Want a rare one?

All being well, Jimmy and myself will be activating on 40m (CW+SSB) from Mynydd Enlli GW/NW-072 on Sunday. For those who don’t know, this is on Bardsey Island off the west coast of Wales. The Database shows 15 activations to date, but closer inspection reveals there have been only 7 expeditions to activate the island summit, mostly with two or more activators teaming up.

The trip is at the mercy of the weather of course - if the wx is bad, the boat won’t sail - but we’ll try to do it on one of the following two days in that case. We’ll also be getting Jimmy up to speed on all of the Lleyn Peninsular summits that he needs to catch me up on Uniques. 40m will be the main band throughout - but if it starts chucking it down and we can get by on 2m handhelds - we will!

I would have assumed that HF would be necessary from these summits, which are largely blocked from the NW by the big stuff in Snowdonia. But I was pleasantly surprised by an unexpectedly easy 2m FM activation of Moel-y-Gest GW/NW-067 recently.

Are any of the serious chasers particularly looking for any of NW-050, NW-058, NW-064, NW-066, NW-068, NW-072 or NW-075?


In reply to M1EYP:
Good luck with your trip Tom. Weather looks promising for the weekend although allow plenty of time to get there due to the bank holiday weekend.

I’ve usually managed a few contact along the West coast of Wales down to Cornwall on 2m FM from Bardsey.

Bardsey Island counts as EU-124 for IOTA.

Roger MW0IDX

In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom
I hope the trip goes well. I was in North Wales on a campsite near Aberdaron in a caravan awning at the weekend. It was a nightmare involving wind, rain, wind a leaking awning and disabled facilities that were not disabled friendly!! We came home early. Its taken three days to get over ;-). I hope the weather will be a lot better for you!
I’m not sure if I count as a “serious” chaser, but NW-058 is the only one on your list that I am missing. I think I should be able to get you on vhf as its pretty much line of sight across Cardigan Bay.
Hope to catch you or Jimmy at some point over the weekend.

In reply to M1EYP:
Tom, I’ll be listening, in between bouts of servicing the Land Rover. Have doubts about there being a 40m path to Cheltenham at that range on 40m. Still, no harm trying (and Bardsey island is wanted for WAB claim too!).

Good luck with the activations, hope there aren’t too many ‘weekenders’ to trip over, HI.

73 Graham G4FUJ

Well, nobody got the rare one. Not even Jimmy as an activator.

On every day of our stay on the Lleyn, the Bardsey boat was not sailing due to the rough seas. We still filled the time productively though, doing all the remaining summits on the Lleyn mainland that Jimmy still needed as activator uniques:

NW-068 Carneddol - 40m SSB (dipole/817/5w/2 qso), 40m CW (dipole/817/5w/4 qso), 2m FM (RD/HH/5w/2 qso)

NW-066 Garn Boduan - 40m SSB (dipole/817/5w/1 qso), 40m CW (dipole/817/5w/8 qso), 2m FM (RD/HH/5w/3 qso)
NW-058 Carn Fadryn - 40m SSB (dipole/817/5w/0 qso), 40m CW (dipole/817/5w/12 qso), 2m FM (RD/HH/5w/4 qso)
NW-064 Mynydd Rhiw - 80m SSB (dipole/817/5w/8 qso), 80m CW (dipole/817/5w/8 qso)

NW-075 Yr Eifl - 2m FM (SB3/817/5w/8 qso)

and finally, a new unique for both of us…
NW-050 Gyrn Ddu - 2m FM (RD/HH/5w/8 qso)

Bardsey Island, and its SOTA summit, Mynydd Enlli GW/NW-072, will have to wait for another day. Perhaps I will visit the Lleyn in Summer next time…!

Activation reports in detail to follow soon.


Saturday 23rd August 2008

Carneddol GW/NW-068

It was a 6am getaway in order to make the most of the day. The car was already packed with the clothes, SOTA gear and camping gear, and Jimmy, Liam and I were on the road well before 7am. Surprsingly, neither of the boys wanted to pull in for breakfast at Lymm Truck Stop, so we pressed on. However, by the time we hit one of the diners early on the A55, attitudes had modified, so in we went for some rather nice bacon and scrambled egg wraps and a pot of tea.

The route to the Lleyn Peninsular followed the A55, and then the signs for Pwllheli until reaching the village of Y Ffor. Here, we turned right and located our campsite. The tent went up easily - Jimmy and I are getting quite good at it now, after 8 years of practice - and we were eagerly anticipating our first summit of the Bank Holiday weekend. It was a warm and sunny afternoon - perfect.

We parked by the gate due East of the summit, as we had done four years earlier. We started to plod up the hill, which seemed like hard work for a summit that looks so close on the map. However, once that hard work was over and the land levelled out, there was the summit before us. Jimmy raced to the top, snapping away with the camera, while Liam and I found a slightly sheltered spot by some rocks, doing our best to avoid a stiff old breeze, an unwelcome gatecrasher to the afternoon.

Jimmy rejoined the party and assisted me in setting up the 40m dipole. He started of the activation on 7.055MHz SSB, and soon worked ON3WAB and PA3FYG. However, nothing else was doing on 40m SSB. Jimmy lunged for his handheld and gave a speculative call - GW4XSX/M. But no more.

“OK, my turn” I said, “You can try again for your fourth later”. Moving on to 7.032MHz CW, I made just four contacts. F6HIA and 9A7W both called me as well, but deep QSB put paid to both of those, with exchanges incomplete. So four, not six for me. During this, out of nowhere, a very heavy rain shower kicked in and completely soaked us. In seconds, our trousers were so wet as to render the donning of waterproof overtrousers pointless. Jimmy called again on the VX-110 and got another local, so we were done.

It was chucking it down, and we weren’t hanging about. I told Jimmy to take the car keys and descend with his brother, and that I would pack everything up myself. Thoughts of a second summit on the opening day were abolished, as we made our way back to the campsite to dry off and change into dry clothes.

We were expecting to be joined by my brother-in-law Campbell and his son Calum, but there was no sign. We lazed around in the tent looking at maps and listening to the hammering sound of rain on canvas. Eventually, at 6pm, Jimmy and Liam’s cousing and uncle arrived and pitched in the rain. Nobody fancied firing up the stoves in this, so we took a drive into Pwllheli for fish & chips.

Meanwhile, a call to the operators of the Bardsey Island ferry revealed that tomorrow morning’s crossing had been cancelled due to the sea being too rough. Was the weekend going to be a wash-out?

For the first time ever, the large front “living area” part of my tent was used that night, with Campbell, Calum, Jimmy and myself sitting and chatting around the gaslight until around midnight. Liam was tucked up in his sleeping bag before 10pm. A couple of warm fleeces each, plus Stella and Kronenburg 1664 for the grown-ups, helped diminish concerns about the storm that was battering around outside!


Sunday 24th August 2008

Garn Boduan GW/NW-066

It had been a rough old night, but the elements weren’t able to remove the guys, whether the human or the rope variety. The morning however, promised much. It was warm and sunny, although still very breezy and no doubt keeping the Bardsey boat at bay.

We piled the two cars and drove the short distance around to the gate and track entrance up to Garn Boduan. Campbell commented on how easy-going the walking was compared to the trackless plods through bleak moorland he did with a mate in Ireland some time ago. I admitted that I sometimes did that sort of walking as well!

The route up Garn Boduan is very short and easy, via a series of zigzagging forest rides, with a short scramble up the rocks at the end. On of the summit shelters seemed to be infested with hornets, so I elected to drop back down to the heathery land below, shelter from the wind (and the hornets) and lap up the sunshine.

While setting up, Jimmy yelped to say that he thought a fly had got up his trousers leg. He continued to squeak with anxiety as he heard it buzzing and felt it rubbing against his leg, getting higher and higher. Then he pulled out his trousers from his waist to reveal a rather large bee, no doubt relieved to have the escape route rather than perform a suicide that could have been particularly painful for Jimmy!

Campbell and Calum were amazed at how our smallish rucksacks transformed into an HF antenna system reaching 7m into the sky! Jimmy started again, but had no joy on 40m SSB. I went to 7.032MHz CW and swiftly made 8 QSOs. Another stab on 7.118MHz SSB by Jimmy brought a contact with Lutz DL3SBA/P. But there was to be no further joy on HF. I packed the main station away, while Jimmy scrambled back up to the summit shelter with his VX-110, which easily got him the other three contacts required.

Back at the cars, Campbell and Calum said they were going into Pwllheli rather than doing any more walking. We, however, were going over to Carn Fadryn GW/NW-058.


In reply to M1EYP:

Good reports as far as they go. Lacking in detail though - i.e. no mention of soup.



Sunday 24th August 2008

Carn Fadryn GW/NW-058

I wonder how many other SOTA summits have roadsigns bearing their name? I can think of signs to ‘Briw’ (Mynydd-y-briw GW/NW-060), Boduan (Garn Boduan GW/NW-066), ‘Cloudside’ (The Cloud G/SP-015), Ben Nevis, Hope, Crowborough, Walton Hill… lots really.

Anyway, Carn Fadryn doesn’t have a roadsign. But there are several roadsigns that point the way to Garn Fadryn, the small village at the foot of the hill. We parked in the car park by the chapel, with spaces at a premium on this lovely Bank Holiday Sunday.

Carn Fadryn towered high above us as we made initial progress up the stony track. We then turned right to follow the path by the wall as it contoured its way around the lower flanks of the hill to a height of 300m ASL. At this point, a series of zigzags started, which enabled us to gain height fairly rapidly, but without too much pain. It wasn’t long before we had rounded off and were walking around a level path towards the final mound, upon which sat the yellow trig point.

We were last here on a misty damp morning for the 2004 SOTA Barbecue, so the sunshine and wide-ranging views were welcome. At first, I didn’t think there would be enough room on the summit area for HF. But then I thought I might just be able to squeeze it in, so gave it a go. It did fit, just.

Jimmy MW3EYP/P was a bit put-off 40m SSB after its unremarkable performance earlier, so he reached straight for his handheld, and made a coupld of contacts. Just the two though, despite further calling, so I took over and unleashed the Mini Palm Paddle on the FT-817. I made a rapid run of 12 QSOs, but then things were suddenly very quiet. Jimmy called again on his 2m FM hand-portable, and got the other two contacts required.

Getting back to the car was necessarily a little slower than our recent routine, where Liam would be dispatched to commence his descent while we started packing up. He had suffered a third seizure a couple of Sundays ago, and so he had to wait until we were all ready to descend. Him walking ahead on his own is not an option currently.

A pleasant descent in the sunshine saw us reaching the car by about 4.30pm local. We realised we could probably snag a third activation for the day, with an appropriate choice of summit. Mynydd Rhiw GW/NW-064 therefore, was the next target.


Richard, old boy, I can hardly mention the soup as we didn’t take any with us. Please be patient, wait for the next activation report, and I will inform you of the delights I prepared on my new camping stove back at the campsite.


In reply to M1EYP:

I was quite shocked to hear of your rain come storm Tom. Mike DSP and I activated NW-067 NW-068 and NW-064 after dropping friends off at a campsite in Porthmadog just a few miles from your own campsite. Friday was a beautiful sunny day all day although the wind was strong especially on Mynydd Rhiw. We activated NW-056 in horrific wx conditions on Monday morning on the way to pick our friends up after their weekend camping. We asked them how the weather had been and they said it had been good all weekend excepting the odd light shower and the high winds and only turned bad on the Monday morning. It’s strange how the weather can differ so much over just a few miles.

To Richard please please please don’t encourage the soup chronicles i beg you, hi.

Barry 2E0PXW

Sunday 24th August 2008

Mynydd Rhiw GW/NW-064

From Carn Fadryn GW/NW-058, Jimmy reeled off the directions to Mynydd Rhiw GW/NW-064. We left the car a short distance onto the access drive for the transmitter complex up there, and walked the rest of the way to the summit. It was getting on for 5.30pm local, and I didn’t fancy Jimmy’s chances much on 40m SSB or even on 2m FM. So I opted for 80m, figuring that it was late enough in the day for it to work properly.

Which it did. The dipole was strung out just in front of the final mound upon which the trig point sits, and Jimmy got straight onto 3.660MHz SSB. Joy! A pile-up! Jimmy was pleased, and worked his way through 8 callers.

I then took my turn on 3.557MHz CW. I called and called. And called. Nothing. Well nothing apart from somebody anonymously sending “HI” and a couple of derogatory remarks. I did then get G0TDM, but further calls seemed to be being deliberately QRM’d, possibly by the same person.

I read somebody sending “QSY 3.556”, so decided to go with this in an effort to avoid the nonsense. Here I worked a further seven stations, QRM free, and thus matching Jimmy’s 8 contacts.

We drove back to the campsite listening to Liam’s choice of CD (Top Gear Rock Anthems!), and met back up with Campbell and Calum. Into the mess tin went three cans of Irish Stew, which warmed nicely on the gas stove. It was a surprisingly enjoyable and satisfying meal, especially when finished off with Marianne’s homemade tealoaf and chocolate cake which she had kindly dispatched with us on leaving.

Not so satisfying was the same answer when I called the Bardsey boatman. “No, sea is still too rough to sail tomorrow” he said. Maybe Tuesday then, but this was not looking good. With the light quickly fading approaching 9pm, Liam retreated to his sleeping bag, while the other four of us sat in the and chatted. I stayed in the 1664 timezone, while Campbell introduced a bottle of wine to augment his Stella Artois. A bottle of rum was found, that Marianne seemed to have slipped into the food box, perhaps assuming that anything involving her brother had to involve lots of alcohol! Calum and Jimmy, of course, remained teetotal.

That enough culinary detail for you Richard?


Too late Barry, the deed is done!

Wx: Saturday was lovely until about 3.20pm, then wet right through from then, and really nasty in the night.

Sunday was really nice all day, apart from the wind, but again worsened overnight.

Monday and Tuesday were very grey and gloomy with low cloud - but it never actually rained.

What crazy time did you set off on Monday morning to be on NW-056 by the time you were? You got problems sleeping at night?!

Cheers, Tom

Monday 25th August 2008

Yr Eifl GW/NW-075

Liam was chuntering a bit that he was hoping this was a seaside holiday, but was turning out to be a SOTA holiday. Fair comment I thought, so Monday morning saw us drive down to Pwllheli where he was given a tub of 2ps and a few 50ps in the arcade, then a ride in the dodgems. Job done; it certainly wasn’t beach weather!

Back at the campsite, mid-afternoon, Jimmy and I began to plot a teatime activation of Yr Eifl. We had been admiring the summit over the past two days, but today its peak was well above the cloudbase. “No point in me coming if there’s to be no view” said my intrepid brother-in-law. Calum wanted to try out his new wetsuit, and Liam didn’t want to go “summit walking”. Campbell invited Liam to go with him and Calum down to Nefyn, while Jimmy and I did the activation. Convenient, and a welcome opportunity for Jimmy and I to bag a rapid ascent and slick activation all in time for tea. Ha!

Jimmy directed me to the large car park beneath the hill, but then we didn’t correctly remember which path to take - there’s a maze of them at the start of this hill. We followed the wall for a while, but when it started sloping downwards, we realised we had missed the path. We cut left, and began climbing the grassy slopes in increasingly poor visability.

Our trousers were soon wet again. It wasn’t raining, but in the clag, the long grass and abundant heather were drenched. The moisture was transferred effortlessly to our clothes. We continued to angle left and uphill, and soon met the stony path we should have been on. Now it was a straightforward march to the summit, and we bedded down in the down hollowed shelter.

We set up the SOTA Beam and FT-817 and worked four QSOs each, seven different stations between us. I was expecting more from this lofty perch, but just seven it was, and all in GW apart from Jordan M3TMX across the water in Cumbria.

Now we set off on our descent. We followed the stony track back down off the summit and looked forward to our imminent liaison with the car. Except that the path bended around the wrong way, there were some boulder fields we didn’t recall, and the lie of the land was wrong! We reached a broad shoulder and it started going uphill again!

This was bad. We had been descending for 45 minutes and were quite tired. The poor visability meant that we couldn’t pinpoint exactly where we were although I had a fair idea. The compass confirmed the direction we needed to be going, and the (uphill) path ahead was certainly not it! The map did not indicate any viable escape routes, nor did the ground, with the lofty saddle being surrounded by steep and treacherous boulder fields, as far as we could see anyway.

One option remained. Reluctantly, Jimmy and I agreed to turn back, and return to the summit of Yr Eifl, and start over. This was hard work, with some difficult energy-sapping terrain and some steep sections. We had to regain all our lost height, which was quite considerable.

Adrenalin powered us to the summit, and the sight of the trig point was welcome in a way. A few steps to the side of the path we had taken was another. “Ah, here we are” I said. And off down that path we went. This time, it only took us five minutes or so to realise we were heading the very same wrong way again! Back to the summit again!

More map and compass work. Another few steps to the side. And here, definitely, was the main drag down. And really, it was so much more of a wide, well-trodden established path that we really shouldn’t have allowed ourselves to continue as long as we did on the other route. Still, there you go, no-one’s past a good-old mistake, regardless of how experienced they are. I heard of very experienced walker, quite an elderley chap, who recently descended the entire Snowdon Ranger Path believing it to be the Llanberis Path!

Our little scrape had cost us 90 minutes overall. But in a funny sort of way, it was quite stimulating too, realising that we were in that little scrape, but confident in our own ability and determination to get ourselves out of it.

The first job upon reaching the campsite was to apologise to my brother-in-law for the unbooked overtime on his babysitting, quickly followed by firing up the stove and cracking a can.

It was a three-course meal tonight. Liam had a tin of spaghetti, while Jimmy and I had beans & sausages. The was followed by Chicken & Mushroom Pot Noodles all round, and then more of mummy’s homemade cakes. By then, it was dark, Liam’s bedtime, and back into my big tent front room for chat, and lager.


In reply to M1EYP:

It started raining at approx 2000 local in Porthmadog Tom.

On Monday we left DSP’s QTH at approx 0450 local in reasonable wx. No problems sleeping but we had to be at the campsite to pick the lads up before 1200 or they would have to pay for another night and they had put the petrol in my tank to pick them up so to get the activation in we had to leave at silly oclock.


Tuesday 26th August 2008

Gyrn Ddu GW/NW-050

Guess what? The Bardsey boat was still not sailing. Aargh! Four days on the Lleyn, and no Bardsey Island. It will have to be done another time, but without the company of those fine little hills on the peninsular. Unless we do them again of course - that’s not against the rules, is it?

The weather looked exactly the same as yesterday. Low cloud, shrouding the summits of the local one pointers, and hiding most of Yr Eifl and Gyrn Ddu from view. Windy, but, not raining. A possibility of an activation, I thought.

However, after unpitching the tent and loading the car, Campbell suggested we all meet in Pwllheli for breakfast. Knowing that he was referring to the cafe adjoining the arcade, and a “Full Welsh Breakfast” of sausage, bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, soda bread, black pudding, toast and tea, for £5.20, we didn’t need any persuading! Recommended - very very good indeed.

Then it was time to go our separate ways. Campbell and Calum were considering camping over in the Llandudno area, but we had to be back home for Liam’s hospital tests the following day. I decided we would have a crack at Gyrn Ddu, but with the option of bottling-out and retreating if things didn’t go too well. The weather looked like it was capable of doing anything without warning, and I well recall Shirley MW0YLS’s lack of enthusiasm for this hill.

In actual fact, this turned out to be the best outing of the holiday. We parked on a small grass verge by the entrance to Cwm-coryn farm at SH403452. We progressed up the PROW which was initially coincidental with the farm drive, but then soon mislaid the path. This was not a problem though, for we were able to progress easily enough, and in the right direction through gaps in walls through the fields.

The side of a large house loomed eerily and unexectedly through the mist, and this was marked on the map as Homestead, and was quite an impressive ruin, if that is not too much of a contradiction in terms! We met the West-East running PROW at around SH403460, and followed it to the wall running steeply uphill at SH409462. Jimmy had been researching, and knew that G3CWI struck off uphill at the very point.

Therefore so did we, but our initial hard work came to nought. At the top of this steep field was a high wall with barned wire fence, completely enclosing us. There was no way through. We had no alternative but to retreat down the the PROW, go over the stile, and ascend on the other side of the wall!

At about SH406465, was a large hole in the wall. Jimmy suggested that we crawl through it to get on the side the the summit was in, in case we were similarly blocked further up. I agreed, so through we went. The next section was hellishly steep on long wet greasy grass, and not pleasant at all. I aimed west, so as to relieve the gradient by “contouring” up the hill, and to aim for the saddle, rather than unneccessarily climbing to the 491m peak at SH405467.

We didn’t quite make the saddle, and had a gentle downhill section to achieve it. We then angled right to avoid the 490m contour ring at SH402467, and out of the mist loomed a big lump of high rocks. Bingo! We had successfully navigated across a desolate and lonely place, with little more than 20 feet of visability, to the summit of Gyrn Ddu.

However, there was work to be done. This big lump of rocks had to be scrambled up to attain the summit. The rocks were greasy, and many deep holes lurked between them, each with genuine leg-breaking or body-trapping potential. This was exacerbated by hardly any of the rocks lying with horizontal surfaces at the top on which to place one’s boots!

Slowly, surely, and safely, we picked our way to the summit cairn at the top, and paused for breath. Liam sat down on the only flat rock surface in a half-mile radius, while Jimmy and I stood, passing the VX-7R between each other. If we could activate this one on HH/RD, we would. A challenging descent remained, and I did not want the boys getting too cold or tired.

As it was, we each easily made four contacts each, including one with EI5GQB/M working on an electiricty substation in County Wicklow. After carefully picking our way back down the rocks, we headed East over the moor and slightly downhill. We came across a tractor track, so I changed the descent plan and said “Follow this!”. We did, and it gave us very easy and reassuring walking back down to the PROW. We hit this path further West than where we did on the ascent, but we continued through the fields in a south-westerly direction and spotted the ruins at Homestead lurking through the clag.

This was good to see, and we knew we would be reunited with the car within quarter of an hour. Back at the lane, the boys and I were busy drying our feet, removing socks and changing into sandals. I went a little further, changing everything, fortunate that no other vehicles passed by as I did!

We had all run out of water from our hydration packs during the day, so a liquid refreshment stop at a pub in Bethesda was a welcome one. Then it was foot down, A55, M56, M6 and home. That finest of establishments, the Weston Balti Raj issued the take-away that fed us upon our return home.

So, disappointing weather, missed out on the Bardsey Island trip, and altogether nothing like my last trip to the Lleyn back in 2004. But really, we made the best of it and got six activations done, all required uniques for Jimmy, and even Unique number 195 for me. The highlight was definitely the expedition on Gyrn Ddu, the navigation involved, and Liam’s fine performance on a challenging hike.

73, Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

Sunday 24th August 2008
A bottle of run was found, that Marianne
seemed to have slipped into the food box,

Is that Syrup of Figs Tom?

Roger G4OWG

Doh. Jimmy reported that mistake to me half-an-hour ago. Hadn’t got round to correcting it. Will do now…


The new pages, with photos, for…

GW/NW-068 Carneddol
GW/NW-066 Garn Boduan
GW/NW-058 Carn Fadryn
GW/NW-064 Mynydd Rhiw

…are now available on http://tomread.co.uk

Yr Eifl and Gyrn Ddu will follow shortly, as will the Easington Fell Cheese & Wine.


GW/NW-075 Yr Eifl
GW/NW-050 Gyrn Ddu

…now on http://tomread.co.uk with all the photos to prove it! No background views though - just a blanket of deep grey…!