This past weekend, I made the rounds of three more peaks in southeastern England: Ditchling Beacon (G/SE-006), Chanctonbury Ring (G/SE-009), and Black Down (G/SE-003). Butser Hill should have been part of this itinerary, but the advice on Sotawatch is to request advanced permission to operate radio at that site, and this was a somewhat last minute outing, so I hadn’t done so. Nonetheless, the three peaks made for a good day of portable operating.
G/SE-006: Ditchling Beacon
My first stop was almost due South of Crawley, where I work when I’m in the UK, so at least some of the roads were familiar this time. The first site is the definition of a drive-on site. There is a pay parking area and an almost flat trail leads off to the trig point not even 100 meters away. There is a two pound parking fee and if I had been smart, I would have brought change. The alternative is to pay by phone, which I did, but with the service charge it adds more than another pound to the expense.
The trig point is just off the path, so while walkers and joggers go past, they are not right on top of your operating position. A fence runs around the area and is a convenient support for an antenna pole.
On most days, I make most of my contacts on 20m, but today that band was dead and all contacts took place on 40m.
G/SE-009: Chantonbury Ring
There is a small car park at 50.896561, -0.408162 and a series of nicely maintained trails lead from there to the summit. I found it helpful to look at the aerial photo of the area on GoogleMaps as I walked.
The top of the hill is crowned by a stand of trees, so this is one peak where you don’t need to lug a self-supporting pole along.
I think this site wins the award for most friendly dogs encountered. It was a nice, sunny day albeit chilly, and many families were out for a walk with their pooches.
G/SE-003: Black Down
There is a small car park at the intersection of Fernden and Quell lanes, at 51.053872, -0.684815. From there, two trails lead up the hill, a dirt path through the woods, and a bridleway at the edge of the woods. I took the bridleway, which is less steep, but this time of year was very muddy.
The path wraps around the actual summit, which is just a bit higher. Walking up some side paths between pine trees, the trig point is prominent.
A bonus feature of this trig point is that it is hollow. The brass cap on the top is not there, so there is a cylindrical shaft (presumably meant for a surveying theodolite). I found that my fiberglass mast fit in there perfectly, saving me the trouble of bungee-cording the mast to the trig point.
I had made contacts only on 40m earlier in the day, but finally scored a few on 20m. In addition, since I had such a comfortable operating position, I also hauled up the flexible Jpole antenna and worked three stations from near Portsmouth on 2m FM. At long last, I had confirmation that my repaired microphone works.