Wonderful Walbury G/SE-001

After a successful morning on the 29th doing the Top Band activation at Wendover Woods I decided to nip out in the afternoon and activate another summit. This didn’t leave me with many options so I decided on G/SE-001, Walbury Hill as it was only about an hour and a half away and also seemed to be lacking in 80m QSO’s.

So off I went having plugged in the parking spot on the Tom Tom using Richard G3CWI’s POI file. It worked perfectly although the narrow lanes and instructions in the last couple of miles were more like a navigator talking to a rally driver…

“Fast left 200… easy right 100…” …and so on :slight_smile:

Anyway having arrived at the parking spot I quickly grabbed the gear out of the boot as it was about 14:20 by now and I didn’t want to be too late. A short yomp up the track got me to the summit. I didn’t walk to the trig point, as there were some sheep in the field that I didn’t fancy worrying… I mean I didn’t want to worry them and I certainly didn’t fancy them in the first place! Anyway leaving all that aside I set up the station!

The 10m Sotapole was strapped to the gatepost and the 26m doublet set up in a nice inverted V with the ends about 2m up… perfect. I settled down sheltered behind a clump of scrubby bushes next to the gate and unpacked the 706, connected the tuner and antenna and then got ready to connect the 7Ah SLAB to the power lead.

Disaster… as I offered the spade on the battery to the connector on the power cable, the connector just snapped off cleanly leaving a stump with no wire protruding… Arghh

I picked away at the insulation and soon had enough copper exposed so that I could get power if I pressed the stump against the battery spade connector but there was no way I could key, log and keep the power on during the activation. So I tried various angles to lead the cable to the battery and managed to work out one position where it would naturally stay in place. I sat and waited for a while to see if it stayed that way and thankfully it did so I was in business.

An unannounced call on 3.557 brought an almost immediate response from Roy G4SSH. We exchanged reports and I briefly explained my predicament and then I was off after Roy spotted for me. I worked a nice run of stations before moving to 3.642 to work a run of SSB callers too.

During this run I commented to someone that it didn’t seem as cold as the morning but later I realised that frost was starting to form on the rucksack next to me. The temperature was dropping fast as the sun went down behind Combe Gibbet and what a beautiful view it was too. The location was very peaceful with just a few passing walkers. However a couple of 4x4’s crashing through the ice in the ruts of the track behind me scared me a couple of times as I was facing the other way with my headphones on!

A QSY to 7.032 brought in a small run of CW chasers and then a couple more Hungarian SSB chasers on 7.088.

I did try to run out the counterpoise for Top Band but the antenna configuration was not really correct and I didn’t have time to move it all around so, not surprisingly, I got no responses. I decided to call it a day as it was cold and the battery was starting to give up.

As I was packing up I realised how cold it had become as I brushed the thickening frost off the rucksack and got the gloves back on. I was very glad to get back to the car just as darkness settled and the temperature was reading –2C and falling.

Thanks to all callers and especially for the patience when the power flipped out a couple of times. Thanks to G4SSH and HA7UG for the spots.

QSO summary as follows:

80m CW – 25
80m SSB – 11
40m CW – 8
40m SSB – 2

10 DXCC entities worked.

As you can see, the 80m QSO count for the summit was well and truly bumped up so I was very satisfied with the activation once again.

73 Marc G0AZS

Quite by chance I had a meeting today in Hungerford, a lovely town that is unfortunately often remembered for the wrong reasons. It’s also about 5 miles away from Walbury Hill, G/SE-001. I realised that depending on when my meeting finished, I could either have a late lunch hour on the summit or stop off on the way home. As it was, it was a late lunch hour when I finally set off for the Hill.

Having left the place of work I stopped at a garage to grab a snack and ended up with a bottle of water and a Pain au Chocolat. This may sound a bit “Southern Shandy Drinker” but it was only because they had run out of pasties and sausage rolls!

I was guided to the summit parking perfectly once again by the TomTom with the G3CWI POI file. The drive was actually quite beautiful through the picturesque old village of Inkpen at the foot of the hill. Soon I was pulling into the small parking area on the ridge between Walbury and Combe Gibbet. As usual I acted like Superman and made a quick change out of the suit and gathered my gear together.

Today’s equipment was the lightweight HF set-up consisting of PFR-3 (5W CW on 40, 30 and 20m) and my antenna which was a 17m long wire with a 13m counterpoise. I find the PFR-3 tunes this perfectly on all 3 bands. I use a 6.7m SOTA pole and put the whole thing up just like Richard G3CWI’s YouTube video on how to get on HF in a couple of minutes.

Anyway I was soon tramping up the flint track towards the crest of the ridge. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon with clouds, patches of blue sky and shafts of sunlight punching through to hit the valleys either side of the chalk ridge. I was very soon at the top of the ridge next to the gate into the field with the trig point. Unlike my last visit in December (Brrr), there were no sheep in the field so I decided to activate at the trig point itself. I hopped over the stile and made for the centre of the summit plateau where the concrete pillar stood (along with a few metal cattle troughs). I set down the rucksack and admired the view in all directions. A gentle breeze was ruffling the grass tussocks, blowing the sound of bird song in waves across the field… wonderful.

The antenna was soon up and the PFR-3 tuned up on 40m. A quick call on 7.032 brought a reply from HB9AGO and then a nice run of 8 stations. I must admit I was rather surprised when Roy G4SSH called as his signal was strong, steady and most unlike G stations I hear calling me on 40m. Strangely, I didn’t have any other G’s calling. I worked down the small pile (half of which were from HB9) and announced a QSY to 30m. This was acknowledged by Roy who said he would spot the move on SotaWatch. Excellent service Roy!

I called for quite a while on 30m but only made 2 QSO’s. One was another oddball into Cumbria to G0TDM with good signals at my end and another into Germany. I would have expected more but maybe the time and/or conditions were wrong. I hadn’t planned it but I moved to 20m and called for while after self-spotting. No replies were forthcoming so I tuned the band and worked a YL2 station further down.

Time was getting on so I decided to make a quick call on 2m FM before packing up. I was very pleased to be answered by 2E1KJB on the Isle of Wight… a very satisfying QSO on the VX5 with rubber duck (I’m afraid to connect anything else) that was enhanced by standing on top of one of the metal cattle troughs. I wonder what made the difference, the extra 2 feet of elevation or the metal trough? Either way he said it helped!

So that was that and after a swift pack up, I was once again strolling along the flint track down to the car where I reversed my superman change and got back into the suit. By now the sky was a little more overcast and the breeze cooler but I didn’t notice, as it had been a fine late lunch break on a beautiful chalk downs Summit.

Thanks to all callers and especially Roy for his spotting services.

73 Marc G0AZS