Two summits in South Wales

Sunday 24 March 2024

GW/SW-008 (Cefn yr Ystrad)

This one had been on my to do list for years having somehow escaped previous sweeps of the >1 pointers in the area. Arriving early afternoon I was informed that I was the third activator on the hill that day, I somehow managed to just miss Rod (M0JLA) and Vikki (M6BWA) who were there earlier.

Shortly after starting the journey up a heard a whistle and what sounded like a steam engine. It wasn’t long before the source was revealed.

The walk to the trig point was very enjoyable and often involved making up your own path and avoiding shakeholes. The views from the top were great with many a summit I have previously activated in view. With plenty of space and time available I went straight on to 40m, and then some time after that a short burst on 20m before finishing up on 2m. Usually I’m just on 2m so HF SOTA is quite novel for me, but something I’m keen to do a lot more of. What next, CW? Well maybe.

GW/SW-023 (Allt yr Esgair)

With just enough time left for one more summit, I headed off to Allt yr Esgair. This is another lovely hill and again I found myself with the summit to myself. Very conveniently there was somewhere to strap my fishing pole to, and somewhere to rest my FT-857 and supporting acts. Very civilised!

Called a few times on VHF but precisely zero results! I find this a rare situation, but it wasn’t too surprising given the local topology.

It was quite dark by the time I got back to the car. Despite the at times difficult conditions on HF, it was altogether a very enjoyable day out.

Only 99 Welsh summits to tick off now!


Great report and pictures Mike. Looks like you picked HF at the worst possible time!

Well you’d better get a move on then…


Thought it would be interesting to mention the secret the shakeholes hide!

The Cefn yr Ystrad massive is sitting on or just above the limestone band that cuts across south wales and there are significant cave systems under this hill, some so big and inaccessible they necessitate underground camps, where ‘through the earth radios’ are the only way to communicate (and only used in rescue situations). I beleive they use LF SSB!

Sadly the caves entrances worth visiting as a detour on an activation are nowhere near the main route to the summit, on Llangidir and Llangattock.


Interesting … I knew there were some caves in the area, didn’t know I was walking right above them. As for cave portable, a quick Google tells me 87kHz SSB 10W is sometimes used with a mag loop:
e.g.: Cave Radio
I wonder if anyone has tried FT8 with that? :wink:


Great to work you on both summits Mike. It looks like your route up to Cefn yr Ystrad was more pleasant than mine, but I did a dawn activation and so didn’t see much. I recall that the dawn light was an incredible orange. I managed 22 contacts on 2m (19 SSB, 2 CW, 1 FM) and a number on 60m.

Allt yr Esgair is perhaps my favourite SW single pointer despite it being surrounded by higher hills. I worked just 5 on 2m SSB from this one confirming your reservation as to its suitability as a VHF site.

73, Gerald


Are you sure we were on the same hill on the same day … our photos don’t seem to agree but it is the ‘early bird’ that gets the … drizzle while at the car and part of the way up … but also a surprise present at the trig! We had no idea you were aiming up the same hill until Rod checked back at the car and found you were spotted on the hill we’d just left. However, thinking back, we think we saw you and the the dog on the skyline as we walked back down on a long diagonal to join the bridlepath round the hill and eventually down. The records says its our 12th activation of the hill but only about 7 of them from the water treatment works but we take different paths each time and , on this occasion, we were trying to skirt the flock of sheep with young lambs which had taken shelter amongst the spurs and we didn’t want to disturb them.

The Brecon Beacons were getting pretty wet for much of our walk up and some of that caught us but then rolled on.

However the cloud base looked rather unusual

and all was revealed as we reached the trig

and it was quite difficult to stop taking photos and actually aim for some shelter from the wind behind the rocks. I started the activation at 1203 - and ended at 1203½ when the dipole blew straight down! I could hear the comments of the potential chasers but, luckily, they couldn’t hear mine! By 1207 I was up and running again with a small pile-up on 2m fm but a bit slower on 70cm. I ended up with 13 on 2m and 8 on 70cm in 40 mins which was good going for Sunday lunchtime which can be quite a challenge. As well as South Wales and Bristol/Taunton I reached the Forest of Dean, Cheltenham and Glastonbury but was out of reach for my usual West Midlands chasers.
We were thinking of doing another hill (Tor y Foel or Allt yr Esgair!!) as the weather and views had improved and showed why it is one of my favourite local ascents.

We had thought it was too early for the Mountain Railway to be working but after a few toots the train

steamed past but your picture is far better as I wasn’t ideally situated!
We decided not to go up another hill and, seeing your results on 2m fm, I’m glad I didn’t attempt Allt yr Esgair (I never use HF unless on an impossible Scottish Hill - and then as little as possible) as I knew it would be very diffcult, even on a Sunday afternoon, but the real challenge there is 70cm!! I no longer try to stick around until I get 4 (or even 1!!) on 70cm as I like to return home on the same day!! I’m sorry we didn’t actually meet but there is always another hill/day!
73 Viki


That’s a cracking shot of the rainbow Viki.

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