The day (the fifth day of our trip) on Gibraltar passed too quickly, visiting the tunnels, caves, finding geocaches and watching the monkeys, and after another stay in Arcos de la Frontera it was time to head back to Portugal via a couple of hills.
Last look at the Rock of Gibraltar from the Spanish side of the border
At the time we were there, the majority of the summits in the Cadiz region of south east Spain were unactivated, but we realistically only had time for one or two summits on our journey back. Again google maps and the sota mapping was invaluable. The 2-point summit of Verdugo (EA7/CA-035) above the well-kept town of Prado del Ray was chosen. This part of Spain appears to have a vast endless patchwork of fields containing sunflowers and wheat which were about to be harvested. Unfortunately, the sunflowers in particular had passed their best and were drooping their heads away from the sun. Still a magnificent contrast to the hills in the national park we were travelling towards.
Verdugo was selected as it wasn’t too far out of our way, an easy walk, which had the added attraction of a geocache at the top. We had a relaxed start to the day taking our time to enjoy the drive to Prado del Ray. Parking was in an industrial area at the start of the transmitter track which quickly gains height to the set of masts on the false summit. Here there is also a viewing platform looking over the town and the hills of the Sierra de Grazalema National Park. The true summit is another 200 m away along a pleasant path through the trees. The top did appear to be on a fenced off area but over the years the fence had been damaged and it could be accessed. Instead of being in the trees we elected to set-up in a flat patch of clear ground not too far away.
The route up Verdugo (EA7/CA-035) following the transmitter service track then across the ridge
View of hill from where we parked
Looking back down the first part of the track
The way up
The view over Prado del Ray and the hills of the Sierra de Grazalema National Park
We had now organised our activations better, setting up quickly in the shade to protect not only us but the equipment, we carried plenty of water to drink and were far more chilled. We decided to split the two bands we concentrated on between us. I started on 17 metres quickly qualifying until half an hour later calls were unanswered due to QSB. Highlights of the session was not one but 2 VKs VK3CWB (Moz) and VK2ZH; the “tiny” antenna was working well. Helen spent the next half hour on 20 metres with plenty of EU callers but no great DX. We had allocated an hour activating on the summit (which provided over 50 contacts between us) to give us time to travel back to Portugal and another hill.
Our activation site looking north
Our activation site looking east
Just off the A22 in Portugal was our nemesis summit of Cerro de São Miguel (CT/AL-003) where on our first day Helen had taken a tumble. The views across to the coast as you drive up the narrow access road are spectacular but the summit has nothing to commend it, being dominated by radio masts. It does have many mountain bike trails if that’s your thing. This was going to be a “box ticking” activation. It was too hot, even in the shade at this time of the afternoon, to be an enjoyable activation. We struggled to get contacts on 20 metres (only 11 all told) which just added to the apathy we had for this summit. Qualified we retreated to the comfort of the air-conditioned car and on the journey back to Albufeira, reflected on what a contrast there was between the two hills we had done in the day.
The summit of Cerro de São Miguel (CT/AL-003)
Best part of the hill… looking back towards the coast
Two days of our trip were left but we still had three summits to do in the Algarve region.
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
Day 5 - Gibraltar