Mopping Up - SC-012, SC-013 and SE-003
Saturday 15th August 2009
A last minute arrangement by Bev to see her mother on Saturday 15th August provided me with an unexpected opportunity to get out up the summits once again. For some time three summits in the south had been annoying me as they seemed to stick out on my “to-do” list, so I decided to get them mopped up. A further two on the Isle of Wight were being gracefully ignored, as these would need to be incorporated into a stay on the island – a mandatory requirement set by the Activation Controller!
The itinerary of three easy summits allowed me to set a late start time around 7 a.m. Waking early, I was able to get away from home by 05:40z, but I incurred an initial delay of 10 minutes as I had to fill up with petrol for the trip. I was aiming for a 10:00z first activation at the other end of the150 mile first leg of the journey that would take me around 3 hours. It wasn’t long before matters went awry. As I set off up the A43 from junction 15A of the M1, my mobile rang. I pulled into the next lay-by and took the voicemail message – it was Bev telling me that I had left my pole and antennas at home. Arghhh! Being only 12 miles outbound, I decided to return to collect the missing kit – essential for these remote (in SOTA terms) summits. Eventually I was back on the road for 06:20z with time to make up.
Despite fairly heavy traffic, the A43, M3, M27 and A31 all flowed extremely well. I reached the parking spot for Swyre Head SC-012 near Kingston village just outside Corfe Castle at 09:02z. A quick kit-up and ascent had me on the summit by 09:28z and I was QRV by 09:40z. My ascent into a head wind required me to make some effort and as I approached the summit a dense sea mist rolled in taking visibility down to less than 50 metres – so much for the sunny day that was forecast. Despite the weather, I must say that Swyre Head is a lovely summit with very easy access – it would be very pleasant on a warm sunny day.
I set up to the north of the trig point against a stone wall that conveniently had a post and wire fence adjacent. A couple of CQ calls were made on 144.333MHz before Richard G4ERP replied to me. Being first in line gave us the opportunity to chat a while until his spot took effect and thereafter a steady stream of regular chasers called me, including Mark G0VOF up in Blackburn. Mark was particularly pleased as this was his best DX to date on 2m. I also worked Stewart G0LGS/P on Cleeve Hill CE-001. Stewart said that he would be on Bredon Hill CE-003 later in time for my second activation, so I had another S2S to look forward to.
Conditions on 2m were quite variable with deep QSB on all but the more local contacts. Conditions on 70cms actually proved to be much better with considerably less QSB. At 10:20z I moved up to 432.222MHz and after a couple of “carriers” to check everything was working okay, I heard a QRZ from Mel G8EOP in Dewsbury. We had worked earlier on 2m and I hadn’t told him I would be moving up a band, so it was a surprise for us both. Mel asked whether I had 23cms. I said I had, but I didn’t think that my 280mW of FM to a rubber duck wouldn’t make the distance! After a chat with Mel, Frank G3RMD provided me with a second contact on 70cms SSB. Before going QRT, I made a round of calls on both bands to see whether there were any late-comers, but no further QSOs were made.
The descent took me 13 minutes and at 11:04z I set off towards the edge of Swanage and then struck off towards my second summit of the day, Nine Barrow Down SC-013. At one point I got a little confused with the road layout, but stopped and referred to the map to establish where I was and I soon reached the parking spot described by Richard G4ERP. Now came the only taxing bit of the whole day – the ascent which was steep on certain sections and it was now getting quite warm, even though it was still overcast and windy. I reached the summit by 12:06z and decided to self-spot since I was almost half an hour ahead of my alerted time. My spot was logged at 12:18z, but where was everyone? If in doubt look up – no, I wasn’t going to work much on a croc-clip! Once properly connected up, I was soon in contact, with Frank G3RMD heading the chasers that were now all patiently queued up to work me. For some reason I had a bit of a struggle with Lawrie G6XLL – he had been 59 on Swyre Head earlier – but we made it okay. All signals were certainly well down on those from Swyre Head.
I moved to 70cms at 12:48z and worked Frank G3RMD on CW – Q5 both ways, but not sufficiently strong to make a comfortable contact on SSB. Then I had another surprise – Keith G6LLX/P in the Forest of Dean called me on SSB. We had a pleasant chat and then, contrary to expectations, I managed to work Graham G3OHC up in Selby on CW. Three contacts on 70cms was a very pleasing result for this summit. Returning to 2m, I put calls out on 144.333MHz SSB and 145.500MHz FM until 13:20z in the hope that Stewart would be on Bredon Hill, but I later learnt that he had unfortunately been delayed and did not appear for another half hour.
After packing up, it took me just 18 minutes to get back to the car where I had a quick snack – well it was 13:55z, so it could hardly be called lunch. I set off for the third and final summit of the day at 14:00z with a scheduled 100 mile and 2 hour 15 minute drive ahead of me across to Black Down SE-003 in Surrey. The Satnav took me straight to the correct parking spot for the hill, where I arrived at 15:58z. The traffic had been kind and the sun had at last shown its face - it was a now a very pleasant day all round.
Having changed from my boots back into trainers for driving, I decided not to change my footwear for this summit. A quick ascent along well worn paths brought me close to the trig position where I set up in an area that had been felled. I used a bungie around the remains of a tree trunk to support the pole and opened up on 2m at 16:30z calling CQ while fiddling with my mobile phone to self-spot. For some reason the phone wouldn’t log on, but it wasn’t a problem as Graham G4FUJ was listening out for me and Richard G4ERP was also on frequency and had already placed a spot – now that’s what I call service!
My activation on this summit was supported by just six 2m SSB regulars – G4FUJ, G4ERP, G0TRB, G3OHC, G0NES and G3RMD. Signals were fairly weak all round, but all Q5 both ways. Moving to 70cms at 16:48z, I had to use CW to work Graham G3OHC and Frank G3RMD. The contact with Frank was marginal due to the take-off at his end. I returned to 2m at 17:05z and had a chat with Frank for a few minutes before putting out further calls which resulted in very enjoyable contacts with Steve G4BWG and Bob 2E0RCV.
Dismantling the kit at 17:40z followed by a quick 12 minute descent and a snack plus a couple of Ibuprofen for a slight headache resulted in a drive time of 18:15z. Surprisngly heavy traffic and extensive roadworks on the M25 made this part of the journey rather tedious, but another 110 miles later I arrived home at 20:03, almost an hour earlier than I had planned and well before Bev returned from her mother’s.
Many thanks to everyone that came on to work me. I was especially pleased to make contacts from each of the summits on 70cms. Particular thanks to all those that placed the spots.
73, Gerald G4OIG
SC-012: 2m SSB – 13, 70cms SSB – 2
SC-013: 2m SSB – 9, 70cms SSB – 1, 70cms CW – 2
SE-003: 2m SSB – 8, 70cms CW – 2
Distance driven – 367 miles (587km), 6 hours 54 mins
Distance walked – 7.6km, 1 hour 48 mins