GW summits, 9-10 August 2013

Marianne issued an official SOTA pass-out for Saturday 10th August 2013. It then turned out that Jimmy had a couple of days of leave left, and his boss had told him he could take one on the Friday. An updated request went in, and Marianne upgraded our pass-outs to cover two days.

So we set off around 7am on the morning of Friday 9th August 2013, “Liam’s Road Trip” style - ie, without any accommodation booked. This turned out to be an error of judgement; I hadn’t taken into account that the Lleyn Peninsular on a Friday night in the summer holidays was a different kettle of fish to non-resort areas in February!

We stopped for breakfast at the Y Badell Aur cafe in Bala. This was OK but unspectacular and on the dear side. We will probably use a different cafe the next time we pass through.

The first objective was Arenig Fach GW/NW-027, a prospect that had me slightly nervous as I recalled Shirley MW0YLS describing the ascent as “horrible”. Jimmy M0HGY had done his homework though and was fully briefed as to the route, characteristics and landmarks to be encountered.

We parked on small narrow verge on the A4212, opposite the entrance to Uwch-Mynydd at SH826400. Here there was just room to squeeze the car between the hedge and the white line on the side of the road. I wasn’t very happy about leaving the car here, but Jimmy assured me this was the parking spot everyone used. There would be a much better space opposite, on a bigger area of flat grass by the track and PROW to Uwch-Mynydd, but beyond the gate so perhaps prohibited.

Crossing the stile, we were immediately into an unpleasantly steep ascent up a grassy slope. We took wider zigzags whenever possible, but even so needed hands down for some mild scrambling in places. Upon reaching the intake wall at SH823403, we paused for a rest and a drink before passing through the gate and turning left, slightly downhill.

There was now a very faint path to follow alongside a stream as we passed beneath Y Foel, delaying the inevitable steep slog up heather for as long as we possibly could. Inevitably, the inevitable came, and we veered right and uphill. We didn’t really see anything to match what has been described as a “grassy ramp” around here though.

Upon reaching the saddle between Y Foel and Arenig Fach, we could see, at last, a clear path between the two. But that could wait as we were ready for a rest. A little drizzle just started at this time as well, so Jimmy and I plonked ourselves down on the heather with my large bothy bag giving us shelter.

To be honest, by the time the bothy bag was over us, the rain had stopped! But the shelter and rest for five minutes gave us a very welcome respite, and renewed energy and motivation to proceed to the summit. This did not take much longer, and as reported elsewhere, the summit of Arenig Fach is magnificent, and deserves better than the ugly route needed to attain it! But on the flip side, this also meant we had the summit to ourselves, including the rather fine stone shelter.

Setting up the 12m groundplane was easy, and the feeder was dropped into the shelter with plenty of slack. The MFD atop the SOTA Pole arrangement was more tricky in brisk wind, but ultimately successful, and also with the feeder dropped into the shelter. This did mean that Jimmy and I would be operating in close proximity to each other. While the 2m and 12m do not cause QRM between each from a radio point of view, mine and Jimmy’s voices can distract each other when so close together!

Jimmy MW0HGY/P had a good 2m FM activation with 26 QSOs, including S2S with Adrian GW4AZS/P on Arenig Fawr GW/NW-011 and Colin M0NVJ/P on Selworthy Beacon G/SC-005. The latter was certainly indicative of the lift conditions on 2m at the time, although this also came with the baggage of some QSB issues. I tail-ended Jimmy’s two S2S QSOs for two 2m FM contacts in my log, which was otherwise populated by seventeen on 12m CW (including S2S with Miro OK1DVM/P on Andrluv Chlum OK/PA-023), twelve on 12m SSB (including another S2S with Adrian GW4AZS/P on Arenig Fawr GW/NW-011) and five on 12m PSK31.

Jimmy and I then opted to consume our entire litre flask of Baxter’s Cock-a-leekie soup in one sitting in the summit shelter, as we reflected on a successful activation of 62 QSOs between us. And despite a couple of grotty bits, I had quite enjoyed the ascent. We slightly varied the descent once below the intake wall, to try to find a less steep and less scrambly way down. We got down OK, but glancing back revealed the brutal steepness of the slope, and I couldn’t help but suffer flashbacks of the Wind Gap incident from just over a year earlier (Pillar G/LD-006).

Back in the car we headed off in a westerly direction along the A4212. A long drive beckoned, for the next target was the new SOTA summit of Mynydd Anelog GW/NW-077.


The second summit on Friday 9th August 2013 was the newly added Mynydd Anelog GW/NW-077. From Arenig Fach GW/NW-077, this necessitated a long drive. Initially, this was down the A4212 to Trawsfynydd where we stopped for diesel, Lucozade and Welsh Cakes. Thence it was the A487 to Porthmadog and the A497 through Criccieth and Pwllheli, which we exited on the A499, and then onto the B4413 towards Aberdaron. Winding narrow Welsh country lanes took us to the parking spot at Gors SH155274, where the car had to be pulled tightly in to the side of the road just before the track entrance.

The walk commenced up an initially tarmac and then rough access road for several properties. The route then forked right onto a good grassy path cutting diagonally up the hillside. This gave very good walking, and I was surprised when it reached a house at SH154270. I mused with Jimmy about how the inhabitants got their furniture there!

Turning the corner and heading more steeply uphill, we passed another remote property at SH153270, although this did seem to have a rough access track feeding it from the south. The heathery slope became a little steeper, but good clear paths worked their way up the hillside, and we summited soon after. This was a fantastic summit with stunning views out over the Irish Sea, and a striking vista of Mynydd Enlli GW/NW-072 on Bardsey Island.

I didn’t know if 12m would still be open after 6pm, and Jimmy didn’t know if 2m would net him any QSOs from this location. Both our fears were unfounded. Jimmy made ten easy contacts on 2m FM, including S2S with Aled MW0UPH/P on Mynydd Rhiw GW/NW-064. The QSOs came flooding in on 12m, with 24 on CW, 12 on SSB and one on PSK31. I had a S2S contact on each of the three modes, all with Klaus DF2GN/P on Grashalde DM/BW-168.

The walk down was just as enjoyable with 270 degrees of sea views. After reaching the car, I asked Jimmy to direct me to Mynydd Rhiw GW/NW-064 for a bonus activation - and another multiplier in the 12m Challenge!


So summit number three on Friday 9th August 2013 was Mynydd Rhiw GW/NW-064. This was not a new unique having been activated several times previously by us both. However, it did afford a very easy extra multiplier in the 12m Challenge, with little extra investment in effort or time.

The driving route took us through Aberdaron and Rhiw to the first transmitter at SH224285. A short easy walk took us to the little mound on which the trig point stands, and we quickly set up our antennas. I was pleasantly surprised that 12m was still open, but also relieved that the pile-ups were not too demanding, for it was nearly 8.30pm and we had not yet secured accommodation for the night. Five QSOs on 12m CW were followed by two on 12m SSB, and I chose not to conduct any PSK31.

Jimmy’s activation took a little more work to qualify, but he managed to scrape together four QSOs in 16 minutes. Some lift conditions were still kicking around, as evidenced when a QSO involving Neil 2E0TDX and Karen 2E0XYL and others local to Chester, faded in and came up strongly on the frequency Jimmy was already working on. Unfortunately, Jimmy couldn’t make himself heard despite trying to break in several times.

Nonetheless, we were pleased that the Duracell rechargeable NiMH AA batteries had held out in Jimmy’s FT-817, and had completed three activations and 40 FM QSOs in the day. The charger for them was packed, and would be utilised overnight - but we had to find somewhere to stay first!

Now we faced an uphill battle to find a bed. We cruised around all the B&B venues in Pwllheli and Criccieth, and there were loads of them. Most had the “No Vacancies” sign in the window. Those that didn’t offered their apologies for the sign being the wrong way round! Ultimately, we headed in Porthmadog and got a very plush, large (and expensive) room at the Royal Sportsman Hotel.

It was nearly 11pm and we still hadn’t eaten. I deferred even taking the bags to the room let alone having a shower, and drove up the road in search of curry. This was delayed when I got stopped by the police who wondered what I was doing crawling along at 20mph looking at shops! We found somewhere quickly and enjoyed a delicious meal and a couple of pints of Cobra.

By the time we had returned to the hotel, showered, put batteries on charge and went to bed, it was around 1.30am. I set the alarm for 7.30am to allow a solid six hours of sleep before breakfast, and the next summit - Manod Mawr GW/NW-035.


We were both pretty tired when we awoke on Saturday 10th August 2013, but that mattered not one jot to Jimmy - he had a plan and intended to execute it! Breakfast was really nice as we had the “Royal Sportsman Special” - toasted muffin, with poached egg, bacon, mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. After a couple of cups of tea, we were ready to go, and got on the road to Manod Mawr GW/NW-035.

We drove east until picking up the A470 through Llan Ffestiniog. Turning right took us onto a minor road which continued with a good tarmac surface all the way to the entrance to Manod Quarries at SH732456. Here, there is a parking are for several cars, and we were the second car there on this day. More cars, presumably workers, were parked beyond the quarry gate.

We ourselves briefly walked through this quarry gate and then almost immediately out of the side of the site that backs onto the rising steep slopes of Graig-ddu Quarry. This rough track led up to a pool of strange colour. To my eyes it was “bleached turquoise”, but I am colourblind, so it could have been anything! Probably something to do with the slate though!

Also here was a large mine entrance, which was blocked by a large locked gate. It looked a huge cavern in there though. The next phase of the ascent had us on a rougher grassy, sometimes boggy surface, but reasonable good going. I assumed this was a partially man-made route, possibly for an old mining railway, or even horse-drawn wagons. Jimmy had advertised this summit to me as “an easy 4 pointer”, but as easy 4-pointers go, this was not in the saem classification of tameness as Tal y Fan GW/NW-040!

Once beyond SH728452, the gradient eased considerably, and it was an easy stroll onto the summit. Jimmy expressed some concern, as he could not find the trig point, and he felt sure he had seen photos of a pillar, as well as the symbol appearing on the map. We both set up close to the shelter, which itself was unusable being full of loose rocks and nettles! Also in the shelter was what appeared to be the base of a trig pillar.

Jimmy experienced difficuly in guying the SOTA Pole upright, and suffered a collapse resulting in damage to some sections of his MFD and one section of the pole. Nonetheless, it was possible to get the whole assembly in the air, with the good sections of the SOTA Pole supporting the broken sections of the MFD and vice versa.

I had not such difficulty with the 12m groundplane, amd was quickly into making contacts, numbering 8 on CW, 6 on SSB and 2 on PSK31. Included was a S2S with Jirka OK2BDF/P on Vysocina OK/VY-044 on 12m CW. On 2m FM, Jimmy made eleven QSOs including Neil 2W0TDX/P and Karen 2W0XYL/P on Mynydd Bodafon GW/NW-071, plus Allan G4VPX/P and Mickey 2E0YYY/P on Shining Tor G/SP-004. I tail-ended these contacts to get the S2S points, but didn’t manage to get through to Iain MM3WJZ/P who could be heard activating Culter Fell GM/SS-049.

After descent, we reversed our drive down the quarry road and then north through Blaenau Ffestiniog. The next - and final summit of our trip was Allt Fawr GW/NW-025.


After Manod Mawr GW/NW-035, we reversed our drive down the quarry road and then north through Blaenau Ffestiniog. The next - and final summit of our trip was Allt Fawr GW/NW-025. We parked on a small cul-de-sac at the side of the road at SH699485, and had our lunch - a flask of butternut squash, parsnip and ginger soup.

I spotted a huge, steep and imposing grey mountain towering above us at some distance away. “What’s that one over there?” I asked while pointing at it. “That’s the one we’re going up now Dad” came the reply. Eek. Soon we commenced the walk north, initially alongside the A470. We then turned left onto the PROW, a curving track which we followed for around 150m.

At SH699488, we cut left and began a tiring slog up a grassy slope to pick up the ridge line, which was coincidental with a wire fence. This we followed uphill, sometimes steeply with a bit of mild scrambling required. I made a mental note to avoid this section on the descent route later - and it was not the first time I went through this thought process on the ascent!

From SH694486, the route went fairly flat and even a little downhill as we passed behind a couple of grassy mounds. From the fence corner at SH692486 we could hear the sound of laughter from people down at Llyn Dyrnogydd. There was no sign on the map of the telegraph poles and cables crossing at this point, but Jimmy pointed out that below our feet, and in the same direction as the poles, was the Blaenau Tunnel.

Climbing on took us onto an airy ridge with tremendous views on both sides, and with a good path between our feet at last. This was quite undulating and passed over a the spot height of 583m, but good going until we reached the start of the final steep approach at SH683478. Now the work began, and I became increasingly aware of some exposure on my left hand side. When this became a muddy steep scramble, still only a metre or so from a potential “death plunge”, I advised Jimmy, not for the first time in the day, that this was NOT going to be the descent route! I could just about manage going up, with my body’s momentum propelling me towards solid higher ground. The opposite situation did not appeal whatsoever.

An opportunity to veer to the right, and spiral more gently towards the summit, was taken. Around 20m vertically below the summit, we added fleece, coat and hat as the wind began to pick up and the temperature drop. I ventured onto the narrow rocky summit ridge briefly for some photos.

Jimmy dropped about one metre down from the summit to gain a little shelter, while I went further to a flat grassy patch, probably about 5m lower. This time, Jimmy was using the SOTA Beam and WASP which he felt might stand up to any windy conditions better than the MFD + SOTA Pole arrangement. I asked him to give me a shout if any S2S opportunities came up.

On 12m CW it was five QSOs, followed by eight on SSB. In the middle of this, I got the shout from Jimmy and we both worked Viki MW6BWA/P and Rod MW0JLA/P on Pen y Garn-goch GW/MW-016. Jimmy went on to record nine contacts on 2m FM, while I added Steve G6LUZ on 12m PSK31 to take my own QSO tally to 14.

The return route commenced with us following the ridge down to the small pool at SH676475, where we turned right to pick out way down the grassy slopes. We picked up the ascent route again on the ridge at SH683478, which we followed back to the fence corner at SH692486, via a slight diversion earlier planned by me to avoid some mild exposure.

At this fence corner I took the decision to drop down to the appealing looking tarn of Llyn Dyrnogydd. This turned out to be not such a great move, for midges and flies accompanied us alongside the water, and a tricky boggy descent awaited us thereafter, with some steep slippery sections. But we were safely down to the track which we picked up at SH698489, for a simple final walk back to the car.

We had done quite well in my opinion, completing the round trip of ascent - activation - descent inside 4.5 hours, despite this being the fifth summit of a rather strenuous and tiring couple of days. Jimmy mentioned that he had definitely noticed a significant improvement in his father’s fitness and stamina, and how I had been keeping up with him better than in earlier months this year.

Jimmy’s good planning meant that we were already well into the journey home from this final summit, and it seemed no time at all before we passed Betws-y-coed and were motoring towards Conwy. Our ETA for home was already 9.30pm without an evening meal, and a text exchange between Jimmy and Marianne determined that we would have a meal on the way back.

We stopped at the OK Diner on the A55 near Connah’s Quay and indulged in burgers topped with chilli, cheese and onion ring, twister fries and chocolate and peanut butter milkshake. A few more calories then to replace those that had been expended on energy over the recent spate of activating. But I am definitely feeling fitter and stronger than I have for 12 months.


A summary of our two day sorte into North-West Wales:

Activations: 5 (including 4 new uniques) - GW/NW-027, NW-077, NW-064, NW-035, NW-025

Tom - 8 x 2m FM, 59 x 12m CW, 38 x 12m SSB, 9 x 12m PSK31
Jimmy - 60 x 2m FM
Total - 174 QSOs

Now to enter a bit of a backlog in to the Database…

Many thanks to all chasers for their enthusiastic support of our GW activations.


In reply to M1EYP:
" Now the work began, and I became increasingly aware of some exposure on my left hand side. When this became a muddy steep scramble, still only a metre or so from a potential “death plunge”, I advised Jimmy, not for the first time in the day, that this was NOT going to be the descent route!"

Did that in the snow last winter… not enough for crampons so it was a bit slippery. Fun, fun, fun.

Nice reports Tom.


Reports now added to my website with the photos from these activations. Navigate via the SOTA index.

Or go straight to the SOTA index at

Or go straight to the individual summit pages:


In reply to M1EYP:

Don’t click the ads which are disguised as useful links unless you want hundreds of pop-under adverts :frowning:

73 Richard G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:
That hasn’t been my experience since adding Yahoo Bing contextual ads to my website so thanks for the heads up. I will investigate and alter ad settings if possible.