Tuesday 20th February 2018 - The Shropshire 5 (Even Though 1 Of Them Isn’t In Shropshire)
This sequence of hills is a popular outing within the seasonal bonus period. Reasonably accessible hills, walks all either easy or at least straightforward, and the bonus amounting to a massive 150%, magnifying the ten points to a bumper 25.
I loaded the postcodes into the car satnav the previous night, so I was ready to go first thing. I was away by 0520 UTC, and less than half-an-hour later, having breakfast at McDonald’s in Congleton. But that wasn’t the dreadful start to the day, as uninspiring as it was.
No, that came on the A442 at Halesfield, near Telford. I was in a queue at a roundabout when BANG - I got smacked in the rear by a white Ford Mondeo. I was gutted - my Dacia Duster is barely 18 months old, and thus far unblemished. Anyway, it looks like only the rear panel of the bodywork was cracked, so no seriously mechanical damage. Plus, I wasn’t injured. Better still, the other driver admitted liability fully and immediately and got straight onto her insurance company, who started making arrangements for my vehicle repair and courtesy car there and then. So it really could have been a whole lot worse - something I kept reminding myself of throughout the day.
Back on the road, I made my way to Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004. For this one, I’d put an extra postcode into the satnav route, in order to ensure that I approached from the A4117 to the south, and not the more direct but heavily potholed lane from the west. For as much as I could, I’d intended not carrying a rucksack for the day’s activations, just taking handheld in pocket. I figured that there would be plenty of breaks and opportunities to eat and drink.
The handheld-only strategy was fine for this first summit - as indeed it was for the rest through the day - and I made six QSOs - four on 2m FM and two on 2m C4FM. I wasn’t bothered about hanging around too long anyway - for reasons of the five summit schedule, the charge level in the handheld (even though it would be recharging in the car between each summit), but moreover the icy wind, which added a genuinely bitter quality to the cold.
Next up was Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002. I parked by the grit bin at the bottom of the steep, straight Shropshire Way approach to the summit.
For this one, I did chuck on the rucksack. I wanted to have FT-817 and HF antenna in case the recently reported commercial mast QRM proved as disruptive as described. It would be the only summit of the day for which I wore a pack.
The FT70DE worked out just fine. Seven QSOs, four on 2m FM and three on 2m C4FM.
The next summit was Long Mynd-Pole Bank G/WB-005. The easiest walk of the day, but the drive that I don’t much care for. Driving up the Burway is a proper white-knuckle ride of car journeys! I parked just west of the summit and used the easy approach up the wide track.
Just four QSOs from this one, three on 2m C4FM and one on 2m FM. The drive down to Bridges from here is the least traumatising of the three roads on/off the Mynd, but still demands proper concentration in a couple of places.
So next was Stiperstones G/WB-003 from the main car park. This one always seems to be a bit more demanding than expected, possibly linked to being the fourth summit of a day.
As usual, I didn’t climb to the trig point, but used the rocks beneath it to shelter me (and my microphone) from the prevailing wind.
QSOs on this one were:
2m FM: 4
2m C4FM: 2
70cm FM: 1
70cm C4FM: 1
Finally, it was over the border into Wales, and Corndon Hill GW/MW-013. The trekking poles were utilised for the first time today as I anticipated the steep slog up Corndon. Views were magnificent from the summit, and it was a visually beautiful afternoon. Annoyingly, I had left my phone in the car, so was unable to take summit photos!
Two QSOs on C4FM meant that I had made Fusion contacts from every one of the five summits on the day. These were joined by four QSOs on 2m analogue FM.
I was back at the car around 5pm, and in perfect time to get up the A483 and M53 to Birkenhead for that night’s top-of-the-table football fixture with Tranmere Rovers hosting my team, Macclesfield Town. It was a brilliant match, with Macc running out 4-1 winners to extend the lead in the race for the title.
So an excellent end to a largely good day, that had started off rather unfortunately.