Jimmy was back at Barnswood scout camp for his Explorer scouts’ Christmas Camp over the weekend. I knew I had to pick him up from there at 3pm on Sunday 13th December 2009, so when Sean M0GIA telephoned to say he was going up Gun G/SP-013, the afternoon’s plans all clicked into place.
After the essential pre-Christmas card/gift exchange at relatives in Flash, I then dropped back across the Staffordshire Moorlands to the Gun parking spot, between Meerbrook and Rushton Spencer. Sean was on his way, with Greg 2E0RXX.
Immediately over the stile, Sean started to gear up with his HF pedestrian mobile system, so he was left lagging behind. Greg pushed onto the summit to set his own HF multiband antenna up, with Liam close behind and then me.
A biting cold wind had me carefully selecting a relatively sheltered spot just off the summit to pitch the small tent. Once that was done, in crawled Liam to commence his afternoon’s Nintendo DS activities, while I set up the 80m dipole for the first time in ages. Although it was Gun, and they weren’t needed for the walk, I talk a pair of Leki poles with me, specifically to use to support the ends of the dipole legs slightly higher off the ground. I have found that this makes dramatic differences to the SWR indication.
Everything was set up and ready to go - but it was nearly 3pm. So I had to descend, drive down a couple of lanes and pick Jimmy up from Barnswood. Then drive back up to the parking area again, and ascend Gun for a second time.
Jimmy brought his 2m handheld with him and soon made a contact on 2m FM. But only one. I then worked a good number with strong signals on 80m CW, while Jimmy crawled into the tent to join Liam and I away from the biting cold of the December air.
After working down the pile-up on 3.549MHz CW, I announced (in CW) a QSY to 3.660MHz SSB. The last station I worked on CW - Fritz DL4FDM - kindly replied back acknowledging the QSY and saying that he would spot. This was much appreciated.
Unfortunately, that part of the band was very congested, so I was forced to find a clearer area around 3.639MHz SSB and self-spot anyway. In haste, I neglected to change the default ‘1’ to a ‘3’ on my Spotlite, but the chasers knew that they were talking to Jimmy, and indeed Martyn M1MAJ posted the correct spot - thank you.
The frequency came alive, and Jimmy had a big pile-up to work through. I left him to it, and exited the tent to see how Greg 2E0RXX/P and Sean M0GIA/P were getting on. They weren’t. Sean had made two QSOs on 20m SSB including one to Italy, while Greg had managed a big fat zero on a variety of HF bands.
Sean began to descend, while I spotted Greg on 7.055MHz SSB. Still his calls were not answered. Jimmy’s ongoing pile-up suggested that plenty of chasers were monitoring SOTAwatch at the time, so I wondered about the effectiveness of Greg’s antenna system. Jimmy completed working down his frequency, so then we were all packing away, and following Sean down the boggy path to the cars.
Sean and Greg had an oncoming deadline to hit, so the customary pub stop at the Harrington Arms in Gawsworth was attended just by Liam, Jimmy and myself. The Robbies Old Scrooge was lovely (even though I partook in far too much of it two nights previously), and we all took advantage of the pub’s fine range of proper pork scratchings and Burts chips.
It was very pleasant to be back on 80m again, and I might well repeat that from the Lakes next week.
73, and thanks for the contacts,