From our holiday location of Shaldon in Devon, we headed over the bridge to Teignmouth
and turned West to join the A38 dual carriageway. In a move that cost us time, but gained
us fine views and good VHF broadcast DXing opportunities, we took the direct route over
Dartmoor towards Tavistock. While driving over the moor, we heard new stations for
the broadcast log and QSL chase, including South Hams Radio, Radio Plymouth, Plymouth
Sound, Lantern FM, and Classic Gold Plymouth 1152. Beyond Tavistock, we continued on the
A390 before turning right at the signpost for Kit Hill Country Park. There was a
large parking area just a short walk from the summit and trig point.
We set up and immediately worked Terry G0VHS over in Weymouth, who I had previously
worked on 40m from the campsite on Anglsey back in June. Then into the Black Hole we went.
An eternity of fruitless calling on 2m FM & SSB, 70cm FM and 40m SSB ensued without
success. However, the monotony was broken by an officious Cornwall Countryside Warden who
asked me who had given me permission, "because you certainly haven't asked me".
I was told I was set up on a "sensitive archaelogical site", which surprised me
as it wasn't roped off or notified in any way. I was then told that "People come up
here for a bit of peace and quiet", another surprising remark as the only words that
had passed through my lips since she arrived in the vicinity was some chat with Jimmy,
while kids from other families on the summit were running around yelling and screaming.
The radio was turned to a very low volume as it always is, and there was certainly no
audio emitting from it! I resisted the considerable temptation to point out the anomalies
in her assertions, and used the frustrating but generally successful technique of
appearing timid and compliant! "How long are you going to be?" she asked. Right,
I had been on the summit for nearly two hours and so far had racked up one contact.
Without telling her this bit, I answered "Not long at all - I only need three more
contacts". And off she went. Right, now surely getting the other contacts would be
doddle by comparison!
Well, not really. Several more fruitless calls and changes of band, mode, aerial and
beam headings followed. Tension began to mount as it had passed 11am, we still needed 3
contacts and a 90 minute drive back - and we had promised Marianne we'd be back by 9am! It
was during a swap from 2m FM to SSB that my prayers were answered. As I rotated the knob
on the 817, scrolling down from 145 to 144 MHz in 12.5 kHz
steps, I was still in FM mode, and thought I heard something. My luck had changed, and
there was a QSO of four local stations on 144.725 MHz, all being received with 59+
signals. They were holding some kind of on-air workshop about MS-DOS commands, but after
apologising for being off-topic and explaining my situation they were more than happy to
oblige. The time elapsed between my first and second contacts on the activation, with
constant calling, was 2 hours and 25 minutes. Is this a record?