Warden harassment Pen Y Fan (GW/SW-001), and encountering an abandoned walker

Today I made my second venture in GW/SW land - tackling Pen-Y-Fan (GW/SW-001). As Martin (2E0BIA) has a lead on the number of VK QSOs this year (another of our silly competitions), and as the weather was looking better early doors, I started this one at silly o’clock - 6 a.m. As 8 pointers go, this was a pretty easy summit,; still I didn’t arrive until way after 7 a.m. Sadly I had missed the window for.a VK QSO, so I set about building my home for the next few hours - a DD tarps pyramid tent - on a rather pleasant but cloudy summit.

Being the biggest summit in the Brecon Beacons (South Wales), Pen-Y-Fan attracts the fitness types, and lots of retired squaddies. So throughout the day, I spent a considerable amount of time fielding questions form military sounding chaps who usually began the conversation with. "You’re doing HF, right ?. After one very interesting conversation with a pair of ex-special forces chaps, who recalled the day they were “doing HF” while being shot at, I was approached by a rather pompous gentleman, who began by demanding to know what I was doing.(demanding rather than asking). It was by now pissing it down so I did my bit for the cause, and explained what SOTA was all about from the relative comfort of my nice dry tent. Some time later he went away satisfied I would ask permission next time, but very much wetter.

By now I had bagged myself a lot of QSOs.and S2S, so as I had started the day at some ungodly hour, I found myself having what my better half likes to call a unscheduled Nana nap. Half an hour later I was abruptly woken by my walking pole, which had for most of the day been holding up the tent, but had now decided to throw in the towel. The wind outside had gone from brisk to hurricane force in less than 30 minutes (while I was off duty), and had flattened the tent with me in it. i therefore extracted myself as eloquently as one could from the ditritus around me (tent, ruck sack, batteries and radio), quickly packed away and made a hasty retreat.

By now the wind was something I have not experienced for a long time, and I descended Pen-Y-Fan keeping as far away from the ridge edges as possible - for fear of being blown over, or worse blown off. After a descent of about 150m.or there abouts, I came across a young lad struggling in the conditions; trying to make progress up to the summit with rather large rucksack. He saw me coming down, and so approached me to enquire how far it was to the top. He looked absolutely terrified, and after chatting to him for a while to check he was ok, it turned out his “mates” had left him behind. I asked him if he had a map, and whether he knew where he was going. He didn’t and so asked me if it was ok if he could come back down with me.

This he did and I’m glad to say we managed to get in touch with his mates to let them know he was ok…Some.mates hey!

Anyway, despite the challenging weather, pompous warden and abandoned walker, it was a very successful day… 101 QSOs, 4 bands (6m, 2m, 40m, 15m and 20m) , 8.activator points and 56 S2S. However next time, I’ll pick a better day…



P S. Has anyone else been confronted by a ranger/warden in the Brecom beacons and is it necessary to seek permission - from the National trust I think he said.


You don’t need permission from the NT, they are aware of SOTA and are happy with low impact activations.

Was your activation “low impact” ?

My personal opinion is that if you have a tent set up at the top of a massively popular summit then the answer is no.


I was looking forward to another S2S too.


Like Andy… I suspect this is more about the tent than the radio. Probably thought you were camping, which definitely does require permission from the landowner in the majority of England and Wales.

Good job!


I looked at the NT bylaws. Interesting. Byelaw 13, under the heading of “Camping” states:

“No unauthorised person shall pitch, erect or permit to remain on Trust Property any tent, booth, windbreak, pole, clothes-line, building, shed, post, fence, railing or other erection or obstruction whatever.”

I take this to mean that tents and shelters are a no-no, so are antenna poles, and they could argue that any wire antenna is an obstruction.

OTOH, it appears that your radio equipment is OK as long as you use headphones:

“15. No person shall:
(b) In the open air on any Trust Property, after having been requested to desist by any person on Trust Property who is disturbed by the sound of the instrument operate or cause or suffer to be operated any wireless set, television set, tape-recorder, gramaphone, amplifier or similar instrument, or operate or play upon any noisy or musical instrument.”

This seems clearly to apply also to mobile phones!

ISTM that a hand-held rig with antenna also being hand-held is OK as long as you are using headphones and are not bellowing into the mike! Anything more than that and you either seek permission or use discretion so as not to be caught! :wink:

PS There is a similar restriction regarding camping on Open Access Land so someone might legitimately complain about the use of tents and shelter on such land.


All land is owned by someone or something, and permission is required for virtually any specific activity other than passing through on a public right of way.

It is essential that no landowners, especially ones that cover a huge amount of summits like National Trust, are prompted in any way to make a blanket decision about operating amateur radio.

As Andy has said, NT has previously* said that low-impact activities do not require individual permission, and that it considers amateur radio to be a low-impact activity. (*It was getting on for twenty years ago so let’s be cautious!)

Low impact - in practical terms - means not pitching a tent, using clearly lightweight equipment (fishing poles, not scaffold poles for instance), not doing “all day” activations on busy/popular sites and keeping the noise down.

That’s not to say do not do any of the above ever - I do some of these myself from time-to-time. But the choice of time and location is crucial. If I am doing something longer than the typical 30-60 minute thing myself on The Cloud (for instance, as it’s an NT site), I tend to do so in the late evening or early morning, or set up within the AZ but well away from anywhere that other people are likely to tread.

And ultimately, I firmly believe that the best advice, both for the individual and the SOTA programme as a whole, is if a warden or other person in some kind of authority asks you to cease and pack away - just do it - even if you believe they are out-of-order / in the wrong.

On the few (single-figures out of approaching 4000 activations) occasions that’s happened to me, I’ve just said “OK, I’ll pack up now, no problem”. And every time, the warden has said “Well how long were you going to be?” and I’ve said “about another 15-30 minutes”, or even “just until I’ve got two more contacts”. Without fail, upon realising that my installation was nowhere near as “permanent” as they assumed, they’ve said “Oh that should be fine then”.

If we are polite, cooperative to the point of being compliant, and accepting that we have no automatic right to be doing amateur radio in these places, then we should be generally fine. Works for me anyway.


Same with farmers. On the rare occasions (maybe 2 or 3 times out of 100’s) they came to see me, as soon as they realise I’m not stealing, fly-tipping, partying, etc but doing amateur radio for a short duration with nowt left behind once I’ve gone, they became friendly indeed chatty.


Indeed, I first came across this on Kinder Scout G/SP-001 around 40 years ago when operating 10GHz with 144MHz talkback - yagi on the aluminium pole and dish on a tripod. The warden was happy to let us carry on until tea-time. Common sense prevailed, though I do wonder whether there is less of it around nowadays. :thinking:


The regulations about land access are only applicable in England & Wales (no idea about Northern Ireland).
Responsible right to roam is enshrined in law in Scotland - note RESPONSIBLE


With respect, this conversation is not about access, but about carrying out activities on other people’s/organisations’ land. In this regard, I suspect the situation in GM is not dissimilar to that in G and GW.


Farmers are not always friendly (even if their dogs are!) Read my recent posts about the farmer on Access Land near Dolgellau. The message was STOP, do not speak to anyone else, Take down this equipment NOW and get down from my private land. He then stood over me, and continued making his feelings clear while I complied. Once the kit was stowed I asked permission (might as well try to not cause any more ruffled feathers) to use the handy to my husband to say I was about to descend and this permission was granted. This was a ‘being on my private land without ;gaining permission from me personally (phone or email would not do)’ rather than a radio issue in any way. I am now awaiting what action (if any) will be taken by the Access and Well-being Manager (!!) for Snowdonia National Park.who was interested to hear about the problem of Acess being denied to Access Land (radio has not been mentioned in my report). I was warned that I might have to wait for some time as he had a bit of a backlog!

BTW We have never had any problems activating Pen y Fan (but normally move a medium distance away from the summit cairn so we don’t intrude on other people’s enjoyment (and Instagram). In fact we had a long chat with a warden we’d met in the car park at Cwm Gerdi and he then appeared on his quad bike at the summit where he wished there weren’t so many people around as he was in charge of footpath maintenance and had very limited resources (money and people) to try to keep the many paths in good repair. That’s another job i wouldn’t want to have!
Viki M6BWA


I think I’ve met two unfriendly farmers/landowners in circa 4000 activations. Add that to two officious/jobsworth wardens/rangers. And two disgruntled members of the public (fellow walkers) that were unimpressed at my being there.

I guess that’s not too bad out of 3900+ activations over 21 years. Friendly landowners/farmers/wardens/rangers/walkers over that time dominate by at least three scales of magnitude.

So in the grand scheme of things they are not a problem, but it is sensible to be mindful that they exist!


This is a quote from NI Direct (Government website)
“Most land is private property and access is only available with the goodwill and tolerance of the owner. Whilst most landowners do not object to recreational users on their land, some do. Always respect a landowner’s wishes.”

There are next to none public footpaths here. Most mountains are owned by individual farmers with a few by the National Trust and some by a few Dukes! These are mostly just small farmers who traditionally had a mountain for turf cutting- my family own Straid Hill - a HEMA and another branch owned mullaghmesh another HEMA. Many of them just tolerate the walkers and there are several hills here were access on many routes is barred and you need to know who to ask. I always go and ask permission and have never been refused- but we turn up in a landy and get the discussion round to the sheep on our farm here in Oville. Bessy Bell in Omagh where we were this weekend has no access now - even the Ulster Way was banned for a while but access allowed now when there is no shooting. They are currently culling 400 deer and we were lucky that there was no visibility otherwise they would have been out.
Extra edit! Forgot to add Forestry own a few but access isn’t always straightforward on some of these as well.



Not quite sure what the issue is with your Summit Shelter. I mean, who doesn’t take 40 winks on a busy summit, in a tent.

Besides, the tent is quite unobtrusive, tastefully decorated and quite stealthy. Also, it’s environmental friendly being mainly made from canvas and the bits of wood from IKEA flat-packs that are left over at the end no one knows what to do with.

Till the next S2S!

73, Robert


Nice Robert, but I think you would need Hermione’s handbag to haul that lot up to a summit. Personally, I’d love to see something like that on all summits - reserved for amateur radio use of course. As I reported a few weeks back, the cafe on Yr Wyddfa (GW/NW-001) is now open for business, and I found a cup of coffee and a pastry at 1085m most welcome. I have to say I was rather disappointed that it’s slightly shorter cousin in the south (GW/SW-001) did not offer quite such lavish facilities, or transport links. After all, the queue of people on both summits waiting to take a selfie with the celebrity trig points was about the same length, and the authorities really do have the same duty of care to provide facilities at such popular tourist hot spots. Next time I’m up there, and I encounter my new found friend, maybe I’ll enquire where the suggestion box is.




Or do it in style @M0JKS Dave at 12:00 mid-night, you even get to put 80m of wire in the sky on a 10m mast :rofl: chuck a tent up and have a picnic in the snow, that’s how you do it, isn’t it @MW0KXN Kev, hahaha




“Get your laughing tackle round that chocolate cake Kev” (said Ben)