Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Benelux Tour Day 2 ON/G4OBK/P + LX/G4OBK/P

Day 2: 22nd March 2015

ON/ON-019 > ON-004 > LX/LX-002 > LX-004

Bois de Javingue ON-019

Writing the blog up several months later now...at least I have some photos to remind me how we got on which helps me to bring back memories as I write...

The four summits today were all pre-planned with two in Belgium and two in Luxembourg, which meant that today was completion day for another country, but for a country the size of Luxembourg that is easy. There are only four qualifying summits and they are regularly activated for SOTA. 

A short drive from Rochefort took us to a track above a village called On.  We approached the top of the wooded summit called Bois de Javingue from the north east side, using a metalled road called Allee des Moineaux, which is shown on Open Street Map.  We turned right down an earth forestry track at the highest point, with Nick managing to park his 4X4 to the side of the track before it became too rough to drive on. Going down that track saved us around a 500m walk...

Nick returning to his car after the activation of Bois de Javingue ON-019
A 10 minute walk down the track took us to the highest point in the bois (wood in English) and we set up in trees about 50m apart. Amazingly, for part of the time, we were able to operate on the same band in different modes by moderating our power. 

Nick G4OOE got this picture of me working in SSB mode - ON-019 Bois de Javingue
All told we made 78 contacts between us in 50 minutes - including summit to summit QSOs with our good friends Franz ON9CBQ and Peter ON4UP who were on ON-021. We made arrangements to meet up later that evening. Time to pack up then and head off to ON-004...

Bois de Hazeille ON-004

Another bois (wood) but this one had been thinned out and coppiced - the reason being that an air traffic communications installation is situated on the summit. This high place is east of a small town called Saint Hubert - easily found using the SOTA Mapping Project which links to Open Street Map. The road used to access the top of the hill is Rue de Monastere. We were aware that questions had been asked of previous activators setting up for SOTA here, but this day, even though the station was manned (we observed several parked cars as we passed the main station building) no one bothered us as we proceeded with our activation. As usual we set up two stations, this time around 200m apart on opposite sides of the track. The road is very good tarmac right on to the summit.

Nick ON/G4OOE/P at his station - 6m high travel pole and FT-857 dipole on the 40m band 



Radar Scanner on ON-004 Bois de Hazelle - a 6 points "drive on" summit with no questions asked of us...
We adopted the usual routine with Nick sticking with the 40m band and me on 30m and 20m. I had a good session with 54 contacts in 40 minutes before packing up and we headed into Luxembourg via the Motorway and avoiding the city centre, to activate two more SOTAs there. 

Grengenwald LX-002

I had activated LX-001 and LX-003 with Nick the previous year when we visited the Friedrichshafen Ham Radio Convention, so that left two summits to complete the country. 

We had been warned by our friend Christophe ON6ZQ the previous day, that it is dangerous to walk on the N11 - a very fast highway which runs parallel to the wooded summit of Grengenwald. We found a short track leading down a slope off the N11 however  at N49.6689 E6.2034 which was easily negotiable with Nick's 4X4. It would be OK in a 2 WD car also providing the road surface was dry. Otherwise, there is room to park off the main carriageway without needing to go down the slope, but if you parked there your car could be seen by passing vehicles and may not be quite as secure as ours was down the slope and out of sight... 

Parking place at LX-002 around 100m down from the main N11 highway
We left the track and chose a favourable route through the woodland up to a through track running right across the top of the woodland, frequented by walkers and horsewomen. The route plainly goes from somewhere to somewhere, but with only activating SOTA on our minds we did not ponder this for too long... 

Open Street Map of LX-002 viewed in Garmin Basecamp
Within 12 minutes we were on the track at the highest point of the wood finding two places to position our HF stations. We ended up around 300m apart. If you study the map the blue flag shows where we found a bench seat on our way back to the car - I could have sat there and operated had I known about it in advance. I will head for that next time I visit...

The bench seat - found on our way back to the car after the activation N49.6730 E6.1964 degrees
As Nick backed the car up the slope I was thinking about our next activation, in another wood not far away, when we would both SOTA Complete Luxembourg.

Nick reverses out of the forest road - on our way to LX-004
Widderberg LX-004

I think its safe to say none of the LX summits are difficult. They all lie in woodland and are easy to access. We parked the car for them all as near as we believed we could get to the top, and the walk to the summit of Widderberg took just 12 minutes! 

A typical central European summit away from the mountains - sat on piles of old brown leaves
It was here where we met a couple of teenage local lads who had lost their dog in the wood and came across us operating the radio's during their search. We hope they found their dog, we never found out...

It was approaching late afternoon and the bands weren't in bad shape with Bob AC1Z my best DX worked on 20m CW. The vast majority of my 43 contacts made were on the 30m band, with the very loud and experienced Marko OH9XX the first station of my session logged.  

Log2map of LX contacts made by LX/G4OBK/P this day (Thanks ON6ZQ website)

We packed up and made our way back over the border into Belgium to Bastogne, where we met up with Peter ON4UP and Franz ON9CBQ for a very enjoyable evening in the restaurant of the Hotel Giorgi where we stayed that night, located in the town square.

Phil G4OBK, Franz ON9CBQ, Peter ON4UP Nick G4OOE enjoying a social meal and drinks in Bastogne
It had been another good SOTA day with no problems encountered along the way. 

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