I have just returned from a most enjoyable holiday in the Val de Loire. There weren’t any nearby SOTA hills but I was able to set up my link dipole at the house I was staying at. At home the noise level on 40M is at least S5 and often much higher than that. Here in this small french village the S meter didn’t move at all. This made chasing on 40M and 30M so much easier. It was good to work Roger, F5LKW from various high summits in the National Park of Mercantour on 30M in the early mornings. Roger’s exploits are most impressive !
The XYL wanted to visit Rochefort-en-Terre on the way back home, a very pretty village with an unusually high population of various artisans and artists. Anyway I noted that the route from Rochefort-en-Terre to Calais passed close to Foret de Paimpont, F/NO-024 with only a minor deviation off the N24 required. So this activation was planned in. I also noted that it had only been activated once before by F6DYA back in 2008.
The Foret de Paimpont is a large dense forest of mainly oak and beech trees and is privately owned. However, it is opened up to walkers from March to September. The legends and myths of King Arthur and Merlin are much more popular in this region than in the UK. So in the Foret de Paimpont you will discover Merlin’s Tomb, The Round Table and the Fountain of Life amongst others. However, I was only interested in locating the summit! The walk in to the summit was a very easy 30 mins down a well defined road off the D40. I have left some tips on the F/NO-024 summit page if anyone else is interested in activating this summit. The summit is very flat-topped and indeed where I parked up was already well within the activation zone. About 2/3rds in there was a sudden very heavy downpour that forced me to shelter in the dense forest for about 20 mins after which it cleared up and blue sky returned. I failed to find the summit itself. According to the map it is just off to the left of the road I walked down just before a right fork. I could discern no distinguishing feature so I am not convinced it is marked. About 10M back from the right fork there was a clearing off to the right where felled logs had been piled up. This clearing was just right for setting up my 60/40/30M link dipole. The ground was very wet from the recent downpour so I set the FT857 up on top of the pile of logs, although this did mean I operated whilst standing up! A short CQ SOTA on 7.032 produced the usual wall of sound from goodness knows how many Chasers calling at the same time, all about the same strength. It took me a while to pick out a sufficient part of a callsign so it was a slow start. Anyway I managed to work about 25 Chasers, thanks for your patience guys. I then switched to 40M SSB and I found Barry, MW0IML on 7.118 activating GW/NW-053 so we had a nice S2S chat, although there was quite a bit of QRM. I then QSY’d a bit HF and called CQ SOTA but only got a few contacts. I was about to QSY to 30M but the rain started again and looking at my XYL we decided to sadly QRT. Nickie has accompanied me on all but one of my activations, I appreciate her support and help in setting up the /P station.
It was a bit frustrating on this activation not to have use of my 3G phone. It certainly would have worked but I was not going to pay the excessive 3G Eu data roaming charges. Hopefully in the not too distant future prices will drop to sensible levels. This meant I could not self spot but also I couldn’t check who else was activating at the same time. When I checked later I see that I could have had a couple of nice S2S contacts on 40M CW, d’oh!
Anyway thanks to all chasers who contacted me, a most enjoyable activation apart from the rain.
73s Andrew, G4AFI