Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My completion of the Devon & Cornwall Summits 7th October 2014

My friend Geoff 2E0NON was taking a holiday in South Devon, I was staying in Bristol for a few days. So we met up for a days activating at Hensbarrow Beacon G/DC-002 at 9am on a wet and damp Tuesday. A storm was brewing...more on that later. 

Hensbarrow Beacon G/DC-004 QRV 0831z - 0848z 10 MHz CW only (due to the weather condx)

This was my 3rd visit to Hensbarrow Beacon but the first time an activation was to be attempted. I had been here twice in the first week of February 2014 with my XYL but on both occasions it was raining heavily making it impossible to even contemplate an activation. It is a horrible place, and untypical of a SOTA summit. The "top" if you can call it that at 312m ASL, where the trig point is located, is actually lower than the Littlejohn / Gunheath China Clay Mine spoil heaps that abut the area to the north, south east and east. 

Car Park at SW 992575 and a 7 minute walk to the trig point
The OS map does not show contours where the man made slag heaps are, but  they are considerably higher now than the Beacon itself... 
The slag heaps to the east of G/DC-004 are now higher than the listed "summit top" 
The road up to the 297m high spot height is always busy during daylight hours with lorries shifting the minerals from the mines to wherever they go.....making the location all that more unpleasant. The road is within 25m drop of the trig point at 312m, but to be sure of staying within the rules we went to the trig along a path fringed with gorse. A storm was coming in, so we deployed our umbrellas, Geoff's had metal spokes which he later found caused him quite a problem when he had to close down for fear of being struck by lightning...  
The China Clay spoil heaps to the south - higher than the listed summit location
Geoff hunkers down under his metal spoked golf brolly which emitted green sparks before he went QRT - dangerous!
I got stuck into communicating with Morse using 30m CW to good effect and completed 19 contacts as quickly as I could with the 50 watts from the FT-857D. The QRN from the torrential storm built up and forced me to shut down early. Meanwhile Geoff was having fun on 2m FM and had qualified the summit with just 4 contacts - the minimum needed. Good job he had the 40 watts or so going out from my FT-1500M. Once he had the 4 contacts and as the storm passed overhead he felt a tingling sensation when he touched the radio. Time to go QRT then as green sparks started flying between the metal shaft of the brolly and the radio! A close call. Time he bought a umbrella with fibre glass shaft and spokes.....

Setting up the HF and VHF antenae at Hensbarrow Beacon Trig Point
We packed up as quickly as we could as the rain abated and headed off back to the cars to drive to our next summit  - Brown Willy G/DC-002 on Bodmin Moor. We stopped for a hot coffee and chocolate bar at a garage just of the A30 near the business park at SW 989617.

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