It was 31 down, one to go, in terms of the NP activator uniques for Jimmy and
I. The next opportunity to go out walking would see us in one place only, and
that would be Cracoe Fell G/NP-032, with everything from
Cross Fell G/NP-001 to Birks Fell G/NP-031
already chalked off. This included the two now deleted summits
Horse Head Moor G/NP-021 which we did in a bit of a rush
once its "card was marked", and Thorpe Fell
Saturday 7th February 2009 was never earmarked as the day, for Macclesfield
Town FC were schedule to play a home game versus Notts County. Nonetheless,
Jimmy, Liam and myself were up at 6am as we would be for a SOTA expedition, as
we were going down to help clear the snow from the Moss Rose pitch at 7am, in
return for complimentary bacon butties and coffee.
Today's route saw us head up the A34, M60, M66, M65 and A56 towards Skipton.
We were accompanied by Canalside Community
Radio, Silk FM and BBC Radio 5 Live as we awaited official confirmation that
the match was indeed off. In Colne, we pulled in by "Laura's Larder" and ordered
filled hot oven-bottoms - sausage, bacon and mushroom for me, spam and egg for
Jimmy and garlic chicken for Liam. It was all very tasty, and a good substantial
breakfast for the three of us, costing just £6.
As we gained height, the lying snow soon got deeper, especially where Jimmy
decided we were to cut left uphill towards the wall, rather than turn at the
gate. A few times we lost our legs up to our thighs, but it was quite fun in the
pure driven snow.
After a pause for photos at the impressive and imposing Rylstone Cross, we
climbed the ladder stile and resumed our walk up to Cracoe Fell summit. It
turned out that our vista from the lay-by had been misleading. The climb to the
Rylstone Cross was quite quick, but the traverse now to Cracoe Fell was lengthy.
It was however reasonably good going on the frozen peat, and we recognised that
we were avoiding the bog suffered by previous activators. Some sections of ice
and compacted snow were quite dicy, so a little care was needed.
Just in front of the obelisk, I set up the SOTA Beam, horizontally polarised,
and made a start on 2m CW. This was my best 2m CW activation yet, with eight
stations in the log in swift order, and even that wonderful sound of a pile-up
at one stage. Stations worked included Roy G4SSH in Scarborough down to Frank
G3RMD in Cheltenham. It was good to hear Mike GW0DSP calling again from Connahs
Quay after his recent exertions in GM-land.
The descent was pleasant again in the snow, but contrasting with the ascent,
it now being largely trodden down on what was a busy route today. No longer we
were losing limbs to deep drifted snow! We were on the road again by 4pm,
and in 2m FM mobile contact with Geoff G6MZX, who we were meeting for a beer in
the Tempest near Thornton-in-Craven. Here we spent a very pleasant 45
minutes before getting on the roads and motorways south to Cheshire.
So Jimmy M3EYP and me M1EYP joined Richard G3CWI, Steve G1INK and Clive M1YAM
as NP region activator completists. For ourselves, we could now claim G/CE,
G/NP, G/SE, G/SP, G/TW, G/WB and GI/AH as completed regions for SOTA. NP
was definitely the most difficult and challenging out of all those, but we
intended returning for the likes of Whernside G/NP-004,
Wild Boar Fell G/NP-007, Pen-y-ghent G/NP-010 and
Fountains Fell G/NP-017.