Sunday 7th October 2018 - Ward’s Stone G/SP-003 & Winter Hill G/SP-010
Gig: Joe Longthorne
Venue: Viva Blackpool
It had been a cold night in Slaidburn and there was ice on the car windows as I walked across the road from the hostel to the Hark to Bounty pub. I’d heard the pub would be open for breakfast from 8am, so decided this would be the perfect start to the day. I fancied a change, so went for the Bounty Rarebit - cheese on toast with a couple of poached eggs and baked beans. Even at breakfast, I was minded towards a new (for me) approach to Ward’s Stone - from the Jubilee Tower car park to the west, and via Grit Fell. I researched several reports online, and it eventually dawned on me that the usual approach up the track from Tarnbrook would be infinitely more enjoyable.
I parked on a patch of grass in Tarnbrook, a tiny farming hamlet up a long cul-de-sac. From here, two thirds of the route is along a good Land Rover track, eventually leading to a shooters lodge. I’m sure there used to be a “No entry to walkers” sign at the entrance to this last section of track, necessitating some rough walking on the fells to either side. Anyway, this time, there was no sign of any such sign, so I pressed on ahead. This was good, because it meant a good track to cover another 20m of ascent, leading onto a rough but clear shooter’s path snaking up the fellside past a succession of grouse butts. It was just the final half mile or so that became a vague trek uphill on pathless terrain, but the ground was firm and the going easy. In fact it had been a delightfully enjoyable walk - much better than I remembered it.
I had a bit of time to spare this time, so I decided to visit both trig points on the summit plateau. First I headed across to the higher (561m) trig to the east, before switching back to the 560m trig towards the west, and very close to some rocks that offer good shelter. I set up the 20m GP, using the large rocks to provide important shelter from the stiff breeze. This was necessary to keep the mast in one piece - and keep the operator from freezing to death! Yes, winter was definitely on its way!
It was a great activation on the radio.
20m CW: 12 QSOs, including S2S with EA6/DJ5AA/P on EA6/MA-066
20m SSB: 16 QSOs, including S2S with S56KVJ/P on S5/GS-006, LZ1GJ/P on LZ/RO-057, OM/SQ9MDF/P on OM/ZA-106 & HB9GUA/P on HB/AG-012
2m FM: 6 QSOs, including S2S with Viki M6BWA/P & Rod M0JLA/P on G/LD-011
70cm FM: 1 QSO - S2S with Viki M6BWA/P on G/LD-011
Now it was time to pack up and reverse my walk back to Tarnbrook. I completed my reccy of the summit plateau by visiting the curious installation right on its west end. This comprised a windmill, a couple of solar panels, and a metal enclosure, assumed to be housing a generator. I’d memorised a view to the SE of a little peak standing between two larger hills, as a target for getting back to the track. This worked out, and landed me at the top turning circle just above the shooters lodge. From here it was an easy and pleasurable walk down the rest of the track to Tarnbrook and my car. I was nice and early for soundcheck by the time I got to Blackpool, and more than ready for my Sunday roast carvery dinner afterwards!
All the guys in the band all went for a wander down to the Layton Rakes (Wetherspoons) pub as we usually do during the first half (house cabaret & stand-up comedian) of the show for a natter and a pint of ale (just the one!). As we walked back to the gig venue, my Fitbit tracker indicated 17,000 steps for the day. As was becoming usual for me, after the gig I drove home via the M61, with a little detour to Winter Hill G/SP-010.