A recent clear period of work gave me the chance to escape to GW/SW for a few days of SOTA. My primary target was to activate the remaining multi-pointers which I hadn’t got around to so far, namely, GW/SW-009. GW/SW-011 & GW/SW-015, although I hoped there would be the chance to activate at least one or two more as well. This is quite a long report!
A fairly straightforward drive from my home QTH in Surrey down the M4 saw me arriving at the parking area between GW/SW-009 & GW/SW-015 in good time. I was greeted by fairly cloudy and windy conditions, which is what had been predicted by my various weather apps. I decided to tackle GW/SW-009, Mynydd Troed first.
The ascent was reasonably straightforward, although as you might expect from the above photo, visibility was in short supply at times. The paths were a little muddy and slippery in places, but more than passable as long as one was paying attention. I didn’t encounter anyone else during my time on this summit. As you can see from the following picture, there wasn’t much of a view!
The wind was pretty strong at the summit, but I found a handy bunker close to the trig point to bed down in and operate from. I started off on 2m FM and made 3 fairly quick contacts. Then I moved onto 40m SSB using an end-fed halfwave. After getting a buffeting setting it up, it was back to the bunker to put some calls out. The band had sounded quite lively when I had a quick spin-around, and I was quickly called by a 2E0 station. Possibly @2E0AGB. Unfortunately, he mysteriously disappeared, and I couldn’t raise any other stations despite repeated calls. A quick peek out of the bunker revealed that some of the sections of the mast had collapsed and the antenna was now lying on the ground. After a bit more battling with the elements, I was on the air again, and managed 5 contacts on 40m. I switched to 20m and couldn’t understand why the SWR seemed higher than usual. Yes, you guessed it, same problem as before. As I had more than enough contacts to qualify, I decided that was enough and packed up.
A fairly uneventful decent, and after grabbing a bite to eat in the car, I was ready to tackle GW/SW-015, Mynydd Llangorse. The weather had cleared up by now, and I even enjoyed a little bit of sunshine at times on my ascent.
Once again I had the summit to myself. 2m FM yielded 2 contacts, and I then once again tried some 40m SSB. The band seemed in great shape and I had a nice run of contacts. The weather was sadly not so compliant with heavy winds and driving rain arriving just as I started the activation! I would have stuck around for more if the wx had been playing ball, but that’s the way it goes.
There was still plenty of daylight left, so I decided to have a go at GW/SW-023, Allt yr Esgair which was only a few miles down the road. I parked up at the Llangasty Village Hall and started my walk in what was now warm sunshine. Unfortunately I didn’t get too far before I found the fairly narrow path blocked by a couple of bovine companions! They didn’t really look in the mood to move, and I didn’t really fancy trying to squeeze by, so I reversed course! I had noticed on my OS app that there was a bridleway that ran parallel to the path I was on, so I tried that one. Sadly I didn’t make it to the top. It was much steeper than I expected, and after hitting a particularly slippery section, my legs started to cry enough, so I decided to leave this one for another time.
I decided to head for GW/SW-005, Fan Fawr first of all. A summit I have activated before, but I was keen to try the route up from the Beacons Reservoir this time (as opposed to the Storey Arms). The early morning rain storm had pushed on through, but strong winds certainly made the going a bit harder than it might have been on a calmer day. Still, I enjoyed the walk and here are a few pictures from it.
Thankfully the wind eased off a bit by the time I reached the summit. I had a great hour+ playing radio here with plenty of contacts on 40, 30, 20 & 2. Conditions seemed great, and I was quite surprised to be called by a few G stations on 30m. Also great to get some S2S contacts in the log, especially MW/@PA9CW who was “across the road” from me activating GW/SW-001.
Once back at the car I had decide on where to go next. I thought about GW/SW-001 (which I have done before), but as I suspected the path looked pretty busy (it was just after lunchtime on a half-term week), and I didn’t really fancy being in the crowds. So, I decided on a repeat attempt of GW/SW-023. I’m so glad I did, as this ended up being my favourite activation of my trip! This time I parked on the opposite side of the hill, in the large parking area off the A40 - just in case my cow friends were still in situ! The sun had well and truly broken out, and it was pleasantly warm. I had a lovely walk up. Once again, I had the summit to myself:
Band conditions seemed great. I had a nice run on 40 SSB, followed by a couple on 20 CW. I noticed that there seemed to be some activity on the higher hf bands, so thought I would try my luck there. I first tried some cw on 15m, and managed 4 contacts there. I was especially pleased to be called by @VE1WT & @K8LJG for my first trans-atlantic contacts for some time. Thanks guys! I then finished off by putting some calls out on 17m SSB. I managed a further 6 contacts here, and I was even more thrilled to be called by @WX1S (who was a strong signal with me) & @N4EX (more of a struggle, but we made it). Wow! I’m sure that there was first time I’d been called by North American stations using SSB. I hope I never get to the point where I get blase about these kind of contacts! One of those “magic of radio” moments. This was a perfect activation. Lots of contacts, with some DX in warm sunshine on a beautiful summit. What could be better!
Once I got back to the car I pondered about trying to squeeze in one more activation, but I was on such a high after GW/SW-023, I decided that was a good moment to stop for the day!
I once again woke up to a fairly gloomy and rainy scene. The forecast was looking pretty uncertain for the day, but their appeared to be a window of potentially dryish weather, so I thought I would try and activate the one remaining summit that had been on my target list for this trip, GW/SW-011, Sugar Loaf. On arriving at the parking spot, the prospects from inside my car didn’t look great!
However, the rain did ease, so I decided to go for it! The walk up was in fairly misty and cloudy conditions, and unfortunately the rain returned with a vengeance once I got to the summit.
I set up for 2m FM praying that there be some stations out there to work. Thankfully there were, and I managed 6 rapid fire contacts whilst getting utterly drenched! A very quick pack-up and I was on my way back to the car.
I did consider going on to activate GW/SW-026, Bryn Arw, but despite the rain easing on my descent, it started up again, and I decided that one soaking was enough for me today, so that was it for my South Wales trip.
As ever, it was a total blast, despite the challenges of the weather. A huge thank you to all of the chasers and fellow activators for the S2S contacts. It’s always appreciated so much. I will give a special mention to Rod, @M0JLA for managing to work me on all 5 summits.
73, and until next time,