I was able to make a quick HF activation on Bardon Hill yesterday, Tuesday 20th Sept 2020. My time was limited as this was a stopover on a long drive home from a work visit earlier in the day. The weather was near perfect. Calm winds, clear sky and a very comfortable 17°c temperature.
As this was my first time visiting Bardon Hill, I read up on the G/CE-004 summit notes kindly posted by other activators. I took advantage of the parking suggestion of Vercor Close (postcode LE67 4QS). This is a residential cul-de-sac, but there are a few parking spots along the road that are clear from people’s driveways.
I use the excellent OS Maps app on my iPhone to display my position, heading and route to summits on their fantastic Explorer 1:25,000 scale mapping. Overall, the hike was about 25 minutes to the radio mast installation at the top of Bardon Hill.
It actually took me a little while to track down the very-nearby opening where the trig point is, as the tree cover and vegetation are quite dense. I eventually found the uneven ‘rocky’ path that does take you there.
The views are great from up here. It must be an excellent VHF and UHF site for activators although any V/UHF radios will most likely need to be high-quality ones with decent front-end band-pass filters in their receiver circuitry path, due to transmissions from that radio mast.
Bardon Hill was once a volcano, I learned. Today, one side of the summit is ‘eaten-into’ by extensive quarrying.
In the available space, I managed to squeeze in my Sotabeams 40/30/20m linked dipole held up by my 6-metre Tactical mini telescopic mast. I could only manage an east-west wire string-out, which is not ideal. My preference is a north-south run-out to give me a better signal into Europe and when conditions are good, across the Atlantic too. I had my Elecraft KX3 with me today.
Other activators have noted that they had the summit to themselves during their activations. The weather being so good on this day, I had friendly interruptions from three curious groups of walkers who had climbed to the summit for the views. When you are trying to copy CW and not speaking with a microphone, I guess you look ‘interrupt-able’ and so I had the usual curious questions asked of me. Not ideal when trying to QSO, but I did manage to activate the summit with the support of these SOTA chasers - Thank you very much to them: -
On my way back down the hill, I found two possible alternative spots that would make for good HF activation locations. The summit is great for VHF and UHF with views in all directions it seems, but on HF with the bigger antennas, more space is preferable over being at the absolute summit. That being the case, a better location for a SOTA HF activation, might be across the track, in front of the bench located at 52.7151°, -1.3172° This is near the summit and only a few metres lower in height - well within the 25m activation zone.
There is a much larger opening located at 52.7170°, -1.3187° BUT according to Google Earth it is 35 metres lower than the Bardon Hill summit and so would not qualify for a SOTA activation. Still would make a very good portable HF spot for non-SOTA operating.
73 & 72