Inspired by others summit accounts, I thought I would have ago with my last trip.
Up early, for a Saturday morning, breakfast and flask of tea done. Final kit check and we were off, on the road by 06:30. Then a text message rolled in, we had left all our neatly packed spare clothing behind. Ok, we can’t get too wet today? We had checked our driving route the night before on both AA route planner and Tomtom, both said it would take three and a half hours to get to the Ponderosa. After a McDonalds breakfast stop near Telford, we finally arrived at the Ponderosa at 10:30, heavily shrouded in mist. Noting the 2 hour max. stay sign as we drove in, we checked inside while getting drinks, and were told no problem at this time of year, though we planned to have lunch anyway. I imagine the place gets packed in summer, though only 3 bikes were parked up that morning.
We kitted up at the car, set the GPS and headed off into the mist. GW/NW-042 Moel Y Gamelin was to be our first summit, a walk of 2.5km. I had marked the routes using the Mapyx Quo mapping program with OS maps and loaded them onto the GPS to follow. Visibility was right down to about 30m, so no great views today. Though it is a well worn path, it was nice to see the countdown of metres to destination and that we were on track. It surprised me how much you seem to descend from the first summit before climbing up to NW-042. We arrived at the summit and a quick time check found we were 1 hour late for our alerted time. Wow, where had the time gone? We quickly set up for 70cm and called CQ SOTA. A quick reply from Karen 2E0XYL confirmed the setup was working, almost got my son James(10) to pass a greeting message but not quite, perhaps another time. At this point a walking group of 14 appeared out of the mist and settled down around us for lunch. I dug out the headphones to minimise my presence and tried carry on, they were loud. I managed six contacts, the final one with M0YDH I switched back to loud speaker, so that a greeting message could be passed in Welsh, which seemed to go well with the crowd. We packed up then and left the crowded summit, though I would have liked to have given 2m a try. I never expected such a crowd on the day or never would have set up right on the summit.
A reverse of our route got us back to the Ponderosa, where I had a nice curry for lunch. A few more bikers had arrived, though it was still foggy. We crossed the road safely more by sound than sight. I edited the alerting time for our next summit.
After our lunch we set off for GW/NW-043 Cyrn-y-Brain. Again in poor visibility. The GPS helped to keep us going well as the distance to waypoint decreased. I optimistically said look out for the two masts. We arrived at the shelter and still couldn’t see them! Just the eery sound of a geneator running. I set up for 70cm again and tuned to 432.222 to be met by CW transmission with a very warbly tone. I read G4OIG/P and excitement grew, a summit to summit. I called back using usb and heard what sounded like a phone reply but I was unable to resolve by tuning. So what mode? I rattled through the modes, unable to resolve the phone. I then heard G6ODU in QSO with G4OIG/P, who had now changed battery, on usb. Mystery of the strange voice mode solved, a TX or PA struggling on low supply. An unplanned summit to summit on 70cm was a great way to start the activation. Two more contacts followed on 70cm so I had qualified the summit. I called CQ on various beam headings but got no more response. Time to try 2m. A run of 7 more contacts at VHF finished with Don, G0RQL in Devon, about 150 miles distant with my 5w.
We packed up and walked back to the car, all was well, just the long journey back home to complete. A great day out. No views to take in at the summits, but the radio activity was good. All the gear performed well, and we didn’t get a soaking, so no need for the forgotten spare clothes! Thanks to all the contacts made on the day.