Whernside G/NP-004, remained as the only NP region summit that I had
activated and Jimmy hadn't. With the early summer heatwave reminding us a
splendid day out on Ingleborough G/NP-005 just over a
year ago, my mind focussed on the last of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire needed as
a unique by Jimmy. A prompt get-up at 6am on Saturday 10th May 2008 saw me
filling the water bladders and cooking the soup - quite a reserved selection by
us today - Oxtail! That done, I got Liam up and loaded the car. With Jimmy M3EYP
completing the team, we were away promptly at 7am, safely avoiding Marianne
returning from her night-shift and leaving her a nice quiet empty house in which
The Dales were looking magnificent, bathed in sunshine on this fine Saturday
morning. We drove past the Old Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale and onto the Station
Inn at Ribblehead. Arriving there just before 10am BST, most of the feasible
parking spots had gone. There were hundreds of cars in the area. It seemed it
was the day of the Fellsman event around the three peaks, a scouts charity
event, not to mention the hoards of walkers and hang-gliders that had been
tempted out by the fine weather.
My previous activation of Whernside had seen me approach from the west, the
"short way", between it and Great Coum G/NP-011.
However, I had fancied the "long route" for a while. We walked down the track
from the Station Inn to the arches of the Ribblehead Viaduct. There were loads
of people down here as well, some even setting up camp. Continuing along the
path as it climbed up beside the railway line, we came across a checkpoint and
control team for the Scouts event. A lady's voice called out to Jimmy: "Are you
doing the SOTA?". It was Judy, XYL of Phil 2E0PHL. We had a quick chat, and then
pressed on up along the Settle-Carlisle railway line. We passed by the signal
box, then crossed the railway on a large bridge just before the tracks
disappeared into a tunnel.
The good path followed a cascading stream and then a curving line around to pick
up the main Whernside ridge. This was good easy walking, and clearly a very
popular route. As we joined the north end of the ridge, a little light rain
started, enough to force us to don our jackets, but not enough to force us to
zip them up! Fleeces remained in our rucksacks - it was a very warm morning.
Liam was starting to cheer up after his customary grumpy start to the ascent. He
was now giggling away as he recalled the previous evening's episode of Teenage
Kicks, apparently his new favourite programme!
Another short steep haul brought us onto the long flat path across Whernside's
summit ridge. By the time we caught Jimmy up at the trig point, he had already
made five contacts using his handheld radio. We set up the SOTA Beam, and lazed
around in the sun. Liam had walked well, and we were thus a good 45 minutes
ahead of schedule. I was originally going to use just handheld and RSS, but the
time bonus, together with the lovely weather (the sun was back out and the rain
didn't last long) encouraged me to linger. The FT-817 was unleashed, and many
stations were worked on 2m FM. A switch to 2m CW brought only G4BLH, despite a
live spot on SOTAwatch being provided by M0LMP.
At twenty to three, I decided to pack up and head off. This was a circular
route, so we continued southwards off the summit ridge, and steeply down the
wide stony track, until eventually gaining some relief for our knees upon
hitting the flatter grassier farmland below. From here, we still had a couple of
miles to walk, along The Scar, through Winterscales and Gunnerfleet farms and
back through the Ribblehead Viaduct to the Station Inn. It was easy going, but
we were now tired. Liam had done very well with this 9-mile circuit.
We dumped our packs, poles and boots in the car, then stepped back across the
road to sample The Station Inn before commencing the return drive to
Macclesfield. Sadly, the label on the Copper Dragon Ale pump was turned inwards,
but the Black Sheep Bitter was on fine form. This was accompanied, perfectly, by
one of the pork & black pudding pies that were on the bar and causing
irresistible temptation, and subsequent satisfaction - recommended. Jimmy also
partook in one along with his usual glass of water, while Liam preferred an
apple & blueberry J2O with a Pepperami Firestick. Well, there's nothing like a
touch of class. And that, Liam my son, was nothing like a touch of class!