Activation Report: Common Hill SS-174

This one needed doing after we ran out time the other day on Cairn Table. The wx forecast was for quite heavy rain to sweep across during lunchtime and early afternoon so we decided to whizz up reasonably early for me.

Disaster! Sotawatch was down. I told Brian Sotawatch was down so we should stay in and have a big fry-up for breakfast. After he’d finished clipping me around the ears I agreed we’d go out anyway. We decided we call up Steve GW7AAV and ask him to spot us/alert for us as soon as Sotawatch came back to life.

We parked at the carpark at NS820310 and set off up the very good track that leads to the windfarm. As we past the small compound just after the cattlegrid a 32ton tipper rolled past and made a huge amount of noise tipping out some rock or gravel. We didn’t think anything more of this. Just as the tipping finished I rang Steve and told him the plan. He placed an alert as Sotawatch had just come back online. Job done!

The climb is straightforward. Follow the track right to the summit although it’s quite some walk before you get to see the wind turbines. It isn’t really steep at any point and the whole distance from carpark to summit is around 2.6miles. The wind was strong near the carpark and got stronger as we got higher. The sky got greyer too. Walking past wind turbines is strange for the 1st time. These old ones are quite small and as we were to find out later, are quite noisy. The blades were fair whizzing round in the stong wind and the first one you pass is discomforting till you appreciate the blade doesn’t come low enough to hit you. (cf. Will Hay, windmills and Oh! Mr. Porter).

The path wanders amongst the turbines and finally at the top we could see Cairn Table. Brian’s feet started shaking when he saw it as they didn’t want to get wet again! We found a sheltered spot just off the track and set up. By now the odd spot of rain was falling, not much but with the wind they stung a bit when they hit flesh. It took just a few minutes to setup as the pair of us were getting practiced by now and during a tune up/check session when I was just repositioning one of the dipole legs Steve GW7AAV recognised the “whaaaaaaalo” and whistle and called in swiftly followed by Mike GW0DSP.

We worked them and only a few others. Conditions seemed OK but I think with Sotawatch having been down there were less people actually listening to their rigs. We worked 9 or 10 and after calling CQ several times and not getting any takers and with the rain now falling quite heavily we decided to cut and run. We just about finished packing away everything but the fishing rod which was still guyed in place when a Land Rover pulled up. The two guys inside were quite interested in SOTA and wanted to know “how far” and “how many”. After that the driver went on to explain about the up and coming construction work. I’ve put a separate bull up on the access to this site. Best of all he then offered us a lift down. He was off to check something and said he’d be back in a few minutes. Now I don’t mind walking up and down hills but in the howling wind and belting rain then I’ll take a ride in a Land Rover anytime.

We finished packing up and were ready for our lift. It did mean that we didn’t get as much time to photograph everything and I missed getting the trig point number and checking its condition. Yes, I know I’m sad. 5 minutes turned to 10 so we started walking down just for the Land Rover to turn up. Well we didn’t need asking again if we wanted a lift! The driver (I think he was the site foreman) told us about the up and coming work and that a fairly significant amount of fresh tree planting was to take place. In no time we were at the bottom and what a change in 2hours. The compound was completely different with all sorts of 4x4, tracked vehicles, JCBs etc. etc. having arrived. You wouldn’t credit the change in such a short period. We thanked our chauffeur and walked 100m back to the car.

So apologies for the swift activation but we didn’t fancy a soaking. More important is that I have a significant degree of respect for all those guys who used to activate before Sotawatch came along. You don’t appreciate the amazing effect it has till it’s broken. Respect guys!

Distance walked:2.6miles, total ascent:253m/830ft, distance driven: 61miles

Andy MM0FMF (with Brian GM4ZRP)