Saturday 14th February 2009 saw a good activation with a strange ending. Jimmy, Liam and I ascended from Cloudside and enjoyed the crisp fresh morning air in temperatures of 4 degrees Celcius. I set up with an operating position viewing East towards Sutton Common and The Roaches for a pleasant vista.
It was 80m this morning, with Jimmy doing the SSB and me concentrating on CW. It was good fun with plenty of contacts between us, despite the very last minute announcement of intention - Jimmy self-spotting en route in the car.
Plenty of walkers passed by and showed interest in our activity. They were all fascinated, and one even remarked “Blimey, short wave ham radio, I thought all that had stopped years ago!”.
Until a gentlemen, a rather large chap, and his wife arrived, and from my operating position, I could hear him ranting at the topograph; “What an eyesore”, “Well it shouldn’t be there” etc. He gave me daggers as he settled down to eat his picnic on the trig point base, with his wife and two dogs. I started packing away. No-one was calling after John G4WSX anyway.
I got the impression that he was in a bad mood and wanted a confrontation. Sure enough, as I was winding in a dipole leg, he addressed me for the first time. “Have you got a licence for that?” he asked. “Yes” I replied. “But this is National Trust property and you shouldn’t be doing that”. I told him that in actual fact it was accepted on a temporary and low-impact basis, but that I respected the fact that he didn’t like it, and was therefore packing up. A process I explained to him, that would take no more than four minutes.
However, he definitely was up for an argument, and started asking me if I had public liability insurance in case one of the wires landed on his wife’s head and injured her! Then the most remarkable thing happened. The other walkers, of which there were now quite a few, chipped in and supported me!
I guess they had heard enough of this chap’s bleating and confrontation, and started on him! He was asked if he had insurance for his dogs, or written NT permission to eat his picnic on the trigpoint! “Don’t be so ridiculous” one of the walkers told him, “This spot is for everyone to come out and enjoy whatever they do”. Another lady walker added “I think it’s really interesting what they’re doing, leave them alone”.
Then to top it all, his own wife gave him a ticking off, saying “Oh pack it in, they’re doing nothing wrong”. At last, he went silent, although his face went purple and the steam was puffing out of his ears!
I chuckled to myself as Jimmy, Liam and I trotted down the hill. The morning mini-expedition was rounded off with a nice lunch purchased from Danebridge Chippy in Congleton.
But what a weird turn of events. An extremely rare expression of disapproval from a passer-by, and an unexpected strong show of support from all the other walkers.