Owing to Lockdown until late March this year we have a long list of summits we would like to visit in December to gain winter bonus points - but we realised there aren’t enough days in the month/the weather will not always be ideal (!!)/ we have to do one or two other things during the month (Christmas?)/the knees/feet won’t stand up to daily ascents/descents to do them all. Hence we (M6BWA and M0JLA) looked at the higher summits and thought we’d go up a few of them in November to get the summit points ‘in the bag’ - and we could always do them again next month IF time/energy allowed.
Last Sunday (14 Nov) the forecast was surprisingly good (sunny, light winds, summit temp 5C feeling like 2C) so we’d head West towards Brecon and go up Waun Rydd from the East and perhaps go for a wander round whilst we were up there. Being Sunday and setting off rather late 9+am (Saturday had been rather hectic and I don’t ‘do’ dawn starts!!) we got through Hereford’s traffic in record time and sailed off to Brecon in under the hour - wish it was always like that. We even had a choice of parking places beside Talybont Reservoir (at 10am on a sunny Sunday morning?? I wish all activations started like this!) and chose the large layby at the bottom of the route down from Allt Lwyd but we would come down that way so started off N up the road for 200yds and then into the fields on the way to the route up the scarp to Cairn Pica (doing the round trip anti-clockwise for once) -
and how many locked gates would we have to climb on this bridleway today…none! Another surprise and this might make up a bit for our rather leisurely start time of 1030 (!) as I take even longer to get over gates nowdays than I do over high stiles.
The suns shone, the views were super over the reservoir to Tory y Foel (GW/SW-013) but this was not on today’s list - it was a lazy day.
Up the sunken lane, out onto the hill with high bracken which thankfully was golden brown and dead but was still a formidable obstacle but we were soon onto the little ridge and I attempted to take pictures of the scarp ahead
which would make it look like an epic climb rather than a slightly steep grassy slope …
but, as you can see I wasn’t successful! Soon we were up beside the cairn and wondering how to get away from the surprising number of groups of people but we soon found a comfortable spot and the dipole was up and we were away. We shared VHF to ease the load in the rucksack and to speed up the activation as the days are short in November.
M0JLA is hard at work wearing the essential sunhat as the sun was beating down and the wind had disappeared so it was a very pleasant spot. We had qualified on both 2m and 70cm within 30 mins and had s2s with MW0PJE/P 9 (Peter on GW/MW-015 Bryn Amllwg who was struggling amongst the wind turbines and was very glad to gain his first 2 contacts) and G6WBS/P (Shane on G/LD-029 Illgill Head in the Lake District - not bad on 2m fm and a complete for me. Whoopee! I don’t chase from home and so my only chance of completes is from s2s so I still have many LD summits to chase.)
Soon we decided to continue with the walk and admire the views
over to Pen y Fan (GW/SW-001) and Corn Du
Which weren’t as close as they looked and would probably be swarming with visitors, so we walked round and down a short steep slope to the memorial cairn at the 1942 crash site of a Wellington bomber with a Canadian crew.
We knew there had been a memorial service at this cairn high up in the Brecon Beacons a few hours earlier (it is held every year on Remembrance Sunday) and that wreaths would have been laid. It was a very moving scene.
As can be seen the plane the plane would have cleared the summit had it been just a hundred feet or so higher.
Instead of retracing our steps and going back up the little slope to the almost flat summit above we decided to walk on and choose a later ascent. This was a mistake as we found we were being pushed slowly down the hill and were in danger of descending into the wrong valley - also our late start meant that the sun wasn’t going to shine for much longer. Fortunately we eventually found a sheep(/mountain goat?) path up through the little cliffs and were on the top again and continuing our way round to the ridge leading down to the grassy summit of Allt Lwyd and our car.
Soon we were down the first slopes and turning towards the reservoir and Tor y Foel again but the light was starting to go…
It was good to see that the moon was rising (but this camera refused to show it!) and we were nearly down…
We were back at the car at 1650 - within 10 mins of the light fading and the headtorches (which we were carrying) would have had to come out. Moral - keep an eye on the time in these winter days even when you are in forgiving country with the sun shining brightly. What a glorious day it had been.