Monday 16 August 2010

Walk 34
Skiddaw Group Northern Fells Sunday 15th August 2010
13.5m / 4870ft ascent

Phil G4OBK Geoff & Treacle (Terrier)

116. Dodd LDW-174 1674ft
117. Carlside LDW-064 2448ft
118. Long Side LDW-070 2408ft
119. Ullock Pike LDW-098 2264ft
120. Skiddaw LDW-004 3054ft
121. Skiddaw Little Man LDW-015 2838ft
122. Lonscale Fell LDW-080 2346ft
123. Latrigg Fell LDW-206 1204ft

Route from Applethwaite

Dodd LDW-174 from Hounslow Bank
We set ourselves a hard job on this walk, and managed to just complete it in the time we had allowed. We left Pickering at 6.00am local time enjoying a good drive to Applethwaite north of Keswick, where there is roadside parking at GR 260258. After leaving the car at 8.15am we walked through Millbeck intending to take the footpath up into Lyzzick Wood. However, we missed our turning into the wood and continued climbing along the fenceline finishing up at the top of Hounslow Bank. A bad start to the day and we paid for it later. Our destination was Dodd LDW-174 - a hill often missed out by walkers doing the Skiddaw Group.  After another bad decision when we missed the path again we found ourselves climbing Dodd through an area of cleared fell from the south, eventually finding a graded path to the summit when we were around 2/3rds the way up. This error cost us around 30 minutes and a good half mile of difficult climbing.

Memorial plate
Once we found the stoney path it was excellent, right up to the monument on top (pictured left). Geoff was off form to start with but soon gained strength and continued on with renewed vigour for the rest of the day. As the fell was devoid of sheep my terrier, Treacle, was able to enjoy a short spell of freedom off the lead.  Dodd is well screened off and although the Memorial plate says it is 1612ft my source at states 1647ft.  Dodd is hidden behind the back of Skiddaw so it didn't bode well for radio contact with Penrith. Only two contacts were made with Julian G4ILO/P, on his way to activate Outerside LDW-142, and Colin 2E0XSD in Frizington.  Whilst activating we were invaded by swarms of flying ants, also noted by Julian, Frank G3RMD and Ian 2E0EDX who were all out activating in Lakeland.  Having lost time, our earlier than expected start on the walk wasted, we made off down the excellent path and came out within 25m of where we had doubled back at 250273 before the ascent and kicked ourselves for just missing the path. It was my decision, oh well.   
We were following one of Stuart Marshall's classic routes from his book "Walking the Wainwrights". Stuart's mapping up to Carlside via the steepest route proved a little suspect, it couldn't be seen on the ground, so we deviated eastwards via the obvious path to White Stones which was covered by Wainwright in his pictorial guide. We then headed north to the summit of Carl Side LDW-064 (2448ft), which was reached just before 11.00am.  The extra height made a difference on VHF with six contacts this time. Julian G4ILO/P was worked summit to summit on Outerside LDW-142. The best DX was with MW0SEC on Anglesey.
The south west face of Skiddaw
To our left slightly below us we could see our next two targets along the ridge of Longside Edge. Within 10 minutes of leaving Carl Side we we fighting off the flying ants on top of LDW-70 Longside Edge.  Once again the regulars were worked and were followed by GD0NFN John near Douglas and then Ian 2E0EDX/P was there, on a round of Wainwrights above Coniston after an early start like us.  Ian was on his highest point of the day of Coniston Old Man LDW-015 and we exchanged 59 reports. Soon after this Frank G3RMD/P, on a visit up north to see his family, called in from Fairfield LDW-013 before I made off to escape the flying ants. So long as you kept moving they left you alone. Ullock Pike LDW-098 was reached in just eight minutes and proved to be an excellent vantage point of 2264ft above Bassenthwaite. Five stations were worked, Penrith (G0TDM) was one of them but Lancaster (G1OHH) was not. The height drop of less than 100ft being enough to prevent a line of sight contact.  The last contact was one of the best of the day, it was Nick GI0HIK/P on SOTA GI/SM-007 Slieve Gallion in The Sperrin Mountains of County Tyrone. Nick was struggling to get contacts and I noticed when I got home that he had not been picked up by SOTAWatch on the internet.  The flying ant problem was at its worst on Ullock, Geoff set off back along the ridge towards Skiddaw taking Treacle with him and I had no choice but to keep moving about to keep the ants from biting me.  We took the slanting path up to Skiddaw after returning to Carlside Tarn, it looked worse than it was and we climbed it without needing our hands. The surface was more like broken slate rather than the scree which Wainwright had reported. As I went up the slope I heard Ian 2E0EDX calling CQ from his next target of Brim Fell LDW-037, we had a quick QSO before I continued on to the summit of Skiddaw LDW-004 which was reached at 12.47pm, in time for a long lunch break in the sunshine.  I chose one of the shelters beyond the trig point away from the melee and no one bothered me for the next hour.   The take off at 3054ft was amazing and twenty QSOs were completed using the normal set up of VX-170 at 5 watts and rucksack special vertical antenna.  Summit to Summit contacts were recorded with:

G4ILO/P        Julian          Scar Crags                LDW-101
G8HXE/P      Keith           High Street                LDW-025
2M0NCM/P   Neil             Beinn an Lochain       GM/SS-018
G3RMD/P     Frank          St Sunday Crag        LDW-022
M1AVV/P    Simon         Hutton Roof Crags     G/LD-052
GM7PKT/P  Robin           Bidean nam Bian       GM/WS-007
2E0EDX/P   Ian               Swirl Howe                 LDW-033

G1OPV/P    Phil              Nine Standards          G/NP-018

Long Side LDW-070 and Ullock Pike LDW-098 from Skiddaw
Geoff heads off from Skiddaw Little Man
The monument on the flank of Skiddaw
It was all downhill now, with three summits left to cross. We were making good time, the sun was shining, the flying ants were history and we headed for Skiddaw Little Man LDW-015 (2838ft), which was reached in 25 minutes. Phil G1OPV/P was worked again on Nine Standards Rigg and I was grateful that Colin 2E0XSD alerted me to the presence of Ian 2E0EDX from Great Carrs LDW-045 who was operating on another frequency. The crowds were still coming up the tourist path to Skiddaw but a lot were also heading back. We struck out towards Lonscale Fell LDW-080 (2346ft) crossing their path and then Jenkin Hill on the way to arrive on LDW-080 at 2.55pm. Take off was not very good from here and only 2E0XSD, G0TDM and G4ILO (now back home) were worked.  We returned beyond the fence at Flag Pots 280273 to head south following Whit Beck to the car park. Just short of this there is a monument and we asked a German chap to take our photograph.  We told him we were making for Latrigg Fell LDW-206, our 8th and final Wainwright of the day. He decided to accompany us on the 15 minute walk there to the summit which was quite busy when we arrived at 4.10pm. We stayed 20 minutes and managed just three contacts with G0TDM, G3RMD/M and G4FBC/P.  There are paths all over Latrigg Fell, few are shown on the 1:25000 map and we made our way down to join the Cumbria Way at 273249, following it for 600m before turning north west back towards Applethwaite, where my car was parked.  Our expected time was 5.30pm and we got there at 5.27pm! 
A change of socks and we just had time to drive into Penrith for a Big Mac and Coke before the drive back to Pickering.  It had been another great day out doing the Wainwrights and I got into Malton in good time to pick up my wife Judy from the London train.

Thank you to all the chasers, activators and spotters who helped complete the sixty contacts made throughout the day.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

Walk 33
Seatoller Weekend: 6th-8th August 2010
Sunday 8.5m / 3500ft ascent

111. Grey Knotts LDW-091 2287ft
112. Brandreth LDW-079 2346ft
113. Great Gable LDW-007 2949ft
114. Green Gable LDW-034 2628ft
115. Base Brown LDW-117 2119ft

Seatoller-Honister-Grey Knotts-Brandreth-Great Gable-Green Gable-Seatoller

The weather forecast for the Lake District (supplied by our landlady, Christine, at Seatoller) was much better than on Saturday, so we went with our original plan to walk from the farmhouse up to Honister Slate Mine via the road (using the old sections where we could) and then shoot straight up Grey Knotts LDW-091 by following AW's route along the fence. We set off at 0800z and at around 0900z at the 1900ft level we hit the mist and drizzle and this stayed with us until mid afternoon. So much for that weather forecast.....

G4OBK/P on Grey Knotts LDW-091

With visibility of around 50 feet that fence was a useful navigation tool. Grey Knotts was cleared with three stations in the log: 2E0XSD Colin in Frizington, GM4WHA Geoff in Annan and John G0TDM in Penrith. It took a full 12 minutes to reach Brandreth LDW-079 along that same fence. Six contacts were completed on Brandreth (G4ILO/P helped supplement the previous 3 - Julian was on his way to the summit of Barf LDW-185) and then just as I packed up I logged M0ZIF and G4UME on Hutton Roof Crags for a SOTA point. In my excitement I dropped my one and only pencil inside a pile of banded fencing posts on which I was sitting on top of Brandreth. Judicious poking and prodding and we got it out...phew!
I'd got today's route from Stuart Marshall's "Walking the Wainwright's" book. I know from my walk with Judy up Troutbeck Tongue (the east side - NOT recommended) which we did in March that whenever possible, Stuart never goes up a fell to return off it via the same route, even if it makes life more difficult for the fellwalker. He also suggested this for Great Gable LDW-007, so once again I went by his suggested route to avoid going up and coming down the same way.

 Geoff - happy to be on Great Gable LDW-007

So after ascending Gillercombe Head we veered off in the mist to join Moses Trod. When we got to Stone Cove we went west to Beck Head and then doubled back to climb up Gable via the north western route. Just before we started the steep section Julian appeared from Barf and we exchanged reports - a new one for me. As we were scrambling up I had the VX-170 on squelch and heard Robin GM7PKT/P call CQ on GM/CS-015 Meall nan Tarmachan followed by Ian M3WJZ/P on NP-027 Dufton Pike, finally Jack GM4COX/P came in from Dungavel Hill GM/SS-165. These contacts disrupted the climb somewhat and we were still around 10 minutes from the summit.  Fortunately my pal Geoff is quite patient and was not too concerned.

 Operating from Great Gable LDW-007 - LD-005

We continued to Great Gable summit which was reached at 1125z, lunchtime, and we stayed sat down for 45 minutes and completed twenty QSOs which included six S2S QSOs - Julian by this time had topped Lord's Seat LDW-147. Although walking and operating in the Lake District at weekends has one big drawback in that the fells are quite busy, the positive spin off is that more S2S contacts are possible. The route up to Gable wasn't too difficult but there was one section that was quite hairy to climb on wet rock. If I was to do this walk again in wet conditions I would opt to go up via Windy Gap and come off Gable by the same path...if I could find it in the murk that is!
We moved off the top of Gable and got it seriously wrong, finishing up heading south east rather than north west. I picked up the error after 300m and redressed it, not by retracing our steps but by heading north east down scree to join the path up Aaron Slack near the top of Windy Gap. After the boyish excitement of sliding down the scree (I am 57, Geoff is 65!) we reached the crossroads in the path at the saddle of Windy Gap to go up to Green Gable LDW-034 (picture right). The mist was clearing fast now and we had marvellous views. Another 8 contacts were made from Green Gable. The first QSO was with Chris 2E0FSR/P who was coming in from NP-028 Rombald's Moor in West Yorkshire. I was also glad of a contact with my namesake G1OPV/P on NP-007 Wild Boar Fell.
This gave us just one more fell - the lesser known Base Brown LDW-117 which was 30 minutes away from Green Gable and en-route back to Seathwaite and Seatoller Farm, where the car was parked. Our walk across there (in clear conditions now, thankfully) was slowed by some "on the hoof" QSOs from outside any activation zone at my end. I picked up Bob M3XJV on NP-010 Pen-y-Ghent and Simon M1AVV on LDW-049/LD-017 before Base Brown was topped. On Base Brown five QSOs were completed. We could see Grey Knotts, Brandreth and Green Gable now in the clear, however Great Gable and Scafell Pike were still in the murk.

 Grey Knotts LDW-091 as seen from Base Brown LDW-117

It was on the steep descent from LDW-117 that Geoff broke his Leki alloy walking pole. To prevent a tumble he used the single pole to arrest his fall - and it snapped, clean in two, just below the bottom adjusting ferrule. No damage to Geoff - but it doesn't say a lot for Leki poles as this one was almost new - metal fatigue could not be blamed. Shortly after this we saw some activity down in the valley near Seathwaite Farm. The Mountain Rescue were out and the Air Ambulance also attended. We were later told by a walker from Preston & District Walking Club that the man had fallen and dislocated his shoulder. We reached Seatoller Farm at 1545z for a change of clothes and then made off for the KFC at Penrith for a feast, before returning home to Pickering after a damp, misty but very enjoyable weekend.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Walk 32
Seatoller Weekend: 6th-8th August 2010
Saturday 9.5m / 3550ft ascent 4350ft descent

106. LDW-116 Fleetwith Pike 2126ft
107. LDW-131 Haystacks 1959ft
108. LDW-065 High Crag 2411ft
109. LDW-029 High Stile 2644ft
110. LDW-062 Red Pike 2477ft

G4OBK on Fleetwith Pike LDW-116
Saturday dawned wet and misty. We considered an easier alternative - a walk taking in Castle Crag, High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells returning by bus. However, this would take us up above 2000ft anyway, so we stuck with our original plan to tackle the ridge walk across Hay Stacks and Red Pike, supplementing it with Fleetwith Pike LDW-116 at the start to give us five WOTAs. We hoped to do Starling Dodd LDW-122 and Great Borne LDW-127 above Ennerdale Water as well, however we knew time would be tight for those two as we would need to catch the 1625z bus back from Buttermere to Honister at the end. If we missed that bus we would have a 4 mile steep walk back on top of what we had done already. Our route to Fleetwith Pike was not the best, we took the Tramway path up to Dubs quarry and found our way in the mist up to the top via Hopper Quarry. We found that there are tracks and paths all over the place which are not shown on the OS Maps - much of the fell has been taken away by the slate workings anyway. It took 50 minutes to reach the top before heading back down again to Dubs Quarry to cross Warnscale Beck at the stepping stones and start our ascent to Hay Stacks LDW-131.

Honister Slate Mine-Fleetwith Pike-Hay Stacks-High Crag-High Stile-Red Pike-Buttermere
The activation of Hay Stacks was a milestone to me - it was No. 107 - exactly half way through climbing the 214 Wainwrights. In the rain and mist we had passed Innominate Tarn, this was not the best day to do what is seen by many as the best ridge walk in the Lake District. From Scarth Gap it was difficult to discern the path up to High Crag LDW-065 and High Stile LDW-029/LD-012, however the path is there once a short section of scree is climbed, and it is a good path, stepped in places. Two younger walkers passed us here as we paused for breath, not surprising with over 300m of ascent over a distance of 1Km!

High Crag LDW-065 was activated in mist as was High Stile LDW-029, however as we came down from there to Red Pike LDW-062 we saw what we had been missing all day (above). What a fantastic place to be, the welcome sunshine drying out our clothing and giving us some far reaching views in all directions.  We made it down to The Bridge Inn at Buttermere in good time to enjoy a drink and then catch the bus back to Honister where I had parked my car. Starling Dodd and Great Borne will have to wait.
After cleaning up at the B&B in Seatoller we drove down to the Borrowdale Hotel, between Rosthwaite and Keswick for our dinner. On our way back the festivities celebrating the finish of the Fell Race were taking place at The Scafell Hotel, with a steel band performing in the marquee there.

Monday 9 August 2010

Walk 31

Seatoller Weekend 6th-8th August 2010
Friday 3.5m / 900ft ascent

104. Great Crag LDW-192 1476ft
105. Grange Fell LDW-200 1362ft

Watendlath-Great Crag-Grange Fell-Watendlath

An eventful weekend this was, with no injuries apart from one broken Leki walking pole (my friend Geoff's) and the discovery that my £150 Meindl boots, purchased 9 months ago, leak.

Over the 12 WOTA summits 86 QSOs were completed, with many S2S QSOs to WOTA and SOTA summits. The best QSO I reckon was from High Stile LDW-029/LD-012 with 2I0FZK/P Alan who was on GI/MM-004 in the Mountains of Mourne, Northern Ireland. It was great to see Julian G4ILO active from home on the Saturday and out activating on the Sunday for some more S2S contacts, giving me a chance to work some Wainwrights which I could not have done from my home in Pickering.

Some of the line of sight paths from the Western and Central Fells are blocked out to the south by the bigger summits such as LD-001 so contacts with Sue G1OHH, one of the regular chasers, were few and far between.

I have uploaded some pictures and text to the WOTA Flickr site  It would be good if we could get some more activators to upload pictures on there.

The WOTA weekend started when Geoff and I left the NT Car Park at Watendlath on Friday at 1440z (our route shown above). We topped Great Crag LDW-192 in drizzle at 1515z and then made our way to Brund Fell part of Grange Fell LDW-200 which we topped at 1605z, arriving back quite wet in Watendlath at 1650z. There wasn't time to do Castle Crag LDW-214 and to be truthful after looking down on it from Grange Fell with the equipment I was carrying I wasn't hopeful of making any contacts from it.

G4OBK/P on Great Crag LDW-192 6th August 2010
Having made the decision regarding Castle Crag we drove into Keswick for an enjoyable pub meal at The George Hotel before returning up Borrowdale to our B&B accommodation at Seatoller Farm (recommended). Borrowdale was full of fell runners - the Scafell Race was due to start the next morning at 11.00am from the Scafell Hotel, Rosthwaite.