August 2009 SOTA and other adventures
30th August 2009 G/WB-016 Wapley Hill
Time in Hereford Marches on
I woke early. I think it was the quiet that woke me. I snuck downstairs and the wall of silence in this place hit me but was broken for a few seconds by the sound of the refrigerator. I cursed our modern way of life and reliance on noisy machines. So as not to disturb Helen I trickled the water into the kettle and switched it on. Compared to the lack of any noise whatsoever the boiling kettle was like an F11 jet fighter climbing with the afterburners on. I gently pushed the kitchen door closed. “What on Earth are you banging around at?” Helen yelled in to my right ear. I must have jumped six feet in the air because any higher I would have banged my head. After recovering from a shock akin to 30,00volts I asked Helen if she wanted a coffee.
With our coffee and a bowl of cereal (mine was Special K – I have to think of my figure) we retired to the lounge where we turned on the TV to watch the weather forecast. It was sunny outside and seemed to have the makings of a nice day. We finished our breakfast and were overcome with a wave of lethargy. So after staring at the idiot box for a while we decided to go back to bed for another hour, which turned in to two.
We awoke feeling much more refreshed and after another cup of coffee Helen made some lunch while I packed the rucksacks. As I put the rucksacks in the car it started to rain and I sighed a big sigh. I was locking the cottage door when Helen asked if I had put the ham baguettes in the rucksacks. Phew! They were still on the kitchen worktop; disaster averted. The rain was no more than a quick shower and the drive to G/WB-016 Wapley Hill was interspersed wet road, dry road, wet road so we did not know what to expect.
I was listening, as I usually do when mobile, to several frequencies when at 11:41UTC Jimmy MW3EYP/P popped up on 145.500mHz. He was on GW/SW-009 Mynydd Troed and both Helen and I worked him easily at 5/9 each way. That was a nice start but I thought it was just a pity we did not start out early like we planned and get a summit-to-summit. Half an hour later we were parked in the small free Forestry Commission car park that gives access to Wapley Hill Wood OS Grid Reference: SO358621. The car park is approximately 1 mile off the B4362, Shobdon to Pesteigne road and the nearest town is Stansbatch.
We booted up and walked up the forest road. There is a forest trail, which is possibly a shorter route as it cuts through the woods but with the SOTA beam and squid pole masts sticking out of the rucksacks it did not seem like a good idea with over hanging branches and the like. The road goes up the hill then bears to the right and then just before a cottage in the woods we took a track on the right with a sign saying ‘No horses’. The riders have obviously been taking this seriously (not) because it was well cut up by hoof marks. It was a good job it had not rained too much or this bit would have been a quagmire. Shortly after we came to as sign on the right explaining about the Iron Age Fort and how they farmed rabbits.
After reading up about the Iron Age equivalent to Liverpool’s Echo and the Bunnymen we turned left and over the stile into the roughly triangular hill fort formed by a precipitous hillside to the North and earth mounds and ditches to the south and east. SOTA has the reference for Wapley Hill at SO346624 but the flat area within the fort walls covers a vast area and the total fort covers 20.5 acres. Examining the topography the lowest point within the walls is around 325m and with a summit height of 329m that leave plenty of space for antennas well within the activation area.
We followed the track through the fort and set up in a suitable clearing well away for a large family of monkeys hanging out of what I think was a huge oak tree. Mum, dad and a gaggle of screaming youngsters all at various levels in the branches. I wanted to call out “Don’t come running to me when you break your leg” but refrained and was slightly disappointed when none of them actually fell out.
Helen started up on 2m FM and was getting nowhere. I went onto 5.3985 and worked Mike G4DYC followed closely by Steve G1INK/P on G/NP-015 Great Knoutberry Hill for the first summit-to-summit of he day. I got 10 on 5mHz and both Helen and I were spotted. The spot worked briefly for Helen and she soon had 6 in the log. She stopped for lunch calling CQ in between mouthfuls but was greeted by silence. I went on to 40m and worked six stations from Croatia, Germany and Switzerland but despite good reports and what seemed like good propagation there was no repeat of yesterdays pile up. I wondered if all the others were somewhere else trying to work Inky but I could not find any evidence of that. Helen declared she was getting cold and packed her station away while I tried 80m. With only four contacts here I declared it a dead loss. Helen was ready to go but waited while I ate the lunch I had forgotten about for the second time today and then with the sky suddenly turning black I packed my gear away. I had 19 in the log. Not quite 50 but a respectable tally.
This time on the descent I kept the portable 2/70 rig clipped to my pocket as we walked back to the car. We had just got out of the woods and on to the road when an alert came through on the mobile phone for Jimmy MW3EYP/P on GW/SW-015 Mynydd Llangorse. We just had time to check the GPS, we were still at 310m and Jimmy called on 145.500. We QSYed and this time it was just 5/1 each way but it made up for missing the earlier chance of an S2S. That contact gave me number 20 and put Helen’s total up to 7.
Back at the car and after a quick discussion as to if it was going to rain or not we set the TomTom to take us to Hegdon Hill.
To be continued…