Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Lions Summer Walk - GB0LSW

A bare week after we completed the 2nd, reverse, crossing of the Lyke Wake, myself and Bob found ourselves again poised on a start line. This time, we had support - water, bananas, high viz vests and a number each! We were outside the new 'Cast' theatre in Doncaster town center, about to start on the Lions Summer Walk, a 12 mile route to end at TS Gambia, the Sea Cadets center in the town of Thorne.

For this, we had arranged our second 'mobile' amateur radio special event license, with the callsign GB0LSW. Bob would operate on 145MHz FM, using a handheld, whilst I, mentalist that I am, would run HF with the PRC-320 on my back!

Well, armed with some water and bananas, we finally got set off, one what should have been a really quite easy walk for us. That said, I was lugging a 10kg field radio!

The first problem presented itself within about 3 minutes of starting - the route, instead of going around past the old Odeon (Gaumont) cinema site and Christ Church onto Thorne Road, as i'd expected, went instead through Priory Walk which is a covered walkway! All well and good when your no taller than your hat, but a bit awkward when theres a 2.4m whip antenna sticking up above your head! The solution was to have Bob hold the antenna down as we went under what used to be the Park Lane nightclub.

From there we passed Christ Church onto Thorne Road towards Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Soon the folly of a HF mobile station became aparent. I really had not realised that there were so many trees along the route, and low branched trees at that! We had to alter our course slightly to prevent snagging the antenna.

Anyway, we started calling on the radios. As a result, we slackened our pace and were soon overtaken by almost everyone else!

The first support stop was at the Wheatley Hotel. From there, we headed around Sandal Park and over into Clay Lane, before heading into Edenthorpe. At this stage, Bob was managing a few contacts on 2m, whilst I was getting precisely nowhere on HF!

But the going was easy, especially compared with our jaunt on the North York Moors the week before! We passed through Edenthorpe, by our old school, and up to the roundabout and the A18 to Dunsville. Somewhere along here, Bob made contact with the special event station at the Doncaster Aircraft museum. Despite then arranging a sked for me on 18MHz, we were barely able to make the contact.

We passed into Dunsville, an interesting section where Bob had the annoyance of a pirate station to contend with!This idiot kept trying to say he was nearby and was coming to give Bob a kicking! I'd have loved to have seen it happen! But his signal strength made it clear he was not anywhere close and getting further away!

The second rest stop loomed, this was at Hatfields club, and we were being marshaled by uniformed Sea Cadets and Instructors. By this time we were in need to sanitary facilities, so we took the opportunity to drop the radios and have a rest. Ice cold fruit cordial was available which was very refreshing. At this point I was offered the spare battery that I had had Julie and Sam take on ahead, but decided to forgo it, instead depositing it in Bobs pack whilst he was in the lav,

From here there were just a few miles to go. As we made our way towards the marina area, Bob found an England flag on the ground that had fallen off of someones war. It was soon flying from the tip of my antenna!

The route then took us over the motorway via  a service bridge, before back down to join the fast and unpaved road to Thorne. This section was rather tedious, simply because it was long and straight. It was also not the nicest of roads to walk along, and little to see once your past the prison!. We tried a few band changes, and Bob had a go operating the HF for a while, but with still no luck, and an unexpected RF burn for Bob!

But then, we were on the outskirts of Thorne. And soon, we were at the landing on the canal, with just a road crossing to go to the end! There we were met by the mayor, and awarded our medals!

We were not quite the last to finish, but not far off. Having dismantled the antennas, and stowed the kit, we enjoyed a much deserved pint or two!

We always seem to end up in a mess!
The radio aspect was disappointing though. One idea for next year, is to see if we can set up the station at the end point (presumably the TS Gambia again?) and then myself and Bob will complete the walk in advance of everyone else starting it, so we can then run the station during the actual walk from more efficient equipment and antennas.

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