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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Another early start aiming to collect two of the lower summits today but with the winter bonus on each they should be worth 12 points between them.
The weather forecast was a bit mixed, it would be warm at least. The sky was overcast until after I crossed the bridge into Wales whereupon it started to clear as the sun rose.
Approaching the parking spot (SO 160 283) from the A479, as noted by others, there is a gate across the road halfway up the Cwm Sorgwm valley. It is shown on the 1:50000 maps but not on the 1:25000.
The climb up Mynydd Troed starts easily enough, the path is very muddy and slippery until you get beyond the range of the dog walkers. Once you get nearer the top it gets very steep. There are steps cut into the mud but in wetter weather these are better ignored. Once you get up to about 530m there is a much easier path which winds it’s way up to the summit plateau.
Having been in cloud for most of the climb, the summit was similarly shrouded. I set up the station next to the trig point and soon made xxx contacts on 2m FM.
Slowly the clouds dropped into the valley and the summits cleared. I was rewarded with one of those moments that make all the hard work worth it. Stood on the top I thought I would put in a call via GB3TD my local repeater back in Swindon.
I immediately picked up Richard, G4MUF, and whilst discussing the unusual weather he reminded me of a phenomenon called a brocken spectre which is where your shadow onto the top of the cloud shows a coloured halo. This is my photo showing it. It’s a bit weak as by this time I had missed the best of the sunlight, it did look more obvious in real life.
The return back to tha car park is straightforward. The climb back down the steep turf was not a problem so long as a little care is taken.
Mynydd Troed Route
Mynydd Troed Log
Back at the car park for an early lunch and then off up the southerly path to the top of Mynydd Llangorse. This is a very clear and easy route with no dramas on the way. The cloud had settled once again so not much of a view. Once at the top of the main climb it is a short walk along the level ridge to reach the high point at 515m.
Anywhere along the ridge is in the activation zone but near the highest point there is a large cairn which gives an extra metre of height for the aerial. There is a trig point further along but as this is at a lower height I didn’t go that far.
Compared to the earlier summit this one was clearly more of a challenge to get a signal out. I only manged to make five contacts and most of these reported a poor signal.
Another early start to arrive at the Storey Arms car park just after 9am. Weather was forecast to start overcast but clearing later in the day. Stood in the car park the cloudbase was at about 500m so no sign of the tops. Planning to do both Fan Fawr & Pen Y Fan meant that I would be passing the car again between the two summits. To save a bit of weight I decided to leave my lunch in the car! Walking up to the Storey Arms then I set off up the fabled path to Fan Fawr, which if you’ve not been there before lasts for about ten metres. Followed the old boundary wall marked on the map to the end, by which time the car park was lost in the mist. It was going to be another compass challenge! I decided this time I would aim off to the South towards the Bryn Du plateau then from there head South West to the main summit.
Navigation Techniques 1 – Aiming Off
Aiming off is a technique where you deliberately aim to miss your target by a given amount to one side or the other. The angle you aim off by needs to be greater then the anticipated error in your navigation. The technique relies on what is called a catching feature along your planned path which is a prominent line feature roughly at right angles to your course. Once you reach the catching feature you know where you are plus or minus your expected error but the important thing is you can be confident which direction to turn along the line feature to reach your desired target. In this case my catching feature was the main slope of Fan Fawr, fairly obvious once the ground starts to rise sharply even in the poor visability. My target was the path up the nose of the slope. The reason I aimed South was that to the North is a fairly large flattish area without any obvious distinguishing features visible in the low cloud so no catching feature there.
Navigation Techniques 2 – Aspect of slope
Once I reached the main slope I could be fairly confident that I needed to turn right and head North until I found the path up, but it would be nice to have a better idea of just how far to the South of the path I was. To check this I used a technique called aspect of slope. This technique works best when you are on a slope that curves away or towards you. In the case of Fan Fawr the approach I was on is the end of a prominent ridge so has slopes on three sides. A perfect example. By taking a bearing directly up the slope from where you are stood you can transfer this to the map and find the point where the bearing is at right angles to the slope contour lines. This will give you your position on the curve. My bearing of 305 degrees put me on the straight bit of slope to the South of the main curve of the nose. Turning right and heading North across the slope I soon found the main path up to the summit.
Once on the path it is an easy trek up to the summit cairn. Anywhere along the top is within the activation zone, I chose a spot just past the cairn and set up my station. I quickly made the required four contacts and continueduntil the pile up was cleared to complete eighteen contacts.
The return to the car park is straightforward. Follow the path back down the main slope and then once this disappears use your compass. Once you get closer the noise from the road is a giveaway. The road is of course a marvellous catching feature so if not sure you can just aim off until you reach the road.
Fan Fawr Log
Pen Y Fan
Back at the car park and a quick lunch. By this time the car park was as usual absolutely full, with cars cruising up and down looking at me hopefully in case I was about to leave. The path up to Pen Y Fan was busy on the lower sections but more tolerable as I neared the saddle. As usual, I took the detour via Corn Du summit, although there was nothing to see beyond a few tens of yards due to the thick cloud still sitting on the tops. Crossing over to Pen Y Fan summit, there was, as there often is, a group activity of some sort so the main path was full of runners with numbers attached passing to and from the summit.
At the summit itself they had a checkpoint operating and I could hear the unmistakable crackle of radios, hopefully my station wouldn’t interfere with them. I set up a reasonable distance away and soon made twelve contacts.
The summit was busy as usual and I was approached by a couple of people interested in what I was doing so I took some time to explain what SOTA was all about before packing away and heading back to the car.
Friday was a glorioussunny day so the weather boded well for the planned activation on Saturday, but as always with our British weather things can change rapidly, especially in South Wales. I was hoping to activate two summits this time so planned for a long day and an early start. As it happened I managed to be on the road for 7am so not too bad. The motorway was clear at that time of day so a fairly pleasant journey but the weather had clearly deteriorated since Friday.
There are a few approach options available for these two summits, the eastern approach is popular but parking is very limited. There is also an option from the North West but this is a very steep route without a clear path and again parking is not great. The route I chose for the day started from the South Wales Caving Clubcar park (satnav SA9 1GQ) at SN 855 155. This route is slightly longer but there is a very good and obvious path leading past Fan Gyhirych and onward towards Fan Nedd. There is plenty of parking available in the old quarry in front of the clubhouse.
Arriving at the car park at at about 9:30am I was soon kitted up and on the path. By this time the cloud had descended and there was a slight drizzle in the air so full waterproofs were the order of the day.
The path leaves from the left side of the road just in front of the entrance to the clubhouse. Initially head East through a stile and onto the old tramway. Here the path splits, there is a higher route, part of the Beacons Way which is more scenic but bears off towards the South West after a couple of Km. If you use this route you should leave the path by the large swallow hole and head North to pick up the tramway again. As it was already a long day I took the lower route via the tramway which leads directs to the summit. This is an easy climb and is easy to find being slightly raised across the more waterlogged regions and later made up for vehicular use by the forestry. Follow this track until you reach the small stream at SN 882 186. Just past the stream about 20 metres there is a fairly obvious path leading up to the summit about 500m to the North.
I set up the station on the summit next to the trig point. There is really no shelter on this summit, just the trig point and a flat expanse of typical Brecon’s summit. The wind was blowing steadily at about 20mph and gusting to nearer 30mph, bringing with it a steady drizzle, not the most pleasant of activation’s. The gusts were converting the vertical aerial to horizontal at times. Once the aerial was up I pulled out the emergency shelter and set to operating from inside that. The wind on the fabric made listening difficult but still I managed to record sixteen contacts so definitely a successful activation including a S2S with M3TMX/M on G/WB-016.
Packing away in the wind and the wet was a bit of a challenge but once done I headed back down the hill using the well worn path. There is an option to head down on a more northerly bearing skirting the edge, but for what it saves in distance it’s easier to stick with the path.
Once back on the track continue along to the East until you reach the gate that marks the turning point towards Fan Nedd. Follow the path along the fence line down into the valley and through the big gap in the wall. The path up the flank of Fan Nedd is pretty clear if a bit muddy and slippery in places.
At the top of the path is a large cairn, this is not the summit though so continue on from here to the South another 500m to find the summit trig point. Just before you reach the trig point you will see a small shelter which will make a great place to set up the shack.
The wind on Fan Nedd was similar and the rain had intensified so I quickly set up and retired to the shelter below the wall. Whoever built this certainly knew which way the wind would come from as it was pointed directly into the worst of it.
I soon had the required contacts in the log so took the opportunity to enjoy lunch. With this out of the way I put out another call and made one last contact before packing away.
Once I was ready to leave I tuned the radio back to GB3TD repeater in Swindon and heard G4LDL talking to someone on the M4 motorway. I managed to quickly say hello before heading down the hill to try and get out of the weather.
It was then just the long march back along the track returning along the same route I came in on. I arrived back at the car park just after sunset, wet but happy with two summits successfully logged.
It had rained all through the night before and was still raining when we woke. The forecast said it would rain all day, especially on the hills. To say the outlook was not good would be a bit of an understatement. With this in mind I planned for a wet day.
The drive over to South Wales was grey but by now the rain had at least stopped. As I headed north up the Abergavenny road the clouds descended until the foothills lost their tops. By the time I reached Abergavenny even the church steeple was lost to the cloud, but as I left the town behind the cloudbase started to rise again and slowly the black mountain emerged.
Arriving at the car park (SO 239 373) revealed a fine view of Hay Bluff with just a hint of low cloud hovering over the ridge and no sign of the promised rain. The nearest postcode for the sat nav is HR3 5RJ but this is some way down the road to the South West so pay attention as you get nearer!
There is a path to the right of the car park. It leaves the road about half way between the car park and the road junction. This path should be used if possible to minimise erosion.
Once you reach the ridge turn north east towards the trig point marking the top of Hay Bluff. It looks like this has recently been repainted and it now sports a very fetching red Welsh dragon. The trig point is located at 677m so is just below the activation zone (AZ), don’t be tempted to set up here, it is an easy route from here into the AZ and well worth continuing. The path along the ridge is obvious and has been made up as required to avoid having to trudge through the boggy top. The path forms part of the ‘Offa’s Dyke Path’ which roughly follows the line of the English-Welsh border.
So far the weather gods had been kind to me with the bulk of the cloud remaining just above the summits, at one point I even had a few minutes of sunshine appear. You will see an obvious rise ahead of about 40m which will take you well into the AZ. Once you have climbed this last small rise you are within 1-2m height of the summit, anywhere along here choose a spot to set up. In good weather this is a very well used path so do make sure you keep it clear. The actual summit itself is not marked so to find the exact spot will require either a GPS or some advanced navigational skills.
I set up the station on the Welsh side of the path as I intended operating using my MW prefix. If you set up on the other side of the path you should presumably operate without the Welsh prefix, but as the summit has a Welsh SOTA classification this could lead to confusion. After a couple of calls of “CQ SOTA” on the calling channel I soon had the usual pileup. Moving down to channel S19 I rapidly worked 12 QSOs in the space of about half an hour.
Whilst I was operating I didn’t see anyone else on the path, the poor weather forecast must have put people off. By this time the cloud had descended below the summit level and visibility was down to less than 100m. Before I packed the station away I stopped and had my lunch at which point I heard voices and a couple of walkers appeared out of the cloud. They stopped to have a chat and were very interested to hear all about SOTA.
The return route is simple enough, back along the same route I came up on, as always pay attention and don’t miss the left fork just after the first small descent.
When I arrived back at the car there were a couple of ponies there that had decided to check the verges. This explained the well kept look of the flatter section.
All together this was a great day out on the hills, much better than anticipated and so all the more enjoyable for the pleasant surprise. Certainly a route I shall look forward to doing again when the points roll around once more.
There are a number of approaches possible to this summit, for this activation we chose the southern approach. There is good parking available in the Blaen y Glyn Uchaf car park at SO 056 176. This is a popular walking area and on a nice day the car park will fill up by late morning.
There is an obvious path which leaves the car park at the western end and is immediately into a steep climb, it pays to do a little warm up before you start! The path up to the Craig y Fan Ddu ridge is well maintained with steps in the steeper sections. Once you reach the top simply follow the edge north along Graig Fan Las until reaching the junction at SO 057 205. There is no obvious path to the actual summit, if you follow the easterly path for about 300m you will be in the activation zone.
If you want to find the summit proper then you need to continue on an easterly bearing from the junction, leaving the made up path once it starts to bear southward. Continue on the easterly bearing for another 250m until you reach the ridge line where you will find a small track leading to the north. Follow this northfor about another 150m until you see the small summit cairn. From the summit on a clear day you will enjoy a wonderful view to the west overlooking Fan y Big, Cribyn, Pen y Fan and Corn Du.
An interesting diversion
To the south of the summit lies the remains of a WW2 Wellington Bomber that crashed here during the war. There are many aircraft crash sites in the Brecon Beacons but this one is unusual in that there is quite a large amount of debris remaining on the mountain side. There is also a memorial that has been placed there to mark the spot. There are a number of sites on the internet which describe the circumstances of the crash easily found with a quick search for those interested to know more.
To find the crash site from the summit, follow the track back to the south until you meet the made up path and then continue south for approx another 400m, there is no obvious path from this direction.
The return route from the crash site is easily found as it is well frequented. Head north west back up to the junction and then return via the same route used on the way up.
Hensbarrow Downs is a bit of an enigma. The current summit has only recently been recognised (1st Sept 2017), there was previously another summit recognised which I think was at the trig point 50m below the current summit. The new summit is located on the top of the spoil heap created from the china clay quarries below for which St Austel is famous. There is some discussion regarding the change on the SOTA reflector, see this link.
The easiest route to the summit is via the footpath leaving the road at grid reference SW 992 575. There is ample parking there with room for five or six cars.
Follow the fairly obvious path as far as the trig point but then you will need to strike out through the undergrowth towards an obvious break in the earthworks to the east. Here you will be able to follow the wide track which leads up to the summit plateau. Although there is an area of access land marked on the map, in practice there is no obvious distinction on the ground separating the two areas. Once on the summit plateau it is fairly featureless so it will pay to make a note of which direction you came from for the return trip. There is a hut on the side of the road just south of the parking
where there is a security man controlling the movement of large earth working machinery, you should check here for permission to access the summit if you plan to work from outside the access land. If permission is not given then you will need to remain withing the marked access land which does extend into the activation zone so all is not lost.
On reaching the summit we set up the radio and quickly achieved the required contacts for a successful activation. It is worth noting that the local 2m and 70cm repeaters are also located on Hensbarrow so if you plan to use these bands you will need a reasonable quality radio, if you are using one of the cheap Chinese sets you are likely to suffer from front end overloading.
The return back to the car is straightforward so long as you remembered to note the direction off from the summit.
If you’ve ever before done a sota summit activation then this will not be the easiest, and if you haven’t done one before then this one will probably put you off ever doing another.
There is a track up to the top where there are a couple of masts and a reservoir but unfortunately it is private and inaccessible behind a high fence and locked gates, so put away any thoughts of gaining access this way. Indeed there is no clear publicly accessible route to the top at all, the only option being via the marked access land that surrounds the summit.
Parking is not easy either, the road that passes to the south west is narrow and surprisingly busy. There are a few passing places but don’t be tempted to park in these or you will make yourself very unpopular, and it should not need mentioning that field gateways must not be used. There are a few spaces in a small cul-de-sac just as you come into the village of Penmarth which is to the south east of Carrnmenellis.
There is a footpath marked on the map running parallel to the road that looks like an option but it is not worth it. The path is not marked and is terribly overgrown. It is quicker and easier to walk up the road back to Channel View Farm where you can join the track up to the north east that leads towards the summit. Follow the track until you reach the locked gates which are just past where the track turns to the north west. At this point you will have to head off to the left of the track onto the access land. This is very bad. The ground is rocky but thickly covered with gorse, brambles and long grass which will all grab at you and trip you and if it has rained any time in the last few months it will also soak you. If this doesn’t put you off you will probably twist your ankle when you put it down between a couple of big but unseen boulders, The brambles are at best knee high and at worst past waist height. It’s like this all the way to the top now. Navigation is easy enough, just follow the line of the fence until you come to the sharp right turn at the top. By now you should easily see the radio tower and the trig point in even the poorest of visibility. The last twenty yards to the trig point are a welcome relief being merely broken rock without the thick brambles.
On the day I was there towards the end of October the weather had closed in so I was in thick cloud with visibility of about thirty feet. From the trig point I could see the radio mast , but only just.
I set up my mast and added the antenna on top, then realised that I had forgotten to bring the power regulator for the amp. I had carried the amp and the batteries up for nothing. Never mind, I would just have to operate with the five watts direct from the radio. I put out a call, “CQ sota, CQ sota”, and was almost immediately rewarded by a response from G8NXD booming in at 5/9. It turned out that he was only a couple of miles away in Four Lanes. Unfortunately that was my only contact I made for this summit so I was not able to claim the point. I called CQ for about fifteen minutes with no response so stopped then for lunch. After lunch I gave it another ten minutes, I could hear someone faintly to the north on S19 but couldn’t break in so eventually I packed up and headed back to the car. On the return trip I took the easier option and followed the track back to the road to return along this rather than bashing through the undergrowth on the marked footpath.
Overall it was an interesting activation, memorable for it’s difficulties rather than it’s success. If you are in the area then have a go at it but be warned, it will not be easy.
Fan Brycheiniog was the last of the 8 point SOTA summits in the Brecons I had still to do in 2017 so on a bright sunny October morning we set sail for a north westerly approach past Llyn Y Fan Fach. Compared to last week on Fan Fawr it couldn’t have been more different.
Arriving at the car park, it was fairly full but there were still a few places to be had. After some initial confusion establishing exactly where we were on the map we set off south along the obvious track towards the lake. At the filter beds, rather than following the westerly route up around the lake we chose to strike off cross country to find the more challenging route up through the Pant y Bwlch pass. This should only be tried if you are confident on steep ground and the weather is appropriate.
From the top of Pant y Bwlch there is a clear path following the edge of the summit plateau, around Fan Foel, past the summit cairn and onward to the trig point marking the highest spot on Fan Brycheiniog at 802m asl.
The view from the trig point on a clear day is incredible. We set up the station next to the trig point on the edge looking out over Llyn y Fan Fawr with a clear takeoff to the north east. A quick call on the FM calling channel was rewarded immediately with a number of stations coming back. We moved of to S18 where I worked through the mini pileup. In the next hour I worked 17 stations from locations as diverse as Southern Ireland, Manchester and Stockport including two S2S contacts, one into the Lake District and the other in the West Midlands.
For the return route we decided to track cross country straight across the plateau heading for Picws Du. There is a faint path most of the way which is fine in good visibility. Back at the pass we elected to take in the summit of Picws Du as a bonus so headed up and over the top. Again to be rewarded with glorious views over the lake and beyond. The path back down this way is fairly clear and close to the steep drop back down to the lake.