The Longlands Loop is a circular walk taking in 7 Wainwrights, starting and finishing in the little hamlet of Longlands.
There’s enough space for about 3 cars at NY266535, so an early start was required. I was the second vehicle to pull up, with a third arriving at 7:45am, just as I was ready to leave - a good 30 minutes before sunrise was forecast, but with enough twilight to get started.
Following the white path up Longlands Fell
Looking back at the hamlet
Atop Longlands Fell (LDW-179)
It was a straightforward 30 minute ascent to Longlands Fell (LDW-179) and a couple of calls on the Baofeng resulted in Geoff GM4WHA/M calling in on his way to work. My plan was to use the handy for most of the walk so that I didn’t have to sit around too much on each fell, as it was expected to be as low as -15C with the wind chill. With no more responses, I went QRT and pressed on, following the contour line along Lowthwaite Fell, before making the gentle climb up to Brae Fell (LDW-134).
Looking back at Lowthwaite Fell and Longlands Fell
Following the track up to Wainwright #2
Atop Brae Fell (LDW-134)
Once again, the Baofeng came out and Geoff was the only one to respond to my call, just as he was about to walk into work - I imagined 9am was still too early for some folk Nevetherless, as I was packing up and having a quick warm drink, I spotted the sun finally poking its head above the cloud.
The walk along the top towards Little Sca Fell was uneventful, but when I dropped down into the col on the approach to Great Sca Fell, I veered off from the normal route and dropped 100m towards Meal Fell (LDW-148). This was a tactical play, because I knew subconsciously I’d be happier to catch this one in the morning than have to climb the 100m in the afternoon when I was down in the valley and inevitably feeling tired. It added a bit more mileage to the day, but I didn’t mind that.
Atop Little Sca Fell
Dropping down, with Skiddaw in the distance
Atop Meal Fell (LDW-148)
Because of its lower altitude, Meal Fell was a challenge to get out of, so, after many calls on the Baofeng, I gave up and dug out the 2m antenna. Thankfully, this yielded Lee M0LLC, but by this point, I was very cold, having been on the summit for 15 minutes. This led to reason number 2 for me choosing to do Meal Fell at this point - I now had to climb back up to Great Sca Fell (LDW-114), which would very quickly warm me up!
The fun climb back up Little Sca Fell and Great Sca Fell
Looking back at Meal Fell, with Binsey to the far right
Atop Great Sca Fell - Wainwright #4
It was just after 10am when I reached the cairn, so 2m was a bit more awake by this point and I was relieved to know I was getting out ok, with 4 contacts in the log. I was really feeling the wind by the last QSO, so I gave out one more call before making tracks to Knott (G/LD-023 / LDW-082) - the big one of the day!
The sun at full strength on approach to Knott
Atop Knott - Wainwright #5
Before it all went wrong…
I had barely reached the summit when I heard 2E0XGO/P Richard call out on S20, so I returned the call and got both him and Reg 2E0LDF/P for my first S2Ss. I then made my way down the west side of the summit to hide from the wind, threw on a few extra layers to keep warm and erected the antenna. I opted for 2m first as it was fairly busy on the band, but had barely got M0LLC Lee in the log when the mast came down. I finished the QSO with the antenna on the floor (because Lee was just THAT strong) and then went to rescue the equipment. I’m used to the mast falling down sometimes due to my inability to extend it properly, but I noticed that this time, it had fallen down in a different, more controlled manner. I had a hunch, but I didn’t want it to be true. Yep - one of the wires on the SOTABeams II had snapped at the top, so I had half a dipole and 1 less guy line. Perfect! I tried to salvage the wires, but it was just too cold to repair it, so I ended up putting in a few half hitches with the broken wire so I could at least use it as a guy line and get the mast back up. Thankfully, I was inundated with S2Ss on 2m, with G3TQQ/P and the team on Hallin Fell G/LD-043 / LDW-203, MM7MOX/P Andy on Tinto GM/SS-064 and G4IPB/P Paul on Lord’s Seat G/LD-033 / LDW-147, so qualifying wasn’t a problem. After the contacts had dried up, I still had some planned time left on the summit, so I hatched an experiment: Would half a pre-tuned 40m/20m aerial still work on 20m? The short answer was yes, as I got 5 contacts in the log with no SWR warning appearing on the FT-818, but the signal reports were dire, so I didn’t play around any further. I was a bit down at this point, but I knew I still had a way to go, so I packed up, alternated between a few more calls on the Baofeng and my lunch, then set off just after 12pm for Great Calva (LDW-095)
The route from Knott to Great Calva
On approach to the summit
Atop Great Calva (LDW-095)
I don’t quite know how to explain it, but the 35 minute route between these 2 summits was not as bad as I thought it would be. The gradient was pleasant, there was no wind and the footing underneath was solid, but not icy. The only downside was on the summit, when I had to swap from the Baofeng to the FT-818 and rubber duck halfway through the activation, because the Baofeng had ran out of juice. Granted, it had been on all day and I’d forgotten to charge it the night before, so it had done me proud, so I wasn’t too downbeat. I achieved 3 QSOs in 15 minutes before moving on, but decided to take yet another detour, because I was ahead of schedule. With the heathery ground so frozen, it meant walking over boggy terrain was easy, so I headed back to the Knott/Great Calva col via Little Calva, just to get a closer look at Skiddaw and its surrounding summits.
Atop Little Calva
Looking down the valley between Knott and the Calvas
Icicles in the river!
The route from the col to the foot of Great Cockup was completely sheltered, so I had to watch my footing due to the icy stones and frozen water, but once I got through this section and performed a bit of stream-hopping, I started my ascent of Wainwright #7.
Reaching the valley underneath Great Cockup
Seeing Bassenthwaite Lake for the first time
On approach to the summit
Atop Great Cockup (LDW-159)
With my cheeky detour to Little Calva, this 5.5km stretch was the longest of the whole walk, taking 1 hour 15 minutes to reach the summit, where I met Howie. I recognised him from passing him on the summit, but it turned out he was in the vehicle that had pulled up as I was leaving to start my walk! He’d also been doing the Longlands Loop and, like me, was heading back to the car, so we had a nice chin wag about CB Radio whilst I set up, made my 4 QSOs on the FT-818 and then left together for the final leg.
Looking at Meal Fell and Great Sca Fell (and being thankful for not having to climb them!)
Howie heading past Lowthwaite Fell
The final stretch next to Longlands Fell
The 45 minutes back to the car went back in a flash, with Howie and I discussing work, Wainwrights and other topics. Howie had mentioned that he was heading home after this, but after hearing that I was heading for Binsey for a record 8th Wainwright, decided to change plans, as he too hadn’t climbed it. After almost 7.5 hours of hiking and playing radio, covering 19.5km, we arrived back in Longlands, where we dumped our kit in our cars and drove in tandem around the icy back lanes to the parking spot for Binsey - I do mean icy, because we both had a scare at the same place on our 10 minute commute!
The start of Binsey
Looking back at what we’d done for most of the day
Atop Binsey (G/LD-041 / LDW-190)
Binsey was a straightforward 30 minute steepish climb to the only trigpoint of the day. I prefer these sorts of ascents, because I find you often get the best views out of them and, after the clear day we’d had, we were not disappointed. We took photos of each other in celebration of our day, before I squatted down on the cairn to activate. I had planned on being on the summit for a while, but with tiredness setting in, the temperature dropping, plus the aerial in pieces, I settled on the simple FT-818 and rubber duck setup, making 6 contacts in a 15 minute window as Howie and I watched the sun go down. It was bliss. Once the sun had vanished and I’d packed away, we descended in 20 minutes, shook hands and went our separate ways.
Massive thanks to the local chasers for helping me through the day and apologies to those waiting for me on HF - the aerial has since been repaired and will return on my next outing!