Bowfell - an accidental activation

Six of us - my partner, two daughters, son, and his partner had made an ambitious plan to climb Scafell Pike, starting at Dungeon Ghyll. However, it transpired that our navigator had selected a rather trickier ascent than I had read about, straight up The Band. It was slower going than I had reckoned for, and we hadn’t started early, so by the time we got to the top of Bowfell, it was not looking like we’d get all the way to Scafell Pike, and back again, before it got dark!

I had a quick look, and couldn’t see that Bowfell was a SOTA summit, and I didn’t have enough signal to check anything else. Nevertheless, I set up and put out a call, which G6LKB answered, who then informed me that this was not only a HEMA, but also a Wainwright. Well, I didn’t know WOTA was a thing, but certainly knew about Wainwright, so I looked it up when I got home.

As for the activation - I put a call out on 2m SSB but no takers, so switched to FM and got Blackpool. Caernarfon, Maryport, Lancaster, Keswick, and Anthorn in the log, with 5W from an FT817, an oblong loop, and a fibreglass pole jammed into a rock and held still by my helpful beloved.

The view from the top was pretty splendid, and though the climb was long and steepish in parts (harder down, for my poor knees), well worthwhile.

I’m here for another few days so we’ll see what else I can bag. I did Black Combe the other day, so I’ll log that. And beyond that I’ll certainly be back, pretty often. This is one of our favourite places to visit, and I never travel without /p kit!

Looking forward to many more!


Stephen. As you say, here’s to many more. Activating Wainwright summits can be addictive! Quite a few folks (like me) major on using 2m FM in the Lakes, perhaps a 5W handheld with a dipole or other decent antenna, maybe like your oblong. 2m FM can be relatively light, quick, and time saved is less boring / chilling for companions. It’s amazing how 2m signals get out from the fells - unless there’s a big mass of next-door mountain immediately in the way. Settling down for an HF SOTA activation can be a different kettle of fish! (Paticularly if weather is a bit challenging of course). Have fun. 73, Phil

Absolutely second Phil’s info - Wainwrights are much more group friendly when you don’t want to be working a big pileup and also only need to pack a handheld and an antenna. My go to antenna is the Spectrum Communication Slim-G but it does require a mast, something lightweight like the Lakeside 6m travel pole.

I’m ashamed to admit that I still haven’t put together my centre fed ‘flowerpot’ dipole that Alex kindly provided - this is the antenna of choice for a number of the ‘hardcore’ WOTA activators.

I think we attempted an ascent of Scafell using a similar route - the weather was terrible and we didn’t even make it to Bowfell!

Regards, Mark.