GW/NW-038 Moel Ysgyfarnogod in 2020

One of my lockdown projects was to post details of an activation of this North Wales summit which we squeezed in between lockdowns in July 2020 (perhaps not 1920 as I first typed, thanks Tom) - and I am now squeezing this report in before those lucky GW activators are allowed up their hills. Hope it won’t be long before those just over that little border are allowed to join in…! Here we go:-

We had been up Moel Ysgyfarnogod (GW/NW-038, SH 658345, on the northern end of the Rhinogs) a few times from the east when on the way up to Snowdonia from Dolgellau but I had long wanted to try the longer route from the west and thus visit Bryn Cader Faner, the lonely Bronze Age stone circle, on the way. In July last year we were based near Porthmadog which seemed the ideal opportunity and it would get us away from the ‘madding crowds’ who were besieging Snowdon and the higher summits. We drove up to Llyn Tecwyn Isaf (limited parking) so we could reach the SOTA summit as well. The lake was beautiful and we admired the water lilies as we walked on up the road, took a right turn followed by a left (signed Taith Ardudwy Way) onto a track to Caerwych farm. Passing the farm buildings we turned right beside a low barn

and were on a grassy track, with signposts, for the next couple of miles with lovely views and many small bridges over the little streams.

The ‘Taith Ardudwy Way’ markers were a great help as our destination kept us guessing until we finally saw it (and 3 people) on a distant spur. It was only at the last moment that we realised the signposts were not actually sending us to the stone circle (but were pointing to the right and the Trail was going down the valley) while we went straight on and up the spur to the stone circle. This might not be obvious in poor visibility.

I knew that Bryn Cader Faner (SH 648353) had been the finest Bronze Age site in North Wales, consisting of about 30 stones which, very unusually, leaned outwards rather than standing erect with a burial chamber at the centre of the circle. Some good pictures (including a panorama which makes me seasick!) are at Bryn Cader Faner - Cairn Circle - Gwynedd The site was plundered in the 19th Century and some stones were destroyed by the Army when training for WWII so only about 18 stones are left and the circle is rather smaller than I had expected, 8.5m wide and less than 1m high, but its position is magnificent. On approaching from below it is obvious why it is known as the ‘crown of thorns’ as the leaning slabs are very distinctive.

We were lucky to have the stones to ourselves as another party was approaching as we left on the way to our summit – and it was ‘occupied’ when we passed it on our way back to the car.

From Bryn Cader Faner we basically headed SE hoping to find a way through or round the small scarp on our right and up to Llyn Dywarchen. The going was slow and sometimes boggy but getting through the rocks was relatively easy and I found myself suddenly on flat ground looking up to a rather steep western flank of Moel Ysgyfarnogod on the other side of the lake … and about to cross the path of 2 people who were travelling at right angles to us and were equally surprised to see another person!

We had been intending to go anticlockwise round the lake and probably skirt round to the south but, on their advice as they had just come down the hill, we went to the left (clockwise), through some very small mine workings and then aimed straight up the hill beside a stream which took us almost to the top and the magnificent views as all the hills were clear.

As it had taken nearly 4 hours (including a long stay at the stone circle) to reach the summit from the car we did not want to spend long getting our contacts but it took a bit longer than expected. Perhaps the 5 70cm contacts in 8 minutes we managed at the beginning of our Moel Hebog (GW/NW-014) the day before and a total of 9 on 70cm and 14 on 2m fm had rather raised our expectations!! However we were on a much smaller summit, were at an unusual time for a SOTA activation (1340 UTC)and had some rather high mountains just North of us so had to rely mainly on a keen selection of chasers down the Welsh coast.

Once again, we only had the VX-7 and dipole as M0JLA didn’t feel like carrying the HF gear but, with the help of GW4VPX (Lampeter), MW0OFA (Blaenfoss), MW0UPH/M (Barmouth), GW6TKK (Fishguard), GW0JLX (Cilgerran) and 2W0NLH/P (Newport) we had qualified on both 2m and 70cm within about 45 mins. We then took down quickly and started the descent, with good views over to the Lleyn Peninsula,

which went more rapidly than I’d feared and we were back at the car by 1800.

A lovely walk on a good day but with the cloud down navigation after the stone circle might be challenging. There are other routes to the stone circle which are shorter (eg from above Eisingrug) but this looked the most convenient, and scenic, when based at Penrhyndeudraeth.


Great report Viki. Just a pity that the date was prior to the launch of SOTA. To be honest, I always thought you were a lot younger than that and I dread to think how heavy the gear was back then!

Joking aside, it’s a lovely walk. I really enjoyed it when I did it.

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Thanks for the great report and photos, been a while since I’ve activated that one, Brought back some nice memories.

Thanks Tom, it did seem a VERY long time since we last went on an activation and at present it doesn’t seem to matter what day it is, which month (apart from hours of daylight) so why bother about centuries?? On second thoughts, I’m not sure that white plastic overflow pipes were available in 1920 for the dipole… Glad to see that someone actually reads what is written - even if they give up at the second line as it is obviously such utter rubbish!! Sorry, pardon. Yes it is a lovely walk and good to be reminded of it when things still look a trifle bleak.

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A most enjoyable report with some great pics

Craig 2e0vrx

Which of course was my excuse for not taking the HF kit on this occasion :smile:

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This new FT-991A I’ve got is marketed as a portable/field radio. I think not!!


HI Viki and Rod.

Thanks for the lovely report and photos. When the weather is kind the view from Moel Ysgyfarnogod is stunning although I’ve had a few activations when I’ve seen nothing and hardly able to stand up…not much protection up there. Nice to see that the West Wales mafia were supporting your activation :grinning: Looking forward to getting a few s2s with you both in the near future.

I’m out tomorrow on Frenni Fawr GW/MW-028 just to see if the legs still work as well as the radio equipment.

73 & 88

Allan GW4VPX

For a live view of Moel Ysgfarnogod:

Ooh, it’d a bit murky now, but if I remember rightly follow up from the tracks over the Cob and the summit is lightly to the left.

Thanks for the nice report Vicky - it’s lovely that way.

Another excellent report Viki. Great to have something to read and refresh the memory banks of a time that seems to be in a different life.

Paul and I tackled that one from the other side as we had climbed Rhinog Fawr GW/NW-023 beforehand and the parking spots worked out quite well en route to our accommodation near Porthmadog. The activation was fairly late in the day and I well remember our descent in the dark over the undulating terrain. Thankfully there were no mishaps. :grinning:

Congratulations Vicky on your activation. Thanks for the great reports and photos.

73 de Geoff vk3sq

Nice report Viki.

Spent the night just South of Moel Ysgyfarnogod on the first night of my summer mountain leader expedition.

Night nav all around the area you describe. Oh what fun we had with all that bog in the dark. :slight_smile:

Funny feature at SH65007 35251. A stream forks going DOWNHILL.

Have you taken up SOTA chasing TOM? I like the FT-991A. Only used once on a summit during the EU SOTA day last September from TW-004, ran for ages on one 7 amp battery at 50 watts output. I was surprised. Carried two 7A LiFePo’s so went over to the second one near the end of my session. That was the day/night you were camping out I think. No reason why your new rig couldn’t be used on places like Cloud and Gun. Radio even has a carrying handle on it. If you’re careful…

TW-004 19/09/2020:

73 Phil

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