For our last caravan outing of the year, we based ourselves at a CL near Luston, about 4 miles north of Leominster. Nothing spectacular here, except a couple of chilly nights and good haul of damsons, for winemaking later on. The relative proximity (compared with our home QTH in Shrewsbury, that is) of a couple of SOTAs wasn’t accidental.
Great Rhos, GW/MW-002, 15th October.
I’ve always approached Great Rhos (GW/MW-002) from the south, parking clear of the frontage of a bungalow on the A44 near Haines Mill, just west of New Radnor. The route leaves the road at Haines Mill, SO203603, and heads along a good track. At SO200611, it is very obvious that the bridleway forks left over a narrow bridge, the track continuing into the ranges area of Harley Dingle. The well-used route continues up the flank of Fron Hill, passing a wooded area on the right to go west up a steeper section before turning NW through a gate to pass a small, long since disused, quarry on the right. Almost immediately fork right along a lesser track, passing a warning flagpole on the left. After a short steepish climb, the track, now more of a path, flattens out to reach the activation area. For operation at VHF and above, it could be advantageous to continue to a wire fence at about SO185638 and take a compass bearing on the trig point. The gentle curvature of the summit area means that the trig point isn’t visible until you are very close to it, and a certain amount of sludge trudging is inevitable except in the dryest of weather.
This was my first outing with my new FT857, using a 7Ah SLAB and limiting the output to 20 Watts to get some idea of battery life. The FT817 (un-modified) but with a 300Hz CW filter, is likely to be on the market soon. A speculative CQ call on 3.700, my usual frequency, brought an immediate response from Frank, G3RMD, who spotted me (Thank you, Frank) There followed a run of 10 QSOs including ON4CAP. Unfortunately DF5WA kept doubling with Stephany, G1LAT, so I couldn’t complete a QSO with him.The extra power is a revalation on 80M, although there were reports of QSB. 40M was very noisy, and I only managed 3 QSOs, SP3GVX, HB9AAQ and DK4MO, despite a frequency change to avoid QRM from an adjacent station. G0JMB called in as well, but we were unable to complete a QSO. 20M was little better, with only S51ZG, OE6WIG. S57GB, SP6JOE and OM1AXM worked.
Self-spotting on the higher bands worked OK on Vodafone - my T-Mobile phone wouldn’t even let me send texts.
Gwaunceste Hill, GW/MW-010, 17th Oct.
There are no dogs on this route, and I was accompanied by my XYL who found nothing in this route to complain about. I approached this hill from SO166572, where there is a small parking area for 4 to 5 cars just off the A481. I’m told that this is used by people fishing the small lake here. Cross the outlet from the lake, through a gate and immediately turn right through another gate. The bridleway then follows a fence along the flank of Bryn-y-maen, gaining a little height and the descending gently to SO156568, a crossing of a number of tracks. Head south, through a gate, and then uphill about SW to reach the highest point of the track at SO159560 before descending a little to SO156556. If you must, find the remains of a track up to the trig point through knee-deep heather. Alternatively, keep along the track to an intersection with a clear track at SO155553 which heads up the hill at about 64 deg E of N. Shortly fork left onto a lesser track and look out for a small path on the left which goes to the trig point.
As we arrived we met a shooting party, including the local gamekeeper. I explained what I was intending to do and met nothing but polite interest. They were heading off to the south and them returning to sweep Gwaunceste. Talking timings suggested that I had over an hour before they returned - enough for the activation. I heard very little firing and was a little dismayed to see them return to their vehicle in half an hour. Obviously sport was very poor as they left the area without coming onto Gwaunceste. 80M was busy, with 11 QSOs, including ON4ON, ON4CAP, ON6UU and GM7UAU. 40M was in a much better state than 2 days before, having several QSOs with Jamboree event stations. Stations from HB, PA, OE, ON, F (I was operating on 7.085) and Germany called in. 20M was quiet, with only a S-to-S with HA2VR/P on HA/KM-018, HA5CW and 9A4MF in the log.
I hope the route notes are of interest to future activators.
73s de Dave, G(W)6DTN.