Tom and Jimmy were indeed meant to be elsewhere, and so was Richard. At 6.30am on Sunday 25th April 2010, the three of us set off for a long excursion to Tarrenhendre GW/NW-036 and Tarren y Gesail GW/NW-033. It was as we closed in on Lymm Truck Stop that I realised with horror that I had left mine and Jimmy’s walking boots, freshly cleaned and reproofed, in two carrier bags in the hallway back at home.
The option of driving back to Macc was soon discounted, as Richard felt that the day was far too long to be adding an extra hour’s driving. We settled on a day out on the Ponderosa pair of Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042 and Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-032 - a day that doesn’t necessarily fill one with excited anticipation, but never fails to satisfy. Furthermore, both with paths that could be comfortably managed in trainers with a subsequent change into clean footwear for the drive home being most unlikely. And the cafe!
After polishing off our fry-ups at Lymm, Richard continued the driving westwards on the M56, and eventually on the A542 Horseshoe Pass. We gained permission to park on the cafe side given the promise that we would be returning for lunch, and set off on the ascent of Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042. The initial pull up to Moel y Faen is always a good way to warm up, and the rest of the day is a stroll in the park after that.
Arriving on summit, we arranged ourselves at various operating points around and below the raised top. Richard GW3CWI/P was on 40m CW using his RSA vertical, Jimmy MW3EYP/P did 2m FM with the SOTA Beam, while I (MW1EYP/P) opted for 20m CW from the Magic Moggy. My pile-up was huge which ironically slowed the QSO rate down; it seemed several alligators were in no mood to be patient! It was a pleasing and enjoyable 28 contacts in short order nonetheless. Jimmy was pleased with his first AM2AM QSO with Roger MW0IDX!
The descent to Ponderosa was something of a farce as some unpleasant rain showers came in, only to cease just as we had added waterproofs. I was carrying Baxter’s carrot & coriander soup which was delicious, but the rules of these two summits are that you have to take lunch at the Ponderosa. So we did, and it was excellent - homemade steak & kidney pie with chips, peas and gravy, accompanied by a big cup of Irn Bru in my case.
Refuelled and refreshed, we set about the relatively easy ascent to Cyrn-y-Brain GW/NW-043. Working conditions for the three of us were identical to Moel y Gamelin GW/NW-042 earlier, but only I got away trouble free. Jimmy on 2m FM suffered poor signals sent and received, due to desensing. Richard on 40m CW with the vertical aerial (RSA) failed to make a single contact due to the hash from the nearby transmitters making it impossible for him to hear any incoming signals.
I had no problem at all on 20m CW, and worked through a few stations - EA was a pleasing one - though not as many as earlier. I concluded my own activation and took the 817 over to Jimmy’s operating position by the SOTA Beam. The aerial was flipped to horizontal polarisation and the rig switched to 2m SSB, and then everyone lived happily ever after. S2S contacts with Andy MM0FMF/P on Culter Fell GM/SS-049 and Gerald G4OIG/P on Dent G/LD-045 were made before I had a rare (these days) dabble on 2m FM. Jimmy’s QSO with Andy was his second AM2AM of the day, prompting Richard to propose a new award stream in the SOTA programme.
By now, the weather was stunning on summit - wide bright sunshine, dry and blue sky. We did have 20 minutes of very heavy rain - but that just happened to be within the 30 minutes we were inside the Ponderosa having lunch!
Following descent, we drove to The Moors pub a short distance away and enjoyed a couple of post-match beverages. A nice day out - thanks to Richard for the driving (and sorry for forcing the planning alterations by forgetting the walking boots…).