Having completed rebuilding my portable dipole and eliminated the hidden fault, I was keen to try it out and with Tosson SB-007 being my nearest summit, planned to activate it on Saturday. It was a grim gray morning in Newcastle with some occasional smurr but the forecast was improving so we planned a later afternoon activation never anticipating that it would end up being a late as it did.
Drove north from Newcastle with the sun breaking through the clouds, parked in the Simonside forest car park and headed to the summit where we set up by some rocks just beyond it. Kay M3YEY was established on 145 FM while I set up for 5 mhz and as I completed, and she made her fourth contact we spotted some people with dogs approaching, two wearing the distinctive garb of game keepers. They were not happy bunnies. What were we doing here? Who gave us permission to be there? I explained what we were doing, cooled the situation, and offered to move off, so as not to disrupt their grouse shoot but we agreed that it was probably better for us to stay put as that would actually cause least disruption. So we took cover to avoid flying pellets.
After their first drive now 5pm local I managed to work 3 stations before their second drive began, and I had to go QRT once more. Finally at about 5:45pm the second drive was over so I had a quick burst of activity to qualify the summit - one point and my third activation of SB-007 complete - no time for any other bands.
As I started to pack up, yet more keepers arrived again not happy bunnies, but we were able once more to cool the situation and after some discussion the situation became more amiable and they departed with a smile.
The moorland is open access but there was no closure listed on the open access website. Also there were no notices at the common access points advising of a grouse shoot. I would certainly never take any action regardless of open access to disturb a grouse shoot. However as stated on the countryside access website: “What you can do on access land - Most recreational activities that are carried out on foot, such as walking, bird-watching, climbing and running.” Some interesting additional examples are given such as climbing, caving, abseiling, hang gliding, orienteering, metal detecting, and surprisingly clay-pigeon shooting. My perspective is since the rules of SOTA require walking to a summit and setting up a light weight fully portable radio transmitter, then such activity should fall into the category of recreational activities that are carried out on foot.
After we were packed up, there were 3 miles back to the car in failing light which we reached in the dark at 7:40pm. We were home hungry for 8:35pm. At least I now have the headkeeper’s phone number so I’ll check before going back again. Apologies to those who may have looked for this summit mid afternoon. Thanks to those who were there late, and particular thanks to Steve GW7AAV for spots and explaning the situation.
73 jim g0cqk