Tuesday 17 May 2016
The plan for today was to activate up to five 1 pointers in a circular trip into GW/NW, GW/MW and G/WB followed by a further 1 pointer in G/CE on the way home. A slightly later start to the day allowed for a full English to be taken at the hotel before setting off on the first leg of the journey.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8, VX-170 plus RSS 2M dipole.
Long Mountain – Beacon Ring GW/MW-026
After a pleasant 45 minute drive from the hotel in glorious sunshine again, I arrived at the bottom of the track to the transmitter site adjacent to the Hill Fort that is Beacon Ring (SJ 267054). A simple walk up the track to the transmitter site then followed the track to the NE for a further 100 metres to a convenient section of fencing. Distance 0.2 miles, Ascent 66 feet, Time Taken 5 minutes.
Setting up the station adjacent to the fence a self spot and call on 2-fm produced no contacts at all so switched to 7-cw and after what seemed like an eternity I started to get slow responses to my calls. Eventually after 30 minutes on the summit I had logged 6 stations from Belgium, Netherlands and Germany surprisingly all with very good reports!
Y Golfa GW/NW-061
The next stop was at the car park of the Welshpool Golf Club (SJ 172073). After seeking permission the park and cross the course to the summit I set off along the footpath towards the main ridge. Whilst the paths across the course are PROW I felt it prudent and courteous to seek permission from the Club Secretary. My request was granted without question and I also received a compliment on behalf of previous SOTA activators for their politeness and manners. The track takes you out of the carpark and downhill to the path on the left. Follow this past the 8th hole and then up the obvious path in front of you. Once at the top of the path cross the fairway to the ridge, then follow the ridge to the summit. The trig point is clear of all fairways so there is little risk of mutual interference between golfers and activators. Distance 0.76 miles, Ascent 226 feet, Time Taken 20 minutes.
Due to lack of space I decided to try a VHF only activation. This was not going to be easy due to the higher hills in all directions. However, there did appear to be an opening and following a self spot for 2-fm G0OHY, 2E0ZGS/M, M0ZVT & G7MHL all made it into the log in 20 minutes and the hill was qualified.
On the way down I stopped to chat to two groups of golfers who were very friendly and approachable. Given that the average age of all the golfers I spoke to must have been in the 70’s they were all very fit as the course up and down the steep side of the hill. In fact I don’t think I saw a level fairway anywhere. This is a most friendly and obliging golf club, lets keep it that way.
Stingwern Hill GW/MW-030
This is a very easy hill to walk and activate. Park the car in the opening below the Water Pumping Station (SJ 131 015) then walk down the road about 10 metres to the point where the field boundary intercepts the hedge row. At this point there is a barbed wire free zone to allow you to climb into the field. From here it is literally a 3 minute walk up the slope to the trig point! Distance 500 feet, Ascent 60 feet Time Taken 3 minutes.
Self spotting for 2-fm I opened the account with a summit to summit with GW3GUX/P on GW/NW-019. Two more 2m contacts followed then silence, so changing to 7-cw started the ball rolling again 10 stations getting into the log from across the UK and Europe. After half an hour all callers had been worked and it was time to move on.
Caeliber Isaf GW/MW-031
Drove up the lane to the holiday cottages and spoke to a man in one of the workshops about parking and walking up the hill. He said it was OK and pointed the right way to go (SO 203933). The track led down to the woods before starting to climb up onto the open ground. The route to the summit was very straight forward – just head for the highest point! Distance 0.4 miles, Ascent 200 feet, Time Taken 20 minutes.
Setting the station up against the fence I made several calls were made on 2-fm but to no avail and even after self spotting on 7-cw it seemed an age before the first contact come back which happened to be Juerg HB9BIN/P on HB/LU-013 . Over a 30 minute period I struggled to get 5 stations in the log. The band seemed very up and down today with plenty of contacts 1 hour earlier and now virtually none.
To cap it all I had left my camera in the car and was so furious with myself that it didn’t occur to me until I was half way back that I could have used the camera on my phone! I must be getting tired – at least only 2 easy hills left today.
View Edge G/WB-018
About 200 metres east of the farm hose at the brow of the hill is a gateway to the SSSI Quarry site. Parking up here and walking about 200 metres into the site brings you well within the AZ for View Edge (SO 426805).
At this location I didn’t bother with 2-fm but self spotted and went straight to 7-cw. Conditions were still bad and it took almost 30 minutes to get 5 QSO’s into the log but this included another S2S with Juerg still on HB/LU-013. The skip had appeared to have gone longish again as there were no UK stations audible on the band.
Walton Hill G/CE-002
Well that concluded my tour of the Welsh Marches but there was still one more hill to ‘bag’. The hills of the G/CE region are widely scattered over a large area and I had two left to activate – Wendover Woods and Walton Hill. As I was in the area it seemed stupid not to grab Walton Hill on the way home, I was tired but the hill was relatively easy so off we set for the Clent Hills just south of Halesowen and the car park for Walton Hill (SO 942802).
From the car park the track to the summits is very clear and over a steady gradient. The summit trig point was soon reached and the station set up against the fence close to the trig. Distance 0.3 miles, Ascent 162 feet Time Taken 12 minutes.
Due to the hills close proximity to major conurbation I decided to make this a VHF only activation. Sure enough as soon as I called on S20 I had two stations calling me at once. Unfortunately this is when I discovered a problem with my VX-8 – I couldn’t move away from S20! I explained the problem to all stations and quickly retattled through 6 QSO’s finishing with an apology to anyone else listening for hogging the calling frequency. Five minutes after staring I was complete and heading back to the car for the 2.5 hour journey home.