I decided to activate G/SE-004 Butser Hill whilst I was staying in Basingstoke, a couple of hundred miles south of my home QTH, Warrington. It looked pretty simple to do, I had a few hours free yesterday morning before work and a company hire car at my disposal. I got up at 0730(L), got organised, had a nice breakfast at the hotel and set off for the 50 min journey to Butser Hill. It was a little overcast and I was a bit nervous about meeting the Ranger and being told to b@*ger off. I arrived at the car park to find the summit covered in fog. My luck was in, I thought, no Ranger will see me now. The feeling of luck subsided promptly after the pay & display ate my first quid. I fed it another to no avail. I thumped it and got my quid back, and again for the second which, was duly returned to me. So who wouldn’t, I thumped it again and got another one!!
I parked my car with a note in the window explaining the lack of a ticket, got my rucksack on and off I went. It is only a short stroll to the radio mast which I couldn’t see due to the fog and then it was a compass bearing for a couple of hundred metres to find the trig. As I approached it, I found a middle aged couple ‘canoodling’ in the fog. What should I do? Go back to my hotel and surrender the activation. Nope! plenty of time for more ‘canoodling’ after I had gone. “hmmm” got their startled attention and I set up my FT-857 and dipole at the trig. I explained what I was doing and proceeded to demonstrate, only to find the SWR thru the roof. With no tools, I packed up, returned to the car. Not to be beaten, I dug out my laptop and mobile broadband and Googled the address of Nevada Radio in Portsmouth. Only 10 miles away, they were very helpful and relieved me of the few bob required to get me back on the air. The £1 from the car park? Easy come easy go eh. Foot to the floor, back I went to the car park at Butser Hill. Now the fog had started to clear . I made my way back to the trig, just as it started to rain. My friends had gone and I was on my own. I set up quickly, an eye out for the Ranger as the rain started to chuck it down. I called CQ Sota several times to no avail and then a Mobile station came back to my call. The water running down my neck, I QSY’d to 145.525, exchanged signal reports, got his name, and my first point. He asked “what is SOTA” and so I explained. “Ah” he said, “not many hills round here.” After a struggle I got a few more, including 2 stations on the Isle of White. I finished up drenched, with 10 QSO’s in total, none of them ever having heard of SOTA and managed to get back in time to start work. So - what’s the point? Well, I got a point, got free parking and a wash. What more could you want?