G/TW-004 Bishop Wilton Wold

by vk3arr

The last summit I had planned to activate coincided with our trip back from Scotland. My wife’s family had come from an area of Yorkshire called Sledmere, being workers on the main estate house there. Having originally planned to stay in York, we ended up, due to not finding cheap York accommodation, out in the Yorkshire Wolds, near to where both her family and Bishop Wilton Wold were located.

I threw the radio gear in the back, just-in-case, knowing that our path out there would involve the A166 one way or the other, and we spent a nice day in York, before heading out to our accommodation. On the way, we passed over Bishop Wilton Wold, but I had been told in no uncertain terms that I had no option of activating it that day.

Instead, we went through to our accommodation, to find a loud band practicing and the realisation we’d booked in on the same night as a 60th birthday party. Luckily we were at the other end of the hotel, but it was a bit noisy for the first part of the night. The next day, the hotelier apologised, as he’d thought we’d been part of the party. He kindly took 50 pounds off the bill as compensation and we headed back in to Sledmere.

Sledmere House was built by the Sykes family in the 1700s, and boasted a glorious garden and Georgian House. my wife’s great-great-grandfather had been a woodsman there. His job would have been to manage the forests and woods on the estate, to keep a steady and sustainable supply of wood to the house for so they could burn peasants, or whatever it was that Yorkshire baronets did in the late days of the Victorian reign.

It didn’t open until 10:30, so I got permission to activate the summit while we waited. I headed off to Bishop Wilton Wold, threw the car in a U-turn, and parked in the layby near the summit. I pulled all the gear out and set it up under steady but light drizzle and a strong breeze.

I set up on 20m first, amidst antenna collapses and the ever present high SWR. Since returning, I’ve found intermittent continuity problems with all three coax cables I took over to the UK. That will be something that needs to be addressed next time: better cables, better coax, better packing. 20m was chaos. Some contest was on, and I had no chance of finding a clear spot. The best I could hope for was a spot on the dial with minimum splatter.

I found that, spotted myself, and called into the ether. Only one person came back on 20m, HB9MKV with 59 signals both way, but a lot of QRM. I gave up and switched to 40m. Now, on a weekend in VK, 40m SOTA requires the following: come up on 7090 kHz, then move to 7095 if occupied, 7085 or 7100. If you haven’t found a clear frequency by then, then something major is going on and you might even have to move to 7105kHz!. 40m on a weekend in EU works on the principle that if you have managed to find a clear frequency by that stage, then your antenna is faulty.

I found some clear air and managed to work Don G0RQL but it wasn’t pretty at his end. I also heard Mick M0MDA with a 57 signal. We tried to work but there was just too much QRM on the band to get through. I gave up in a huff and tried 12m, which was beautifully clear of QRM. I picked a frequency, called CQ once or twice, before a UA9 station came up over the top of me and started calling CQ. He didn’t respond to me when I called him.

Not happy. Everything was by now wet, I had tried three separate bands for 2 contacts, and then the antenna fell down again in the wind. Convinced the SOTA gods were against me, I packed it all up and headed back to the car. My wife wanted to hear none of my complaints, which is fair enough.

We headed off to Sledmere House, had a nice stroll around the gardens, and then drove back to London, making inappropriate jokes about the town of Wetwang as we set off. Of course, fate (and common map reading) would decree that I had to pass over Bishop Wilton Wold a third time to get to London, for a grand total of 3 “ascents” of the hill, one half-activation and 2 contacts, its radio tower standing like an out-extended middle finger in my general direction.

Another one to add to the “will come back to complete” list.

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