So this was it, my last activation before the winter bonus season starts and I find I am travelling further each time to get enough 1 pointers to make the journey worthwhile. Three weeks ago I had activated Hergest Ridge and Bradnor Hill, these two hills form a chain of five hills running roughly east-west. Because of time constraints I could only activate those two plus two others on the way home so it made sense to go back to that line of hills and finish off the job. There is in fact another summit in the line but that a 2 pointer so subject to another trip. So it was off to High Vinnalls, Shobdon Hill and Wapley Hill with a 4.30 departure on a cold frosty morning. The journey across took about 3 hours 15 minutes and I experienced light traffic and good road conditions.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle.
High Vinnalls G/WB-012
Arriving at the car park at about 7:45 (SO 474731) the first thing on the agenda was a nice hot cup of coffee to get me set-up for the day. Suitably refreshed I kitted up and set off up the track to the top. As is typical of most forestry areas there is a myriad of tracks and paths leading all over the place and rarely an obvious direct route to the top. However, with my route downloaded into the GPS it was a case of following the arrow. I have been using my current GPS (Garmin GPSMAP64) for about 6 weeks and have been very impressed with its accuracy. On a recent walk I had downloaded a copy of Phil G4OBK’s track. Whilst crossing a large field I was distracted by the views and as I approached the edge of the field I looked ahead for the style but couldn’t see anything. A quick look at the GPS showed that I had drifted left of track. Walking to the right until the arrow touched the line I looked at the hedge and there straight in front of me was the style. Very impressed – accurate to within a couple of feet in open spaces and to about 5 feet when in tree cover, the advantage of using both the US and Russian GPS systems simultaneously.
Anyway I digress! Following the arrow I got top the summit is good time and with little effort. There is not a lot to see until virtually the last minute as you break the tree cover and the summit. The view to the east was impress looking across towards Titterstone Clee Hill and Brown Clee Hill, both 2 pointers and on the radar for the coming winter bonus season. There was a good thick layer of frost on the ground and I wasn’t relishing sitting on the cold ground. Well much to my pleasant surprise I discovered that there was a bench seat placed as though it was meant to look out over the hills to the west. However, the trees had grown so high that you just stared at conifers – maybe that’s was what the donor of the bench wanted – to have the last laugh. Either way it served as the perfect shack. Distance 0.7 miles ascent 400 feet time 25 minutes.
Self spotting on 7-SSB I called for what seemed like an age with no response when finally I heard those lovely words “Texas United Honolulu” and I knew that at least Mick could hear me albeit with a 44 QSB report. This was followed by 3 more QSO’s then silence. Several more calls brought nothing new so a change to 7-CW and 11 QSO’s later the log was full and the band was silent again. Time to pack up and head off to my next appointment with Shobdon Hill G/WB-017.
One little moan though. Whilst I appreciate that QSB and QRM can play a large part in not being heard if you do call a station have the courtesy of listening to them. I had one station whom I can’t name because all I have of his callsign is ‘9A’ and a report of 439. Now whilst that report may suggest I was very weak, on SOTA we are dealing on the whole with QRP stations so the chaser would be used to listening for the weaker signal. However, when I asked for a repeat of the callsign I got a reply of “GL 73”, when I asked again I got “dit dit” !!!! Now it doesn’t bother me that he is not in my log as I had already qualified the summit but that station will now log that QSO when it was incomplete. Chasers please listen to what we are saying/asking – moan over.
Shobdon Hill G/WB-017
Just a short 18 minute drive and I was parked up just up the road from the farm entrance (SO 407643) on a broad verge on the left. This is a nice easy hill to walk up, good quality forestry track and a gradual climb. Not a lot to say about the navigation here except to say that the AZ is huge. It covers the whole of the ridge, so once I was at the top of the climb I moved along the ridge a little to ensure that I was well inside the activation zone. Distance 0.95 miles, ascent 540 feet, time taken 30 minutes.
After self spotting on 7-SSB and calling several times I was answered by G7BQM with a good 56 report followed by silence again! Two minutes later all hell let loose starting with Mike (TUH) again and 12 other stations all of which seemed to be calling at the same time. Eventually all were resolved and answered before peace and tranquillity resumed to Shobdon Hill. A quick change to 7-CW brought is just 4 more QSOs. Total time on air was 20 minutes and 17 stations in the log.
Wapley Hill G/WB-016
The next hill was a short 5 minutes drive away to a reasonable sized car parking area (SO 359621). There are two obvious routes from the car park to the top of this hill, so the plan was to do this as a round trip to add some variety to another routine forestry track walk through the woods. Setting off up the track out of the park until the main tracks bears left and a smaller track heads off to the right (SO 354622). Take the right hand track and proceed in a northerly direction until you come top a T-junction. Turn left and follow the track until you come to Warren House. Take the small track to the right of the house leading up into the hill fort. The return route follows the very obvious hardcore road from the house back to the car park. Once in the hill fort I located a suitable way marker post to attach my aerial to and settled onto the ground for the final activation. Distance 1 mile, ascent 333 feet, time taken 25 minutes.
I found a clear frequency and called a couple of times to ascertain its occupancy status before self spotting on 7-SSB. I started calling and was immediately told to QSY as the frequency was I use – well at least I knew that my signal was getting out and annoying someone – result! A quick QSY and re-self spot and I was away with 14 stations getting themselves into the log in 9 minutes before the pile-up ended. QSYing to 7-CW I called and logged a further 12 stations over the next 10 minutes. In all 27 stations logged in 21 minutes, a really good activation. A gentle pleasant walk back to the car was rewarded with a nice cup of coffee and a marmite sandwich before getting ready for the 3 hour journey back to Southampton.
This had been a very good day walking and activating. All three summits were enjoyable and made even better by the fact that all day I only came across 2 other people out walking their dogs. It is very nice to be returning to good radio conditions again, with plenty of stations to get into the log – long may it last. That will be the last of my November trips with the next foray not planned now until early December. Not sure where I will be heading to next but it will either be Exmoor or South Wales.
Thanks as always top all the many chasers for checking in today. No chaser of the day this time as there were several stations who managed to get me on all three hills, some even in both modes as well!
73 Glyn G4CFS