Once again I realised I had a meeting in the vicinity of a SOTA summit, namely Cleeve Hill G/CE-001. Knowing that the weather was going to be good, I put the rucksack with the radio gear in the back of the car just in case I could snatch a lunch hour activation after the meeting.
Driving out of Aylesbury Vale and up onto the Cotswolds, the smell of newly mown hay was almost overpowering. A wonderful smell of summer, made even more intense by the warm weather. It was already 24C at 0800 utc.
I soon reached the location of my meeting and was very grateful to realise it was just at the bottom of Cleeve Hill in Prestbury. By the time 1200 utc came around I had finished my business and was driving up the hill past the rather imposing (odd?) looking buildings of GCHQ… say no more.
The G3CWI TomTom POI file just about got me to the parking spot although it did come up a couple of hundred meters short. I think part of the reason was that the TomTom thought the road had run out although it was just a little further to the parking spot next to the transmitters.
Wondering if I could do a VHF activation, I quickly checked the VX5 handy fearing that the nearby transmitters would swamp it. My worst fears were confirmed. It was useless so I put it back in the rucksack never to be seen again.
Next I went though my usual “superman” routine of changing out of the suit. Unfortunately I discovered that my plan had come unravelled. Although I had brought my shorts, T shirt and cap… I had completely forgotten to pack my walking shoes or sandals. So… not wanting to trudge around in bare feet (although it was seriously considered) I wore my black “work shoes”. It looked a little odd but at least I could walk more quickly!
I went through the gate and turned right following the wall up to the trig point and although I could have made use of the huge activation zone; I chose to stay near the trig. I set up the 17m long wire and PFR-3 and started calling on 7.032.
It took some time before EI2CL replied but at last things were rolling. A further 6 stations from around Europe followed in slow succession. After things dried up on 40m, a quick QSY to 30m brought nothing so I called it a day.
I was just packing up when a twitcher (a man with binoculars and bird spotting guide) happened along and we got talking. He was familiar with the Munroes but Marilyns were a new concept to him. He was quite surprised by the distances covered with my QSO’s and, after a short introduction to propagation theory; he seemed satisfied and went on his way.
In the meantime, during my conversation with the twitcher, another figure strode up to the trig and asked if I was Marc. Yes I replied and then quickly realised it was Frank G3RMD who I had just worked on 40m at his home QTH nearby. He had taken the trouble to come up and say hello. It was a very welcome meeting that finally allowed me to put a face to a call sign. We had a good chat about radio, SOTA and all things related to mountains as I packed up and we walked back to where our cars were parked.
After saying goodbye to Frank and changing back into my suit, I was soon on my way with the air-conditioning full blast as it was now 30C outside, even at 300m. I realised how welcome the brisk breeze had been blowing across the summit.
Thanks to all 7 callers in 6 DXCC’s and especially to Mike EI2CL for the spot and Frank G3RMD for taking the time to come up and meet me.
73 Marc G0AZS