Mission unaccomplished

G3CWI, M3EYP and myself set out for our Xmas SOTA outing this morning at 7am, heading straight to Lymm Truck Stop for breakfast. The original plan was to do Cyrniau Nod GW/NW-034, but the lane approaching it was impassable from about 5km south of the parking spot, due to thick ice across the road surface.

We changed plan to Carnedd y Filiast GW/NW-032, a very long walk, but accessible from a main road. After the failure to reach the access point for Cyrniau Nod, the subsequent discussions as to replanning, and a brew stop in Bala, it was about 11am when we began walking up the track opposite the lake.

Most of this route, once above the initial climb, was damp and squidgy - not with mud or peat, but with fast thawing ice and snow, which was nonetheless rather thick in places. After a long descending section we reached a stream that needed to be forded. However, there was a lot of fast moving water cascading across, and fording did not look possible.

A couple of rocks that could be used to get across were identified, even though the water was rushing over these as well. After much debate and testing, we decided to go for it. Once on the other side, we pressed on with the long slog. At about 100m vertically below the summit, and less than 1km from it, the snow became so deep - but soft - that we were slowing down alarmingly. With the snow situation worsening as we gained altitude and knowing that the steepest sections were right towards the end, we assessed our likely summit and activation times against remaining daylight.

The priority was to have got down and back across that stream before sunset. With no possibility of that if we pressed onto the summit for an activation, we reluctantly turned back. It was a very long walk back, and we reached the car just as darkness was taking hold around 5pm.

This hill is a very long walk indeed, and frustratingly we had got so close - but we will have to revisit it another day. However, the day was not yet done, and we went to a pub in Bala for a pint of X-Mws (X-Moose) Ale, and thence onto Llangollen for a hearty meal (and more beer - Robinson’s Mr Scrooge).


In reply to M1EYP:

A wise decision Tom, there is still a fair way to go after the stream and at that time of the day we would have done the same…Filiast beat Karen and I on our first attempt due to very low cloud base.

Glad you are all O.K. though…Regards, Neil & Karen

In reply to M1EYP:

Makes me realise how lucky I was doing Cleeve Hill yesterday. The last mile or so of the road to the top was only passable with great care, mostly due to the slush. If it hadn’t been for the constant traffic of dog owners in 4x4s It would have been one big snow drift. Even so I decided to stop after only 40 mins and head back down.

I have no idea what the views are like from the top since the fog made the vis only about 100m.

In reply to M1EYP:
A very wise retreat, Tom. It is, as you say, a long walk in, and I can imagine what that stream looked like. Also, that steep section, being in a bit of a gully, would have been treacherous as the ground is uneven. It will still be there in 2011.

HNY to all of you

Dave, G6DTN

Important things missed off the original report:

Richard G3CWI crossed the raging torrent 4 times, while Jimmy and I just did it twice.

Soup of the day was Thai Tom Yam.

I put £3 into the Word Soup game on the pub It-Box machine in Llangollen. But I took £13 out of it! Hence a far from unsuccessful day!


In reply to M1EYP:

“Important things missed off the original report:”

Were the beers any good? The hills will still be there next time but the beers are seasonal ;0)

In reply to GW7AAV:

I think Tom knows why it was mission unaccomplished - embodied in the phrases “Lymm Truck Stop” and “brew stop in Bala”.

In reply to G4OIG:

Or even a “7pm” start ?

Either late or very early !

73 Graham

EDIT - Hi Tom, I see you have changed the start time to 7am, much more reasonable - hi !

In reply to G4OIG:

I think Tom knows why it was mission unaccomplished - embodied in the
phrases “Lymm Truck Stop” and “brew stop in Bala”.

In his rush to write his report, Tom seems to have lost sight of what the mission was.

As I recall it, the mission was to have a good day out. Essential ingredients were the Lymm Truckstop for breakfast, mugs of tea in cafes, exotic soup, festive beers and a good meal - all in good company. Oh, and a walk (both strenuous and exciting at times) to justify it all.

Admittedly we did miss out the SOTA activation but to do so would have compromised our drinking time. Actually the whole day ended perfectly because Jimmy is now determined to cross this hill off his list as soon as possible so one trip has spawned another one. It doesn’t come much better than that.



In reply to G3CWI:

The hills are their own justification, an activation is a bonus!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4OIG:

I think Tom knows why it was mission unaccomplished - embodied in the >phrases “Lymm Truck Stop” and “brew stop in Bala”.

Not so Gerald. An extra 45 minutes saved by avoiding breakfast and the later mug of tea would not have been enough to have allowed us to decide to continue the ascent and undertake the activation. The going in the deep wet snow was getting very difficult and we still had the trickiest section to come.

Besides, I wouldn’t have made it anywhere near as far as I did without a decent breakfast inside me! Might work for you in giving you extra time Gerald, but would definitely be a “false economy” for me.

I think the biggest effect on our available time was the fact that NW-032 was not our intended summit. We were trying to get to NW-034, but had to retreat by reversing considerable distances down narrow icy roads. My back did not enjoy that at all. After that, we needed the brew stop in Bala to consult road atlas and maps to hatch a revised plan.

However, I think Richard sums things up more appropriately. We still had a good day out doing some fine walking, eating and drinking. The lack of radio was but a minor hiccup. NW-032 and NW-034 may now consider themselves “targeted” by the EYPs.


In reply to M1EYP:
The going in the deep wet snow was getting very difficult and we still had the
trickiest section to come.

Deep wet snow = avalanche risk.

A good decision, then, whichever way you look at it.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to M1EYP:

Hi Tom

NW-032 is a heartbreaking slog - 6km, with that awful 100m loss of elevation on the ascent (and even worse 100m climb on the descent!)And that stream crossing is certainly interesting at the best of times. Definitely a hard work hill, you have my heartfelt sympathy. Better luck on the next visit :wink:

73 de Paul G4MD

In reply to M1EYP:

Besides, I wouldn’t have made it anywhere near as far as I did without a decent breakfast inside me! Might work for you in giving you extra time Gerald, but would definitely be a “false economy” for me.

I’d get nowhere if I adopted that MO Tom - Paul and I usually pass close to your QTH around 05:30 and by that time I’ve already been away from home for two and a half hours!

I think the biggest effect on our available time was the fact that NW-032 was not our intended summit.

This is where planning comes in. Boring as it may be to plan your day out, a “Plan B” should be a lesser target than the original one as you will have spent time trying to get to where you wanted to go.

Anyway, it was the right call on the hill - safety first every time. Paul and I came off NW-032 in a blizzard and walked in the dark for the final section which seemed to drag on a bit and it was slippery in places. We were pleased to arrive at the car to rest our aching legs, having activated NW-027 in the morning. Nice hills - maybe get back there sometime.

All the best for your return.

73, Gerald G4OIG

Yes, it’s definitely a super walk in great surroundings. I’m already looking forward to returning to it, and don’t begrudge the fact that I’ve already walked 75% of it!

We were discussing the relative merits of doing NW-027 as well the same day. This (for me) would require an early start having overnighted in the area beforehand. But whether to do two linear walks and a car repositioning halfway through, or go for the more direct traverse from one summit to the other?

The latter approach resulted in a very long road walk for Richard at the end of the day, a few years ago, he told me. I don’t fancy that, but wonder if there is a bus service along that road? Alternatively, could team up with other activators and strategically position two cars beforehand.


In reply to M1EYP:

But whether to do two linear walks and a car repositioning halfway through, or go for the more direct traverse from one summit to the other?

I would definitely go for the car repositioning approach - it’s only a few minutes down the road from one parking spot to the other, but it would add considerably to your walk. I don’t think the ground between the summits is that pleasant either.

You’ll find the details of the parking spot for NW-027 in the Activation Report that Paul and I produced - if you need more detail on the ascent route, just let me know. I think Paul may have the GPS track.

73, Gerald G4OIG

In reply to G8TMV:

Makes me realise how lucky I was doing Cleeve Hill yesterday.

I have no idea what the views are like from the top since the fog made
the vis only about 100m.

Visibiliy of 100m on Cleeve Hill… you were lucky :slight_smile:

The unaccomplished mission has now been accomplished, and on a great day too.

As Richard G3CWI mentions above, Jimmy M3EYP has had Carnedd y Filiast GW/NW-032 at the forefront of his mind ever since. A clear Saturday - both diary-wise and weather-wise - presented itself, so Jimmy was quick to negotiate a pass-out, and to invite Richard G3CWI and Edward M6NSR for the outing.

I was anticipating picking up both Edward and Richard before returning to the home QTH to collect Jimmy, but to my surprise he was up, dressed and down in the kitchen making us both a mug of tea shortly after 0530. As such, the four of us were driving west out of Macclesfield by 0600 on Saturday 19th March 2011.

With the early start, we had agreed to drive over to Bala before stopping for breakfast. This we did, courtesy primarily of the M56 and A494, arriving outside Y Badell Aur cafe in good time, not long after 8am. The full cooked breakfasts were very good and enjoyable, if on the expensive side, and set us up well for the long walk ahead.

After breakfast, I switched on the JimNav and he directed me down the A4212 to the lakeside layby at SH858410. However, we then decided to backtrack a little and drive a short distance up the access track at SH860410, parking in a wide turning circle at SH858411. This possibly saved us a total of 30 minutes walking time over the day, even though it was a tiny fraction of the overall route.

Rucksacks, poles and coats were donned, although the latter would not be tolerated by any of us for long. We climbed up the increasingly rough track out of the wooded area, and onto the hillside where it climbed gradually as it weaved around. The sun was out on a glorious Snowdonia morning, and we had soon warmed up. Coats and fleeces were removed as some of us went to walking in shirt sleeves for the first time in 2011. The bright sunshine and blue sky illuminated a colourful and beautiful vista all around us. What a great day to be walking.

It was quite a contrast to the first and unsuccessful attempt in December 2010, when deep snow and slow progress led to an abandonment when 75% of the way to the summit. That was a good day’s winter walking, but nothing compared to the dry, bright and clear conditions enjoyed now.

In quick time, we had reached the stream at SH872431 that had nearly beaten us in December. That had required moving downstream for a very tricky crossing on rocks in a deep and fast-flowing torrent. Today we hopped across some fairly straight-forward yet non-trivial stepping stones at the ford over the track. This had been under 18 inches of water last time. We also noted how much quicker we had been in reaching this point, so much so that it completely confused Richard’s Satmap (I assume) for G3CWI was assuring me that we were “nowhere near the stream yet” as we descended towards it!

On the other side, we had the long gradually climb up to the point where we did finally abandon the expedition in December, as we looked left to see a steeper track filled with four feet of wet snow. This time, we just walked up it. I was now walking with Edward, who seemed to match my pace, and also seemed to want rests at the same time as me. Jimmy was already on summit, and soon to be joined by Richard who had strode out ahead.

As Ed and I emerged from the steep section, we across to see the trig point with a SOTA Beam sticking out of it on the horizon, and also another figure waving a fishing pole in the air. A short boggy final ascent had us all reunited. Edward joined Jimmy by the trig point to share the 2m FM station, while I found a sheltered spot lower down to erect the MM17 vertical with groundplane. Richard had also settled into a similar sheltered spot and was QRV on 30m on his PP3 battery. I later apologised to him for the QRM caused by being so close. Although on a different band, I hadn’t allowed for the lack of rejection and filtering in his rudimentary 30m rig.

On 17m CW, I made 19 contacts into 11 DXCCs - 9A, DL, GW, HA, HB, LZ, RA, UN, UR, VE and W. Jimmy made 15 QSOs on 2m FM. Jimmy and I guzzled down the entire one litre flask of Baxters Chilli Beef, Lentil and Buckwheat soup in one sitting, before packing away. Descent was a simple reversal of the ascent route, and with the satisfaction of now successfully activating GW/NW-032, the 100m of climb required on the “descent” did not seem too painful.

We were back at the car around 2pm, so in position to select another summit to activate before heading home. After some discussion, we opted for Moel Gyw GW/NW-053 in that it would be a new unique for Edward and that it is one of Richard’s very favourite hills.


The car journey to Moel Gyw GW/NW-053 on Saturday 19th March 2011 was a straightforward one. From our parking spot for Carnedd y Filiast GW/NW-032 we just had to return down the A4212 to the A494 at Bala. We did return into Bala town centre for three of the party (everyone except me) to buy more water, although I did get myself a couple of cans of Red Bull to support concentration at the wheel.

We now had a longish drive North East along the A494 through Ruthin, until we reached the Clywd Gate Motel, where we parked in the large car park. Richard mentioned a long held but as yet unhatched plan to do the pair of Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051 and Moel Gyw GW/NW-053 from this position. Not today though, we crossed the road by the motel - quite dangerous on a blind bend - and ambled down the farm access track along the Offa’s Dyke Path route.

Having crossed the stile into the field, I remarked that the slog up the grass was arguably as steep as anything encountered today. There was general agreement, but not despair as it only took a couple of minutes before we were on level ground contouring around the base of Moel Gyw. I mentioned to Edward that it would not be a good idea to attempt to access the summit directly up the very steep and gorse-clad slope!

Jimmy and Richard had strode out ahead again, but this was fine. I was now realising that Edward was a compatible walking partner for me with a similar pace and moreover that he seemed to run out of steam at exactly the same time as me! As we turned sharply to make the final climb to the summit, I suggested to Edward that now would be a good time to unleash his big packet of milk chocolate digestives! As I searched his rucksack for them, I noted that he still had loads of lunch items remaining. “Don’t worry” he said, “I will eat all that on this summit”! We topped out, powered by three chocolate digestives each, to find Jimmy already set and QRV on 2m FM, and Richard nearly completing his own set up for 30m CW.

I continued walking to the cairn at the northern end of the small summit, but hopefully far enough away to avoid causing Richard any QRM. Plus, it is a spot I really like with a lovely view and very relaxing on such a nice day. 17m CW brought in 11 QSOs into 6 DXCCs: DJ, GW, HA, OM, UR and W. Eleven was also the number recorded by Jimmy on 2m FM.

The four of us descended together and reached the Clwyd Gate Motel car park fairly quickly. One objective remained, and that was post-expedition refreshments. Entirely predictably, we pulled in at the We Three Loggerheads pub on the A494, where Richard and I were impressed by the guest Titanic Brewery ale on offer. Jimmy also switched to that after kicking off with a Black Sheep Ale, while Edward, perhaps wisely, stuck to the J2Os despite being well into his 19th year.

On the M56, we heard the shocking news that Marianne and Liam had been entertaining Mr & Mrs M0GIA and family in our absence, and between them all had polished off the entire roast dinner. Therefore, after dropping Ed off, we had no option but to call in at the Weston Balti Raj for a sit down meal. Poppadoms & chutneys, followed by meat samosas, followed by Badshahi Kanaana (house special dish of king prawns, potato and green chillis) with keema rice, was washed down by Bangla Beer. Home, and time for Match of the Day - perfect!


We now seem to have hit upon a workable formula we can take forward. Jimmy likes uniques. So do I, but I have nothing against revisiting nice hills. Jimmy doesn’t really like planning for whole days out without any new uniques, but doesn’t mind doing a repeat as a second (lesser) summit after a unique. This is especially the case when the repeat would be a unique for his mate Edward M6NSR who is tagging along on most SOTA day outings these days.

So the next Welsh outing is likely to be the combination of Cyrniau Nod GW/NW-034 (unique) and Foel Goch GW/NW-039 (repeat, and one of my favourites).

Other GW daytrips will be spawned as a result of other shocking revelations that have been brought to my attention. But it is not for me to say! And there are shocking revelations of my own that my 256 activator uniques do not even include things like Carnedd Llewelyn, Moel Siabod or any of the Glyders. Plus I want to do the horseshoe of NW-008, NW-001 and NW-019 again - on a nice day. So I expect quite a few more drives along the M56 and A494/A55 yet.