My apologies to the many 2m fm chasers who tried to converse with me on Titterstone Clee Hill (G/WB-004) last Monday. Things went wrong from the moment I arrived by train in Ludlow and discovered my bus stop had been closed for 10 days for roadworks so my faint hopes of catching the train back to Hereford which was timed for the same minute (joined up thinking!) were dashed. I found another stop, wandered round for 30 mins and then sat (a seat!) at the bus stop for the Diamond L2 to Kidderminster which runs every 2 hours. When 20 mins late, the queue was restless and my hopes of the 1351 back from Cleehill village were dwindling - I really didn’t fancy the 2 hr wait up there for the next bus. Please note, when travelling by public transport the walking up the hill, making contacts etc may turn out to be a very small slice of the action!
The bus eventually arrived and 16 mins later I set off past the working (very busy!) quarry and out on to the common land. Not a route I’d used before and a GPS would have been useful to find the right track as I only had 60 mins to reach the top and set up.
With frozen fingers, up went the dipole and I called at 1202 and received quite a few replies and jotted down some call signs. Another quick advert for 2m and 70cm( on 433 475) and down I went to 145.425 ready for a quick pile of contacts as I only had 20 mins (that late bus) to be on air. M0JLA came in but he was very distorted and barely readable, for the next contacts I was getting about half, to one-third, of the message and the rest blocked out. It wasn’t the usual silence that can occur (especially with a VX7) or loud noises when no-one was transmitting but a selective distorting of the replies. Moving up and down channels seem to make no difference and time was passing. Obviously the closer the callers were, and the more power, then the greater the chance of getting through. After struggling to get 5 contacts I moved to 433.475 and I was very relieved to hear 3 of my previous contacts (thanks M0JLA, G7HEM thanks for the spot!, M6NSV) come booming in, no problem at all - except that I hadn’t got a 4th. A quick CQ on the calling frequency and in came my secret weapon - G3XEV John in Sedgeley (does ANYONE else in Britain monitor the 70cm calling frequency??) Back to 475 and I’d got my 4th and M0NTC as well.
I had promised to try again on 2m but 145.425, 450, 475 had the same problem but I did get a quick contact on 500 (this seemed to be unaffected!) with G0MJY in nearby Kidderminster before the mast came down at 1220 and I reluctantly moved out from the boulders
However I still feel guilty about those 2m chasers. I haven’t had this problem before on WB-004 but am usually just this little bit further away and down the slope. Has a new mast gone up within the last year - as I know someone else reported problems here a few months ago - or was it just the change in position? I do have a filter (but not with me) but have never considered it necessary for this hill. With hindsight, I should have disconnected the dipole and gone back to the stick antenna and seen whether I was high enough for that to get me the contacts. Now, where else can I get to by train or bus (I don’t drive and M0JLA is recovering from a knee injury)? Pole Bank (G/WB-005) and Mynydd Carn-y-cefn (GW/SW-014) are the only 2+ pointers which seem to be feasible from Hereford but i do need some decent weather as I may have to hang around for quite some time. I’ve already visited Sugar Loaf and Black Mountain (GW/SW-011 and 041) on separate frosty days and might get round to writing them up if it goes on raining for long enough!