This was my 4th SOTA activation over a long weekend visiting family in the South West. I stopped off at Long Knoll on my way back from my niece’s 5th Birthday Party in Torquay on my way to pick up my XYL from Basingstoke Train Station.
The length of time I could spend on the summit was reigned in midway through the car journey by a text saying my XYL would be at Basingstoke 1 hour earlier than planned… damn it!
I parked on the small grass verge at the bottom of the footpath along the B3092 at ST 8020 3781. Blink and you’ll miss this grassy lay by on the corner, in fact I did and had to drive back to it! There’s not space for more than two cars here, but the summit doesn’t seem too popular, at least on the Sunday afternoon I visited.
The walk up is tough going, until you get up on top of the ridge and then you just follow it along until you get to the Trigpoint (TP1560 Bradley Knoll – valid for WAB Trigpoint activation) right at the end. It’s an obvious route and took me 20 minutes to get there. I dare you to get lost!
My research had shown that the summit had never been activated on 6m… and this remains the case despite me trying! I setup the 6m Moxon on the fishing pole strapped to a fence post and expected some Sporadic E, but I was met with a dead band. No magic to be had on this activation. I spotted myself and called and called but no one came back to me, not even any G’s.
After spending 15 minutes calling and not having much time left before having to pick my XYL up, I decided to salvage the activation and setup the dipole on 40m. 10 minutes later I had the Moxon whipped off the fishing pole and the dipole strung up in its place.
Now HF had been really off for the last week due to solar storms and this activation was no better. For 10 minutes I had no phone signal to send my spot and called and called with only DF6SU in Cologne coming back to me. Eventually I was able to send my spot and get an additional 4 QSO’s before it went quiet.
Usually 40m would yield at least 20 rapid fire QSOs before you ran through the pile up, but conditions were strange with no G’s worked at all. The nearest station was 2I0ESA in Northern Ireland, with the other QSO’s being in Germany and Spain. It seemed like NVIS propagation wasn’t working and these were all long skip contacts.
After the 5th contact I had to pack up, as I still had a 1.5 hour drive to Basingstoke and then another 1.5 hour drive to my home QTH in Hertfordshire.
This summit is quite scenic and distinctive, but the activation was dampened by tough conditions. Despite this I was happy to scratch an activation and make this summit SOTA complete (both chased and activated) for me!