All equipment had been tested and used on Laber (DL/AM-060) a week before my trip to the UK to visit my brother and sister, so I was hoping all would go well, so that I could perhaps convince my brother Jim, G8DCD to take part in SOTA both as a chaser and activator.
On hearing I was coming over Phil G4OBK kindly set-up a “TW region SOTA fun day” and managed to get activators to commit to activate all of the five TW summits on the same day, some being activated twice. My original plan to activate three of the summits, was soon adjusted to just two G/TW-002 and G/TW-001.
My brother would be acting as driver as well as accompanying me to the summits. The weather forecast at the beginning of the week was for a nice, dry, sunny day on Thursday (the 29th.) but by the Wednesday, the forecast had been adjusted to “some” showers in the morning, but a bright, dry afternoon. As it turned out it rained most of the day with fog and high winds!
Drake Howe on Cringle Moor has a relatively easy access with the Cleveland Way leading from the car park of the Lord Stones cafe (where we planned to have lunch on the way back) up to near the summit with the final 500m or so being across the moor to a cairn someone has built.
The plan was after we had activated Drake Howe, we would have lunch and then make the 25 minute drive to the Clay Bank car park from where one can climb (again using part of the Cleveland Way) up to G/TW-001 Round Hill on Urra Moor.
Thursday 29th. October found myself and my brother heading to the North Yorkshire hills for the SOTA TW fun day.
Thanks to those chasers who managed to scrape my signal out of the noise. We had “less than ideal” conditions with winds so strong that you could hardly stand up, constant rain and very reduced visibility. When we managed to get to the summit and get set up my vertical trapped antenna refused to tune to a reasonable VSWR, possibly due to the constant rain running down it. The fact that it blew down a few times also did not help either! That we managed to accrue the number of contacts that we did on G/TW-002 was amazing! Unfortunately in the conditions I was not able to let Jim get onto the station as he was helping keep the antenna vertical and doing some of the log keeping in the very quickly well sodden log book.
I started by trying to get S2S contacts with the other G/TW-xxx stations that were on at the time and it was soon obvious by the reports that I received that things were not operating very well. Despite further efforts to get the antenna tuned, I could not improve it. Even on receive there was no peak in incoming signals so the antenna was not at all happy. I then tried three different clear frequencies before getting one that someone didn’t simply jump on top of me without even asking if the frequency was clear (mind you, I doubt these stations would have heard me if I had told them I was using the frequency). A total of 11 contacts were made from G/TW-002.
Two very wet amateurs then went back down the summit to the Lord Stones cafe to dry off and have some nice food:
We considered after the delays and the hard work already exerted and the possibly faulty antenna whether we should bother with G/TW-001 but as we had the time (we thought), we decided to give it a go.
The planned G/TW-001 activation ended up as a non event due to late arrival following the problems on TW-002 and some bad navigation on my part taking us up the wrong path and not leaving enough time to get up the summit, operate and get back down before it got dark. At least there had been two other teams on this summit before us.
For reference where Google and OS maps show what appears to be a track splitting is in fact two separate tracks with a stone wall between then, If you start up the track on the left of the wall (from where the other track is not visible) you will have gone quite a way before you realise the error and cutting back across is simply not an option as there is no easy way across. So for future activators of G/TW-001, leave the Clay Bank car park, head back across the side road and PAST the large gate and over the brow you will see the small track going up to the left directly from the road – here is a picture for absolute clarity (that’s Jim G8DCD in the picture):
RHM-8B loaded vertical whip with extensions and counterpoise.
Hama photographic tripod modified to take antenna.
Thick plastic painters sheet
No matter how well prepared you think you are, something can always go wrong. The weather was terrible and totally different to the forecast. The constant rain running down the antenna could be what made it impossible to tune, or something could have been damaged in the trip from Germany.
Trying to use a smart phones touch screen in pouring rain is just as bad as trying to read one in bright sunlight. These are far from perfect devices for use on SOTA summits.
73 ’til the next Summit!