Whereas my own timings worked out somewhat better. More by luck than judgement I would be the first to acknowledge.
I awoke on Saturday 25th January 2014 at 6am, due to being fast asleep before 10pm the night before after staff football. I knew Maz, Jimmy and Liam would all be intent on having a long lie-in as usual, so I took myself for a little walk up Gun G/SP-013.
The initial part of the path was waterlogged as usual, but most of the way was “passable with care”. I set myself up on the lower side of “Mickey’s Tree” to gain a little respite from the cold breeze. The clouds parted and a sunny blue sky ruled for most of the morning.
It was 12m stuff as usual for me, but only CW and SSB. It was a bit nippy and I never could summon the enthusiasm to do PSK31. If that 12m ad data stalwart Steve G6LUZ had asked if I would be doing it in our SSB QSO, I would have no doubt said yes and done some. However, he never mentioned it and found myself in reverse first three letters of the alphabet mode.
It was a desperately poor QSO rate throughout the activation. I did stick it out for nearly five and a half hours though, and so a total of 66 QSOs was racked up. This comprised 11 on SSB and 55 on CW. S2S QSOs came in courtesy of Gyuszi HA2VR/P on PrÃ©dikÃ¡lÃ³szÃ©k HA/KM-007 and Simon G4TJC/P on Black Hill G/SP-002, both on CW. SSB S2S QSOs were made with George SV2NCH/P on Analipsi SV/TL-092 plus the Madeira Island pair of Peter CT9/OE5RTP/P and Inge CT9/OE5IRO/P, both on Pico Ruivo de Santana CT3/MI-001. They were very good signals and provided the highlight of the activation, even eclipsing my earlier call from Ian VK5CZ.
A surprise visitor was Richard G3CWI, just as I was working the CT3 S2S contacts. Well not quite a surprise as he had earlier texted me to say he was coming. But that initial text was unexpected at least. Sensibly, Richard was wearing wellington boots on Gun Hill today. Less than sensibly, I don’t think he had studied the weather forecast in great detail. Neither had I to be honest, but I’m just lucky and get away with stuff.
Other interesting contacts were had with Madjit UK7AL (Uzbekistan), Victor ER5DX (Moldova), Sergey EX8MLE (Kyrgyzstan), Eduardo CO8LY (Cuba) and Ahmet TA3AX (Turkey). Plenty of the Russian special Winter Olympic ‘22’ call stations were around as well. A few other 12m SOTA activations were heard, but I failed to work them, so these will go into the SWL section. These were Viktor EN7JHF on Staurnyn-Burnu UT/CR-047, Peter OE5AUL/P on Grillenparz OE/OO-316 and Herbert OE9HRV/P on MutjÃ¶chle OE/VB-335.
Around 1.15pm, I decided I was tired, cold and hungry, and it really was time to be packing up and going home. This wasn’t such a bad move as I was to find out shortly after. Firstly, to my surprise, the path back down the parking area was virtuallu all under deep water. It was mostly dry on the way up, and there hadn’t been any rain whatsoever! I could only deduce that there must have been significant rain just before I arrived earlier, and that the damp ground had drained in the intervening hours.
A bit of light rain was felt in the air just as I reached my car. I kitted down (or should that be dekitted?) and got in the car. As I turned the ignition, on automatically cam BBC Radio 5 Live on 909kHz medium-wave. And every few seconds came a menacing static crash. Looking ahead of me, I could see a rather nasty torrent of grey approaching from the side of The Cloud G/SP-015. I rang Richard G3CWI on his mobile to warn him. Richard had spotted it and was halfway through packing up. I later learned that he had had to hunker down in the heather while the storm passed, taking a beating - and a soaking from an incredible hailstorm.
Driving down to Rushton Spencer, I had a spectacular view of the electrical storm, and some terrific displays of forked lightning. One particular bolt was horizontal, and seemed to zap across from The Cloud to the wooded area on Gun where Richard usually sets up. I hoped he was OK and was relieved to receive a text from him later to say he had got back to his car in one piece.
As I drove through Bosley village, the hail was so intense and heavy that visibility was reduced to next to nothing, and all the cars on the main A523 road ground to a halt. I definitely got off that hill at the right time!
12m CW: 55
12m SSB: 11
SOTA S2S: 5
SOTA SWL: 4
Many thanks for all the calls. It was nice when the USA/Canada chasers began to come through shortly after local midday. Not often you work Oceania and North America in the same SOTA activation!
73, Tom M1EYP