CUWS SOTA trip to Snowdonia 2017

Morning all,

As is now traditional, a few of us from the Cambridge University Wireless Society headed away from the flatlands of East Anglia for a spot of SOTA this weekend.

We ended up as a group of five, Jonathan GW2HFR, Dom M0BLF, William M0ZXA, myself M0VFC and first-time SOTA activator Nige M0HZR.

CUWS chair Dan M0WUT was hoping to join us, but a rowing race got in the way - we’re pretty confident we had the better weekend though! He did still offer to find a campsite, with the usual criteria of “must have a pub”. This resulted in the Snowdonia Parc campsite, which not only had a fine pub, but also a microbrewery and heritage steam railway attached! Very fine indeed.

Shortly after arriving, we also managed a few QSOs via the SO-50 satellite from the pub car park to give away IO73.

Saturday morning brought excellent weather, and we headed up Y Garn (GW/NW-004) via Idwal Cottage / Devil’s Kitchen. The path is very good, if steep, and there’s plenty of space just below the true summit to set up HF antennas. The views across to Glyder Fawr and Snowdon were incredible - not a cloud in sight. A far cry from the last time I did it!

Jonathan started on 17m SSB, then Dom and I added 30m CW, and Nige 2m FM. We swapped 17m for 80m SSB, then some 60m AM, making for a nice relaxed activation of the summit including a bit of a snowball fight.

Back to the pub, dinner, and further quality assurance of the output of the microbrewery…

Sunday morning required an interesting arrangement of inverters, battery chargers, and bodged cables to recharge a flat car battery (names withheld to protect the guilty), but didn’t stop the bacon rolls.

After that, we headed just around the corner to Moel Ellio (GW/NW-022), and took a similar approach. Jonathan and Will started on 17m SSB, Dom and I on 30m CW, and Nige on 2m FM before moving to 17 to get the fourth QSO needed to qualify the summit.

All in all, an excellent weekend, with outstanding weather, a couple of lovely hills, and good company.

Thanks to everyone for the QSOs, sorry for any confusion because of changing callsigns while we swapped around, and look forward to catching you on the air again soon!

Rob, M0VFC


Rob, you were a very workable signal on 30m on Sunday when I was on Cairnkinna SS-139. 250kms or so but you were 41 on what I am assuming is ground wave. I didn’t call because you had a fairly enormous pileup running and there was no way you’d hear me in that. I worked a few on 30m myself and when I next checked you’d gone. So no S2S with GW on 30m.

Thanks for the S2S on Saturday.

I heard Nige on 17m from Moel Eilio at my QTH in Rhyd Ddu using the VHF whip on my 817 (and also a very strong CW signal from OY - would have been end stop with a proper aerial - bodes well…!). Running around like a headless chicken to find something a bit more appropriate to plug into the antenna socket you’d swapped over to Jonathan by the time I had my linked dipole (wrong bands though) half strung out down the garden. Terrible mismatch but low power made the contact.

73, Simon

Thanks Andy, and sorry to miss you on 30, particularly for an S2S!

We did a few fairly rapid operator swaps to make sure everyone qualified, as that’s not always a given when there’s five of you on the hill, but makes for an interesting extra challenge :slight_smile:.

Next time, hopefully!

The bit I didn’t mention initially was that Nige’s 17m operation on NW022 was with his rig, but Jonathan’s amp… and of course we didn’t have PTT cabling for that combination, so it was me keying the amp by shorting the 2.5mm jack to ground and trying to keep in sync with Nige operating the fist mic. I think we managed it most of the time :slight_smile:

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Ha, been there, done that. I forgot the PTT cable for the mast head pre-amp on a 2m contest. I’d fried the MESFET a few times and had just got it running again, so myself and Brian G4ZRP had a ritual to key the preamp before the radio etc. It’s fun for the first few minutes but a pain in the butt after 4 hours!

Glyder Fawr looking pretty on the way up to Yr Garn Snow and hot sun makes the perfect day !

Car isn’t as intelligent as one thought with battery cut out relay would have been a nice option for them to include when heated seats are left on over night :blush:

Such trips are great, the idea of putting a service battery in the spare tyre recess in your boot Rob has convinced me to do the same, its a good backup as well as a power source for mobile 2m and 70cms.

Nice to hear North America still making the log on 17m :sunglasses:



Hi Rob,

Great report. Me and my dad Tom M1EYP will be in Snowdonia last week of August. Staying at Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel just down the road from that campsite and micro brewery pub. Planning to activate both Y Garn GW/NW-004 and Eilidir Fawr GW/NW-005 as a circular from Idwal Cottage on one of the days, not sure whether to approach Y Garn GW/NW-004 from Devils Kitchen which is a route we already know or via the path that goes directly to Y Garn GW/NW-004 from the lake at the bottom of Devils Kitchen, do you know what that path is like? Also have you ever approached Eilidir Fawe GW/NW-005 from Idwal Cottage and via the Mushroom Garden as any info on this will be appreciated.

I had a look on Trip Advisor of the reviews of the micro brewery pub and the campsite you stayed at as we may possibly eat there on some of the night, there are some good reviews, but some really bad one as well which makes it just look average. I think mainly the bad review for the the campsite, but some bad ones about the pub as well. Judging by it makes it just look average. Just wondering what you thought of the campsite, but more importantly what the the food and micro brewery beer like at Snowdonia Parc pub? We will however probably be eating at Cwellyn Arms at Rhydd Ddu most as this is nearer Snowdon Ranger Youth Hostel and looks the better pub overall.

Jimmy M0HGY

Well Jimmy if your into trains its rather cool as to get a shower in the morning you have cross through the station !!

I actually found it rather nice. As long as the place is clean, which it was, facilities were all there inc mains power WiFi etc

Pub was OK. They got my food order slightly wrong, beer was excellent.
A dog ran into the bar which the owner subsequently chased which became the evenings entertainment :grinning:

Thanks for the information Jonathan, that is very helpful. We won’t be camping there, but may go into the pub on one of the evenings while there for a meal. Sounds like food and beer is good in there. I wouldn’t have liked to be in there when the dog ran in as I am scared of dogs, glad the pub owners got rid of it quickly.

Would to like to join us for any activations, meal or drink while in Snowdonia, I wasn’t able to include you on the initial email as I don’t have your email address other than your university one which you don’t use anymore.

Jimmy M0HGY

The Cwellyn Arms is very familiar to me - I can give that pub a five star rating for both beer and food, as I have often stayed at the climbing hut just the other side of the station car park and it is only a short walk to the pub from there.

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Snowdonia Parc pub: excellent beer, as Jonathan says. Food was fine, though took a while to come in and in a slightly random order (some of us had finished our meals before the last ones arrived). Friendly though.

Campsite was perfect for us. We had five small tents (we figured we probably all snore…), and loads of space for them with fresh water close by. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on the pitch right next to the railway line, though! Showers were good and hot.

In terms of Y Garn, Jonathan went directly up, which I think was the route you were asking about, whereas the rest of us took the engineered path. He got up there and on air before the rest of us, so it can’t have been too bad.

Elidir Fawr still on my todo list…


Awesome picture of Garratt 143 Jonthan!

Why-ever not? :wink:

Occasionally I’ve had to access the line (with the gang) through the camp site, and the aroma of other-people’s bacon breakfasts is quite distracting when you’ve got to get on with some work!

Anyway, it’s a nice spot there. Another to consider is the Beddgelert Forest Campsite. This also has the benefit of a railway station and convenient direct access to GW/NW-014. But there’s no pub!

73, Simon
(WHR “Rest of the World Gang”)

Thank you for letting me know this Rob. Sounds like you had a great trip in Snowdonia and that you enjoyed the campsite and pub. We won’t be camping there this time, but may go into the pub to try some of the beer and maybe some food as well. Thank you for your information for Y Garn GW/NW-004, looks like Jonathan GW2HFR did walk up the route I was asking about.

Jimmy M0HGY

I’m always a bit wary of recommending places on the experience of visits more than a few months ago. These days pubs seem to change hands very regularly and can go from great to dire almost overnight.

A bit like some of our local restaurants where you have to choose the day of your visit very carefully!

Mushroom Garden route is classed as a grade 2 scramble
Not done it myself, but said to be awkward, more so if it’s wet !

Route `description here

Thank you for this information Neil.

Jimmy M0HGY