G/SE-011 Wilmington Hill, G/SE-010 Firle Beacon, G/SE-014 Cliffe Hill, G/SE-006 Ditchling Beacon

Monday 6 Jul 2015

Mrs CFS is becoming very generous at the moment and is allowing me to go activating on a very regular basis.  We are starting to watch our weights a little so she sees this as good exercise for me.  Who am I to argue!  I had 3 possible target areas to travel to.  The first is the SE summits that border the M25, then there are the SC summits around Beaminster and Bridport, and finally the 3 SE summits immediately to the west of Eastbourne.  Yes I know there are 4 SE summits immediately west of Eastbourne but Ditchling Beacon is reserved for when I take my XYL to Brighton for some beautification.  The 2 SC summits will be activated when I take my Mother in Law and her friend through to Weymouth in a couple of weeks time and I quite fancied the South Downs on a sunny warm day so it was off to Wilmington Hill, Firle Beacon and Cliffe Hill just to the west of Eastbourne.

Equipment

FT-817 5W, 2Ah SLAB, linked dipole 60m, 40m & 20m on 7m SOTA Pole and palm paddle key.

Wilmington Hill G/SE-011

Left home at 07.15 for the 1hour 50 minute drive to Wilmington Hill car park.  After an uneventful drive I parked up in the car park at TQ 531032 and set off up the South Downs Way (SDW) path across the road.  The path is easy with a steady rise in elevation however, at the point where the SDW heads south to skirt the hill I struck out straight for the top of the ridge followed by a short walk to the trig point.  There is a fence running along the north edge of the hill within 20 feet of the trig which made the ideal place to make camp. Distance travelled 1.2 miles, ascent 477 feet, time taken 30 minutes.

wilmington hill se-011

A quick check of Sotawatch sent me to 60m for a S2S with Mal GW6OVD/P on Garth Hill G/SW-034, one more QSO was made on this band before self spotting on 40m SSB.  6 contacts were made on a very poor band with limited propagation and heavy QSB.  After calling a few times with no reply it was a quick pack up and off back to the car.  The journey down only took 20 mins allowing enough time for a cup of coffee and half a sandwich.

wilmington hill log

SE-011 route up

The South Downs Way can be seen going to the right – head straight up the hill to the trig point.

SE-011 set-up

Station set-up next to fence just north of trig point

Firle Beacon G/SE-010

The drive from Wilmington Hill took just 12 minutes along the A27.  Make sure you turn off for Firle Village and Palace then as you enter the village take the right fork sign posted Firle Beacon.  This road takes you right up onto the ridge and a sizable car park TQ 468058.  Of course because of the easy access and large car park this is a very popular hill and even on a Monday during term time there were about 10 vehicles parked up.  The walk to the summit is a gentle rising path commanding magnificent views to the north and south.  Again, as with Wilmington Hill, there is a fence within 20 feet of the trig point ideal for the mast support.  The fence is also about 50 feet away from the SDW footpath so I remained slightly out of sight and undisturbed.  Distance walked 1.2 miles ascent 161 feet time take 20 minutes.

firle beacon se-010

This time started on 40m SSB with a self spot and straight back to my first call came Mike G6TUH who lives just down the road.  It became clear that the bands had improved slightly and this was borne out by the size of the pile up.  Overall 18 QSO’s were completed in 20 minutes before the contacts dried up.  This included a S2S with John M0VCM/P on Hutton Roof Crags G/LD-052 and 6 DXCC or 7 if you include Karl M3FEH in Cornwall!!  The sun was now starting to get high in the sky and the heat was rising but the gentle southerly breeze was most welcoming.  It was interesting to hear all the reports of rain across the UK whilst I was basking in sunshine, blue sky with about 1 okta of cloud.  The next summit was even closer, close enough to have facilitated communication by semaphore or aldis lamp.  So it was back into the car and off to Cliffe Hill.

firle beacon log

SE-010 footpath to summit

Footpath to Firle Beacon

SE-010 from SE-011

Firle Beacon taken from Wilmington Hill

SE-011 from SE-010

Wilmington Hill from Firle Beacon

SE-010 summit trig

Firle Beacon summit trig

Cliffe Hill G/SE-014

As I drove up though Glynde towards Glyndebourne I became a little concerned about the fact that there had been a festival at Glynde Place and that there were a number of police signs saying this road was a ‘tow away zone’.  However, once I got as far as the opera house the signage had gone away and it was back to normal. Just under half a kilometre past the opera house is a turning on the left into an unmade track, single file wide.  The surface looked good enough and I had read of some amateurs driving up this lane.  The drive was OK for my Avensis and I got to the turning/parking space about three quarters the way along the track.  From here is was over the style and I took the track heading up to the right along the edge of the woods.  Clearing the woods the track continued up hill towards the Lewes Golf Course which occupies the summit.  Entering the  golf course I tentatively made my way to the trig point.  However, having had a near miss from an errant golf ball, I decided that discretion was the batter part of valour and made my way off of the golf course but remaining within the AZ. Distance walked 1 mile, ascent 275 feet, time taken 22 minutes.

cliffe hill se-014

Using the boundary fence of the golf course to support the mast, I was about to put out a self spot when Mike G6TUH calls me up to see if I have arrived yet.  He must have a sixth sense which became even more scary later.  I opened up on 40m SSB and again the conditions had gone down hill but still managed to get 8 QSO’s in the bag before the band went very quiet.  It was at this point that I realised that I still had plenty of time left on my day pass so I made the decision to go to Ditchling Beacon G/SE-006 as it was on the way home.  A quick pack up and off back to the car.  I have mentioned before that when I lived in Scotland I would go out all day to activate 1 mountain whereas in the south of England I now have to do 3-4 summits (pimples) in a day to make it worthwhile.  One advantage this has is that I am now becoming very proficient at making and breaking camp fairly quickly, something that will become very handy when the weather starts to deteriorate.

cliffe hill log

Cliffe Hill from Firle Beacon

Cliffe Hill from Firle Beacon

Looking back at Wilmington Hill and Firle Beacon from Cliffe Hill

Looking back at Wilmington Hill and Firle Beacon from Cliffe Hill

Station set-up at Cliffe Hill

Station set-up at Cliffe Hill

Ditchling Beacon G/SE-006

As I said at the start, this was going to be activated at the end of July whilst my XYL was having some beautification in Brighton.  Well plans were meant to be changed and whilst I was this close and passing it made total sense.  In hindsight it worked out better because I have been trying to work out how to activate Crowborough without having to make a special journey just for that one summit.  Well problem solved, that is the target now for the end of July when my wife is in Brighton.

Ditchling Beacon was about a 20 minute drive from Cliffe Hill and I got parked up in the NT car park along with a about 20 other vehicles.  One of the other vehicles just happened to be an ice cream van so a 99 was enjoyed before setting of on my mammoth journey to the trig point.  Ditchling Beacon is a nature reserve and the main footpath headed straight off into the wilderness completely bypassing the trip point.  So it was possible to get next to the trig and use the adjacent fence to support the mast.  Again a quick assembly and I was ready to go.  Distance walked 600 feet ascent 45 feet time taken 3 minutes.

ditchling beacon se-006

I thought, for a change, I would put a call out on 2m FM.  After a couple of calls I got Al G4RUL in Eastbourne but no one else.  So it was off to 40m SSB but unfortunately the frequency I had been using all day, 7.123 MHz, was now occupied.  A tune around was made and a new QRG was selected, 7.165 MHz, and a quick unannounced CQ SOTA call was made.  Now for the scary bit, earlier I had said that Mike G6TUH had a sixth sense, well this proved it because after the one quick CQ Mike came straight back to me for a report and a quick chat.  I told Mike that I was probably low on battery power (I had only planned for 3 activations so had a 2AH battery) and wanted to qualify the hill before it died.  So Mike kindly spotted me stating my battery was low and I was able to manage 10 more QSO’s before the battery finally packed up.

ditchling beacon log

Summit Trig at Ditchling Beacon

Summit Trig at Ditchling Beacon

All in all it had been a great day out.  I had managed to activate 4 SE summits and prove that Mike is in league with the ‘dark side’.  The band conditions were at best very poor but this didn’t prevent me from easily qualifying all the hills.  The scenery and weather had been fantastic and I had experienced the South Downs at their very best.  I would like to mention and thank Mike G6TUH, Damian M0BKV, and Jim EI9GLB who all managed to work me on all 4 hills.  Also to Don G0RQL and Geert PA7ZEE who both managed 3 of the 4 hills.

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By gm4cfs Posted in SOTA Tagged

G/SC-013 Nine Barrow Down, G/SC-012 Swyre Head, G/SC-008 Win Green

Monday 29 Jun 2015

As a reward for completing the decorating Mrs CFS suggested I might like a day out walking. Now one doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth does one!  The only question was were should I go.  Because the hills in this area are so small it is not worth travelling any distance to do just one hill, I have several hills to the east that are yet to be done but I already have opportunities to do those later in the year.  So that left Nine Barrow Down/Swyre Head or Win Green/Long Knoll.  I recalled a few weeks ago the English AM, Jimmy, announcing that Swyre Head will be delisted on the 1 Mar 16 due to reassessed height information.  It was therefore decided to go to the Isle of Purbeck and do the two hills either side of Corfe Castle.

Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013

I left home at 0800 and headed off down the M27/A27 for Corfe Castle arriving at the parking place (SZ 00793 81845) at about 0945.  There is a small parking area on the north side of the road with enough room for 1 car, if this is occupied there is a viewing point parking area about 200 metres to the west.  Do not park in the area immediately by the start of the footpath as this is used regularly by the farmer for access to his fields.  The walk up to the top of the ridge is a pleasant gentle stroll on a well formed footpath heading up through Kings Wood (NT property) covering 1.12 miles and 282 ft of ascent.  Time taken to summit 25 minutes.  The Activation Zone is large so there is no problem choosing a suitable to fence to support the aerial mast.

SC-013 Nine Barrow Down

SC-013 kings wood

SC-013 route up

The route up through Kings Wood

SC-013 shack

Setting up on Nine Barrow Down

Equipment:

FT-817 5W, 2Ah SLAB, linked dipole 60m, 40m & 20m and palm paddle keyer.

Once set up I put out a self spot for 7.130 MHz but I realised how bad the bands were, with absolutely no responses to my calls on 40m SSB. So a quick change to CW and a spot via KU6J brought in 10 QSO’s mostly with DL including what I thought was a S2S with DL6WT/P but the summit I copied RP-169 has been de-listed!  I was very reluctant to leave Nine Barrow Down because the views were amazing all along the south coast to Portland and north to Shaftesbury.  But there was another hill to walk so it was back to the car and set off through Corfe Castle and Kingston to my next starting point.

nine barrow down log

Swirl Head G/SC-012 from Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013

Swyre Head G/SC-012 from Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013

Swyre Head G/SC-012

The car park for Swyre Head (SY 94332 79260) was only a 15 minute drive away through the beautifully picturesque village of Corfe Castle.  The access to Swyre Head is via a Bridal Way through the Encombe House Estate and strict adherence to the path is requested.  The walk up is gentle and easy going and the view down to the coast are wonderful.  The high point of the summit is on top of the tumulus and the trig point is some 50 metres away.  Distance walked 0.83 miles total ascent 228 ft time taken 20 minutes.

SC-012 Swyre Head a

Equipment:

FT-817 5W, 2Ah SLAB, linked dipole 60m, 40m & 20m and palm paddle keyer.

Unlike this morning when 40M SSB was non-existent, this afternoon was a different picture altogether.  Checking Sotawatch resulted on S2S contacts with Steve DL/G1INK/P on DM/TH-470, Barry, M0IML/P on G/SE-015 and Ricky MW6GWR/P on MW001.  A self spot on 7.130 MHz resulted in a further 9 QSO’s before a quick check was made on CW to no avail.  The complete opposite of the earlier activation.

swyre head log

Win Green G/SC-008

By the time I go back to the car it was only 1PM so there was time for a third summit.  A quick check of the SOTA POI files on my Tom Tom showed that Win Green G/SC-008 was the next closest hill and it was in the right direction for heading home afterwards.  The drive took just over the hour before arriving in the spacious car park (ST 92347 20485) within 200 metres of the summit.

SC-012 Swyre Head

Equipment:

FT-817 5W, 2Ah SLAB, linked dipole 60m, 40m & 20m and palm paddle keyer.

Having walked up to the observation point and the trig point and taking a gentle stroll around the small wooded area I moved to the SE of the summit enclosure to the fence to set-up the station.  Just like first thing this morning 40m SSB was dead but managed 7 QSO’s on CW again mainly with EU stns plus Victor in GI.

The pace of the whole day had been one of slow gentle serenity, the weather had been fantastic with clear skies and temperatures in the mid/high 20C’s.  This was a very pleasant way to spend a day walking and talking.

win green log

73 Glyn

By gm4cfs Posted in SOTA Tagged

G/CE-004 Bardon Hill

Monday 22 June 2015

Having spent the weekend at Center Parc Sherwood Forest with my extended family to celebrate my Mothers 80th Birthday it seemed silly not to activate Bardon Hill as it was enroute and a fairly easy 1 pointer.  Originally had planned to activate the hill on the way to Sherwood Forest but I enjoyed the comfort of the Premier Inn the evening before too much!!

CE-004 Bardon HillThe satnav took me straight to the start point on Dauphine Close where it was easy to park the car and I set off up the footpath towards the woods.  Through the gate and turned left for 100 metres before turning uphill at the gate after the large painted boulder.  A nice steady pull up hill got me to the top in 25 minutes covering a distance of 0.78 miles and an ascent of 290 feet.  Having found a suitable mast support away from the area occupied by the public I opened up on 40m SSB.  This was intended to be a quick activation as my wife was sat patiently in the car, though it was not going to be a smash and grab 4 contact and go operation.

Equipment:

FT-817 plus 2Ah SLAB, linked dipole 60m, 40m & 20m and palm paddle keyer.

Found a clear frequency around 7.130Mhz and put out a couple of CQ calls before Andy G8MIA responded and advised me that the band was very much up and down with QSB, so nothing much had changed over the weekend!  He also spotted me as well which brought in everyone else.  Eleven further contacts were completed G3ZRP, M0TTE, M0IML, G0VWP, DL8DXL, M0NTC, G0FEX, G8ADD, PA0SKP, G6TUH & PA0B for drying up.  A couple more calls brought no further responses so a quick pack up and off back down the hill to my wife and a 3 hour drive home.

CE-004 Bardon Hill summit

The summit of Bardon Hill taken on the way up – shows the man-made damage caused by quarrying.

By gm4cfs Posted in SOTA Tagged

G/SE-001 Walbury Hill

Thursday 11 June 2015

Having been off work for a week with a chesty cough I was starting to go stir crazy and felt the need to get out in the glorious sunshine.  Still not being 100% I needed somewhere to go that was not going to put too much strain on my recovering body.  So with battery charged and bag packed I set off for Walbury Hill a drive of just under the hour.  On arrival at the car park (SU 370 620) there was only one other car parked up which is always encouraging.  It was a gloriously sunny and warm day and a few moments were taken out to enjoy the beautiful scenery and observe a Red Kite hunting in the thermals created by the upslope of Walbury Hill.

SE-001 Walbury Hill route

A short walk up the track to the gate into the field on the right hand side and then an easy flat walk to the trig point.  Car to trig in 10 mins at a leisurely pace, distance of  0.358 miles and ascent of 56 feet.  Fortunately the field was devoid of sheep, though the fresh evidence of their occupation was all around to be seen and stepped into!!  More importantly, it was also devoid of human presence.

Chose to activate from the trip point and quickly had the mast and radio set up.  Tuned around and was greeted with nothing, I knew the band conditions were poor but this was ridiculous.  Tried a call and noted low power output as well.  Quick check confirmed that, in my haste, I hadn’t connected the aerial to the rig!!

SE-001 Walbury Hill cSE-001 Walbury Hill b

Equipment:

FT-817 plus 2Ah SLAB, linked dipole 60m, 40m & 20m and palm paddle keyer.  For VHF – VX-170 and Sotabeams Rucksack special (RSS).

SE-001 Walbury Hill aBand conditions seemed very poor today.  Opened up on 60m SSB and managed 3 QSO’s into the log, thanks to Andy G8MIA for the spot.  A check of 40m SSB and after several calls nothing at all, quick tune around and the band appeared totally flat.  Changed to 40m CW and got a quick spot from KU6J, this resulted in 6 QSO’s in quick succession before the band died again.  One more call on 40m SSB resulted in a QSO with a none chaser but that frittered away due to very heavy and deep QSB – 59+10 to silence in seconds!

A quick pack-up of the HF gear and a relaxing lunch sat on the troughs by the trig.  Several calls on 2 FM but to no avail, so a leisurely stroll back to the car with a quick stop off to look at the Iron Age Hill Fort ramparts just above the car park.  (my academic background is an MA in Archaeology).

73 Glyn

By gm4cfs Posted in SOTA Tagged