|Position||Competitor||Finish||Time A||Time B|
G4TEB/P at TL 846 077 and M6GLP/P at TL 990 262.
I must admit that such a report is something that I have not been required to produce for VERY MANY years!
Seven teams assembled at Birch Green, to the south-west of Colchester for the start of this event on a dry, bright and sunny day, but with a very cold easterly wind. But, as ever for this so-named event, there was no Snow.
Two good signals were heard at the start from the hidden stations: Peter Larbalestier, G4 TEB/P, the A station, and from Gary Parker, M6 GLP/P at the B station.
With my bearings plotted, it was seen that the two stations were almost in diametrically opposed directions, with Peter being a very strong signal towards the south-west and passing to the west side of Maldon. Gary’s signal however was slightly weaker, but passed through the centre of Colchester, always bad news! I was faced with a dilemma, should I aim for the stronger, and possibly nearer A station, or go for what seemed to be the more likely distant B station, possibly located to the north of Colchester and maybe nearer to the northern edge of the map. The latter choice was made with the decision to use the 30 minutes available until the second transmission to travel somewhere to the north of Colchester. To avoid the inevitable hold-ups of the traffic through the town, I skirted to the west, travelling via Stanway, Fordham Heath, West Bergholt and Great Horkesley, to a spot on Straight Road,Boxted, just in time for the second transmission. Anticipating this signal to be towards the east, I was surprised to find it pointed directly south, giving me a cross close to the centre of Colchester. At this point I was also able to hear Peter, albeit very weakly, indicating that he was unlikely to be close to the start.
Heading due south on this road took me into the major Northern Approach Road into the town, with masses of traffic, roundabouts and traffic lights (Why are they seemingly always at red?) As I approached the traffic lights at the Turner Road junction, of course they turned red and the signal also came on. Lights turned green and I was able to turn into a small estate off the Turner Road with sufficient time to get a very quick bearing. A very strong signal here, suggesting that Gary was possibly near to the railway station, the River Colne water meadows, or maybe the Hilly Fields area to the south side of the Avenue of Remembrance. With Hilly Fields being a distinct possibility I needed another bearing to confirm this, so into the traffic again to get to the Spring Lane area, via the Avenue of Remembrance. Signal came on whilst in traffic on the Avenue, but was able to stop in the lay-by just before Glen Avenue. Oh dear, not Hilly Fields, but now a much weaker signal and indicating back towards the railway station area. So, carry on to Spring Lane roundabout, go around and aim back for the railway station, but where to park. Turn left at the Colne Bank roundabout, cross the river, turn into the first available road on the left of the Essex Hall Roundabout, Essex Hall Road. Drive to the end of the road on this new housing estate to find some rough land close to a small brook at the edge of the water meadows. Searching around the area waiting for a signal I looked into a heavily brambled area, but only entered so far – big mistake! Eventually another signal, but this directed me towards the footpath at the side of the road crossing the River Colne. On to the roadside, down the steps to the other side of the river – nothing obvious along the hedge, so under the footway to the other side of the road, by the old open-air river swimming pool. Nothing looks likely here, so up the bank and onto the roadside, to investigate another small area of undergrowth on the north side of the river.
Signal comes on and indicates back across the road, so climb over the Armco barrier and dash over between moving cars to the footpath at the other side. Lots of heavy impenetrable gorse and brambles on the bank at the side of the path, but signal turns sharply into this area as I move along the pathway. Gary is obviously hidden deeper in where I had failed to venture previously. So back again and in through the thickening brambles to finally find Gary smiling in his cosy hide, also that I was very surprised to be the first to have found this station.
One down, however still one to go.
Decided it would be quicker to head towards Peter’s station, by using the A12 main road, hoping that I might hear him whilst driving along, and thus be able to get a cross-bearing on the way. Still no signal heard though by Rivenhall End, so decided to turn off the main A12 here and head for a side road leading to Great Totham, close to Great Braxted Hall, and also on higher ground. Found a suitable spot in a field, and waited for a signal. Not long to wait, with the strong signal giving a bearing almost due south, to cross with my start bearing about 1 mile NE of Langford.
As I drove down through Great Totham and towards Langford, a further signal still pointed south. A confirmatory bearing was needed now, so parked-up to the south of my cross, at the entrance to the Country Park bordering the north bank of the Langford Cut on the Chelmer-Blackwater Navigation canal.
Signal now very strong, leave the car and running towards the canal, with it turning towards the left as I go along. By the time I had reached the canal path it was obvious that the station was on the far side of the water, with a likely looking wooded area visible to the side of the south bank footpath. The conveniently located footbridge over the nearby canal lock allowed me to reach the other side easily. As I started to wander along this path Richard Scott popped-out of the undergrowth a little way further along, obviously having just found the hidden station. What a gift! Found an entrance into the bushes, with the trampled-down undergrowth leading me eventually to Peter’s hide. Good fortune had certainly been on my side.
At the Cricketer’s Pub afterwards there was no one more surprised than me, when the results were announced and that I had actually won this event.
Thanks go to Peter and Gary for organising the contest, also for finding challenging locations for the hidden stations.