Thursday, 2 November 2017

Another one day trip to the Scottish Borders for SOTA

I hadn't realised it but it was April when I last drove up to Scotland to activate Tinto and Dungavel Hill for SOTA. Last Sunday the long range weather forecast looked good for Thursday and with no work this week that was my chosen day. I left Pickering at 5.45am, taking the western route up to Scotland via Sutton Bank, Scotch Corner, A66 Penrith, M6 then M74 to junction 13 at Abington Services.  After almost a 200 mile drive and 4 hours after leaving home, I was setting out on the walk up to Broughton Heights GM/SS-128. At NT119374 there is a designated walkers car park. This is before the wall to Shepherd's Cottage which on the day of my visit was undergoing refurbishment. Car parking:

It was a fine fresh day and the 2.63 mile walk to the summit took me 63 minutes. 
Memorial Seat at the path junction on the John Buchan Way at NT124392



Here is the summit of Broughton Heights. I stayed just over the hour, made lots of contacts on HF, had my lunch and then set off for Trahenna Hill GM/SS-143. I returned to the memorial seat pictured above on the John Buchan Way which I soon left to make my way over Hammer Head (513m), Green Lairs (490m) and Grey Yade (537m) before turning left to reach my objective of Trahenna Hill (549m). Here is the large cairn on Hammer Head:


The col before the summit has more than a 25m drop from the main path so it is essential that to qualify you must turn left and visit the highest point. A nearby fence provides a convenient antenna mounting point:


I stayed less than an hour on Trahenna Hill as I needed to get back to the car and drive to the start of the walk for my 3rd activation of the day whilst I still had some daylight left. Some activators have proceeded to the nearby summit of Penvalla but I decided to leave that for another day when I had my bicycle with me...
It was in April that I walked up GM/SS-172 Lamington Hill and found that I had left my HF antenna back in the car, so today was a chance to revisit there and qualify it for SOTA.  I left the car park in Lamington at NS978309 and was on the summit 40 minutes later (1.8 miles) after walking through the waymarked grounds of a private estate. The walk route is good with tracks and then over grass to the summit once through the woodland. Here is how it looked on the summit with Tinto GM/SS-064 in the background: 


A page full of stations were contacted in Morse and Voice with the log photographed in the failing light before packing up:


I reached home at 9.20pm after a long but worthwhile day with three more SOTA Completes in my log. 

Stats:

Miles driven: 396
Miles walked: 10 miles
Ascent: 3000 feet
Number of contacts: 103
Time spent on air: 82 minutes
Equipment: Elecraft KX2 10 watts output to inverted vee link dipole on 5m pole 20/30/40m bands
Meals:
Lunch: Sandwich, energy bar and apple with flask of tea. Dinner: Meal stop at Welcome Break on M74 for KFC (go large) with 3 piece Colonel Sanders traditional meal:


Maps of walk routes taken (Click for larger photo):


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Day Two of a two day SOTA visit to Snowdonia - July 2017

I awoke in Idwal Cottage YHA at 6.00am feeling fine after my previous days Glyder and Tryfan walk, except for having pins and needles in both hands. This soon wore off once I got moving.... Breakfast was some Granola I had brought, a couple of slices of toast and marmalade and a cup of tea. I finished off the pint of milk left over from the Granola leaving the hostel on a beautiful morning to drive just two miles along the A5 from Idwal Cottage YHA to the Gwern Gof Isaf campsite:

Parking place at Gwern Gof Isaf campsite by the A5 - £2 for the day
My friend Nick Langmead (G4OOE) had provided me with a route from here taking in NW-002 Carnedd Llewelyn, the second highest Marilyn summit in Wales, and NW-013 Pen Llithrig y Wrach.  He told me that the owner of the campsite and farm would allow all day parking by the gate on the A5 for just £2 per day.  Campers were emerging from their tents and vans and even though it was only 7.00am I called at the farm to pay my dues which were gratefully received.  A short walk along the A5 took me to the private road owned by Welsh Water which took me up to Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir. This map shows my whole route, which differed somewhat towards the end from the one done by Nick G4OOE and Geoff M0PYG, The GPX file is loaded into the SOTA Mapping Project and it can also be downloaded from Viewranger:


The private road had a locked gate. A steady walk up the incline brought me to the reservoir. I overshot the path slightly as you can see from my GPS trace, before realising that I needed to take the path to the east of the reservoir to climb to the col of Bwlch Eryl Farchog. As I reached the reservoir I got a super view of Tryfan and the Glyders where I had walked the previous day:


The man made reservoirs in Snowdonia are nothing short of beautiful on a day like the one I had on 25th July 2017. Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir:


The well used path to the Bwlch has steps cut into it in places and posed no problems. Once the top path was reached it took 40 minutes to reach the plateau on Carnedd Llewelyn (1064m). Being so early I did not see a soul until I was on my way down. There were a couple of places where it was necessary to use the hands to scramble but nothing too awkward and risky. I walked on beyond the highest point and came to rest at a natural rock wall where there was a clear falling away of the mountain to the north. I always find when using VHF that if I can set up on the edge of the land as it falls away more steeply, my signals are enhanced. Once again I was only using a Yaesu VX-170 handheld with the RH770 extended whip. 

Above the clouds looking towards the coast at Anglesey on Carnedd Llewelyn NW-002
A 25 minute session on 145 MHz with the handheld garnered 14 contacts with stations in England, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man. After a drink and an energy bar I made my way back to the Bwlch then onwards towards Pen Llithrig y Wrach, NW-013. 

Redundant mineral workings in the valley to the north of Bwlch Eryl Farchog
Once again there was a little scrambling to reach the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du (833m) on my way to NW-013 before dropping down around 200m to Bwlch y Tri Marchog from where there was a straightforward climb on grass to the summit of Pen Llithrig y Wrach (799m). Despite crossing Pen yr Helgi Du which was 34m higher than Pen Llithrig y Wrach, the earlier summit did not have the sufficient 150m or more drop from Carnedd Llewelyn to count as a Marilyn, quite an unusual situation I believe...

The Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir seen from NW-013 - Creigiau Gleision NW-028 is on the other side of the water -  another SOTA unique for me to visit on my next trip to Snowdonia
After eating my lunch I started to make contacts as before on 2m FM. About half way through the activation an angry looking man approached the summit. He was sweating profusely. He gave me such a black look that I returned it and in an aggressive tone he said "What's your problem"?  I told him I didn't have one, what was his problem? To which he said it had been a hard climb and he didn't expect it to be like suburbia on the summit with me talking to people on my radio.  The atmosphere felt uncomfortable as the man appeared to be very agitated by my presence, so I packed up my rucksack and walked some 50m away from him to continue my activation of the summit.... I finished with 13 contacts in 20 minutes and by the time I closed down the man had gone on his way. Hopefully I did not ruin this lone wolfs day of peace and tranquility that much! 

I came off the hill and lost any semblance of a path. The access land wasn't so bad for walking though - and a thin green strip of land, like a green lane almost, caught my eye down below so I made for that.

Wild mountain ponies - with the reservoir leat and "green lane" which I was making for in the background
At the footbridge (SH 7039 6152) I found the green lane to be a good path beside the leat which was carrying water from Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir down to Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir. I really enjoyed walking by the leat on the grass path. It reminded me of walking by the levadas in Madeira. There were a couple of herons fishing for food in the leat and fish visible below the surface.

Walking by the leat on the "green lane" with NW-013 in the background

I rejoined the Welsh Water access road at a gate at SH 6906 6097 which returned me to the A5 and the Gwern Gof Isaf campsite parking place after a most enjoyable SOTA walk in perfect weather.

Walk times (Start time: 0738 am - Finish time: 1412 pm):

Gwern Gof Isaf CP - Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir = 40 mins
Ffynnon Llugwy Reservoir - Carnedd Llewelyn = 68 mins (14 X 2m FM contacts)
Carnedd Llewelyn - Pen Llithrig y Wrach = 109 mins (13 X 2m FM contacts)
Pen Llithrig y Wrach - Gwern Gof Isaf CP = 80 mins

Distance walked: 9.53 miles with 3910 feet ascent

There was insufficient time left to climb any more summits in the day and to be honest, with the long drive back home to North Yorkshire, I think I had done enough. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Day One of a Two day SOTA visit to Snowdonia - July 2017

I've been wanting to attempt this Glyders and Tryfan walk now for a couple of years. The walk takes in the four SOTA summits of Elidir Fawr (NW-005), Y Garn (NW-004), Glyder Fawr (NW-003) and Tryfan (NW-006).  I decided to complete this as a linear walk starting with Elidir Fawr and finishing on Tryfan. This is the route I took on Monday 24th July 2017:


I left my North Yorkshire home at 6.00am stopping off for a breakfast bap and pot of tea in a cafe off the A55 at Rhos on Sea at 9.30am.  I drove to a remote parking place at a locked gate on an old quarry road east of the village of Deiniolen (SH596631). From here I walked the good tarmac road to the Marchlyn Mawr reservoir (1.85 miles - from 1168 ft to 2120 ft =- took 40 mins). From here it took another 30 mins to reach the summit of Elidir Fawr (GW/NW-005). 

Marchlyn Mawr Reservoir
The head of the tarmac road at Marchlyn Mawr Reservoir - now it was a rougher walk to the summit
There were no shortage of contacts on the summit of Elidir Fawr - I was travelling light on account of the challenging nature of the walk. A Yaesu 5 watt handheld and RH770 extended whip was all I used. 

Mist coming in as I left Elidir Fawr

Fine weather on the ascent turned to mist on the summit and this stayed with me on and off for the afternoon until I reached the foot of Tryfan at around 5.30pm. 

The walk so far presented no difficulties and this continued as I crossed the Bwlch y Marchlyn and Bwlch y Brecan to climb to Foel-goch. I went to the summit even though it does not count as a Marilyn, lacking the necessary 150m prominence to surrounding mountains. From here the route stretched before me to Y Garn with the mist clearing at that point on the walk. I was on Y Garn (NW-004) at 1.30 pm and enjoyed my lunch before using the radio. 
View towards Tryfan from Y Garn - the lake is Llyn Ogwen

Llyn Idwal from the col above the Devil's Kitchen

It took me 56 minutes from Y Garn to reach the summit of Glyder Fawr, the highest point of my day at 1001m above sea level. The top and its surroundings is certainly rugged as this picture shows:


Once again there were plenty of contacts to be had - including more summit to summit contacts with my friends Nick (G4OOE) & Geoff (M0PYG) who were operating from Seat Sandal in the Lake District. I had worked them earlier S2S when they were on Helvellyn. 

The mist returned and thick it was. I lost the path walking to Glyder Fach (Non SOTA Mountain) and resorted to jumping from boulder to boulder for some considerable distance - a practice I have to say I enjoy!  I picked up a path again as I approached the top of the infamous scree slope above Bwlch Tryfan. I'd read that slope can be treacherous - in the mist I was not relishing the thought of descending down it, so instead I went east and picked up the easy path leading down to The Miner's Track at SH667582. Whilst wandering around the top of the scree slope I picked up Graham - a walker and retired maths teacher from Salisbury, Wilts, who had heard my poles approaching in the mist, clattering on the boulders. Graham was rather disorientated due to the mist and asked if he could tag along until we were in clearer air. He happened to be going to the same place as me - Idwal Cottage YHA. I make friends easily and this was no exception - we got on like a house on fire for the hour that we spent walking together. Kindred spirits thanks to my GPS!  So it was Tryfan next and here is how it looked from the Miner's Track:

Just after 5.00pm I started the climb up Tryfan (NW-006) by the wall at SH662589, as Graham headed down directly to Idwal Cottage YHA. This was a mistake going up by the wall - I should have walked on for 100m beyond the col and gone up the well used scramble from there - warning! However I continued on a quite tricky and risky climb without safety gear for some distance, before I realised there had to be an easier way up the Far South Peak. I did find the easier line in due course and from then on the scramble presented no difficulty and no risk to me. Needless to say I found the easy way down no problem - you always can! 

I was greeted on the summit by a couple who encouraged me to climb one of the Adam and Eve stones (right). I did not have the energy or confidence to jump the "leap of faith" between the stones, and as I was looking forward to a second day of walking in Snowdonia and a longer life, discretion was the better part of valour in this case... 

It had taken 30 mins to climb Tryfan from the wall at Bwlch Tryfan and I was really pleased to get there to finish off my 34 point day with four SOTA Completes. Whilst on the summit at 6.00pm and just before leaving, I telephoned the A1 Taxi Company in Bethesda and arranged for a driver to collect me from Idwal Cottage YHA at 7.30pm so that I could retrieve my car from near Deiniolen.  Whilst on the summit an army helicopter had been circling above Llyn Idwal and when I left the summit it decided to have a play on Tryfan itself:


I reached Idwal Cottage YHA at 7.05pm. I checked in as I was staying the night there, however before I could get my meal I needed to retrieve my car from the other side of the Glyders. When I returned I tucked into a delicious and very large pasta meal, microwaved in the Youth Hostel kitchen, with a lager beer of course...

Stats:

Distance driven to walk start at Deiniolen: 202 miles
Time spent on walk: 8.5 hours
Distance walked: 11.2 miles
Ascent: 5060 feet
Total 2m FM Contacts on 4 summits: 52 (Plus 2 contacts with the Wainwright summit Troutbeck Tongue LDW-207)
Total SOTA S2S Contacts = 8

My GPX track has been loaded into the SOTA Mapping project and Viewranger, however if you do download it to use I would advise you to exercise caution in using it for the section at the base of Tryfan and on the approach to Glyder Fach where I lost the path in mist. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

VHF National Field Day

It's some years since I took part in an amateur radio contest... I was a member of Travelling Wave Contest Group from 2010 - 2013, and further back than that, from 1982 onwards I took part in many RSGB and CQ World Wide Contests in CW, SSB and DATA on a regular basis in my own right.

Since getting back on the amateur bands in January 2017 after moving house, I've wanted to see what I could work on VHF from my new location.
2m band - WIMO 144 MHz 7+7 Cross Yagi up 4m above ground
6m band - 125 feet long OCF Dipole with 4:1 balun at 10m above ground in the Beech Tree in my garden
Despite having a temporary aerial set up 18 reasonably distant contacts were achieved this weekend from my location in Pickering, close to the North York Moors, in Maidenhead Locator IO94of. My garden is 60 metres above sea level. Each headset on this Google map represents a contact on either 6m or 2m:



I operated for a few hours in the Fixed Station Sweeper (FSR) Section. The FSR section states that fixed stations cannot call CQ - we have to search and pounce on stations and try to work them after hearing National Field Day VHF contest stations calling CQ. 

I used a Yaesu FTDX5000 running 150 watts on 50 MHz with a 125 feet off Centred Fed Dipole up 10m in a tree. On 144 MHz I used an Icom 7400 running 80 watts into a Wimo 7+7 Cross Yagi on a 2.7m long boom. The XYagi is temporarily mounted at 4m above ground in a parasol base and has to be turned by the "Armstrong" method. 

Best DX on 144 MHz was EI9E at 441 Kms, located betweeen Kilkenny and Wexford. Best DX on 50 MHz was G2BQY/P at 354 Kms, located just north of Shepton Mallet. The only station worked using Morse was GM4ZUK/P near Aberdeen, a distance of 321 Kms  on 50 MHz.

It was quite a surprise to work such distances on 50 MHz using a wire antenna, and I was pleased with the performance of the Cross Yagi on 144 MHz operating at just 4 metres above ground. 



I did work one SOTA station on 2m SSB in the contest - this was GX0OOO/P operated by John Earnshaw G4YSS from Scarborough. John was on Great Whernside in the Yorkshire Dales and made contacts throughout the day on VHF in the contest and on HF also, including on the 1.8 MHz band (160m) where I also made contact using Morse and Voice Comms.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Four

Saturday 6th May

1. OK/VY-049 Klucovska hora (2)
2. OK/VY-042 Zadni hora (4)
3. OK/VY-030 Srni vrch (4)
4. OK/VY-020 Marenka (6)
5. OK/VY-065 Kobyli hlava (4)
6. OK/VY-036 Kopce (4)
7. OK/VY-067 Salatuv kopec (4)


I discovered at breakfast that Victor was very ill - with sickness, diarrhea and feeling terrible. It turned out that he had caught the highly contagious Norovirus - otherwise known as the "winter vomiting bug".  We believe he caught the bug before he left the UK - the reason we know that is that I also caught the virus from him but it did not materialise until I was back home - four days after Victor had identical symptoms to me. Then four days after I caught it my XYL Judy caught it - and we would not wish this horrible virus on anybody. It takes between two and five days to recover if you catch it. 

Our plan on day four was to leave the hotel in Namest nad Oslavou early - we had no choice in that as the hotel and adjacent road leading down to the town would be closed at 7.00am for the annual motorsport hill climb event held there. Victor was unable to eat - a situation that lasted for the rest of the day.

Today was the only day that I was to drive - at least for the part of the day when Victor felt at his worst. He was feeling so bad that he was only be able to operate, albeit uncomfortably, on four out of the seven summits I visited.  We planned to drive from Namest to our second hotel 40 Km north east of there, at Novi Veseli. As we travelled we intended stopping off and activating the seven hills around Trebic as this map shows, VY-049>VY-042>VY-030>VY-020>VY-065>VY-036>VY067:

At this point I must acknowledge the usefulness of the SOTA Mapping Project provided by Rob DM1CM. Without this resource and tools and the SOTA Database managed by Andy MM0FMF, we would not be able to plan tours such as this one. In particular tthis days tour was copied from a similar activation day by Jirka OK2BDF which Jirka completed on 4th July 2016 - thank you for the idea and inspiration Jirka!  

With great difficulty Victor was able to pack up his gear and drive the car, at least initially. Our first summit VY-049, was near Klucov with the road going into the 25m drop activation zone. I set up my station, and as it was 0530z I made just five contacts on the 40m band in less than 15 minutes. The hard part was now persuading Victor that he needed to get out of the car and take over sending the Morse. I moved the dipole links on to the 30m band and in 3 minutes the ailing ham captured contacts with SOTA regulars ON4FI, OK2PDT, G3RMD and EA1CS. We went QRT immediately and made our way by car the short distance to OK/VY-042 west of Trebic. I did persuade Victor to exit the car and walk the short distance to the station in the woods on Zadni hora VY-042:


Amazingly the Northern Irishman made 16 contacts in 12 minutes on the 30m band on VY-042 to seal it. However, he wasn't up to driving after that so I took over at the wheel and we made our way to a common parking place for VY-030 and VY-020. Sadly Victor wasn't up to even getting out of the car on these two summits and left it to me to activate them both solo. The summit of Mareka VY-020 was the more interesting out of the two summits. There was an impressive EEC funded viewing platform on the top. I could have operated from there but decided to stay at ground level, where as well as operating spoke to some locals who were out walking as to what I was doing with my radio. 
 

By Czech standards the walk to VY-020 was a longish one at 2.2 Km. The route I used on forestry roads is now available as a GPX file in the track section of the SMP.  A few hours rest in the car meant Victor felt a little better and he was able to drive us to Kobyla Hlava VY-065, however he still wasn't up to operating so remained in the vehicle while I walked the 400m to reach the 680m contour in the woodland where I set up my station to make 13 contacts. We moved on to VY-036 and finally VY-067 where he felt able to operate as they were both virtually "drive on" summits. Here he is suffering on Salatav kopec VY-067:


At the end of the day we had made 129 contacts (OBK=94 ONL=35) so considering the situation it wasn't so bad... 

Friday, 5 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Three

Friday 5th May

1. OK/VY-053 Duforty (2)
2. OK/VY-040 Holy vrch (4)
3. OK/VY-031 Svata Hora (4)
4. OK/VY-073 Maly kamenny vrch (2)
5. OK/JM-057 Babylon (2)
6. OK/JM-054 Pasnik (2)
7. OK/JM-015 Kamenny (2)
8. OK/VY-045 Jeleni hlava (4)

Day 3 - Activity was centred on summits within a 15 km radius of OK/VY-031 Svat Hora
Jan OK2PDT told us the previous evening about a road closure in Velka Bites where he lives, and provided us with an alternative road route to our first summit of the day, OK/VY-053 Duforty. Our target summits today were two and four point summits to the north of Namest nad Oslavou where we were staying for the first part of the tour.  At VY-053 a road went into the activation zone where we parked. We separated our stations as we always do to prevent interaction. We were finding that with around 100m separation at the 10 watt power level that no interference was caused to either operator on the 20m, 30m or 40m bands. In fact throughout the trip with this amount of seperation it was usually possible for us on occasion, to both operate on the 20m band at the same time - with Victor using CW and Phil SSB.  

Writing this blog some months after our tour I recall little about this day, until we reached the parking place for Pasnik OK/JM-054 that is...  Parking on the farm access road which led to the summit footpath was tight and there was a notice displayed in Czech which we did not understand, so we went to the farm to ask permission to park the hire car. The farmers daughter came out and fortunately spoke excellent English. She gave us permission and offered to show us into the barn to see the herd of cattle:
The lovely farmers daughter we met near Pasnik OK/JM-054 - the farm own the summit
After our chat with the farmers daughter we made our way to the summit, which took around ten minutes or so. The Czech authorities are so helpful - the signposting for used footpaths and the more popular summits are well marked as this photograph of Pasnik shows - note my fishing pole supporting the antenna:


Our 8th and final summit of the day was Jeleni hlava OK/VY-045, another wooded summit and one which was close to where we parked the car. Victor was feeling good - which wasn't the case the next day when he became quite ill:

We hadn't planned to activate 8 summits on day three - seven was our target, however with time to spare VY-045 was added. The total number of HF contacts on this day was 138. We made our way back to Namest nad Oslavou for our last night there.   Our last two nights were to be spent at a hotel further west in Nove veseli, so we could exploit the summits in that area.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day Two

Thursday 4th May

1. OK/JM-030 Chocola (1)
2. OK/JM-022 Lipovy vrch (1)
3. OK/JM-020 Kopecek (1)
4. OK/JM-062 Velky Okrouhlik (1)
5. OK/JM-025 Teply kopec (1)
6. OK/JM-040 Kobyla (1)
7. OK/JM-034 Holy kopec (1)

In fair weather we left our hotel after an early breakfast on day two of our Moravia Tour. Victor (GI4ONL) had become OK/G4ONL/P for this tour.  Recent OFCOM guidance relating to UK callsigns states that when operating in CEPT countries the UK country designator (For example GI = Northern Ireland, GM = Scotland etc) should not be used.

With Victor as driver for the tour and Phil OK/G4OBK/P as navigator we left our hotel in Namest nad Oslavou and travelled east in the direction of Brno. Our activity was to be centred within a 15 Km radius of the town of Rosice between Namest and Brno city itself. Our targets were seven easy to access one point SOTA summits in the area.
Our seven activations on Day Two were centred within a 15 Km radius of Rosice
Chocola JM-030 was our first summit we walked the 2 Km from a car park.The rough track joined a tarmac road with two bus stops further along the route, no doubt a more convenient start point for the walk was available but without local knowledge we were not aware of this. 
The summit was in a wood and we set up quite close to a cross:


After 28 contacts between us we set off back to the car and headed for a parking place near a motor racing track - the Automotodrom Brno - motrosport is very popular in the Czech Republic and when we arrived at the parking place for JM-022 and JM-020 racing practice was taking place. 


Both JM-020 and JM-022 were the usual wooded type of Czech summits - here is a photo of Victor operating - on Kopecek - note the paddle morse key strapped to his leg:


We were both using Elecraft KX2 transceivers with link dipoles and shared the 20m, 30m and 40m bands operating on CW (Morse) and SSB (Voice) with two separate stations which helped us to cram in as many activations in the day as we could. 

We went on to activate four more summits - the routes used for JM-062, JM-040 and JM-034 are uploaded into the SOTA Mapping Project. JM-025 Teply kopec was a drive by activation so no route was uploaded. 

Returning to our hotel in Namest we met up with Jan OK2PDT for dinner and some Czech beers (not for Jan - he was driving). The total number of contacts made throughout the day was 171.

North Ireland, Czech and English Radio Hams in the Czech Republic for dinner

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

SOTA in Moravia Czech Republic - May 2017 - Day One

Wednesday 3rd May

1. OK/JM-065, Hvízdalka - 442m, 1 Point (Complete)
2. OK/VY-056, Zelený kopec - 491m, 1 Point (Incomplete)

Our two man SOTA Tour began for me when I caught the early morning train from Malton in North Yorkshire. The destination was Stansted Airport near London, where I was to meet Victor Mitchell GI4ONL who was flying in via Easyjet from Belfast.  Our connecting Ryanair flight to Brno left Stansted in the early afternoon. We were travelling light - with a rucksack each and a small handbag. 

Transit through security was straightforward - there were no problems with the radio equipment, lithium batteries, antenna poles, walking poles and HF wire aerials which were travelling with us in the cabin. Our arrival clearing passport control in Brno was easy and within 15 minutes of stepping off the plane we were getting into our Skoda Fabia hire car and heading for our first SOTA activation of the five day trip, which was in the direction of our first hotel of the two booked for this Moravian Tour. 

Our modus operandi on this tour was to activate and qualify as many summits as possible on at least two HF bands and on both Morse (CW) and in Voice (SSB). This meant we both had to make at least 4 contacts each on every summit we visited.  The summits were chosen not for their points status, but for their proximity to each other and to where we were staying in hotels at Namest nad Oslavou (3 nights) and in Nove Veseli (2 nights). 

We were to find that all 39 summits visited over the five days we were in the OK/JM (Jihomoravský) region and the OK/VY (Vysocina) were easy to access on foot with no restrictions in reaching any of them. In some cases it was possible to legally drive into the activation zone of the summit, walk a short distance and then set up the antenna and operate within 10 minutes of arrival. 


The wooded summit area JM-065 Hvizdalka was accessible by car from the E65/D1 Motorway and our short walk into the woods for our initial activation in the early evening was met towards its end with some rain. We completed as the rain came on and as we were earlier than anticipated this allowed us to drive around 20 miles south west of the first location to the second summit of VY-056 Zeleny kopec. Despite the now quite heavy rain we got lucky, more by chance than good planning as there were several structures and a large stone tower called Babylon on the summit!  Victor OK/G4ONL was located in a BBQ hut around 50m away from me and was operating on the 30m band. My first contact was with Terry Sayner G0VWP a friend of mine who lives in York. Terry was to make contact with me on the vast majority of summits visited on the tour. Here is my comfortable operating position on VY-056 where I used 20m SSB only, leaving the CW work to Victor:


 

The Babylon Tower on Zeleny kopec and my Elecraft KX2 transceiver used for this tour


As dusk approached and after two successful activations with 27 contacts between us using the 20m, 30m and 40m bands, we packed up and headed off to to check in at our hotel in Namest nad Oslavou.