Monday 3 October 2016
Following on from last months return to the hills, I was now ready for the next stage of the recovery and to increase the work load. More low-level walking has already been added to the itinerary over the past 3 weeks and it was now time to add more height to the exercise regime. Wilmington Hill and Firle Beacon are fairly close to home and so doesn’t require a great deal of driving and hence a long day. The plan was for an early start to avoid the usual A27 traffic snarl-ups, which would also mean being home before the evening rush hour.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole.
Wilmington Hill G/SE-011
Leaving home as planned at 0630 I headed off along the A27 and managed to get through the usual traffic problems at Chichester only to get delayed by almost an hour going through Worthing! Having stopped for a MacDonald’s breakfast wrap en route, I was well fuelled up when I eventually got to the parking area (TQ 531032) at 0845.
At 0900 I set off along the South Downs Way (SDW) track heading east climbing gradually up the ridge. At TQ 540034 there is the option of three routes to the summit. The obvious one is the SDW track heads off to the right, the central track that appears to go straight for the highest point of the hill and the left hand track that follows the line of the fence. Last year I took the central track so by way of a change I decided to take the left-hand fence track up and return via the SDW. This proved to be the easier route gaining height gradually and also offering a limited view looking down on top of ‘The Long Man‘. In 30 minutes I was at the trig point and started to set the station of against the fence close by. Distance 1.1 miles, Ascent 470 feet, Time Taken 30 minutes.
Self spotting I opened up on 7.118 Mhz and quickly opened the account with Sid in Londonderry with a responsible signal report in both directions. It appeared that the band was open despite the recent auroral activity and a K Index of 3! A further 10 stations made it into the log before the ‘pile-up’ ran dry. This included a summit to summit with Frank LX/PC7C/P on Kiirchbësch LX-003. Switching to 7-cw I tuned around the band to realise that there was a contest in full swing and the band was full of wall to wall b*****ks (regular readers will know my contempt for contests). I choose to activate during the week to avoid such interfering nonsense so you can imaging I was well p****d off and decided to shut down and head off the hill.
Taking the full SDW route back to the car I was back at the car park in under 20 minutes having had a leisurely walk back on a bright warm and sunny morning.
Firle Beacon G/SE-010
Last year I approached Firle Beacon from the car park at the west end so this year I decided to come from the east. From Wilmington Hill car park I headed back onto the A27 and headed west for a couple of miles before turning left into Bo Peep Lane and heading to the top of the ridge and the Car Park (TQ 494050). The car park was full of cars but fortunately most were paragliders who were launching off the ridge to the east and not Firle Beacon. Setting off along the obvious SDW track heading west I made the trig point in 15 minutes. Distance 0.8 miles, Ascent 180 feet, Time taken 15 minutes.
Self spotting on 7.121 Mhz I was soon called by Victor GI4ONL with an excellent report, so the band appeared to have improved since earlier this morning. This was followed by 7 further QSOs mostly from the UK but 1 from Spain (no guesses for who that was) and 1 from Germany. A special mention for Esther GI0AZA/M wh tried calling in a couple of times but the signal was just to weak to copy. eventually after she had driven some distance to a better location di we manage a good 55 QSO each way. Thanks for the perseverance Esther.
By now the sun was high in the sky and a relaxing few minutes were taken out to just relax and enjoy the early October sunshine and think about my trip to LD land in 3 weeks time with my XYL Mandi to celebrate my 60th and hopefully bag a few Lakeland summits in the process. As I walked back to the car I spent a little time watching all the paragliders enjoying the thermals and light breeze. All in all , traffic and contest issues aside it has been a very pleasant day out with some good radio.
Start of the SDW Track looking towards the summit
A Shack with a view!
The Car Park with the paragliders on the far ridge