I was pleased to work many chasers in the beautiful Welsh Borders area this last few days. My last visit here was in August 2006 and this time, as part of a short holiday, we managed to fit in another 3 summits, taking me to 25% of the WB area completed. I will go back for sure, soon I hope.
Thurs 17th July G/WB-004 Titterstone Clee Hill QRV 15:35z-16:52z
FT-857 & 12Ah LA Gel battery 50w and linked dipole 60m/40m/30m (end fed on 80m) on 7m pole.
It tried to rain but just held off. The walk up the hill from the car park is less than 1 Km and not too steep - a very easy 2 pointer. It’s an ugly hill and has been well quarried out, all closed now but the hill serves it’s purpose as a NATS radar site and gives a great view from the top.
I kicked off here with Roy G4SSH (TNX for spotting support) G3WPF, G4RQJ and ON3WAB on 80m CW and then Paul G0HNW started me off on 60m SSB. Paul warned me that I could have RX overload from the NATS radar installations near to where I was sat. He was right - the audio on 60m stations I worked sounded rough. When I moved to 40m CW and created a decent pile up it was impossible, the CW was getting chopped to pieces by the radar and was difficult to read. Turning off the noise blanker and using the IPO switch on the FT-897 made a difference but I found the only way to make anything of the morse signals was to seperate them by working work split, listening up of my TX frequency. The chasers picked up on this very well and it was soon time to move to 30m CW to finish off. The band was in outstanding shape with the best DX being UA9CGL. The only real miss was Mike GW0DSP on 5 MHz - I heard the 3x1 report from Mike but condx unfortunately would not allow us a full QSO. We packed up (Judy XYL helps me set up and take down when she comes along, and then reads a book whilst I am TXing) with 79 stations in the log (80Mx4, 60Mx11, 40Mx33, 30Mx31 nil S2S QSOs) and made our way to the Travelodge and a pub nearby in Ludlow.
WB-024 was next on Sunday…(to follow)
In reply to G4OBK:
No problems whatsoever with not making a complete QSO on Titterstone Clee Hill, you can’t win them all, it would be pretty boring if we did.
It sounds like Judy and yourself had a real good time in the Welsh Borders. Thanks for the other summits Phil.
Sunday 20th July G/WB-024 Aconbury Hill QRV 1126z-1229z
FT-817 & Tekkion MP3300 LiPO Battery 5w linked dipole 60m/40m/30m on 7m pole, Palm paddle key.
The main reason we were in Welsh Borders was to attend the Chiltern DX Club AGM and summer social at the QTH of G3NUG near Ludlow on the Saturday, and to watch the Eagles tribute band Talon on Saturday night. On Sunday we were ready for a walk and Aconbury Hill was in reach of the hotel via some public rights of way. No way I could carry the big rig and battery that distance, so QRP it was. We reached the trig in the midst of woodland on time and thankfully Roy G4SSH was in between special event duties at GB2SSF and phoned me to say he could do me the honour of spotting. First in the log at 59+ was Mike GW0DSP - condx were perfect compared to when we tried to work on WB-004 on Thursday. I worked the usual suspects and finished off with an S2S with Rob G4RQJ/P on NP-031 - very nice. 40m next and the first contact another S2S with Frank DL6UNF/P on SX-046. Norby DL/LX1NO/P was also banging away 599+ on 7032 and it was impossible to establish any contacts on 7033/34 myself despite CQ calls for 10 minutes, so I bade my time and worked Norby once the pile of callers became smaller. Things got going a bit for me after that on 7033 but it showed what a difference the low power makes, particulary on a busy 40m band at the weekends. Final band was 30m and I just dropped straight onto Norby again on 10118 for the first contact - we both QSY’d at about the same time. I managed another good handful of QSOs but the usual UK stations on 30m and 40m were within the dead zone, apart from GI0RQK on 40m CW.
Total contacts: 33 - 60Mx14, 40Mx10, 30Mx9 including 3xS2S QSOs, no DX to speak of worth a mention. We had lunch, and continued our walk thinking that we could maybe do WB-022 Seager Hill, but by the time we got back to Holme Lacy we decided to take a rest. Thanks to Roy SSH again and Mike DSP for the spotting and information support.
WB-005 Pole Bank was next on Monday on our way home…(to follow)
Monday 21st July G/WB-005 Long Mynd - Pole Bank QRV 1057z-1207z
FT-857 & 7AH LA Gel battery 50w and linked dipole 60m/40m/30m (end fed on 80m) on 7m pole.
Super SOTA weather today, we drove up from Hereford and parked on the rough surface car park at SO413937. I thought that would be safer, there were a few folks about, a couple parked up just setting off for their walk and a chap readying a radio controlled glider. This is another easy WB 2 pointer, only 1Km walk and minimal ascent. The frightening part is driving to the spot from Church Stretton. The road is more akin to a minor road on an alpine mountain pass, with sheer vertical drops of 400 feet down to Carding Mill Valley. After touching the trig on WB-005 we noticed a wooden fence post about 100m north and about 5m below the hilltop. Well within the activation zone and the perfect place to attach the SOTA Pole to with two tyewraps. We were soon QRV (thanks to Roy G4SSH spotting) and I worked Roy on 80m with a 579/339 exchange, I had no further callers but 15 mins later I worked Roy again on 40m with a 599/599 exchange. So straight to 60m and G8ADD was first up - thanks to Brian for later assistance with spotting. A move to 40m CW brought a decent run and an S2S with Jean-Louis F5ANJ/P on AM-144 and later Fritz F/HB9CSA/P (also on his hols?) S2S with VO-074. Things were pretty slow and 30m was also in poor shape. Only 4 QSOs there in 15 minutes. Back to 60m which pulled Geoff G4CPA and then nothing, so a last burst on 40m SSB/CW and the skip had shortened, allowing mixed mode QSOs with G, GJ, DL, F, 9A and ON. A few callers had problems hearing me and did not go into the log. At 1121z on 40m CW with few callers I called Fritz HB9RE and a station came back and gave me 339, this was not Fritz’s fist, but whoever it was thought they were in my log and sent TU and was gone. I called the op again twice but he did not come back to me, whoever is not in log. Fritz then called again and we exchanged 599/559. Towards the end I heard ??7UL - this must have been Ferenc HA7UL - sadly an incomplete 40m QSO, sorry that we didn’t quite make it this time OM.
Totals Contacts 53 - 80Mx1, 60Mx6, 40MCWx34 including 2 S2S QSOs, 40MSSBx8, 30Mx4. Best DX for rarity value on 40m SSB/CW was with GJ7DNI. Not a SOTA chaser as far as I am aware.
It was time to pack up and head for a cafe in Church Stretton before the drive home to North Yorkshire via Stoke on Trent to purchase pottery at a factory shop, a round trip of 580 miles and a most enjoyable weekend break enhanced by SOTA. Thank to all who helped with spotting and the chasers for all the QSOs.
In reply to G4OBK:
Very interesting reports Phil. You have weathered the sights and sounds of Titterstone Clee, probably (like me) with a personal pledge never to return! The L band radar is quite an impressive QRM machine and the scenery is not worthy of being included in a picture book. Fortunately a host of much more pleasurable summits await your return.
In reply to G4OIG:
Its so odd - I know that plenty of people don’t like WB-004 Titterstone Clee. Strangely, it is one of my favourites. Its also the closest one to my home QTH, about 8 miles away by road. Geoff M3SFN and myself often go up there to fiddle around with radios, normally whenever a new antenna has been lashed together.
I’ve seen it in some cracking states - when we did our WB in 4 days thing we activated it at night under a moonlit sky with just the faintest smattering of snow down and it looked stunning. I’ve also seen it looking lovely on calm sunny summer evenings, with the views out towards WB-002 draped with long shadows.
Radio-wise, I can’t say I’ve ever had a problem(!). I have used my FT-817, FT-290, VX-6 and Dad’s VX-170, all with no problems. Its most odd, as I have heard several people groan about QRM up there - I can’t understand why I always “drop lucky”.
You can see the ridge of the Clees from miles around - when I spend time away from the village, I always feel like I’m home again once I’ve seen them. Of all the views I have seen, the view towards WB-002 and WB-004 from the churchyard in our village is my favourite.
Phil, I’m glad your having a good time in WB - its a cracking part of the world. Gerald is right - you’ve got some lovely tops yet to do.