I guess the top G/WB summits are hit hard during the Winter Bonus period as they are all reasonably easy and quick ascents. A recent report by Phil G4OBK shows how the four G/WB 2-pointers plus GW/MW-013 can all be done in a single day. However, this was my first trip into the Welsh Borders and I would be travelling with my XYL Nickie and so we would bag them at a much more leisurely rate! When I discussed the G/WB summits with Nickie she was not keen to do G/WB-005 Long Mynd due to the somewhat scary roads to access it, especially in icy conditions. So this summit was crossed off the list for this trip.
We travelled up from Hampshire on Fri 22nd Feb and headed for G/WB-004 Titterstone Clee Hill. This uneventful journey took just under 3 hours. We parked in the large car park area beneath the summit, which had stunning views. We ascended quickly to the trig point just pass the golf ball radar and I began to set up at the stone shelter adjacent to the trig point. I haven’t many activations under my belt but I know the drill. However, this was my first activation in really cold conditions and I was surprised how much longer it took to set up. The temperature was about -5degC with a substantial wind chill. I set up for 7.118 and self spotted. First in the log was a long standing uni friend, Howard G3YZY. We recently met up after approx 35 years! It was a bit sluggish at first, which surprised me. Later I discovered that my SMS to Andy’s SMS service took 20 mins to arrive for some reason. I could immediately tell when I had been spotted as the pace picked up considerably. I managed a S2S with M0CGH/P on G/NP-008 to start me off on the S2S Award. I had intended to also use 30M and 20M but after 40 mins Nickie was shivering despite wearing thermals etc and so it was time to pull the plug. Packing up the station took even longer in the cold and I had to remove my gloves to collapse the pole - my hands almost seized up after that and I had to warm them up before I could continue. At least the descent to the car would be quick and then head for the B&B. We had booked into the recently refurbished Talbot Inn at Newnham Bridge (other B&B establsihments are available). Once in the room Nickie filled a hot bath and then I could use the separate shower, nice! We later enjoyed a lovely meal at the Inn, which also meant we could make our way through a nice bottle of red since no driving was involved.
We had a leisurely breakfast on Sat with a hearty full english. We then headed off for G/WB-003 Stiperstones. We parked up at the large car park for Stiperstones and made our ascent. This was easy going but as it flattens out the route becomes quite rocky so we had to watch our footing. The trig point perched on top of a pile of rocks does look quite funny as you approach it. The temperature was around -2degC but surprisingly little wind so it was much more pleasant than yesterday. I set up for 40M ssb and turned the rig on still set to 7.118 to find Mark G0VOF almost at the end of a QSO. He kindly allowed me to take over the freq and spot me. However, for some unknown reason I gave the Ref as G/WB-005! I persisted with this false Ref for some time but confusingly added Stiperstones from time to time. Mark thankfully corrected the Ref and posted on the Reflector my mistake. Appologies to all Chasers who had to correct their logs, sorry! I had a good run on 40M but by the end the QRM from the F contest was becoming impossible. However, I managed a S2S with Simon 2W0CHV on G/MW-013 quickly followed by another from Mike 2E0YYY on G/SP-004. After I packed up the station I turned on my Alinco HH and was amazed to hear GW7RKC and GW6OVD on GW/SW-009. I managed to get through on my meagre 2W so more S2S - excellent. We then descended back to the car and onwards to the nearby GW/MW-013 Corndon Hill.
By the time we reached Corndon Simon 2W0CHV had already left the scene so I missed meeting him. I knew that Corndon had a steep ascent but I wasn’t prepared for how steep! I don’t know what the exact ascent angle is, but it feels like 45deg no joking. Just before the ascent I heard Mike 2E0YYY on my HH, still on G/SP-004. He was saying that he was about to pack up so I called him and asked if he could wait till I got to the top of Corndon to which he agreed. My HF pack is not light and I am not as young as I once was, so I had to stop several times during the ascent to catch my breath. Finally the trig point came into view and I noticed a vacant wooden bench to the left of it. I plonked myself down just as Mike called to see how I was getting on. We had a good chat and I asked Mike if he had done Corndon. I couldn’t imagine how Mike could drag his 22AH SLAB, poles and collinear up that steep slope! I will say this though - whenever I have heard Mike on 2M FM he is always putting out an end stopping signal so his set up defintely works extremely well. I then set up 40M SSB but when I turned on the rig it was now wall to wall with 59+++++ F content stations, no chance for me at all. OK, I thought, well let’s try 30M CW then. I plugged in the mini Palm paddle only to discover that a wire had broken at the paddle connector, plenty of dah’s but no di’s! I had a quick try of using the mic keyer option but no way. OK 60M SSB it is. It was then I discovered I hadnt packed the extra jumpers for my 60/40/30 link dipole! I tried 2M FM but only made 1 QSO on the HH. In desperation I tried 60M anyway with the link dipole set to 40M. Rather magically I was amazed to find that the FT857 wasnt complaining. Somehow the TX was pumping out the power without shutting down with the SWR indicator blinking at me. (I have subsequently repeated this at the home QTH and as expected no chance at all). So magic it was then. It was a bit slow whilst the spot kicked in but then a nice run of QSOs. I packed up and made a careful descent back to the car down the sleep slope. Then back to the Inn after a successful day.
Another leisurely start on Sunday with full english. Nickie wanted to do some non-SOTA stuff before returning home so I agreed to a short activation of G/WB-002 Brown Clee Hill. We parked up at the Shropshire Way start to the ascent and started up. A very enjoyable ascent with spectacular views. When I reached the trig point I noticed a wooden post just at the bottom of the steps and decided I would bungee the pole to that. This would mean that one leg of the dipole would cross the path but I put the apex at about 7-8M so the wire was well clear of any walkers. The 40M F contest was still on so straight to 60M but this time with the proper links inserted! 5.3985 was already taken as was 5.3715 so 5.4035 it was. (I know there are more freqs available now but they are not in my head yet nor programmed in the rig). Again a bit slow to start with before the spot kicked but then a good steady run. I started at around 1208z and was informed that the RSGB News Bulletin would be starting on this channel at 1230z. No probs as I only intended a short activation anyway. Last in the log was G0LGS at 1226z. The RSGB news reader amusingly told me that contests are not allowed on 60M! I informed him it was a SOTA activation and I was closing down. During the descent I had a nice chat with a local on the HH. He told me that the flat section just before the summit can get very boggy. No probs for me as it was as hard as rock. I guess in boggy condx it would be better to use the transmitter road approach. It is funny to see a tarmac road just adjacent to the trig point !
So I bagged 3 G/WBs and GW/MW–013 which has boosted my activator points somewhat with the winter bonus. Also had a good number of S2S, which has given me a good start on the new award. All in all a very enjoyable trip and my first experience of very cold activations.
73s to all Chasers contacted