Friday 8 April 2016
For the second outing of April, it was time for a wee change and a chance to draw G/DC towards a close this year. Three summits remained to be climbed to complete the region, Brown Willy G/DC-002 would be climbed when we visit relatives in Cornwall later in the year. This left my primary targets for the day, High Willhays G/DC-001 and Christ Cross G/DC-005 with Staple Hill and Win Green as secondary hills on the drive home. Leaving home at 0430 the route took me down the A303 and A30 to Oakhampton, then up through the army camp to a parking space at SX 590912. High Willhays lies within a live Army Firing Range so it is always important to check that the range is accessible to the public, this information is available at Okehampton Range Open Access Days or by calling Freephone 0800 458 4868.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole.
High Willhays G/DC-001
From the Okehampton Army Camp follow the single track tarmacked permissible road to the end where there is plenty of parking area. Thanks to Phil (G4OBK) for the access info. Setting off at 07:50 the way to the top is very straight forward and easy going, just follow the hardcore track to the cul then turn left along the grassy track to the top. It was just a shame that the visibility all the way up was no more than 20 metres so it was not possible to get a view of the High Willhays/Yes Tor ridge. Distance 1.83 miles, Ascent 560 feet Time Taken 45 minutes.
A self spot and call on 2-fm produced absolutely no calls whatsoever. So set of the HF on the rock recommended by Phil and tried to self spot for 7-ssb. However, there seemed to be a problem with the #DroidSpot today as the spots were registering as having been sent but were not making it to the Sotawatch. A check of Sotawatch showed that MW0KCB/P had spotted for 7.160 MHz however, he was to be heard so I called on freq and got WABer M6NTM almost straight away. This was quickly followed by G0RQL who spotted me (Tnx Don) and a total of 9 QSO’s made it into the log before switching to 7-cw for a further 4 QSO’s.
During a series of ‘Tweets’ the previous evening I discovered that Colin M1BUU was also planning to activate High Willhays today. However, no sign was seen of him by the time I got to the car. It later transpired that he had seen me in my car driving off the moor at the Army Camp!
Christ Cross G/DC-005
It was an hours drive to Christ Cross where I parked up just down from the junction (SS 965050). Through a rusted and broken field gate there was a piece of old farm machinery which served perfectly for securing the mast. I tried self spotting for 7-ssb but #DroidSpot was still not working properly so relied on RBNGate and called on 7-cw. I could hear a few very faint calls but nothing intelligible. Eventually I made it with one station but then nothing at all. Were the bands really that bad? QSYing to 7.160 hoping for some WABers I managed one very weak QSO but again nothing else on a very quiet dead band. A quick call on 2-fm provided a couple of mobile calls to qualify the hill later followed by a local pedestrian portable QSO. I tried one more time to raise more on 60m and 20m but with no joy. It was then I became aware of someone stood behind me. It was Alex G0JZE who had just arrived to activate the hill. His was the first mobile call I took whilst he was driving up the hill! After we spent some time chatting I packed up and Alex started to call on 2-fm. It was whilst I was packing up that half of my linked dipole parted company from the T-piece! Was this the real reason why I couldn’t hear anyone very well – I was using a broken aerial!
Whilst this is a cheats summit (a drive-on) it was a significant summit for me as it was my 100th unique summit in 103 summits activated.
Staple Hill G/SC-004
The drive home was going to take me fairly close to Staple Hill and later Win Green, so it made sense to activate these two hills as well. They had both been activated last year but were worth 2 more points to the tally. Like Christ Cross Staple Hill is also a drive on summit so I parked up in the forestry gateway at (ST 232163) and moved along the fence a couple of hundred metres so a suitable operating position. The first order of the activation was to carry out a Battle Field Damage repair to the dipole. A quick call on 2-fm produced a QSO with G0VFK in Ilminster but nothing further. So using RBN again I called on 7-cw and managed 3 further QSO’s. The bands were definitely dead but were slightly better with a properly work aerial!
Win Green G/SC-008
The journey to Win Green had been torturous with a lot of very slow moving traffic on the A303 due to the mass migration home of the Easter holiday crowd slowed even more by the scourge of the motorist – the caravanner. Parking up at the car park (ST 92347 20485) I moved along the southern boundary fence and attached my aerial to a convenient post. Again due to ongoing issues with #DroidSpot I went straight for 7-cw and very quickly managed 5 QSO’s into the log for the final qualification of the day.
The main aim of the day had been to activate to two new summits DC-001 and DC-005 and I doing so bring up my 100 uniques. Both goals were achieved with the addition of to a couple of revisits enroute home for a further 2 points. I struggled whilst on Christ Cross due to a combination of a broken aerial and a broken sky. But perseverance paid off and the hill was qualified. High Willhays is a very easy walk with the majority of it along proper hardcore paths. It was just a shame that the fog and low visibility was against me today because I love the views over the Dartmoor National Park on a clear day. I will however, be back next year.
Thanks for all those that braved the poor propagation to work me. Always very much appreciated.
73 Glyn G4CFS