Wednesday, 12 February 2014

SOTA in the West Country - February 2014 - G/DC-003 Kit Hill

Our final day in Cornwall and a 450 mile drive home back to Yorkshire. The wet and stormy weather had put paid to my plan to activate all seven summits in Devon and Cornwall over the five days. Three summits remained....

Kit Hill G/DC-003 is a drive on summit which lends itself to an activation on a wet day with a strong wind blowing. So rather than going north to reach the A30 we drove east towards Plymouth to reach Kit Hill Country Park near Callington. 

Arriving on Kit Hill - time to dodge behind the obelisk and set up the station
We spotted Louis Cafe at SX 382708 on the side road on our way up to the top. An ideal place for a comfort stop and cuppa on our way down...

The Obelisk on the summit is actually a chimney which was built in 1858 to serve the mining activities there. A steam engine was sited on the summit to pump water and lift ore from the workings and the chimney got rid of the smoke. Kit Hill was gifted to to Cornwall County Council by the Grand Duchy of Cornwall in 1985 to celebrate the birth of Prince William our future King. The Council made it into a great community asset in the form of a country park. 

Operating behind the chimney on Kit Hill DC-003  - note the capped lightning conductor
I cowered behind the chimney out of the wind and rain and trussed the fishing pole to a topograph. During the 50 minutes I was there the only person I saw was a lady in wet weather gear walking her dog. I didn't have much time to spare with a 400 mile drive ahead of me, so I concentrated on operating on the 40m band. As soon as I switched the radio on it was apparent that this was a noisy location on HF. The interference was induction noise from a motor. The noise blanker on the FT-857 didn't help much. I imagine this was coming from either a generator or a fan unit in the nearby radio cabin. I could still hear stations on 40m through the interference, and the first contact was with Ken, G3XQE from Coventry, a regular on CW.  The next station was DJ5AV Michael who was followed by Gerald G4OIG. After 10 minutes or so I switched over to SSB and was inundated with callers from around Europe. My umbrella once again came in useful, keeping the radio dry, although everything else (including me) got a soaking. Job done, I packed up and we headed back down the hill to Louis Tearooms. 

The two summits I did not activate in Devon and Cornwall were DC-002 Brown Willy and DC-004 Hensbarrow Beacon. 

Hensbarrow Beacon DC-004 was visited twice but could not be activated due to inclement weather.

(Edit - I later activated DC-002 and DC-004 on a visit to Cornwall with 2E0NON in October 2014)

We set off back to North Yorkshire arriving home at 9.00pm, stopping off on the M42 for some KFC - essential fast food for SOTA activators on their drive home. 

SOTA in the West Country Tour Stats:

Dates: February 1st - February 6th 2014
Miles driven: 1158
Summits activated: Five G/DC One G/SC
Contacts made: 265
Equipment used: Yaesu FT-857D with 5A LiPO battery, Palm Morse Key
Antenna: HF Link dipole 20/30/40m bands on 6m Pole, 
2m Vertical dipole

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