Fifteen teams assembled under sunshine along the roadside just east of Shipston on Stour in Warwickshire. Shortly before the official starting time Brian gathered all together to remember Duncan Nicholls who passed away in March. Duncan had participated in DF since just after leaving school and had become a first class navigator and supporter of DF for more than 25 years. He would have spent today laying tables, serving teas and washing up at the Tea hut.
Two reasonable signals were detected by all contestants and, despite the strong breezes causing a few map reading issues, all teams (to my disappointment) plotted extremely accurate bearings, many hinting correctly at the approximate location of the hidden stations.
Teams departed very quickly after half past one just leaving the Harrow team (taking part in their first ever National DF hunt) to spend a little longer planning strategy. They too soon departed.
G3TRY/P 1920kHz operated by Colin Boyce. 25Km NW of the Start.
The station was located in a small area of woodland alongside the Stratford Upon Avon Canal 5Km North of Stratford. The point chosen to hide gave contestants a choice of eight different routes from the public roads most of these tracks just over a kilometre in length. Footpaths ran both sides of the canal and a powerline crossed the canal and ran west to east through the woodland. The transmitter was hidden just metres from the towpath however strong fencing and prickly hedgerows prevented even the most intrepid DFer from gaining access from the towpath. Forcing all contestants into the woods and then attempting to follow bearings beneath the hidden powerlines. The aerial system was a simple half wave end-fed running parallel to the canal and the earth a modest counterpoise.
Eleven teams found the hidden station with both Graham Jones and Keith Levett just running out of time still a short distance from the transmitter.
The two stations were just 25km apart.
G4MDF/P 1960 kHz operated by John Manley. 28Km NE of the Start.
The station was located on a cycleway 8km east of Leamington Spa. The cycleway is formerly a single track mineral railway running to within 2km of George Whenham's house (sorry again George). Five different routes from the roadside could be used to reach the transmitter all around a kilometre in length. The aerial system was also a simple end-fed halfwave running along the southern side of the railway embankment. The transmitter was on the north side.
Nearby stinging nettle beds alongside the southern embankment had clearly been fully investigated during the afternoon. Most contestants however found access to the transmitter from the track bed at the point the aerial crossed the cycleway. Fourteen of the fifteen teams found the transmitter during the afternoon with Paul Clarke clocking in with 8 seconds to spare.
Brian was first to clock in at this site, managing this at 1421 during just the third transmission of the day. Next to arrive was Peter Lisle; he took just 58 minutes to travel between the two check points, by comparison it took the organisers the same amount of time to travel between check points whilst removing the aerials afterwards.
Thirty-six people gathered at Wroxton Village Hall for yet another excellent “Banbury” tea.
Peter Lisle and Steve Stone gave insight in the days activities. Peter's team was clearly a family team with each member of the family playing their part in Peter's success. Peter’s wife deservedly receiving the ladies' prize. By contrast, Steve competed on his own and must be congratulated for a fine solo performance.
Steve Stone, Tim Parker and Alan Simmons all qualify for the National final in September.
Afterwards, Brian spoke about the need to communicate DF news more efficiently as the Topica site had proved a little unreliable of late.
Congratulations and encouragements were offered to Keith’s team representing the Harrow club after taking part in their very first National DF hunt.
Paul Clarke gave start details for the Torbay event.
Many thanks to Ronnie and Daphne for another wonderful tea, Mick, John and Colin for setting up and running the stations and to everyone who managed to tunnel through the undergrowth making it so easy to remove the aerials afterwards.
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