GW4OBK Completion GW/MW Area

A little late from last Friday, my report of the activation of GW/MW-020 Esgair Ddu, taken from my blog

As a Chaser and Activator Completist I get great satisfaction to finish off a SOTA Area or Association and this activation on GW/MW-020 finished off the GW/MW forty summit grouping for me. I completed the GW/SW area a few years ago and I hope to one day complete the GW/NW area. I still need to climb 24 out of the 77 summits in the North Walian area, having chased them all several times. Route taken to GW/MW-020:

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The start point for GW/MW-020 is well documented - at the end of a track at SH 892106. Parking place for one car in an extended passing point with the farm track junction going to the summit opposite:

I set out at 07:45 and finished the walk in the summit area at 09:00, over a distance of 1.8 miles with an ascent of 1000 feet. Over the distance the walk was full of sheep - once I got through the first gate. I reached the unoccupied farm at Craig-For and exited to the rear of it up the Nant Fford gully behind the farm up on to the higher moorland.

Craig-For Farmhouse - the climbing proper starts to the rear of the farm - nice sky…

Alan (GW4VPX) had told me that the direct line above the gully to Esgair Ddu highest point across was boggy marshland.

View towards my target for activating over the drier moorland towards that wood

Weighing up the 25m activation drop zone I walked over the relatively dry land towards the wood and trig point. I set up my 5m travel pole against a fence post there at SH 872100:

There were good views south to the wind farm on Mynydd y Cemmaes, but I felt the large plateau would be a useless site on which to propagate a signal with basic equipment on VHF. I could hear fellow Mountain Goat @M1HAX/P on Burton Hill G/WB-020, but Richard was running 50 watts and whip against my 5 watts and whip, so my calls went unanswered… I gave up and got on with connecting my Elecraft KX3 (10 watts HF 5 watts on 50 MHZ) and associated HF equipment.

View through my antenna to the wind farm to the south

As on the other five activations in the week I started off on the 60m band, working a handful of stations in CW/SSB. I was on my own with time on my hands, the summit was comfortable. Conditions on the air were pretty good too… An earlier CQ on 2m had produced no result then I saw that local MW7GWR (Dave) had spotted on SOTAWatch that he heard me then I dissapeared (probably on to HF). I gave him a call on S20 to break my duck and there he was for a brief chat - there were no more takers. I did my usual run through 40m, 30m, then 20m but with my dipole linked for 30m I tuned it with the KX3 ATU for 10 metres. Success - QSOS with eleven EU stations on CW in seven minutes on 10m as I hit a purple patch of sporadic E, best contact being with my long time friend Jan operating outside the Czech Republic as OE/OK2PDT/P on OE/NO-137. Roger F5LKW was also worked on 10m and suggested we try 6m after I had done the business on 10m. I moved to 6m and with 20m dipole tuned again via the ATU, and worked two Frenchmen - alas not Roger but Eric F5JKK and Nicolas F5MDY! ODX on the day was at 0940z (early for 20m) over the pond to KD1CT on CW. This is Robert, who lives in New Hampshire:

All told I ended up with 78 QSOs - a record number for GW/MW-020 and the first ever QSOs from there ever recorded on 6m and 10m. This activation was also the completion of the 40 summit GW/MW area for me - this was “proper completion” as I have also worked all 40 summits from my home QTH as a Chaser several times - very satisfying to finish, leaving me GW/NW to complete for the whole of Wales! God willing, with a following wind, I may just do it.


Well done Phil, nice haul of contacts proving that having some flexibility in choice of bands gives you the best chance of success, and congratulations on the completion. I have yet to activate a single Welsh summit!


Plenty of time for Wales for you Mark, young fellow! I’ve found it is more rugged than the Lake District generally, apart from the Western Fells. I still have some tough ones to get in Wales before I call an end to activating. It’s not an easy drive over there for me due to the congestion in a morning around the M60/M56. Once you get beyond Wrexham the driving becomes enjoyable.

I’m glad I traded the KX2 in for the KX3, not only do I now have a built in ATU in the new-to-me radio but also the 6m band. During the summer if there are Es around any bit of tuned wire seems to be enough to get a few SOTA QSOs with chasers.

Any antenna software experts (EZNEC etc) who have analysed a 20m, 30m or 40m inverted vee dipole at 5m I wonder if anyone experience antenna software users can tell me which would be the best band on my linked dipole to tune the antenna best to on 6m? A few of us have determined that on 10m a 3/2 dipole - i.e. 30m band length seems to work OK.

All the best Mark, and thanks for putting the G/LD on on HF so much. Hoping we’ll get another S2S when I get back out in August. Planning to activate a Yorkshire summit for Yorkshire Day on August 1st.

73 Phil

Good stuff Phil. Funnily enough, this wasn’t our final GW/MW summit, but our penultimate one! In fact it was our penultimate summit for all GW - so our excursion there was relatively recent. Interesting your use of the AZ rule. We went to the true summit - always going to be the case with a “purist” like Jimmy leading the walk! In fact it was fine underfoot; nothing too unpleasant or tricky at all.

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Well done Phil, great achievement, won’t take you long to mop up the NW section too.
73 Roger

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I’ve read that somewhere so I recently gave it a try and the result was to say the least disappointing. I couldn’t hear anything and the RBN network didn’t hear me either.

Theoretically it is supposed to work as it’s 5 half-wavelengths but I drew a blank. But I might try again someday.

If there was no sporadic E - a summer phenomenon that starts in April and ends in August, you would have probably heard nothing and so did the RBN. I was lucky on that day. But most days around this time of year there will be be some Es propagation out to around 1500 miles on 12m 10m and 6m - it might only be for a short few minutes or it could last all day and sometimes into the night. The sporadic E if a significant amount, will also result in inter G contacts on 40m 30m and 20m etc between 100 and 400 miles. It’s hit and miss, you probably weren’t lucky when you tried.

73 Phil

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I’ve made a 6m Slim Jim which fits well on a 6m pole as it’s a little over 4m long but it is a bit bulky and of course being vertical only works for skywave contacts as almost everyone is using a horizontal antenna. I was heard in NA recently with just 10W - but that was on FT8.

With the unreliability of Es propagation I feel I carry enough equipment to be sure of qualifying and whilst I like working 6m DX from home or chasing 6m SOTA its not worth trying on the hill where it can be uncomfortable and time constrained. So 6m contacts or indeed DX, S2S etc is extra flavour on top of the basic need to make as many contacts as I can within the time I want to spend on the summit. Often the environment is not conducive to experimenting with antennae or studying the propagation. For me, my home shack and garden is the place for that.

73 Phil


Most days there are nice E’s at present. However, Sunday morning there were none at all - ruining the 6m CW three hour contest some of us were looking forward to!

It’s all right Tom. The last few years there has always been plenty of Es on 6m when we are setting up for VHF FD with the propagation failing on the stroke of 1400Z. The other year we checked the antenna was all cushty, gave the radio a tune and worked a few EA8s without noticing the PA was in bypass.

It’ll be the same this year or if there’s Es, it will be Noah’s floods and strong winds.

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Congrats Phil on completion! Looking forward to hear you next time.

Vy 73 de Markus, HB9DIZ

Me and my dad Tom M1EYP did a slightly different route to get to the summit of Esgair Ddu GW/MW-020. We parked at the same parking spot as Phil G4OBK and Allan GW4VPX and followed their route up to the T-Junction. At this junction Phil G4OBK and Allan GW4VPX turned left and headed for the abandoned farm. We turned right at this junction and then shortly after, we turned left onto a good track which is not marked on the OS Map which covers most of the ascent of this hill. I found out about this track by looking at the Google Satellite and seeing it in the view at the start of the walk when walking up to the T-Junction. This track does come to an end, but by then most of the ascent is done and it is a case of following your nose to the summit. There is some rough ground and some steep ascent at this point, but isn’t too bad and I am sure that the steep ascent from the abandoned farm is much more difficult.

Jimmy M0HGY

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