Sunday morning started, after an extra hour in bed thanks to the clocks changing, as a repeat of Saturday with a nice breakfast and some socialising. Then it was time to check out, load the car and head off to activate another SOTA summit.
This time the plan was to activate Freeholds Top (G/SP-011). The plan was to park at the beginning of a farm track but when I arrived it was a building site compound of some sort, although deserted on a Sunday morning. There was, however, plenty of space to park on the wide grass verge and before long I was booted up and walking along the track. I'd decided on Wellies rather than walking boots because I knew the ground was going to be wet and almost the whole walk would be on the farm track or a moorland path. As I slowly gained height I began to feel the wind much more and once out on the ridge it was blowing a gale. The top looked like this:
There is a small pond next to the trig point, but I didn't look any closer due to the wind. I decided to set up in the lee of the wall and soon had the mast and antenna up and the radio set up. Once again I was about 10 mins early on my alerted time but decided to call anyway. I was still calling with no response about 20 mins later and was wondering if there was a fault with the radio or antenna.
It turned out that there was indeed a fault, but not with my equipment, the ionosphere was broken! There had been an X2 class solar flare during the morning and it had wiped out HF radio propagation. Fortunately things recovered and I managed to work 10 contacts over the next 30 minutes starting with Bryan G4ZRP and signal reports slowly recovered to their normal levels.
I packed everything away and the wind seemed to have become even stronger. The sun came out and the walk back down the track to the car was actually quite pleasant once I was below the ridge line and thus mostly out of the full force of the wind.
Back in the car I headed for home, a long and rather boring drive but without anything much in the way of traffic delays, arriving home just before it got dark. Once unpacked and having relaxed a bit I treated myself to Chinese takeaway for dinner.