Great Rhos and Gwaunceste

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.

Hi All

I know this is a very old posting, but I thought I would recycle a topic rather than create a new one!

I am thinking about another activation of GW/MW-002.

Having done the BVE route 5 times now, I feel a change is due. To save driving and of course trying the well documented routes from the South (thanks to Mal GW6OVD and Pete G4ISJ) I was looking at the Easterly approach from a place called Shepherds Tump - Basically walk along the Byway (open to all traffic) and then head East above the valley.

See below

However after looking at the help section on the summit page, some people have said that way was blocked due to Munitions in the area. Having searched the web, it appears that other people have (in the last 2 years) walked that route. However that posting on the summit page was written in 2006!

This more recent article shows the walker, walking my proposed route! Walk Report - Aberdeenshire substitute: Radnor Forest summits • Walkhighlands

I wonder have any SOTA folk walked it?? If so, were there any signs up??

Matt G8XYJ

Can’t help on that route.

But I did it from the north.

Parked at SO 172 672 (rough parking through the gate - I have a “high” 4WD estate car)

Then followed the obviously marked public rights of way south to the summit area. Biggest danger for me was at the very start when I was hunted down by a pack of wild sheep who thought I was the farmer coming to feed them. Thought I was going to get flattened in the stampede! :smile:

Edit: Ah just seen your reply - I stupidly didn’t realise what you meant by the “BVE route”.

Thanks for the reply Gerald, your described route is the way I have always done it!

Still lets see what else others may say?

Matt G8XYJ

Hi Matt

Sorry can’t help you. Approached from the South (Haines Mill) last week. Tough going on top with the drifts - no path visible. I did not attempt activating from the trig. Good Luck.

Allan GW4VPX

Hey, that’s odd, the sheep followed me on the Haines Mill route too. Never had that anywhere else. I thought it was because I was carrying a stick, as a shepherd might! They surrounded me and I had to shoo them away.
Perhaps it is survival instinct, and they are used to being herded away from the big bangs :o)


1 Like

When I was there at the end of last year, I met a walker at the summit who came up from the North.
He said he’d started near Fishpools, so it would seem it is perfectly doable! No idea of the route he took however.

I’m planning to do MW-002 again soon, so any reports on alternate routes you find would be welcome.

Hi Matt

The route you have plotted is the way I went up last time I activated the summit. Easy path to follow until you get to the very top where there is a little heather hopping.

I met a farmer on top of beacon Hill the other day and mentioned the sheep were very friendly and kept following me he said they were looking to be fed :smile:


Hi Carolyn

Thanks for your info, I will try that route this time. Certainly seems an advantage starting at 450m ASL!

If only I had a decent 4X4 or Motocross bike. I could drive the whole way down the Green Lane and then just stroll the last few Kms onto the summit!

I will try and get Beacon Hill done as well, it appears to be light till about 1715 at the moment!


Matt G8XYJ

I don’t know about sheep, but the friendliest, happiest pigs I have ever encountered were in a field adjacent to the television transmitter on Long Mountain - Beacon Ring (GW/MW-026).

Walt (G3NYY)

That would be the adjacent Bacon Ring, Walt. :o)


I did it last summer from the South, starting at the mill. Returned by the South West and almost ended up running in front of the bulls…(not so friendly).
73 Angel

ROTFL! They’ve probably all ended up in Tom’s pork sausages by now.



You will never find more than one dangerous bull together in the UK. If two dangerous bulls were together one would kill the other and that is my perspective having seen one AA bull kill another after breaking down several fences. Generally if you see more than one bull in a field that will be of the more docile variety. Herefords (big white faces) are probably the most timid and I have seen two go and hide from me behind a hay truck. Key to “interested” cattle is noise - they just hate it if you make a lot of noise especially if you whack the ground to produce loud thumps.

One thing to be careful of is cows with their young calves but even they do not like lots of noise and action, I usually run at them and they scatter - show uncertainty and they will get close - challenge them and they will run. I was brought up in a farming area and spent several years working with cattle and I am still here. To be absolutely clear I am not talking about Spanish bulls that are trained to be aggressive

Hi Jim,
Is this the best option when approached by cattle?
I must admit I feel uncomfortable around them. I’m sure that it’s purely because I’m unaccustomed to being up close to them. I used to be the same around horses, but I’ve now spent so much time around them (my wife has one) that they don’t worry me at all (although I respect their power and mass!).
Last year I was approached by a large herd of cattle (bulls, cows and calves) on my descent from GW/SW-008.
I felt very uncomfortable being “stared down” by some snorting, intimidating looking beasts!
I ended up climbing over a stone wall into an adjacent field to get past them (even though the footpath was across their field). They followed me, en masse, on the other side of the wall. Had that option not been available or if I’d been caught out in the field, is making yourself “BIG”, waving arms and making lots of noise a good way to disperse them? What about running away? Is this the wrong thing to do. Should we stand up and confront them?
I’ll still always try and give them a wide berth, but it would be good to know what the best practice is if a close encounter materialised.
I realise also that every situation is different.


Beef bulls are generally docile; dairy bulls avoid them like the plague.

Thank goodness this is beef country!

Barry GM4TOE

Running away is the most dangerous option as cattle will get excited and chase after you. What really scares them is sudden movement and loud noise especially a deep thud that you can make by stamping the ground. However in any field where there is a public right of way or public access, there are very strict regulations and it is unlikely that you will encounter an aggressive bull in such a field. I use the word unlikely when it should actually be impossible, but I have on two occasions reported farmers to the footpaths officer for illegally having bulls where there was a public footpath.

Occasionally there are reports of people walking dogs being injured by cattle. Anyone walking a dog being confronted by cattle should let the dog go free. The dog will almost certainly survive unscathed but if held close on a lead may result in injury to the person holding the dog.


Thanks for the tip Jim.
Definitely not fighting bulls - I would have not made it to the fence.
Interested cattle with calves is a more precise def of what I found. The shouting and waving the walking sticks made the trick - but it was a tense uncomfortable moment…

73 Angel