5B/CY-031 was coincidentally the thirty-first SOTA peak that I have activated in Cyprus. The day was not blisteringly hot and there was a nice breeze up there, so after activating, I just laid out on large rock and sunned myself before the drive back. It is not the greenest SOTA site — it does not have the elevation to support conifers, but of the dry, scrubby sites, it is among the prettiest and least disturbed: no shotgun shells or garbage anywhere up there.
The activation site is along the edge of a cliff, so getting up there takes some planning. As usual, I found what I consider to be the best route on the way down after the activation.
The approach is along highway E614 (blue, above), and from the aerial map, you would think that the best road up would at point A: a direct route that avoids the town. And that might be the case if you were driving a tank, but from E614, that dirt side road is so steep that I wasn’t sure even my Landcruiser would make it up. There is another, newer road that is parallel and looks more promising, with a more gentle rise:
However, that dirt road takes a quick turn after about 50 meters and leads to a flat area with churned, loose soil.
I had little inclination to drive across that lunar surface since I thought the car would sink in the loose soil. There appears to be no upward connection from there, so I backed out and took the yellow route through town (plan B). The town streets are narrow for a short distance, but proved navigable.
I did come to the hairpin where that road meets the initial road that I had considered, but I did not explore down the former road. I did drive a bit beyond the hair pin to a point where there is enough room to turn the car around and then continued up past the hairpin.
At next fork in the road, the trail to the left looked more worn and I saw a sign that seemed to indicate that the right fork was for hiking, whereas the left fork was for probably for vehicles, so I went left. I suppose I could have taken the car right, but did not want to spoil the hike for anyone up there on foot. The road was not really wide enough to park without blocking it, so I decided to keep going with the car, at least to scope out other approaches.
I do not have the impression that many people come this way, but this road leads to a scenic overlook identified on GoogleMaps as the Throne of the Virgin Mary. Again, I did not think there was room to park, or if I did so at the overlook, I risked being blocked in if any car came behind me. So, I continued up the road to the right.
This road wrapped around the hill and circumscribed some fenced, planted areas. As it turned west, I realized that I was paralleling the trail to the summit, so I turned right and followed a connecting trail. That brought me near the summit on somewhat rough trail and I was able to pull off to the side not far from the summit itself.
The summit is a small hill on top of an otherwise flat area, and it is rocky at the top. There is a cliff just beyond the summit to the north. There are some prickly plants up there, but also some clear areas where an antenna could be set up. The plants are probably sturdy enough to support a telescoping whip, but there are no tall trees up there.
I tried every band on CW from 40m to 12m, but had no contacts on the top or bottom of that spread. I had one strong contact on 15m (thanks, S57S), and was surprised not to get more replies on that band as my signal was good into the reverse beacon network in Czechia and Germany. I had a couple contacts on 30m as well. My best band of the day was my first one, 17 meters. Propagation was not the best, but there were a lot of SOTA activators out, so I ended up with six portable-to-portable contacts, four of which were S2S.
I had some impulse noise and heterodynes as I got higher in frequency, although on CW with the narrow filter engaged this is not limiting. Cell phone service at the peak was good.
From the summit, I noticed a pick-up truck rolling in from the west and a farmer and their dogs drove a herd of cattle across the top of the hill. The road in that direction looked more robust, so when I packed up I headed in that direction.
The road in that direction makes a U-shape around another small hill and it joins up with a broader, more travelled road behind that hill. At that junction, there is a small, covered sign. If I were to visit this peak again, that is where I would choose to park. The road is wide enough and it would be a nice, not terribly long hike in from there.
I followed that road back to the highway. Along the way, there are several dirt roads that lead sharply downward, too sharply for my taste, so I stayed on the road until it made a hairpin and turned back towards the highway, intersecting next to a small church. Here is how it looks from the highway, with the approach to the summit at right.
And here is how it looks from the highway facing the road that ramps upward:
This initial bit of road is concrete, and it remains paved for some distance, but becomes dirt further on. That portion is well-packed and not very rutted, so I think a vehicle with lower clearance could manage it with some care.