It’s a while since I written a report on an activation partly because I’ve not been out since 1-Jan-2014. The WX here has been horrible most weekends, heavy rain or mad gales. The WX this weekend wasn’t brilliant with snow for about 70miles North of here and heavy rain for everywhere else. A small patch of the borders looked to be OK and the only decent leg-stretching walk was to Meikle Says Law. (pronounced Mee kul).
I managed to get lost in the village of Haddington and made a 10mile detour before finding the correct road to Gifford. By the time I got to Gifford my car was white with road salt. The roads from here are minor and even more minor and were showing some bad flood/ice damage in places, big potholes, large amounts of the top surface missing. The rain in the night must have been torrential as the road up the hill was like driving in a stream with run off water. However, once on the moors proper the road was OK. I got to the parking area to find a guy had managed to park in a space big enough for 5 cars such that nobody else could park or gain access to the farm track. Class! He was booting up and I suggested he move and we’d all be able to park. “Didn’t expect anyone else.” So that makes it all right! All this was made harder by the force 10 icy gale blowing. The sun was shining nearby but I could barely open the car door. Oh dear going to be a cold day.
The parking is at 401m but you immediately drop 60m to the Faseny Water. There are lots of routes up SS-148 but most involve fording the Faseny Water 1 or more times. I knew with the rain it would be deep and it was so I took the boring route that crosses a foot bridge. There is approx. 2.3km of excellent gravel track and then you’re on your own. Well there is a dirty path/ATV that parallels a burn draining the higher areas. It was wet, waterproof footwear recommend for here. Also the OS are optimistic in their suggestion of how much track there is, a lot less than the map says!
I made my way to the top of Little Says Law and surveyed Fallago Ridge Wind Farm. That’s new since I was here in April 2007 with Brian G4ZRP when we found some WWII ordnance in the peat. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mm0fmf/452889900/
There are now 48 turbines in a 144MW installation. Yes it was windy which is one reason to build a wind farm here. Crystal Rig Wind Farm (108 turbines is near) I could see turbines/wind farms as far as the eye could see. The reason is there is a 400kV supergrid connection running across the moor from Torness AGR Power station. With the grid nearby you’d be silly to build a windfarm where you had to spend money to link it up with miles of cable!
From Little Says Law it’s 60m ascent to Meikle Says Law 1.5km away. A fair old toil as the ground is horrible, lots of bogs and peat hags etc. You need to pay attention all the time or you’ll end up face first in the gloop. There was lots of snow and ice patches as well which surprised me. I didn’t think it was that cold. It was Baltic with the fierce wind blowing but the car said 7C when I parked it. I was only climbing 138m higher, it shouldn’t be that cold!
At the summit I used the fence and set up on 24MHz. Disaster! I’ve operated by many wind farms and they’re generally RF quiet. Not this. Bleeding great swathes of crackly noise at S9 on 17m,15m,12m,10,6m. Flipping the narrow CW filter gave me a an S1 noise floor but in general it was rubbish. I struggled to work 2 stations on 12m, I put this down to the noise swamping the RF stages and me not hearing people. But actually I wasn’t spotted by RBN and my self spot failed as typed nonsense in the spot. So 2 random contacts only on 12m. 20m was much quieter so I QSY’d and managed to build up a nice pile up in seconds. Thanks RBN!
The constant buffering in the wind and the cold is so debilitating. You don’t realise at first until you cannot make sense of what people send and you cannot send anything without including lots of gibberish characters. I apologise for below average sending. Also I was using my special prefix MA and I forgot to program the CQ machine with the new callsign. A lot of stations sounded rough, either the 817 is gubbed or it was cross-mod from all the crud off the wind farm. 30m,40m sound clean but I couldn’t be bothered rigging full sized inv-V dipoles in the wind.
After an hour I was frozen solid and in a quiet lull, I pulled the station down and hightailed it back to the car. Took 1hr 40 to climb and 1hr 10 back to the car. The sun shone on and off but the whole time I was on the summit, Spartleton SS-182 about 5miles East was in sunshine all the time. Should have done that one and got a tan!
It was good to get out on the hills again after 31 days. Could have been worse, could have been better. 21 QSOs on 14MHz and 2 on 24MHz. At least I got a 12m Challenge multiplier.