On a nice day, this makes a good walk of about 12 km, taking in Arenig Fawr at 850 m altitude, and Moel Llyfnant at 751 m, passing a range of different terrain and scenery along the way.
On this day, the forecast was for a weather front to pass through with some rain, clearing in the afternoon. As I parked up at the start of the track, grid ref SH828369, it was raining steadily and there was a stiff breeze. I kitted up accordingly and set off up the track. The summit was shrouded in cloud, and the wind was gaining strength.
I leave the track and follow a wall Eastwards across gently rising boggy ground, and as the route becomes steeper and more firm under foot, it also becomes more exposed and the wind is noticeably stronger. Looking back, there is a full arc of rainbow, though my basic phone camera doesn’t do it justice:
I press on, and as I pass through a section of rocky outcrops, the wind is very strong, and the horizontal rain stings my face. I shelter behind a rock, and consider whether it is sensible to continue. I decide that it is, and a few minutes later the rain eases and I carry on.
Crossing a relatively level section at around 650 m, the wind is almost too strong to stand up in, and walking is very difficult, but although I am now in thick cloud - or perhaps because of that - the rain has eased.
As I approach the summit, the wind pressure on me reduces enormously, though I can still hear it whistling and tearing over the crags. I have noticed this before on high points, and suppose that the wind strikes the sloping ground and rises up it, overshooting the peak.
I glance at my watch, and am surprised to see that I am pretty much on time. It felt very slow, and hard work.
I set up on 2m FM with FT817 and wire J pole at 5 m. The SWR is not good, as normal in thick wet cloud. The antenna is pretty well sealed, so I think that this is moisture build up on the webbing of the 450 ohm feeder that it is made from, affecting the dielectric.
A nice crop of contacts follow straight away, thank you all, though there is some debate about whether we should be saying good morning, or good afternoon. What a civilised hobby!
I put this down to Local / UTC confusion and think no more of it.
A cloudy summit:
I have completed this route three times before, but never had to leave this summit in poor visibility. A glance at the watch tells me that I am ahead of schedule, and it is too early for lunch, so I pack up and move on.
Something isn’t right about the path, but I’m not sure what. A heavy rain shower arrives, so I take the opportunity to huddle in my bothy bag and check the map. I pull out the compass. It doesn’t seem to make sense with the few clues available to me. The recent topic on this reflector about reverse magnetising of compass needles floats through my mind. Why didn’t I check that. I hypothesise that that this has happened, but it still doesn’t make sense.
I have only walked for a few minutes from the summit, so I decide to climb back up to it. This is easy, as I just keep going up until there is no more up to go.
Now I do what I should have done before setting off. I study the map and confirm that the compass is working correctly (knowing the route I took to get here, and having noted the direction from which I arrived). I set a bearing, and study the contours that I expect to encounter.
I set off again into the murk, and this time it feels right. Soon, I am ascending a subsidiary summit as expected. As if to reward my recovery, the cloud lifts and views open up. This is one of my favourite upland sections, with many small peaty pools. Here is a view across to Moel Llyfnant, where I am heading:
I follow along the ridge, then turn west and drop down onto the coll, crossing over to start the ascent of Moel Llyfnant. There is a possible escape route from here, and I check my watch. It is only half an hour since I left the last summit. Wow, a fast time. Wait a minute, that can’t be right. I check again. The second hand is just twitching, but not moving round. Flat battery. A moment of concern, then I remember my phone. All is well as dusk is still hours away. (I have a head torch, anyway).
It is a steep climb from here, but the going is generally good over rough grass. About 100m from the top, my right knee develops a sharp pain at every step. I am not aware of twisting or knocking it, but it is decidedly unhappy. Thank goodness for walking poles. I pause and consider the escape route. This is the furthest point from the car, though, and the escape option is not much shorter, just less exposed. I carry on, slowly, to the summit. Hurrah, I think, sitting down for a while will probably sort this. I hobble around setting up the dipole for 30m, and call CQ. SM7DIE comes straight back, and we complete the QSO. There is a wall of sound as, I think, RBNhole does its magic. At times like this I am especially grateful for it. On the 12th contact, a gust lifts the dipole off its support, and it lands at my feet. The received signals sound much the same, but clearly my signals have dropped, and there is some confusion. It all goes quiet. I struggle to my feet and find that sitting down has not helped, and the pain is worse. I shout some ungentlemanly words as I re attach the wire, and this makes me feel better.
I announce my return, and the patient chasers call again, thank you all.
On arrival at the summit, I have scribbled the summit reference incorrectly, and instead of assuming that everyone will pick it up from the RBNHole spot, I feel that I should really send it. I send the wrong one. A couple of QSOs later, someone calls in to check the ref. I realise my mistake, and hastily send a different, but still incorrect reference. This would have become apparent when they tried to enter a log, as the gibberish I sent did not represent an existing summit.
My left hand, which is holding the paddle against the log book, forms an alliance with my right knee, and starts to cramp up. Dots and dashes fly everywhere. Happily I am reaching the end of the pile up, and after a couple of unanswered CQs - at least, they were intended to be CQs - I close down.
A look across to where I was earlier, now free of cloud:
I pack up, and hobble off across the summit. The descent on the fairly steep and rough section is very slow and uncomfortable. I stop halfway, and bandage the knee. I’m not sure what this is supposed to do, but hey, if it is good enough for professional tennis players, it must do something! My first aid kit consists of one bandage, and one plaster.
It helps a little, but is still making me wince at every step. There is no phone signal here, and I haven’t seen a living soul all day. I reflect that at least I can walk. Being immobile would be far less fun at this point. Food for thought.
I take stock of my options. The route I had intended to take follows the eastern side of the valley. It is the shortest distance, but part of it is very rough and boggy.
I found that keeping my leg straight was the best option, and so I choose the longer flatter route along a vehicle track, and then a disused railway. It is about 4 Km to the car, and I alternately count steps, and visualise the cup of tea I will make when I arrive.
Back at last, water on to boil. And actually, the disused railway is a very pleasant place, following as it does for much of the way, a large and lively stream which burbled along beside me. The surface is very flat and level, and consists largely of sheep nibbled grass. I couldn’t have asked for better.
The drive home takes about 90 minutes, and I had to stop half way for a stretch as both legs cramped up.
Knee still very sore when I got home, climbing and descending stairs difficult.
By next morning, much recovered, and I managed the 1 mile walk to work at a fairly normal pace. Much relieved, as I really thought I had done myself a mischief.
My best guess is that the wind battered ascent at the start of the day took a lot out of me, this being the first long walk for just over a month, and perhaps I should have prepared more.
Definitely one to remember, and now looking forward to the next.
Grateful thanks to all chasers, and sorry again for the reference silliness!