Well, last weekend saw me completing the most intense period of walking I have done for many a year. Taking advantage of the XYL going off to visit family in the USA I decided to take a couple of days off work and "go for a walk"
An early(for me)start on Thursday saw me parked up off the A5 in the spot identified by GW4BVE (SH718590) and making a start up Pen Llithrig y Wrach
NW-013. A very pleasant walk in, but the walk up to the summit was pretty steep with no obvious paths to be found - loads of animal tracks zig zagging around but nothing going up.
At the start of the summit climb I met a woman with her dog who expressed surprise that I was climbing from that side “it’s very steep ! you would be much better off going up from the other side …” - just what I wanted to hear… She was the only person I saw in seven hours ! No way to support the HF antenna anywhere near the summit, and a pretty brisk breeze, so I opted for a 2m activation using the FT-817 and slim-jim with 8 QSO’s being made. The trip down was a bit easier as I found a vague path which led down to the one running alongside the lake. It wasn’t an obvious route and vanished in places, at one point leading towards a 30 foot drop. After several boggy bits the lakeside path was reached and the going became far easier. A short rest was in order before an attempt at Creigiau Gleision. I should have heeded the warnings, the choice was between thigh high heather(with concealed holes beneath to catch the unwary) or some very swampy bits. I’m sorry to say I gave up on this one due to lack of time, but will return someday. Back to the car around 1700 with a return home around 2030 due to a jam on the M56. It was a hot day and I looked like a lobster later.
Friday saw a return to the hills and a visit to Tal-y-Fan NW040. A straight forward asscent from SH731714 saw me on the summit in no time. The only problem being it was shrouded in cloud coming off the sea and it was cold, windy and wet, quite a change from the warm sunshine where I left the car. This time I put up the 5MHz dipole but after about 20 minutes of calling away with no response I switched to 145 FM for a couple of contacts. Back to 5MHz and tried to break into a QSO, both stations were very strong but couldn’t hear me and they eventually QSY’d to another band. One more call and G0HNW came back - my only 5MHz qso, and I finished the activation on 2 metres (5 qso’s in total). Loads of problems on this summit and had to fix the 5MHz antenna before I used it, together with receiving loads of phone calls (why can’t people leave you alone when you are out walking ?) and having to call “Telebanking” to urgently transfer some money - the operator was most amused when I said I was stuck up a Welsh mountainside in thick cloud. Activation completed it was back down the hilside to some sunshine and the drive to the B&B in Llanberis. Nitas B&B on the High Street is a place I can recommend, cheap, clean, fantastic breakfast, and Nita is very helpful and knowledgeable about the local peaks and routes - even pointing out some fine walks on the maps after breakfast. A good curry house is almost opposite and a good chippy just down the road, the pubs are about five minutes walk away. The evening was spent visiting lhe local hostelries and I finished up watching a band in the Padarn Lake Hotel. I had planned an ambitious walk up Moel Eilio, Moel Cynghorion with a possible ascent of Snowdon for Saturday but this was not to be. The weather was misty with very low cloud at breakfast time so I decided to just go for Moel Eilio and then see from there. Nita had advised taking the car as high as possible, a climb of Moel Eilio and then a descent via Telegraph Coll to join another path back to the car. In the end I just did Moel Eilio, the climb up was very misty and damp but the summit had clear blue skies above and was lovely and warm although it was impossible to see anything of the surrounding peaks. I managed 10 QSO’s in 2 hours, trying the rubber duck, the slim jim and finally the SOTA beam. Worked EI and GI amongst others and then the M1/M3 EYP pair before the clagg descended and I retraced my steps to the car - the clagg was so bad even the sheep had taken shelter. Checked into the Gwynedd Hotel as this had been booked a few days before, but in retrospect I think Nitas would have been better. After check in a quick jaunt to actinate the Great Orme was in order, and a quick blast on 2 metres resulted in 5 qso’s. The batteries were failing fast so that’s all I could manage. Somehow the rig lost all the memories and the channel spacing so that had to be fixed once the batteries were recharged. Fish and chips in Conwy on the way back to Llanberis. The bar in the Gwynedd has two cask ales available and the draught Bass and the offering from Snowdonia were very acceptable. The entertainment in the Padarn Lake tonight was a Karaoke - amusing !. A visit to the Dolbadarn bar was made but this was a bit too quiet and no cask beer was available.
Sunday arrived and with it an attempt on Snowdon. Being a wimp I had decided the night before to take the train up to Clogwyn and then walk the rest of the way (as I said earlier it has been a long time since I did any prolonged walking). Arrival at Clogwyn was in mist but the path was visible so a safe ascent was easily made to the summit although by the time I arrived visibility was down to 50 metres at most, and as it was starting to rain outcame the waterproofs. Loads of people crowding the summit so a very discrete activation (8 qso’s) was made using the rubber duck - I would have stayed longer, and one contact offered to “spot” me, but due to the weather and uncertaincies about how it would develop I decided to descend. The descent down the Llanberis path was interesting and a new one for me, my three previous ascents (years ago) being via the Pyg Track and the Miners Track. The path was like a motorway with a wide range of people - some well equipped with boots, warm clothing etc, and some wearing designer trainers, shorts, and skimpy tops (some of the women must have been freezing !) Arrival back in Llanberis around 4PM caused me to consider what to do for the evening, the bar at the hotel was closed until 5 so a quick browse on the internet (loads of wireless access points in the village)was in order and a reference to the Vaynol Arms in Nant Peris came up. Off to the bus and a short ride on the top deck of the “Sherpa” saw me at this very pleasant Robbinsons house, all the draught ales were sampled (very nice) before the last bus called and I had to retreat back to the lights of Llanberis. No food was tried at the Vaynol but it all looked and smelt great so I will return sometime, I might even bring the XYL if she promises to drive afterwards… Tonights entertainment revolved around the “Prince of Wales”, the local balti house (excellent) and the quiz in the Gwynedd Hotel bar. Monday came, and with that breakfast, checkout, and the plan for three more summits on the way home. Breakfast was not the quick simple affair that it should have been, and due to what can only be described as very poor service (I was in the breakfast room for over an hour), I missed my alert time for Mynydd Bodafon (NW-071). This is a delightful little summit with fantastic views over the whole of Anglesey and should definitely be visited on a clear day if you get the chance. Five quick qso’s on 2 metres qualified the hill but 5MHz was abandoned due to antenna problems again. Traffic problems getting off the island delayed me further so my arrival on Penycloddiau (NW-054)was later than expected. A quick 8 qso’s on 2 metres were made but the weather was closing in from the coast so I beat a retreat to the car.
My final summit, Moel Gyw (NW-053), was abandoned. I arrived at the start of the track and parked in the Motel car park but by which time the five days walking was beginning to take it’s toll, even though the weather had cleared up again. Sorry for not activating this but there will be another time. I called GW0DSP from near Queensferry and he kindly agreed to post a cancellation alert - THANKS…
On the whole a very enjoyable few days, even though all the targets were not met.
Thanks to all those who made the activations a success.