a QSO and a frantic connect up of the ft817 was completed in order to comlpete the activation.
On the way back past Whin Rigg as the drizzle was settling in I made a couple more QSO’s for those who missed me the first time and it was time to get down off the high ground. Progress was stopped by a couple asking if I was watching match of the day on that contraption. I explained what I was doing, they looked confused but understanding and went on their way. One of the was in a short sleeved shirst and shorts. I wondered if they had seen the state of the weather blowing in?
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I was quite a good cross country runner and made some very fast progress over the flatter sections and down the sheep tracks. By the time I was back at the woods I was hot and soaked through. Not to mention over 20 QSO’s heavier. So lessons learnt. Charge batteries for weekends even if you don’t plan on going out, my walking boots are a poor substitute for my running shoes and give me blisters when I run in them and fitness levels drop rapidly when you’ve had a chest infection. Finally there is a shortcut through the woods at the start just after the five bar gate (see photos). Still another enjoyable activation that is feeding my growing addiction.