We drove to Watch Croft from Hayle following the excellent driving directions provided in M0TYM‘s activation report. The weather in Hayle was warm and sunny, but we could see a fog bank in the distance. I was with my wife, my brother-in-law and my sister.
As we approached Watch Croft (West Penwith’s highest hill), it became obvious that the summit was within the fog bank which had rolled in overnight from the coast. The few meters of land we saw on either side of the B3306 on the drive from St. Ives was picturesque . This is probably a beautiful drive on any other day.
The approach to Watch Croft was along a bridleway which meanders through heather and bracken amidst old tin mine shafts. The undergrowth had been recently but back and the smell of cut grass and the noises from birds and insects made for a lovely walk.
As we approached the summit, the wind picked up a little bit and we started to get a little wetter as the fog was clumping into a light rain.
At the 830′ summit there is a stone (burial?) cairn into which someone has built an enclosure and there is a standing stone.
A few feet from those features there are some rocks onto which has been grafted a ‘National Trust’ plaque. These rocks provided a partial shelter from the wind and rain so this became my operating position.
I set up the alexloop walkham antenna on it’s tripod, connected my Elecraft KX3 and buddipole A123 battery, and I tuned up on 40m. 40m. The band was in much better shape than during my previous activation activation of GM/SS-281 last week. I heard stations from all over Europe on 40m SSB. Last week in the wake of a solar storm I was struggling to hear stations in the UK.
I recorded a CQ SOTA message and set the radio to sending CQ. After 10 minutes of no replies I thought I had better spot myself so I turned on 3G data service on my phone and posted a spot on sotawatch.
09:44 M/VA3SIE/P (Martin) on G/DC-007 (Watch Croft, 253m, 1pt) 7.124 ssb: On summit calling CQ [VA3SIE]
That did the trick! Within a few minutes I got my first call. At 09:47Z, MW0IML came booming in with a 5×9 signal from Snowdonia. After that was EA2CKX at 09:49Z from Northern Spain with a 5×9 signal was hearing me 4×4.
A bunch of SSB contacts with stations elsewhere in the UK followed that. Also at 09:49Z was Steve G6LUZ in South Cheshire with a 5×9 signal reported me as a 5×7. Mike G6TUH reported me as 5×4 from East Sussex.
Carolyn G6WRW was 5×9 from Worcestershire and reported my signal as 5×7 at 09:50Z. Next up was Don G0RQL/P portable in a caravan at 09:53Z. I had worked Don earlier in the week from Cairn Pat and before that from VE2/ES-009 Mont Sutton. It was nice to work Don from England as well as from Scotland. Don was a 5×8 signal and reported me as a 5×6.
Brian G8ADD in Birmingham and I exchanged 5×9 reports at 09:55Z then Bill G4WSB gave me a 4×9 report (he was 5×9). At 09:58Z, Victor GI4ONL in Bushmills, Northern Ireland was hearing me at 5×2 and again was coming in 5×9 into Watch Croft.
My final 40m SSB contact also at 09:58Z was with Glenn GM6HFF/P in Scotland. Glenn was 5×8 and gave me a 5×4 report.
We were starting to get wet so I decided to switch over to 20m CW. After a short break, I picked a free frequency and re-tuned the loop then I re-recorded a CQ call and set the radio back into a CQ loop.
At 10:06Z I got a call from Heinz HB9BCB/P on the 1,300′ summit of Schwendelberg in Bern, Switzerland. Heinz gave me an RST 559 signal report. He was also RST 559. Yay! Summit-to-Summit contact! Heinz spotted me some minutes later:
10:17 M/VA3SIE/P (Martin) on G/DC-007 (Watch Croft, 253m, 1pt) 14.06130 cw [HB9BCB]
DL3XZ (?) (Ula?) gave me RST 559 then Carlos CT1BQH in Portugal heard me RST 549. He was RST 599 into Watch Croft. At 10:19Z, Friedrich DL1FU reported me at RST 579 into Biedenkopf, Germany and a minute later EA5YI gave me an RST 599 into Valencia, Spain.
I had to quit because we had a reservation at the Minak Theater to get to (this is a great destination for a SOTA enthusiast it’s a theater which has been built into the side of a cliff.
My penultimate contact of the day was the highlight of my SOTA contacts from the UK and was a great way to finish the activation. I thought I heard a Canadian station and I called ‘VE2? VE2?’… turns out it was Jean VE2JCW. Jean and I have done a couple of SOTA activations together in Quebec for example our activation of Mont Tremblant, here. Jean posted about our contact here.
At 10:23Z Jean gave me an RST 229 signal report from Ste. Jerome in Quebec, Canada. His own signal was fairly strong but had some fading.
The final contact of the day was with OZ4RT in Denmark at 10:25Z. My report was RST 570.
I took the station apart, packed everything up into the backpack and hiked back down the trail. We then headed for Sennen Cove and a Cornish Cream Tea was in order!