Tuesday, 30 December 2014

SOTA - Great Rhos - GW/MW-002

Great Rhos - 660m, 4 points

Association: Wales  Region: Mid Wales
Latitude: 52 16 1 N, Longitude: 3 12 0 W
Grid Reference: SO 182639, QTH Locator: IO82JG

Trying to squeeze a final activation in before the end of the year, I decided on Great Rhos which would net me 7 points for the day.
Most of mid Wales had been snowed in over the last couple of days, but a thaw in the west meant that the main roads should be clear of snow.
And that is how I found it. A big thaw had set in and there were no issues getting to my usual parking spot opposite Haine's Mill on the A44 near New Radnor.

It's a 3 mile walk in with 1350' of ascent. The snow line was at about 600 metres but was easily manageable until the summit plateau, where there were deep drifts. I tried in vain to battle my way to the trig point, but was defeated by the deep snow and unknown terrain underfoot.

Ascending the track
I retreated to a convenient gate, well within the activation zone, which was both an ideal spot to mount  both the pole and set up my tarp as a wind break. Wind chill was well below zero in the keen wind although the air temperature was hovering around 3ºC

Convenient gate

Looking across the valley

The thaw really took hold

Stream alongside Haine's Mill

No live firing today.

Condx were pretty good with 42 QSOs in the bag including 2 Stateside.
Just one S2S this today with F6HBI/p on F/AM-415

A nice outing to end the day, and plenty of HNY wishes from the chasers!
Cold fingers however :-)

Monday, 29 December 2014

SOTA - Titterstone Clee Hill - G/WB-004

Titterstone Clee Hill - 533m, 2 points

Association: England Region: Welsh Borders
Latitude: 52 23 52 N, Longitude: 2 36 7 W
Grid Reference: SO 591779, QTH Locator: IO82QJ

Another slippery drive to the car park at the base of Titterstone Clee ensued.
This was a busy spot, with lots of people still off work and out enjoying the post Christmas snow.
An easy climb up to the summit and then I found a relatively quiet spot well away from the crowds.

Once again the contacts came easily , but with the lowering sun the temperature was dropping like a stone too, and I decided to call it quits without attempting 30 metres. I was also keen to see the sun set whilst not operating. It was certainly worth waiting around for the spectacular show that followed.
Lots of keen photographers were setting up their gear to make the most of the show. A fitting end to a wonderful day.

SOTA - Brown Clee Hill - G/WB-002

Brown Clee Hill - 540m, 2 points

Association: England Region: Welsh Borders
Latitude: 52 28 36 N, Longitude: 2 35 58 W
Grid Reference: SO 593867, QTH Locator: IO82QL

With the winter bonus in full swing, and so far not scoring any points, I decided a quick run out to the Clee Hills was the order of the day.
A bright, cold, crisp morning when the sun came up, and as I got closer to the Clee Hills I could see the tops coated in white. All was well until I turned off the main road onto the narrow untreated country lanes. These were slippery under  several inches of snow. I slithered my way slowly to the start of Brown Clee, booted up, warm clothes on and started the climb on the snowy track.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, and as we ascended the snow got thicker and thicker. There were quite a few people at the summit as I arrived, but having spotted an ideal concrete post close by, I went over to use this  as my pole mount.

 Plenty of chasers around and contacts came thick and fast. I just worked the 3 bands as I wanted to make the most of the day and move onto nearby Titterstone Clee.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

SOTA - Christmas Day - Cleeve Hill - G/CE-001

Cleeve Hill - 330m, 1 point

Association: England Region: Central England
Latitude: 51 55 11 N, Longitude: 2 0 21 W
Grid Reference: SO 996245, QTH Locator: IO81XW

A few people had indicated that they would be out SOTA activating on Christmas morning.
As it happened, I was working night shift on Christmas Eve, finishing work at 0700 Christmas Day.
I decided to throw the kit into the car the night before, and if the weather was OK and I was still feeling sprightly, I'd make my way to Cleeve Hill for an early Christmas morning activation.

It was cold and frosty when I left work, and as I climbed the hill, the roads were white and glistening with ice filled puddles. I got to the car park at 0730, still dark but with a hint of daylight in the eastern sky. There was one other empty car in the carpark and I could hear the occupants, but not see them, exercising their dogs somewhere out on the common.

I was set up and operational a couple of minutes before 0800, temperature was -1ºC and the dawn was rapidly approaching.
Twenty metres only gathered 5 contacts before I moved onto 30m. I think every op in DL must have been there and the pileup was quite a handful. During this time the sun poked it's head up with a flaming red sky on the eastern horizon. Had I not been knee deep in callers I would have taken some photos!
32 contacts later, and after a chat to the now many walkers passing by, I had a quick run on 40 metres to finish off the activation. The temperature had risen to a balmy 4ºC by the time I packed up at 0915.
Time to go home to bed.
I was home having my breakfast at 1000 and then off to bed for some rest.
An enjoyable Christmas morning, beautiful weather and surprising to see so many people out on the hill that early on the day.