After Jimmy M0HGY and I returned to Larne from Slievetrue GI/AH-010 on Monday 3rd August 2015, we contemplated the drive up to County Derry for the main part of our holiday. Marianne said that she wanted to take the scenic A2 coast road around the stunning Antrim coast, rather than the more direct inland route. This would take more time, but would be considerably more pleasant.
The cottage, situated at Ballymultimber between Limavady and Magilligan Point, was impressive, spacious and with high quality furnishings and appliances. The view west from the accommodation looked straight at the imposing Binevenagh towering above with its near vertical cliffs. On that Monday evening, the four of us went out to the Point Bar, a fine restaurant at Magilligan Point, that we would return to twice more. It was always packed, but the service good and the food excellent.
When Tuesday 4th August 2015 broke, Marianne asked what I fancied doing. It looked like a rainy day was in store, and I said that I'd always fancied visiting Derry. She said she had too, so that's where we went. We were not disappointed. It is a city quite like no other, really and truly unique. The complicated history, which rumbles on still today, clearly shaped the design, culture and vibe of the city.
We walked completely around the city walls, looked at the famous murals in the Bogside area and visited both the Free Derry Museum and another museum in the grounds of St Columb's Cathedral. Both told very different stories! I wish we'd had time to take in the Tower Museum as well. Maybe next time. As we continued walking around the city walls - apparently the only still fully complete city wall circuit in the UK - I couldn't stop taking photos of this remarkably unusual place.
The final photograph to be taken was that of the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle. This is definitely a city I hope to return to in the future and explore further. Thoughts now though were turning to that evening's RSGB 2m UK Activity Contest, which Jimmy and I intended operating in from the nearest summit to the holiday cottage - Binevenagh. We picked up some pizzas from a fast food outlet in Limavady for the family evening meal and returned to the cottage.
From our cottage at Ballymultimber, Jimmy directed me around country lanes to the other side of the hill from the cliffs visible from the cottage. A good drivable road existed from around C705314, which we anticipated with the blue parking symbols adjacent to Binevenagh Lake on the OSNI Discoverer 4 map sheet. We parked by the lake, knowing that the summit was on the other side beyond the wood. Jimmy and I booted up and set off, looking forward to opening the door to a new SOTA region.
A good green path around the lake got us off to a good start. Things continued well onto a distinct path through the rougher grass behind the wood with the lake no longer in sight. It looked to me that the summit must be immediately to our left up a short but steep bank, but Jimmy said not, and instructed me to proceed ahead towards the fence. He was the one who had done all the research, so I followed his directions. The walking now became a less-than-pleasant trudge through damp boggy ground, but at least it wasn't far to the trig point, which was now in view. As we got there, it began raining, so we set up as quickly as possible so that we could take shelter inside the bothy bag.
Jimmy hates being in the bothy bag with me, but not as much as he hates being out in heavy rain! I'm not the world's biggest fan of being in a bothy bag with Jimmy either! My prime concern was getting the SOTA 6m/10m Challenge multiplier, so I let Jimmy have first dabs in the 2m contest while I tried for something on 28MHz. Nothing happened particularly easily. Jimmy got Dave GI4SNA right at the start of the contest, but then neither of us got anything at all for nearly half-an-hour. Fortunately I then got three stations in eleven minutes on 10m CW, giving me the multiplier and taking me to the verge of SOTA qualification. Jimmy picked up a local 2m FM contact, and then, another half-an-hour later, a second contest QSO. I took the mike and worked Dave GI4SNA for my SOTA qualification, and finally a couple of Scottish contest stations sealed the deal for us.
Neither of us was in any mood to stick it out until 10.30pm, so we packed up and made out way back to the car. To our surprise, a motorhome was now in the car park, parked just behind us. They looked like they were there for the night. We went back to the cottage for a more luxurious night's sleep ahead of an intended early morning activation of Loughermore GI/SM-014 - in just a few hours time!