Sixteen teams met in warm sunny conditions at the East Harptree Woods car park near Cheddar for the start of the National Final which was being staged by members of the Weston-Super-Mare club. This starting point is reasonably high up being situated towards the top of the eastern part of the Mendip Hills.
Three good signals where heard at the start, two of which where very strong and the third, Station ‘A’ G4CFG/P (1897kHz) was considerably weaker probably due to the small aerial system being used and the fact the Beacon Batch, the highest point on the Mendips, was directly between the start point and the ‘A’ station located at Lyncombe Hill near the village of Star and 14kms from the start. Several teams also got poor bearings due to refracted signals from Beacon Batch. This was intended to be a simple station with less than 200mtrs of antenna in the form of a Marconi ‘T’ with the end doubling back on itself to where the operator, Graham Jones was hiding in an old upturned bath tub. What had been a picturesque copse had been spoilt in places by rubbish being dumped there in the past by a farmer. Therefore the bath-tub did not look out of place despite it being propped up on a 20 gallon drum and a green jumper placed in front of it. Even so many teams spent ages walking around it and usually standing inches in front of Graham while cursing the difficulty of the station. First to find Graham was Peter Lisle’s son Tim, who arrived immediately after station A’s fourth transmission and he followed the wire into the ‘tub’. Roy Emeny soon followed, but the only competitor to go straight up to the ‘tub’ was Brian Bristow … his team thinking it looked totally unnatural!
Station ‘B’ G4XWP/P (1910 kHz) operated by Paul Kelly, G3SDH was located at 3kms from the start in Cliff Quarry near Compton Martin. This was a steeply sided valley with Paul located towards the top of the Westerly side of the valley and opposite the small and long disused quarry. The aerial was a very long wire stretched across the valley and terminating in two grounded 1/4-wave stubs in front of the quarry face. The aerial was about 60ft high at one point and a test transmission completely blocked the front end of the receiver so 10db of attenuation was added. The long wire and the steep nature of the valley made this a difficult station to reach. First in was Peter Lisle rapidly followed by John Mullins then George Whenham.
Because the roads in Somerset are very narrow and tractors and tourists seem to fill them (as Brian Bristow found out in both cases), it was decided to keep the stations reasonably close to the start. Station ‘C’ G4MDF/P (1960kHz) was located in the Somerset ‘Wetlands’18kms away from the start and operated by Colin Boyce. The actual location was Ashcott Corner and the small wood that Colin operated from was surrounded by ‘rhynes’ … the Somerset term for the wide drainage channels that criss-cross the entire area. Advantage was taken of the rhynes to put up a considerable amount of confusing aerial wire, much of it ending in grounded stakes. Competitors entering from the nature reserve car park and the long boardwalk then had a choice of either a very wet or a long trek back around to the actual location where Colin was hiding.
Congratulations go to Peter Lisle and his ‘hawk-eyed’ team on a very worthy victory in a challenging final; his team managing to find all three stations before 4pm. Congratulations also go to Brian and his team coming in second despite following tourists through the scenic Cheddar Gorge route then following half of Somerset’s farmers on their tractors.
|Position||Competitor||Finish||Time A||Time B||Time C|