National Final - 24th September 2000

14 teams assembled in the rain at Salcey Forest picnic area, a few miles South-East of Northampton. Luckily, by the time we came to take the first bearings at 12.50 p.m., the rain had just about stopped, and although wet underfoot, the rain held off for the rest of the afternoon.

Three good signals were heard, station A East of the start, station B South of the start and station C to the West.

As A could only be within seven miles to the edge of the map and could have been in a large wood, we decided to head off West, towards station C, to get as much distance covered as possible before the next transmissions at 1.30.

We positioned ourselves at 1.30 in Syresham with the aim of getting a good cross on our first bearing on C, and some indication of the location of station B. The cross bearing taken on C indicated a section of the map with several footpaths, a river tributary and a couple of disused railways which looked promising. Whilst surveying the area we noticed a parked car on the opposite side of the road to a track leading down to a disused railway. Thinking this could be the operators car we stopped, and after only a minute or so, the transmitter came up very loud, with the DF set pointed straight down the track to the disused railway – a classic DF location for a site.

Running down to the site the bearing went slightly off to the left and following this took our first trip of the day though a wet muddy field. On reaching the site the team split up to search different parts of the old railway line, but it was not long until Phil found the operator by an old bridge over the railway, coming in just behind the only other competitor on site.

We then struck out South-East towards station B, taking bearings on the way past Buckingham.It soon became clear that B was to the South of Milton Keynes where there were several lakes, possibly an old gravel pit. There was no obvious site for the station and as we looked for somewhere to park, we saw another team doing the same. We had hoped to drive down a track leading to a group of gravel pits to the North, but CCTV notices put us off! Just as we were parking at the end of the track, a third team pulled up, and all three teams ran together up the track, which was a public footpath towards a farm and the lakes. The footpath went across a field that had just been ploughed, by the time we reached the other side our shoes were thick and heavy with mud. When the signal came up it indicated the station was back across the ploughed field we had just crossed and for the third time we ploughed through the mud. We then crossed through a wood. Eventually, after a couple of more transmissions, we found ourselves running round the edge of a large lake, to find the station operator in a copse set high on a bank by the edge of the adjoining field.

Two down, one to go! But by the time we got back to the car we saw that the two teams that had been behind us were now off in front .....

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