Carnmenellis DC-006 and Watch Croft DC-007 - Saturday 28th July 2007
As a change to my recent forays into Wales, I had decided to stake my claim on a couple of days during a short stay at my daughter’s house in Lostwithiel near St Austell in Cornwall. With daughter Nic being just a couple of weeks away from producing her first child, my wife Bev had been asked to stay down for the week as son in law Phil was away from home involved in running the Cornwall Christian Youth Camp. We therefore drove down in convoy and this allowed us to take a number of furniture items that needed to be moved down to Cornwall. This also gave me transport totally independent of my wife and daughter and so I was able to get out to some summits which is not an easy thing to do when we just go down for the weekend.
We traveled down to Cornwall in abysmal weather on Thursday 26th July and arrived around 6.30 p.m. I got a few jobs sorted and planned some tasks for the following day. As the weather was very reasonable on the Friday, I wondered whether I should bring my proposed activation of Carnmenellis DC-006 and Watch Croft DC-007 forward, but I decided against this and stuck to my plan and achieved what I set out to do around the house. During the evening Bev asked “What unearthly hour are you leaving us in the morning?” and was extremely surprised when I advised that it would be between 9 and half past. For a brief moment I did consider doing a 4 summit rush around Cornwall, but decided against it, remembering my promise to several chasers to “linger a while” on Carnmenellis. In fact I was pleased to be so close to some summits without the need to drive 150 miles before making an ascent. It was going to be a relaxing visit to these summits,
I left Lostwithiel at 0815UTC and despite a slight detour to avoid some roadworks, was approaching Carnmenellis little more than an hour later. The satnav announced arrival at the parking spot for the ascent route determined by Richard G3CWI and so I turned the sound off to avoid being chastised for choosing an alternate parking spot. At the hamlet of Penmarth I turned right to skirt the south side of the hill and drove over the rise to the sharp S bend on the lookout for a convenient parking spot. I was extremely pleased to find a decent lay-by just past the bend, which meant a short walk back to the bridleway which runs from the first part of the S bend. An unusually leisurely pace was adopted in getting ready for the ascent and I was underway by 0945UTC. I knew this part of Cornwall is in economic depression, but I had to smile as I approached the bridleway. The sign on the right of the entrance said Polgear Beacon written in white paint on an old black car bonnet - the ultimate in recycling!
The ascent was very easy, being initially along the short bridleway and then up a short length of farm track to the Open Access land. I was pleased to see that the mix of bracken, heather and gorse had been flattened by a farm vehicle that had traveled generally in the direction of the trig point. I therefore used this route to minimise the amount of “heather hopping”, but found that instead I had to avoid some very damp boggy patches. Within 20 minutes I had visited the trig (keeping a low profile to avoid invoking the guardian of the hill into action) and had moved north along the fence line to get clear of the mast at the summit. I set up using a convenient post holding barbed wire and was ready to operate by 1020UTC. Unfortunately I did not appear to have any output from the big linear that I had taken with me and a short period of checking cables and plugs ensued, only to find that I did not have the 25 watt linear switched on. At the flick of the switch, the big linear fired up and out went 150 watts of RF.
I decided to call on 144.300 rather than self-spot and this was responded to immediately by Graham G4FUJ. We QSY’d to my usual working frequency of 144.333 and had a 5 minute chat which allowed the spot that Graham kindly placed to take effect. However it was another 3 minutes until Graham G4JZF was on frequency, closely followed by Don G0NES and the southern Don G0RQL. Summit qualified on 2m in 12 minutes. I was then surprised to be called by Barry M3PXW who was a good 52, though probably partly due to the fact that I had two preamplifiers in my receive line. Dave G0ELJ brought the total on 2m to six and then the frequency went quiet. Moving to 5MHz at 1049, I picked up Barry GM4TOE/P on CS-086 for an initial S2S which headed a total of 16 contacts on the band, including S2S contacts with Ken AXY and Christine YMM on SS-158. The run took me to 1108UTC, so I moved back to 2m to see whether there were any chasers lurking and picked up Brian G8ADD. Further calls aimed at the SE’s in the hope that Richard G4ERP would be around (as advised by Graham FUJ) were not responded to and so I moved to 10.116MHz CW at 1121UTC. Conditions were fairly short terms of in skip length, so my first contact was with Roy G4SSH. Other UK contacts were with GM4FAM, G0NES, G4RQJ and G4DJJ in a total of 11 on this band. I was tempted to move to 7MHz, but decided against this as I been QRV for over an hour and it was time to move on in order to get as close as possible to my alert time of 1400 for Watch Croft.
My descent was uneventful and unchallenged and after a short lunch I drove south west doing battle with the queues on the tail end of the infamous A30, still not dual carriageway all the way down. As I got to the edge of Penzance, the rain started. I arrived at the parking spot at around 1315UTC to find perplexed holidaymakers sitting in cars admiring the rain collecting on the outside of their windscreens, so I had to park further north and in doing so decided to use the footpath running east to meet up with the bridleway. Big mistake!!! Bridleways seem to exist in this part of Cornwall (probably because it is difficult to argue with someone on horseback), but footpaths do not. I was soon regretting not walking back along the road to the end of the bridleway. Access to the summit from the bridleway was also a case of more heather hopping and it was past 1400 by the time I arrived at the trig point, the weather now having deteriorated to horizontal rain in a steady wind.
Opening up on 2m at 1425UTC with a partly drained battery and output power down to around 100 watts, I was greeted by Don G0NES who had been patiently awaiting my arrival. Don G0RQL followed, with Graham G4JZF and for the second time during the day Barry M3PXW, this time the summit being qualified in 13 minutes. Chris G4DJJ extended the distance worked and with his help I tried to contact Mick 2E0HJD who was on frequency, but unfortunately we were not successful. Local Mike G4ZKN took the 2m total to 6. Moving to 5MHz at 1450UTC brought in a run of 12 contacts with variable signals, but no S2S contacts this time around. At 1509 I moved to 10.116 CW to find Mike DJ5AV waiting followed by another four contacts and then it got silly. Unusually for stations from DL, there was an unruly melee on the frequency with much calling over the top of the stations being worked. I can only assume some of these were not SOTA chasers who had no appreciation whatsoever that I was on a summit in driving wind and rain, getting very wet. Under the circumstances, I decided just to call it a day and go QRT at 1525UTC, so apologies to those genuine chasers on frequency that lost out through the selfish actions of others.
It took me about 20 minutes to dismantle the station in the rain and using the compass to help me through the murky 25 metre visibility, I was soon back on the bridleway and back at the car by 1616UTC. It was then a case of trying to get out of my waterproofs inside the car, dry my feet (yes, the boots were awash - again), don dry socks and shoes and drive back in the rain. I was pleased to have everything indoors by 1800UTC and I spent the evening drying everything out in readiness for further activations planned for Monday 30th July. These are the subject of a separate report.
Many thanks to everyone that supported my activation of these summits, particularly Don G0NES who kept close track of my operations. Not having to self-spot, particularly in adverse weather conditions does help and I appreciate the assistance given. Incidentally, Don worked me on all of the 3 bands activated on Carnmenellis and 2 of the 3 on Watch Croft where there was no evidence of inter-G skip on 10MHz. One way of “nailing” two new Uniques.
postscript: no photos as I took the wrong camera… the one with the dud batteries in it. Then on the Sunday, I suddenly realised that I have a camera on my mobile phone - doh!