This was my first Summits On The Air (SOTA) amateur radio activation. Despite Cleeve Hill having a carpark very close to the summit, I decided to enjoy the walk up from the nearby village of Prestbury (ample street parking is available).
The hill is pretty steep on the way up; it had been raining the night before which made the ground conditions suprisingly challenging for what should be a relatively easy walk.
|3.5km Walk (each way), 250m Ascent
|7°C, 21kts from W, 83% RH
|Kenwood TH-D72, Arrow-II Yagi
Next to the carpark atop the hill are three antenna towers. Previous activators have reported break-through on 2m but I had no issues with either my Kenwood TH-D72 or Yaesu FT-4X.
I was using an Arrow-II portable hand-held Yagi antenna with just the 2m elements attached. I thought this extra gain would be helpful but in hindsight a lower gain antenna that could be raised further from the ground would probably be better for this summit. Also, I had not considered how I was going to log contacts whilst holding the Yagi and radio! Three hands would have been ideal.
After making two contacts, I decided to rethink my operating position which had been directly next to the trig point. The wind chill and difficulty logging caused me to take shelter behind a gorse bush. Supporting the Yagi with the gorse gave me the thrid hand I needed!
I made another contact then decided to have a cup of coffee. Around this time I repeated my self-spot on SOTAwatch and noticed that M1HAX was activating Fan Nedd in the Brecon Beacons. I quickly tuned around the calling frequency and heard another station calling MW1HAX/P. Dashing back to the trig point I managed to find a position that just barely facilitated a two-way QSO whilst holding the Yagi as high as I could manage. Quite the thrill to manage a summit-to-summit (S2S) contact on my first attempt at SOTA.
|Richard, S2S GW/SW-007
Lessons learned: plan a way to log contacts with a free hand or alternative solution, do not underestimate wind chill when standing still for a while, 5W is viable near populated areas.
Cleeve Hill has excellent views, including of Cheltenham Racecourse.