Jimmy and I will be in G/SE land from Saturday to Thursday. It is a family holiday (Maz and Liam following down the next day), so not every day will be devoted to SOTA, although the Saturday and Sunday almost definitely will be, rain or no rain. We hope to get another day out activating out of Monday to Thursday (Tuesday most likely), and might even get to do something on the way back north on Thursday.

Bear in mind that the days, let alone the times are approximate on the alerts. We haven’t a clue what bands/modes will be best, what with summer, the famous VHF black hole of the south, CQ WPX etc. We will SPOTlite when we can, and would very much appreciate live spotting (with exact QRGs - no problem here with that hi!) whenever we are heard.

Looking forward to it. Now to check those waterproofs…



Saturday - activated Botley Hill SE-005, Crowborough SE-007, Leith Hill SE-002 (my 600th SOTA activation)

Sunday - activated Detling Hill SE-013, Cheriton Hill SE-015

No SOTA opportunities once Marianne joined us down here!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday - looking to definitely complete SE-011, SE-010, SE-014, SE-006, SE-009 and SE-003. Then into SC for the first time, looking st SC-013 and SC-012 to start, then others as time/wx/motivation allows (Liam will now be in the expedition party, Marianne goes home Thursday morning).

Cheers, Tom & Jimmy, at some internet cafe in Portsmouth!

In reply to M1EYP:

Crikey Tom, where were the spots for you?

I only saw the one spot for Crowborough and called myself hoarse because it’s the last SE for me.

I hoped you might have done 3.557 CW as alerted but after listening for half an hour I just gave it up as a bad job.

That’s twice I have failed to bag that one, I’ll nail it soon enough!!


In reply to GW0DSP:

I know Jimmy self-spotted, and I “think” I may have sent further updated spots later. I think we were also spotted by at least one of RMD and VMZ too.

I did hear you call Mike, and did go back to you, and again when I heard you again some minutes later. You were quite weak, but I must have been even weaker, because you clearly couldn’t hear me.

Not sure why I didn’t do CW. Perhaps I was thinking about the time, wanting a quick activation, that obviously had to included Jimmy M3EYP, so SSB had to be done whether CW was also included or not. As it was, that was a bad plan. It took well over an hour just to get 4 contacts each on 80 SSB, whereas in the last couple of days, I have done CW first, and then announced the QSY to SSB for Jimmy. Even at the wrong time of the day for condx on 80, this has still worked relatively well - quicker than Crowborough in any case!

This activation lasted from 1215 to 1339 UTC, and concluded with Jimmy and I having to chase the special event GB calls around the band to achieve our quota!


Anyway, the concluding summary is:

Saturday 24 May: SE-005, SE-007, SE-002 (600 SOTA activations)
Sunday 25 May: SE-013, SE-015
Thursday 29 May: SE-011, SE-010, SE-014, SE-006
Friday 30 May: SE-009, SE-003 (all SE completed for T & J), SC-008
Saturday 31 May: SC-012, SC-013, SC-010

Great fun - well, apart from one incident (all will be revealed). Thanks to all stations who called. Particular thanks to Frank G3RMD, who was ubiquitous in his availability and capability to assist. Often, as Jimmy was battling the unhelpful condx for 80 in the middle of the day, Frank was the one person who could (a) hear and work Jimmy, (b) hear and work the other chasers, © quickly post updates to SOTAwatch.

We mixed it up a bit. Some summits we did the full portfolio of 2FM, 80CW and 80SSB. Some were just 80SSB, and some just 80SSB and 80CW. Some were just 2FM. Some activations we self-spotted and some we didn’t. Just depended on our moods and available time really. But for those who were bemoaning the lack of challenge due to the SOTAwatch facility, I thought I would provide some challenge by putting on a handful of unspotted unalerted 2m FM HH & RSS activations. Curiously, I didn’t work any of them!

The summits were good fun darn sarf, some good and pleasant walking, and some brilliant views. But don’t you Southern Softies have it easy? I don’t think there was any walk-in longer than about a mile, or required height gain more than about 100m. Several of the summits had car parks in the AZ, although we managed to make a worthwhile walk out of all of them nonetheless. Even the wx was nicer than oop north. Yes, Soft Southern Summits for Southern Softies. But very nice, we thoroughly enjoyed them and recommend them. And there’s plenty to go at for anyone who thinks that all the hills are in the North. We have done 24 SOTA summits south of the Thames/Avon now, and still have quite a few more to do (not including France!).


In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom

I only heard you on the two occasions that I called you but you and/or Jimmy were very weak and even though it’s one of just four G summit I require, under those conditions it would have been unfair of me to have kept calling.

It does’nt really matter, that’s all part of the chase and the overall fun of SOTA, the summit is there for again. There would be no fun in the chase if they were all certs.

More importantly, it sounds like you & Jimmy had a great time on the hills, I’m looking forward to the full write ups.


In reply to M1EYP:

But don’t you Southern Softies have it easy? …Yes, Soft Southern Summits for Southern Softies.

…and we have nice shandy too… :slight_smile:

Well done Tom and Jimmy. I did listen when I was around but didn’t hear you although condx on 80m seemed a little noisy at my end.

73 Marc DL/G0AZS

In reply to M1EYP:

Friday 30 May: SE-009, SE-003

Good to work you on these two Tom, although no great challenge as both are line-of-sight from here! It certainly showed the benefits of CW over SSB. Assuming that you were both running the same power, you were a genuine 599 from both whereas Jimmy was extremely difficult copy from Chanctonbury and barely detectable, but not workable, from Black Down. Sorry I missed you from the others, but “real life” got in the way!

Whilst our southern summits may be “soft”, they have their own challenges when it comes to SOTA activations, not least the lack of a ready-made reservoir of 2m chasers constantly on-tap.

Now that you have SE complete, I assume you won’t be returning, at least until Liam gains his M3 and needs the uniques. :wink:

What is the next SOTA region on your hit-list awaiting completion?

73 de Les, G3VQO

Whilst our southern summits may be “soft”, they have their own challenges when it comes to SOTA activations,
not least the lack of a ready-made reservoir of 2m chasers constantly on-tap.

Fair enough, although I was actually quite surprised at how easy we could get QSOs on 2m FM on some activations. And surprised at how hard some were! For instance, we got four contacts each and more besides in short order on Swyre Head G/SC-012, using Jimmy’s VX-110 and RD! Then a couple of hours later, so Saturday early afternoon, we couldn’t get any from Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013. And yet here, we had good LOS coverage across Poole and Bournemouth, so I was expecting an easy activation. 80m came to the rescue!

Botley Hill G/SE-005 was easy on 2m despite all the rumours of the VHF void in London. Our first call on Cheriton Hill G/SE-015 was greeted by a loud 59+ station, so we were confident. However, none of his mates could hear us, although we could hear them, and 80m was unleashed again.

Now that you have SE complete, I assume you won’t be returning, at least
until Liam gains his M3 and needs the uniques. :wink:

We have family in Hampshire, so we will return there periodically. We can still try to negotiate a daytrip to Bridport for a couple of SCs! I don’t think Liam has any genuine intention of studying for an M3 - thank goodness!

What is the next SOTA region on your hit-list awaiting completion?

Jimmy and I reckon we can clean up DC (done 5 out of the 7, but Jimmy still needs all 7) and SC (4 down, 9 to go for us both) with a week’s pass-out - to be negotiated in the next couple of years. The SBs we have hardly touched - just G/SB-001 when we did the Pennine Way. Jimmy should catch me up in the LDs this July, which will leave us with a whopping 30 still to do there. The NPs are within our sights with 8 remaining, although we will redo Kisdon (only 3 contacts each last time) and there could be a new NP-032 at some point.

So while at home, we will continue picking away at the NPs with occasional daytrips. The next holiday raid should be LD at the end of July. The next holiday completion blast won’t be until 2009 at least, and will be probably DC/SC. A camping trip in the Brecon Beacons area for Jimmy to catch up on my SW/MWs (and for us both to add a few more) is in order too.


So, with Marianne working a night-shift on the Friday night, and Liam safely stowed away at my mother’s house for a stopover, it was left to Jimmy and I to get an early night (2355 BST in my case) ahead of a 0500 BST-not-quite-Gerald-esque get-up. With no soup to prepare, we were on the road shortly after 0530 and heading south down the M6.

We made good time through the Midlands and were pulling in at Oxford Services after little more than two hours driving. Two mugs of tea and two full English breakfasts later, we were mobile again, and nervously anticipating joining the car park otherwise known as the M25. The pace slowed right down to 60mph west of Heathrow, and then returned to the normal 70mph (honest, your honour) after only a few minutes. Jimmy’s navigation was customarily faultless as he directed me to leave the M25 at J6, head a short way south on the A22, turn left onto the A25 and left again onto the minor road the leads to Botley Hill about 4km away. Radio stations logged in the car included 558 Spectrum Radio (airing the Zee Radio programme), 106.8 Jack FM (Oxford), 91.8 Hayes FM, 87.7 Redstone FM and 101.6 KMFM West Kent.

We pulled into a small lay-by on the right-hand side of the road, opposite the entrance to a farm. Children were playing in the garden of the farmhouse as we walked up the driveway. The friendly farmer confirmed that the trig point, about 150 yards away by the roadside fence, was on private land, but that he was happy for us to visit it and do some radio, provided that we weren’t planning to camp there!

That said, I thought that 2m HH + RSS would be ideal, and would avoid unleashing tent pegs which might not look so good in the circumstances. I was pleasantly surprised that there was activity to be found, and we were both able to qualify easily.

First one down. Where next? The original plan was to have a day out doing the A27 SE Five while on holiday. Once it was decided that we would take two cars, I figured I could reasonably add a couple more to that. Once it was agreed that Jimmy and I could set off a day early, the plans extended to nine SE summits, leaving just the two Kent hills for another time. As it turned out, our achievements extended well beyond even this most updated ambition.

I decided that we should next head to Crowborough G/SE-007 and tackle this famous town centre summit!


The second summit on our long Saturday - 24th May 2008 - was Crowborough G/SE-007. From Botley Hill G/SE-005, the directions were executed perfectly by the JimNav as we followed the A21 southwards and then the A26 into Crowborough. En route we logged medium-wave broadcast station Gold 603.

We first parked in a side road off the A26 and walked into the compound with the covered reservoir. There, hiding behind a high hedge and a service building was the trig point. We returned to the other side of the road to try and suss out the true summit, but gave up as it appeared to be on private land/gardens behind some very posh houses. A few calls on 2m FM with the HH & RSS were unanswered, so we knew we had to find a suitable spot for an HF activation.

We got back in the car and drove down to the golf club, achieved with a left turning off the A26, and left again into the members car park at TQ507298. I first checked with a golfer preparing for his round that we were OK to park there for a short while - no problems - and then continued up the road looking for the footpath recommended by G3CWI.

This doubled back towards the town centre along the back fences of people’s gardens. The clearing used by Richard was identified - but was it big enough to take the 80m dipole? We thought we could just about string it up, the clearing being a similar size and shape to that on Tobernaveen Hill GI/AH-009, and indeed there was enough room - just.

Jimmy sent the spot, and Frank G3RMD and Alistair GW0VMZ were worked quickly. Then we struggled. We tried different frequencies, and sent more spots, but to no avail. GW0DSP was heard calling on two occasions, but our replies to him went unanswered. We still wanted to do another summit, and also wanted to be in Winchester by 6.30pm to get washed and changed, and watch Jimmy’s cousin Ryan performing at a folk concert. Hence I went for 80 SSB only figuring that we would have to do SSB anyway for Jimmy, and that time would be saved by not doing CW. Wrong! I think if I had done CW first as usual, it would have built up more interest, and more chasers trying for the summit.

It was not the best time of the day or year for 80m, but we knew we would struggle on SSB on the ever-crowded 40m band anyway. Jimmy and I managed to complete our quota of four contacts each by answering CQ calls from GB special event stations. We were away from the town of Crowborough by around 3pm local, and despite our remaining mileage and plans for the evening, decided to squeeze another activation in. So off to Leith Hill G/SE-002 it was!


In reply to M1EYP:Hi Tom & Jimmy.I like Mike GW0DSP Listend for you every day and did call on several occasions but to no avail.Sorry I missed you.All the best and 73s Geoff G6MZX.

So to the final of three summits on Saturday 24th May 2008. From Crowborough G/SE-007, we headed westwards through Haywards Heath on the A272, stopping there to buy extra OS 1:25,000 sheets that would be needed, and then north on the A24. The JimNav then instructed me to take the B2126 and then a minor road up to a parking area at TQ130433, from which we would enjoy an easy ten minute walk-in to the tower at the summit.

The tower looked inviting and was open. I fancied the idea of standing out in the open on its top level, using the VX-7R and RSS to activate. We were about to enter when the “doorman” said “No more entry, we’re closing at five”. It was half past four. I said that we would be out by then. He asked “What do you intend doing up there?”. “Have a look at the view and take some photos” replied I, electing not to mention radio at this point. He paused, glanced around, then said a simple and abrupt “No!” and turned his face away. Charming.

We decided we would position ourselves on the grass a few metres to the side of the tower. The summit area was very busy with lots of people and families, and there was a big queue at the refreshment kiosk on one side of the tower. Jimmy and I bought egg salad sandwiches and cakes from there for our tea, and sat and relaxed with them while enjoying the fine vista to the south.

Time was pressing on, and we still wanted to make Winchester before 7pm. We activated on 2m FM, and thankfully there were plenty of stations kicking around on VHF. I even ended up with a little pile-up. One station we both worked was M6BBC; the first M6 in both our logs, and a rather distinctive callsign as well.

A quick march back down to the car, and we were back on the road again, to coin a phrase, in true Alan Partridge style, from American Album Rock Gods REO Speedwagon. As we drove through Cranleigh, I kept an eye out for Lucks Green, The Forge and Surrey Electronics - Trevor Brook’s business, the man behind short wave broadcaster Radiofax, which was very popular on 6205kHz between 1988 and 1992. We didn’t see it, and perhaps a good thing; I would have been tempted to stop, take photos and even knock on the door - and we really didn’t have time!

We hit the A31 at Guildford, and cruised along towards Winchester at a steady 70mph. We monitored a station on 102.5 at Coxbridge, with an RDS ident that simply stated _ ARMY _. All was going well until a queue for a roundbout at Alton didn’t appear to be progressing. Soon, we were all pulling our cars to the sides of the road to allow emergency vehicles - 2 police cars, 4 ambulances and 2 fire engines - through to the scene of what appeared, from distance, to be a big accident. Some 45 minutes later, the road behind us had been closed, and we were being invited to turn around and drive the wrong way back down the dual carriageway to an exit.

We had lost over an hour. We now arrived in Winchester at 7.50pm. No time for a shower or change. We parked in the multi-storey after checking that it wasn’t later going to be locked and that payment wasn’t required for evening parking, and legged it down to the new Discovery Centre. And much to my surprise, the show was a sell-out. I had to do some serious wrangling with the promoter to let me in to see my nephew, but eventually the deal was done and we could sit down and relax.

Ryan was second on the bill, and did a very good set. More details, and some video/audio here: The Ryan O'Reilly Band | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos We hadn’t told anyone we were coming, so Ryan was stunned to see his uncle and cousin turn up at his gig!

Top of the bill was an excellent band called Polly & The Billet Doux, who I really enjoyed (and I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to live music) and would recommend seeing if you get the chance. Website: http://www.pollyandthebilletsdoux.co.uk/

We eventually got to the B&B at 11pm, and went straight to bed, and straight to sleep. Breakfast was at 8.30am, so at least we had a lie-in to look forward to!


In reply to G6MZX:

Sorry we missed you Geoff. You are normally the loudest and clearest thing to be heard on 80 SSB!

After the experience of having the North Yorkshire contingent of MZX, CPA, OBK, OHC dominating 80 SSB when we were in GI, it was completely different down south, with Frank G3RMD and Alistair GW0VMZ always big signals and easy contacts, but many others were much more difficult to work.

Thanks for listening anyway. (And feel free to send me your SWL logs ;))


Sunday 25th May 2008 was the day that Marianne and Liam would drive down from Macclesfield, and we would meet up at the static caravan in Hamble (wasn’t that the doll from Play School?) that Maz had booked for four nights. So immediately after breakfast, Jimmy and I set off for somewhere in the South nowhere near to where we were! I had calculated that if we got out and activated Detling Hill G/SE-013 and Cheriton Hill G/SE-015 before Marianne arrived on the scene, then we had a good chance of completing the SE region, since everything else was daytrippable within “normal” limits!

We left Winchester after thanking our B&B hosts for the comfortable beds and excellent full breakfast. Immediately, the JimNav kicked into action to direct me up the A31 and A3 to the M25, then across from there to J7 for Detling Hill G/SE-013. Stations heard en route included 107.2 Dream (Winchester), 107.3 South London Radio, 1350 (MW) Dorton Radio, 963 (MW) Club Asia, 95.6 BRFM (Isle of Sheppey), 107.9 KMFM Medway and 105.1 Southend Radio.

We first checked for parking and walk-start points along the A249. There were opportunites for the former, but the one path we found was so overgrown with wet grass, nettles and bracken as to make it a non-starter. We drove around, and instead took the cul-de-sac lane from the village of Thurnham, parking in a pull-in at TQ806581.

We ascended up the short path to the trig point, and looked around for where the true summit might be, some 2m higher, but indistinct on this long flat top. It could have been even where the house was! Further inspection revealed a large summit car park, possibly 1m higher than the trig point, although I still haven’t worked out where the access point is for that car park.

Three stations were worked by me, and two by Jimmy, on 2m FM in fairly short order before noon. Then we had a silent gap of 20 minutes before another three each were worked and the summit was in the bag. One of the stations worked, we suspected, was on the aforementioned summit car park on our hill, so we made sure we had extra QSOs in the logbook to make sure!

We went QRT at 12.30pm local, and commenced the 5 minute descent to our parking spot. Now it was south towards Folkestone for Cheriton Hill G/SE-015.


After Detling Hill G/SE-013 on Sunday 25th May 2008, the JimNav took me straight back to Junction 7 of the M20, and down the motorway to Folkestone. Radio stations heard on the route included 106.0 KMFM Canterbury and other KMFM outlets on 96.4 and 106.8. Jimmy directed me up to the village of Paddlesworth and around to the cul-de-sac lane up to Sole Farm.

I checked at the farm, and they advised me to park in front of the gate to the covered reservoir, because “The Water Board have already been up today”. We went through the gate and took the customary photos as we posed by the trig point. We continued further and looked for a suitable place from which to operate in this large activation zone on Cheriton Hill G/SE-015.

The first call brought us both an easy 59/59 contact with G0NCE in Dartford, but no-one else could hear us. I wasted much time here trying to persevere with 2m FM, before setting up for 80m. I should have done this earlier! Once I did, I got a good run on 3.557MHz CW with some very good signals coming through, and Jimmy got the three he needed once we went over to 3.660MHz SSB. It was a lovely hot day, and we enjoyed the views over Folkestone and the English Channel.

After packing away, I spent ten minutes monitoring French radio stations on the FM broadcast band on the car radio. In that time, I identified 92.7 Skyrock, 99.9 Culture, 101.6 & 102.5 RFM, 88.9 FUN, 91.5 Virgin, 92.0 Radio 6, 95.5 Bleunord, 103.5 Inter, 103.9 Europe 1 and 106.5 Info.

We now had a long long drive back across the South Coast to Hamble, and then onto Romsey where we were meeting Marianne’s sister’s family for a meal. I should have gone back up the M20 and used the M25 and A31 in hindsight, but I persisted with the coast route and found it very sluggish until we picked up the A27 near Brighton. Hastings was particularly busy with hoards on the seafront, mostly with beer glasses in their hands making me wonder if the JimNav had gone wrong and we had ended up in Blackpool!

Still, reception of Hastings Rock on 107.0MHz FM was a pleasant surprise, followed by 89.4 Musique and another of the Gold network on 945kHz MW.

We got near to Hamble and received a message from Marianne saying that she and Liam had already left for the meal in Romsey. That was OK, it had gone 7pm and we didn’t have time to go down to the holiday park for a shower and change anyway. I had a contingency plan! We continued on the motorway virtually up to Romsey, and pulled in at the services immediately before our exit. Jimmy and I grabbed our suitcases, and I placed my £1 deposit for the shower key. We arrived at the restaurant clean, smart and on time. Unlike Marianne, who had got lost on her relatively short drive from Hamble (she was clean and smart though). She was amazed that we had got there before her, let alone made it at all!

Another long, packed and fun-filled day.


And then, Marianne and Liam were on the holiday, and it soon became obvious that SOTA pass-outs were not even to be negotiated. But we still had a great time, including a very enjoyable 8-mile “Ramble around Hamble”, details of which were in the information book in our caravan.

All was not lost though. We were due to go home on Thursday. Marianne told me she had a night-shift on the Friday. “Would it be helpful then if I kept the boys down here for an extra couple of days then?” I asked. “Yeah, good idea, bring them home Saturday evening” replied Marianne. Sorted. We didn’t need any holiday SOTA passes. We had just secured a three day SOTA holiday! The prospects of completing G/SE were now very good, as were those of making our very first venture in G/SC. Good behaviour was maintained throughout the holiday!

The broadcast radio listening side of the hobby was maintained, with 107.8 Radio Hampshire, Gold on 1170 and 1557 MW and 93.7 Express FM, Southsea added to the logbook.


In reply to M1EYP:

Tom, I was listening for you on most of the summits but not a whisper on any of them. As I just need three SE summits and one DC for the England set you can imagine just how keen I was to work you. It was most frustrating to see “needs more contacts” and the like on the reflector, but that is the fun of the hunt, if we could work everyone on every summit there would be no challenge. Congratulations on managing all the activations without resorting to divorce proceedings.

Steve GW7AAV

We had our final breakfast in the caravan on Thursday 29th May 2008, and then waved goodbye to Marianne as she set off to drive north. Jimmy, Liam and I collected the rest of our things from the caravan, and set out eastwards on the M27 and A27. The masterplan was to start from the furthermost end of the “A27 SE 5” and work back westwards. With Liam now in the party, we didn’t expect to do all five in one day, but we would do our best and then try to secure some accommodation.

The first radio station heard in the drive was yet another of the Gold franchise, this one on 1323kHz MW from the Brighton area. Next up were 107.7 Splash FM from Worthing, 107.2 Juice from Brighton, 96.9/102.4/103.5 Southern FM, also from Brighton, 97.2 Reverb from Worthing and 106.4/106.8 Bright, West Sussex.

The JimNav took me seamlessly from the A27 to the small parking area at TQ531032, from where we commenced our walk up the not-to-steep bridleway. This curved and contoured around the rolling green slopes of Wilmington Hill G/SE-011, winding its way to TQ544033 where one follows the fence rather than the path for the final ascent. A few spots of rain hinted that the weather may be closing in somewhat. Twenty minutes saw us each gain the four contacts on 2m FM, and all with the same stations as each other. There wasn’t much around on 2m, but enough, so no complaints!

We reversed the route for the descent, and moved across for Firle Beacon G/SE-010.


Of course, from Wilmington Hill G/SE-011, we could have walked west along the South Downs Way to reach Firle Beacon G/SE-010 - but we wanted to pack more summits in the day! So back to the car it was, and a straightforward route back along the A27 then south up through Firle village to the car park at the end of the road. Plenty of walkers were using this car park, although the day was getting colder and damper.

The walk, eastwards along the South Downs Way, was easy. The distance was about 2km, and the height gain only about 40m, so we knocked that off in little more than quarter of an hour. The activation by the trig point was also a simple uncomplicated affair, and still we found rumours of the “VHF Void of the South” to be exaggerated. Nine contacts came through at a steady trickle, and we were back at the car by 4pm.

We still had a masterplan to activate four summits today, despite the fact that it was nearly teatime and we would have to do two more. So the JimNav was pressed into action once more to plot our course to Cliffe Hill G/SE-014.