Bryn y Fan and Moel y Golfa
Tuesday 14th July 2009
Just 4 summits remained in the Mid Wales area. One was reserved for the winter bonus period, one was a no-go zone and two were on the lone activations list, Paul G4MD having already activated these two – Bryn y Fan MW-018 and Moel y Golfa MW-027. The former had only been activated 5 times, but the latter is quite popular and it is on the doorstep of John GW4BVE who lives near Welshpool. I hadn’t seen John and his wife Judy for some time, so there was an opportunity for a combined activation and social day. Putting the idea of getting together to John, he immediately said that he would like to do the activations with me. After some delay, caused mainly by domestic and social arrangements on my side, we settled on Tuesday 14th July for the activation. John suggested that I might to appear for breakfast around 07.30 a.m.
I left Northampton at 04.06z, allowing around two and a half hours for the journey. The roads were clear and it was 06:14z as I pulled into John’s driveway. Coffee and toast was quickly rustled up by John and we were away by 06:48z with John driving and about an hour’s run to the parking spot. The traffic was fortunately light in Newtown and we pulled into the empty car park close to the hill at 07:44z. Once kitted up, we were ready for the ascent at 08:00.
The route up to the summit was straight forward – through the gate and descend! Fortunately the descent part is not very far, just far enough to get to the bridleway which then leads to the track that is marked on the map and takes a zig-zag route towards the summit. We had had a sprinkling of light rain while getting prepared for the activation, now the sun came out making it rather hot. John set a fair pace and I saw quite a bit of his back on the ascent – I promised him that he would see quite a bit of mine on the descent! My slacking meant that we did not reach the summit until 08:35z, but we were in good time for the alert that I had placed for 09:00z. John suggested that I might utilise the support offered by the trig point, while he found a nearby level area to set up on for HF.
My first contact on 2m SSB was with my usual joint activation partner Paul G4MD who was out portable on the Long Mynd, though outside of the activation zone. It was appropriate for Paul to be the one to be the first in the log as it was he who had last activated Bryn y Fan. After a chat with Paul, Don G0RQL called me and we made contact both on 2m and then on 70cms SSB, though there was quite a discrepancy between the signal strengths between the two bands. On finishing with Don, Paul called me on 70cms to provide me with a second contact and then Mike G4BLH/P called me from a high point not far from Freeholds Top SP-011. I returned to 2m to make another 9 contacts including Tony 2E0LAE/M operating from a narrowboat on the Llangollen canal and a rare contact with Mike G0BPU over in Ipswich. Frank G3RMD was last in line on 2m and we moved to 70cms where again signals were not particularly good with 43 reports both ways – a change to CW effected Q5 copy. After signing with Frank, I remembered Phil G4OBK said he would be looking for me, so I swung the beam and called him – an instance response and 559 both ways!
After setting up, John discovered that he had an antenna problem and spent quite a while locating the fault which was caused by the antenna having got wet the previous time that it had been used. Once the fault had been rectified, John started on 80m SSB and worked a number of the regulars and then shouted across to me to see whether I could get him spotted on 40m SSB. This done, John worked several more stations, though conditions were not particularly good on either band. In view of the fact that 60m had been exceptionally poor of late, John decided that he would not bother with that band.
I was the last to finish my operations, going QRT at 09:52z. John came over to take a couple of photographs and then I set to dismantling the station. We set off down the hill at 10:08z and as I had promised on the ascent, John saw quite a bit of my back before we reached the car at 10:36z. After off-loading the kit, we had a snack and a drink before setting off back towards Welshpool. There was a slight delay in Newtown due to roadworks and we arrived at the parking spot in Middletown at 11:59z. As the ground was quite slippery, we had decided to take the “easy” route to the summit from the east. This proved to be the best route, as even this was quite treacherous in places due to the combination of damp earth, loose stones, leaves and exposed tree roots. Once again John set the pace up the route through the woods which was punishingly steep in places.
As we reached the summit at 12:53z, it started to rain. The first task was to deploy the rain cover on the backpack and then put on my waterproof over-trousers. This somewhat delayed my start time, but Roger G0TRB was ready waiting as I came up on my usual frequency at 13:14z. Second in my log was Paul, now operating as GW4MD/P on Gyrn Moelfre NW-049 not very far away. Needless to say, signals on 70cms were equally as strong. After signing with Paul, I worked Frank G3RMD, Don G0RQL and the Mike GW0DSP in succession on both 2m and 70cms. Jimmy M3EYP then managed to get the band order reversed by making contact on 70cms before 2m. Two more contacts on 2m completed the log bringing me to 14:10z.
John set up using the fence near to the summit monument to support his pole, with the antenna strung out between the two mounds on the summit. He used the same band order as for the first summit and had a very similar activation. This was John’s third activation of the summit this year. Fortunately the rain had stopped and the sun had come out to dry everything, so finishing before me was not an issue for John. After I had packed up, I found him stood on the monument plinth ready to describe to me exactly where his house was.
We set off down from the hill at 14:35z, carefully negotiating the undergrowth and taking care on the slippery conditions under foot. Mindful of a recent accident on the hill, we took our time and arrived back at the car for 15:10z, with the short drive to John’s house completing the outing by 15:30z. With the activating part of the day now concluded, there was time for me to see John’s new HF rig in action and see his latest projects before getting ready for a pint and something to eat at a local pub. Judy had booked a table for the three of us for 6.30 p.m. and the both the meal and beer were excellent. After a coffee back at base, I eventually set off for home at 10.00 p.m. and arrived at home just after midnight.
Many thanks to everyone that came on to work us, particularly as it was another weekday activation when contacts are not guaranteed. I was particularly pleased to qualify both summits on 70cms SSB. Thanks to G0RQL, G4OBK, G3RMD and G0TRB for the spots. Completion of the MW area of Wales looks to be an impossibility at the moment, but we live in hope. Next activation in the area – Carnedd Wen MW-012, sometime during the next winter bonus period.
73, Gerald G4OIG