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Sussex Trilogy


#1

Waking up on Tuesday morning, it seemed like the Met Office had got their forecast right for once! There was a definite feel of spring in the air, with a hazy sunshine and a promise of 18C by afternoon. What a perfect day for some spontaneous SOTA activity. So, the car was quickly loaded and it was off to …

G/SE-011 Wilmington Hill. Despite the fine weather, the parking spot just south of the village was deserted, so I had my pick of the less-muddy patches. I set off along the South Downs Way, passing just one horse rider on the path. The scene was idyllic, like a fond memory from childhood, with a slight mist cloaking the villages at the foot of the scarp. High above the skylarks were singing, and periodically birds of prey could be seen going about their business. Just above the water-pumping station on Windover Hill, a field of cows and their young calves seemed unmoved by my presence, whilst further up, on the flat summit, there were hundreds of sheep and lambs happily grazing amongst the wild flowers. Having set up the station, I called CQ on 7032.5. It was slow going at first, but eventually I had seven stations in the log. With no more callers I tried 3561 and 10117 without success, followed by a few calls on 5398.5 SSB. Whether the band was open or not, I never did establish. Just as I finished, and was packing things away, a group of about forty German teenagers straggled past, the only signs of human activity I had seen since the ascent.

By the time I was back at the car, the clock was showing midday, and I decided it was time for an early lunch. Having been rather disappointed with those local eateries I had previously tried, I looked for somewhere new. As I drove along the A27 I spotted a sign to the “Sussex Ox”. Following the narrow, winding road brought me into the picturesque hamlet of Milton Street, and to a pleasant country pub. A varied menu of home-cooked local produce, and a relaxing atmosphere made this a very enjoyable lunch, then it was onwards to …

G/SE-010 Firle Beacon. In contrast to the deserted Wilmington Hill, Firle was a hive of activity. It seems that conditions were ideal for hang-gliding and parascending, and the small car park was packed. Fortunately I found a suitable, if rather muddy, spot to park, and I set off towards the summit. Leaving the crowds behind I found myself, once again, walking through flocks of sheep and lambs that scattered at my approach. However, once set up and sitting on the grass, the curiosity of all young animals got the better of the older lambs, and I was surrounded by interested spectators, watching my every move and edging ever closer. Meanwhile, on the radio, 7032.5 seemed a little livelier than before, yielding nine contacts including an s2s with Rainer DL2RVL/P on DM/ND-008. Once again, a few calls on 3561 produced just silence, but 10117.5 returned a 599+ contact with non-SOTA station G3AGF, literally line-of-sight from me in Seaford. As soon as I stood up to pack the gear away, my woolly friends departed to a safe distance. Then it was back to the car once more, and on, by a roundabout route due to road closures, to …

G/SE-014 Cliffe Hill. Ascending from the east (Glyndebourne) side, I was, once again, alone in the countryside. This time there was not even any livestock to keep me company, other than a few rabbits scampering about. Even the golf course on the summit was deserted, so I set up at the very edge of the Access Land next to a convenient fence. This time 7032.5 produced just five QSOs, including an s2s with Pat F5MQW/P (yes, the real one!) on F/AM-641. I didn’t even try any other bands from this hill, deciding that enough was enough, and headed for home.

My thanks to all those who contacted me, and to HB9BYZ for spotting me on SOTAwatch from Wilmington.

Next week, I’ll be on the Isle of Wight, but with no access to SOTAwatch, and no timetable for the inevitable two activations. Keep listening!

73 de Les, G3VQO