Monday, 24 April 2017

22nd April 2017. GW/NW-033 & GW/NW-036 SOTA Activation visit.

GW/NW-033 & GW/NW-036. 22nd April 2017.
Grid SH 711059. & Grid SH 683041.  Altitude 667M & 634M.

This weekend's activation covered two summits, GW/NW-033 Tarren y Gesail being the first summit followed by GW/NW-036 Tarrenhendre. I was away camping this weekend with a few members of (TDARS) Telford and District Amateur Radio Society. It was International Marconi Day 2017 and as usual the club puts on a special event station at the Marconi Bungalows in Tywyn. The site happened to have two SOTA summits close by and I thought it would be rude of me to ignore them.
I left camp at 7:00 a.m. and headed towards my car parking location of grid SH 68967 05884 I had arrived and sorted out all of my gear by 07:30 a.m. and had started my ascent up towards my first summit. I arrived eventually at 08:50 a.m. the route taken was not too bad, the final ascent after you leave the forest is very steep and not a nice climb. The route is marked red on the map below, parking is marked by the blue circle.
The summit can be seen in the first photo taken from the car parking area. I had planned to activate 2M only on my first summit which I did and had 5 QSO's my first was GW4VPX (Allan). I finished my last QSO at 09:30 a.m. and started towards Tarrenhendre.

The first photo shows Tarrenhendre in the distance just a little over two miles as the crow fly's. The first part of the descent was due south and was a little tricky due to the large tufts of grass. The second photo show's the view back up Tarren y Gesail from the start of the road at close to Grid SH 709050. The third photo is just as you depart the forest and road at grid SH 695042 as seen the forest has been felled at this point. The final ascent towards the summit is long and up hill all the way with no let off until the final 100 meters.
I finally arrived at the summit at 11:28 a.m. and set up my 2M and 20M Dipole's and started calling CQ on 2M at 11:49 a.m. and 4 QSO's in 11 minutes. I then tried my luck on 20M and only managed one QSO with SM5CZQ (Ken) in Sweden. After another 20 minutes of trying I went back on 2M and had a S2S with GW4TJC/P (Simon) on GW/NW-035 and G6DFD (Mike).

My activation completed I started my descent at 13:06 p.m. I followed the blue route on the map above. This is where my problems started, please heed these warnings DO NOT TRY to take a short cut down the fire breaks, as seen on the map from the RED circle this is roughly were I decided to try to make my route as close towards the disused quarry as I could by following the marked fire breaks on my map. The route gets harder and harder, you can't get close to the quarry as there is a barbed wire fence all around the site. Then I looked at the map and didn't want to walk all the way back to the red circle so I headed east to pick up the track at the black circle.
This route got harder and harder with brambles and lots of close knit conifer trees, I should have turned around but pig headed I decided to continue. It got so bad that I was using my old army training and was at one stage seal crawling my way through with my pack on my back. (I left the army 25 years ago but it seemed like yesterday during this event).
I eventually made it to the black circle located on the map but as I was just about to leave the tree line I slipped and twisted my ankle. So the last 2.2 miles was a very painful journey.
I eventually made it back to my car at around 16:20 p.m. with a very good lesson learnt, DON'T USE THE FIRE BREAKS.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

15th April 2017. GW/NW-002 SOTA Activation visit.

GW/NW-002. 15th April 2017.
Grid SH 684644. Altitude 1064M.

Our first attempt at a 10 pointer summit, Carnedd Llewelyn in North Wales. We left Telford (Home QTH) at 08:10 a.m. and headed for Shrewsbury, we had to pick up supply's for the bacon and black pudding roll's for later as yesterdays Bank Holiday Friday left us with no time to shop.
We arrived at our car park grid  SH 68510 60281 11:10 a.m. and went to the farm house to pay for parking, it is now £2 and increase from the earlier blogs that I saw that said £1. The farmer that we saw was very friendly and asked where we were heading and asked what route we were taking. He then agreed that was the best route and spent time going over the route with us.

The start of the ascent to get to Ffynnon Llugwy (the lake) is around 1.7 miles and a climb off 260 meters, it looks easy but a strain on the legs at the start of the journey and this took us around 50 minutes. Time for some nice photo's and a quick breather before the next 1/2 mile walk and climb of another 200 meters (30 minutes).
The track turned into a near vertical small rock climb near grid SH 69287 63510 unless we were on the wrong route but I don't think we were as seen on the video below filmed on our Descent. I managed to get to the summit at around 13:35 p.m. and set up my 2M Dipole and started to call CQ Sota at 13:43 p.m. wow what a pile up. 25 QSO's in all and 2 S2S's.

I must have been asked by at least 5 walking groups today about what I was doing with the things attached to my pack (mast / antenna), it was a great day and we both enjoyed it. We managed to get back to the car for 16:30 p.m. and headed back home.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

8th April 2017. GW/NW-034 SOTA Activation visit.

GW/NW-034 Cyrniau Nod. 8th April 2017.
Grid SH 988279. Altitude 667M.

A great weekend for the weather so I decided to visit the last 4 pointer in close traveling distance from my home QTH (46 miles). Cyrinau Nod GW/NW-034 took us 1 1/2 hours to get to my car parking place at grid SJ 02453 26513, this is the car park for the church at Pennant Melangell and its free.
We arrived and sorted all our gear then started to Ascend at 09:42 a.m.

This activation requires 2 maps to show the route I used. The Ascent was up the Red route and Descent down the Purple route. The overall route according to my walking app was 8.8 miles but it felt a lot more, this is probably the hardest activation I have achieved until now. The main reason is the last 1 1/2 miles is just heather and bogs, heather that comes up to your knee's and this makes very hard walking as there are no tracks.
As seen in photo 3 watch out for the Peat Bogs, I could not see any easier way but there probably is one some where. I arrived at the summit at around 12:45 p.m. and set up just my 2M dipole as time was dragging on. I managed 10 QSO's including 4 S2S's and the band seamed busy, if I had arrived earlier I would have set up my HF gear but did say I would be back by 3 o'clock lol and that was never going to happen.

I started my Descent at around 13:25 p.m. and managed to get back to the car at 14:57 p.m. so the 15:00 p.m. arrive home was well out of the window. My QYL was home but she was in a good mood lucky for me. I think this activation will be my last to this location as I personally think 4 points for 3 hours of walking in each direction is not worth it I am sorry to say.

Monday, 3 April 2017

2nd April 2017. GW/MW-002 SOTA Activation visit.

GW/MW-002 Great Rhos. 2nd April 2017.
Grid so 182639. Altitude 660M.

Today's visit was a trip to Great Rhos in the county of Powys Mid Wales, I left my home QTH Telford at 05.50 a.m. I arrived at my car parking area Grid  SO 15707 65560 at 07:10 a.m. took 5 minutes to sort out all of my gear and headed south towards Grid SO 16483 63681 which I arrived there at 07:43 a.m. from this location you need to head east up the steep track for about 1200 meters then cross the fence as I could not see any stile's anywhere. The next 600 meters were probably the worst as I could not see any track's, the whole area was covered with heather and bog's which made the going tough.

The 1st photo is the start of the steep walk up and the photo does not do the climb any justice. From photo 3 you can see all of the heather and believe me there are a lot of boggy areas in there as well. 
I arrived at the summit at 08:13 a.m. well ahead of schedule and set up my 2M and 20M dipole, I managed to use a few bungee cords to support my fishing pole and my walking poles to tie off the guy ropes. I started off on HF and could hear lots of contest stations but there was room for me in the QRP section of the band so I spotted myself and started calling CQ. This was a bad day for myself and SOTA as I could not get any reply's at all, after about 20 minutes of trying I reverted to 2M and started calling. I had 6 QSO's in about 15 minutes including our club Chairman M0KZB (Eric) my first SOTA contact with Eric.
At 09:30 a.m. I decided to try HF again and found a clear frequency and again spotted myself and started calling, this time I was lucky and managed one QSO with OE6GND (Gerhard), after another 20 minutes on 20M and 17M I had no luck so decided to try 2M with a hand held that I was trying out and managed a further 3 QSO's. A total of 10 contacts in all I was happy but would have preferred more on HF.