After meeting a number of work deadlines, I needed a break and was really looking forward to getting away from the computer and back out in the open air and trying my 4th SOTA activation. At such short notice, G/SC-007 Long Knoll seemed a good option as it’s located near the Wiltshire / Somerset boarders and only about a 35min drive away from home.
Approaching from Maiden Bradley, I drove SW along the B3092 and missed the ‘safe’ car parking spot mentioned by G0KPE and then proceeded to also miss the ‘unsafe’ spot he mentions. This meant I had to turn the car around which isn’t easy to do as the road has very narrow verges and the traffic is fast moving in both directions. About 1/2mile further down, there was an entrance to a site that was big enough to turn around in so moments later I was heading back up the B3092.
Now driving in the correct direction, I opted to park at the ‘unsafe’ spot G0KPE mentions as it now appeared much clearer than in his photo. Plus the footpath entrance to Rag Wood is very close by which avoids walking along this busy road. Next time, I will put this location accurately into the Sat-Nav and carefully anticipate the location as the oncoming traffic can be quite fast!
©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 018/21
At this starting point, it’s already at about +210m so there was another +75m climb to go. Surprisingly, there’s quite a steep initial climb of about 40m and from then on it’s an undulating easy walk taking about 15mins in total. Some maps indicate a blue line along the start of the path and it was certainly very boggy in places. For the majority of the walk, there is a fence to your right which guides you directly to the trig.
The fence certainly helps as a guide and I was looking forward to seeing the art installation mentioned by G0KPE, however, I was to find out later that it had all been removed. The land also quickly slopes away on the left and you do find yourself hemmed in if there are any livestock up there – these cows were quite close with only a few of them opting to stand up as I approached them!
Once at the trig, setting up the FT-817 / 2m Slim Jim was very easy as the fence posts provide a very convenient spot to place/fix antennas to.
Sat with my back against the fence, calling CQ was immediately responded to by 2E1KJB who was fishing at the Isle of Wight - this was about 65miles away and on 4w this seemed a good start to me. The WX was about 12degs with a constant light wind which caused the ladder line to continually vibrate but decent reports were still coming in okay. This time I had a flask of hot tea and a few bars of chocolate to keep the warmth/energy levels up and with a view like this…… how could you not enjoy playing radio!
I seemed to be getting out well in all directions and other interesting QSOs included James 2E1EMK from his narrow boat east of Devizes and Kevin MW0KXN/P located on GW/SW-012 Coity Mountain so my 1st s2s. The session was ended with a second s2s with M5RJC/P on G/WB-019 May Hill.
After two hours and with thirteen QSOs in the log, the sun was disappearing fast behind the cloud, the temp had dropped and the gusts were increasing so it was time to pack up and head back to the car.
This is certainly a summit I would return back to as the fence proved very helpful and I made a mental note to bring the dipole for 20m next time. I was beginning to prefer it when there were no other people around and this may well have been due to the lack of any parking spaces nearby. All in all, it felt a very rewarding session and I even made it back home in time to do the school run!
73, Lea M0XPO