Longer, sometimes wrong way to Peel Fell

SOTA summit: Peel Fell, G/SB-004

Activation Date: June 28, 2018

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts SSB

Antenna: LNR End Fed

Bands used: 20m and 40m

Hike:  ~10 miles and ~1700ft ascent.  (<–click left for GaiaPro track etc)

Solo operation: Yes

Recommend: Maybe

Cell Coverage: Excellent

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2018

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Peel Fell straddles the English Scottish border
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Quicker, shorter routes exist but I opted for one that is less wooded

World Cup fever grips the country including this piece of nowhere as someone has thoughtfully erected a huge soccer ball to remind me of the fever. It’s made all the more bizarre by the huge microwave wave guide that seems to connect nothing to nothing. The green soccer ball turns out to be an aeronautical guidance/beacon as this is pretty much the flight path up the UK, out over the Atlantic to more familiar locales for me in North America. The wave guide isn’t that either but rather an observation point. I look out toward Kilder Reservoir and see the tamed Tyne River. I’m assured that if I look east, I’ll see the North Sea but today’s horizon is hazy and I take on good faith I can sea the sea.

A soccer ball?
Micro-wave wave guide or observation point?
Looking back from soccer ball toward Kilder reservoir and start of hike

Continuing on the rather wide 4×4 dirt road I begin to wonder why I’m heading in the opposite direction to my peak. I double back and see my mistake and identify the obvious path across the moor lands. The under growth is thick and I have to lift my legs high with each step. I post hole and have flash backs to a more serious event on the Welsh Borders and begin to wonder if this is a border thing to keep the English out. I realize once again that the obvious path isn’t that but a fence line that I shouldn’t be following.

Correcting for a second time while paying much closer attention to my GPS route I find two parallel wooden rails adjacent to the 4×4 trail that vector me onto what turns out to be the real path I should follow. Random placement wasn’t that but something I should have considered longer and realized they point the way. The opening verse of one of Vaughn William’s Five Mystical songs The Call falters off my lips. “Come, my way, my truth, my light ……” I’m in England and who better to conjure the bucolic land through music than Vaughn Williams.

Turn off 4×4 trail and walk through these to avoid my missteps!

I wander and wander paying particular attention to the vegetation below me. The shorter grassier bits suggest water logged areas and I tread cautiously to avoid post holing. Mid Fell comes and goes and I continue to follow a partially beaten path and short metal posts. It’s a bit of a slog across gently rising landscape. The peak isn’t particularly peak like in the classic sense but more of a bump on a very broad and flattish hill that is Peel Fell.

It’s hot today and definitely in the high 80s as Britain isn’t just in the grips of soccer fever but also a heat wave. I’m bundled up as I’m partially obsessed with flying bugs that want my blood. Upon disgorging my car I’m greeted by those flying monsters and I douse myself in my newly acquired Avon dry oil that they hate so much. Covering my eye’s was a smart idea but a cloud lingered and latter I realize that I’ve got Avon oil in my right eye as I’m blinking incessantly on the outbound journey.

31C/88F toasty temp.  Country is just as appealing as Vaughn Williams to me!

There’s a bird sitting atop the pile of rocks that is Peel Fell peak. He seems quite nonplussed by my presence. I eat my sandwich and drink from the thermos of hot tea I brought. It’s all quite refreshing and I set to to establish the fishing poll radio station.

A pile of rocks and bird mark Pell Fell
Bird dislodged, fishing rod inserted, end fed antenna deployed in inverted V

Maybe I should try a different antenna and a few more watts in the future as it proving hard to round up contacts after the initial three. Karl, M3FEH booms in as my first contact from the South West of England as does Don G0RQL. Bill G4WSB lives in a high noise area and I hear him clearly but him not me. Patience and perseverance pay off and he’s in the log. That’s it, three on 40m and no more. After what seems like an eternity, I try 20m and I net Spain, Czechia and Switzerland. Great but I want more after investing in getting here. 10m is dead so we don’t bother any more but I do and so do others and I nab the first ever 10m contacts for Peel Fell with chasers in Slovenia and Croatia. That’s cool and surprising as Peel Fell is a heavily activated peak from 80m through 2m and 70cm but never 10m. A first for me, hooray and somewhat makes it all worth while.

Closing up my 60 minutes of activating with customers on 40m down to Spain, the Netherlands and fittingly a final with G0CAM in the UK my station is dismantled pretty much the reverse of the setup. That’s intentional as it helps me stow the gear with confidence and not leave bits lying around on a peak.

Going home generally seems quicker and easier than venturing into the unknown. A huge part is the down hill bit but I’m probably like the horse that smells the barn and wants in or out depending on your perspective.

An English forrest that I walked through at the start of the hike

I stop and stare at the Tyne River no more than a wide stream at this point and struggle to connect it to that historically grimy river that flows through Newcastle upon Tyne with its history of ship building and coals to somewhere.


The mighty Tyne river that transforms into a murky dark water in Newcastle upon Tyne miles east

I drive off looking forward to a shower and riding myself of Avon’s dry oil.


  1. Another well told activation. The bird is/was a Wheatear – a classical bird of high ground/rocky places.

    And your “English forrest”, was almost certainly Sitka spruce – from the USA!


  2. Brilliant report. Keilder midges are arguably as hungry as the real scottish ones!
    The Tyne is quite a lot better than it was and now has salmon swimming through Newcastle, partly this is due to cleaner industry, partly due to almost all heavy industry closing in the 80’s Hope you get a chance to come back and do some more.



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