A classic SOTA outing today. One that rolled back the years to when Jimmy was 10 and Liam was 5. One that saw us clear off for a day out because Marianne was working. One that had Liam’s full blessing and full cooperation. One that involved repeated non-unique summits without objections from Jimmy. One bathed in the best of British summer weather.
Something that was not a blast from the past was the three of us setting our alarms for 7am - and Liam and Jimmy both being up, dressed and ready well before me. We drove straight down to Congleton and breakfasted at McDonalds - now that was a blast from the past.
We had a good run down the M6 and M54, but were nonetheless surprised to find parking spaces by the start of the track up The Wrekin G/WB-010 at 10am on a beautiful Sunday summer morning. Perhaps this was something to do with the big car park a little further along the road - I had no recollections of the existence of this, so wondered if it was new?
We kitted up and got straight into the nice walk, initial winding up through woodland and then climbing the ridge along a wide and lofty path with excellent views. Back in those fondly remembered days of the early part of the SOTA programme, I was the strongest and fastest walker of the three of us. But certainly not now. After five minutes, Jimmy was well out-of-sight, and Liam showed me a clean pair of heels for most of the ascent.
After climbing to and passing through Heaven’s Gate at the near end of the summit ridge, I could see the trig point a few hundred metres further, and the sight of Jimmy M0HGY finalising erection of the SOTAbeams MFD, mounted vertically on the SOTA Pole.
Soon, we joined, and I set up the 12m groundplane, sheltering a little from the prevailing North-Westerly wind by sitting a few metres down the slope from the trig point. Jimmy was soon reporting difficulties with mush from the nearby transmitter, and he switched the MFD to horizontal polarisation atop the SOTA Pole. This worked well and he went on to make 16 QSOs, all on 2m FM.
I was satisfied to have qualified the summit with four QSOs on 12m PSK31. I then answered a 12m CW CQ call from Glen G4DUC in Stoke-on-Trent, and we went on to have an enjoyable ragchew on 24.891MHz. Moving up to my own frequency, I added nine more contacts on CW, before just the one on 12m SSB.
I rounded off with three on 2m FM, one of which was a nice surprise - Jack G4COX/P on Gun G/SP-013, a S2S that Jimmy also worked.
After descent, we drove back north for the next part of the plan - which was the Sunday buffet at The Purple Pakora restaurant in Congleton. Suitably stuffed, and the sun still shining, I decided that The Cloud G/SP-015 would be a good idea to walk off our hefty lunches.
To be honest, we had forgotten all about Jack G(M)4COX being in the area, so it was quite a surprise to find him atop The Cloud! A very pleasant surprise though, and both Jimmy and myself found ourselves chatting to Jack for quite a time before setting our stations up. Jack reported that he had finished and was about to pack up, but first I was able to have a detailed look at all Jack’s gear, and several of his highly practical approaches.
Jimmy was able to keep the MFD in vertical polarisation this time, and made 19 QSOs on 2m FM. My own activation added ten QSOs to the 12m Challenge score, these comprising five on PSK31, three on SSB and just two on CW. Loads of people approached me wanting to know what I was doing, and promoting the hobby now seems to be a feature of every activation!
Jimmy and Liam descended while I hung around for a little while calling on 2m FM on the handie. This added just three more QSOs to the log, making a total of 13 for the activation for me. Interestingly, my total for the day was 31 QSOs, whereas Jimmy’s was 35. That certainly was NOT a blast from the past!
Super day. Apart from the hayfever, which finally caught up with me around 5.30pm BST on The Cloud. I am not complaining, as the misery is normally endured from mid May to mid July, and this was my first suffering of 2013. But the symptoms are still unpleasant. Then again, they take my mind off the headache…