Sunny Bournemouth

Saturday 26th October 2013, and the Read family headed south for Bournemouth, for a three night mini-break away. There were skeleton plans for some SOTA activations, but very much to be decided last minute, and dependent upon the weather. The worst storm for 26 years was expected to hit the South Coast of England within the next 48 hours.

A very fine meal at a Turkish restaurant was enjoyed before returning to our holiday apartment. This flat was very nice indeed, but only had the one telly. Thus I had to sit through the X Factor and not behave too disruptively as a trade off for being allowed to watch Match of the Day afterwards.

On Sunday 27th October 2013, I was up early at 5am (with the benefit of the extra hour in bed). Jimmy had elected to have a lie-in and not join me. He didn’t like the look of the strong gusts that were forecast, not the probability of some heavy showers - plus he was tired and wanted a rest. Therefore, it was down to me to navigate myself to my targets on the Isle of Purbeck. Fortunately Jimmy did tutor me through the driving and walking routes the night before, and this did the trick.

The small parking area at SY943793 was used, and I passed through the gates and onto the track. This grassy path then joined the boundary of Polar Wood, then swinging around to the left (south) and the summit of Swyre Head G/SC-012. It was now very windy indeed, and it was important to find an appropriately sheltered spot in which to set up. I decided that nowhere in the vicinity of the summit mound or trig point was suitable, so headed back downhill again.

With the summit standing at 208m ASL, I calculated that I needed to activate above 183m in order to remain in the activation zone. It was noted that the 185m contour line passed into Polar Wood, so I reasoned that remaining at the upper corner of that enclosure would guarantee I was in a valid position. This was a much calmer spot. The stone wall was not best oriented for optimum shelter, but the headland upon which the summit stands appeared to be blocking the worst of the wind from this chosen operating position at SY935788.

Almost as soon as the 12m groundplane antenna was up, down came the first of those heavy showers, so I completed connecting up the FT-817 under the cover of my bothy bag. The rain did not last for long and I soon emerged, preferring fresh air to operate in. The going was fairly pedestrain, with just 8 QSOs made - 6 on CW and 2 on SSB, including S2S with EN7JHF on UT/CR-032. He was a massive signal with big audio!

I had a pass out for this morning, so long as I was back in time to go for a family lunch meet up in Bournemouth. Packing away at 0750 UTC, I was confident of squeezing in Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013 before driving back.


The second summit on Sunday 27th October 2013 was Nine Barrow Down G/SC-013, the other of the two on the Isle of Purbeck. From Swyre Head G/SC-012, my driving route took me back down through Corfe Castle and then right onto the B3351. I drove a little beyond the main parking area and viewpoint and managed to park on a small pull-in opposite the start of the bridleway at SZ008818.

The walking route looked like a bit of work on the map, but only because the contours on OL15 sheet were every 5m rather than the more usual division of 10m. It was in fact an easy and gentle walk up onto the appealing broad ridge and the Purbeck Way path the runs to its highest point.

On our previous visit, Jimmy and I had failed to locate the trig point, although we certainly found the summit. On this occasion, I didn’t bother going to the actual summit, as it was a few yards away in a field and totally exposed to the prevailing wind. Instead, I dropped about 5m down a bank at SZ009811, to a sheltered position about 100m away from the true summit, and about 15m lower.

And guess what was here? Yes, the trig point, tipped onto its side. So after photographing the evidence to present to Jimmy later, I used it as a back rest and shelter for my activation!

One of my pole sections had become loose through heavy and frequent use, and wasn’t able to support a strong grip, so the pole was about 1m lower than usual. This was still fine to support the 12m groundplane antenna, and I was soon QRV. Despite self-spots, it seemed difficult to attract known chasers, but five stations were worked, 3 on CW and 2 on SSB.

I would have liked to have stayed longer racking up many contacts in the spirit of the SOTA 12m Challenge, but that would not have been in the spirit of family harmony. Hence I packed up and commenced my descent.

The plan worked to perfection, and I was back at the apartement in Bournemouth in plenty of time to take a shower and get changed, before heading to Prezzo Italian restaurant in the town centre. Lunch with the family, plus Marianne’s brother, sister and brother-in-law was very pleasant indeed.

Later on we visited the arcade at the pier and watched in horror as large numbers of teenagers played in the ever roughening waters with their surfboards, frighteningly close to where the angry waves were crashing against the pier legs. As the rain started to come, we made our retreat to the holiday flat to batten down the hatches.


We awoke on the morning of Monday 28th October 2013 somewhat surprised at the undisturbed night’s sleep we had enjoyed, and the apparent lack of the anticipated worst storm for 27 years. Live coverage on the rolling news channels showed the devastation caused a few miles either side of us along the coast, as well as the tragic loss of life suffered elsewhere. But for some reason, Bournemouth seemed to escape being hit, and was experiencing a rather pleasant day.

A walk down to the pier and along the beach was mainly undertaken in shirt sleeves as the sun beat down. Children played on the beach, jackets were off and sunhats were on. Even Jimmy’s new glasses turned brown. There was not a breath of wind and we decided not to stay too much longer on a park bench for fear of sunburn? Where on earth was this storm? It had certainly missed us!

That evening we tried something new, and that was a meal in a Lebanese restaurant. And very good it was too - really interesting and tasty. After returning to the apartment, a review of the weather forecast had Jimmy M0HGY advising me that he would in fact be joining me on the following day’s early morning SOTA activation.


It was another 5am get-up on Tuesday 29th October 2013. For our planned visit to Win Green G/SC-008, Jimmy had arranged a joint activation with SE region manager David G3RDQ.

We drove away from Bournemouth in darkness, and Jimmy took care of the directions. About 45 minutes later, we were driving up the by-way to the car park on Win Green Hill. From here it is a very short walk of two or three minutes to the trig point and small wood on the summit.

While it wasn’t as windy as a couple of mornings earlier on the Purbeck Hills, there was still a stiff old breeze. But the temperature had plummeted after the storm and it was jolly cold! Jimmy had I spent some time assessing best sheltered operating positions before setting up. It was the 12m GP for me as usual, and the SOTAbeams MFD for Jimmy.

Just before we went QRV, David G3RDQ arrived on summit, about 30 minutes earlier than we were expecting him. So it was meet and greet and natter for a while, and then QRV while David set up his linked dipole for 30m, 17m and 12m.

Propagation on 12m was definitely to the east at this time. First in the log was Oleg UX4LL in Ukraine. I was then intrigued to work an unusual prefix when UF0A called. It turns out that this was Russia, but probably an all-time new prefix for me. More Russians and Ukrainians followed into the log, as did Finland and Romania. But the real thrill was getting my CQ calls answered by no less than four JA stations, all with enormous signals, and reporting 599 back to me as well! Great fun!

I ended up with 14 QSOs on 12m, all but one on CW, and the single contact on 12m SSB with Alex UA1CDA. Jimmy, who had up until then just managed one QSO on 2m FM, hopped on to also work Alex on 12m SSB before returning to 2m FM to break a local QSO and get three more calls.

David had been busy on 30m CW, but with me breaking down switched for his own go on 12m. Jimmy and I needed to get back to Bournemouth to check out of the holiday accommodation and collect Marianne and Liam for the journey back north. So we left David to the summit and the 12m band, but it had been a real pleasure to meet him.

A very enjoyable three activations, and a very enjoyable little break away.