Sunday afternoon on the Skirrid

Hi All

For those that don’t get past the first line, I’ll put the important bits first…

Sincere apologies for being very late on parade, for not using 5Mhz and for abandoning the activation with extreme precipitousness. Read on for the reasons:

When we did Y Golfa a few weeks ago, Roxy said she wanted something a bit more exciting and challenging to try, brevitting through the database I came across SW-016 Ysgyryd Fawr which seemed to fill the bill. We are a bit busy with numerous other things at present, but a window presented itself for this afternoon after Roxy’s guide pack’s Remembrance Day parade. I had had a stinking cold at the end of last week, but felt up to a bracing expedition by this morning so I collected her from the parade at 11.15 and we set off directly for South Wales, having allowed plenty of time (or so I thought) to get to the summit for an activation at 1430.

First mistake - despite my better judgement, I believed the route planner when it told me quickest route was via Worcester and Hereford. Nightmare. Not only were the roads narrow and convoluted, an accident had closed the road completely on the approach to Hereford, necessitating a 10 mile detour.

Second mistake - had decided to try access from the North rather than the more conventional South approach from the carpark. Not only is there no parking to be had, we could find no trace of the path. So more time wasted making our way down to the (lower down, further from the summit) car park.

Once there, we took (uncharacteristically luckily!) the last parking space, quickly booted up and set off up the hill. We set a cracking pace, but it was still getting on for 1500 by the time we reached the summit. Conditions there were rough - a cold half-gale blowing out of the North-West. Despite this, it was sunny, and the hill was incredibly busy with a constant stream of mountain bikers, dog walkers and families criss-crossing the narrow summit area. At this point I abandoned the idea of a 5MHz activation because of the risks involved in setting up the dipole.

Roxy donned an additional fleece and hunkered down in a depression out of the wind, while I set up the sotabeam on a very short pole strapped to the trig point, in whose lee I sat to operate. The beam pointed whichever way it wanted - mainly into the teeth of the gale! I feared that any attempt to constrain it to point in the direction I wanted would risk destruction.

Fortunately Graham G4FUJ replied to my first call on 144.300, and we QSY’d to 144.320, where he spotted me - for which many thanks. A good run of the usual suspects followed - G0LGS, M3WDS, G4JZF, GW4BVE, M3SFN, G0NES, G3RMD (thanks Frank for the warning of advancing rain)and GW0VMZ, rounded off with a call from Gerald G4OIG. As I closed with Gerald, the wind increased even further in ferocity and the sky darkened. Simultaneously Roxy emerged from her fox-hole and announced she thought we should be getting down. Her analysis of the situation was spot on: sheets of precipitation could be seen approaching and this was not the time to be hanging around. I announced unceremoniously that I was going QRT (my sincere apologies to any chasers who were waiting for me) and with some nifty teamwork we were packed up and ready to go inside 5 minutes. Roxy is certainly a real asset on activations now.

As we made our way down, a truly spectacular rainbow appeared to the East as the sun popped beneath the clouds prior to disappearing below the horizon. We kept up a stiff march on the way down, completing the descent in 33 minutes and arriving back at the car just as the heavens opened.

A much more satisfactory journey via the A40/M50/M5 took us quickly home to a very welcome roast beef dinner.

Again apologies to anyone left wondering where I’d suddenly gone, and many thanks to those familiar voices that make activations a true joy.

73 de Paul G4MD and Roxy

In reply to G4MD:
No apologies necessary, Paul, a good decision!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to G4MD:

Good to catch you Paul before you had to abandon ship. Must say you were slacking though - 33 mins on the descent! Ah, obviously you weren’t in a rush to grab a fresh water bottle like I was back in June.

Pity the weather wasn’t more congenial. This is a pleasant summit with decent views, so maybe you’ll get back there at some stage.

73, Gerald

In reply to G4MD:

Hi Paul and Roxy, glad you had a successful activation and qualified the summit easily. Definitely no need for apologies, you made the right call, even more so with Roxy in your company. What a relief to reach the car before the heavens opened and I bet that Sunday roast was that little bit more appreciated after your day on the windy and cold summit.

73 Mike GW0DSP

I hope Roxy is recovered from her depression now. My son Liam often hunkers down in a depression himself upon reaching a summit.


In reply to M1EYP:

I hope Roxy is recovered from her depression now. My son Liam often
hunkers down in a depression himself upon reaching a summit.


Oh crikey Paul, apologies, I hope Roxy is ok, I read it wrongly and thought you meant that “hunkered down in a depression” to be that she got down in a hollow in the ground to shelter from the wind.

73 Mike

In reply to GW0DSP:

No apologies necessary Mike your first interpretation was spot on! Roxy was very happy to be up the hill, despite the arctic blasts it was for the most part beautifully sunny with stunning views. She didn’t even consume her chocolate ration!

I am glad to say she seems to have a very effective innate sense of self-preservation when out on the hills. She will need it if she continues to accompany me onto some of the bigger hills for the winter bonus! I can feel the next size up bothy bag coming on…

73 de Paul G4MD

Thanks to all for the supportive comments. Having responsibility for someone else on the hill certainly focuses the mind on safety issues.

Plans for our return to the area to bag Skirrid’s 2 point neighbour in the winter bonus period are well underway, looking forward to working you all (Wx permitting!)

73 de Paul G4MD and Roxy.

In reply to M3EYP:

Hi Tom,

We haven’t done any expeditions major enough to warrant such extensive preparation yet, but I’m sure the time will come! I must admit that 90% of my kit stays packed up ready to grab and go - although when we are a two-activator family there may not be enough redundancy to do that with the radio kit!

You’re right about the rewards, going out with Roxy has completely changed the dynamic of our relationship. We are very well matched in aspiration and ability, and our walks are pure joy. I’m even looking forward to going back to hills with her that at one time I was glad I’d never have to do again! Still a fair crop of hills in reasonable travelling distance to go at before considering repeats though…

It’s a case of building up to bigger and better things with Roxy, so we’ve not had any “worrying” moments yet, but I’m sure it will happen sooner or later. But she does seem to be a “natural” on the hills, and with the “on the job” training we’re getting we will hopefully be ready to deal with whatever is thrown at us.

Roxy will be doing her Foundation Licence as soon as possible - watch this space for further news! I’m hoping we won’t be doing too many more hills before she’s got her M3.

73 de Paul G4MD