By the time many of you read this I’ll probably be on my way. South Downs Way take 2 is finally on (barring last-minute mishaps….).

As you’ll see from the alerts, there are five summits along the route. All my scoring activations so far have been done on 2m and I would like to keep that unbroken record so I’ll be starting on 2m ssb and staying there for as long as it takes. Oh, Butser Hill is activation number 400 and with permission granted, I’m looking forward to it.

We managed some remarkable contacts from all the summits last year so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The VHF takeoff from all of them is good.

I’m taking more battery this time thanks to a new 4aH 3S LiPo and given some sunshine later in the week, I should be able to keep it at around 75% capacity courtesy of a solar charger. Tests a few weeks ago were very encouraging. With any time and battery capacity left over I’ll attempt the bands in the order I have alerted. (The usual provisos apply.)

The delay has allowed me to sneak a few new items into my rucksack to try. These include:

  1. The solar panel and charging system for the LiPo.
  2. My lightweight headset for the FT-817 (sorry, chaps!).
  3. A new, lighter cooking system.
  4. HF – properly shaken down.
  5. Lithium AA and AAA cells.

I hope to work many of you over the next few days – and this time I’ve got online spotting sorted out – I think.

73, Richard

Five summits, 100 miles and five-and-a-bit days of walking. That was the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne.

Thanks to everyone who followed my progress and helped me make over 60 QSOs from these remoter summits – and mostly on 2m. I haven’t written up the logs yet but I think at least a couple of chasers made it 5/5.

Very briefly and concentrating on the technology aspects:

  1. The solar charging experiments were positive. By float charging the LiPo battery during two of the activations I managed to use only 1ah of the 4ah battery. It proved impossible to recharge “on the hoof” as for most of my walking time there was either insufficient sun or it was too windy to risk the relatively fragile flexible panel. Charging in ideal sunny conditions on Firle Beacon was prevented by gale force winds. The panel needs to point at the sun in both az and el.
  2. My lightweight headset was successful and even drew some unsolicited comments about audio quality.
  3. Lithium AA and AAA cells are ideal for this sort of expedition. No self-discharge and both lighter and higher capacity than NiMH. A single pair of AA cells powered my Garmin GPS for the entire walk – and they’re still going strong. I changed the NiMH cells on day 4 last year. To be used sparingly for this type of outing as they’re non-rechargeable.
  4. I’m pleased I took HF with me and I made a number of contacts when the bands were open but three of the five activations were early in the day when 60m was dead. I wouldn’t leave home without VHF. The little 4-ele stood up very well to the gale – which was so strong that it blew the guying plate and guys off the mast before I had a chance to finish assembling it.

I’ll pop a couple of photos on Flickr later on this evening when I’ve had a chance to look through them.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
Hi Richard

Sounds like a walk and half - you covered a lot ground. Well done on that and also the radio side of things.

73 Phil

In reply to G4ERP:
Congratulations Richard on completing your walk, as planned. Pleased to work you on most of the summits, with some difficulty, given my proximity to the Cotswold’s escarpment.
I was surprised to hear you on 2M FM en-route to work this morning. I would have needed a month off work to recover from such endeavours!
Glad the back-packing,camping,and battery charging worked out well. Perhaps you should do a write up of your exploits/experiences for the next SOTA news. I’m sure it would make interesting reading, and be quite educational for those (not me!) planning a similar expedition.
73, Frank

Fantastic stuff Richard. Backpacking it as well - respect! I should imagine that a detailed account with hi-res photos would be warmly received by the editors - and readers of PW or Radcom - and maybe even Trail!

PW (the other one) next?


In reply to G4ERP:
Sorry to miss you. Travels northwards with only handhelds for radio.

Graham G4FUJ

Good afternoon everyone and thanks for the comments. I’m still busy tidying up, checking everything and re-stocking after my wanderings but I hope to get some photos sorted soon. I don’t know if anyone would be interested in my ramblings (of either sort) and equally what the best medium would be. I’ll ponder on that for a while.

The SDW is one of our easier National Trails – but it’s still hard work when you’re carrying an extra 22% of your own weight on your back. I only weigh 60kg and I started with a rucksack weighing 13.4 kg.

It puts a tremendous strain on your legs as you are inevitably walking with your body at a slightly different angle thanks to the load and that’s why I’ve been concentrating on longer walks recently rather than summits.

What next? Well, LD-land beckons but as far as LDPs are concerned, the logistics play a big part for me. The Pennine Way would use up too much time in travelling to/from and the one that has my attention at present is Offa’s Dyke Path. A frequent direct rail link from Cheltenham to Chepstow. One change on the return from Prestatyn. That means I can do a full day’s walking on the first and last days and be back at work the next.

The trail is approx 180 miles long and the planning is nearly complete but I have one logistical problem still to solve. I need to re-stock with supplies around half way – somewhere round Welshpool. I seem to have battery charging under control but I can’t carry enough main meals to last the distance. Six days is the limit. The incentive is high – lots of summits, some of which will be uniques for me.

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

Hi Richard

Good effort - envious!




I imagine there are two straightforward solutions to your logistics issues for the ODP.

  1. There are plenty of active SOTA participants around your “restock” point and in fact along the route. I’m sure several would be more than happy to help out with food drops, fresh batteries (but sounds like you’re sorted in that department anyway) etc.

  2. Why not try the 5 Star approach? B&B / pub / hostel accommodation is plentiful along the route, so you only need to carry your food for the day, and buy new stock each evening. There are even baggage handlers to move your other clothes and kit on while you are walking, so your pack is light - just what you’d take on a ‘normal’ activation - and you have the guarantee of dry clothes to change into at the other end (as well as a good hot meal, a shower and a proper bed).

Jimmy and I did the “5 Star” approach when we did the Pennine Way, and to be honest, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way! But I’m sure if you are sticking with the ‘proper’ backpacking method, you won’t be short of offers to help out with the logistics.



In reply to M1EYP:

It’s tempting - the 5-star approach - but aren’t you then tied into a schedule that has to be kept? I have a schedule but if I choose to change it and stop somewhere different I can - and have.

The down side of course is that you’ve more to carry and even things like finding water at the right time can prove problematical. It’s certainly more of a logistical challenge and it needs a lot of homework before setting off.

I think I prefer the go-it-alone route. There is a wonderful sense of freedom despite the drawbacks. Oh, did I mention that it’s also a lot cheaper.

I’ve put three photos from Day 2 on Flickr. Nothing from Day 1 as the radio stayed in my rucksack. If anyone’s interested, say and I will, but I was trying to keep it “on topic”.


73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:

… and to complete the radio days, a few more photos:


(There are lots more …)

(edit) Oh, oh, … looking through the photos again I remembered being taken aback when looking down into the Amberley Working Museum to see an HF TriBander. It’s definitely in the museum grounds. Any ideas anyone?

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
Hi Richard, its the antenna of GB2CPM (chalk pits museum) qrv most weekends I believe, its a permanant station, I have worked it from a couple of summits myself! - Dave G8XDD

In reply to G8XDD:

Brilliant - thanks, Dave. Had I done my homework properly, I could have arranged to call in except that it was Friday anyway. Oh, well.

As it was, I was more intent on luncheon at the Houghton Bridge Tea Rooms!

73, Richard

In reply to G4ERP:
Hi Richard,

I must say I really enjoyed your report though I knew nothing of your expedition in advance. I admire very much your approach to the problem solving required of this type of undertaking. The solar charging and the fact that you carried such a big weight considering your own weight. It is a heavy pack but considering what it had to do for you and the time it had to keep on doing it, you got it impressively light. This was just the sort of logistical problem I enjoyed mulling over years ago; used for penetrations into the Caingorms or summit campovers, uninhabited islands etc, which is why I liked reading about your walk. Now I can barely work out my day never mind several in series!

Good luck with the next 180 mile one. Hope the WX doesn’t get too hot; that’s a killer.

73, John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:

Hi, John.

As an admirer of your own exploits and much humbled by them I’m flattered by your comments. Thanks. It’s much appreciated. It’s not been much of a write-up and a number of people have expressed an interest. I just don’t know what’s the best medium. I wrote up last year’s walk and it came to 14,000 words - a bit more than the average 1,700 words of a RadCom article. I’ve been sitting on it ever since.

In the meantime I thought I would push my luck a bit and post three last photos on Flickr. To some extent they complete a picture of the walk and the area. There’s a tenuous SOTA link for two of them. (Honest, Richard …)


Noted on your comments about the heat. I couldn’t agree more and that’s why I’ve done LDPs at this time of year or in the Autumn until now. Unfortunately with F1’s self-imposed summer shutdown occurring in early August I’ve little choice with this next one.

73, Richard