Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wainwrights are on the air

Well, the cat is out of the bag. The web project that I have been working on for the last couple of weeks is Wainwrights On The Air (WOTA). The news was broken yesterday by Tim, G4VXE, in his blog.

Wainwrights On The Air is an award scheme in which radio amateurs try to make contacts with (or to make contacts from) each one of the 214 mountains in the English Lake District that were described by A. Wainwright in his famous Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. It's a bit like Summits On The Air (SOTA) - indeed, that's where I got the idea from - but with simpler rules and counting only the mountains in the most beautiful area of England.

Three weeks ago I had no idea I was going to do this. I had resolved that I was going to get out walking in the local Lake District hills, and take a radio with me for a bit of extra interest. I looked into SOTA as a way to provide more focus to the radio activity and hopefully get me more contacts, and was disappointed to find that only a few of the well known Lakeland mountains actually count for SOTA. The decision as to what makes a mountain for SOTA is a rule based on "prominence", with the result that many attractive hills are omitted, while several mundane ones that happen to be a long way from others are included. As a SOTA activator I would have ended up driving past many mountains that would have given me wonderful walks, just to get to the ones that counted.

I think the 214 Wainwright fells present an attractive challenge to "collect", either as a "chaser" (someone who works the hill-top portable stations from home) or as an "activator" (someone who climbs the hill with a rucksack full of gear.) Although difficult, it is realistically possible to work and/or activate all 214 tops. WOTA will obviously be less popular with those who live in parts of the country far from the north west. But it is also intended to be an example to others to set up hilltop challenges in their own areas. In fact, I hear that another group of people is putting together a more general adventure radio scheme as I write. Watch this space.

For my own part, I hope that WOTA will result in many more contacts when I take my radio to the top of the local hills. I hope that it will provide a boost to the radio activity in this not very populated part of England, where even the repeaters are silent most of the time. WOTA might even provide a tourism boost as people from further afield find out about this wonderful area and come here for a week or two to do some summit activations themselves.

If you think you might be interested in taking part in Wainwrights On The Air, check out the website. The programme starts on the first day of Spring, 21st March.
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