Halloween 300

Having failed, yet again, to push my QSO total significantly nearer to that of Steve G1INK in the SOTA 12m Challenge, I figured that adding to the multipliers might be a better idea. Surrounding me (at some distance) were three easy summits, as yet unactivated by me in the Challenge. Trouble was they were all in the middle of nowhere - and not particularly near each other.

Programming the parking spots for Bardon Hill G/CE-004 (Coalville, Leicestershire), Normanby Top G/TW-005 (Lincolnshire Wolds) and Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004 (East Riding of Yorkshire) revealed the true horror of the 303 mile round trip. A summit on an urban quarry, and two “roadside” summits on large flat plateaux, and over 300 miles of driving. For the purist mountaineer, surely the SOTA Expedition from Hell, a nightmare fit for Halloween.

I couldn’t get the preferred early start on All Hallows Eve, Thursday 31st October 2013, for I had to drop Liam off at college at 9am. But then I was soon motoring down the A536, A34, A500, A50 and M1 into deepest Leicestershire. The first of several wrong turnings during the day meant I took a less than direct route into Vercor Close, Coalville, the start point for the walk up Bardon Hill G/CE-004.

Pleasingly, I was enjoying good energy levels, and a brisk walk saw me up the hill in good time. Rather than battle with the low branches to get to the trig point, I elected to activated from the bench just before the radio station access road. This is virtually at the same height as the summit area, and comfortably within the SOTA activation zone.

Plus it had a bench, more room to erect the antenna, much better views, and would spare me a few valuable minutes on a heavy schedule. It was a bit damp and drizzly, but not too bad and I didn’t get too wet. It was wet enough to make me not feel like doing PSK31 though! I made 18 QSOs, 10 on SSB and 8 on CW.

That was a good start to the day, and time wise I was well ahead of schedule. I packed away and made for a swift descent to try and put the banked slack time to good use. Next it was off to Normanby Top G/TW-005.


After Bardon Hill G/CE-004 on Thursday 31st October 2013, I was now faced with a long drive into the Lincolnshie Wolds for Normanby Top G/TW-005. The driving route required me to take the A50 out of Coalville towards Leicester, but then turn North-East onto the A46 Newark by-pass. While this was a long section of driving, it was on an excellent road, and with plenty of people to chat to on the GB3CF repeater, the journey flew by.

I remained on the A46 beyond Lincoln and to Market Rasen, from where I turned onto the local minor roads to climb up through Normanby-le-Wold to the NATS radar station near the summit of Normanby Top G/TW-005.

After finding a parking spot, I got chatting to a local farmer on a JCB. It turned out he was the landowner for the field beside the radar station which has the trig point at the end. There is no PROW through this field, a fact confirmed by the farmer, and in fact no PROW at all from anywhere to the trig point. However, he did give me permission to go and have a look for the trig point. He said that he had never seen one up there!

On our previous visit a few years ago, we never found the trig point, but I don’t think we looked particularly hard. With a little bit of spare time, I decided to have a look for it. To confirm I was where I though I was, I turned on the GPS functionality on my Galaxy Siii smartphone, and opened up the OS Atlas app. Immediately, the 1:25000 view of the area around Normanby Top was shown, with the point showing halfway along the fence - exactly where I was!

I walked to the end of the field, passed through an established opening in the hedge, and there was the trig point, exactly where the map says it will be! It was only about 20 feet from where Jimmy, Liam and myself had got to those years ago - goodness knows how we missed it!

Up went the 12m groundplane antenna and I got to work. I made 14 QSOs on 12m, one on SSB and the rest on CW. I still wasn’t setting the world alight “INKy-style” with my QSO rate, so another multiplier was very welcome.

I was now more or less back on my original schedule, so I wasted no time in packing up and returning to the car. The third and final target was Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004.


Dropping down the road from Normanby Top G/TW-005 on Thursday 31st October 2013, I was preoccupied with looking for signposts to the Humber Bridge. These were picked up soon enough, and I was on my way to Bishop Wilton Wold G/TW-004.

The Humber Bridge is a magnificent spectacle from all angles, and I enjoyed my second crossing of it. The toll of £1.50 was less than I was anticipating and seemed rather good value. I then needed to recheck my list of directions in my logbook frequently in order to emerge, right on 5.30pm, on the A166 over Garrowby Hill. Within a couple of minutes I was pulling into the layby beside the enclosure which contains the covered reservoirs and the summit trig point.

It was now dark, so the first job was to don the Petzl headtorch. It was also cold, and noisy, with a heavy flow of fast moving traffic across the A166 just a few feet away. I identified a sort of sheltered and relatively cosy spot on some flat grass where I could use the fence as a backrest as my operating spot. I then cracked on with getting the 12m antenna set up.

The problem was that the 12m band had all but died. Just five QSOs were made, three on CW and two on SSB. Remarkably, two of the callers were stateside, but the other three were all groundwave contacts within the county of Yorkshire. Furthermore, only one of my five incoming reports gave me a readability of 5! But it was nonetheless five good contacts, another point and another multiplier. Job done. I could now relax and finish my flask of Sainsbury’s “Taste the Difference” Seafood Chowder.

All that remained was to take the A166 towards York, the A64 towards Leeds, the M62 towards Manchester, the M60 towards Stockport, the A34 towards Congleton and the A537 back home to Macclesfield. This was a familiar run from the days when I used to get a lot of work as a bass player with bands playing in York, Leeds, Harrogate and Bradford. I arrived home at 8.30pm, with 37 QSOs and 3 multipliers to add to the SOTA 12m Challenge pot.

Many thanks for all calls.


In reply to M1EYP:
Nice one. Reminiscent of the KPO/JDK chronicles.

73 Richard G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

Thanks for the flowers.

Not that I believed you ploughed through it.


In reply to M1EYP:

the M62 towards Manchester, the M60 towards Stockport …

After being trapped on the M62 and the M60 for two hours last Friday on the way to the G-QRP Convention … never again!!!

Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to G3NYY:

Domain knowledge Walt. Those of us who live near there/used to live near there know to avoid them at any rush hour period and especially on a Friday.