G/CE-005 Wendover Woods & G/SE-001 Walbury Hill

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I have been meaning to get across to Wendover Woods for sometime but never seemed to manage it.  So whilst nursing a foot injury that was keeping from the big hills I decided to take the opportunity and tick G/CE-005 off of the list and in the process complete the activations of CE Region.  On the way home I decided to take a detour and reactivate Walbury Hill as well.

Equipment

FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole.

Wendover Woods G/CE-005

Leaving home at 0830, it was not the most pleasant of drives.  Up the M3, M25 then the A41 to Tring.  I parked at the Aston Woods Car Park (SP892100) at 1030 and set off up the road and along the short footpath to the Trig Point.  Distance 800 feet, Ascent 25 feet, Time Taken 5 minutes – this is technically a Drive-On summit as the car park is inside the AZ.
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Setting up on the trig point itself I tuned around 7-cw and quickly opened the account with a summit to summit with DL/ON6ZQ/P on DM/BW-228.  Moving frequency I tried to self spot but the phone wasn’t having it. So relying on the RBN I struggled to get a further 3 stations in the log despite receiving resonable reports.  Changing to 5-ssb I called on 2 different frequencies with absolutely no takers.  So back to 7-cw and this time was able to get a self spot up.  Well I could not believe the change that 10 minutes had made. Ten stations in the log in 15 minutes followed by a further 6 stations on 7-ssb – then nothing!.  Out of all the contacts today only 2 were from the UK, the rest were from all over Europe.
log.jpgI had read that the field with the trig point was one of the quieter locations in Wendover Woods to operate from – Wrong!  Throughout the 40 minutes I operated from there I had 4 largish school parties walk past and an older group of teenagers on a hike, all of whom wanted to know what I was doing so I just used the ‘I’m a spy’ approach which they all accepted without question and quickly moved on.
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Walbury Hill G/SE-001

After a very pleasant drive across country I arrived at the car park for Walbury Hill (SU 370619) where I enjoyed my lunch and admired the excellant views.  However, whilst I wasted away a relaxing 30 minutes looking north I hadn’t noticed the growing dark clouds gathering to the south and heading my way.  Quickly kitting up I headed off up the track to the gate, then across the field to the trig point.  Unfortunately the rain was starting and the wind had picked up so I retraced my steps to the slight shelter at the side of the field boundary. Distance 0.36 miles, Ascent 56 feet, time taken 10 minutes.
SE-001 Walbury Hill routeSelf spotting I started on 7-cw and was quickly called by DL/HA5MA/P, on DL/EW-020, for my second summit to summit of the day.  This was followed by a slow but steady run of 5 stations before the silence ensued.  Self spotting for 7-ssb only managed to add Pedro EA2CKX to the list for this hill.  The bands were dead and the rain was falling quite heavily now so it was back to the car and home.
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Summary

All in all a pleasant day out with some reasonable radio and an activation complete for Central England.  It also added 2 points to the tally whilst nursing a very painful foot.  It was just a shame about the weather on Walbury Hill, especially after the beautiful sunny morning spent on Wendover Woods.

73 Glyn G4CFS/P

 

 

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GW/SW-011 Sugar Loaf & GW/SW-012 Coity Mountain

Monday 6 June 2016
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A return to South Wales and the Brecon Beacons National Park was long overdue.  So it was that I decided to head for Sugar Loaf and Coity Mountain the last remaining 2 pointers on my South Wales tick list.  I had kept an eye on the weather forecast for a few days and all looked well.  What I hadn’t banked on was an Amber Aurora alert the night before, caused by high speed stream of solar wind that was buffeting Earth’s magnetic field, sparking off geomagnetic storms around the poles.  As I went to bed the K Index was already hitting 5!  Well that put doubts in my mind about the state HF was going to be in the morning.

Equipment

FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole.

Sugar Loaf GW/SW-011

With the customary 0430 start I headed off down the M4 and over the bridge into Wales then up towards Abergavenny, arriving at the Car Park (SO 266168) at 0650.  Once booted and fully kitted up I set off up the well defined footpath at 0700.  The walk to the summit is a gentle climb along nice broad grass paths.  The summit is not initially visible from the car park and its not until you walk onto the first ridge – Mynydd Llanwenarth, that you can see the top.  The track takes you north west along the ridge then climbs up the south west ridge to the top.  The steepness increases as you approach the rocky summit but the track is clearly defined and not difficult. Distance 1.63 miles, Ascent 826 feet, Time Taken 1 hour.

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Once at the trig point I checked the K-Index and it was still at 5 so decided to start with 2m and use HF if insufficient contacts were made.  Well I did not expect to hear what I did when I turned the 2m radio on – a Dutch station calling CQ!  I tried to respond but was too weak and the east coasters were all over him.  A quick check of all the channels showed a massive lift was on, probably as a result of the solar storm.   Self spotting quickly brought the first station into the log then all hell let loose.  Over the next 30 minutes I worked 17 stations from all over England.  It could have been a lot more but for the fact that there were several QSO’s underway on each channel across the entire spectrum.  I could have cried – because stations were reporting numerous europeans on 2-ssb and my portable 2m beam was in the car!

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The first sight of the Summit

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When it eventually went quiet I packed up and made a 30 minute descent back to the car.  The sun was now starting to break through the early morning haze and the temperature was rising.  By the time I got back to the car it was already hitting 25 C and I was still the only person on the hill.

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The view from the car park

Coity Mountain GW/SW-012

The drive to the Big Pit Mining Museum took my over the Blorenge and down into Blaenavon.  A parking area especially for walkers is provided and was only occupied by one other car (SO 238088).  Once kitted up I set off along the track that forms part of a public walk arounf the spoil heaps of the former collery.  Once over the style onto open access land the problems start, the track is not very clear and requires avoiding numerous marshy areas.  However, I headed for the obvious quarry face ahead and then proceeded up the left hand side of the quarry to the plateau summit. Distance 0.7 miles, Ascent 629 feet, Time Taken 30 minutes.

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Checking the K-index again and this time it had dropped to 3 so the decision was to set-up for HF and hope for the best.  I self spotted on 5-ssb almost immediately Phill (OBK) was in the log with an excellant report followed by a struggle to complete with Don (RQL).  The band conditions were not brilliant but workable.  Reconfiguring the linked dipole I self spotted on 7-cw and had a quick run of 6 contacts in 6 minutes including a Summit to Summit with Heinz HB9BCB/P on Horntube HB/BE-144.  I considered 7-ssb but given the problems I had with 5-ssb I gave it a miss today.
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Following the reverse route back to the car I was glad to be off the hill.  It is not the most pretty summit in the area and the ground damage caused by the mining operations increases the problems on the lower reaches of the hill.  Next time I will opt for the more scenic but longer approach from the west.

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Big Pit Mining Museum

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Path toward open access land – target quarry in distance

This had been an excellant day out in my favourite area the Brecon Beacons.  The weather was outstanding and dispite the ‘knocks’ it takes, Sugar Loaf was a fantastic walk in beautiful scenery.  Given the number of paths and the large parking area I would not like to be here at the weekends though!  In complete contrast Coity Mountain is a mess and arduous walk for a dull boring plateau summit.

I knew from the previous night that this was going to be a challenging HF activation due to the untimely arrival of a solar storm.  However, I was not expecting the amazing conditions that prevailed on 2-fm.  I was just a shame that I left my portable 2m beam in the car, it weighs so little, it should live in the rucksack.

73 Glyn G(W)4CFS/P