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GW/SW-004 Waun Rydd on a sunny day!

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.
Viki M6BWA

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Hi Viki, thanks for your report and great photos A great effort, well done/ :+1: :beers:

Cheers; Geoff vk3sq

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Excellent report and excellent weather too. It must have been a satisfying day.

Excellent report, thanks Viki

I think we will try out your circular route, but probably won’t get an opportunity till Spring

Cheers
Rick

Hope you enjoy it Rick. It is really a bit of a doddle on a dry day and if you can find the tracks through the bracken. It is deciding to leave the car by the dam (or in the layby) and walking over to knock off Tor y Foel (GW/SW-013) on the other side which is a BIG mistake! The only time we’ve tried it we had some difficulties finding the route through the fields and woodland (ie we slithered down a small gully and scrambled up the other side and over a fence!) before reaching the road. Then sense prevailed and Rod turned back to go and retrieve the car and drive round while I continued to plod very slowly up to the top of the second summit. We met back at the cattle grid as he had gone off the idea of a second hill and I wanted to see what the descent was like to the where the road goes unfenced. In fact, it was a very pleasant descent (with the odd boggy stream) but it would be a slog in the other direction - be warned.

Ascent of GW/SW-005
Re the original report I wanted to point out that our life on the South Wales hills isn’t aways so idyllic. Just 3 days later (trying to get fit for the December onslaught!) we set out again on a Wednesday to go up Fan Fawr GW/SW-005 (this time west of the highest summit Pen y Fan (GW/SW-001) rather than east on Waun Rydd). First we got snarled up in the horrendous Hereford traffic which was further constrained by a trench across the ‘northern by-pass’ so that was 20 mins late. We had decided to try the less steep route up the hill so passed the burger van (looks a bit posher now) in an almost empty car park (for Pen y Fan) on the A470 and continued towards Merthy Tydfil, turning off towards Neath and parking almost immediately near the Beacons Reservoir.

We were late but that wouldn’t be unusual and we had allowed a fairly long time for the gentle plod up the ridge. I changed, tied the poles onto my sack as Rod was taking HF so had a full sack. I leant down into the car for my radio bag - it wasn’t there! Panic, where was it? Oh, that’s all right it’s safe and sound… under the dining room table!! Not a good omen but I was lucky as a spare VHF was rustled up but NOTHING else as the ‘spares box’ was also in the dining room (this time on purpose as we weren’t doing another hill). Fortunately it seemed that the only useful thing in my bulging plastic radio bag was actually the radio (why do I bring the other items??) and a spare battery but I also had one of those in my bumbag along with logs, pencils etc. To cheer me up slightly, I remembered that Rod had made a similar mistake, some years ago, when we alighted at Church Stretton station for him to go east (Caer Caradoc - which I wanted to chase) and me west (Pole Bank). He reached for his VX-7 (so that we could chat now and then as we ascended) in the rucksack pocket and it wasn’t there! Fortunately his newly acquired KX3 had a 2m fm facility so I could get the vital 2m s2s (but not on 70cm - I’m still waiting…) but checking our progress on the routes up and down wasn’t feasible.

Having been handed the spare VX7, I then realised the bag had contained a belt and holster and so the radio went into the coat ‘map’ pocket with the stick aerial sticking into my neck/mouth. OK we need a spare holster in the car! Up the road for a very short distance, over the cattle grid and up beside the trees on a faint path which grew stronger especially the frequent wet bits (I think it had rained since John M0WIV had been there). We were walking straight into a cold WNW wind but with some sunshine. Looking over to Pen y Fan and seeing it (just) in cloud was cheering as it was our alternative choice for the day. We could see that the car park was soon filling up so many people will have found it a bit colder up there than expected.

Finding a spot as high as possible and with good take-off (the snags of 2m/70cm fm) and out of the wind but with minimum exposure (vertigo!) was more a challenge than usual with the wind in the ‘wrong’ direction but the sun did a great job in compensating. Starting with s2s with Paul and Gerald (GW6GGGP and GW8CXK) on Gt Rhos (GW/MW-002) was a great start. Thanks especially to Gerald who I dragged away from his HF aerial erecting - it sounds as if he was (too?) busy later! Also a s2s with MW0GWG, Richard on Mynydd Cymrhos (GW/MW-034) in deep mid-Wales and only my second chase of that summit. I took over an hour (I was waiting for M0JLA on HF and eating some lunch - a rare luxury!) to reach 17 contacts (2m - 12, 70cm -5) but was very pleased to have qualified Fan Fawr on 70cm as I have had to give up on some previous occasions. My problem is that Corn Du and Pen y Fan are somewhat in the way from Cheltenham and other such spots with many enthusiastic chasers. We then packed up, with time to spare so made a rare pilgrimage to the trig point (715m rather than our 734m and probably not in the AZ) through some good bogs. The wind was even more relentless there so I didn’t even bother to photgraph the red dragon stencilled on the white trig (it is fading a bit) and we found a path to cut the corner off and get us back on the right spur.

This all sounds OK - what else could possibly go wrong…? Just before joining the road Rod noticed a large stile and small path going into the wood so we could avoid the walk down the rather busy road. Over he went and so I dutifully followed - the stile was quite good - but the path wasn’t. I have no idea where it went but it went on for ever and chose all the bogs, and rock steps available before getting narrower and narrower so I had to push hard to get my sack and poles through. This was annoying when the trees were conifers but more unpleasant when holly and gorse joined in. By then it was too late to turn round and choose the sensible route. We eventually arrived on the forest track beside a metal large green box making thumping noises (pumping??) with a power source and a back up system with gas bottles all guarded by metal fences and (apparently?) CCTV! Then over another stile and back to the car. If you see the stile on the way down, just forget it as you can easily investigate the machinery from the car park rather than through the jungle - unless you are feeling short of little adventures!

Certainly a much easier route for bagging 6 points than from the burger van/Storey Arms) eventhough you start 40m lower but it does make our usual (uptil now) habit of parking in the middle and swapping summits a bit more of a challenge as going up Pen y Fan from the Beacons Reservoir looked like hard work BUT you wouldn’t be surrounded by hordes of people and on a hard paved path.
Viki M6BWA

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