I will soon be visiting London with family and have been looking at Leith Hill as perhaps my best chance to activate a summit while in England. If that’s true, I wonder how likely it is that 2m FM alone would be sufficient for a successful activation. I will be packing light for the trip and will not have a car, so my regular SOTA setup will be left at home. I might pack a 17m Rock-Mite ][ and dipole if 2m is questionable. I’ve also considered the QDX but do not wish to tempt fate.
Hi Scott, 2m FM from G/SE summits can be a struggle at times, although if you alert (or post something here) far enough in advance you might get enough chasers in the area to listen out for you. This is my local summit, so I would definitely be happy to be on standby if it’s a day and and time that I’m not otherwise engaged. I would say it’s a good idea to take a backup band if you can. Just be warned that this is a popular summit with walkers, families etc., so good to avoid peak times if you can.
Best of luck!
Like Matthew I think you might struggle for a 2m FM activation. Looking at SOTLAS there has only been 2 such activations so far this year … and that looks like a dual activation by 2 operators at the same time (same day, same chasers listed). They got the minimum 4 QSOs. Apart from that there is only 1 other 2m FM chase in the year and that was during a multi-band/multi-mode activation.
I have heard operators on Leith Hill occasionally but not as SOTA activations.
As Matthew says if you post an alert/message I’ll listen out for you if I can. There are also a few 2m repeaters that should be in range (GB3XP is my local one) so you could try a call on one to ‘drum up business’ and QSY to complete the SOTA QSO.
Best of luck and enjoy your trip.
London isn’t great for SOTA!!
I recently activated nearby G/SE-005 Botley Hill and really struggled to activate the summit on 2m FM alone so resorted to switching to 20m SSB with a very late alert/spot and, overall, I managed to get only 6 QSOs in 50mins before the rain started! Looking back, I’m glad I brought along HF as back up otherwise it would have been a wasted journey. Btw, Botley Hill isn’t a ‘pretty’ summit either as it has a water tower and also has other comms masts to compete against.
If you don’t have a car and will be using public transport (trains?) then another one to consider is to the north of London, i.e. G/CE-005 Wendover Woods - this is a country park but not a POTA site.
Slightly further north is the town of Bletchley which has Bletchley Park - the home of WWII signals intercepting. This park is a POTA site G-0507 but not a SOTA. The park also contains the National Radio Centre: Find out whatï¿½s in the NRC - Radio Society of Great Britain
Hope this info helps making your mind up!
73, Lea M0XPO
Scott, I can’t comment on whether you’ll be successful on 2m from G/SE-002. But I’m pretty sure if you were to ask if anybody was prepared to meet you there with their equipment so you could bag a G summit you will get some offers.
Of course, bagging the summit means one contact. No points until four, but who needs that one point?
If you are here for Sunday 4 December there is an RSGB VHF contest between 1000 - 1400 so there should be more people on the air then. From my limited experience of using 2m in that region, weekends should be better and don’t be shy about trying to interupt someone else’s QSO if they are just rag-chewing.
We bagged ourselves a picnic table and blatantly bungeed a 6 m telescopic pole to the side to support a flowerpot dipole. Nobody asked what we were doing
4 contacts on 2m was a struggle, 1 operator said it was the first time he’d ever heard anyone on 2 m.
Another tactic is to ask on a repeater if anyone is listening and if they want to try simplex. You don’t have to say you’re doing SOTA, just testing your radio.
What radio are you thinking of bringing? If it has 70 cm that might get you another contact (just be aware of the 100 km of Charing Cross restriction, but it shouldn’t affect FM simplex).
I got a lift to the car park on the hill from a friend. I was looking at either train + hike or train + bus. Some buses only seemed to run on certain days of the week.
Other summits you can get to from London without a car include Crowborough (G/SE-007, some people hate this one with a passion) and Botley Hill (G/SE-005, get the train to Oxted and walk up). I found these easier to activate on 2 m FM than Leith Hill.
You haven’t mentioned whether you intend to activate at the weekend or not.
In case you’re considering Wendover Woods G/CE-005, I use to live a mile or two away and found it hard to get four 2m FM contacts during the week. You will need a better antenna for your HT than the stock rubber duck. I use a Diamond RH-770 half-wave telescopic whip. There are a number of 2m FM repeaters in range and – if you’re struggling to get contacts - you could always make requests there for simplex QSOs for those who can hear you on input. Be aware, UK/EU repeater offsets are different from in USA.
Re public transport, there are regular trains (Chiltern Railways) that run from Marylebone station (on the London Underground) to Wendover on the Aylesbury line, taking about 50 minutes.
It would be a long walk-in from Wendover station to the summit. I suggest you get a taxi – there is [or was] a Taxi office at the station, and arrange a pick-up time for a return taxi back to the station.
The [lat, long] grid reference is close to the new visitor centre. If the taxi drops you there, you have a very short walk to the marker stone. It’s surrounded by trees (and probably visitors) and hasn’t a great VHF take-off.
EDIT UPDATE: corrected typo in summit ref
Fortunately, the hill is very flat and G/CE-005 has a large activation zone. You could walk about 15 minutes north following the public footpath (green dashes) to the trig point in a grassy field at Aston Hill. It has a better VHF take-off and will be much less busy than near the visitor centre.
Crown copyright, Ordnance Survey 2022
There’s loads of space in that field for any HF antenna.
I seem to recall that there was an issue a while back with the owner of the field not wanting radio operation in the field. An HF set up might be a problem, but of course it’s easy to run HF in the woods. I think a 2m handheld or backpack antenna set up at the trig would be sufficiently low key to avoid attracting attention.
What about Detling Hill G/SE-013 which even has picnic benches?
Another way of getting 2m and 70cm FM contacts would be to try for a FMAC night (1st Tue or 2nd Tue of the month) the catch is it runs from 19:00 to 19:55 local so at this time of the year you are in the dark. The logs show about 18 stations in IO91 so many should be reachable from G/SE summits.
Until about 10 years ago I lived in Redhill (20 miles S London) and used G/SE-006 as one of my contest sites hence the high number of 70cm QSOs from the summit. A summer’s evening was quite pleasant.
I asked at the campsite next door if it was OK to set up in the field with the trig and they said it’s not their field and the farmer doesn’t like people doing it without asking.
The camp site owners then let me use one of their empty fields instead
You could sit in the woods, on the edge of the field and bungee the antenna to the fence.
EDIT UPDATE: corrected typo in summit ref
I’ve activated many times from the G/CE-005 trig-point field with long-wire HF antennas (until I moved up north 3 years ago) without a problem. Hearing that wouldn’t put me off doing HF there again.
In recent years I’ve had a few landowners and a tenant farmer ask me what I was doing whilst setting up for SOTA and, not only content with my explanation [i.e. radio, only an hour or so, nothing left behind] and established that I’m not partying, sheep-rustling, fly-tipping, stealing or damaging property, etc, also get into conversation about the rural scene. Maybe G/LD landowners are more friendly than G/CE ones.
I assume you mean G/CE-005, not LD?
Yes I did. Sorry for typo. I’ve re-edited my posts to minimise confusion.
I have activated this summit a couple of times. I did it once using only 2m FM. Nice easy walk. Picnic bench to sit on & a good take-off BUT as others have said, the south of England is a bit of a blackspot for 2m FM activity, despite the close proximity to London & other densely populated areas.
It’s possible if you pick your time & day carefully but you will need a bit of luck on your side. Don’t expect anything more than to scrape through the activation with 4-5 contacts!
Given that you will be visiting & a return trip to the summit for a second attempt if 2m fails is probably not an option, I personally would take HF as the safe option if at all possible.
You mention 17m. This is possible (& often used for SOTA) but if you are looking for a good number of contacts then 20m & 40m are the bands that always seem to get me the most contacts.
Note that the 40m band is narrower here in the UK than what you are used to (between 7.000-7.200, I believe you can go up to 7.300 in the USA). As such 40m can get very packed, so QRM can be a big issue.
If I could only carry one band, I would go with 20m & aim to activate between 10am & 1pm (which is when most of the SOTA activity seems to take place over here).
When is your visit?
As others have already suggested, it may be worth teaming up with somebody for a joint activation. It would certainly save you from having to transport equipment & you could probably also get a lift if needed.
That particular summit is about 2 hours drive from me but (assuming that it falls on my days off work) I would be more than happy to make the trip & do a joint SOTA activation on Leith Hill to help out a visitor.
I’d recomment 30m. It’s my main band at the moment. If you activate at the weekend then it will be much easier on 30m if there’s a big contest on.
Maybe. It’s not a band that I use very often so can’t really comment on how much SOTA activity is on 30m.
I’m not a CW op & there’s no SSB on 30m, so unless I’m activating on FT8 it’s not really much use to me.
For a CW op it might be a good option?
Fair point. I normally activate mid-week, so it’s not normally a problem for me. If there’s a contest then I’ll often fall back on the WARC bands (ie 17m).
I operate 99.99% CW on HF so it didn’t even occur to me that it would be no good for a non-CW operator.