I’ve had to call off today’s activation of Stiperstones G/WB-003. We made it to within half a mile of the parking spot, but an increasing amount of snow was falling with the attendant erratic driving from some drivers causing problems up ahead. Discretion was the better part of valour and I turned for home.
A heavy band of snow had just made its way through the county, with the North, West and South most affected. If anyone was planning a trip to the Shropshire WBs today, it’s probably best to give it a swerve. Telford, Shrewsbury, Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth are currently being reported as at a standstill.
Time to get better acquainted with the new SDRPlay RSP1a!
Thank you very much for this report & sorry you had to call off your activation. I was planning to do the two Clee Hills tomorrow or Thursday, but I think I will give it a miss now. I hope I can activate them before the end of the winter bonus season next March. I managed to do the other three 2 pointers just before Christmas. 73s John G0MHF
Yes - I’d like to to Stiperstones and the two Clees in what remains of the year, but I am hesitant to return to the Stiperstones tomorrow in case what came down today has frozen solid overnight! I’ve taken to doing single summit days as part of a longer walk, rather than the “several in one day via the most efficient routes” approach that I’ve taken in the past. I’m thinking they will have gritted the A4117 tonight so I might see if I can park in the car park above Clee Hill Village, and then walk the old railway line over to Dhustone and head on up to the top of Titterstone. It’s all still undecided, but if I do go out I’ll report back here on what conditions are like up there.
OK - the alert has been posted for Titterstone. Fingers crossed for better conditions tomorrow.
Yes, a good inch+ of snow south of Shrewsbury this morning. Not all that much has melted unlike Monday’s fall which melted fairly quickly on the lower ground. The main routes are fine, but I would be hesitant about some of the side roads if it does freeze overnight.
Will try to listen out for you both if you do manage it!
Good luck, Dave!
The Stiperstones with snow on the ground and the wierd pinnacles looming out of the blizzard is a wonderful experience, sorry you missed it!
Thanks for the update James.
Looking forward to getting you in the log tomorrow.
Thanks Brian, I may need it yet.
Looks like I’ll be swapping The Devil’s Chair for The Giant’s Chair. I’m sure the blizzard is trouble enough without either of those two characters making an appearance!
It’s all probably a bit immaterial following this afternoon’s announcement, but…
The Clee Hills are both currently fairly accessible, the Brown Clee moreso. The main roads are all gritted and totally clear, with the side roads being the same so long as there is habitation. The road to the “summit” car park on Titterstone is gritted as far as Dhustone cottages, after which its a bit of an ice rink. 4WD vehicles were making it all the way, while some of the braver 2WD cars were making it to just below the car park. Many were simply abandoned in passing places a few yards above the snowline making it difficult for for other people. I parked in the car park at Cleehill Village and walked in - a round trip of about 5 miles, and greatly enjoyed it.
I walked Brown Clee from the Roadside parking above Cleobury North, as I could use the service road to the transmitting station as a solid linear feature back to the car in the dark (with the aid of head torch, poles and Grivel Spiders). The roads were clear, with a bit of slush on one corner that caused me no loss of traction.
An excellent couple of expeditions, and a reminder of how much I enjoy activating on 2m FM. Plenty in the log with a good mixture of familiar and new callsigns. Apologies to David @2E0GZN who’s final I really was enjoying when it was interrupted by a very pleasant and curious member of the public!
Many thanks to all stations worked.
Thanks for the QSO’s from both the Clees today, looks like you had a pileup both times
Hi Dave, thanks for your update on conditions. As you say, it’s a bit immaterial now, but I don’t think I would have gone out tomorrow to the Clees. It’s a 200 mile appx round trip for me, so I have to be sure of the weather. Roll on the spring & Tier 2 or less status! 73s John G0MHF. PS- I listened out for you but my Wirral QTH seems to be out of range.
A sound decision I think, John. The Clees will be there for another day.
For my part, I’m going to make another attempt on The Stiperstones tomorrow, before the “oh, that’s the Y axis!” penny drops and the whole of the UK ends up in Tier 58 . I’ll park at the bottom by The Bridges Inn, and walk in and out - a round trip of about 5 miles with a decent bit of ascent.
A shame you couldn’t hear me from The Wirral - conditions to the North seemed enhanced but very changeable. I worked Simon @G7WKX near Liverpool Airport with ease. Then at the end of the activation I heard a good signal from Alan @2E0AGB in West Yorkshire - just after we exchanged he dropped away back into the noise! Hopefully we’ll meet on air during a future activation, perhaps yours next time.
Thanks for the contact on both hills Rick @M5RJC. With the M5 call and diction that crisp it certainly cuts through the pileup! I forgot how much fun it is to run a pileup on FM.
I will have a listen for you tomorrow, I might be lucky! Have a good day!
Ah is that what it was Andy…Was strange how he was booming through then suddenly all went dead.
That beam works brilliant for you though Dave.
The road over The Stiperstones is currently unpassable. “Proper” 4WDs are making it up there by driving over the fields rather than on the road, with a gate having been removed next to a cattle grid in the middle of a lengthy icy section. At about 1400 the lower slopes were re-freezing as they we re-covered by shadow resulting in black ice which even in foot made for an interesting descent. Best avoided until temperatures rise a bit.
Apologies to anyone listening for me. I realised at the car that I had left the mast at home, which I could have overcome. I realised at the summit that I had left the feeder at home, which I could not! As Geoff @2E0BTR said “Third Time Lucky”. That’ll teach me to leave the RH-770 at home in the interest of saving a few grammes.
I hadn’t thought of it at the time Andy, but that makes sense looking back. Good to get you in the log Allen, I am so far fairly pleased with the little Moxon rectangle. It provides a little bit of gain, a decent F/B, and is plenty robust enough to withstand my freezing lunch hooks.
Heard you loud and clear on Titterstone, but you had quite the pile up and my little Baofeng couldn’t make it through. Have now upgraded the radio so hopefilly will be able to get through another time!
I know the road to the Stiperstones car park from Bridges well and I’m not surprised by what you say. There’s some steep bits too! I was listening out, but I guess no feeder is difficult to overcome, still I’m sure the views made up for it!
I had hoped to work you, but sadly not to be this time. There will be plenty of other opportunities so I’m sure we’ll make it soon. Perhaps when I finally get Stiperstones on the air!
Stations piling up on FM tend to completely obliterate each other and what you hear is a kind of S9 silence punctuated with the odd speech peak. To my ear, its harder to winkle out a call on FM than SSB. In an FM pileup I’ll generally leave a good long pause between calling QRZ? and going back to a station. That way I can pick out the stations that pause a little while before sending their call, and can often get at least two suffixes noted in the log to go back to. The downside of course is that if you wait too long, the summit station may double with you and thus not know you are calling. Its all part of the fun (I think!).
The other trick with low power is just to keep calling! Barring really cold/wet weather or flat batteries I’ll always try to work every station that calls me on a summit. As the pileup starts to ebb, the weaker stations start to be heard more easily.
I wonder what you have upgraded to, James?
I re-read this and had a sudden thought. I wonder if you have explored southwards from the road that crosses the Stiperstones ridge? The ridge continues south for a fair distance and rocky outcrops keep appearing. The walk appears to end in a sudden crater-like valley with a ruined cottage in it. I did the walk as an out and return years ago with my XYL, we started at the Stiperstones Inn and scrambled up the rocky arete opposite, did the full walk and return, and finished with a meal at the inn, though that’s probably closed now.
Thanks for the suggestion, Brian. I’ve been a little way south, as far as Nipstone Rock, but not as far as you describe. I’ve often thought I should like to walk Black Rhadley Hill which is down that end too, so some good scope for a pleasant, if lumpy day there! I’ve nosed about the Northern end a bit, near Snailbeach, but probably haven’t walked around there for 20ish years. I drove past the Stiperstones Inn a year or two ago and it was open, but I dread to think how it may have faired in 2020.
There is a good blog post here about a Trimble survey of both Stiperstones and Nipstone Rock, written by the famous (in hillwalking/hill surveying circles) Myrddyn Phillips. I’ve admired the work of Myrddyn et al ever since I learned of their work on helping to define and redefine The Nuttalls.