Wednesday 15th March 2017 was the last day of the winter bonus period in England - and Wales. Richard and I set off from Macclesfield shortly after 7am and called in at Lymm Truck Stop for a SOTA breakfast.
We parked at the Ponderosa Cafe on the A542 Horseshoe Pass and first tackled Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042 via Moel Faen. Richard was doing various test and things comparing antennas and occasionally calling CQ and working. I set up the 20m GP and worked on CW, and a bit of 2m FM.
The amusing part of the activation was when Richard worked Mike 2E0YYY/P on Walton Hill G/CE-002 S2S on 2m FM. 59 reports were exchanged, then Richard passed the microphone to me. Suddenly, apparently, Mike lost me in QSB and couldn't pull my call out of the noise. I should start doing the RSGB propagation forecasts because I'd accurately predicted that exact event.
I made a total of 19 contacts: 12 on 20m CW, 4 on 2m FM and 3 on 70cm FM.
Back down at Ponderosa, it was, naturally, the iconic steak & kidney pie with mash, peas and gravy. A very enjoyable and welcome lunch.
Now of course it was up the road track to Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043. This time I made 23 QSOs, 1 on 20m SSB, 19 on 20m CW and 3 on 2m FM. A hint of DX came through in the form of 3 US stations and one KP4 - Puerto Rico.
It turned out that Neil GW0WPO/P had also been activating on Cyrn-y-Brain - but across by the trig point. He stopped by for a chat as he walked back past us.
On the way home we eventually found a pub open in one of the Welsh villages, and a couple of pints of Brains ale were enjoyed. I'd often wondered why Welsh real ale tended to be served slightly cooler then English real ale - and indeed if that was actually the case, or just my mind playing tricks on me. I asked the landlord and found that it was in fact correct, and was due to a significantly higher number of pubs in Wales having old-fashioned "real" underground cellars with a cooler temperature!
I was tired, but couldn't help myself from thinking of an evening raid on Shining Tor G/SP-004 - my nearest summit - but not yet activated during the bonus period. Ah, but then I realised it was 80m CC CW contest night - and there was December to go at after all.
After bashing the Bencher morse key in the hsack for 90 minutes, I decided to go for it. I parked just before the Cat & Fiddle pub (still closed) and was surprised to see another car in the parking spot. The I could see a headlamp coming towards me down the path. I headed in the other direction, and despite my tiredness from the day, found I got into a decent stride.
This was very enjoyable nighttime walking under a bright nearly-full moon and starry sky. I was on summit by around 2310 and took a few photos and posted a status update to Facebook. Just 5 stations were worked on 2m FM, but that was sufficient to collect the 5 points. I was kicking myself for assuming that my handheld was pretty much charged up - when it wasn't. Jimmy M0HGY did call me from home, but the charge did not survive and the contact was not quite completed. Callsigns were exchanged, reports were exchanged, but the final acknowledgement of the received report was only one-sided - so we scrapped that one.
I was starving when I got home about 0115z but couldn't find any bread or suitable things in the fridge. Fortunately, in a bag in the shack was an unopened chocolate reindeer left over from Christmas. It is now an ex-chocolate reindeer. It has expired. It has ceased to be.