Great Rhos 2018

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GW/MW-002 Great Rhos

New Radnor

I arrived in New Radnor about 8:30am for an early start.  Parking is on street in the village but there is plenty of room so not a problem. For a change the weather was forecast to be a bit kinder today although it was still overcast.

The route up to Great Rhos is fairly obvious and not too steep, following a clear track until you reach the summit plateau.  To the East is a large firing range which appears to be still in use so make sure you avoid this.  It is clearly marked on the maps and signposted as you ascend the track. At about 620m the track disappears and as this is not yet within the activation zone you will need to resort to some old fashioned nav to find the summit trig point.  On the day I activated Great Rhos the summit was in cloud with visibility around 50m so no chance of spotting the high ground.  Progress across the plateau is slow and hard work unless you can find a track to follow.  It is typical Welsh moorland bag with what looks like a fairy even cover of undergrowth hiding clumps and hollows at about knee height.

Every step was a lottery between sinking into the wet depths or straining your ankle on the side of a high clump.  Take it slowly and allow plenty of time.  When you reach the East to West fence about 250m South of the trig point, find the gap and there is a sort of path from there to the trig point.

As I arrived at the trig point I heard G1NCG calling on the ~GB3WH repeater in Swindon.  I tried to get back to him but couldn’t open the repeater with just the whip antenna on the WT.  I set up the station using the trig point to support the mast and tried again to reach WH, this time with no problem. I was able to reach Ken and arrange a sched on simplex.  Switching to simplex FM I was soon on the receiving end of a mini pileup and rapidly put nine entries in the log but I couldn’t hear Ken G1NCG.  Switching back to the repeater I contacted Ken and he made some changes to his station before we tried again.  As soon as I called simplex I picked up another two chasers for the log who I must have missed first time and then I received G1NCG 5/9 calling me which added the twelfth entry in the log.  It seems he was having a problem with his antenna which he managed to resolve.

GW/MW-002 Log

By this time the cloud was starting to clear and I could appreciate the views from the top.  

Off to the North East the radio tower on the top of Black Mixen was clearly visible.

The clouds clearing certainly added to the enjoyment of the walk but the return from the summit is not obvious even with the benefit of a bit more visibility.  Follow the path leading South as far as the fence but shortly after that the path disappeared so a bit of careful navigation is required to pick up the end of the track again.

The Whimble

Once you find the track it is an easy route back to the village and if you get a clear sunny day as this one had turned into then you will enjoy some wonderful views out over the hills of Radnor Forest.

Journey Details

Date – 17th February 2018

Postcode – LD8 2TB

Parking – SO 211 608

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 12

SOTA points – 4+3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Next

Black Mountain & Sugarloaf 2018

Previous

GW/SW-041 Black Mountain

The forecast was bad for Saturday and worse for Sunday.  Persistent rain, winds to 50 mph, tops in cloud  and temperatures just above freezing. It wasn’t wrong!

We arrived at the car park below Hay Bluff just after 9am.  There is normally plenty of room in the car park but this time someone had dumped a few piles of chippings in the car park, there was still plenty of room though.  The wind was buffeting the car and the rain was lashing down.  At this point we almost decided to turn around and head home again. But no, it couldn’t really be that bad, could it? With a great deal of will power we managed to get kitted up and set out up the face of Hay Bluff.

There was still a bit of snow lying on the path but it was rapidly being eroded by the rain, that is until we reached the summit plateau where the rain was just forming pools on top of the ice that covered the paths.  Added to the effect of the winds it made for some interesting walking.

We soon reached the summit cairn, if you can call it that, it’s only a six inch high pile of a few small rocks, but still, it’s enough to let you know you found it.

We set up the station and climbed into the emergency shelter for a bit of warmth and to try and keep the rain out of the equipment.

Black Mountain Log

We soon had eight entries in the log before the wind blew the aerial off the mast so we packed away and set off back down the hill.

Journey Details

Date – 10th February 2018

Postcode – HR3 5RJ (see text)

Parking – SO 239 373

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 8

SOTA points – 6+3

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

GW/SW-011 Sugarloaf

A short drive across Abergavenny brought us to the parking for Sugarloaf viewpoint.  Again there is no problem parking here with space probably for twenty or more cars.

There are many routes up Sugarloaf as it is a popular walking spot.  Even on a day like this we passed plenty of walkers, albeit mostly they were on the lower levels.

It didn’t take long to reach the summit where we set up the station at the trig point.

The trig point base has been heavily eroded over time so it now sits quite some way above the surrounding hill top.

Once again we made eight contacts although by this time the wind had dropped considerably so we were able to operate in the open and without the aerial being blown down.

Sugarload Log

The return to the car was straightforward and the weather cleared as we descended providing some lovely views over the Usk valley and even a hint of some sunshine at one point.

Journey Details

Date – 10th February 2018

Postcode – NP7 7LA

Parking – SO 268 167

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 8

SOTA points – 2+3

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

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Craig y Llyn, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn and Coity Mountain 2018

Previous

GW/SW-010, GW/SW-014 & GW/SW-012 – At last, a sunny day

It was still dark on Sunday morning when I left home.  Three new summits today, none of which I have ever been up so a bit of a challenge.

GW/SW-010, Craig y Llyn

Arriving at the viewpoint below Craig y Llyn at about 8:30 am I decided it was too public a spot to park up for the ascent so I continued on along the road to SN 923 027 where there is room for a couple of cars to park, in not such an obvious place.

The path marked on the map across Ffos Toncenglau is not there on the ground.  I tried to follow it but it was a big mistake.  The ground is boggy and covered in long coarse tufty undergrowth, the sort that is a nightmare to cross.

By the time I was half way across I decided to make for the northern boundary and pick up the track. Progress along the track was a lot easier although it is very badly rutted by motorbikes and off roaders.  The views over Llyn Fawr make up for the poor terrain though so don’t be put off.  Once on the track it is a straight forward route up to the summit with very little ascent.  The only challenge is knowing where to find the summit trig point which requires a bit of astute navigation.

The actual trig point is set a little way back from the edge and is now surrounded by trees so I decided to set up the station back on the main track which had a clearer takeoff.

I soon had seven contacts in the log which cleared the pileup so as I still had two more unknown peaks to complete I decided not to wait around. On the return I checked the route across Ffos Toncenglau from the high ground above it and thought I could make out the path but when I got down to the corner where it meets the track it didn’t look any better so instead I returned along the track to the road and then along the road back to the car. A bit further but far far easier going.

GW/SW-010, Craig y Llyn Log

Journey Details

Date – 4th February 2018

Postcode – CF44 9UE

Parking – SN 923 027

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 4 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

GW/SW-014, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn

Mynydd Carn-y-cefn turned out to be a bit of a challenge navigationally. All the previous logs I have read seem to have approached this one from the North, generally starting from the West Monmouthshire Golf Course.  I decided that as I would be short of time I would try the shorter route in from the Blaina side.

Finding a parking spot was the first problem.  These are very narrow roads and it’s not clear exactly where to start walking from.  There is room for a couple of cars on the side of the road around SO 196 084 which is just below the radio tower.  From there I hunted around looking for a path up through to the hil.  There are a number marked on the map, eventually I found a way through at the southern end of the woods to the south of the radio tower.  Once through the woods it is an easy route up the hill until you reach the access land where it becomes quite steep at SO 192 081.

Looking back down the hill at Llanerch-y-pant

There is a stile on the right here which looks like it goes the wrong way but in fact leads to another stile and an easier route up the steep section of the hill.  In the event I went straight up the hill following the route of the path marked on the map.  This is a very steep grassy route which I would not attempt again, especially if it was wet.  Once on the top there is a clear track, badly cut up by off roar bikes a few of which were buzzing around whilst I was up there.

The trig point is not visible from the track so to find it I took a back bearing from the radio mast and walked along the track until I was on this bearing.  Then it is a short walk to the top and the trig point.

I set up the station at the trig point using the hole in the top to support the mast.  It was a fairly cold and windy activation with occasional flurries of snow in between the sunny spells. Again I made seven contacts to clear the pileup including three summit to summit entries.

GW/SW-014, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn Log

The return back down to the car was much easier with the benefit of some height to observe the route.  The path down the steep section is much easier than the direct ascent and once onto the lower slope there is an easy route via a track to the North of the radio tower and woods then South back to the car.  Next time I will go up this way as well!

Journey Details

Date – 4th February 2018

Postcode – NP13 3DD

Parking – SO 196 084

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 2 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

GW/SW-012, Coity Mountain

From GW/SW-014 it is a short drive to Cwmtyleri and the ascent of Coity Mountain.  At last, a summit name I can pronounce! Again I took an unusual approach to the hill.  Other logs I have read have started from the Eastern side of the mountain, generally from the Big Pit mining museum.  That is a shorter walk but a longer drive from the last one so swings and roundabouts.

There is good parking at SO 218 061 which appears to be a visitor resource or there is room for a couple of cars at SO 220 066 if you want to save a bit of walking.

The route up to the access land is fairly obvious but once onto the access land I headed South then turned East up the flank of the hill.  There is no obvious path up this was so I would avoid it next time.

Spot the summit

The track to the North and then South East up the other flank of the valley is a much better option.  From the crossing marked 504 on the map head North and then pick your spot to head into the wilderness looking for a summit.  I picked a spot at random that was showing as within 2 metres of the summit on the altimeter so very much within the activation zone.  I set up the station of the clearest bit of ground I could find, when I checked later I was about 180m from the marked summit on the map.  For the third time I made seven contacts to clear the pileup.

GW/SW-012, Coity Mountain Log

Returning to the car I stuck to the tracks which was much easier.  I was back at the car well before dark with three successful activations in the bag.

Journey Details

Date – 4th February 2018

Postcode – NP13 1LR

Parking – SO 218 061

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 2 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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Fan Gyhirych & Fan Nedd 2018

Previous

GW/SW-006 & GW/SW-007 – Will it ever stop raining?

Another early start on a wet and windy weekend.  The forecast was saying that the rain would ease off for a while on Sunday morning, it was wrong.

Unusual sliding gates on the track up to Fan Gyhirych

Arriving at the caving club car park in good time for a 9am start, I was soon on the hill.  The rain didn’t stop but it did ease a little for a while.  I reached the turning point for the final ascent up to the summit of Fan Gyhirych but again didn’t find the path up so ended up cross country until near the top.  Viability was no more than 50 metres.

It’s there somewhere!

I set up the station next to the trig point and settled down inside my emergency shelter to try and avoid the worst of the weather.  I spotted myself on the sms system and was soon working the pile up.  I made eleven contacts, all on vhf fm.

The weather was not improving so I decided to pack up the kit and get back down to the track where it would hopefully be a bit calmer.

Fan Gyhirych Log

Back at the track I continued east towards Fan Nedd.  Just before I reached the top of Fan Nedd I heard a call of CQ SOTA on the radio so I stopped and logged Phil GW4HQB/P over on Mynd Troed for a S2S contact.  I was just about into the activation zone which was lucky.  I continued along the ridge down to the trig point at the southern end where I set up the station in the shelter.  It was quite blustery there so I had to add additional guying to keep the antenna upright.  I soon had another 6 contacts in the log making a total of 7 for Fan Nedd.

Fan Nedd Log

I soon packed up and descended Fan Nedd, then on the long walk back along the track I heard Phil GW4HQB/P calling CQ again, this time from the top of Mynydd Llangorse, so I stopped and got the radio out for another summit chaser log entry.  If you read this Phil please note that you logged my call sign wrong on both your summits.

Journey Details

Date – 28th January 2018

Postcode – SA9 1GQ

Parking – SN 855 155

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 11 + 7

SOTA points – 6 + 4

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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Cefn Yr Ystrad, Waun Rydd and Tor Y Foel 2018

Previous

GW/SW-008, GW/SW-004 & GW/SW-013 – Another three peaks

Another early start, met up with Peter on the motorway before heading over the bridge and into Wales.  Weather forecast not looking great and once the sun came up this was confirmed out of the windscreen ahead  Not expecting to see the sun today!

Cefn Yr Ystrad

First stop, Cefn Yr Ystrad. Probably not a summit I would have ever done if it wasn’t for SOTA but it turned out to be an enjoyable challenge.  There is room for two cars to park in the entrance to the water works so long as you park at either end and not in the middle of the pull in.  The post code given below is nearby but you will have to navigate the last bit from the map.  After a bit of a climb at the start you arrive on the flattish top.  There are tracks but none of them go to the summit.  In good visibility you might be able to see the summit, I don’t know though as we could see no more than a couple of hundred metres.  There are a number of point features marked on the map which can be used as way points to navigate towards the summit.

Cefn Yr Ystrad summit

Starting from a known start point we navigated by pacing on a bearing from point feature to point feature until eventually we saw the summit trig point appear from the gloom.  We set up the station using the hole in the trig point to support the mast.  I soon made eleven contacts to clear the pile up so we rapidly packed up and headed back to the car.  The return is easier to navigate as there are a number of catching features that can be used to navigate back.  We headed in a straight line back to the last track and then followed this to find the path back down to the car.

Cefn Yr Ystrad Log

Journey Details

Date – 20th January 2018

Postcode – CF48 2UP

Parking – SO 060 114

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 11

SOTA points – 4 (+3)

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

Waun Rydd

It’s a short drive from Cefn Yr Ystrad to Waun Rydd.  As usual the car park was full but we managed to squeeze in a place on the side.

Walking along the ridge above the steep climb

The walk up Waun Rydd was pleasant and occasionally we managed to get a glimpse of the views. As we got higher though the weather deteriorated and once we passed the 600m mark we started to see lying snow in patches.  Fortunately although it was wet it was not too windy.

We managed to keep up a good pace on the way up and reached the summit in just over an hour.   On the top it was blowing a bit,  probably about 10 – 15 mph which with the wet and the cold was enough to make it rather unpleasant.  We set up the station next to the cairn and soon has another ten contacts in the log.  We didn’t bother with the detour to the memorial this time as by now we were both soaked through and very cold.  Instead we made a rapid decent, getting back down to the car in about 50 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Waun Rydd Log

Journey Details

Date – 20th January 2018

Postcode – CF48 2UT

Parking – SO 056 175

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 10

SOTA points – 6 (+3)

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

Tor Y Foel

The drive from Waun Fach to Tor y Foel is a bit longer and I couldn’t find a postcode any nearer, the one given will get you to the final junction then just follow the narrow road up to the parking spot.

The summit cairn on Tor y Foel in almost zero visibility

The route up is uneventful, there is a fairly obvious path, follow it and you will get to the top.  This is another hill I have overlooked in the past, brought to fame by the SOTA programme.  The visibility was still poor and by the time I reached the top conditions had deteriorated further.  I set the station up on the small excuse for a cairn marking the top.  I didn’t guy the mast as it was getting late and I had left my head torch in the car, I needed to be quick on this one before it got too dark to see the path back down.  I did struggle a bit to hold the mast, the radio and the mike whilst still operating and then to make matters worse the battery on the radio gave out and had to be replaced.  After changing the battery I though I had switched the recording back on but after the main pileup had been cleared I noticed I wasn’t recording anything.  Disaster..! I knew I had completed one QSO before the battery ran out so I needed another three to secure the points and I had already cleared all the easy ones.  Desperately I started calling CQ again on 144.500 and eventually managed to work a couple more stations.  By this time I could see I was about to lose the light so decided in the interests of safety I had to pack up now and get down before it was too dark.  It was not that big and I could always go up it again on another day.

I got back to the car just before it became to dark so timing was spot on.  By this time I was wet right through and extremely cold, but luckily I had brought a towel and some spare clothes so was soon warm and (mostly) dry.  The remains of my flask went down well and warmed from the inside.

When I got home I played back the file from Tor y Foel and with great relief realised that I had four confirmed QSOs recorded. I also had another three that I recorded calling me that I know I worked so I have logged those as well.  I think I also worked 2W0FLW but didn’t have any record on the bits of recordings I have so I have not logged him as I can’t confirm the contact.

Tor Y Foel Log

Journey Details

Date – 20th January 2018

Postcode –LD3 7YP

Parking –SO 109 187

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 2 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Next

Waun Fach, Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llangorse 2018

Previous

GW/SW-002, GW/SW-009 & GW/SW-015 – Three Peaks

 

Icing up on the top of Waun Fach

Three fairly easy tops done in one day.  Weather forecast not great but at least it had warmed up a bit.  As it turned out it remained dry but overcast all day although the top of Waun Fach was in the cloud and sub zero.

Route

Waun Fach

Ice on the path

There is no proper parking at Waun Fach, it is just a case of getting onto the verge somewhere, there is a reasonably wide and flat space just up the northern road from the junction.  The climb is uneventful but enjoyable, better when it is clear on the tops and there is a view.  There was still a few traces of ice around at higher elevations but nothing to affect progress.  Above about 750m in the cloud the wind was blowing freezing fog which covered everything in a thick frost.

The top is fairly exposed with no real cover.  There is a small rock at the summit just big enough to use as a bench but not enough to give any shelter.  The large boulder that used to mark the summit has been removed although the erosion pit is still clearly visible if you know what you are looking for.  I set up the station holding the aerial rather than guying it and soon had seven contacts in the log.  The descent was straight forward and quicker than the ascent.

Log

Journey Details

Date – 13h January 2018

Postcode – LD3 0EU

Parking – SO 186 290

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 8 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Mynydd Troed

It’s a short drive from Waun Fach south to the col at the top of Cwm Sorgwm.  There is parking easily for two cars only and both spaces were full.  I tried to get on the verge just to the south west of the normal parking but managed to get the car stuck there on the soft wet ground.  Eventually with a lot of heaving and some help from one of the other drivers I managed to get off and was able to take the space left by the driver who helped.

Mynydd Troed

The walk up Mynydd Troed was uneventful.  There had not been too much rain recently so the steep bit at the top was fairly dry which made it easier to climb.

It was quite windy at the top but just to the north of the trig point there are a couple of small depressions just the right size to provide some shelter.  I set the station up there and called CQ.  It took some time to make the contacts this time, at one point I didn’t think I would qualify the summit but with some perseverance I eventually made the four contacts required although generally the signal reports were down.  This hill is lower than Waun Fach which lies to the East and tends to mask the signal.  At this point I was seriously wondering whether it would be worth climbing Mynydd Llangorse if there was no activity.  I had only alerted Waun Fach on the reflector so perhaps no one was expecting this activation.  I packed the station away but when I came to the aerial I realised I had not extended the telescopic sections, ahh, that was why no one could hear me.  Decided to go for Mynydd Llangorse after all.

Log

Journey Details

Date – 13h January 2018

Postcode – LD3 7UL

Parking – SO 160 283

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 4

SOTA points – 4 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Mynydd Llangorse

 

Looking West over Lyn Syfaddan from Mynydd Llangorse

Back at the car I soon ate lunch and after a quick change of batteries I set off up Mynydd Llangorse.  It is an easy climb and I was soon nearing the top.  As I reached the top I reached for my map to check my position but couldn’t find it, I must have left it in the car when eating my lunch. doh..  Unfortunately the summit reference was written on the top of the map so I now didn’t know the summit number.  Well I wasn’t going to walk all the way back down again so I spent the rest of the walk to the summit trying to remember the summit reference and name.  I did of course have a spare map in my bag so could look up the summit name on that.

I reached the cairn at the crossroads where I activated last time but could see that I could gain another couple of metres height if I continued another 100m along the path.  Given the problems getting contacts on Mynydd Troed I decided that another couple of metres might make the difference so I continued on to the highest point.

Looking North over to Mynydd Troed on the way back down

I set up the station here, again holding the aerial pole rather than guying and this time I made sure I extended the aerial elements properly.  Calling CQ a few times I was again met by complete silence.  With perseverance I did eventually manage to make the four contacts required but it was hard work.  Unfortunately the summit reference I gave out was wrong, I had decided this was summit GW/SW-013 but in fact it was GW/SW-015 so apologies to any chasers who have logged the wrong summit.  I don’t think it makes any difference to points as they are both two pointers and no one else activated 013 that day.  Signal reports were down again so I started to suspect that I may have blown the finals in the amplifier due to the high SWR when operating on Mynydd Troed.  The route back down to the car was uneventful and I was soon on my way back towards home and looking forward to dinner.

Log

Journey Details

Date – 13h January 2018

Postcode – LD3 7UL

Parking – SO 160 283

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 4

SOTA points – 2 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Overall Summary

The day was long but some very enjoyable walking.  In total I managed to gain another twenty three points bringing me up to 150 so far.

When I got back I set up the amplifier and antenna in the back garden and checked the output.  Power out was still about the same at around 85 Watts and SWR was around 1:1.2 so nothing wrong there.  I was relieved not to have damaged the amp but still puzzled as to why I could hear people on the top but they could not hear me.

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Fan Brycheiniog 2018

Previous

GW/SW-003 – Via Fan Hir

 

Sunny start at Tawe Bridge

Sunday promised to be a better day weather wise.  The forecast was for a clear day but very windy.  We planned to start this time from the layby at Tawe Bridge which was a bit closer than the last time.

The route onto the access land via Ty Henry needs to be carefully navigated as the land owner at Ty Henry is known to object if you don’t follow the proper permitted path.  See the tracklog below for the correct route.

Once past Ty Henry pass to the right of the cattle pens and then the path up onto Fan Hir is very clear if rather steep.

At the top of the initial ascent pass by the small mound of Allt Fach and follow the fairly obvious path North West.  This path can get very boggy in the summer but today it was frozen solid, more pleasant to walk on but rather slippy in places.

Pen Y Fan in the distance with Fan Nedd in the midground

On a clear day the views off to the North East are fabulous but with the wind in our faces it was a long hard trek up to the top.  You will be able to see Pen y Fan and Corn Du in the distance and Fan Nedd in the mid ground.

With the wind blowing strongly in from the North West we were treated to the sight of the snow blowing up the face of Fan Hir into the sunlight creating a rainbow over the edge.

The final ascent up onto the top of Fan Brycheiniog is a short steep section of path that was heavily iced over.  In this weather it is easier to avoid the path and climb the steep grassy bank alongside.

At the summit we were lucky to get the small summit shelter to ourselves so we set up the station there with the aerial poking out over the top, much to the amusement of passers by who thought we were watching TV in there. I quickly made fifteen contacts to activate the summit.

The return trip was uneventful although we did decide to bypass the main heights of Fan Hir to try and avoid the wind.  This turned out to be a mistake as with no clear path the ground was very hard going over boulder fields and long grass.  With hindsight we would have been better off sticking to the path on the top of the ridge.  We were certainly glad to reach the car just before dusk.

Log

Journey Details

Date – 7th January 2018

Postcode – SA9 1GP

Parking – SN 845 164

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 15

SOTA points – 8 (+3)

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

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Fan Fawr & Pen Y Fan 2018

Previous

GW/SW-005 & GW/SW-001- Been here before

Another early start to try and get into the car park before the crowds.  Arrived at 8:45 but already the car park was full and they were parked down both sides of the main road.  Ended up parked in a pile of mud a quarter of a mile down the road from the Storey Arms. Weather was meant to have been reasonable but as usual Fan Fawr top was missing in the cloud.  There was another of the interminable races one again but this one was going up Pen Y Fan today so at least it was quiet on Fan Fawr.

I tried to follow the path up as usual but soon lost it in the murk so ended up aiming for the steep ground then using the aspect of slope approach to find the path up.  The ground was frozen solid which made the steep section of the path interesting. Instead of the usual grippy mush it was more like polished ice. In places I had to abandon the path and clamber up the grass.  Wished I had brought the ice axe!

Summit was deserted.  Wind was blowing across gusting up to about 30mph making it very cold with the wind chill.  I set up just beyond the cairn and pulled out the two man shelter to operate from.  I soon made the required four contacts. The band seemed quiet and as there was no one else calling I packed up and made my way back to the car for some lunch.

Fan Fawr Log

The route back down was not nice as by this time it had started snowing and it was blowing directly into my face.  By the time I reached the car I was fairly covered in snow although it wasn’t settling on the ground.  Debated breifly whether to abort the second ascent as I was worried about getting the car out if the snow settled and with the expected crowds up there it wouldn’t be the best climb ever but in the end I decided to go for it anyway.

The usual route up Pen Y Fan

The climb up Pen Y Fan was the usual slog, dodging the tourists and wondering at the totally inadequate kit some people went up in.  The path was very icy towards the top and visibility was really poor.  I only realised I had reached the col because of the change in the aspect of the slope.  Went up and over Corn Du just for fun.  Found a bunch of tourists stuck half way down the steep rocky section trying to descend in trainers.  Crossed to Pen Y Fan summit and managed to find the cairn.  The race team had a radio set up somewhere, I never saw them but could hear them operating nearby.  I set up my station a little way away and soon made eight contacts.

The decent was a challenge, trying to avoid the tourists slipping down the path as much as anything.  Most of the way down it was easier to avoid the path.

Journey Details

Date – 6th January 2018

Postcode – LD3 8NL

Parking – SN 987 199

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 4 + 8

SOTA points – 6 (+3) + 8 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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Snowdon & Y Lliwedd

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GW/NW-001 & GW/NW-008- Snowdon Horseshoe

Planning started for the Snowdon horseshoe route a while before we left.  A winter ascent of the highest mountain in Wales is not to be taken lightly and with the added weight and time required for a SOTA activation then preparation would be crucial.

We had decided to try and complete the classic Snowden horseshoe walk, starting at the Pen-Y-Pass car park, up via the Pyg Track and possibly Crib Goch ridge, onto the top end of the Llanberis path up to Snowdon summit for lunch and the first activation.  From Snowdon descending to the South East and then up to the summit of Y Lliwedd for our second activation before finally descending back to the lakes and returning via the Miners Path to Pen-Y-Pass car park.

Weather would be crucial to the planning.  Monitoring the MWIS weather reports in the days before seemed to indicate that the weather gods would be kind to us but the winds may be a bit high.  Another good source of information is the from the Snowdon wardens reports giving a good indication of conditions on the higher slopes.

What kit we would carry was another major consideration.  Safety has to come first of course but with the addition of the radio equipment on top of full winter kit it was not going to be a lightweight expedition.  We had to carry ice axes and crampons each, that much was obvious.  Because we were going into less well travelled parts we decided to carry a climbing rope, a decision which turned out to be a good one, see later.  Due to the expected length of the day we needed torches and spare batteries plus lunch and enough fluids for the day plus the usual spare maps and clothing.  All in all a fairly hefty pack, all up weight about thirty Lbs.

Due to the distance we needed to travel and the time we expected to be out on the hill it was clear we couldn’t manage it in a day so we booked a hotel in Bets-Y-Coed for the night before.

 

 

 

 

 The Pont Y Pair inn is reasonably priced, we paid £62 for two of us including breakfast.  The staff are friendly and helpful and they have a reasonable restaurant for an evening meal when you arrive.

A final check of the weather forecast the night before showed that wind was definitely going to be an issue, Crib Goch was off the list.

Arriving at the car park just after 8:30am it was already fairly full. By the time we had kitted up and were leaving the car park there were no places left.  Even with the adverse weather forecast it was as popular as ever.  Note also it is not cheap, we paid £10.00 for an all day ticket.

The wind in the car park was very gusty which confirmed our decision to skip Crib Goch.  As the wind was from the West we would be in the lee of the mountain most of the way up so we decided to defer a decision on completing the full horseshoe route until we reached the Llanberis path when we would feel the full force of the weather as it was.  There was a sign up in the car park quoting weather conditions of up to 60mph winds on top!

The view down towards Llyn Peris

The path up towards Crib Goch was busy as usual with a good mix of tourists and one of two, more seriously equipped walkers.  As we gained altitude and moved further into the lee of the mountain the wind dropped steadily and the walking became very pleasant.

Reaching the junction with the Crib Goch path we paused to a moment to enjoy the views and wait for the queue to subside at the stile.

Crib Goch path

Continuing along the Pyg Track, slowly gaining height, the walking was good and the snow cover was slowly increasing.  At about 800m there was more snow than rock on the path so we stopped and put on the crampons although there were still plenty of people passing in wholly inadequate footwear and some in normal street clothing.

Pyg Track at about 800m

Reaching the Llanberis path we were pleasantly surprised at the weather.  It was certainly windy but nothing like the promised 50-60mph gusts we were expecting.  Perhaps gusting to 30mph max. with fairly calm conditions between the gusts.

Stood on the top of Snowden

Reaching the summit, it was the usual queue to get onto the small summit cairn. Visibility was very poor at the top as we were now into the clouds.  We had been looking out for the top all the way up but it had persistently stayed in the clouds all day and was in fact to remain in the clouds until after dark.  The photo here shows how misty it was, this was taken stood at the base of the cairn, perhaps ten or twelve feet away.

I had already started to hear people on the radio before we reached the summit so rather than setting up the aerial amongst the crowds I put out a call of “CQ SOTA” and almost immediately heard Vicky mw6bwa also calling cq sota from the summit of GW/NW-075.  We quickly made a S2S contact followed by a second on 70cms.  It didn’t take me very long to gain the other three contacts required for a successful activation.

Snowdon Log

Stood at the summit, although the day was remarkably warm for the time of year,  it was fairly cold in the wind.  One of the tourists took pity on Peter who was stood waiting and tried to feed him a hard boiled egg!  Once I had the activation we made our way down to the summit station and found some shelter beneath the wall there to take lunch al fresco.

Y Lliwedd from Snowdon

The wind on the way up the Llanberis path had not been as bad as expected so after a quick chat we decided to press on and complete the horseshoe as planned.  Leaving the ummit station via the Watkins path the route is very obvious but to complete the horseshoe you need to turn left off the main path a couple of hundred metres below the station.  This is a fairly steep and rocky path down into Bwlch y Saethau.  I have been down there a few times now and never yet found a good clear route, it was no different this time.  Looking at our track log clearly we found the start of the path but soon lost it and ended up clambering down over rocks until we could pick it up again lower down.  All great fun.

We took lunch in the Bwlch keeping a wary eye out for sleeping soldiers.  There was a lone walker there when we arrived but he soon left muttering something about needing a new table.

From the Bwlch the ascent of Y Lliwedd looks intimidating but as always, as you get higher a route invariably appears.  There are two peaks with the West peak being slightly higher at 898 metres whilst the East peak is a mere 893 metres.  Due to some confusion in reading the map we chose the East peak to operate from but no matter as it was still well within the activation zone.  I soon made the four contacts needed, again just using the Ngoya antenna on top of the Kenwood.  At this point I started to regret carrying the weight of the batteries and amplifier.

Y Lliwedd Log

Looking down from Y Lliwedd towards Llyn Llydaw

As we left the summit it was starting to get dark.  It had taken us a bit longer than we had hoped for but we had torches and had always expected to finish the last section in the dark.  By this time both of us were out of water and so were keen to get back to the car where we had fresh provisions.

Once we got down to the levels at around 700m we managed to miss the steep path down to the lakes and spent a bit of time wandering around before we managed to locate it.  What is a fairly straightforward descent in the daylight became a bit of a navigational challenge in the dark.  We lost the path repeatedly and ended up roping down over a steep rock slab that was covered in verglas.  Thankfully we had brought the rope or we would have had to climb back up from that point.  Roping up cost us a lot of time and underlined the need to carry the proper equipment and to know how to use it when out in the hills in winter.

The final section was arduous but uneventful.  By this time we had been out eleven hours, the feet were hurting and the back aching from carrying the weight, but the final path down the Minors Track is very easy even in the dark.  We were certainly glad to reach the car park even though we still had a five hour drive ahead of us to reach home.

Journey Details

Date – 30th December 2017

Postcode – LL55 4NY

Parking – SH 647 556

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – Nagoya NA771

Band – 144 FM & 70cm FM

Contacts – 4 (+1) + 5

SOTA points – 10 (+3) + 8 (+3) (winter bonus points)

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

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