Finding myself (hopefully very temporarily) without my own transport, I gratefully seized upon my XYL’s offer of the use of her car for a day’s activating. But where to go to make best use of this opportunity? For some time I have wanted to get down to the SE and bag SE-002 and -003 to complete the region; however that would be a lot of travelling for two very easy summits, and “value for miles” needed to be the order of the day. Closer to home, SW-023 and SW-026 stood out as needing doing. MW’s 022 and 023 were almost on the way home from the SW pair; so the expedition more or less planned itself! Optimisation of the travel distances gave me the sequence SW-026, SW-023, MW-022, and MW-023, so I set about preparing an itinerary in my normal fashion.
Now though it may seem philistine to some, SOTA for me is about the radio, not the walking. My philosophy is get up the hill in the quickest and easiest manner compliant with the Rules, activate it and get on to the next ASAP. Which is not to say I do not derive great pleasure from the treasures you so often happen upon during the walks, I just don’t feel the need to extend my exposure to them beyond the minimum! Or so I thought till I encountered Bryn Arw SW-026…
SW-026 Bryn Arw
Checking on the OS map, there appeared to be an approach to the hill from the end of the public road at SO292208, and checking on Google Earth seemed to indicate space to park in that vicinity. This gave about 50m less climb and half a kilometre less walk than Dave M0DFA’s route in the summits database – in other words my type of route!
I left home spot on schedule at 0510, and made good time to the intended starting point for Bryn Arw, arriving 15 minutes earlier than planned at 0645. Only to find that my proposed parking spot was actually a boggy mess. The farm at the end of the lane has a large yard, but despite the attentions of two vociferous dogs there was no-one around to ask permission to park so the only thing to do was to revert to Plan B – down to the Nature Reserve car park at SO293211, a la M0DFA. Despite this enforced change of plan, I was parked up and ready to go by 0708 – two minutes ahead of schedule, but with a longer walk and climb ahead of me.
The first part of the route involves traversing a boardwalk through the very wet and flat valley bottom. As soon as I set out across it, I was overcome with gratitude that I had been forced to go the extra distance. The valley bottom was truly enchanting, lit by dappled sunlight and carpeted with a dozen different types of beautiful wetland plants in flower, the still air heavily scented by their fragrance and flitting between them bright flashes of iridescent blue and red dragonflies. All this accompanied by the loud twittering of innumerable birds in full song. Despite the urgency of my quest, I tarried on this section of the route, drinking in the joys of my surroundings.
Eventually reaching the end of the boardwalk, I emerged onto a steeply rising path, quite treacherous with large loose cobbles, and applied myself to gaining some of the lost time back, arriving within sight of my originally intended starting point, breathless and gasping, at 0728. A yomp up a much better track soon brought me out onto the access land, where a grassy path leads you up onto the shoulder of the hill and thence up to the summit. Amazingly enough I arrived there spot on schedule at 0750, and was set up and ready to go at 0800. The sky was an almost cloudless blue, and there were clear views out to Bryn Arw’s bigger brothers all round. Magnificent!
My first call on 144.300 got an immediate reply from Roger, G0TRB who kindly spotted me on my preferred QSY of 144.310 and headed a run of eight contacts, finishing with Barry 2E0PXW/M down in Dorset. A few calls after this elicited no further response, so I went QRT at 0830, packed up and was back at the car and ready to leave by 0910, still on schedule despite another gentle wander along the boardwalk.
SW-023 Allt yr Esgair
Sally directed me with her customary certitude to the “traditional” starting point for this summit, at the quaintly 1920’s Llangasty Village Hall. Quickly kitting up, I was again ready to walk at the scheduled time of 1000. The steep ascent was decidedly unpleasant in places, with ankle deep mud reinforced by big gobs of cow dung to contend with. A number of calves had found their way under the barbed wire onto the path, and their mothers watched me suspiciously from the other side of the barrier as I pushed past them. The effect of the recent winds were also in evidence, the path being blocked by fallen trees in several places. Conditions improved when the path broke out onto open hillside near the summit, and even allowing for time to enjoy the stunning views and playing “spot the mountain” I was set up and ready to call at 1050, ten minutes ahead of my alerted time. On this occasion John M0JDK did the opening honours, and a short run of contacts was concluded by
G4JZF at 1112. With no more takers, I went QRT at 1120 and descended (via an alternative path signposted pedestrians only, which thankfully bypassed the worst of the mud, and rejoined the main track just above the reservoir) arriving back at the car in time to allow myself the luxury of eating my lunch sat on the picnic benches outside the Hall, looking out over the beautiful Llangors Lake sparkling in the sunshine, and admiring the imposing summit of Mynydd Troed opposite. I took my leave of this wonderful spot at 1220, again in accordance with the itinerary.
MW-022 Aberedw Hill
I was not quite sure about Sally’s prediction for the journey to this one – an hour seemed overly generous for the 23 mile trip, and so it proved to be – arriving at the parking spot recommended by Gerald G4OIG, squeezed in by a gateway, after only 40 minutes travelling. However, the lack of accuracy in timing was made up for by the accuracy in positioning – Sally announced that I had arrived within a metre of the spot! Fortunate really, as the footpath has no sign and I had to check the terrain against the map to be sure I was at the right place, and even then checked with the GPS as well! All was in order, and I set off for what I had been warned was a stiff climb 20 minutes ahead of time. There was no obvious path, but at the point indicated on the map there were a couple of rudimentary stiles over the two adjacent fences, giving onto the large and steeply sloping field beyond. This had been recently ploughed (whoever drove the tractor must have had a strong nerve – the slope is 45 degrees in places!) and there was no sign of the line of the path, so I just headed steeply up and across the field on a bearing to take me to the top far corner, at which point a low section of the fence allows easy entry to the access land beyond. From here I set a bearing for the nearer of the 451m high points, and headed straight for it across the short vegetation. Here a query I had having studied the Google Earth images of this summit was answered – the curious large animals standing in lines across the field are actually large round bales of straw, now decomposing!
I arrived at my chosen operating point at 1354, glad that I’d not found the climb as stressful as I had imagined it to be from it’s publicity material, and was set up ready to call at 1408. Having checked that .310 was clear, I returned to 144.300 and called. And called. And called. Then I checked the beacons to see if the radio was working. Then I called some more… Eventually at 1436 Dave M0CKP found me, and started the ball rolling. Spots now came in thick and fast, and thanks to all these a run of eight contacts was had in short order, finishing with Dave G0ELJ at 1500. Apparently everyone had been waiting for me on 144.310 – a lesson for me here I think!
At this point I decided I was definitely going for the fourth summit of the day, so I quickly packed up and while walking down phoned my XYL who kindly put up a notification of my intentions. Having munched the last of my sandwiches, I said my farewells to Aberedw Hill at 1545 – spookily exactly the time I had predicted when compiling the itinerary two days previously…
Sally again with her legendary efficiency took me directly to the parking spot for Carneddau, as recommended by Richard G4ERP. He says space for a small car and he’s right – a large bicycle might be more appropriate! Fortunately the farmer who’s front gate you park outside was there when I arrived, and on checking with him that he was happy with my positioning he offered to let me park on his drive, which was much more satisfactory. After a short chat about what I was up to, I set off up the hill following Richard’s excellent route description. Those of you familiar with Welsh will recognise the –au on the end of Carneddau as a plural ending, and that’s very apt – as you get to the central col, there are half a dozen or more “summits” of similar stature surrounding you – picking the right one to operate from is the knack here! Fortunately, with the aid of Richard’s instructions and the map it’s quite easy to locate it – when you get there it’s got a little wooden stake in the top if you’re ever in doubt! A nice flat summit, with short springy vegetation very comfortable to lie on.
After deploying the guyed pole for the last time, I was set up and ready to go at the posted time of 1700 and a call on 144.300 brought Roger G0TRB straight back, followed by Dave ‘ELJ and Graham G3OHC. Things then went a bit quiet, and Graham kindly worked me with his Club call sign M0EAR to ensure my qualification of the hill. Fortunately shortly thereafter Brian ‘ADD came to the party, followed by Frank G3RMD and finally a difficult but ultimately successful QSO with Mike GW0DSP. There were no further takers, so I went QRT at 1735, followed by a rapid descent and departure, leaving a note of thanks for John the farmer, and arriving home at 1956. Four minutes ahead of the schedule!
Many thanks to all those who contacted me, my special thanks to Roger G0TRB who worked me on every summit, also to G8ADD, G3OHC and G4JZF (3), M0RAR, 2E0BYA, M0JDK and G0ELJ (2) and G4ASR, GW4BVE, 2E0PXW, G4MSN, M0CKP, G3RMD and GW0DSP with one apiece. I look forward to working you all again soon!
73 de Paul G4MD