I drove to Dundry on the 25th of June after work and stayed at the Collisters B&B which is 6 minutes drive away from Dundry Down (G/SC-010). The plan was to activate the summit in the evening, stay at the B&B overnight and drive 25 mins to Beacon Batch (G/SC-003) after breakfast the next day.
After checking in at the B&B I drove straight up to the summit for an evening activation. I parked on a residential road (ST 5563 6686) just past the radio masts and walked back to find an activation point that was public. The first thing that struck me was how much of this summit is within the activation zone and the fact that there are houses within this zone, it’s not quite the remote hilltop you imagine when you think of Summits On The Air.
I setup in a field along a public footpath overlooking Bristol city. I had wanted to activate the trigpoint for WAB but this is on private farmland. This is the only summit I’ve been to where you can see any real area of civilization and it made a change with the twinkling lights of Bristol underneath me.
It was already 20:40 in the evening so I decided to try and activate this summit on 2m FM, as the equipment is quicker to setup than my HF gear.
I used my Elk Log Periodic 2m antenna and a Baofeng handy and assumed that beaming into Bristol and neighbouring Wales would net me a few QSO’s. I started by calling on the FM calling frequency but despite calling for some time nobody came back to me, not the best start! I then decided to find a clear frequency and spot myself so some of the regular SOTA chasers could get me in the log, but after another 15 minutes I hadn’t heard anything… so this is what the 2m band is like outside of contests 🙂
In desperation and conscious it was getting both late and rapidly dark, I setup the 40m dipole and Elecraft KX3 to save the activation.
HF had been dodgy all week due to solar storms and tonight was no exception. I spotted myself, but either the usual chasers were eating their dinner, sleeping or simply couldn’t hear me! After some calling I was thankful for ON6ZQ answering my call.
I didn’t get any G’s in the log and the nearest contact was with MM6TNM on the Scottish Island of South Uist. After my hard won 6th contact with SP9AMH I decided to cut my losses and pack up for the night. I left the summit at 22:08 with just some twighlight left:
In conclusion the VHF activation failed and thankfully I had 40m to save the day. This was my first ever attempt at a VHF only SOTA activation and reminded me that it can be tough sometimes if this is all you have.
I drove 6 minutes back to my B&B to rest up before the following days activations of the nearby Beacon Batch and the High Willhays down in Devon. I slept well that night!