Friday, 13 February 2015

England South East South Coast SOTA Tour Feb 2015 Day 1

I drove 270 miles from North Yorkshire to Leith Hill then visited:
G/SE-002 > G/SE-007 > G/SE-014 > G/SE-006
10th February 2015

At last an opportunity arose for me to complete the activation of all Marilyn SOTA Summits in England - 14 summits in 4 days. If I could do it I would be the first Radio Amateur to make contacts with all 176 summits from my home radio station and additionally make at least 4 contacts from all 176 summits themselves. 

This was going to be a solo expedition by choice and two weeks before I set out I needed to book my accommodation. Using the website I decided that hotels were simply too expensive in the south of the country compared to the north, so I joined the YHA and stayed for two nights with them in dormitory accommodation. For the third night I felt I would push the boat out - so I stayed in a comfortable hotel in Swanage that night. My final fourth night would be spent at a relatives house in Bristol, before returning home to North Yorkshire. 

All fourteen summits were easy to access - but could I get around all of them in four days? I thought I could... A few days before I set out I started suffering with a bad cough and cold and felt quite unwell, however with the accommodation booked ahead I had to continue...

My modus operandi was to operate on the HF bands - mainly 30m and 20m in CW and SSB which would save me time. I was only to use 40m on my last summit on the Friday.

Equipment used:

Yaesu FT-817 Transceiver running 5 watts output from 3.3 AH LiPo battery on 13 summits with home made link dipole for 30m-20m-17m on 5m pole

Yaesu FT-857 Transceiver running 50 watts output from 5 AH LiFePO battery on G/SC-009 only with home made link dipole for 40m-30m-20m on 6m pole (Day 4 on SC-009 only)

Palm Paddle Morse Key - standard Yaesu Microphone

G/SE-002 Leith Hill QRV 1221z

An early 6.00 am start for my 270 mile drive south of London from North Yorkshire, was the only way I could complete my planned four SOTA activations in the day. 

On arrival at the car park for Leith Hill (TQ 130432) I ate an early lunch before walking to the tower on the summit, which is overseen by The National Trust. MY first contact was with Roy G4SSH at 1221z on the 30m band. 
Leith Hill tower which tops SE-002 
I set up my station well away from the tower to avoid the interest of any wardens. A well placed picnic table was most suitable for my short 20 minute CW operation on the 30m and 20m bands...

With 27 stations logged I packed up. No one approached me during the activation. 

G/SE-007 Crowborough QRV 1434z

Previous reports from activators her told of operating in a town, and t his is what it looks like on a map. There is a town on the summit. There is also Crowborough Beacon  Golf Club and I focussed my plan on parking there and finding a suitable place nearby to set up my station.

Parking at Crowborough Golf Club - 150m from where I set up my portable station on SE-007
242m is the highest point at the trig and I operated in the wood behind the golf club car park which was just above the 225m contour and almost 1 Km south of the trig point but still within the General Rules:

Parking TQ 5074 2984 Operating point TQ 5078 2991
To reach the wood I walked up the road for 200m and turned left on the public footpath before moving into the wood. The 30m band was very productive but 20m was not. I stayed with CW throughout to complete 24 contacts - only 2 of which were on 20m. I shut down at 1452z and opened up on the next summit, Cliffe Hill at 1610z. 
Operating CW on Crowborough
G/SE-014 Cliffe Hill QRV 1610z

The summit lies on Lewes Golf Course. A public right of way passes nearby. Fortunately I chose a time when all the golfers were at the 19th hole, as I arrived at the 9th hole at 1600z just as the daylight was starting to go... I drove up Week Lane as it is shown on the 1:25K map and parked in a wide section at TQ 448107. From there it took 20 minutes to walk to the summit. 

Nearby trig point (top pic) and operating position (bottom pic)
HF band conditions were poor now compared to around lunchtime. On 30m and 20m CW I struggled to make myself heard and made just 10 QSOs in CW before I packed up and headed west to SE-006 Ditchling Beacon. 

G/SE-006 Ditchling Beacon

A road passes through the activation zone and there is a car park on the summit. It was dark when I arrived and I walked as far as a gate and fence to which I fastened my fishing pole. A bitter wind with spots of rain in it was blowing. I was tired and I'd had enough by now, the cough and cold I had didn't help - it had been a long day. To move progress I made five quick QSOs on 30m in five minutes with OH9XX, DL6MST, HA5TI, S52CU and EA2DT. These were all callsigns I recognised as regular SOTA Chasers.  

YHA South Downs near Southease the following morning before I left - a 5 star Youth Hostel 
Feeling like death warmed up I drove through Lewes to the Youth Hostel at Itford Farm, Southease. Fortunately I secured a bottom bunk in a six man dormitory, prior to microwaving my evening meal, which I had brought with me, having established when planning my tour that there wasn't a pub nearby where I could get a meal.  I turned in at 10.00pm feeling slightly better after my meal...

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