Eastbourne Duo

Monday 3 October 2016

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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.

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.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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Start of the SDW Track looking towards the summit

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A Shack with a view!

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The Car Park with the paragliders on the far ridge

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G/SC-010 Dundry Down & G/SC-003 Beacon Batch

Wednesday 14 September 2016

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Trig on ‘burial’ mound at Beacon Batch

The last time I had been out on a serious walk was the 6 June 16 and that was when I injured my ankle that has kept me off the hill for over 3 months.  I have had a couple of very short walks since then but nothing to really talk about.  I was starting to get very edgy and needed a trip away to the hills.  My ankle is not 100% yet but getting there and I knew that the lay off had seriously affected my fitness levels, so today walk had to be a fairly easy return.  I needed Dundry Down to complete the G/SC region and this is a virtual ‘drive-on’ summit so whilst I was over that part of the country I added the two easy summits of Beacon Batch and Long Knoll.  The forecast was very good with temperatures in the mid 20’s and the promise to remain dry, so I left home at 0630 and headed for the M4 and Bristol.

 

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.

Dundry Downs G/SC-010

Got my timings slightly wrong and arrived at Dundry Village in time for the school run, never seen so many ‘Chelsea tractors’ in one place before.  Parked up in the village car park (ST 556668) I set off along the footpath heading towards the transmitter towers.  Once around a slight left hand bend I set up the station using the fence running along side the path to support the aerial.  Distance 0.2 miles, Ascent 20 feet, Time taken 5 minutes.
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Self spotting for 7-ssb I called on 7.118Mhz for about 5 minutes before the first response from a very weak Terry G0VWP, after several repeats I managed to get my report and continued calling.  Band conditions were obviously very poor with a K index of 3 but eventually there was a slight lift and managed to get EA2CKX and DF5WA into the log.  Changing to 7-cw I managed to add 3 more stations to the log before deciding to pack up and move on to the next location.  Put several calls out on 2-fm but got no response at all.  There was limited interference from the transmitters but nothing too severe.  Overall in 20 minutes of calling only managed 6 contacts but at least the hill was qualified and I had completed G/SC region.
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Dundry Down ‘shack’ – trig point hidden in the trees

Beacon Batch G/SC-003

Just 15 minutes after leaving Dundry I was parked up in the layby next to the Black Down sign (ST 490580).  I have been here before and knew the route very well, it is a fairly straight forward matter of following the footpaths to the summit trig.  Distance 0.7 miles, Ascent 380 feet, Time Taken 25 minutes.  This was my first real outing for 3 months and found that I had lost a lot of my fitness so had to stop a couple of times to ease the legs.
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Setting up in the same place I had last time I was here, I self spotted for 7-ssb and really struggled to make any contacts.  In fact the only station I managed to raise was EA2CKX again how is always there no matter what the conditions! Pedro must have an amazing set-up.  Changing to 7-cw I managed 3 stations in fairly quick succession, including a summit to summit with Martin OE3BVU/7 on OE/TL-042, but then called into thin air for the next 10 minutes.  With the prerequisite 4 contacts in the log I packed up and headed back to the car.
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Me on Beacon Batch

The plan had been to have moved on to Long Knoll on the way home however, after driving for 30 minutes I stopped for lunch and realised how stiff my legs had become.  Todays excursion was all about getting back to the hills after a 3.5 month lay up and seeing how well my foot would stand-up to the exercise, it was not about pushing myself too hard.  I therefore made the decision to have lunch and head for home.  Surprisingly and very pleasingly my foot caused me absolutely no problems whatsoever, it seems that all is going well on that front without the intervention of the NHS. This had been a great day out with a new summit ‘ticked’ off the list but more importantly it gave me the chance to get out for a refreshing walk on the Mendips, an area much-loved since my teenage years.  I now have about 2 months to get back to fitness again before the start of the winter walking season.

The Pain Of It All

jeffrhodesfallWith the exception of two drive-ons and two very short and easy walks I have not been into the hills since 6 June 2016.  The last time I ventured out properly was on a trip to South Wales to take on Sugar Loaf Mountain and Coity Mountain.  It was on this trip that something happened that has led to this extended absence.  I had enjoyed a lovely sunny and warm climb up Sugar Loaf and has experienced some weird and wonderful VHF propogation however, in my eagerness to get down and move on to my next appointment I turned my foot over and stumbled on a small loose stone.  Giving my ankle a quick check over all seemed fine so continued off the hill without further incident.
sprained-ankleIt was not until a couple of days later that I noticed a sharp stabbing pain in the outer edge of my left foot.  I put it down to the fact that at work I am on my feet for 8-10 hours at a time.  However, over the next few days the pain got worse and I found it difficult the walk at times.  Eventually I got the see the Doctor who’s first thoughts were that I had a stress fracture of the 5th Metatarsal so was sent for X-Ray.  A couple of days later I received a call to say the X-Ray was all clear so made a further appointment with the Doctor.  This time he suggested it could be a ‘soft tissue’ injury and referred my to a Podiatrist for futher investigation.

Eventually, eight weeks after the injury, I get to see the Podiatrist.  Following a lot of poking around he concluded that I had an acute injury to the Fibularis of the Peronial Brevis Tendon i.e. the point where the tendon joins the end of the 5th metatarsal.  It was following this diagnosis that he came up with the classic course of action.  Immediately after the injury was caused I am to take 2 weeks off work and keep the foot elevated and use ice packs to reduce the swelling!  Dispite explaining to him that this injury occurred 8 weeks ago he insisted on repeating the initial course of action in the event of this tendom injury!!!  Eventually, he concluded that maybe I didn’t need time off work but should consider the ice pack to help ease the pain and expedite the recovery.  Throughout the whole consultation he didn’t seem to be able to grasp the fact that the NHS works at a snails pace and it had taken 6 weeks from first requesting an appointment with a Doctor to eventually getting to see him!  I just hope I never have a serious illness.

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Well, his parting pearl of wisdom was that he would refer me to have a scan on the foot to see how bad the damage was given that the pain had lasted so long.  He said we should have the results within a week, that was 2 weeks ago and I still have not got a scan appointment yet!  Oh I almost forgot – there was a student Podiatrist present at the consultation watching him track the tendon down the side of my feet to the tuberosity of the 5th Metatarsal.  When he asked her what she thought the problem was her first, confident, responce was that I had damaged my Achilles Tendon – this is the future of the NHS!!!
NHS_cartoon.jpgSo, where are we at the moment?  Well I await the appointment to attend for a scan then a further wait for the results followed by a wait to get an appointment to discuss the outcome of the scan – to be honest I have not got a clue when I will be better.  I am going stir crazy not being able to get up the hills.  I have a week in the Lake District coming up in October and I am hoping that I will be fit by then.

Until then 73 Glyn

GW/NW-070 Great Orme

Tuesday 12 July 2016

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Today was the last day of our short break in North Wales and the plan was to return to Englandshire via the North Wales Expressway which conveniently goes very close to Llandudno and the Great Orme.  This gave me the opportunity for  a quick drive-on activation whilst the wife enjoyed the views from the car.  Parking up in the main car park I moved up the small slope to obvious fence.

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.

Great Orme GW/NW-070

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Self Spotting on 2-fm quickly brought in two local boys GW4ZPL/P (whom I had worked yesterday on Snowdon) and Mw0JWP but no one else despite calling for several minutes.  Setting up the HF station I spotted 7-cw and managed to get DL3HXX, DL1FU and F6EWB into the log.  Conditions seemed very poor with fast and very deep QSB but at least I had managed to qualify the hill.  Taking a quick break to get some hot drinks for my wife and myself I rechecked SotaWatch to see that G0EVV/P on NP-005 and GD4RQL/P on GD-005 were both active and spotting on 2-fm.  After a couple of calls to each station both Summit to Summits were in the log bringing an end to the short but fruitful activation.

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A pleasant end to a nice but damp short break.

73 Glyn G(W)4CFS/P

GW/NW-001 Snowdon

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What we wanted to see!  See below for reality!

My Wife suffers from a chronic debilitating illness which prevents her from walking very far.  Walking up a hill or mountain would be absolutely impossible for her and she always waits to see the photographs that I have taken when I have been ‘up the hills’.  I knew that she would love to be with me on top of some of the hills, so a plan started to come together in my head.  We were looking for somewhere to go for a few days in July and North Wales had always been on our ‘bucket list’, so we chose Snowdonia staying at a lovely Premier Inn in Caernarfon.  By way of a surprise I booked tickets on the Snowdon Mountain Railway so that she could finally say that she had been to the top of a mountain and seen the views for herself.

As a side-line I decided to take the opportunity to activate the summit.  Did I feel guilty taking the train to the top then activating the summit – NO.  I have walked, via many different routes, to the summit on numerous occasions and completed the full Snowdon Horseshoe.  So on this occasion I was treating the summit as a drive-on.  Anyway I am suffering from what was originally thought to be a stress fracture to my left foot now diagnosed as a torn Peroneus Tendon which has left me unable to ‘go up hills’ and shack fever was setting in.

Equipment

VX-170 & VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole.

Snowdon GW/NW-001

We had spent two days having a leisurely drive to Caernarfon from home taking in what we could see of the scenery.  The weather had turned from sunny to wet with low cloud within minutes of crossing the Welsh border.  I wanted to show the XYL a view of Snowdon from the observation point on the Capel Curig to Beddgelert road however, as the photo below shows there was little hope of seeing the summit.

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A lovely view of snowdon in the cloud!

On the morning of the trip to Snowdon we made our way to Llanberis and checked in at the railway station on a very damp and miserable day.  The first part of the journey up was enjoyable however, even before we reached the Halfway Station we were in thick cloud with about 20 metre visibility.  On arrival at the summit we made a very quick dash for cover in the cafe where my wife remained whilst I ran to the summit in horizontal rain to make a few contacts.

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Unfortunately I had realised halfway up that I had left me phone in the car so was unable to self spot.  Calling on 145.500 quickly brought a couple of locals into the log but nothing else until Jim, EI9GLB, popped up for a QSO.  Despite several calls there were no other responses so a tune round found a couple of locals in Bangor having a chat who generously provided me with quick reports to qualify the hill.  I never thought it would be that hard to qualify the highest summit in Wales and England.   But then I wasn’t going to hang around too long either in the appalling weather.

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I suppose we should be grateful that we even got to the summit at all as we were ony the 3rd train in 4 days to reach the summit because of the high winds.

73 Glyn G(W)4CFS/P

 

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

 

 

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

G/SE-014 Cliffe Hill & G/SE-006 Ditchling Beacon

Friday 20 May 2016
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My wife had an appointment with the beautician today in Hove so this was the ideal opportunity to take in a couple of simple hills on the South Downs.  Cliffe Hill was about 25 minutes drive from wife’s appointment, with Ditchling Beacon being an easy ‘drive-on’ 12 minutes from her, so ideal when she called for pick-up.  As this is the second time I have activated both of these hills I didn’t take any photos apart from the one above from the car park at Ditchling Beacon.

Equipment

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

Cliffe Hill G/SE-014

Parking in a field entrance along an unmetaled track way (TQ 447106).  Once booted up I walked down the track to the gate, then turned right to walk up the left side of the woods.  Once clear of the woods continue to follow the track to the boundary with the golf course.  Proceeding with care (I almost got hit by a golf ball last time) I made my way to the trig.  Moving away from the trig to a safe haven within the AZ I set up and self spotted on 7-cw.  Very quickly calls started coming from across the UK and Europe and by the time the cw calls stopped I had worked 19 stations in 20 mins including a summit to summit with HB9DQM/P on HB/ZH-006.  Self spotting for 7-ssb I was immediately called by Mike G6TUH, who lives just up the road, followed by a further 12 stations predominantly from across the UK.  At least three times I announced final call and the calls still continued.
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Overall a very good activation with 32 stations logged in 30 minutes.  A quick check of the watch and I realised that I definitely had time for the second activation on Ditchling Beacon.

Ditchling Beacon G/SE-006

Ditchling is a very easy summit to activate as it is a ‘Drive-on’!  Parking up in the Beacon Car Park (TQ 333129) I walked the 30 metres to the trig point where I set up adjacent to the fence.  Having spent 10 minutes explaining what I was doing to a young couple who were running the South Downs Way!! I self spotted on 7-ssb and started calling.  The response was slow but steady, nothing like it had been an hour earlier.  Most stations reported heavy QSB and the UK stations were now struggling to hear me.  Six stations made it into the log including a summit to summit again with HB9DQM/P from HB/ZH-006 before ssb dried up.  Self spotting for 7-cw added a further 6 stations including a summit to summit with F6HBI/P on F/AM-476 but it was slow and hard work.  One final 2-fm QSO concluded the activation as I received a text from the wife to say that she was ready for her taxi home!
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Today had been an enjoyable but strange day highlighting how quickly the propagation conditions can change – in this case in just over a hour – from outstanding to dire.  Once again the weather was kind to me with some sunny spells but much windier.  Thanks to all the callers today.

73 Glyn G4CFS

Welsh Marches Tour 2016 – Day 3 A Few Summits More

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.

Equipment

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.
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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!
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The track to the summit

 

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.
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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.
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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.

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Looking back to the 8th Hole from the track to the ridge

 

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View from the trig down onto part of the course

 

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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By gm4cfs Posted in SOTA

Welsh Marches Tour 2016 – Day 2. The Famous Five

Monday 16 May 2016

day 2 title

Day 2

The work load today called for an early start, so it was up at 06:00 and on the road by 06:30.  The plan was to activate the ‘Famous Five’ Titterstone Clee Hill, Brown Clee Hill, Long Mynd-Pole Bank, Stiperstones and Corndon Hill. Heading down the A49 towards Ludlow from Shrewsbury arriving at the disused quarry car park (SO 593 776) at the start of Titterstone Clee Hill

Equipment

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.

Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004

From the car park walk out onto the road up to the radar site on top of the hill.  After about 10 metres there is the waymarked Shropshire Way footpath on the left hand side.  Take this path up the ridge to the summit.  Walk past the radar bases to the trig point.  Distance 0.38 miles, Ascent 200 feet, Time Taken 10 minutes.

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The plan for today was to check in on 2m then set-up for 7-cw & 7-ssb.  However, with the realisation that I had left the power cable back at the hotel I had no option but to make this a 2m only day.  Fortunately the area is fairly well laid out for VHF coverage.  Self spotting the account was quickly opened by G0CHU followed by 6 further stations including M6NSV Neil who was to keep me company all the way around and Frank RMD/M on his way to play golf.  16 minutes after starting on 2m the calls dried up and the first summit was qualified.
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After taking a photo opportunity I made a quick descent back to the car and I was ready for the drive to the hill.
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The view north to Brown Clee Hill

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View back down to the car park

Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002

The drive across to the start of Brown Clee Hill took about 30 minutes and parking was found on the wide grass verge on the right just up from the footpath gate (SO 585868).

Once through the gate the navigation is very straight forward.  Follow the gradually ascending track to the gate at SO 590862, at this point follow the track up to the left along the line of the fence.  After 20 metres the summit transmitter tower and cairn become visible ahead and within a further 10 minutes the summit is reached.  Distance 0.85 miles, Ascent 567 feet, Time Taken 30 minutes.
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A point of note for the trig point chasers – whilst the OS maps show one on the summit, it no longer exists other than in the form of the top plate and registration plate are cast in the concrete steps leading up to the summit observation cairn.

After a self spot for 2-fm Neil NSV was quickly in the log but it was while before the rest started to call.  It became very quickly obvious that I was getting a huge amount of interference from the transmitter tower on the summit.  At times it was wiping out all communication, then there would be a couple of minutes of clear frequency.  Despite the problems a further 10 stations made it into the log in 18 minutes.  Eventually the responses stopped so after a quick phone call to the Wife, Mandi, it was back to the car in a 20 minute descent.
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Final approach to the summit

 

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Observation Cairn that replaces the trip point – Titterstone Clee in the distance

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Self Portrait in the early morning sun

Long Mynd-Pole Bank G/WB-005

A pleasant drive was had over Wenlock Edge and down to Church Stretton before the climb up Burway Hill and the nervous drive resisting the look down into the steep valley below – keeping the eyes fixed on the road ahead and hoping to met nothing coming the other way.  Pole Bank can be approached from either end but I had chosen the south-westerly route and after a short but beautiful drive over the rolling hills of Long Mynd I arrived at the car park (SO 412937).  The route is so straight forward you don’t really need a map.  Walk up the road for about 400 metres to an obvious graded dust footpath on the left.  Follow this for a further 400ish metres and you arrive at a grassy area with the trig point and observation cairn. Distance 0.46 miles, Ascent 121 feet, Time Taken 10 minutes.
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By this stage the sun was getting very warm so a spot of relaxation ensued along with chats with passing walkers.  Eventually I self spotted 2-fm and got 8 stations into the log including Neil NSV and 3 others who were starting to follow me around – Paul M6NNK, Andy G8MIA and Ian G4WTF.  Once all stations were clear it was a very steady pleasant stroll back to the car for a lunch of cheese, nuts and dried fruits (the old faithful’s never fail!).
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The somewhat ‘ephemeral’ footpath to the summit!

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The Trig showing the check-in stamp for the Extreme Marathon run over the weekend.

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A very sunny prospect for the station with good views in all directions

Stiperstones G/WB-003

From Pole Bank it was a short but scenic drive down the western side of Long Mynd to arrive at the car park for Stiperstones (SO 369977).  Like many of the other hills in this area, this is a very popular summit and there were several cars in the car park.  The pathway up the grassy slopes and along the stony ridge is very obvious and easily followed.  I had been warned that the summit is different from most English summits in that there is a little bit of scrambling and climbing required to reach the actual summit Trig Point surmounted on an out crop of the Stiperstones Quartzite Formation.  Distance 0.66 miles, Ascent 333 feet, Time Taken 20 minutes.
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Having scaled the outcrop to the trig I descended to set the station up on the leeward side of the outcrop.  Self spotting 2-fm immediately brought Neil NSV into the log followed my what were now many regular callsigns. The highlight of this activation was the summit to summit with Adrian from Fan Gyhirych GW/SW-006.  In all 5 stations were worked before all fell silent again.  By now the sun was at its highest and making for an absolutely fabulous day out in the hills and the light breeze made for an enjoyable walk back down to the car.
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The rocky track up the ridge

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Summit Trig on top of the outcrop

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I made it!

Corndon Hill GW/MW-013

I had completed four of the ‘famous five’ and still had loads of time left – it was becoming one of those rare days when everything was a pleasure – that was until I arrived at Corndon Hill.  I knew this was a steep and relatively short walk to the summit but as I was to find this hill had a sting in its tail.  I turned up the rough track by the reservoir and drove as far as the gate where there was plenty of room to park on the right hand side (SO 301973).
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The first part of the walk is leisurely along the un-metalled road to the gate and style at the boundary fence between field and woodland.  From this point it just appeared to be straight up with absolutely no relief.  It was about half way up that I realised just how tired my legs were and it became a physical effort to drag my body to the top. However, the relief of seeing a comfortable bench seat at the summit made it all worthwhile. Distance 0.45 miles, Ascent 482 feet Time Taken 30 minutes.
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Having regained my composure I self spotted for 2-fm and worked 7 stations in 16 minutes.  These included Neil NSV who had been with me all the way, Andy MIA who had worked me on 4 of the 5 and Frank RMD on his return from his round of golf.  It was a great relief to have qualified the hill and a greater relief to be back at the car and ready for the drive to the hotel, a nice soak and a nice warm beer.  I don’t drink euro fizz only real ale and tonight was a favourite of mine Rock Brewery’s Doom Bar (other well known brands are available).
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So that was it, Day 2 complete and the ‘famous five’ under the belt.  Next challenge will be to do the five in the winter bonus season.  The day had gotten off to a bad start when I realised that I had left the FT-817 power cable in the hotel room.  However, I had a great day doing 2-fm activations and really enjoyed the company of several different stations throughout the day.  Special thanks to Neil NSV for working my on every summit.  The weather was also far better than had been forecast.  The Met Office had forecast sunshine until about midday however, it continued to shine all day and during the afternoon the temperature topped over 20C – not bad for mid May.

After the ‘Famous Five’ tomorrow was going to be ‘A Few Summits More’ with six 1 pointers spread across GW/MW, GW/NW, G/WB & G/CE.

73 Glyn G(W)4CFS/P