Tom Read - click to email meBDXC ISWL WAB SOTA RSGB IOTA - see my radio page for more detailsLiam & Jimmy

Whitfell LD-032


Whitfell, G/LD-032 - 573m ASL - SD 159 930 - OS Explorer OL6 - 2 SOTA points         Map & summit information from SOTAwatch    Click to return to summit index


Out of the blue came a last minute invitation for Jimmy and I to join Richard G3CWI and daughter Mai Ling on a two day SOTA trip and campover in the western Lake District. This was received enthusiastically, and preparations were soon underway.  Domestic priorities meant that we embarked at the 'luxurious' time of 10.30am on Friday 29th May 2009. With breakfast already a distant memory, and a long drive ahead, it meant that lunch was taken at the roadside in the Lakes, somewhat unusually before any walking had been done! G3CWI and daughter were on posh Marks & Spencers sandwiches, while M1EYP and M3EYP were quoffing broccoli and stilton soup.

Tom, summit of Whitfell    Jimmy, summit of Whitfell

The first target of the expedition was Whitfell G/LD-032. As we headed into the vicinity on the country lanes, we noticed a large gathering outside a pub, all in white shirts and black ties. Parking looked difficult, so we first tried the end of the cul-de-sac and closest point to the path start, Bigert Mire SD178926. The cluster of cottages here were all deserted, and there was no-one around to ask at all. We decided to retreat and find something back on the lanes.

After finding what seemed to be a suitable roadside spot, we were approached by a farmer on a quadbike. He invited us to drive back up the road, turn left and park in front of one of his gates. He told us that all the local residents were at a funeral, presumably the gathering we had seen at the pub.  From this new parking spot, SD179922, it was only a short walk back up to Bigert Mire, where by now people were returning home from the funeral. On the way up the road we were asked to assist in blocking the way of five errant sheep as they were channelled back into their field, and then pointed in the direction of the bridleway behind the farmhouse.

Summit cairn on Whitfell    Richard & Mai Ling exploring the summit area

The first part of the walk was easy going on a solid track, but this faded away into rough pasture after five minutes. The distance to cover was short, and Whitfell loomed up in front of us, and slightly to the left. At the stile, we regrouped, redistributed some weight from Jimmy's pack to mine, and refuelled on some Eccles cakes.  It was also time to apply some suncream, as the sun was blazing down in oppressive fashion. Except I had forgotten mine. Richard had plenty - Richard to the Rescue!

From this point, Jimmy, Richard and myself chose to contour around the hill to its far side, then to turn sharply and attack the summit. Mai Ling however turned left there and then and aimed for the direct approach up very steep grassy slopes. Ultimately, her decision was correct, as contouring around to the other side offered very little advantage, despite what it initially looked like on the ground, and indeed how it appeared on the 1:25,000 sheet.

Jimmy M3EYP trying to work TK/F4FLQ    Richard setting up his dipole

Richard operated on 40m CW, me on 20m CW, and Jimmy on 2m FM. After having a look at the spots, I QSY'd to 20m SSB and worked a summit-to-summit to a TK Corsica activation, which was very pleasing. Jimmy then tail-ended this to repeat the feat, although QSB kicked in and caused some difficulty.  He got it though - just!

Mai Ling resting on the summit    Trig point and cairn on Whitfell summit

The descent was reasonably quick and easy, especially by following Mai Ling's steep grassy route back down to the bridleway. We drove up to the Old Post Office campsite in Eskdale, and pitched our two 2-man tents right by a stream. It was a lovely little spot, albeit a little crowded on this very busy site. Thankfully, and perhaps unusually, it was completely midge free.

Right on the side of the campsite was the Bridge Inn, and this was the target for our evening meal and samples of the extensive selection of Jennings Ales. The steak & kidney pie with fresh veg and roast potatoes was a truly stunning dish, and I would definitely eat at this hostelry again. We also made a note of the fact that breakfast was served to non-residents - useful to know for the future, if not on this trip.

Jimmy rests at the campsite before going out for dinner        Delightful camping spot at the Old Post Office campsite, Santon Bridge

Jimmy and I slept in our new cheap 17 tent from Sainsburys. It was single skin, no flysheet, and I wouldn't really want to put it to the test in lesser weather. But it was warm and dry, and it did the job of giving us a night's sleep without the considerable time implication of putting our deluxe four-man tent up.  We retired to our tents after hot chocolate, looking forward to our main expedition the following day.  Thanks to all stations that called in today:

G0TDM 20m CW T
DL1FU 20m CW T
2E0TOG 2m FM J
HA7UL 20m CW T
DF5WA 20m CW T
G3WPF 20m CW T
HA7UG 20m CW T
OE1KLM/3 20m CW T
S57AX 20m CW T
TK/F4FLQ on Punta di Butureto TK-112 20m SSB T, J