Posts Tagged ‘WOTA’
It has turned to rain for this Bank Holiday Monday, but the weather on Saturday and Sunday was glorious. Clear blue skies and a fresh breeze. Perfect days for walking. On Saturday I felt quite depressed thinking about what I might have been doing on such a day before I became ill with a brain tumour. So I determined on Sunday to try to reach a summit. There is really only one possibility from home without transport to get to the starting point: Watch Hill a mile or so to the east of Cockermouth.
|G4ILO on LDO-100|
Back in the ’90s when I lived on the east side of the town I regularly used to walk to this summit. It used to take me about half an hour of brisk walking from my front door to the lower of the two summits; forty-five minutes to reach the higher one known as Setmurthy. (Cockermouth locals also know it as The Hay.)
Today we live on the opposite side of Cockermouth which adds at least another mile through the centre of the town. I still was a regular visitor to the hill but having a car I could drive to a point on the farthest side where there was a lay-by and I could reach the top in just 15 minutes. So it was one of my favourite spots for portable operating.
Today my walking pace is somewhat slower than it used to be. It took us about two hours to reach the first summit, including a stop for coffee. I half expected that we would have to turn back before reaching the summit but the sight of it was just too tempting and that kept me going.
Given that I wasn’t certain I would even make it to the top I carried just a hand-held VHF rig, the Kenwood TH-D72. I intended that the walk would be tracked on APRS but for some reason only a small section was recorded. I carried a 5/8 wave telescopic antenna to improve the range on 2m but my first CQ calls didn’t raise anybody.
The Kenwood is rather a complicated radio and it is too easy to turn a knob or press a button accidentally. I also need reading glasses to read the display and see what buttons I am pressing. Some setting had been disturbed and I had managed to get the ‘B’ side of the radio, used for APRS, switched to 70cm. With Olga’s help reading the display I was able to get the radio set up as it should be and I made two QSOs to activate this summit which is LDO-100 in Wainwright’s Outlying Fells.
Returning home it was downhill all the way to the town centre. It should have been easy but I my legs were tired. I think I’d overdone it! There was still a climb back up to reach home so we finished the journey in a taxi!
I’m still a long way from back to normal. I doubt that I’ll ever get back to how I used to be for reasons I’ll enumerate in the other blog. But for now I feel that a milestone has been passed and I’m happy with what I managed to do today. If only I could get my driving licence back I would be able to reach many other easy summits.
On Sunday I went with Derek 2E0MIX to the NARSA radio rally at the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool. Olga came too to keep an eye on me and make sure I remembered to take my tablets on time. She also took the photos (which is why there isn’t a picture of her, oops!)
|G4ILO and Derek 2E0MIX|
It was good to be able to do something I would normally have done in years gone by. I met friends and also people who only know me (and Olga!) from my blog, spotted my callsign badge and came up to say hello.
|G4ILO and Hylton G6AVL|
I didn’t go to the show with any specific goal, just to have a look round. The only thing that I would have liked to go home with was the magnificent Kenwood TS990S on the Waters and Stanton stand. It was in a plexiglass cage so I was unable to get “hands-on” or even get a decent photograph of it.
There seemed to be surprisingly little interest in this very expensive radio. I suppose most people looked at it, realised it was unattainable and moved on. I dropped a few hints to Olga that it would make a nice present for my 60th birthday in a few weeks time but she, ever practical, pointed out that it would be too big for my operating desk. Oh well, it was worth a try!
Waters and Stanton were also showing a number of Elecraft products, including the K3 and KX3. It was good to see these excellent radios on display at this show for the first time.
|G4ILO and Jim G3ZPD on the Workington Radio Club stand|
It was good to meet some of the people I had worked on activations and put a face to the call. Several people came up to thank me for starting WOTA, saying that it had given them a new interest or got them visiting parts of the Lake District they would never have gone to before. It isn’t often that you get a chance to change people’s lives but for some activators and chasers WOTA has done just that. (I suppose some of the credit should go to SOTA (Summits On The Air) for having the original idea.)
It was a good day out. Thanks to Derek for the ride.
For the first time in many months the weather and workload was just about right to get out on one of the local fells for a ‘quick’ activation. I say quick because that was the plan but it didn’t really pan out that way.
Lank Rigg is a fairly unassuming fell not too far fro the cold fell road near to Ennerdale Bridge. I cycle past it very often but so far it hadn’t shown itself as somewhere to go for a summit activation. I only had the morning to play with as I had committed to going to the club to help sort out our shack which is creaking under the weight of under use. I managed to get this rare shot of some sun shining somewhere where I wasn’t – the sun does exist after all!
Approaching the fell from the fell road is easy enough and I only had the company of a few sheep and slugs on the way to the summit. A bit of mist on the summit cleared then re-appeared with vengeance so after some longer QSO’s I headed off down the direct route rather than following the valley between Lank Rigg and Whoap which forms the easy route. This was supposed to be quicker but turned out to be significantly longer due to the amount of water in the beck at the bottom. Heavy rains hadn’t fully cleared and I chickened out of the crossing as I was fairly sure that the volume of water could have knocked me over if I wasn’t careful. So having made my bed I had the follow the route all the way to a footbridge and walk back up the road. Several miles of detour.
So, today’s summit activation lesson is, watch out for becks that need bridges or pack some waders if you’re feeling brave. Otherwise enjoy the longer walk back to the car and see parts of the valley you wouldn’t ever expect to see.
Happy Birthday WOTA. What do you get a portable operators scheme for its birthday? I simply have no idea.
For those who aren’t too sure what it is. WOTA is a bit like SOTA but for the Wainwright Fells in the Lake District. If you don’t know what SOTA is then one explanation is portable operations from summits (or fells if you live here in the lakes). Or as I like to describe it to non hams, working you way up a fell till you get to the top, looking at the view for a bit then getting out a radio (generally in the fog or rain, in the lake district) and saying ‘hello its me, can you hear me?’ ‘yes, it’s me, can you hear me?’ ‘yes, good stuff, who’s next’. I don’t think I’ve had too many positive looks giving that explanation but its better than trying to explain what that pole sticking out of your rucksack is in a howling gale.
Anyway,m back to the point. WOTA was devised by Julian, G4ILO and the first activations have been tabled as the 21st March 2009. So all I can say is happy birthday and my XYL wants a word with you because I’ve not managed to fix the downstairs toilet whilst I’m out operating from a fell top.
Yesterday I made a secong attempt to activate Scafell Pike. Usually I got up to summits alone or with the dog bit this time was with a bunch who were training for the 3 peak challenge. Needless to say the summit was in cloud, it snowed then hailed then rained on me as I came down. Still this time I had a whole load more qso’s and a much more satisfying activation. Wast water (in the photo) is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by some impressive fells. Not as nice a Ennerdale but then again I am a bit biased.
Well I can call it a summit because it features in Wainwright’s book but it really something to write home about as far as height for me. But, there’s always a but, I decided to go with the XYL, kids, mother in law (not sure what the shorthand is for one of those) and two dogs. Abigail is my eldest at 5 years old and Sam is only 3 so to them this was a veritable Himalaya.
Progress as you can image was at their pace and eventually I had an extra 20Kg on my shoulders as we went back into the cloud near the summit of Dodd (LDW-174). The summit is low at only 502m but the propagation into both Southern Scotland and Northern Ireland was in effect and I managed a summit to summit before the kids / XYL got bored. Needless to say the dogs didn’t bat an eyelid.
So I’m off the mark for this year and hopefully I’ll be able to get a few SOTA and WOTA summits in this year although I think I’ll avoid carrying the kids. The lake district is an excellent place to live and visit and I’m glad to have made some new contacts for the log and I hope it will help WOTA to grow and grow