Friday 11 September 2015
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-170 plus RSS 2M dipole.
This was day 5 of a 7 day break away from work. We hadn’t planned to go anywhere as there was plenty to be done at home. Today was originally planned as the day the carpet layer came to re-carpet the lounge. However, he had called on Tuesday to re-schedule the visit for Thursday. This meant my relaxing post activation day on Wednesday had gone out of the window as the old carpet and hardwood flooring needed to be lifted and the skirting boards glossed before the new carpet went down. As a consolation for this Mrs CFS suggested I may wish to go walking again on the Friday. Well one does not ‘look a gift horse in the mouth’ so planning started on a trip to the Malvern Hills. The prime targets were to be Worcestershire Beacon and Seager Hill with Aconbury Hill as an extra if time permitted. As it worked out I activated all 3 hills plus managed to activate Garway Hill G/WB-013 as well whilst I was in the area.
Worcestershire Beacon G/WB-009
Left home at 6am on a beautiful though misty morning and headed for Great Malvern. The Car Park on Beacon road (SO 768 439) was virtually empty when I arrived at 8:45, so it was boots on £3 parking ticket paid and off up the ‘road’ to the summit. As you approach ‘The Beacon’ from the east it looks very daunting but the walk to the top is fairly easy and completed in 20 minutes. Distance 0.8 miles, ascent 448 feet, time taken 20 minutes.
Whilst at the trig point I put out several calls on 2m FM but only managed one QSO with M0JMM/M on the M5. So I dropped down a few feet on the leeward side to one of the many benches that festoon the summit area. Self Spotting 60m SSB and numerous calls resulted on no response so a switch to 40m SSB, but the same pattern, no result. So finally to 40m CW and eventually after 15 minutes of trying stations started to call in though very slowly. Managed 7 CW QSO’s including a S2S with Jan OK2PDT/P on OK/US-068. There being no further business the meeting was adjourned to the next hill.
Seager Hill is a 20 minute drive from ‘The Beacon’ and I parked up near to the entrance to Park Farm in a broad gateway leading into the wooded area where logging is currently going on (SO 622379). The stile to the footpath is immediately to the right of the parking area. The initial part of the walk is up though the woods for about 200m on to the ridge which is within the AZ, however, I decided to walk to the trig, or as close to it as I could get through the undergrowth. Retracing my steps to a suitable fence post and set-up the station. Distance walked 0.7 miles, ascent 154 feet, time taken 20 minutes.
The same problem occurred as was experienced on the previous hill in that there was absolutely no response to any calls on 60m & 40m SSB. So it was back to good old reliable CW and 8 stations in the log including S2S’s with Miroslav OK1DVM/P on OK/JC-047 and Jan on OK/US-031. A further check was made of 40m SSB but with no joy at all, so all packed up and headed back to the car.
By this stage I was well ahead of schedule due to the lack of SSB so was able to head for the reserve summit of Aconbury Hill.
Aconbury Hill G/WB-024
Parking up in front of the chapel where there is room for a couple of cars (SO 506325). Follow the obvious track for about 100m to a large gate on the right. Take the track straight to the top of the hill at a T-junction, turn right then bear left up a slight rise to the trip point. Distance 0.4 miles, ascent 142 feet time taken 10 minutes. I don’t normally like wooded summits due to the problem with rigging the aerial however this one is different as there is a large grassy clearing around the trig and a convenient hole in the top of the trig for the mast.
By this stage I had given up on SSB so went straight for 40m CW and after several calls started a string of 9 QSO’s in half an hour. The propagation was similar to the previous two summits in that the skip was well into Europe with only one G worked all day on HF. This summit produced 3 S2S’s with Gerald F6HBI/P on F/AM-379, Victor EA6/GI4ONL/P on EA6/MA-006 and Aage LA1ENA/P on LA/TM-049.
Once back at the car and a check of my schedule I realised that I was at the point I had planned to come off of the previous hill, so I was well ahead of schedule and decided to add a fourth hill to the day. So it was off to Garway Hill, fortunately I always carry maps and GPS info for all hills within the area I am walking.
Garway Hill G/WB-013
Parked up at the end of a rough track (passable by car) in a small car park with room for about 4-5 cars (SO 443247). Through the gate and the hill heads up to the right. This is one of those ‘beautiful’ hills with its rolling fields and patches of ferns and close cropped grass being maintained by the sheep – a real pleasure to walk up. The path to the top is obvious and an easy walk, just stopping for a short while to study the earthworks of a pre-historic farming settlement (Masters in Archaeology) and the large pond near the summit. Distance 0.5 miles, ascent 232 feet time taken 15 minutes.
Station was set up on the trig point and I started on 40m CW calling for several minutes with no reply. Tuning around the band found very little activity – was the sky totally broken? Found a couple of stations to call before settling back on my own frequency and calling again. Eventually I started to be called but struggled to work 4 more stations with very heavy QSB. To those that did call me thanks very much as I was worried I wouldn’t qualify the hill.
Back at the car I took a break to eat some lunch before heading back to Southampton. Today had been an excellent days walking in the sunshine but a very frustrating radio day. This has been a bad summer for radio but today was the worse I think I have witnessed this year. Thanks to all the chasers, your company is always appreciated and thanks for the 6 summit to summit contacts. Chaser of the day goes to Chris F6EAZ for working me on 3 of the 4 hills, only missing out of Seager Hill. Total distance walked 5 miles, total ascent 976 feet.