16th April - France and Belgium

My day was primarily intended as a shopping trip, with SOTA very much as an afterthought, so there was no definite schedule. In fact, with so many elements of the journey prone to delay or interruption, not least because of those notorious April showers, I decided to make no prior announcement on SOTAwatch as any times would have been nothing more than a guess.

In the event, everything went smoothly. I left home at 0430, and headed off the Folkestone for the Shuttle. There were a couple of heavy showers en-route, but I arrived in plenty of time to board the 0620 departure. Thirty-five minutes later I was enjoying a croissant and espresso, before joining the autoroute south to Boulogne. The hypermarket had barely opened its doors when I pulled into the car park, so there were few customers to impede my trolley. Less than an hour later, and several hundred Euros lighter, I set off again, this time on the Route Nationale south towards Samer. From there it is just a couple of miles along pleasant country lanes to …

F/NO-027 Mont des Rêveleux. In glorious spring sunshine I set up at my usual spot alongside a small wood. 7032 was occupied, so I moved a little higher in frequency and called CQ. Almost immediately I was found by OK1KT who kindly spotted me on SOTA watch. Eighteen QSOs and half-an-hour later the stream of callers eventually dried up. It seems that my signals had been passing over the heads of most UK chasers, although I did manage two Scottish contacts, and I was pleasantly surprised to encounter so many Czech and Slovak chasers. So, back in the car and onwards for the short journey to …

F/NO-026 Mont Le Communale. This is a large flat summit, and it is difficult to identify where the actual highest point is. Just when you think you’ve found it, a glance around convinces you there is somewhere a little higher just over there! There is, however, no doubt that there are plenty of suitable activation spots well inside the activation zone. My last visit had been on a weekend, and I had found a small woodland alongside a quiet track. On a weekday this quiet track becomes an access route for large truck-trailer combinations to access some sort of industrial site, so I decided to move to the other side of the summit road to a grassy area some 100m from where I had parked the car – with all those goodies on-board, I wanted to keep an eye on it! Despite having announced several times at the previous summit that the next one would be in forty-five minutes, and despite being bang on schedule, I suspect that the short interval, and the one-digit difference in summit reference, convinced many listeners that I was still on NO-027. Whatever the reason, nobody spotted me on SOTAwatch, so, with a disappointing haul of just five stations in the log after calling for around thirty minutes, I set off again towards …

ON/ON-008 Kemmelberg. As I approached the summit, with its ossuary and memorial, it occurred to me that the date was exactly ninety years since the commencement of the First Battle of the Lys, with its heavy fighting around and atop Mont Kemmel ( The Battle of the Lys 1918, 4th Battle of Ypres ). Would the summit be crowded, or even closed off, due to memorial services? I need not have worried. Just two walkers, departing as I arrived, and a few cyclists enjoying (?) the experience of riding on pavé, were the only other visitors, making it my quietest visit ever. Much of the undergrowth and lower tree branches have been cut back around the car park, allowing a wider vista, and, incidentally, an easier erection of antennae. Whether this is just routine maintenance, or in preparation for some imminent ceremony, I don’t know, but it was a convenient event. This time my initial CQ on 7032 was met by a veritable pile-up, and it was difficult to pick individual calls out of the wall of sound. It took more than half-an-hour to log all of the callers, some twenty-five in all, before the frequency again became quiet. Once again, it seems that most UK chasers were too close for the prevailing conditions, although I did manage G4RQJ in Cumbria and GM0AXY in Edinburgh (thanks for spotting me).

All that was left to do was to pack up the station and head back to the tunnel. Another trouble-free journey, and I was home just twelve hours after leaving – an enjoyable and profitable day. Thanks to all callers.

73 de Les, G3VQO ( F/G3VQO/P and ON/G3VQO/P )

In reply to G3VQO:

It seems that my signals had been passing over the heads of most UK chasers…

Yes Les… I was at home for a change and when I saw the spot I thought it might be a “goer” but alas you were too close for me on 40. I did hear the faintest “peep” from you on the Belgian summit but not at all workable. I was wondering if you had 80 with you :slight_smile:

Thanks and glad you had a good day out.

73 Marc G0AZS

In reply to G3VQO:
Tnks for ON-008.

I listened for you on all your activations, could just detect you were there at times, and could hear callers, including Chris(FAM).Too weak to work.
Enjoy the fruits of your shopping and thanks for activating.