G8GLM/P – UK visit Feb 2016. Tees to Wash region. G/TW-005 Normanby Top and G/TW-001 Urra Moor.

Preparation

As I didn’t manage to activate G/TW-001, the last time I was in the UK in November, I wanted to complete it in this visit. At the same time G/TW-003 isn’t that far away and so might also be possible. As I have already activated G/TW-002 and G/TW-004, I would just then have G/TW-005 to completely activate all summits in G/TW, so perhaps I might be able to fit that one into the plans as well.

The original plan was to activate G/TW-001 & 3 on the weekend of the 20/21 Feb, but as you’ll read later, the weather forecasts said this wasn’t going to be a good idea so some rescheduling around other plans was needed.

Now what about equipment? Well as I was flying from Germany to the UK both weight and size were considerations. The Qamp and its Lipo batteries were not packed, so these will be qrp (5w) activations. What about the antenna? On my last visit to the UK I brought my tripod mounted diamond RHM-8B loaded hf vertical and it did not work well! I found the problem a couple of weeks later, the counterpoise needed to be kept off the ground. I still didn’t have confidence in the vertical over the dipole however, so I packed the 5m fibreglass telescopic pole and the spiderbeam dipole as well as the vertical.

The Locations:

The G/TW-001, 2 and 3 summits are relatively close to each other in North Yorkshire. G/TW-004 is further south in East Yorkshire and G/TW-005 is still further south in Lincolnshire. Luckily my planned trip has two bases, one in East Yorkshire and one in North Yorkshire.

Having already activated G/TW-004 and G/TW-002 on previous trips, I wanted to try to activate G/TW-005 Normanby Top, G/TW-001 Urra Moor and possibly G/TW-003 Guisborough Moor.

The Activations:

While my UK visit was split into two parts, activation of Normanby Top G/TW-005 would need to take place in the first half when I was still based in Hull. It was decided to try to beat the forecast bad weather and activate on Wednesday morning (17th. Feb.). The trip down, over the Humber Bridge and past the airfield where I had arrived a couple of days earlier, was uneventful except that it started to rain.

We, my brother Jim G8DCD and myself, were not going to be able to outrun the weatherfront and indeed when we arrived on site (I wont call this a summit as it’s a large plateau), the rain had changed to driving sleet. As it looked unlikely to stop any time soon, we sought out a position far enough past the radio towers to hopefully avoid any interference and I quickly set up a very basic station. I was not even able to put down my usual painters sheet as the high winds blew it away so all operation was performed standing with the FT-817 hung around my neck with the coax running off to the dipole on the usual 5m squid pole. I decided 40m was probably going to give the quickest activation, however despite this being mid-week there was hardly a free frequency on the band, I found one slot at 7.180 MHz so I started calling cq sota, while fumbling with, now frozen, fingers to send out a spot.

Luckily it seems I was putting a reasonable signal into North Germany and quickly bagged two contacts. Fred, DL8DXL from South Germany was the next in the log with my report only being a 3-3, so it seems propagation was not great for longer distances. The final (4th.) entry into a now very wet log, was Terry G0VWP who was mobile in the York area. With everything now wet and/or frozen, I decided to pull the plug and take down and pack everything away while my hands could still feel anything!

So what I had expected to be an easy activation, turned out, thanks to the weather, not to be easy at all!

The other activation(s) were at first planned for Saturday 20th. February, then moved to Sunday the 21st. followed by Tuesday the 23rd. and finally back to Monday 22nd. because of the constantly changing weather forecasts – all of which usually turned out to be inaccurate!

Given the uncertainty of the weather and other factors, the North Yorkshire activations were curtailed to only one – G/TW-001 Urra Moor (Round Hill). Gisborough Moor will have to wait for another visit, to complete activation of all of the Tees to Wash region SOTA summits.

As mentioned earlier the activation of TW-001 was aborted last year, due to lack of time. For this activation at least the route to Clay Bank car park was known and the drive there was uneventful. Upon arriving it only took a couple of minutes to throw on the rucksack with all radio equipment in it, and we were off, heading back down the road to where the Cleveland Way crosses the road where we take the track to the left going up the hill (note there are other tracks that start near this car park – make sure you get the one signposted as the Cleveland Way. If you are not on a path made of stones, you are on the wrong path). The path climbs steeply and when you reach the top of the first climb you are still a long way from the destination. There follows a long section over relatively flat moorland with grouse and sheep on it and then you start another climb up to the highest point in the North Yorkshire Moors – all the way you follow the main path, the Cleveland Way. The journey up took almost exactly an hour with the return journey only being about 5 minutes less.

The trig point itself is about 2-3 metres higher than surrounding land on what appears to be an artificial mound. There is no obvious way to support at mast directly at the trig point, so I set up using the convenient (and sturdy) signpost at hunters crossing, running the two ends of the dipole off and down the ground in clear spots in the brush, so avoiding impacting the path for other walkers.

Once on the moorland, while it was not raining, there was a bitterly cold wind. I would say it was probably 2-3 degrees but with windchill it was definitely at or below zero degrees. Indeed on the way up parts of the track were iced over and there was some patches of snow still on the ground. This again was to be an activation where I would look to make the needed contacts, plus anyone waiting and then pack up. In fact I started off with a non-SOTA contact with John in Norfolk simply as he was putting such a strong signal into Urra Moor. Sometimes it’s nice to have a “normal” contact before spotting and as my brother said he was getting no cell phone signal, I might have had to seek out “normal”  contacts to make up the needed four. While my brother was right, that Vodafone had no coverage, BT had a healthy signal (this is exactly why I have a dual-SIM phone) and I was able to self spot and the contacts came sreadily in. I did try an S2S contact but it seems my 5w was too weak to be heard by the other activator, despite other chasers telling the activator to listen for the S2S.

After about 40 minutes on the summit, it was time to pack up and head back down the hill, into the car and off for a late lunch at a cafe we know. By the evening, we were glad that we hadn’t tried to fit Guisborough Moor in as well, it would have been too much in the weather. It can be a nice activation for later in the year when the sun is shining!

Photos:

G/TW-005 Normanby Top.

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G/TW-001 Urra Moor (Round Hill).

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Equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND.

Spiderbeam Aerial-51 UL-404 off centre fed dipole.

5 metre squid pole.

Logs:

G/TW-005 Normanby Top.

Activator LogG/TW-001 Urra Moor (Round Hill).

Activator LogConclusions:

Weather forecasts are becoming less and less reliable. Do not plan on weather predictions without being able to change plans constantly when (not if) they change!

73 ’til the next Summit!

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