An unexpected opportunity for a SOTA day out arose on Friday 25th April 2014. A late start was necessary, as the deal involved dropping Liam off at college at 9am, and the weather forecast looked bobbins for the afternoon. However, Jimmy was at work, so provided I was prepared to “grin and bear it”, there was no stopping me.
Naturally, I headed in the direction of my nearest (or perhaps “most easily accessible”) cluster of summits not yet recorded as multipliers in the 12m Challenge. In my case, this was the Shropshire hills of Caer Caradoc G/WB-006, Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002 and Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004.
Road progress was slowed by having to stop at corners and reconsult the road atlas in the “old fashioned way”, what with not having a satnav, nor a human navigator with me. It had been a long time - 11 years in fact - since I last attempted the north face of Caradoc, and it took a little time to find the correct parking spot and access to the path.
I couldn’t find anywhere to park near to Lower Botvyle and the path signed “Caradoc Path” in the yard, but I pulled onto the verge at SO476961 by Botvyle Farm and took the PROW from there. The sign here said “Caer Caradoc 0.1 miles, 5 minutes”. ‘Yeah right’ I thought!
After walking across the first field, the gradient stiffened significantly up a grassy gully to the saddle between Little Caradoc and Caer Caradoc. Turning right (south) there was another trudge up a gently rising field before hitting the well-known “footprint steps” up Caradoc’s north ridge. Although this is the steepest part of the walk, it is also the easiest, because you can place your feet down flat and get into a rhythm!
Hanging around the ramparts just below the summit was several groups of teenage girls doing D of E Bronze. I had a chat with some of them on the way up, and down later, and found them to be very pleasant and intelligent. I was soon on the summit and down again on the other side - well one metre down, using the rocks for shelter!
The only HF band carried was 12m for the challenge, but I figured that if I struggled to make the four contacts, I would simply switch to the 2m FM handie. As it was, I got the four QSOs, all on CW, in 17 minutes. The fourth and qualifying contact took a long while coming, but when it did, it was worth waiting for - OV1CDX on EU-029. OK, not exactly IOTA DX, but nice to get a not-so-common prefix.
With no other replies coming, nor any activity worth queueing up for elsewhere on 24MHz, I packed up and retraced my steps to the car. It was now off to Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002.