The Pirates, the Rabbi, the witchdoctor, the Dragon, the Greek god and the Mountain. (or a SOTA activation report by GW7AAV)
In bodybuilding it is often said that there is “no gain without pain” a saying, which in its self probably originates from an old Hebrew text in which it is written “Ben Hei Hei would say: According to the pain is the gain.”
Having broken a bone in my foot (tarsometatarsal) in January and spending six weeks in plaster and three and a half months off work I have two things to show for my pain, a huge amount of chaser points and the fact that I can now read and send Morse code, all be it very slowly so far. Cabin fever has now started to set in and coupled with the fact that I need to get fit again I have been doing a fair bit of walking (on the flat) and while the kids have been off a lot of cycling. All part of the build up to getting back to work and more importantly achieving what I had intended this year in the way of activating more.
Saturday 14th April 2007 could have been July or August if the weather was anything to go by. It was a stunning day and a great many activators had obviously been watching the weather. By the time my XYL Helen GW7AAU emerged from the pit I was already nearing 50 chaser points, “How is you ankle, this morning?” she asked, knowing that I had been for a long cycle ride with the kids the previous day. “Seems much better” I replied. “Okay!” she said “then how about we walk up Moel Arthur this afternoon?” I looked at the alerts again and said, “How about we walk up Penycloddiau and do an activation, tomorrow?”
Batteries charged, sandwiches made, and bags packed all the night before it was an unusually early start for us, on the road by 10am rather than still trying to find the girls walking socks at lunch time. First stop was to pick up Sheila the mother in law. This was part of an evil plan to walk the legs off her in an effort to stop her asking why we didn’t invite her on our “days out”. It didn’t work, she said she enjoyed it and to make matters work her witchdoctor told her hill walking was the best thing she could do for her dodgy knees.
Sunday was another August day taken out of time and dropped into mid April. We arrived at base camp for GW/NW-054 Penycloddiau, a car park at NGR SJ138668 in double quick time and under the blazing heat and light of Helios I raised the Jolly Roger on my rucksack antenna and we were ready for a combined day of trekking, talking and treasure hunting.
Through the gate of the car park we took the track heading West and almost missed the clearly marked sign on the right about 50 yards from the gate. The footpath, which is part of the Offa’s Dyke Path climbs steadily up through some woods, the trees of which seemed determined to steal my piratical pennant or snap my rucksack antenna. Out in the open again the path drops a few metres before ascending again until we came to a stile on the right. At this point I wished we had brought the video camera to film Sheila tackling the said stile. I knew she should have brought her broomstick, but she had left it at home in favour of her handbag full of voodoo dolls.
Over the stile a grassy path leads to the summit, where we slumped on a pile of stone for a moment or two to catch our breath before calling Mike GW0DSP on two metres to let him know we had arrived. Mike asked if we wanted spotting. No, we said we would have lunch, put the mast up and do some Geocaching with the kids first.
It took Emily, the youngest daughter all of five minutes to find Charlie G0PZO’s SOTAcache. Considering she had even never seen a GPS before I was very impressed. You can show me how to use it later, I told her. We signed Charlie’s log for the cache, left a QSL card and removed a beautiful engraved Geocoin called Libby from New York. Libby’s owner wants her to travel Europe and we intend to leave it in the next Geocashe we find, maybe in Chester where a European traveller might find her and take her abroad.
Once the mast was raised I went to 5.3985 Fox Echo and Helen called Mike GW0DSP on two metres to spot us. Too late! He had spotted us half an hour earlier and the chasers were hungry for the one point, but they would have to wait as summit to summits came thick and fast. First Steve G1INK on SP-001 Kinder Scout, then Helen worked Tom M1EYP and I worked Jimmy M3EYP on NP-005 Ingleborough on two metres FM. Leaving Helen to the FM pile up I tried FE on five megs working Rob G4RQJ on LD-022 Seat Sandal and then dropped down to 5.3665 Fox Kilo but only raised Brian G4ZRP on the Wirral. Five just wasn’t doing it at this point and after quick QSO with Barry M3PXW on two FM I tried 40m working 2E0HJD who was mobile and Cyriel ON3CYV from Windmill Win-2025.
A tip off from Mike GW0DSP then put me back on FE where I worked Robin GM7PKT on GM/WS-256 Beinn na Sroine after which I tried 5.4035 Fox Mike and worked a good few of the usual chasers. When they dried up I tried 40m again finding Wolfgang DH3ZK/P calling “CQ SOTA” but for some reason I couldn’t get through however I did work John G3OKA before another tip off from Mike put me on to 7.115 where I worked Klaus DF2GN/P on DM/BW-196 Dietschenberg for a ten chaser point summit to summit. Several European stations then started calling me on Klaus’s frequency but before I could ask them to QSY the mast decided to collapse. Was this an omen? Did Shelia have my voodoo doll out? Either way we took it as a sign to pack up.
Our route down took us further along the Offa’s Dyke path heading in the direction of the Moel-y-Parc mast home of GB3MP repeater (145.750) and the TV transmitters amongst others. A number of other SOTA activations were heard on the way down but we were unable to break through the pile ups with a depleted battery and a rubber duck antenna .To prevent erosion steps have been laid down part of this side but these are a mixed blessing as they are much harder on feet and ankles than walking on grass. Shortly we came to a stile and more amusing antics.
Maybe it was the hard and uneven steps or maybe my Mother in Law saw me laughing and pushed a pin in my effigy but my ankle started to give me some pain at this point but I bit my lip and carried on. Eventually we came to a farm track running at 90 degrees to the path. There was a gate to the right and more signs for the Offa’s Dyke Path. We took the track left which is part of the Clwydian Way skirting the Western slopes.
Our original route took us along the Clwydian Way and to Moel Arthur before retuning to our start point but the hot sun, lack of fitness, my sore ankle and a developing blister or two caused us to cut to the left along a path that took us through some woods and back to the car park. This shortened the walk from about seven to around five miles, which was probably a good job seeing how we all were almost out off water. Fortunately we always have drinks waiting back in the vehicle on these outings and everyone was soon refreshed. With the ‘climate control’ in the Discovery on ‘Lo’ we started back home.
In the narrow lane leading to the car park I was reminded of what had happened in the morning. We met with a car coming the other way and had to reverse for about half a mile to find a passing space. This time was different. We had not seen any passing spaces, Helen was driving, she was tired and our car was bigger than theirs. Some people cannot reverse! Where was that video camera? Was that something about male drivers I heard?
I’d had a brilliant day, but it wasn’t over yet. On the Denby road shielded by hills on both sides I was called by Mike GW0DSP again to tell me Steve G1INK was now on SP-015 Gun. “I’ll never get him from here” I told Mike. “Well he can hear you” replied Mike. After a few tries I was astounded to work Steve for yet another chaser point and it didn’t end there. On arriving home I turned on the HF to find Keith GM8HXE on GM/SS-174 Common Hill and with the point I got on 80 metres from Les G3VQO on SE-008 St Boniface Down in the Isle of Wight I had racked up a worthy chaser score to add to my tally.
I expected to wake on Monday morning full of aches and pains but I woke feeling better than I have for a long time if not a little tired. I am due to start back at work a week on Sunday so now I am itching to squeeze in some more activations before then, but maybe straight up and down this time. Our intended route is probably easy for a fitter person, on a cooler day, who is not carrying a massive rucksack full of radio gear and can be well recommended to those who are up to it. We suffered from the heat haze but the views from the top are superb with Moel Arthur, Moel Famau and the rest of the Clwydian range and the Dee estuary visible on a clear day.
Hoping this “little” report entertains, educates and amuses and all the hyperlinks work.
73 Steve GW7AAV
:o( there where a number of hyperlinks in this report but they don’t work here so you will not be as entertained or as educated as would have wished.