Moel Famau GW/NW-044 and Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051 are popular and well-known SOTA summits, consistently commanding prominent positions in the “Most Popular Summits” table as well as on the skyline as one drives westbound down the M56. I have to admit I’d never heard of them before SOTA, but they are now considered ‘old friends’.
The selection for Sunday 16th May 2010 needed to include a suitable summit for a four hour activation in the 2m Backpackers Contest, and so this was an obvious pairing. Jimmy’s mate Edward joined us for the trip, which commenced with another legendary breakfast at the Lymm Truck Stop. Ed particularly enjoyed his initiation!
Jimmy had forgotten to bring the road atlas, but it was unnecessary anyway as he directed me easily to Mold and thence up to Bwlch Penbarras. Two mountain rescue ambulances were in attendance as we arrived, but I wasn’t sure whether for an incident or an exercise.
After paying and displaying, we commenced up the newly pitched steps and stairways to Foel Fenlli GW/NW-051. This made the going a lot easier - and safer than previous years. The plan at the summit was to activate on handhelds only to collect the points quickly and cheaply. The day was heavily weighted in favour of making a more substantial contribution on the second hill of the day.
All went to plan, and we were soon descending the hill. I decided to pull a fast one, and let Jimmy overtake me and zoom ahead along the fort ramparts for our usual graded descent that avoided the previously steep eroded terrain. With him a suitable distance in front, I quietly and sneakily veered right down the stairway to compare progress.
As it was, I beat Jimmy and Edward (Jedward) to the car park and pressed on up the lower, wider “blue” route to Moel Famau GW/NW-044. I picked up the pace to see if I could stay ahead of Jimmy all the way to the summit. In fact, I somehow widened the gap and summited well before the two teenagers. To be fair, they weren’t racing me, preferring to enjoy a leisurely stroll and a natter. Indeed, it was a walk to be enjoyed under bright sunshine, blue sky and great views over the nearby valleys and over to Snowdonia, whose individual peaks could be identified on the skyline.
At the summit, I was greeted by Neil 2E0TDX and Karen 2E0XYL who had walked up to meet us. It was useful to have a helping hand from them as I struggled to pitch the tent/shelter in the very strong wind. Having loops and holes damaged from the previous outing (ISW on Gun G/SP-013) didn’t help!
As Jimmy arrived, he was lining up a S2S with Karl MW6CSS/P on Moel Gyw GW/NW-053. Jimmy went on to make a few QSOs with the hand-portable while I completed the main set up of SB3 mounted at 4m on the pole, and FT-817. There were no issues with the set-up, tests revealing everything to be working perfectly - always reassuring five minutes before a contest!
It was a really good session. The QSOs dried up somewhat in the last hour as I struggled through the 60s (serial numbers) with the 24 hour May contest stations off the air, but 68 was still a decent effort. Multipliers which were countries plus locators plus postcodes reached 49, with coverage across the GB mainland from Scotland down to Kent. Disappointingly, there was nothing from the continent, IOM or Ireland, but it was still a very enjoyable afternoon.
S2S made within the contest included G8HXE/P on Pendle Hill G/SP-005, G1OPV/P on Pen-y-ghent G/NP-010, GM1TPO/P on Ward Law GM/SS-119, G1RVK/P on Shining Tor G/SP-004, M3IWN/P on Grasmoor G/LD-009, G1JTD/P on Place Fell G/LD-027, G0LGS/P & M3WDS/P on Worcestershire Beacon G/WB-009 and G0VWP/P on Binsey G/LD-041. Stations worked on Great Orme and Winter Hill were not SOTA qualifying operations, but welcome in my log nonetheless. I heard a few calls, very weakly, from Walt GW3NYY/P, but didn’t catch his location. In any case, he couldn’t hear my replies, not even when I sent them in CW.
As we were packing up, we worked Ed’s dad Ray G0DMV back home in Macclesfield, using just the 2m FM handhelds. I supervised Ed to pass a greetings message to his dad. The walk down was glorious, as the late afternoon just got warmer and brighter. We adjourned to the We Three Loggerheads pub for liquid refreshment, then got on the road back to Cheshire. And yes, the Weston Balti Raj did feature soon after as well!
Many thanks to all who called Jimmy and I on either activation.