What. A. Day.
Gaulfest for me last year was a cold 4 hours on top of The Wrekin (G/WB-010), so it was nice to mix it up this year with a long overdue visit to Cadair Berwyn (GW/NW-012), followed by a quick trip to Rhialgwm (GW/NW-046) - one I had done on my birthday last year.
Having done the “straight through the valley” walk last time out, I opted to climb Moel Sych using the south side path, before joining the main track for the final ascent to Cadair Berwyn. This route gave great views of the Berwyn range and gave me the chance to go “bog-hopping”. Upon reaching Moel Sych, it was a straightforward walk up to the top, where I visited both the true summit and the trig point, before settling down in the shelter away from the strong winds.
Having set up the antenna, I opened up a few family birthday cards whilst admiring the views, then set about finding a frequency to activate from. I knew conditions were going to be good, but I wasn’t expecting EVERY frequency to be so busy! 22 QSOs were made over 1 hour and 10 minutes, included S2Ss with GW4TQE/P (John), 2E0IXM/P (David) and Tom and Jimmy as I was leaving the summit. I also made my first 2m contacts into Belgium and The Netherlands, which was a pleasant surprise!
To complete my circular walk, I took a small path towards Moel yr Ewig, before turning right towards the lake and joining the main path into the valley. I didn’t have time to visit the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall last time out, so took a small diversion to see it before returning the car.
After a half hour drive, I parked the car at the end of the track, where I would start the walk. This summit has become one of my favourite places to play radio, but the climb isn’t easy. The first bit along the track is straightforward, but once I turned off, I found myself navigating numerous fallen trees to the col and then fighting through heather as I made the final approach. Nevertheless, the views were picturesque as I set up the radio gear at the summit.
There was no shelter on this one, so I took to the trig itself to be my windshield. Rhialgwm has been a rather quiet summit, with only a few local dog walkers visiting the trig point during my activations here, so I knew I wouldn’t be causing any trouble. Besides, I would need this cover for the 55 minutes I would be activating, completing 17 QSOs including 5 S2Ss with GW0MHF/P (John), G0MFR/P (Gareth), 2W0OVW/P (Gillian) and M3ZCB/P & M1MAJ/P (Caroline & Martyn). I could still hear many EU stations across the band from this summit, but I wasn’t able to work them. By this point, I was running behind schedule, so I quickly packed down and made my way off the hill, using the track at the bottom as a good jogging opportunity to get back on schedule.
It took me just over an hour to reach Church Stretton to meet up with the Gaulfest guys, which I always enjoy, as I get to put faces to voices! Jimmy even revealed a birthday card for me, which was a pleasant surprise too.
Cadair Berywn (Ascent) - 656m climbed over 5km, 1hr 27.
Cadair Berywn (Descent) - 24m climbed over 4.5km, 48 minutes.
Rhialgwm - 283m climbed over 2.6km, 40 minutes (25 min descent).
39 contacts total, all on 2m FM (Yaesu VX-170 into 3 element SOTABeam)
Pictures taken on iPhone SE (Please forgive my shadows!)
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable Gaulfest, with plenty of contacts and evidence that 2m is very much alive and well! Thanks to all stations worked throughout 2019 and here’s to a fabulous 2020!