Summer is well and truly here so what better way to enjoy the blistering days and warm nights with 2 things that go so well together, sleeping on mountains and CB radio. Even with a good antenna setup the slight hills that surround my QTH do a great job of limiting line of sight reception with the only real avenue being toward the south east so always look forward to having the chance to work somewhere much higher.
Although the Malvern’s only reach 425m at the highest point is has the benefit of clear sight lines as the ground all around is very flat giving views all the way up into the Midlands, toward the south and is a great place for working into most of Wales (at least until the many mountains block the signal).
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CB Radio Equipment
Combining some high altitude with a spot of wild camping and a full days walking makes some serious limitations on the amount of CB gear I can take along.
There are some great spots in Wales where dragging extra full size antennas up the mountain is more than worth it but the Malvern Hills presents a few problems for setting up a large mobile station.
1. The Malvern Hills is one huge managed conservation area meaning there are big restrictions on what you can do. I’m sure the sight of a tripod with a 18 foot antenna sticking out of the top would bring a swift visit from the good people who look after this wonderful place :).
2. Even after so many years using CB’s I’m still not a fan of people watching me use them when out and about and unlike some of the other remote places used around the UK the Malvern Hills is always busy and I would rather not draw attention to myself while going about my hobby.
Point 2 makes the British Camp section of the hills right at the south end the perfect choice as its always a lot quieter than the rest of the peaks, even though its not the highest place to work from. Opting to stick with the vintage Harvard 410T handheld and its built in antenna as its ideal for working from the Malvern’s and its good to give the old stuff a run out every so often. It would be nice to have a tree or two to string up at least a basic wire antenna up for improved reception but as with most mountains they are rarely in the right place.
Switching the rig on about 4PM it was good to hear a few channels with some activity on them which is more than I get for the same time of day at the home QTH. Reminding myself it was Friday and most people will still be either at or coming home from work I choose to just sit and listen while trying to work out where some of the signals were coming from.
Using Regional Accents as Clues for Location
The great thing about the way people talk in the UK is how the accent changes dramatically over a small area. Spend enough time traveling around and you can get a rough idea of where a transmission is coming from just by the accent (unless they are truckers). Moving south from the Malvern’s you come into areas like Gloucestershire with a slightly different way of speaking spread across its many regions with CB users from places like the Forest of Dean sounding very different from those that live in the city of Gloucester.
Down to Business
Starting from just after 7PM contacts were made into many of the local towns and villages including Ledbury, Tewkesbury, Worcester and Great Malvern itself with the handheld running at 4 Watt maximum output.
Longer distance contacts were a little harder to come by but did manage Gloucester, Cheltenham, Ross on Wye and after a final call out on channel 19 a very scratchy conversation with a breaker in a village (which I’d never heard of) near chipping Norton.
Pleased to get some good audio reports from my handhelds especially when its one with a lot more miles on the clock.
I found channel 19 a bit dead for a Friday night compared to previous trips which meant doing a bit of polite intrusion into peoples conversations to make the most out of the time I could get from the single set of batteries loaded into the back of the Harvard. By listening for a while first you can usually get an idea of how your called on the side is going to be received with some just left alone.
Contacts into South Wales were sadly lacking this trip which was a surprise as there is a pretty clear path from this side of the hills down into certain parts of Newport and some of the higher valley towns.
Not a bad few hours of working from the Malvern’s but looking forward to heading back to the beautiful Welsh mountains soon where we can get a proper setup together at a better altitude along with a campfire to brew some coffee on.
For the next trip we are looking at getting some audio snippets recorded so they can be put on this site for everybody to listen to.
Over to You
Do you have a favorite location you like to work from? Why not leave a comment below letting us know how it works for you and what equipment you prefer to take along.