Warning - this report may cause drowsiness - do not drive or operate machinery if affected…
After escaping to the Outer Hebrides in April it would be fair to say that recent activations have not really seemed challenging enough to deserve writing up, but as this was my first SOTA journey to Wales I thought I would commit pen to paper, or at least organise a few electrons on a SSD in hopefully a more informative way than an infinite team of monkeys busy typing.
The Wales SOTA day sounded like an excellent idea, and the original plan was to take a nice leisurely drive down on Friday morning, perhaps doing a hill on the way to arrive at a civilised campsite in the camper later on Friday before doing a hill on Saturday, however I was reminded that my daughter was spending the week doing work experience about an hour away near Penrith and Dad’s taxi services would be required for two journeys on Friday…. So I didn’t manage to escape until after 5 and finding a campsite that accepts very late arrivals wasn’t really possible. Google came to my rescue and it seemed that the main car park in Welshpool allows overnight stays in vans so that became Plan A
I bottled out of Plan “A” as the car park seemed to include a couple of boy racers complete with what appeared to be a badly executed doughnut and went to Plan “B” to park where I had intended to walk from at the top of the pass near Craig-Y-Bwlch. By the time I arrived it was dark and there were another couple of vans parked up. I managed a quick dog walk, complete with flashing head collars and a head torch around the base of the hill before finding out about a new sport. It appears to now be compulsory that when your 1.2 Corsa with the big exhaust pipes has been flogged up the hill it is essential to sound the horn loudly to wake everyone up so they can marvel at your prowess. This was combined with some very strong winds shaking the van so when Saturday morning arrived I was far from rested, but the bonus was no drive to the hill….
I chose a different route up Maesglase to those described completing a horseshoe past Craig Portas, which was a reasonable route, and was mostly on a path, but was longer than the direct approaches many have taken. This was done mostly on the basis of having an easy parking space! With hindsight it was probably less exposed than the normal route, but an overenthusiastic Spaniel could have still resulted in a difficult problem. ( Actually Woody - the loud one is quite good when a walk becomes a bit of a scramble and he puts his feet carefully where told!)
The ascent of Cribbin Fawr (If any of this makes no sense it appears that the AI in Apple does not understand Welsh and is making some really unhelpful corrections) is steep and after a rough nights sleep it took some time for my second wind to arrive, indeed it only arrived some time after I got the first alert from Ben who was already at the top of Cadair Idris!
The boys were more awake than I was going up Cribin Fawr
By the time I got to the summit I had a combination of summit brain and sleep deprivation which probably resulted in some sub optimal operating, so apologies. It also seems that I had an intermittent fault with the 2m set up ( This was an FT-270 into a ladder line J pole with a short SMA to UHF tail which I think is faulty ) it suddenly adding about 40dB attenuation - again probably adding to any confusion. When it was working it did a good job and I was particularly impressed with the S2S to Kinder Scout in the Peak District which seems to have Cadir Berwyn in the way!
I also had a quick go on 40m SSB, generally making fairly short skip contacts, to the UK and Belgium. As anyone who worked me knows Woody was in fine voice. Thanks again to all the chasers and the S2S stations.
Maesglase from Cribin Fawr
Just after 12 I packed up and headed off down the hill. About half way back after a top for a drink I went through the usual - double check I still have the car keys, phone, wallet…. WALLET ??? Which was not in my pocket where it always is. ( It also has the other half of the tracker for the van in it so driving around without it might present a problem…officer…). After a quick look where I stopped, and then a longer look where I stopped and then a really good look where I stopped I managed to convince myself that the only place it could now be was at the summit, 200m of ascent and 2km away. With renewed vigour I turned back to the hill and after walking back along the ridge it gradually dawned on me that I might not have put it in my pocket, but left it in the van ( I would not normally do this, but then again I would not normally be awake at 3AM listening to a Corsa being thrashed up a hill in a gale ). A bit like Schrödinger’s cat the wallet could both be on the summit or in the van, but that one certainty was that I only had half a litre of water left out of the two and half I started with, I hadn’t passed a water source and even if it was Ok for me to continue it probably wasn’t OK for the dogs… so once again I changed direction and headed off for the van where the uncertainty finished and the Wallet was found.
After a quick shower (This is one definite advantage of having a posh camper) I headed off down the valley to the field that Ben had organised for the meet up - which was brilliant. The Hog Roast and gallons of tea were really appreciated, and after a quick discussion Ben managed to get the OK to stay in the field overnight! I must admit that I had rather overlooked the “boys” who were probably equally sleep deprived and were not really in the mood to socialise so they spent most of the evening sat by the side of the van. They did seem somewhat happier after consuming some of the left-over hog roast!
It was really interesting to hear how other activated, to compare tips and to put some faces to the voices sometimes heard from distant summits.
I don’t win raffles, but on this occasion I did, and now have a nice new Yaesu HT, which if the intermittent fault turns out to be more than a faulty connector will have some immediate use. The field was very quiet overnight (as expected) and along with Gerald and Sue we helped Ben by getting the tents down the following morning.
The morning after the Hog RoastI
I had initially intended to activate Cyrn-Y-Brain on the way home but having hit some heavy traffic on the A5 decided to save it for another day.
Although it is nice to not have to drive to the start of a walk I absolutely would not park-up overnight again in a similar spot.
I need to find the intermittent fault in my 2m set up…
I need to make sure I don’t accidentally QSY onto someone else’s frequency… ( Im still not sure how that happened… sorry …)
It can be worth buying a raffle ticket
…and the obvious one - don’t lose your wallet!
Thanks again to Ben for organising what turned out to be a brilliant Weekend, and I think there might be a few more Welsh summits on my to do list.