Pillar and four other Wainwrights

Another opportunity this weekend to tick off one of my ‘to-do’ summits and also take in another four Wainwrights!

Equipment

2m FM QSOs

RIG: Yaesu FT-817ND
ANT: Spectrum Communications Slim-G
PWR: 2.5w
Case: PowerPort WorldPouch for FT-817

HF QSOs

RIG: Yaesu FT-817ND
ANT: SOTABeams Quadband Dipole
MAST: Decathlon 6m travel pole
PWR: 5w via ZIPPY Compact 2100mAh 3S1P 30C LiFePo4 Pack

All power connections standardized using PowerPole connectors.

Other

Logging: Rite in the Rain 4x6 Notebook and STAEDTLER Noris HB Pencil
Rucksack: Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek 45:55
Phone/Camera: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T
Water 1.5 litre, with supplemental water via stream and Chlorine tablet
Snacks: Trek High Protein Flapjack Cocoa Coconut bar x 2, Trail Mix 200g
Clothing: Technical T-Shirt, Marmot moisture wicking base layer (not worn), Regatta trousers, shorts, gloves, extra layers.
Footwear: Salomon X Ultra 3 Prime GTX

Safety

Strava Tracking

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Introduction

With the weather report for Saturday indicating good conditions, with a maxium summit wind of 20mph gusting 30mph, little chance of rain and warm (oh yes) temperatures I decided that today was as good as any to tackle Pillar, having looked at it so longingly during my High Stile expedition.

I deliberately decided to take the extra effort required to travel by motorbike, as I new I wasn’t going to be early and anticipated the chances of getting a parking place were limited. I wanted to start on South-West approach of Yewbarrow, the most obvious parking spot being the Over Beck Car Park.

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My prediction was spot on, the car park was full. Initially I pulled the bike in at the side of the road but my spidy-senses were tingling when the family in the car behind me rearranged into one car and then moved off again, so I decided to pull the bike into the car park onto a spare piece of grass. Now I don’t know whether they would ticket a bike, but what I found out on the walk back is that the entire road to Wasdale Head is a clearway, and all of the remaining cars had fixed penalty notices attached.


Parking sport in Over Beck Car Park

You might be wondering what I do with the motorbiking gear. Sometimes in the winter I’ll risk riding in walking clothing if it isn’t a long run out, but with this being a full hour-and-a-half from Windermere I dug out some old but serviceable gear then left it with the bike. The helmet is locked ot the bike and I put the gloves in the locked tail unit, so I knew if someone tea-leafed the other gear I’d still have minimal protection on the way home.

Just have to say this is my first visit to the Wasdale valley (I’ve seen it from several summits of course) and that initial vista you get from the road is simply breathtaking, especially on a day like today. That is saying something living in the Lakes. It’s no wonder it is popular.

Yewbarrow

WOTA ID: LDW-124 Height: 628 m (2060 ft)
SOTA ID: n/a Grid ref: NY173084
HuMP ID: G/HLD-053 QTH Locator: IO84IL
Book: The Western Fells Lat: 54.464095 Long: -3.276032

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I decided I’d like to walk the ridgeline of Yewbarrow so this was always going to be a tough start.


Impending Climb

I did of course, in time honoured tradition, make a navigation error early on, following the path by the river, however it was easily corrected. Off-line maps are essential here as the entire valley appears to be mobile signal free.


Obligitary diversion


On the climb up Yewbarrow before Dropping Crag

The climb is steep but good under foot, although some rock traversing is required at Dropping Crag.


Dropping Crag


Views to the West


On the summit

I decided today to take a risk by not having rig or battery redundancy. I pulled the FT-817 internal battery in favour of the higher capacity and lighter external 2200 maH LifePo4, to save weight on such a long trek. This time I got lucky, no more no less.

The operating position for VHF was to put the SlimG on the 6m pole at around 4m (top couple of sections missing) and hold that in the crook of my arm. I attached the Yaesu neck strap to the PowerPort case and this allowed me to operate without needing three hands or finding a support for the antenna mast. As the wind was light here I operated sitting on a rock.

A nice set of initial contacts, of course these can be logged against for the HEMA programme too being G/HLD-053.

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
10:56 G7CDA 2m 145.400 FM IO83qt England Douggie G7CDA
10:58 MW0ISC 2m 145.400 FM IO83JE Wales Steve
10:59 G1OHH 2m 145.400 FM IO84ob England Susan Griffin
10:59 GW4ZPL 2m 145.400 FM IO73wd Wales Colin John Barwell
11:01 GW8NZN/P 2m 145.400 FM Wales OP: Dave
11:02 G4VFL 2m 145.400 FM IO84fl England Andrew HOLLAND
11:03 G8CPZ/P 2m 145.400 FM England

I descended Yewbarrow to Dore Head via Stirrup Crag. Much like Dropping Crag on the way up this requires some rock traversal. Nothing too tricky but probably not much fun in the wet and poor visibility. As Derek 2E0MIX pointed out there is an alternative path that is a much gentler descent. I noted the path as I passed it before reaching the final set of Cairn stones.


View towards Red Pike via Dore Head


Looking back to Stirrup Crag from Dore Head


Looking back to Stirrup Crag on the ascent

The ascent was thankless in the heat. I was being followed by a lady a little way back which kind of kept me going. She was kind enough to take my photo at the top, and made a hasty descent back to her friend who wasn’t up for Red Pike.

With light cloud gathering there seemed to be no cover for me all the way up to Steeple. The air temperature appeared to rise as the day went on and you can tell that my factor 30 didn’t survive the sweat today!

Red Pike (Wasdale)

WOTA ID: LDW-026 Height: 826 m (2710 ft)
SOTA ID: n/a Grid ref: NY165106
HuMP ID: n/a QTH Locator: IO84IL
Book: The Western Fells Lat: 54.483733 Long: -3.288994

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View to Kirk Fell from Red Pike


Scoat Fell (left) and Pillar (right) in the background

Following by the edge as you now finally reach Red Pike (and beyond) rewards with magnificent views and you suddenly forget the tired legs.

This was a standing activation as I found there was significant insect activity on this summit, and standing definitely helped!

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
12:35 2W0FNA 2m 145.350 FM JJ00aa Wales Karl Mark Byast
12:36 G1OHH 2m 145.350 FM IO84ob England Susan Griffin
12:37 2E0MIX 2m 145.350 FM IO84fn England Derek Edge
12:38 2E0LDF 2m 145.350 FM England
12:40 GW3GUX/P 2m 145.350 FM Wales OP: John, QTH: Anglesea
12:41 G7CDA 2m 145.350 FM IO83qt England Douggie G7CDA
12:41 G0TDM 2m 145.350 FM IO84oq England John Sutton
12:41 2E0IKM/P 2m 145.350 FM IO84HP England Mike Moffat

Scoat Fell

WOTA ID: LDW-023 Height: 841 m (2759 ft)
SOTA ID: n/a Grid ref: NY159113
HuMP ID: n/a QTH Locator: IO84IL
Book: The Western Fells Lat: 54.489923 Long: -3.298453

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Another 20 minutes walk and you arrive at Scoat Fell. A wall divides the East/West side of the ridgeline here and only after crossing the wall does the magnificent vista towards Steeple reveal itself. The summit itself is a giant boulder field for the most part.


Scoat Fell

Another standing VHF activation here too.

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
13:12 2E0IKM/P 2m 145.350 FM IO84HP England Mike Moffat
13:13 G1OHH 2m 145.350 FM IO84ob England Susan Griffin
13:13 2E0MIX/P 2m 145.350 FM England
13:14 M7DJN 2m 145.350 FM IO82SP England Derek Norry
13:15 M0MHW/P 2m 145.350 FM England OP: Gary, QTH: Knott End, Pilling
13:16 G7CDA 2m 145.350 FM IO83qt England Douggie G7CDA


View towards High Stile

Steeple

WOTA ID: LDW-028 Height: 819 m (2687 ft)
SOTA ID: n/a Grid ref: NY157116
HuMP ID: n/a QTH Locator: IO84IL
Book: The Western Fells Lat: 54.492586 Long: -3.301625

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Oh my goodness me. I think my comment to a walker who I passed on the way to Steeple summed up my mood here: “If I die now, I’ll die happy”. Wow, what a breathtaking summit.


Steeple from Scoat Fell

As I was traversing the narrow path to the summit my thoughts were definitely in the Tolkein universe. Surely this summit must have influenced the novels?


The walkway to Steeple


Summit Cairn Stones


Very, very happy to be here!


The standing VHF gear

It was great to get so many in the log from Steeple. I’d love to do an HF activation from here, but practically that would need to be 20m vertical given the size of the summit. Great to get five countries in the log from here too!

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
13:31 GM4WHA 2m 145.550 FM IO84ix Scotland GEOFF HARPER
13:32 G1OHH 2m 145.550 FM IO84ob England Susan Griffin
13:34 2E0LDF 2m 145.550 FM England RIG: 290R
13:35 G0UKZ/A 2m 145.550 FM England OP: Chris, QTH: Seascale, RIG: ICOM 706, ANT: Colinear, PWR: 20w
13:36 2E0MIX/P 2m 145.550 FM England
13:37 GW4ZPL 2m 145.550 FM IO73wd Wales Colin John Barwell
13:37 2E0IKM 2m 145.550 FM IO84fp England Mike Moffat
13:38 GI0THZ/M 2m 145.550 FM Northern Ireland
13:39 G7CDA 2m 145.550 FM IO83qt England Douggie G7CDA
13:39 M7DJN 2m 145.550 FM IO82SP England Derek Norry
13:42 EI8HIB/P 2m 145.550 FM IO63dl Ireland Frank G. McKeown
13:44 MW7KEE 2m 145.550 FM IO73VH Wales Simon Keeble

Whilst activating I heard a drone flying over head. Whilst packing up the owner arrived at the summit, a VLOGger. His YouTube channel is Blackcrag. I noted that photos of folk on the summit looked really good from Scoat Fell, so I was especially made up when he said the drone footage would make it into his VLOG. Can’t wait to see that.


Black Crag VLOGGer using his GoPro selfie-stick on Steeple

And so to Pillar! The cloud was kissing the traverse making this a wonderful part of the walk.


Wind Gap


View to Crummock Water from Wind Gap

On the final ascent you could see the tops of the Scarfell range peaking above the lower cloudbase.


Scarfell summits above the cloud

Pillar

WOTA ID: LDW-008 Height: 892 m (2926 ft)
SOTA ID: G/LD-006 Grid ref: NY171121
HuMP ID: n/a QTH Locator: IO84IL
Book: The Western Fells Lat: 54.49731 Long: -3.280155

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Highest point of the walk

Having viewed photos of the summit pre-activation I knew there would be plenty of space for the 80m 1/2 wave dipole. I took a bit of time to walk around the summit to see the views from all directions. The majestic Pillar Rock is a magnificent sight with the Ennerdale valley as a backdrop, the photos really don’t give a good sense of scale!


Pillar Rock


Clouds on the summit

Like Red Crag there was a really healthy insect population on top of Pillar, there being very little wind. A standing VHF activation was called for, I kept to the high part of the summit for this, but then found that venturing towards the slope off of the summit reduced the insect infestation remarkably. Thankfully they weren’t biters as I didn’t have Alex with me for distraction!

2m Activation

Predictably the SOTA status of this summit brought in more chasers including the regulars - good to get Geoff GM4WHA in the log from here as this was the first summit where I found a free frequency above 145.500 (he has QRM below at home), although I guess this time being /M it wouldn’t have mattered. Mike 2E0IKM doing a great job of chasing as well as activating!

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
14:43 G1OHH 2m 145.575 FM IO84ob England Susan Griffin
14:43 GW4ZPL 2m 145.575 FM IO73wd Wales Colin John Barwell
14:44 2E0IKM 2m 145.575 FM IO84fp England Mike Moffat
14:45 M7XUP/M 2m 145.575 FM England QTH: Penrith
14:45 2E0MIX 2m 145.575 FM IO84fn England Derek Edge
14:47 2E0LDF 2m 145.575 FM England
14:48 G0TDM 2m 145.575 FM IO84oq England John Sutton
14:49 G7CDA 2m 145.575 FM IO83qt England Douggie G7CDA
14:50 M0MHW 2m 145.575 FM IO83ro England Gary Hardman
14:52 GI0THZ/M 2m 145.575 FM Northern Ireland OP: Harry
14:52 GM4WHA/M 2m 145.575 FM Scotland QTH: Headland Garden Ctr
14:53 2E0LBI 2m 145.575 FM IO84jc England Leslie Bell


HF Setup

I noted that the mobile phone signal was much better on the Northerly side of the summit, so this is where I setup the HF antenna. It was really nice to be able to operate standing on HF, now with the mast supported via the HF antenna setup I was able to wander around and enjoy the views in between QSOs.


Standing HF operation

80m Activation

Great list of contacts on 80m and the 5w was surprising both myself and those at the other end of the QSO. Douggie was doing really well with his AMPRO antenna and Phil sounded simply amazing with his great QTH setup. Lovely to have a chat with David G8KAP near Carlise, 88 years young. Hope I still have a mike in my hand (and still understand what it does) if I get there!

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
15:16 G7CDA 80m 3.720 SSB IO83qt England Douggie G7CDA
15:18 MM0XPZ 80m 3.720 SSB JJ00aa Scotland SW Groves
15:19 G8CPZ 80m 3.720 SSB JJ00aa England Andy Barth
15:21 G4OBK 80m 3.720 SSB IO94of England PHIL CATTERALL
15:23 G0RQL 80m 3.720 SSB IO70uv England DON ROOMES
15:24 2E0LDF 80m 3.720 SSB England
15:26 G8KAP 80m 3.720 SSB IO84mt England David Patrick
15:31 M0JLA 80m 3.720 SSB England
15:32 2I0FIP 80m 3.720 SSB JJ00aa Northern Ireland John Miskimmin
15:33 G6PJZ 80m 3.720 SSB IO94hl England Andy Clift

40m Activation #1

Good to get my regular SOTA chasers of Karl and Manuel in the log on 40m. Mike G0RDF was doing a great job from his /M setup.

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
15:38 2E0FEH 40m 7.180 SSB IO70VJ England Karl Kruger
15:39 2I0FIP 40m 7.180 SSB JJ00aa Northern Ireland John Miskimmin
15:40 EA2DT 40m 7.180 SSB IN92et Spain Manuel
15:42 EA2CKX 40m 7.180 SSB IN83ta Spain PEDRO CHINCHURRETA JAUREGUIALZO
15:42 G0RFD 40m 7.180 SSB IO92FS England MK SMITH
15:44 MW0XOT 40m 7.180 SSB IO82hf Wales John Messenger

20m Activation

I wasn’t expecting great things from 20m as it has been poor as of late but oh my - Iceland S2S as the first contact! It didn’t quite hit me how unusual this is - I think I have one other in the log. Tony was booming in Groundwave but generally the contacts on 20m quite light today.

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
15:50 TF/HB9GKR 20m 14.335 SSB Iceland SOTA S2S TF/SL-199
15:51 G1OAE 20m 14.315 SSB IO84fp England TONY STEEL
15:52 DL2HWI 20m 14.315 SSB JO61hu Germany Dietmar Falkenberg
15:53 OK2PDT 20m 14.315 SSB JJ00aa Czech Republic JAN LAVICKA
15:53 DL6MST 20m 14.315 SSB JO51ku Germany Klaus Stieglitz

40m Activation #2

I re-clipped to 40m to get Jordan in the log S2S into Wales. Good to hear him out and about, and then I re-spotted for a final couple of 40m contacts. At the end I heard Jose EA2IF asking if I could go back to 20m as he was struggling to hear me on 40m. He is such a SOTA legend I couldn’t disappoint!

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
16:00 MW3TMX/P 40m 7.181 SSB Wales OP: Jordan, SOTA S2S GW/SW-006
16:07 G0VWP 40m 7.184 SSB IO93kx England Terry Sayner
16:08 DK6HS 40m 7.184 SSB JN39xd Germany Sven Hammer

20m operation for EA2IF

It took about 5 minutes to complete the QSO with Jose but we got there in the end, a case of repetition until the transmissions got through the deep QSB.

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
16:15 EA2IF 20m 14.313 SSB Spain

Final 2m QSOs

Checking Whatsapp after packing up I found Nigel wondered if I was still doing VHF. Using the stock whip he was 59 with me and so was Steve who piggybacked on the end of the QSO for the points.

Time Call Band Freq Mode Grid Country Operator Name
16:39 M5TUE 2m 145.525 FM IO84qi England Nigel Wadsworth
16:44 MW0ISC 2m 145.525 FM IO83JE Wales Steve

Descent

I’d decided to descend Pillar via Black Sail Pass for a couple of reasons:

  • I was running very low on water and had spotted that Gatherstone Beck had a very healthy flow.
  • More ridge line traverse, never a bad thing - keep those views coming!
  • I don’t like retracing steps if I can help it.
  • Originally I had thought of activating Kirk Fell, until time ran away from me.




Traverse to Black Sail Pass


Looking back to Pillar


saving Kirk Fell for another day


At the pass crossroads

Just after the descent started I took the opportunity to fill my water bottle from the beck. Nigel M5TUE told me before that he’d never had any ill effects from drinking water straight from becks, if you use your head. The water tasted wonderful! However, I was curious to see what effect the chlorine tablets would have on the water, so dropped one in and 30 minutes later was happy to find that I could hardly tell the difference.


Easy descent

The descent was easy if not long! My phone was now low so I took the opportunity to use the 12v to USB adapter I carry to charge it from the LifePo4. As it happens my Strava tracking stopped when I was ready to at the Wasdale Head Inn, where I had a very well earned beer and pork pie!


Beer and a quid pork pie

The walk back to the car park was about 2.5 miles but good under foot and flat!!! Fortunately I wasn’t feeling any ill effects, either muscles or feet, so this was a nice unwind.

Thank you so much to all the dedicated chasers! What a day!

My final message: you simply must visit Steeple on a nice day

3 Likes

Awesome hike Mark and the follow up on here is just has good…I think Yewbarrow would of finished me off,will be reading through this again for sure a lot to take in. Liking your choice of footwear I might just give them ago been looking at the Salomon range for a while…I use the Merrell Moab 2 gortex shoe. Nice to work you from garden portable and a ice cold beer lol

Hi Mike, thanks for the lovely comments.
I had a pair of Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX prior to these and they were great and looked great but the tread wore out very quickly (they’re designed for fell running, not wearing 24/7 which is what I tend to end up doing with footwear). Wasn’t so impressed with the look of these, but they have been really solid performers, and are just comfortable. Previously I’d been wearing walking boots but I’ve developed a lump on the back of one of my heels and these are flexible enough not to cause issues, the boots were not. I don’t have a problem with ankle support like some do, where boots are preferable, so these suit me down to the ground.

Managed to stay off the beer for the most part this weekend!

Cheers, Mark.

1 Like

Great writeup Mark, and a fantastic walk. Never walked round there, but the swim across the lake to the scree and back is magic.

Don’t forget I got you on Pillar on the way to Carlisle on the way to Ayr, just before Reg.

All the best.

Steve

Thanks Steve, I’ve modified you from /P entry to /M.