GW's circuit on the Rhinog's: A fine welsh winters day activating!

Ben (GW4BML) and I (now GW5OLD) planned a joint activation of the Rhinogs: Moelfre , Y Llethr, Rhonog Fach, Rhinog Fawr a few weeks ago and there was much checking and discussion, hoping for some decent weather to do this tough North Wales circuit. There was no disappointment leading up to the weekend; snow falling from Thursday, a very cold start (-3.5c) and improving conditions during the day… this requiring a full winter plan and gear !

Rearing to go at 6.30am.

The days begins

The day started at 6am with a morning coffee to kick start the climb up Moelfre GW/NW-041. Ben opened the day with a quote “this route is so good it is straight out of a western”. I was somewhat skeptical… little did I know…

It took just over an hour to reach the first summit, the lowest of the day at 589, just about high enough to hit the snowline. The Rough plan for the day was GW4BML to focus on working the pile ups on 40m and GW5OLD to focus on 10m, while cherry picking some s2s.

GW4BML wondering why GW5OLD is being unsociable and sitting outside the summit shelter of Moelfre…
It turns out he is sheltering from the RF breakthrough on his Xiegu after we mistakenly ran both end feds in parallel. It was so bad I could hear GW4BML on every frequency both keying and SSB. I had to resort to timing my contacts in between Ben QSO’s on 40m. Thankfully a contest on 10m helped and I did somehow managed to pick up a couple of nice s2s’s in Europe at this early hour.

Slow rise to Y Llethr

We spent about 30 minutes on the summit, before we headed off onto the slow rise and deep snow of Y Llethr. Just as we approached the summit of Y Llethr, around 10am, we heard the first of many 2m s2s with a call from MW0RWX on GW/NW-042

RF social distancing on Y Llethr.

We decided to run the End Feds at 90 degrees to each other on this summit, and that solved the “Xeigu RF breakthough” problem for the rest of the day…

Until this point we had been mostly in the clouds and they started to clear and at just the right time…

The Descent from Y Llethr to Rhinog Fach… one of the finest descents I’ve done, living up to Ben’s claim “this route is so good it is straight out of a western!

Further down, at the Bealach (Ok, this is a Gaelic/Scotland term - is there a welsh equivalent !!!?) we heard Declan EI6FR/P calling on EI/IE-052. We exchanged QSO’s and promised a s2s on the top of Rhinog Fach, which we achieved 30 minutes later. And like Y Llethr, just as we approached the summit we heard MW0RWX calling s2s again this time from GW/NW-042.

Summit of Rhinog Fawr, no more RF social distancing required now.

We took our time on Rhinog Fawr with Ben using a stove and brewing lunch ! Ben worked another pile up on 40m CW/SSB while I focused on 10m - there was a contest on 10m and this meant it was busy and easy to make QSO’s by answering the contesters, however I only learned that it was actually a transatlantic contest after a European operator told me to sod off. Once I realised, it was very easy to make plenty of contacts just focusing on NA.

We headed off after a good break for the huge drop between Rhonog Fach and Fawr.

Looking over towards Rhinog Fawr… so close yet so far a 500m decent and re-ascent.

At this point the scenery did not disappoint. Another fantastic descent and approach with lots of boulder hopping.

Ascent of Rhinog Fawr.

Final push onto Rhinog Fawr with Rhinog Fach in the distance.

On the summit of Rhinog Fawr Ben decided to try a 11m CB antenna on his KX2, reminding me your Antenna is only as good as the conditions! He promptly managed to put GW5OLD’s 10m 1/4w vertical to shame by working more stations including WB8BHN and NT2A in the US !

Ben with a 11m CB whip, showing GW5OLD’s vertical up. He made two USA QSO’s on this summit and GW5OLD didn’t…

GW5OLD desperately trying match the CB antennas performance and failing

We heard MW0RWX calling a s2s again (third time today) but didn’t get to answer his call as the CB antenna was just to much of a distraction. We did finish the day off with a 2m s2s with Matt MW0KAX/P on the Black Mountain |GW/SW-041|. Lovely 2m DX and a fine day.

Overall a fantastic day and one to remember. Thank you to everyone for chasing and the many summit to summit contacts.

Celebrating on the final trig point…

Looking Back


Great report and photos. So good to get you both on all the summits with a variety of modes and bands. Brilliant.

73 Allan


Hi Ben and Tim, great report and photos. Interesting reading about the antenna problems too. Thanks for the report.

Geoff vk3sq


The most frequently used term is “bwlch”.


If I have got the pronunciation correct, it’s does indeed look like same word!


There is a resemblance, byalach and boolch, I suppose it is to be expected as I’ve read that Gaelic is a younger form of Welsh.

That Rhinogs circuit is a real classic, I envy you the chance to do it under snow!


Looks exhausting! Each of those is enough for a one summit day, but the route does indeed look spectacular.


Give thanks for there not being a SOTA summit in the jumbled mass of rock north of Rhinog Fawr, that area is REALLY exhausting!


Excellent write up @G5OLD Tim, I re-visited the day while reading :slightly_smiling_face: thank you for the great company, it really was a day to remember in more ways than one - especially when my 11m telescopic cb antenna out performed your beast :rofl: I’ve always said, when conditions are there… you know the rest, hahaa. The images came out really well, and we were blessed with wx in the afternoon! Looking forward to the next.

73, Ben


Can I blame the solar storm that arrived that afternoon ? :joy::joy::joy: shame we were not up later for the aurora which by all accounts was epic over Snowdonia.

It was a great day and let’s hope for similar conditions on the next…