May Hill, my 500th

NPOTA Entity: N/A

SOTA summit: May Hill  G/WB-019 

Activation Date: Sept 23, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Radio: Elecraft KX2 operating at 10 watts

Antenna: LNR Trail Friendly end fed 40-10m

Bands used: 20m and 40m

Furthest QSO: ~1,250 miles with Vladimir, EU2MM in Belarus 

Hike in: Yes, about two miles roundtrip

Solo operation: With brother Matthew

Recommend: Yes

O2 Coverage: Great

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Teardrop is May Hill near English/Welsh border
May Hill offers great views; north to Malvern Hills, south to Severn estuary and west to Brecon Beacon area

The lane is so narrow the car almost touches the hedgerows on either side. The narrowness and height creates an impression that matches the lane’s name, Barrel Lane. To boot, this is a two way road and given no obvious passing place, I’m dreading a car coming in the opposite direction and plough forward with grim determination and a cautious eye out as far as I can see.

Did you say “narrow”, this is a two way road!

After a few more turns the car park is a welcome change having navigated the English countryside through what seems like a foliage maze. The views north are beautiful over manicured fields, so typical of England, toward the Malverns Hills.

They are singularly focused on eating and quite nonchalant to my approach.  I think of Pintos and the American West and so it seems odd to see Pintos grazing on the side of May Hill. The oddity continues with a foal lying on the ground and I’m not sure if she is resting, ill or what. I tread carefully getting closer and closer to photograph them offering words of praise to the equine world. It works and I walk on with my brother.

Pinto that for me is iconic of the American West


Is the foal resting, ill or what?

Continuing into an adjacent field the oddity has now becomes surreal and complete as we encounter a herd of what is best described as “Panda” cows. These small fluffy black and white beasties seem a little more interested in us than the Pintos but share a common desire to consume the grass they stand on and carry on regardless. This city boy gets easily enthralled by the simplest aspects of mother nature.


…and now I find “Panda” cows. The oddity is complete.

My brother settles into one of many park benches and stares contemplatively out toward the Severn Estuary and Bristol.

I rest the carbon fibre mast in a tree, the end fed runs forty feet or so and I tie it off to another thoughtfully placed tree and sit propped up by its neighbor. All completed in a matter of minutes and I’m thankful for what I have learnt from other operators over multiple co-activations and in this case to Fred Mass (KT5X) back in New Mexico in May.

Sitting amongst the trees atop May Hill

My plans this day had been a little random mainly because I tweaked my knee the day before in a sink hole in Wales. Fortunately it felt pretty good and my brother had encouraged me to push forward to achieve my goal of 500th activator point back in the Olde Country. To that end we had activated Ruardeen Hill (G/WB-021) and Aconbury Hill (G/WB-024) earlier in the day and now that my goal seemed achievable I had posted on SOTA Reflector my aspiration in the hope of drumming up chasers from within the UK.

20m offered contacts into Eastern Europe including a summit to summit with SP9PND on a peak in Poland. Cool!

40m is always a busy band and never more so than a Friday afternoon and its hard to find a quiet slither of spectrum and I squeeze in as best I can. First up is my second contact of the day with Rod, M0JLA and then 40m lights up for me and I net contacts up and down the UK. Non US call signs are still a little alien to me and I struggle with Pat’s 2E0PFG but now I’ve learnt another UK call sign format!

I’m yanked from my 40m bliss my a brother standing in front of me understandably gesturing that he is cold and somewhat bored. Its been a great run and I’m thrilled with the contacts that made achieving my 500th activator point a success this sunny afternoon on May Hill.

British cuisine is oft maligned and I’m quick to point out to people the gastro-pub phenomena, I figure that if my American wife who is quite picky about food is happy to have lunch and/or dinner in a gastro-pub then they are living up to their reputation. And so with this in mind my brother, sister in law and I head to the Moody Cow. The name alone suggests a visit and the decision is final based on a recommendation from my “Panda” cows and so I have an excellent English meal with excellent English real ale to celebrate my excellent English accomplishment.

Real ale to celebrate my 500th activator point


Moody Cow as recommended by the “Panda” cows






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