7th April 2015
Managed to get up at “stupid o’clock” to set off for the first of today’s activation summits; Walbury Hill G/SE-001, south of Hungerford in Berkshire. Things didn’t start well with thick fog and a SatNav that kept directing me up farm tracks! I eventually found the carpark near the summit at about 0700 and walked the short distance up to the trig point; in the middle of a field full of sheep… and their “deposits”!
I decided to move away from the Trig point slightly to set up my antenna; finding a place to sit was interesting due to the aforementioned “deposits”….
The next problem that faced me was I had no 3G/4G connection and so was unable to update my status on SOTAwatch. Having decided to start on 20m, and although I could hear plenty of VK stations, I spent 30 minutes calling and only managed two contacts!
I was starting to get very frustrated and wondered what I was actually doing in a foggy field full of sheep at this time of the morning, during my Easter break!!
I then switch to 40m and once again went through the process of calling and hoping that someone would find and “spot me”…. and then along came Andy (G8MIA). After a nice chat I asked if he would please spot me on SOTAwatch, which he did… then the pile up started! 16 contacts in 20 minutes made up, to some extent, for the disappointment of 20m.
Long Knoll G/SC-007 was over 1 ½ hours drive away from Walbury Hill. The SatNav took me along the A303 past Stonehenge (slowly) and into Wiltshire. By this time the fog had lifted and it was turning into a lovely sunny day. Eventually I parking in the spot recommended by previous activators on the side of the B3092 at the start of the footpath up to the summit.
The Trip point was a decent hike (20 mins) up quite a steep incline; as it was now nearly 20°C, it was hot work! I was also carrying my SLAB battery as the main power source and this added several Kg to my pack.
However, the climb was well worth it as the views from the summit were stunning! After a well needed drink I quickly set up the antenna next to the Trig point and fired up the radio. Slightly warily due to my experience of no internet signal on Walbury, I kept an eye on my phone on the way up and was delighted to see that most of the way I had 3G connection… however at the summit, it disappeared!!!
Fearing a repeat my earlier problem, I decided to walk back down the hill slightly until the signal returned (!) and “spotted” myself on 20m; there followed 10 QSOs from all over Europe. I then switched to 40m and decided to visit the WAB net on 7.160Mhz as I had been told that they would be interested in my activation near the Trig point. 18 contacts later I left the net and switched frequency to see if anyone else was on the band. I was delighted to have another QSO with Andy G0MIA before finishing.
This was a great summit and I could have quite easily spent the rest of the afternoon on Long Knoll but after spending an hour or so on the summit I was starting to feel myself starting to burn (didn’t pack any sun cream!), so I decided to pack up and head off.
• Make sure there is some way to get spotted on SOTAwatch or it can be quite difficult to make many contacts.
• Don’t just ‘trust’ the SatNav, use maps!
• Pack sun cream, regardless of the weather forecast!
• Not massively impressed with Walbury Hill but Long Knoll was great; lovely views, a decent walk, quiet and easy to set up antennas and activate!
73 Chris G1PCR