Monday, May 27, 2013

Watch Hill - LDO100

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.
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