I was originally planning my first Parks on the Air (POTA) this weekend, but circumstances changed and I’ve had to postpone the actual activation. Nethertheless I made good use of the time I did have by going to the park and checking it over. Sweety came along and we had a brilliant walk together.
Arriving at Avon Heath Park my Mazda Bongo will not fit into the regular car park due to height restrictions. There is a large parking area for HGV and PSV’s which other campervan/van type had parked in, so I went there. They should really raise the height of the barrier to 2m10cm like elsewhere in Bournemouth & Poole.
Carrying on from the visitors centre and amenities, there is a nice table/chair next to the reptile and bird lookout. If anything its a great place to sit and enjoy a rest, the pictorial ‘map’ is quite useful as well, but for a full map you can get one in the visitors centre with all the routes. I chose to do the “Viewpoint Trail” which is 3km long.
Sweety and I didn’t need to go far to find a lovely set of table/chairs, not only surrounded by lovely trees, but also a really nice passage to the next section of the park. The area around the benches has well spaced trees, allowing for either using the trees as a place to hook and end fed antenna up, or to put a pole up between them.
The route was easy to follow with well sign-posted arrows to follow, as well as nice posters of the inhabitants of the park. Sweety really enjoyed discovering the woods as well, making plenty of new friends on our walk around.
We had reached the furthest side of the planned walk, although not the park which extends further East from where the photos above where taken. Being the ‘Viewpoint Trail’ small diversions away from the trial give places to sit and enjoy the vistas across the heathland. Even on a cold Janurary day, it was a lovely view, and worth to come here just for relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
Continuing on the pathway I encountered the first real potential problem to operating, that being overhead powerlines. I am unsure if they would interfere with the radio signal by being in the proximity, but of course there is the very real risk to life should the mast fall onto the overhead cables, so that makes setting up in this part of the park a no-go area. We also encountered some very sedate English White Cows, I put sweaty back on his lead right away. Hes pretty good around other animals, but its best to play it safe, we walked by without problem and made it back to the car-park without issue.
In conclusion to the visit I now have a good idea of what I need, or more importantly what i don’t need, to bring with me and the quickest way to go there. Needless to say I’m really excited about coming out and doing PoTA for the first time !
I then came back home and as time allowed I could test the Sotabeams travel mast I had never setup before, even the ropes had to be cut to length for guying. This was quickly done in the space of my back garden and was really please to get the mast up so quickly and easily.
Whilst today should of been about going out and operating, I have made the most out of the time I did have, which I think will make my actual activation a really good experience.