Our third summit on the miserable afternoon of Thursday 29th May 2008, was Cliffe Hill G/SE-014, once the smallest SOTA summit in England - though no longer. The driving route took us back again to the A27, and then up the minor road through the village of Glynde. We located the end of Week Lane, opposite which was a convenient pull-in to leave the car.

The cold and drizzle was yet worsening, so we were now in full waterproofs and hoods. The initial walk up the Week Lane track (not really drivable) was interrupted by two bullocks that had escaped the neighbouring field. They were being watched over by scores more all lined up against the fence! We then climbed up the escarpment by the side of Saxon Cross Wood, and over a couple of stiles to the golf course. Unfortunately, one of the stiles was very loose and greasy, and Liam fell has he climbed, trapping his boot and ending up hanging upside down - and very upset! A big cuddle from his dad encouraged him to get walking again, although he now had a bad limp and was clearly in pain. Still, the trig point at the top of the golf course was in sight, so we were close enough to make that the objective and have a rest and snack there.

Again, contacts came on 2m FM, not quickly, but sufficiently that we did not have to consider setting HF up in the rain or even remove the rucksacks from our backs. There weren’t any answers to the CQ calls, but a local net of strong stations was happy to accommodate these two uninvited guests.

We returned to the car, taking extra care with the dangerous stile, and headed off for an evening activation of Ditchling Beacon G/SE-006 - and some tea.


From Cliffe Hill G/SE-014, we drove into the town of Lewes hunting for food. We found a chippy and went in. Jimmy and I both ordered fish & chips, while Liam went for steak pie and chips. All was well until Liam reported that his pie filling was stone cold. It was promptly returned, and ten minutes later we received one in edible condition in its place - and a complimentary bag of prawn crackers! I tried a few phone calls to Youth Hostels, but all viable locations were full for the evening. I resigned myself to having to hunt for a Travelodge or Travel Inn on the road later.

Fed and watered, I turned the JimNav back on, to be directed out of Lewes on the A27, and then right up a minor road. The summit car park appeared on the left, and was quite busy, even approaching 8pm. The summit area and trig point was only 200 yards further up the path, so we left Liam in the car listening to the radio and made the final ascent.

A few calls on the 2m FM calling channel with the VX-7R and RSS came to nothing, but there was other activity on the band. I invited myself into the local nets and explained the SOTA activation I was doing. This was enough to gain more than enough contacts for Jimmy and myself, as the locals were all very interested in our activity. It also provided for a crucially speedy activation so Liam wasn’t on his own for too long, and I could resume the core business of finding somewhere for us to sleep.

This became the real challenge. I drove for miles and miles along the A27, surprised not to see any roadside motels. Not wanting to go much further west beyond the next morning’s target of Chanctonbury Ring G/SE-009, I turned south towards Worthing. Still no cheap motels here, but loads of seaside hotels. Most had no vacancies, but one that did quoted £130 for the night - not what I had in mind. Still, the young lady on reception directed me towards Littlehampton where there was a Travelodge, she assured me. On the way there, I first came across a Travel Inn. Pleasing was the sight of the sign that read “All rooms £65”. Not so pleasing was the sign that read “No vacancies”. Still, we hadn’t reached the Travelodge yet.

Soon we did, and there was no room at the inn here either. However, the kind gentleman on reception started ringing around for us. Very quickly, he had located a triple-bedded en suite room at the Comfort Inn in nearby Arundel. Result. I thanked him for his kind help and made my way there. When booking in, I was informed that brekafast was included - another result! And it had a bar! I had a pleasant evening, what remained of it, and a very comfortable night’s sleep.


Friday 30th May 2008 was the second day of our surprise end-of-holiday pass, and what an eventful day it turned out to be. It was the day that Jimmy and myself both complete the G/SE region, and the day of our first ever activations in G/SC (yes, really, six years of SOTA and never been here - my debuts in all the other G regions were years ago!). It was the day that Jimmy M3EYP would record his 200th SOTA activation - not bad for a 15 year old. But the defining moment of the day was something completely different, and not at all pleasant. But more of that later!

We got up for breakfast at the Comfort Inn, Arundel, and thoroughly enjoyed the buffet of yoghurt, grapefruit, mandarins, cereal, fruit juice, toast, tea and full English cooked breakfast. I remained impressed that the bed & breakfast for the three of us had come to just £65. We were on the road again by around 8.30am, and heading the short distance to Chanctonbury Ring G/SE-009.

Jimmy directed me back down the A27 and up the A24, into the village of Washington and doubling back on ourselves to the parking point at TQ120119. The walking route followed a stony bridleway up a gentle ridge, and continued to follow the South Downs Way past the trig point of Chactonbury Hill to the ring fort and new summit location. A few poses for photographs at Chanctonbury Ring were our only business with that location, and we retreated to the trig point, a much better SOTA activating position.

On this occasion, calls on 2m using the handy and RSS did not produce any response, so we set up for 80m. At least it was still relatively early in the morning, and so a better chance would be had. Indeed it was, and this was assisted by my returning to the tactic of activating on 3.557MHz CW first, and then announcing the QSY to 3.660MHz SSB once the pile-up was cleared. A reassuring aspect noted was that after I had sent “QSY SSB 3.660”, someone would always send a “R”, to which I would then send “TU”. This was good stuff, and gave me confidence that people would be listening for Jimmy on SSB, or that the QSY would have been spotted, or both.

We completed the activation, packed up and set off on the descent, chasing after Liam who, as usual, had commenced his descent ten minutes earlier when we started packing up. This took us to 14 out of the 15 G/SE summits activated, and one to go for the set. We set off for that last one, Black Down G/SE-003.


From Chanctonbury Ring G/SE-009, the JimNav directed me along the A283 through Pulborough and Petworth. Then it was onto country lanes through Lurgashall, and to the National Trust car park on the north of the site at SU920307.

We walked south down the forest track to meet the bridleway, which we followed to the vicinity of SU920296. Here, we turned right to follow trodden tracks into the area where the trig point was expected to be. It didn’t take long to find it, but it was obvious that it would take a very long time to qualify this hill on 2m FM! A couple of calls on S20, together with a scan across the silent band, was all it took before we were busily setting up for 80m.

As usual, it was me on 3.557MHz CW, followed by Jimmy on 3.660MHz SSB. We shared a comfortable flat surface on a tree stump as a chair, while Liam lounged in the grass nearby. As usual, Liam began to make his way back to the car once he spotted Jimmy and I starting to pack away. We reached the car and quietly congratulated each other on another G SOTA region completion. And then began to feel a little excited anticipation. We had completed a major objective, and had a day and a half left to play. We could get stuck into the SC region, a brand new one for us.

We set off for Win Green G/SC-008.


After completing Black Down G/SE-003 on Friday 30th May 2008, we set off for Win Green G/SC-008. This was a long drive, navigated by following signs, successively, for Petersfield, Winchester and Salisbury.

Several new and interesting radio stations were logged on the journey. These were 95.5 BBC Somerset, 90.1 Hope FM (Bournemouth), 92.3 Forest FM (Verwood), 97.4 Vale FM (Shaftesbury), 101.0 Kiss 101 (Bristol and 107.5 3TR FM (Frome).

Once we were beyond Salisbury on the A354 at Sixpenny Handley, the JimNav cried out for a right turn on the B3081. “Oh, we’re approaching it from below are we?” I asked, a little disoriented. “Yes” replied Jimmy, with an air of confident assurance. A right turn onto a minor cul-de-sac lane, and we were driving up to the car park, along a very uneven surface.

The parking area, like for most of the G/SE summits before, was very busy. Lots of people were here to take the very short stroll to the trig point and wood on the summit of this hill. It really was a very short walk, of about 200 metres, and hardly any ascent involved. The summit was very busy, so I hoped to be able to activate using only 2m FM. And my wish was granted, with plenty enough stations being available on the band.

After my 600th SOTA activation six days earlier on Botley Hill G/SE-005, this chalked up Jimmy’s 200th SOTA activation. And without a trace of wilting enthusiasm.

Hence we were not around for long on this one, soon walking back to the car with thoughts of an evening stroll on Swyre Head G/SC-012 later, and a second consecutive four-activation day. First, we drove into Shaftesbury, via a spectacular descent down Zig-Zag Hill (ST892208) to look for food. The only opportunity found was a kebab house, which we decided would be OK and nice for a change.

Jimmy had a large donner, Liam had a chicken kebab, while I had a mixed kebab (donner, chicken and kofte). We all agreed they were delicious! Before driving off again, I made a call to Swanage Youth Hostel. Same old story - full. The next one to try was Lulworth Cove Youth Hostel, and this time we got in. This was great - our beds for the night were secured, and we could go ahead with our evening stroll/activation aspiration with a degree of relaxation - or so we thought.


From Shaftesbury, we followed the A350 through Blandford Forum to the edge of Poole, and then the A351 through Wareham and onto the Isle of Purbeck. The village of Corfe Castle was spectacularly beautiful, and much nicer than the vastly overrated Prestbury as Jimmy remarked! We turned right onto the B3069 to Kingston, and right again onto the road up to the parking area at SY943792.

We eagerly anticipated our evening stroll to Swyre Head G/SC-012, and the views over the coast, not to mention the activation. However, just twenty yards beyond the gate at the start of the path, things went seriously pear-shaped. Liam seemed to freeze like a statue. “You alright Liam?” I enquired, but didn’t get any response. He then started to fall like a tree to the ground, without any instinctive reflex to steady himself. I dived underneath him to partially break his fall onto the stony track, cradled him in my arms and realised he was completely and utterly out of it. It was just like that awful incident at the foot of Great Orme GW/NW-070 in October 2006.

Liam then seemed to go into a fit for about 5 to 10 seconds, and then into a deep sleep. I placed him into the recovery position, checked his breathing and pulse, and removed my fleece to place over him. So, it seemed my original idea that he had choked on a Tic-tac in 2006, was wrong. This was too similar to be coincidence. I thought about 'phoning for an ambulance, but I knew he was already out of danger and on the road to recovery. Furthermore, we had beds/accommodation secured. If we went to a hospital, we risked being discharged at 3 o’clock in the morning, with nowhere to sleep and in no fit state to attempt a 300 mile drive back to Macclesfield.

After 20 minutes asleep, Liam began to come round, and slowly got to his feet. Jimmy and I took and arm each and gingerly walked him back to the car, and appreciated the fact that we hadn’t got very far. Sat in the car, Liam began to talk and answer questions correctly, as well as have a drink and something to eat. Jimmy directed me down to Lulworth Cove Youth Hostel, by which time Liam was back to himself again. Nonetheless, we still expected we would be doing nothing other than driving home the next day. We made up the hostel bunks and all slept very well.


We awoke on the morning of Saturday 31st May 2008. Liam and I were both up fairly quickly, while Jimmy lolloped in his top bunk for a while. Liam was fine, pottering around the hostel cheerfully chatting to other hostellers about what they were having for breakfast, and asking me where we were walking today. I decided to return to Swyre Head G/SC-012, if only to try to jog Liam’s memory about what had happened the previous evening.

At the parking spot and in the early part of the walk, I quizzed Liam about what had happened the night before. But he was adamant that he had never been there; there was clearly no recollection whatsoever. However, he was happy and healthy in himself, and there had been no problems since the last episode 19 months ago, so I figured it was reasonable to do some more gentle walking today, while keeping an eye on him.

And he was just fine. He and Jimmy, and I all enjoyed the walk around the clifftops to Swyre Head G/SC-012 on this scorcher of a morning. The summit area was an usual triangular plateau, with the sharp point of the ‘Head’ sticking out into the English Channel, a wooden bench, a trig point and an earthwork type mound that we took to be the highest point, if not the summit! We stood upon this and tried our luck on 2m FM. As expected, the bay area around Poole and Bournemouth, as well as Dorset and the Isle of Purbeck were quite lively with VHF activity on this Saturday morning, and the activation was easy.

One of the many cows on the hill decided to take a walk out to the point of Swyre Head, and of course it was followed by fifty others! The sight of them all cramming into this bottleneck was quite something! As we reached the car park after descending, a farmer called out “Any cows up at the top?”. “Loads of them” I replied, “all of them right up at the summit”. He nodded with an indication of relief and walked away. Liam got back in the car feeling well and happy, and I too felt a sense of relief.

The JimNav was switched into action with the instruction to take me to Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013.


We couldn’t possibly consider leaving the Isle of Purbeck on Saturday 31st May 2008, without visiting its other SOTA summit - Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013. Jimmy took me back through the stunning village of Corfe Castle, and then eastwards on the B3351. We found a suitable pull-in for the car directly opposite the start of the public footpath at SZ008818.

This was a pleasant green bridleway, curving around including a small wooded section, and out onto the open fell. Underfoot was firm, dry and mostly well-trodden, making at suitable for our chosen footwear of sandals. On the crest of the ridge, it was necessary to switch back and ascend towards the masts. Jimmy looked long and hard for the trig point, but there was no evidence anywhere, despite its position being clearly marked on the OS 1:25000 sheet OL15.

We gave up on the trig point, but took some photos and enjoyed the splendid views over Poole harbour. Calls on 2m FM produced just one contact each, to my surprise given the levels of activity noted from Swyre Head G/SC-012 earlier. We retreated to the field in-between the summit ridge and the Purbeck Way footpath and set up the 80m dipole. Again, I made plenty of contacts on CW, then handed over to Jimmy, who was able to get only one of the three he needed on SSB, but a local net that sprang up on 145.1875MHz (simplex) provided him with further QSOs.

Descent to the car was fairly quick, and we were on our way home. However, we were not done just yet. The plan was to visit Dundry Down G/SC-010 near Bristol for an easy summit, then return north using the M5 and M6.


In reply to M1EYP:

Jimmy looked long and hard for the trig
point, but there was no evidence anywhere,
despite its position being clearly marked
on the OS 1:25000 sheet OL15.

When I last visited, a couple of years ago now, the trig point had been uprooted, and was sitting upside-down a few metres away from its correct position. Presumably the remains have now been removed. Quite why somebody would do that remains unclear, but presumably it was done “officially” as it would have taken a massive effort to move the trig and its concrete foundations - not a job for your average vandal!

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to M1EYP:

I tried to activate nine barrow down as well, with no luck at all on 2m ssb, unfort at that point i did not have a HF radio so i gave up , even though i self spotted … what a poor postion.


In reply to M1EYP:


Quite an expedition, well done. Some time ago I commented that Crowborough was without doubt the crummiest summit in the whole Association. Your reply was that all summits have some redeeming feature. Do you still have this view now you’ve been there?

Southern softie summits? Crowborough is as far as I know the only summit on which you run the risk of being run over by a bus! And you’ve got the golf balls to dodge on Cliffe Hill (that club has some really crap golfers)


Mick 2E0MCV

Yes Mick, I still have that view. Crowborough was novel and different, and variety is the spice of life! You could easily get run over on Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004, and you can add Bradnor Hill G/WB-011 and Y Golfa GW/NW-061 to the summits suffering from Golf Danger. Loads of these SE and SC aummits can be added to the list of those with possible access for physically disabled activators; I’ll note them at some point.


So by early afternoon on Saturday 31st May 2008, we were on our way home - sort of. The first priority after Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013 was to find some lunch, and a bakery in the town of Wareham granted that wish. Dorest pasties, chicken curry pasties and spicy green lentil and vegetable pasties were accompanied by bottles of Buxton mineral water, and devoured in the sunshine in the town car park.

The best route we could see for our itinerary, was A352 to Dorchester, A37 to Yeovil, and A37 again into South Bristol. From here, the JimNav took me on the B3130 through Chew Magna and up to the village of Dundry. We couldn’t see anywhere reasonable to park for the footpath into the site from the south, so we drove anticlockwise around the summit area and into the edge of the village. At ST556668 there was a large parking area, and we accessed the summit area via the bridleway. Another new radio station logged was “Bristol’s Original 106.5”.

We looked at the area around the transmitter compound, and then wandered over to the mound upon which stood the trig point. This was a surreal summit location, surrounded by wasteland, a small farm, a large car breakers yard and a landfill site. Jimmy proposed that it was the worst SOTA summit ever, but I asked him to bear in mind Billinge Hill G/SP-017, Hensbarrow Beacon G/DC-004, and Carnmenellis G/DC-006 before reaching a final decision.

I was confident of a short 2m HH RSS activation from the trig point, such was the proximity to Bristol and South Wales, but silenced reigned on S20. Instead, we returned to the flat grassy area nearer to the transmitter compound, sent a SPOTlite and set up for 80m. The CW/SSB combo did the trick again, and completed our 15th and final activation of the tour.

“Can we go home now?” asked Liam as we loaded everything back into the car boot. “Yes son, we’re going home” I replied, and we set off in search of the M5. This resulted in a marvellous surprise, the spectacle of driving through the dramatic cliff-lined Avon valley beneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Excellent!

The run home was mostly rapid, save for a 20 minute accident delay just before the M6. More new broadcast radio stations came in, and these were 93.2 BCFM (Bristol), 106.8 Nation Radio (Cardiff), more of the Gold network on 936, 1260, 1305, 1359 and 774 medium-wave, 106.7 Youthcom (Worcester) and 89.1 Aston FM (Birmingham). We were home at 9.20pm, and sitting down to Marianne’s excellent homemade Lamb Kurzi and vegetable bhaji, accompanied by a glass of wine and the final results of Britain’s Got Talent!

Very satisfying. Two weeks earlier we didn’t even know this trip would be happening, let alone that we would get 15 new SOTA uniques each out of it. Lots of Database logs and website pages are now queueing up to be dealt with!



In reply to M1EYP:
Thank you for a very interesting and graphic account of your trials tribulations and joys of activating ‘down south’. Sorry to hear Liam was unwell. Hope he has made a good recovery. 7MHz might have served you better for qrp ssb arround midday, when absorption was very high. Well done to all of you for dedication and determination (as usual).

I tried using 40m in the middle of the day in GI, but the over-crowded band there meant that it was still easier (as in less difficult) for Jimmy to persevere with 80m despite the unfavourable condx. I’ll try it again sometime soon.

Thanks for the kind comments. Glad you enjoyed it. Glad you read it in fact! Liam is back to his normal self, and has been referred to paediatric neurology at Macc Hospital for further investigation.


In reply to M1EYP:

but the over-crowded band

7.115 +/- ???


In reply to M1EYP:

Interesting stuff Tom and well written, maybe you would like to nominate a hill of the month for Summits News out of the many summits you & Jimmy tackled.

I’m also sorry to hear of Liam being unwell, but equally glad glad to hear of his almost immediate recovery, fingers crossed that Macc hospital soon get to the bottom of the situation.


Never got the 817 wide-banded - and don’t intend to. I will try some more midday SSB ops around 7.070 to 7.099MHz this summer and see what happens. With a SPOTlite, it should be OK.


All the photos and other data have been added to these reports, and are being uploaded to my website now. So within a few minutes, you should be able to see all our photos from these 15 SOTA activations on http://tomread.co.uk