GW4OBK Mid Wales activations April 2019

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Three summits in the Cambrian Mountains MW-001/007/008 - 6 April 2019

Taken from my blog

I was in Cardiff for a few days and took time out to drive north near to Aberystwyth on the Saturday to activate three summits I needed for SOTA Complete. The three needed uniques were GW/MW-001 Plynlimon (Chased 21 times), MW-007 Banc Llechwedd-mawr (Chased 7 times) and MW-008 Drosgol (Chased 6 times). I left Cardiff early morning and was walking at 8.55am after what was a 150 minute drive to the side of Nant-y-moch reservoir (Parking at SN775879). Parking place is pictured just off the road end:

I’ve used the GPX tracks shared in the SOTA Mapping Project by Simon G4TJC before in Wales, and found them useful and reliable, so for this walk I had linked the tracks provided by Simon for each summit together and imported them as one into Viewranger - the mapping app on my phone. The route is an unusual one as it relies on two footbridges which have to be crossed twice each. I was prepared for a challenging and long day on pathless moors so I dressed and booted up accordingly. The weather was near enough perfect, albeit a little misty to start, sunshine later and wind on the summits up to around 30 mph. Fortunately all three summits had good stone shelters and piles of stones on them. Here is the route I took:

I was carrying my usual 2m QRO FM equipment which consists of a Yaesu FT1500M, 7amp LIFePo battery, Yaesu VX-170 handheld, 4m fishing pole and 145 MHz end fed dipole. With the higher power I felt I was guaranteed to qualify all three summits. Progress seemed slow and I put this down to what I was carrying and my heavy 4 season boots, which proved essential later when traversing several boggy areas. Even with these on I finished up with wet feet for most of the day, when I veered away from Simon’s track on my way up to Plynlimon from the car. Wet but not cold feet fortunately, as there was enough heat in my feet through walking to prevent them getting cold… It took me 78 minutes to climb up to the shelter on MW-001 Plynlimon, and I settled there operating the radio, resting and taking photos for 45 minutes:

The large and shapely Nant-y-moch reservoir seen from Plynlimon

Back on the route from the col at SN789873 I found sheep runs that led me down to a track running north west of Llyn Llygad Reservoir (pictured) on my way to the first footbridge:

Approaching the bridge which was within my vision, I came across this ruined farmhouse at SN783890:

The first bridge which crossed Afon Hengwm at SN779891 was reached at midday, so it was time to sit in the warm sunshine for 20 minutes and eat my lunch:

The first bridge over Afon Hengwm at SN779891

The pathless route up to the summit of MW-007 was pretty tough with 200m of ascent over a distance of 1 Km, but I got there eventually and set up the FT1500M for a 30 minute session behind the pile of rocks. The summit was not particularly well sited radio wise, but I qualified easily before moving off towards Drosgol MW-008, seen on the right of this photo taken from Banc Llechwedd-mawr MW-007:

Twenty minutes after leaving MW-007 I was looking down on the second gated footbridge, which crosses Afon Llechwedd-mawr. I think it is time the Ordnance Survey marked these two vital river crossings on the 25K map - maybe they already have… I was using the 2014 version of the map…

Climbing up the other side towards MW-008 Drosgol, I spied this impressive and very remote farmhouse to the west of me:

An ice floe in a pool approaching the top of Drosgol

45 minutes from the footbridge I was in the comfortable shelter on Drosgol, my third and last summit:

It was just after 3.00pm and I stayed in the comfort of the shelter resting and operating for an hour - almost exhausting my 7 amp battery whilst in QSO with Welsh, English and Irish stations. It was then back down to the 2nd footbridge and away across the moor to the 1st footbridge which was reached at 5.15pm. From there it was a half hour walk on the track until I reached the car, tired but rewarded with my three SOTA Completes. Driving back along the side of the reservoir I couldn’t resist stopping to take this photo of a highland cow in its prime out of my car window:

On my walk I saw no other person and the only people spoken to were radio amateurs on VHF. I stopped off on my way back to Cardiff for much needed fast food at the BK in Builth Wells. With five hours driving and such a challenging walk overall, I felt I had stretched myself to the limit, however next day I was in fine fettle for the drive back home from Cardiff to North Yorkshire.

Summits climbed:

Plynlimon 752m (MW-001) > Banc Llechwedd-mawr 560m (MW-007) > Drosgol 550m (MW-008)

Distance walked: 8.75 miles

Total Ascent: 2910 feet

Contacts made:

MW-001: 12 (S2S with Simon GW4TJC on NW-068)

MW-007: 5 (S2S with Simon GW4TJC on NW-064)

MW-008: 11 (S2S with Simon GW4TJC again on NW-064)

Posted by Phil G4OBK at 23:59


Great report Phil, these are all still SOTA summits me and my dad Tom M1EYP need to activate at some-point. Probably won’t do all 3 in 1 walk like you and Simon G4TJC did as both and Llechwedd-mawr GW/MW-007 and Drosgol GW/MW-008 both look like really difficult SOTA summits to walk up with them both being remote and steep, we would probably need 1 day just to do these 2 in 1 walk. I would probably walk up Plynlimon GW/MW-001 up thew main route that starts to the south of the summit and maybe add in Disgwylfa Fawr GW/MW-038 as 2nd summit after which is another unique that we still need to do. Also normally when we and my dad Tom M1EYP to walking expeditions that take in multiple SOTA summit, we only take 2m FM hand held and rubber duck with us and an 2m SOTABeams MFD as backup as well, 2m FM hand held and rubber duck would probably work on Plynlimon GW/MW-001, but probably not a chance of this working on Llechwedd-mawr GW/MW-007 and Drosgol GW/MW-008 which is another reason why we probably dedicate 1 whole day for GW/MW-007 and Drosgol GW/MW-008 so that we are able to carry the full 2m and HF equipment. I look forward to seeing some more activation reports from you.

Jimmy M0HGY

Hi Jimmy

Thanks for your feedback. I found out fairly recently that I can write up my blog and then just copy the whole lot into discourse in a matter of minutes without further editing, so I’ve started doing that to supplement my blog.

Also note that M1CJE did all 3 summits as a linear walk a few weeks after me, by getting dropped off and picked up from a different place. That would be the best way to do all 3 in a day for sure if it could be arranged. On a weekend you would likely qualify all 3 on a handheld and MFD, but there would always be a risk of missing out on MW-007 and another day wasted when you could be out bagging other summits if you didn’t have to go back again.

This leaves me with 4 fairly easy ones remaining in Mid Wales for Completes - they will be done later this year as 2 per day. MW-004 and MW-038 one day and MW-012 and MW-020 on another day. Out of the 77 valid summits now in North Wales I still need to activate 32, most which will likely be done on cottage holidays over the next few years if I can persuade my XYL or our walking group that its a good idea to return there for a walking holiday. I don’t bother trying to make QSOs with a rubber duck from summits, the cheap RH770 dual band chinese telescopic is pretty good though, albeit a little fragile at the top. They work better than a straight quarter wave fixed directly on the handheld and are easy to carry. Good luck to you and Tom with finishing them off!

73 Phil G4OBK

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Thank you for the information Phil and good luck with the remaining activations in Wales. Me and my dad Tom M1EYP still have Aran Fawddwy GW/NW-007, Glasgwm GW/NW-015, Y Llethr GW/NW-017 and Y Garn GW/NW-037 to complete the North Wales region and we also have 24 remaining SOTA summits in the Mid Wales region. We are away in Dolgellau from Sunday 2nd June to Friday 7th June and during that week we will be planing to activate the 4 remaining GW/NW SOTA summits plus some the the outstanding GW/MW SOTA summits if all goes to plan, hopefully if the weather is good and we are not tired, we shouldn’t get to tired though as we are planning to have rest days between each day we activate a GW/NW SOTA summit(s) which we will either activate some easier GW/MW SOTA summits or do no activations at all depending on how tired we are feeling. We will probably activate one of your GW/MW pairs you are planning to activate on Sunday 2nd June as we are travelling to Dolgellau which will be Carnedd Wen GW/MW-012 and Esgair Ddu GW/MW-020. I need to look at the maps through with my dad at some-point to plan the activations for that week and after this I will some alerts and also post on new thread explaining about our GW/NW completion that we are hoping to do that week.

Jimmy M0HGY