SOTA F/MC-233: La Plane

This is a drive-up peak about two and half hours from my house outside Bordeaux, just about due East along route A-62. A paved access road runs to a series of commercial radio towers at the top of the hill, but I pulled off the access road a bit earlier and set up on a grassy field separated from the antenna site by a row of trees. This was a very relaxed outing and I set up a table, some folding chairs and had a nice picnic lunch with F5LGB, who accompanied me from our club station, F6KPW.

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SOTA: F/MC-192 (La Ramière)

This was the final of three sites near Brive-la-Gaillarde that I had activated on a day trip starting near Bordeaux; the other two peaks were F/MC-263 and F/MC-178. What sets this site apart is that I was not only activating a summit, but a prehistoric megalith (I’m not aware if there is a program for that, but probably).

My first inclination was just to follow a road towards a commercial antenna site near the summit, but when I looked at the site on OpenTopo, I saw a point of interest within the activation zone, the Dolmen du Puy de la Ramière. The map also showed paths leading from roads to the dolmen. A quick check with GoogleStreet view showed me that there are signs along the street and a parking lot next to the trail head, so I decided to take the trail to the dolmen and pick an activation spot in the woods a bit off the trail.

OpenTop Map showing the SOTA summit (red marker) and to its right the Dolmen du Puy de la Ramière and related trails.
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SOTA: F/MC-178 (Roche de Vic)

This was the middle-of-the-day summit on my tour including F/MC-263 and F/MC-192, and it turned out to be the most comfortable of the three.

The site shows up on various online maps because there is a chapel on the summit and I have the impression that it is a landmark that probably draws tourists during the summer months. At the base of the hill, there is a large gravel car park, and although a number of cars came and went, I was the only one who went up the hill.

The view up the hill from the parking lot. The path up runs along the trees to the left. There is a picnic table behind the trees on the right.

I think other people probably struck out in different directions on hikes or made use of the picnic tables near the parking lot.

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SOTA: F/MC-263 (Lacoste)

I left the house near Bordeaux in the early morning and returned after dark, but I succeeded in activating three sites clustered just east of Brive-la-Gaillarde: F/MC-263 (Lacoste), F/MC-178 (Roche de Vic) and F/MC-192 (La Ramière).

The shaded area with dotted border at lower left is the north-east corner of the FL/SO area. If you wanted to add one more summit to a trip like this, you could consider FL/SO-004, which is in that corner. I might have done this if it were mid-summer with longer daylight time.

The journey commences with MC-263, which is a grassy hilltop with a commercial antenna tower at one end, but plenty of room to activate at the other end. My GPS calculated directions correctly, taking me through a hilltop village with some narrow streets. The final road to the top was dirt and gravel, but no problem, although after a recent rain the top of the hill itself got muddy.

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SOTA: FL/SO-006 (Les Garennes du Monteil)

I set out to activate three summits in early November 2022: SO-005, SO-006, and SO-008, which are more or less clustered together. It is about a two and half hour drive from my house south of Bordeaux out to any one of these, but only about a half hour drive between them, going north to south. Alas, I did not manage to activate SO-005 on this trip. I drove partway up the access road and there was a wild boar ( les sangliers ! ) hunt going on: lots of guys in orange vests walking through the woods with rifles. I had a nice chat with a couple of them, but we all agreed it would be safer if I didn’t sit in the woods with a wire in a tree that afternoon. It was the last site of the day, so I was ready to head home anyhow. SO-005 will have to wait for another day.

SO-006, however, was a drive-up activation.

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SOTA: FL/SO-011 (Le Petit Peyre)

The buddipole in vertical configuration with a retractable dog-leash supported counterpoise.

I recently moved to France, not far from Bordeaux, so there are a whole new set of peaks to activate, particularly to the south towards the Pyrenee mountains. However, it makes sense to get my feet wet with some closer summits to the east of me, towards Bergerac. One in particular, Le Petit Peyre, was a little closer (90 km) than the others, so I started with that one.

To apply for a French callsign, you need to show residency in the country for more than three months, and I’m not quite there yet, so I activated as F/AI4SV/P.

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