National Final - 25th September 2005


Up the motorway four junctions to split the 1.30 and start bearings on A, then our troubles began, as I got a parallel, reverse direction bearing on the start bearing, which indicated any number of possible woods! We came off the line a bit, and the next bearing indicated a group of woods to the East of Axford. We chose a likely looking wood, but driving towards it we were stopped by the police to advise us to watch out for horses, as there was some sort of horse event nearby. Rounding a corner slowly, we spotted a parked car with a 70 cm whip on the back, so we hopped out to find that the car had a 2m/70cm rig on the passenger seat and a box of wire and goodies in the back - this must be the operator's car. A shout "that's my car!" however dispelled that theory, as Raynet were helping out with the horse event, and he said he was nothing to do with the ARDF!

We decided to turn round and investigate another track leading to a small wood, but that seemed private, and just didn't feel right, so we turned round again, and went once more past the policeman. Just past where the Raynet people were up came the signal, so I dived into a convenient field to take a bearing. Quite strong this time, and indicating Preston Oak Hills as a possibility. There was a bridle way into the wood, on the other side of the road to the other end of the track that we had recently driven down. We were not sure that the station was in this wood, but it was a risk worth taking. After a while we came to a junction of footpaths, when suddenly, our Champion Aerial Spotter, specially on loan for the day from Essex University, said "there's the aerial". We then scattered round the area searching the undergrowth, and the team found an earth stake by a huge oak tree. When the signal came on, it pulled me towards the earth stake, but running away from it, the signal started to turn to one side, so I followed the set, telling the team that the set indicated this way. When the signal went off, I said to the team that it was still this way, so we split up to continue the search, but only a short while later Peter was hopping up and down "Dad, Dad, this way", showed me a large holly bush, where a warm welcome was received from John.

Station A

Station A, deep in his holly bush

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A quick chat with John established that Andy and Graham had clocked in just after 2, followed not long after by Chris. We thought we had seen Andy and Chris on the slip road by station B, and knowing they were closer to their third station at that point than we were, we thought that they had a good chance of beating us, especially as we had made a bit of a mess of finding our third site. It was therefore with some trepidation, but with some hope, that we made our way back to the pub for tea.

The tea site was however, literally just down the road from New Alresford, the other end of the Watercress Line, so with a few minutes in hand we decided to give it a look. There were no trains in, but a lot of people were milling about on the platform, and we soon gathered that a train was due, albeit some 15 minutes late. Standing on the footbridge, a double headed train eventually came into view, "City of Truro" leading, tender first. Phil had remembered his camera, and the resultant picture is below.

Watercress Line

No. 3440 "City of Truro" and No. 45321 from the footbridge at New Alresford

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Anyway, back to DF again, and back to the tea, where Chris said he had clocked in about 10 to four - about the same time as us! We had to wait until after tea however to see how we had done, and when Brian read the results out in reverse order, we had to wait until the very end to hear my name - I had achieved my ambition - to win the National Final before I am 50, having just missed out by about 5 minutes last year in Torbay!

I think it is the first time that we have used the Winchester map, and the organisers did a really good job finding three very different sites so far from usual territory.

Click on photos for enlargements

RSGB Trophy

BTBDF Trophy

George presents Andrew with the RSGB National Trophy

and the BTBDF Trophy


The Team enjoying tea

For the Official report and full results, see

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