Southern England

An impromptu short family break away in Hampshire soon had Jimmy M3EYP eyeing up opportunities to visit and activate the four G/SE summits he had been up before - prior to getting his licence, and hence all on the “reactivate” list.

  1. Walbury Hill G/SE-001

After many years of endless rain and flooding, it was suddenly a rather pleasant day as we headed south on Tuesday 31st July 2007. I telephoned the timber merchants to cancel my order for my Ark Project, and agreed with The Boss that it would be a good idea to activate Walbury Hill on the journey. After reaching Newbury on the A34, Jimmy navigated us through the country lanes to the west, and up to the parking area.

We walked up the gently rising stony track to its highest point, from where we could see the old hanging post in the distance. We climbed over the gate and ambled along the track to the trig point, adjacent to which is a large area of flat concrete on the ground, rather convenient for bedding down for operating.

We used the FT-817 running 5 watts into the SOTA Beam mounted on the fishing pole. Despite the self spot, response was zilch, and we began to consider resetting for 2m SSB or HF. However, a net of four local stations was discovered further down the 2m band, so we took the easy option of crashing this and each working down the net. Marianne had hinted she wanted to go anyway, and the hayfever was becoming unbearable.

We completed our journey down to the Travel Inn at Winchester Services on the M3, and realised that its location on one side only of the motorway, with no bridge or local access road, would mean an extra 12 miles driving each night just to attain the correct side of the carriageway. We cancelled the 2nd, 3rd and 4th nights of our stay and booked instead into the Travelodge at Eastleigh.

The evening was rounded off with a barbecue at Marianne’s sister’s house in Chandlers Ford. Jimmy had one of his target four summits.

The Wednesday saw us climbing up St Catherine’s Hill, the summit of which afforded a lofty viewing position above the city of Winchester. After a couple of 70cm repeater contacts on summit, we descended and enjoyed a picnic in the nearby water meadows. The weather continued to hold very nicely indeed.

  1. St Boniface Down G/SE-008

Thursday 2nd August 2007 was the day agreed for the Isle of Wight day trip. We booked on a Red Funnel ferry from Southampton to East Cowes (£37.50 return) and took a calm crossing on the 10am service. On the island, we called in at Maplin and Morrisons for supplies of contrasting nature, then hit the road towards Ventnor. Upon nearing the island’s south-easterly town, Jimmy directed us uphill and onto the winding climbing tarmac road to Ventnor Down. We parked in an area near the radio station and trig point (not at the actual summit), and made a start on the picnic in the dry of the car. It was chucking it down outside!

As soon as the rain abated, Jimmy and I took a walk to the summit area and tried our luck on the handhelds. Marianne was not in the mood to sit and watch us playing radio, so the strategy needed to be “smash and grab” I am afraid. We were surprised, with contacts being very easy to come by, with calls from the Isle of Wight and Hampshire enabling activation qualifications in short order. We walked back to the car, and were ther before Marianne and Liam who had been off for a walk of their own above the coastal cliffs. Jimmy and I enjoyed the views across the English Channel and amused ouselves at the funny dancing rituals being carried out by a group of scouts as part of their 100 year celebrations. In fact, two or three GB special event calls from centenary scout camps were heard during these few days.

We drove down to the front at Ventnor and had a pint in the pub and a play in the arcade, before heading off to the island’s other SOTA summit, Brighstone Down G/SE-012. Jimmy now had two of his target four summits.

After St Boniface Down G/SE-008, the second main part of Thursday 2nd August 2007 was to visit Brighstone Down G/SE-012.

  1. Brighstone Down G/SE-012

Jimmy navigated us along the south of the island, before turning north towards the village of Brighstone. Beyond this, the road climbed to a parking area about one mile due west of the summit. We enjoyed a gradually rising walk along a stony track, with views opening up of the English Channel to the south. At the highest point of this path, we turned left (north) for the summit true. On my previous activation, I had continued onto Limerstone Down which is in the activation area, but not wooded over like the actual summit. However, we now understood the true top to be cleared, so that became the objective.

Thankfully, the day had dried and brightened up from early. There were not any trees at the actual summit, but the heather, bracken and ferns were standing a good eight feet above ground level in many places, so we thought the 2m beam or HF dipole might need to be deployed. However, having recently received another “And how long’s this one going to take?” from The Boss, we first tried to see if we could ‘wing it’ on 2m FM handheld style. And indeed we could, with the all important 4th contacts coming via the station of GB2HSC, Hundred Years of Scout Camps event at Brockenhurst in the New Forest.

Fantastic, that was the Isle of Wight taken care of, and we crossed back to Hampshire on the 7.30pm ferry, with Marianne deciding that she didn’t want to visit the Needles after all. Jimmy had three of his target four summits.

Although we were pleased to have fairly easily qualified the activations so far, we were well aware that with XYL-imposed time restrictions, they were not particularly impressive or satisfying radio-wise. With Marianne decreeing “Picnic on Butser Hill” before our journey home on Saturday 4th August 2007, we had an opportunity to partly redress this.

  1. Butser Hill G/SE-004

I was up with the larks on our day of departure, but Marianne, Liam and Jimmy all decided to have a lie-in. So my day started with a solitary three hours in the car, listening to the sound of silence on 2m and the suicide-inspiring melancholy musings on “The Very Best of The Smiths” (bargain at £5 from Gosport Woolworths), puncuated by a walk down to the local Tesco Extra for a breakfast sandwich, drink and newspaper.

Eventually, the three sleepy-heads emerged, enabling me to check-out, and drive over to the big Asda hypermarket where we jointly compiled our picnic. Jimmy then navigated us on a long drive through Bishops Waltham, and eventually up to the car park on Butser Hill (£1 for all day parking).

We collected all the radio stuff and picnic stuff and climbed the remainder of the hill (the car park is pretty high up!) to a large firm grassy area just before (and about 5m lower than) the true summit. It was a clear, sunny and scorchingly hot afternoon.

This time, we didn’t even bring a 2m aerial, or even our handhelds up with us. We set up the 40m dipole, and I went straight to work on CW on 7.032MHz, while Marianne and the boys kicked off with the picnic. Once the initial pile-up was cleared, I found a relatively clear spot on 7.079MHz and got Jimmy to self-spot on there. At last, a bit of success on 40m SSB, and Jimmy was absolutely delighted at working his first ever contacts into Germany and Belgium.

Just as we were about to pack up, we noticed a car and large beam aerial on the horizon, up near the trig point. Upon investigation, it was Bob G8VOI, preparing for the 2m six hour contest. We had a chat with him before returning to pack our gear up.

Job done, and we could get on the road back to Macc. Jimmy got his four out of four target summits.

Hi Tom,

Thank you for a new unique, Jimmy, and glad to work you. As I always send a QSL for the first contact you will be receiving my card via the bureau.

73, hope to work you again, who knows, S2S between 2 “3” stations.