After activating The Cloud G/SP-015 early
doors, and refuelling (breakfast and diesel) at Sandbach, we headed north on the
M6 for the NP Fun Day. We were aware that some activators would be doing a first
early summit, so we were monitoring S20 as we drove. As we travelled near
to Garstang, we heard, and then succesively worked Mike G4BLH/P on
Pendle Hill G/SP-005. Shortly after was Scott 2E0RCS/P
on Whernside G/NP-004, and after exiting the M6 at
J37, Gerald G4OIG/P on Great Coum G/NP-011.
This little lot took Jimmy M3EYP/P to 996 chaser points in the SOTA programme,
and the certainty that he would achieve Shack Sloth by way of a S2S QSO,
coincidentally, just as his father did in a NP group event back in 2004.
We parked by the entrance to Hazelgill Farm, SD782997, on the B6259. After a brief photo call, Jimmy and I walked down through the farmyard along the bridleway, and then up towards the Settle-Carlisle railway track. The underpass took us to the open fell, of Mallerstang Common, and a steep quad bike track to get onto the higher level. There were frozen streams featuring frozen waterfalls to cross with care, and one or two areas of sheer ice to negotiate.
This is a large activation zone, but purists that we are, we then walked the
half mile or so across to the trig point and shelter at the true summit. I set
up the SOTA Beam with horizonatal polarisation and made a start on 2m CW, while
Jimmy went to explore the fell with the camera. He visited the other 708m top,
while I qualified the summit on 2m CW with 5 contacts.
While waiting for Jimmy to return, I worked Rick M0RCP/P and Thomas M3OOL/P on
Great Shunner Fell G/NP-006 on 2m SSB. Jimmy
would catch Thomas later on 2m FM. We then worked a few chasers on 2m FM before
the S2S started to come in thick and fast. We both worked Simon M1AVV/P on
Lord's Seat G/LD-033 and then Jimmy worked Phil G1OPV/P
on Boulsworth Hill G/SP-008 for the two points that
made him a Shack Sloth. I worked Roy G0HDX/P on the same summit, following which
we each worked both Gerald G4OIG/P on Great
Knoutberry Hill G/NP-015 and Steve 2E0KPO/P on
Fountains Fell G/NP-017.
Jimmy worked a couple more chasers on 2m FM, and then it was yet another big
block of S2S contacts. Steve G3WGU/P was on Harter Fell G/LD-028, Scott 2E0RCS/P
on Ingleborough G/NP-005, Rob G4RQJ/P on
Great Mell Fell G/LD-035, Mike G0DSP/P
and Geoff G4CPA/P on Rombalds Moor G/NP-028 and Dave
G7SKR/P on Winter Hill G/SP-010. Phew!
In the end, after 54 QSOs between us, we went QRT. The lentil & pancetta soup,
shared during the last half hour on summit, was hot, tasty and welcome. We had
probably stayed on the very cold summit too long really, for we were very cold
while packing away and for the first 15 minutes of the descent. However, once we
were descending the ridge down from The Nab, we were warming up and able to feel
our fingers inside our gloves. From this point, it was a very enjoyable hour's
descent on this beautiful fell with crisp winter conditions and amazing views
illuminated by the low sun.
The haddock and chips, eaten from the paper in the car park, was a joy, and
every bit as good as Lee promised. We then adjourned to the Harts Head Hotel in
Giggleswick for an excellent pint of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin ale and a
social meet with many of the participants. Over fish & chips outside, or over a
pint in the pub, we met Lee M0LMP, Mick M0PVA, Steve 2E0KPO, Amanda 2E0MND,
Jordan M3TMX, Rick M0RCP, Thomas M3OOL, Timothy 2E0KEA, Steve G1INK, Geoff
G4CPA, Mike GW0DSP and Gerald G4OIG.