Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Summits | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Upward and Onward!

I was well chuffed with the success, enjoyment and lack of fatal consequences to my first post-operative outing to tiddler G/CE-002 for the Trans-Atlantic S2S event last week so it was time to try something more challenging, as part of mine and Gerald G4OIG’s plans to activate the recently-promoted Marilyn GW/NW-078 and reinstate our “activated all NW” status :)*

I was discussing the plans with my elder daughter and she indicated she’d be up for an expedition to the Malvern Hills this Saturday if that would help… Ideal I thought! Pleasant company and a chance to activate the Worcestershire Beacon, G/WB-009. Also a chance to indulge my love of train travel by meeting her at Great Malvern station and walking from there.

In deference to my “fragile” state I planned a very minimalist activation, using just my FT-60 handy but couldn’t resist taking the aptly named “Rucksack Special” to give me a bit of advantage over the rubber duck. Plugging the appropriate figures into the RSGB emf calculator spreadsheet showed that radiation levels for this combination would be well within “low power compliant” limits so no issues with irradiating passers by on the summit…

In the event a diversion of my train at Worcester meant I missed the connection to Malvern, so she picked me up from there and we drove to Malvern and parked near St Anne’s Gate, the start of the path up to the Beacon. This actually saved nearly 1km of walking from the station, but I didn’t complain even though the purpose of the trip was to get some exercise :joy:

The first section of the climb to the Beacon is steep and unrelenting, eventually levelling out for a while before the final push up to the summit. I was delighted to arrive at the top without need for stops on the way, covering the 2.2km distance and 320m of ascent in 58 minutes.

As we approached the top Daughter went ahead (she’d stuck with me all the way up bless her despite her youthful urge to race on!) to scout out and reserve a bench for us to sit on - the summit was very busy today. She managed to get one right at the top, excitedly pointing out that there was a crevice in the timber perfect for wedging the antenna in. She is obviously learning SOTA-craft well :rofl:


Setting up on G/WB-009. Note cunning use of cleft in seat!

Set-up was trivial and quickly achieved, using the speaker mike and an over-ear earpiece. Listening around showed the channels to be very busy, 145.350 being the highest available one. I gave a shout on 145.500 and Stuart, G0LGS responded almost immediately. 145.350 was thankfully still free, so we had a nice chat there, Stuart informing me that the hill had already been activated by someone else that morning! On completion, he kindly spotted me, thereby saving a trip back to S20 and the consequent risks.

After signing with Stuart, I was almost immediately called by Rod, M0JLA/P on Ruardean Hill, G/WB-021 for the first s2s of the day, followed by Martin M7BIA on Shining Tor G/SP-004. Then Allen, 2E0AGB called in for a difficult contact, he disappearing into the noise after exchange of reports. Apologies Allen, hope we can make it longer next time :slight_smile:

Next into the log was Rick, MW5RJC/P who had stopped on his way to activate the Begwns, GW/MW-025. Sadly we had to leave before Rick got to his summit, but many thanks for the call Rick and hope to s2s soon!

Peter, MW0PJE/P on GW/NW-054 was the next caller for the third and final s2s of the day, followed by M3PWJ and Ryan, M7HFD/M who was an enormous signal, being mobile in Malvern at the base of the hill. He kindly re-spotted me, which brought calls from Matt, M0REM/M and Ian M7ICW/P. A few minutes’ calling brought no further replies, so with the windchill making itself felt I went QRT, just half an hour after starting.

The walk down was quick and uneventful, arriving at the bottom in time for a quick pint before my daughter dropped me back at Great Malvern station. No diversions this time and I was back home in Stourbridge within the hour :slight_smile:

Really enjoyed this expedition, and it was wonderful renewing acquaintance with some old friends and copying a few new calls. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get out!

Next planned outing is a more challenging “trial run” to test fitness for Rhinog Fach - Gerald and I are hoping to tackle Great Rhos, GW/MW-002 on Monday 15th Nov, if that goes well hopefully we’ll go for GW/NW-078 in the week or two following that. Look forward to meeting a load more old friends soon :slight_smile:

73 de Paul G4MD/G6GGP

  • It’d be activated all GW if it wasn’t for that pesky MW summit… You know the one I mean :frowning:
28 Likes

Hi Paul, enjoyed reading your activation report. Well done. :+1: :smiley: :beers:

Cheers- Geoff vk3sq

2 Likes

That’s already fast… :+1:

Normally I reckon with 4 km per hour on the level and for every 400 metres of ascent I add another hour.

This corresponds roughly to what is signposted for the Swiss hiking trails, for example.

73 Armin

3 Likes

Hi, Paul, sorry to have missed you. I guess that you went up the zig-zags from the car park, topping out by the abortive gold mine. The last time I climbed that hill with my XYL her knee was starting to trouble her so we walked up the road to the col and from a gate there a paved road goes all the way up to the summit. It lacks the flavour of sticking to the ridge line all the way to the top but makes life easy!

1 Like

Well done Paul. Listened for you but that summit is a difficult vhf one for me and mostly chased on HF. Really looking forward to your visit to Rhinog Fach where we will be 5/9 each way I hope. I’ve yet to do it so I might beat you to it😁

73 and take care

Allan GW4VPX

1 Like

Hi Paul, good to hear you are out and about again! Your expeditions with Gerald are meticulously planned, I know, so forgive me for pointing out that the “danger area” affecting the path up from Haynes Mill has been extended - in case that is helpful.
Lounging around at present waiting to have stitches out next week after minor op on leg…

73
Adrian

1 Like

Nice report Paul Thanks for the contact, I’m sure we’ll have many more.
Stay safe and Best 73

1 Like

Thanks Armin, I was certainly well pleased with my performance :innocent:

When planning ascents we generally use 4km/hr and 1 minute for ten metres of ascent which we normally manage to achieve or better, though for very long or arduous walks we might add a bit extra to take account of “photographic opportunities” :rofl:

In Alpine conditions the hour per 400m would seem to make sense :slight_smile:

Hi Brian, no probs sorry the activation was such a smash and grab…

Think we might be on opposite side of the hill?.. we were parked in Great Malvern itself, behind the Unicorn actually which was appreciated on the way down :slight_smile:

Many thanks for listening Allan, sorry we didn’t make it unfortunately my setup was somewhat sub-optimal :frowning: We’ll be doing 2m and HF from Rhinog Fach so should be a cert. I’ll watch out for your activation, a complete would be most welcome :slight_smile:

Thanks for the heads up Adrian :slight_smile: We’re actually planning to go up from the Llanfihangel side so think we should be OK. There’s a wonderful spooky section of what we’ve come to call the “Enchanted Forest” on that route up, hoping it’s not been felled… Hope your leg is fully healed soon :slight_smile:

Many thanks Allen, good to work you. Sorry it was so difficult but you were my best DX :slight_smile: Take care look forward to working you again.

2 Likes

Late update - due to poor weather forecast for tomorrow, the attempt on Great Rhos GW/MW-002 has been moved to Wednesday. Hope to catch some of you then!

73 Paul G4MD/G6GGP

2 Likes

Hi Paul.
Thanks for the s2s on Saturday - good to hear you out again.
Wednesday looks pretty good but cold so we will try Fan Fawr, SW-005 (using a route we have not tried before) so hope for a 2m s2s (and also 60m if I summon up the energy to carry the HF kit as I am finding weight a real problem now).
We were not best pleased at the promotion of Rhinog Fach as we had only done Y Lliwedd a few weeks earlier for me to complete NW. It will probably still be there to do next autumn :wink:
Hope to catch you tomorrow; take care,
73,
Rod

1 Like

I did Fan Fawr earlier this year. I took a fairly gentle route. There was one boggy bit but otherwise it wasn’t difficult.

Yes, John, never tried that one before - usually Storey Arms or the Craig Cerrig Gleisiad nature reserve route.
73,
Rod

1 Like

Thanks to you Rod - it was a joy hearing you call in :slight_smile:

Yes it’s going to be a tad bracing tomorrow! An s2s would be great we’ll be looking for you. Weight is an issue for me at the moment… we are just taking one set of HF kit with us this time to limit carrying (many thanks Gerald!) hence our unusual MO.

I’m looking at the silver lining! At least I (hopefully) get to do another unique before the next round of treatment :blush:

Take care yourselves, hope to catch you tomorrow.

73 Paul G6GGP/G4MD

I have snook the HF linear into the backpack plus a couple of 4.2AH LiFePO4s so we can run 30 watts. If anyone Stateside is on 1300 - 1400z, then there’s a reasonable chance of a QSO on 20m. The dipole can be configured for 17m as well if that’s where the action is.

73, Gerald G8CXK aka G4OIG.

Great to work you!

You’re very welcome Martin many thanks for the call much appreciated :blush:

Successful completion of the expedition to Worcestershire Beacon G/WB-009 gave the green light for a more rigorous challenge on my quest to activate the newly promoted Marilyn Rhinog Fach, GW/NW-078. Discussion with my long-time co-conspirator Gerald, G4OIG/G8CXK identified Great Rhos, GW/MW-002 as a suitable target. With the same walk-in distance but a bit less ascent, if I could make this one I would feel confident in tackling the main prize for both of us – a new unique and restoring our status of having activated all GW/NW

As I am still a little fragile following surgery a few weeks ago, Gerald kindly suggested we adapt our usual MO and share his equipment for HF working to reduce the weight I had to carry, an offer which I gratefully accepted. I would just have to take the FT60 and “RuckSack Special” to do 2m FM whilst Gerald was on HF. He also insisted on driving, which was much appreciated as I didn’t know what state I’d be in by the time we got down…

As usual, a detailed itinerary, this time with somewhat extended time allowances to allow for my uncertain performance, was prepared and agreed. Initially Monday 15th November was set as the day, but the forecast took a turn for the worse, promising clag and rain so we changed the date to Wednesday 17th, which proved to be a good move.

We both having tested negative for Covid-19 on Tuesday, Gerald duly arrived at my QTH at the allotted time on Wednesday morning. It was quite an emotional re-union - although we had been regularly in touch by Zoom, text and e-mail we had not seen each other in person since our last expedition to GM back in March 2020. After a quick coffee, we packed my kit into Gerald’s car and were on the road bang on time.

Due to recent changes to the extent of the “Danger Area” to the South of the summit, we decided to go from the North – a route we had both done a couple of times before. Gerald’s SatNav took us by an “interesting” route via Bridgnorth, rather than the more usual way via Bewdley and Clee Hill, but we arrived on time at the traditional parking spot (SO 1727 6727) just beyond the gate at the end of the narrow road from Llanfihangel Rhydithon, where we managed to tuck the car in off the track under the trees close to the gate. After a quick kit-up, we started off up the metalled but steep track a few minutes ahead of plan.

Beyond the first gate we encountered our first “hazard” – a cattle feeding station adjacent the track, surrounded by a herd of a couple of dozen brown cows, with some calves amongst them. We skirted round the herd on the badly-churned up grass without incident, a group of them breaking away and running up the hillside ahead of us. The rest of the track is fairly simple, a well-made farm track takes you to a pair of gates at SO17436685 – take the right hand one, then up the gentle incline till you see a pedestrian gate on the left (SO17506634) that takes you into the forest. A short path takes you to a forest road, turn right onto the road and carry on till you reach the highest point at SO17776578 where you branch left, uphill. The generally well-graded road gets a bit steep and rocky here, but soon levels out.


It’s steeper than it looks!

At SO18436499 take the path branching off to the right. Sadly this section of forest has been felled since our last visit When it was standing it was truly a wonder. The enormous size, close planting and drooping branches of the trees all covered in moss and the thick carpet of moss under them gave it a surreal fairy-story character, and we named it “The Enchanted Forest”, expecting Hansel and Gretel to emerge in front of us at any moment! All that remains of the magical scene is an enchanted lake – a foot-deep puddle consuming the track which requires a detour round it’s banks to avoid wet feet A short way beyond this is the gate which gives onto the open moor beyond, and a clear path takes you to the trig point. Beware of deep waterfilled ditches beside the path, cunningly concealed beneath lush vegetation – I managed to go nearly knee deep into one, though fortunately boot and gaiter limited water ingress to a tolerable degree.

In deference to my recovering state we’d allowed two hours for the ascent, and I was pleased to discover we’d done it in 1hr 43min. The trig is sat on a plinth raised above the surrounding ground level, and I quickly commandeered this for a comfortable seat for myself, sitting on the East side to get shelter from the stiff breeze that was blowing from the West. A quick inspection of the trig revealed no cap and the hole was clear, with a couple of re-usable cable ties just below the choke coil to stop it going too deep my RSS sat nicely in the trig and with a quick plug-in to the FT60 made for an almost-instant setup.

Meanwhile Gerald started to set up a rudimentary shelter using his large tarp to provide some respite from the cold wind. Once he had this in place, he set up his 60/40/30m link dipole close by, doing a bit of bog hopping to get around the ponds of water on the summit.
Despite the quick set-up, by the time I’d snacked and made myself comfortable half an hour had passed, and my first contact at 11.55 was Rick, M5RJC followed quickly by S2Ss with Richard, MW0GWG/P on GW/MW-034 Mynydd Cynros and Viki, MW6BWA/P on GW/SW-005. Ben GW4BML gave me the fourth qualifying contact 10 minutes in. I’ve not used 2m FM much before, but I am warming to it! Eight further calls came in over the next 30 minutes, including Viki’s other half Rod, MW0JLA/P also on GW/SW-005, and non-SOTA operator Stu GW7HJN/P who was on Mynydd y Betws (though he didn’t know it was GW/SW-028!) testing a new portable antenna set-up. Initially I was excited by the thought of another S2S, but when entering the log I realised I’d not checked whether Stu was operating within SOTA rules so didn’t claim it. Stu if you’re reading this and you were operating without any connection to your vehicle let me know!


Me operating by the trig, Gerald’s operating position in the foreground

After being passed the mic for a quick chat with Viki. MW6BWA/P, Gerald got started on 30m CW. A couple of CQs got the RBN into action and Lothar DL3HXX was first into the log. Then the chaos began. Everyone calling seemed to be intent on netting precisely on frequency and calling multiple times. The result was a loud monotone that lasted for almost a minute. All Gerald could do was wait to see if anyone opportunely chipped in their callsign once the frequency went quiet. Usually this invoked others to respond so all that was received was a few letters, sufficient to initiate contact under most circumstances, but quite a few callers were not listening attentively. This made the going very difficult. However, Gerald managed to wade through the mire and complete 31 QSOs in 35 minutes before the frequency eventually went quiet at 1247. It was obvious that some callers had given up, either due to lack of time or in disgust…. hopefully not at Gerald’s operating.

Last in my 2M FM log was long-time SOTA compatriot Frank, G3RMD. Gerald had just finished taming his unruly pile-up on 30m, so I passed the mic to him for a chat with Frank before he changed the dipole links for 60m and handed control of his HF station to me. The band was very noisy (S6/7) but signals were good and flattened it well. Andrew, G4AFI came straight back to my initial call on 5.3985, followed by ace chaser Don, G0RQL. I passed the mic to Gerald (who was now eating his dinner!) to pass his regards to Don, then continued to make another dozen calls including G, GI, GM, and EI and best DX for the day Mick, LB6BG near Stavanger. Last call was Steve, G4CWS at 1334 and when the channel went quiet I handed the HF station back to Gerald to check out 20m, while I snacked again and packed up.

Conditions on 20m CW did not seem to be as good as they had been on 30m earlier. First into the log on the band was Guru EA2IF followed by Mirko S52CU, both of whom Gerald had worked earlier on 30m. Just 6 were worked in 10 minutes, the last caller being Gary K3TCU who unfortunately did not respond to Gerald’s report, probably on account of conditions having worsened. After this Gerald decided to pull the plug as it was now 1355.

We were both packed and ready to leave by 1420, spot on time and the descent was an uneventful reverse of the ascent. Having made good time, we had a chance to take in our surroundings on the way down :slight_smile:


Fomitopsis pinicola on fallen log

The cows were absent this time, but the deep slough of their ordure remained to be forded… fortunately a large puddle in the track below allowed for a good washing of boots before changing back into civvies.

All in all it had been a successful and highly enjoyable expedition, and I am forever indebted to Gerald for his continuing friendship, support and encouragement through what has been a very difficult time for me. And for the pictures in this report :slight_smile: Our next outing would be our attempt on Rhinog Fach, GW/NW-078 – watch this space!

12 Likes

Thank you, Paul, for this nice report with pictures. Very nice to see where you were operating from when Gerald and I made our QSOs on 30 and 20m.
I’m glad that you seem to be recovering well from your recent surgery and I hope all those problems will be definitely left behind for ever. You are blessed with Gerald’s friendship and you know it.
I’ll be looking forward to your next joint activation report.
73,

Guru

5 Likes

Great report Paul and photos. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers Geoff vk3sq

1 Like

Thanks for a lovely activation report. I wasn’t able to get to my radio, it sounds like I missed a fantastic weekend. I look forward getting you in the log on your adventures in the future.
73, Kevin

1 Like