NW-049 down to NW-047 (Gyrn Moelfre, Mynydd Nodol and Mwdwl-eithin)
10th March 2007
This activation was chosen in preference to my other option of SW-010, 012 and 014 on the basis that I had been out just two days previous on Aran Fawddwy NW-007 and Glasgwm NW-015 with John GW4BVE and I thought that I would most likely be suffering some physical effect from that. However, this was not the case, but I knew that even this group of lowly 2 pointers was not going to be that easy. Therefore, after due consideration, I decided to tackle the steepest first and work my way to the easiest.
My intention was to sleep in until 0415, but as is usually the case, I awoke well in advance of the alarm and Bev and I were both enjoying a brew when my alarm went off. As two days previous, I was able to get ready without the worry of making a noise and again I left Bev reading as I departed at 0436. My usual routine is to do a cross-check in my head of what I have packed as I leave the home QTH and I was running through this when I got to the item known as boots……… ahem, yes, they were still in the airing cupboard having a final dry out. I was 7 miles outbound by this time, so a quick 180, a 7 mile return journey and one rather surprised (and bemused) wife later, I made my departure for the second time at 0455. Although this was 10 minutes behind schedule, I knew Sally Satnav would have bunce in hand as I made my way in a very relaxed fashion towards Oswestry, noting just how light the traffic was. I also noted there was a breeze and the occasional spell of drizzle.
Richard CWI’s POI file takes you to a footpath near Fron to the north side of Gyrn Moelfre. The alternative approach is to do what Tom does and ask for access via Moelfre Hall. I don’t have two youngsters in tow to help with the permission, so I had decided on a different approach – direct assault of the west face! There is a parking spot on the verge opposite the driveway to Nanthirwen, but on arrival I decided against using this as it was extremely soggy and I didn’t fancy spending the rest of the day in trying to get the car towed out. I therefore had to turn my vehicle around and return a few hundred metres towards Fron where there was a decent section of verge on the left side which was good and firm. This meant an extra bit of road walk, but I was pleased to have the car safely parked in these very narrow lanes. It was now 0720 and in ten minutes I was kitted up and walking back towards Nanthirwen.
My route was part way up the drive to Nanthirwen and then off left and up the fields with a stream running to my right in a deep rift. The climb was reasonable to start off with, but it soon steepened and I was pleased to pause where I made the crossing of the stream at the edge of the Open Access land. Then the task really began. I had read that there were zig-zag tracks up this side of the hill, but all the tracks seemed to be more or less horizontal, so it was a case of taking a route directly up the hill over the springy ground cover. Fortunately the wind, which was now very much in evidence, was behind me and helped keep me balanced towards to hill. Eventually, after quite a few stops, I made the summit, where I decided to use the fence to support my mast and the trig point to provide shelter from the wind. Unfortunately it was gusting and so I decided for once to do a BVE and lie down to operate rather than sit up. Despite the wind, I kept warm and was occasionally heated up by the rising sun as it peeked out through the clouds.
My arrival at the summit at 0822 was 7 minutes behind my schedule and this transferred itself to a late start time. My first call on 144.300 brought John GW4BVE straight back and other regulars G4JZF, G0NES and M0JDK neatly qualified the summit. Another four were in the Breakfast Club log book before I changed to 5MHz at 0900 where I had a run of 11 contacts at varying strengths, including one with Cris GM4FAM up near Inverness. A final call back on 2m SSB brought in Ross G6GVI to make 9 on that band and completion of my activation at 0930 as scheduled. I felt I was off to a good start, but was somewhat concerned about getting off this hill safely. It took me 17 minutes to get packed up and take some photographs and I then decided to descend via the northern edge of the OA land close to the fence / wall which offered slightly better gradients than my ascent route.
My return route over the farmland was uneventful and I saw no-one at all. I decided to have a quick snack and drink back at the car and left the parking spot 7 minutes behind schedule for my next summit, Mynydd Nodol, the other side of Bala. Again, I had decided to tackle this summit from a different direction to Richard CWI, so I travelled beyond his parking spot to where I found a small lay-by, almost in the shadow of Arenig Fawr. The access route from the SW / W was all OA land this time, basically along decent tracks and then a fight up the heather by a fence which was not as bad as it could have been. I paused to photograph the Arenigs (or what I could see of them) en route and also take a photo of a Hawk Moth caterpillar out enjoying a stroll in the Spring sunshine. On the summit the wind had even greater strength than on Gyrn Moelfre, so I moved slightly beyond the trig point to gain a little shelter and set up using the petrified remains of an old fence post to support the mast.
I opened up on 2m SSB at 1219 and was immediately called by Frank G3RMD. We QSY’d to my usual working frequency of 144.333 and after exchanging reports, Frank told me that Andy MM0FMF/P was on SS-158 on 5MHz. Therefore after a brief chat, I announced a temporary QSY and moved to FE where I made the S2S. Moving back to 2m at 1230, Mike GW0DSP headed a run of 11 before I made the move back to FE at 1251, now vacated by Andy. This time Geoff G4CPA headed the run of 17 on 5MHz which included a rare QSO with Robin GM7PKT at his home QTH and another with Cris GM4FAM. In all a total of 30 contacts from this summit.
I packed up more or less on time, but took care to dismantle the antennas in the strong wind. This was followed by a romp down the heather – at one point I disappeared up to chest level in the stuff, but no harm done! Just 25 minutes after leaving the summit I was back at the car at 1400, pleased that I had scheduled in 15 minutes for lunch at this point in the proceedings. My departure for summit number three was spot on time. I enjoyed near empty roads as I made my way across country towards Pentrefolas, a small place that I remember from my childhood, when we used to travel to our summer holiday in a caravan on the Lleyn Peninsula back in the late 50’s. Arriving at the small lay-by on the A543, I noted the wind was now even stronger and this made the relatively easy ascent not especially pleasant. Little did I know that it was going to get worse for the descent.
Arriving at the summit spot on schedule at 1545, I was pleased to see that I had the square shelter to myself and I set about mounting the antennas in the corner of the shelter. Despite the strong wind, I was up and running on 2m SSB by just after 1600, this time being nabbed by Dave M3IXC. The beam more or less settled downwind and I had to use one hand to redirect it, but this did not prevent a steady flow of 11 QSOs. At 1631 I moved to FE and made 7 QSOs including a third with Cris GM4FAM before the competing off-frequency SSB drove me down one channel where another 8 contacts were made. I then realised that I had not contacted John GW4BVE on this summit, so I decided to give him a call on 145.500 in case he was listening. This was picked up by Mike G4BLH who alerted John by telephone (many thanks!) and the three summit activation therefore ended with the desired contact and the same person that started the ball rolling back at 0838.
The descent was a bit arduous under the windy conditions, though I was nice and warm in my new fleece and for once I had dry feet! As expected, having no Satnav for off-road use I missed the track and came out just below the car rather than at the quarry. I was 18 minutes late, but I didn’t care as there were another 15 relatively easy points in the bag plus another 3 uniques. I ate the last of my food before setting off home at 1825 and arrived there at 2122, having stopped briefly en route to phone Bev. She had had a good day as well and was very chatty, so the call created a delay of almost 10 minutes!
Running 2m SSB in conjunction with 5MHz SSB certainly maximises the number of contacts. In all I made 32 QSOs on 2m SSB, 44 on 5MHz SSB and just the one with John on 2m FM. On previous outings I have not always been able to deploy 5MHz on all summits, but this time I did and a number of people worked me six times during the day. Many thanks to all who tracked me throughout the day. It’s great to know that my efforts were appreciated.
73, Gerald G4OIG