Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Out portable on the Lincolnshire Wolds

This Easter weekend we decided to go out with the dogs and combine three hobbies, walking, geocaching and amateur radio whilst taking the opportunity to visit some radio related relics of World War II and the Cold War on the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Following a recent presentation at the South Kesteven ARS by David Gordon G6ENN where he talked about his successful portable operating I was encouraged to constructed a simple dual band 'flower pot' antenna (design from VK2ZOI) using some RG58 coax and 25mm conduit.

Completed 2m/70cm Flower Pot

My previous attempts at portable operating have largely involved HF and slightly heavy equipment (my Yaesu FT-857D and Sealed Lead Acid batteries) but I decided this time to try VHF/UHF as we were going to one of the highest spots in the area. This allowed me to travel light just taking along a Baofeng UV-5R and the antenna sticking out of the rucksack.
Just setting off with Boris & Eddie

Parking up in Donington on Bain we had a short 4 mile circular walk planned allowing the wife to collect a dozen geocaches along the way with a short detour at the top to visit RAF Stenigot. The walk climbs to the top of a hill, but it isn't a long ascent by any means or overly strenuous. The view back included the impressive Belmont Transmission Tower (just visible over my shoulder in the picture above) which before it was shortened in 2010 was reputably the tallest structure of its type in the world.

Belmont Transmission Tower

The Lincolnshire Wolds is the highest area on the East of England between Yorkshire and Kent and so there are many structures that take advantage of the elevation. In addition to Belmont we could see the Radar station at Wolds Top/Normanby Hill and Lincoln Cathedral in the distance, but we were interested in what was in front of us the remains of RAF Stenigot.

The tower at RAF Steingot, clearly visible as we climbed

View back
RAF Stenigot was part of the Chain Home radar network during World War II, this early system used large antenna arrays suspended from large towers, one of which is now preserved as a Grade II listed structure which is still used by RAF Aerial Erector School for selection tests for possible recruits.

After the Second World War, the site was retained and in 1959 it was upgraded to a communications relay site as part of the NATO ACE High system, which involved adding four tropospheric scatter dishes. The site was decommissioned in the late 1980s and was mostly demolished by 1996 but the toppled dishes remain.

View of RAF Stenigot
View of RAF Stenigot
While on private land with no public right of way it is a simple matter to follow the field edge to get quite close, the actual site has been secured to prevent vandalism and is now home to a herd of bulls to deter trespassers!

The dishes as seen from the footpath
At the gate (locked) to the site

View looking towards the radar tower

Yours truly
We stopped in the shadow of the dishes for a drink and some refreshment and I got out the radio and attempted to make some contacts, but sadly it seemed like everyone was in still in bed. I could open quite a few nearby repeaters and put out calls but again nothing heard, hopefully ET had better luck!

ET Phone Home!
Checking the equipment when I got home it seems the Baofeng radio has developed quiet TX audio, so it is likely people couldn't hear me. I haven't used these cheap radios much and know they are prone to issues but thought mine was okay. Oh well, at least I looked the part and got a few odd glances from the few walkers and locals we saw. What I didn't realise at the time is the hill is also the site of GB3LC but I did spot some amateur radio antennas nearby.

The Chain Home Radar tower

The "Heavy Mob" Security Patrol
It really was a great morning walk in a part of the country which is on our doorstep but haven't really visited before. Getting up close to the dishes and the Radar mast was fascinating.

What's more you aren't far from the Lincolnshire Coast, so after our walk we went to Mablethorpe for the afternoon and fish and chips which were well received.

Eddie enjoying his fish and chips
Might look at activating Wolds Top in the near future as it is also a SOTA summit!

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