Return to the Bell

OK, first things first. Congratulations to my son Jimmy M3EYP, who has just got his GCSE results, and passed the lot. He got a grade C in everything (English Language, English Literature, Food Technology, Music and French), except Mathematics, where he got a grade A - matching his dad’s grade A in 1986! In fact he got the same grades as I had got in no less than four subjects! I know that many of you, especially those that have met and walked with Jimmy, will want to congratulate him on this fantastic achievement.

And I was pleased that the results were so good. We collected them on our way out to South Wales for a SOTA holiday, and now this could be a real celebration!

Activation reports to follow.


In reply to M1EYP/M3EYP:

Well done Jimmy! I am really happy for you. I hope Dad has a nice surprise for you to celebrate and I don’t mean an activation of the Cloud or a trip to see Macc FC.

Regards Steve GW7AAV

In reply to M1EYP:
Congratulations on a great result. Best wishes for the future.

Well done Jimmy!

Does a C in Food Technology allow you prepare the essential “summit soup” from scratch now?

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to G3RMD:
Excellent job there Jimmy, not a strong point is maths for me so an extra well done. Sean M0GIA

In reply to M1EYP:
Well done Jimmy from both of us.
Rob and Audrey

In reply to M1EYP:

Way to go, Jimmy!


Brian G8ADD

So, somewhat exhilarated and euphoric, we drove away from Knutsford High School on GCSE results day, Thursday 27th August 2009, after making the essential 'phone call to mum to report the good news. Also with us were my younger son Liam, and Jimmy’s mate Craig who, sufficiently impressed with the walks Jimmy led on Shining Tor, Shutlingsloe and The Roaches, now wanted a taste of the serious stuff!

We had a clear run down the M6, and just before getting on the M54, we availed ourselves of lunch from a greasy spoon van at the roadside. After the M54 was the A5 and then the A49 down through WB land. After Leominster, Jimmy directed me to the village of Talgarth, Powys. Why Talgarth? Well, this was the area of a few SW (and one MW) summits that I had activated, but Jimmy hadn’t - so they needed doing. But also, we fondly remembered the Bell Inn pub in the village that had served such lovely meals and made us feel so welcome back in 2005.

Hence the idea was to camp as close to Talgarth as possible while doing the SW summits! We eventually found availability at the Lakeside site near the village of Llangorse, and hence a couple of our later target summits - Mynydd Troed GW/SW-009 and Mynydd Llangorse GW/SW-015 towered above our camp. The tent went up really quickly, and having an extra pair of hand in the form of Craig made a real difference.

The first objective though was Black Mountain GW/SW-041. We had both activated this one a couple of times, but when it was G/WB-001, before the RHB people reallocated it into Wales. I had selected this one as simple and easy enough to grab in an evening activation, straightfoward enough to descend by torchlight, but sufficiently strenuous to “encourage” the boys to sleep well in the tent!

We had always gone up from the stone circle under Hay Bluff before, but this time went for the higher starting point at Gospel Pass. After parking and kitting up, we ascended the steep grassy bank onto the edge of the plateau leading to Hay Bluff. At the trig point, the weather began to deteriorate into fog, drizzle and buffetting wind, so extra waterproofs were added before continuing on.

Jimmy and Craig pressed onto the true summit of Black Mountain, along its long flat ridge. Liam and I save ourselves a couple of kilometres of walking by getting into the activation zone above 680m ASL, easily determined by the next ‘pull up’ after the Hay Bluff plateau.

Jimmy opted for 2m FM as usual, but struggled to get his four contacts. Thankfully Richard G4ERP was on hand to alert the other Cheltenham chasers, and Jimmy got his qualification of the Welsh version of Black Mountain - although he operated for the English side of the border as M3EYP/P!

I set up on the Welsh side and added to W to my prefix. 40m CW wasn’t very busy, but I did work 9 QSOs into 5 DXCCs. I packed everything away and waited for Jimmy and Craig to return. We then set off together on the descent.

It was necessary to pause again near Hay Bluff trig point. This time, it was to don the headtorches, as the light was fading fast. Very soon after switching them on, it was pitch black, and then some thick fog rolled in! I hadn’t really noticed how indistinct this moorland path was in places, on the ascent from Gospel Pass, but I was now concentrating hard not to mislay the route.

In contrast, Jimmy was full of confidence, and pressing on with gusto. He had typically memorised all the tiny details on the ground from the ascent, and was able to keep a good pace going on the descent. I have been walking with Jimmy for many years now, so I got my head down, relaxed, and trusted him.

Sure enough, the torches were soon reflecting back at us off my silver Picasso, we dekitted, and drove down into Hay-on-Wye in search of food. It was pretty late about 10pm, and too late to consider the Bell Inn at Talgarth, but the Red Indigo Indian restaurant was happy to let us have a table for four. The food and service was excellent, but there wasn’t any Cobra, Bangla or Kingfisher on the bar - only Stella!

We returned to the campsite to get some sleep and reflect on a successful and enjoyable day.


Thank you for all your comments.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Many congratulations Jimmy!

I am sure your dad plan´s a five-star diner
on Mont-Blanc (SOTA F/AB-001) :wink:

Good Luck for the future

Hi Fritz,

Thank you for the congratulations. We have no plans to go up Monc Blanc F/AB-001 due to 2 reasons. One is that I’m not allowed to operate outside the UK and my Dad M1EYP suffers with vertigo.

Jimmy M3EYP

Hi Steve,

Me, my Dad M1EYP and my brother celebrated my GCSE results last night at our favourite Indian restaurant.

Jimmy M3EYP

Hi Les,

I wasn’t very at good at Food Technology and I was surprised to get a C in it.

No I can’t prepare the essential ‘summit soup’ from scratch, although my Mum can made a lovely homemade soup sometime, but we have that at home, not on the hills.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Congratulations on the results Jimmy.

Best regards

Rick and Thomas.

Thank you Rick and Thomas.

I will have to take over Thomas M3OOL in the activator roll of honour at some point. He took over me and would like to be above him again:)

Jimmy M3EYP

After the long day and late night, there was to be no early wake-up call on Friday 28th August 2009. But when we did arise, we knew where we were going. Following the traditional NQT (“newly qualified teacher”) motto of “Take the biggest and hit him”, we aimed for Waun Fach GW/SW-002, which we assessed to be the most difficult of the summits on our agenda.

Jimmy navigated the long route around the narrow Welsh country lanes until we saw the sign for the Grwyne Fawr reservoir. We then drove up the long cul-de-sac and pulled in near the footbridge at SO249287. Jimmy, Liam, Craig and myself kitted up and embarked on our long day’s walking.

First, after crossing the bridge, we followed the riverside path to the edge of the forest. Then we turned left (west) and climbed steeply on the path following the northern boundary of the Mynydd Du Forest. This was quite hard work, and a little tricky for me as the path skirted frequently close to a deep steep drop to my immediate right!

Craig and Jimmy pulled well ahead of Liam and I, and MW3EYP/M called me on the radio to report that they were passing over Pen y Gadair Fawr. When Liam and I reached that point, we chose to pass to the right of the subsidiary summit rather than top it. We then had the long boring plod over the squelchy 753m saddle before finally climbing the boggy lump of porridge that is Waun Fach.

It was drizzling and there was a cold wind. And Waun Fach has got to be be one of the most “shelterless” summits ever! We got stuck into the pasties bought from the campsite shop that morning, and set up the 40m dipole and 2m SOTA Beam.

Jimmy managed 7 QSOs on 2m FM, but only eventually, after enduring 80 minutes of silence between his 1st and 2nd contacts. Things were much more straightforward for me on 40m CW, although I too made only 7 QSOs! At least they came one after the other though in a 12 minute spell!

I didn’t much fancy returning to Pen y Gadair Fawr and descending by the forest, so led the boys off the eastern slopes of Waun Fach, aiming for the reservoir. This proved to be easy going down the grassy slopes, which weren’t too steep either. It was very much a “descent route” though; I imagine ascending this way would be a soul-destroying slog!

What appeared to be an unmapped trig point appeared just before the reservoir, but it didn’t have the bracket or number. The waters of the reservoir were being whipped up by the wind and crashing violently into the dam wall. We walked across the dam and marvelled at the height of it, and the very deep drop to the right of us. At the other side of the dam was another trig-shaped stone pillar, so we assumed that they were something to do with the dam or reservoir.

We now had a very easy, long gently descending bridleway to follow, which took us right to where I had parked the car. I hadn’t even recognised this as a possible ascent route, although I was satisfied with the resulting circular route.

The walk and expedition had taken all day, so I instructed the JimNav to take me directly into Talgarth, and the Bell Inn. We were delighted to find that the pub was still being run by Sydna, who by my reckoning must be 68 years of age now, and exactly as kind and welcoming as she was four years ago.

Her homemade beef and onion pies were delicious, and amply accompanied by a big bowl of peas and a huge tray of proper homemade chips. Halfway through our dinners, Sydna returned to the table with another tray of chips: “Some more chips for you lads” she said, “I do like to feed boys with good appetites”. And these boys liked being fed by Sydna! The couple on the adjacent table to us must have heard us talking about Jimmy’s results, and offered their own congratulations.

The Albrights bitter was a refreshing accompaniment to the meal, and Sydna’s homemade plum crumble and cream was an enjoyable desert. Four mains, four deserts, extra chips and all drinks - total price: £32. I thanked Sydna and told her we would see her again tomorrow night! We returned to camp for another good night’s sleep under canvas.


At last! Good weather. We awoke on the morning of Saturday 29th August 2009 to clear blue skies and warm sunshine. The main agenda item today was to be the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan GW/SW-001, 886m ASL, and what a day to do it. The second half of the plan had been changed though. I realised that following it with Fan Fawr GW/SW-005 was too ambitious with Liam in the party, and so replaced this with The Begwns GW/MW-025.

I sorted out the rucksacks and bladders for all four, while the other three had a bit of a lie-in. When we were up and about though, we drove off, calling at the site shop for lunch and energy/bribe items.

The shop was stocked with fresh pasties - cheese & onion, chicken tikka, Cornish or chicken & mushroom - every morning, which was useful. They also sold Welsh cakes and syrup waffles, which proved to be good mid-ascent energy boosters. The helpful staff even went through to the site bar to get me a couple of bags of pork scratchings. Liam will do anything for a pork scratching - even “walk up to that stone there”! The salt content is perhaps not what you would want as a mountain food, this tactic was more about ‘hearts and minds’ than good practice!

Jimmy directed me west towards Brecon, and then south down the A470. We past the Storey Arms Centre - the other main start point for Pen y Fan - and continued down to the large free car park, with refreshments and toilets, at SN987198. It was extremely busy. For the expedition newcomer Craig, it was to be a total contrast to Black Mountain GW/SW-041 and Waun Fach GW/SW-002 where we hadn’t seen another soul all day on either.

Liam grumbled that he wasn’t looking forward to fording the river just behind the car park, over the stepping stones. However, when we reached it, we were both surprised and pleased to note the addition of a sturdy wooden footbridge. We were soon onto the ant-trail that cuts diagonally up the hillside from the river to the gap between Corn Du and the Craig Gwaun Taf ridge.

Jimmy and Craig and, as usual, gone off ahead. Liam was in good spirits, and a Dad that had pork scratchings in his pocket had been elevated in status from persona non grata to superhero! Other walkers looked on with concern at this episode and asked me if I wanted an energy bar to give Liam. I replied that I had plenty of energy bars with me and explained the bribery and motivation technique!

Many of the other walkers were choosing to summit Corn Du on their way over to Pen y Fan, but I didn’t bother. Instead, we enjoyed the rest afforded by the wide flat path by the side of it, and the stunning views now opened up before us. We were soon on the summit, and reunited with Jimmy and Craig, who had set the SOTA Beam up for use with Jimmy’s handheld. Jimmy MW3EYP/P made six contacts on 2m FM.

On 40m CW, I had a good activation, working 18 contacts including a S2S with DK5WL/P on DM/RP-499. I did have to break off a couple of times to answer questions from interested walkers about amatuer radio and SOTA.

The descent was straightforward, and still a busy ant-trail. We all agreed that it had been the best mountain outing of the trip and that the views were fantastic. The JimNav was told to take me to The Begwns GW/MW-025, a fair drive away, but an appropraite summit to round things off on the third day of our tour.


In reply to M1EYP:
Congratulations Jimmy. Now for the “A” levels!



Thank you Reg,

The only A-Level I will be doing is Maths.

Jimmy M3EYP

In reply to M3EYP:
Well Done Jimmy From Geoff and Joan G6MZX