An eventful weekend of SOTA in GW/SW

It’s the end of another SOTA weekend. One which combined enjoyable radio with a few frustrating experiences. I’m writing this report for myself as much as anyone, just so I can have something to remember about it in years to come!

Saturday 27th January 2024

First up was Waun Rydd, GW/SW-004.

My first frustration of the weekend was getting caught up by the road closures on the A465, which added on 30 minutes to my drive. Partly due to me taking some wrong turns! I used the car park by the waterfalls at SO 05564 17491. The driving frustrations were soon forgotten however as I made good progress to the summit and actually made my alerted time. I really love the scenery up there!

2m FM was the order of the day, and I had an great run of 19 contacts, including a S2S with Tim @M7TSU who was on GW/SW-009. Thanks Tim for the complete. Radio conditions seemed excellent, but the wind was fierce! 20 minutes of operating was enough for me.

Back to the car, and a short drive to Pontsticill for my walk to Cefn yr Ystrad, GW/SW-008. I parked by the water works where there is room for a few cars. I enjoyed the walk to the summit, with some nice views over the Pontsticill Reservoir

It can be hard to find your way to this summit as there is an absence of distinctive landmarks, and paths seem to come and go. I don’t think I ended up taking the most direct route, but I reached the summit in about 70 minutes.

This time I activated using 30m CW and had a brilliant run of 33 contacts. This included S2S QSOs with Ian @GI0AZB, Bruno @HB9CBR & Marcial @EA2WX

The icy winds did make it a struggle by the end, but I’m glad I persevered and worked everyone who called.

Time to pack up and get moving again!

I was staying in the area, and arrived at my accommodation feeling happy about an excellent (if cold at times) day on the mountains. However, upon unpacking my rucksack I was rather annoyed to discover I was missing the battery that I’d been using for my 817! Darn it! I could only assume that I’d left it on the last summit. I decided that I would go on a retrieval mission the next day.

Sunday 28th January 2024
After a very good night’s sleep, it was back to GW/SW-008 to see if I could find my battery. And I did!

Happy Days! And it seemed, at least from an external inspection, to have survived its night out on a summit! Time to find my way back to the car in the foggy weather.

I drove off to activate Fan Fawr, GW/SW-005, parking by the Beacons Reservoir at SN 98814 18111. No views at all on my ascent with the heavy fog. I can’t say it was my most inspiring walk with soggy ground, high winds and a fog-out! I was glad when I got to the top and could get back to playing some radio!

I started off on 2m FM where I made 5 contacts including a S2S with Jared @2E0JFJ. Then I tried some CW on 17m, 12m and 10m. I made 11 contacts in all across the 3 bands, including two US stations on 12m, and a S2S with Stavros @SV2RUJ on 10m.

As with yesterday’s activations, the wind made things challenging at times, and by the end I was glad to get off the summit and head back down to the car. The fog did finally start to clear by the end of the walk.

I decided to try and activate one final summit, which was Cefn Eglwysilan, GW/SW-025. This summit only needed a small detour from my drive back home. Unfortunately, and most embarrassingly I managed to get my small car stuck in some slippery mud on the side of road that runs just below the summit. I had found a strip of grass parallel to the road that looked innocent enough to park on. The ground was obviously not as firm as it looked. I almost managed to make it back on to the road at one point, but not quite. It wasn’t going anywhere under its own steam.

At this point I would like any 4WD owners to refrain from any smug comments!

I was able to get some road assistance out surprisingly quickly and get towed back on the road, where I decided I would leave GW/SW-025 for another day!

A final moment of drama occurred on my drive back when I nearly got rear-ended by another car who hadn’t realised that the traffic in front of me was stationary. Thankfully they just stopped in time…

I was mightly relived to make it back through my front door. Certainly a weekend of ups and downs. At several points I did ask myself why I put myself through all this, but I know like every other SOTA-addict, I’ll be back for more soon!

Thanks to all stations worked this weekend and 73,

Matthew M(W)0JSB

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A memorable weekend! Good to hear that you found the battery. I’m sure you will be back for more SOTA :grin:

Thanks for sharing - a useful reminder about soft verges…

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:zipper_mouth_face:

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Thanks for your sensitivity!

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Looks a great weekend and memorable. Great to get a s2s with you on 2m. More impressive was listening to the huge 2m pile you generated as I was climbing Mynydd Troed. It was epic! I only managed 2 QSO’s on 2m, I am in the “phone a friend” territory to sort my setup out.

Glad you managed to get the car sorted in the south wales mud fest - I actually stopped to help someone on Sugar Loaf earlier in the day who had done the same letting a car pass but went off the tar and slid down a very steep hillside about 20ft ! I have no idea how that problem was solved…

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Cheers Tim! That doesn’t happen often to me on 2m, so it felt pretty epic to me too! Sorry you didn’t have a similar experience. You were a 59+++ signal with me, but we were helped by being on close-by summits of course!

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Thanks Adrian. :grin: I definitely took one for the team today!

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Possibly some constructive advice. Where possible to park on a roadside that is a bit sticky, park the vehicle going in uphill from the road then the path should be down hill back to the blacktop.
Great story and photos.
Regards
Ian vk5cz …

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I was going to suggest that Ian. In theory a FWD car in reverse should have more traction on mud etc. going in reverse than forwards due to the weight of the engine over the wheels etc. It always worked in my mate’s Saab 96 when we tried it. But it had skinny 1960/70s sized tyres with all season tread not like today’s low profile things.

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I know from many years driving machinery in vineyards they don’t usually get bogged in the wet rows going down hill.
CZ …

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Thanks for the advice Ian. I am usually much more careful and cautious in these situations, but I think I might have been suffering from a case of SOTA fever. That is to say that the desire to get up another hill and play more radio had overtaken all rational thought! That’s my excuse anyway… :roll_eyes:

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Fantastic write up Matthew, that was an adventurous weekend, just what weekends are for :ok_hand:

Many many thanks for pulling me out of the pile up you had on 30M CW, I really enjoyed the S2S with you, it was dry with us but quite windy on our small summit in GI land.

Look forward to reading and seeing more photos from you and of course more S2Ss.

Cheers,

Ian.

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I’ve written reports since I started… all for the same reason. At some point I will have to hang my boots up and I’ll then have loads of reading to do.

At least you didn’t have 4WD… the embarassment factor would have been enormous! Even with 4WD, I’m very cautious, especially as my latest vehicle weighs 1.8 tons. :worried:

Well done on some super activations and producing a really enjoyable report. It’s a long long time since I activated those summits, but the photos brought the memories flooding back. :grinning:

Onwards to the next outing…

73, Gerald

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Ah. Summit Greed.

Quite understandable; it’s not as if we can ‘Pin the Tail on the Summit’ from our QTH.

So making most of the available time when in a summit-rich area before a long long journey home I completely get.

I hope you managed to quickly activate the summit before the roadside recovery turned up. :grinning:

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November 1982 Harewood Hillclimb Circuit near Leeds, a stage of the RAC Lombard Rally and part of the 1982 WRC.

Me, the lady who is now Mrs. FMF, and two university friends went to watch. We went in the afore mentioned SAAB 96. Spectator parking was on large grass fields and it was wet and muddy underfoot but a nice day otherwise.

We were walking to find a good spot to watch as ISTR it was part off road and part on the hillclimb tarmac. Anyway there were lots of “Tetley Bittermen” in MkI and MkII Escorts (non-with powerful engines or brakes but lots of lights!), Astras, Asconas, the odd proper sports car. As we were walking along someone was driving a new Audio Quattro, the original 4wd 2.2L 5cyl that had only been on sale in RHD form for a short time. in to the parking area. They were pootling along on flat, wet short grass and managed to get stuck. All 4 wheels slowly rotating and zero progress. The roar of delight from the crowd as the car now dominating rallying failed to proceed. OK it was the tyres and a goon driving. He need a push from about 20 rowdy rallysport fans to get moving and he slithered off.

When we came to leave nobody was able to get off the grass and they had a wee tractor pulling people out. We got in the SAAB and my mate said “observe a proper car and correct driving technique” and he just reversed off onto the tarmac. To prove the point he reversed back on and reversed off again, several times. A lot of this was the right tyres and reversing a FWD car when in poor traction conditions. He also had a secret weapon only used once when we did get a bit stuck. On a SAAB, the handbrake works on the front wheels and so you can use it as a crude LSD by gently applying it to lock up the wheel spinning so the other grips. But he only needed that trick once, most of the time it just worked.

The Quattro driver is still red-faced 40 years later :slight_smile:

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Thanks Ian. It was great to get a S2S with you. Thanks for the contact. Sounds like we experienced similar weather conditions.

Haha, it would be boring if everything went to plan each time! I might need to activate a local drive-on 1 pointer by way of recovery though! :laughing:

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I hadn’t thought about it from that angle. Good point!

Glad to jog your memory. Hopefully good ones…

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A good description of my mindset!

Sadly not as the recovery arrived quickly. Not that I’m complaining! I wasn’t going to chance another slippery parking spot!

Looking back now, the sliding doors moment was actually when I left my battery on GW/SW-008. I had planned on a different itinerary for the second day which didn’t involve GW/SW-025, but had to rejig things with the extra trip to rescue my battery.

Glad that all turned out ok in the end Matthew.

Thinking about Gerald’s comment about the weight of his vehicle, I was a bit worried when parking the motorhome on Mull for Ben More. It’s always a pain packing a motorhome up ready to move off after accommodating three blokes for a night. I knew that parking space might be an issue so I made quite an effort to get up and get sorted early. Despite our efforts, the gravel parking area at Dhiseig was fully populated by the time we got there. I decided to risk it and park the motorhome on the grass next to the shore. The lads were worried about the motorhome being washed away by the sea! I was worried about setting off! I’d parked on a bit of a slope and the motorhome is rear wheel drive. Thankfully I had no trouble at all setting off after conquering Ben More. The motorhome tops out at about 3500kgs gross.

73, Colin

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Your story about the Quattro reminded me of what happened in the Lakes back in October 2009. An extract from my report:

Our first task was to get to the parking spot for our first summit, Grayrigg Forest LD-038. Paul had located a parking spot on Google Earth just at the end of a minor road at NY598015 (193m spot height), but unknown to us the metalled section of road actually went beyond this. Of course we were rather put off by the fact that the car slid off the minor road into a ditch and we were left sitting in the car looking at each other. Paul said it first: “what do we do now?” In reply, I put the car into reverse and drove out the way we had gone in. Paul thought that was impressive – quietly, I was thinking much the same. The problem had been caused by heavy overnight rain and winds which had defoliated the trees making the tarmac road and muddy ditch a level expanse of leaf litter. Needless to say I took it very carefully thereafter!

I recall that cost me an hour or two of my mechanic’s time as the car went into the garage for the removal of several centimeters of mud from the undertray… scooped up as I reversed out. :joy:

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