Monday 13 Jul 2015
The original plan for today had been to activate Cheriton Hill, Detling Hill, Botley Hill and Leith Hill but following a change of plan on Sunday evening I decided to only activate Leith and Botley Hill’s leaving the other two for a later date. First thing Monday morning the alerts had been changed and I set off planning to travel up the M3 then anti clockwise round the M25 to Botley Hill then work back to Leith Hill on the way home. However, just after leaving home a traffic report stated that the M3 north bound was closed due to an accident so a quick re-programme of the GPS and we were off cross-country to the A3 and up to Leith Hill first.
FT-817 5 Watts, 2Ah SLAB, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle.
Leith Hill G/SE-002
Having made fairly good time on my journey across country I arrived at the parking area for Leith Hill TQ130433 at 0800 UTC. The path up to the tower at the summit of Leith Hill is an easy walk up a gentle incline, only one other person was encountered on the way up and they were returning to the only other car in the car park. The weather had been heavy rain all the way over and it was starting to ease as I reached the tower, unfortunately at this height I was well into the cloud so visibility was very low and the atmosphere was extremely damp. Distance travelled 0.5 miles, ascent 130 feet time taken 12 minutes.
The summit plateau was empty of people and the tower did not open for another 45 minutes however, I felt it prudent to move into the wooded area to the north of the tower in order to conceal my activation. With the station quickly set-up I self spotted on 40M SSB and called and called and called to no avail. A tune around the band suggested that conditions were marginal so a switch to 40M CW using KU6J to spot my calls resulted in 6 very quick QSO’s followed by silence. By this time the rain had come back on heavily so a quick pack up and return to the car was followed by a warming cup of coffee from the flask – so much for the long hot summer!!
Botley Hill G/SE-005
The journey from Leith Hill to Botley Hill took about 50 minutes, the final approach to the summit road, conveniently called The Ridge, was via Chalk Pit Lane – an incredibly steep road straight up the side of the North Downs. The AZ at Botley Hill is fairly large and I had decided to activate from a similar location to that used by Richard G3CWI. So I drove to the east end of The Ridge and turned right onto the B269, within a few metres and immediately before the mini roundabout I turned right into the Titsey Estate car park TQ398554. From here I walked across the road and picked up the eastbound North Downs Way Footpath which took me into the woods and away from the road. Once nicely isolated I found a convenient clearing and set-up the station. Distance travelled 200 metres, ascent 16 feet time taken 5 minutes (I had to stop to re-tie my boot lace!).
A quick tune round 40M confirmed that conditions had not improved at all since earlier this morning so the plan was to open up with CW and let KU6J spot my call. This resulted in 5 QSO’s a 7 minutes then again silence. I tried calling several more times but got no response. I was also having a few problems with my palm paddle missing some characters and adding others which may have been down to rain or moisture getting it the works. To be honest the rain had not really let up all morning and I was not enjoying myself so I decided to pack up and go home.
There are certain hills that I don’t enjoy and will never activate again and Botley Hill is one of those. Today was frustrating because from leaving home to getting back took 7.5 hours to spend 17 minutes walking a distance of 0.75 miles and a total ascent of 136 feet. The reward was 20 minutes operating for 13 QSO’s and 2 points. I must pursue my XYL’s request to go to North Wales for a holiday next year – time for some real walking but not before a weekend in Dartmoor and Exmoor for a potential 12 points plus bonus if I leave the trip till late December then repeat in January for a further 6 point plus 6 point bonus.