SOTA Activation Reports 2009 (4)

SOTA Activation Reports 2009
Activation reports previously submitted to the Summits On The Air Reflector

24th May 2009  G/SP-005 Pendle Hill

Which hill? Witch Hill.

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