Portugal Day 4 - Into Spain and activation of Virgen de la Peña (EA7/HU-023)

While doing our planning for the Portugal trip, organising accommodation and car-hire, and researching summits in the Algarve, we also began to wonder if we could hop into Spain. Spain is only an hour’s travel from Albufeira on the A22, the toll road that runs across the Algarve to the border. Using a mixture of google-maps and sotamaps.org a potential, simple, summit was found near Puebla De Guzmán, Virgen de la Peña (EA7/HU-023). This then snowballed in to “just how far is it to Gibraltar?” The car-hire we booked allowed us to take the car out of Portugal without restrictions so that wasn’t a barrier but driving back and forth in a day would have been too much. Knowing we wanted to take radio equipment with us was an issue as Gibraltar has restrictions on “importing” transceivers along with the ban on non-residents using them, so an idea was hatched to do a stop-over before reaching Gibraltar to provide a break and somewhere to leave our kit; a mini break within our Portuguese adventure.

Virgen de la Peña (EA7/HU-023) just below Puebla De Guzmán was a bit of a detour north after crossing the border bridge over the Rio Guadina. The quiet roads through the countryside made the journey enjoyable and time passed quickly.

The road up the hill starts just to the north and shortly opens up to the large open space outside the beautifully presented church and buildings. It was so quiet that initially we thought we shouldn’t be here disturbing the peace. Initially we were worried we had to climb the prominent rocky outcrop behind the church but then we turned around and remembered that the actual summit was on the opposite side.

The short climb, which initially starts on a staircase between a set of chalets, took us to the summit. This then revealed just how much of the expansive surrounding area could be seen. At the top a fire-warden in his small hut waved and said hola. We set-up in a shaded spot just off the top and spotted ourselves. Both 17 and 20 metres were a bit suppressed due to the mid-morning doldrums however we both easily qualified the summit with 29 contacts between us for another EA association and a new region (EA7/HU). We finished the activation when calls were unanswered.

The summit of Virgen de la Peña (EA7/HU-023) from the carpark with the steps between the chalets on the right

The church and the rocky outcrop from above the steps

The activation site looking west

The activation site looking east

The view of the church looking north from the summit

As we left we explored the area a little and came to the unpaved gravel track especially constructed for a pilgrimage, on horseback, from the town to the church each year.

We had arranged our stop-over (for 2 nights) to be at the stunning town of Arcos de la Frontera where the “old-town” sits on top of a sandstone ridge. Rested the next day, we travelled to Gibraltar to climb on the rock but would be disappointed we couldn’t activate it.

A view of the medieval castle and church on the rocky prominence in Arcos de la Frontera

Early morning Levanter cloud enveloping the rock of Gibraltar from the carpark on the Spanish side of the border

Barbary macaques on the Rock


Equipment used: FT-817 running 2.5 W into a HF Packer Amplifier providing about 20 W into a linked quarter wave vertical for 20 m and 17 m

8 full days from 28th July to 4th July 2023 with 12 summits activated, including an unactivated summit in EA7/CA, with 310 contacts (22 s2s) for G6WRW and 112 contacts (15 s2s) for M0YHB (422 contacts in total) over 9.5 hours of operating

Also 1800 km driven, 35 geocaches found and a day in Gibraltar

Portugal Day 1 - Activation of Cabeço de Câmara (CT/AL-009) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector

Portugal Day 2 - Activation of Pelados (CT/AL-002) and Serra de Mú (CT/BT-001) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector

Portugal Day 3 - Acitivation of Sela (CT/AL-008), Picota (CT/AL-004) and Serra de Foia (CT/AL-001) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector

Portugal Day 4 - Into Spain and activation of Virgen de la Peña (EA7/HU-023) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector

Day 5 - Gibraltar

Portugal Day 6 - Back from Spain and activation of Verdugo (EA7/CA-035) and Cerro de São Miguel (CT/AL-003) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector

Portugal Day 7 - Activation of Negros (CT/AL-006) and Rocha dos Soídos (CT/AL-005) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector

Portugal Day 8 - Activation of Serra da Rocha da Pena (CT/AL-007) - Activation Reports - SOTA Reflector