Monday 28 September 2015
After a 2 week break it was time to get back to the hills again. Looking at my list of hills to do and the travel distance involved, my next closest group of hills were in South Wales. So it was off to Newbridge Trecelyn near Newport for a group of three one pointers. With the days starting to draw in it was necessary to aim to be at the start point close to first light. So it was a 5am start from home up the A34 and along the M4 to Newport. As part of my planning for this trip, I checked out the Severn Bridge website to see how much I was going to have to pay for the privilege of driving into Wales. The price was as expected – £6.50 however, I noticed a section on exemptions so had a quick look – you never know! I could get a free pass with my Wife’s ‘Blue Badge’ had she been with me but I was on my own this time. However, I noted that if the car was taxed ‘Disabled’ then I could get a free pass without my wife being there. All I had to do was show my Registration Document at the pay booth and I get a free pass into Wales – result.
Whilst driving across I was able to enjoy the end of the Lunar Eclipse – quite a spectacular sight given the closeness of the moon and hence its larger than normal size.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle.
Mynydd Twyn-glas GW/SW-019
I arrived at the parking area (ST 235980) at 0730, quickly booted up and set off along the track at a gentle pace for the 1.5 mile walk to the summit. The weather forecast was good for today but following a clear night and a drop in temperature, there was a thick fog hanging over the hill. This started to burn off a little towards the end of the activation. The climb to the summit is easy over a good track with a gentle incline. Distance travelled 1.5 miles, total ascent 365 feet, time taken 35 minutes.
The plan was to open on 40m SSB then follow this with a session on CW however, on setting up I realised that I had left my mic in the car to it was CW only on this first hill. My last few excursions into the hills had been successful but disappointing with regard to the propagation conditions, so I was not expecting great things from today. How wrong could I have been. Within 1 minute of my spot appearing via the RBN I had a string of QSO’s from across Europe and the UK. In total 12 QSO’s were logged in 10 minutes before the calls ran dry. I checked Sotawatch to see if Phil OK/G4OBK/P was available but I had already missed him so it was time to pack up and head back to the car for a coffee.
Mynydd y Lan GW/SW-024
It was only a 15 minute drive to the next location so it wasn’t even worth taking my boots off. There is just about room for one car in the entrance of the track way without blocking off access (ST 194933). Apart from the initial steep pull up past the ‘solar’ farm this is a quick and easy walk to the disused WT towers which, although not at the summit, are well inside the AZ. Distance travelled 0.5 miles, Ascent 167 feet Time Taken 12 minutes.
This time I had my mic with me so a quick check of Sotawatch showed that Phil was on 20m SSB from OK/KR-020 and was the first in the log for a nice S2S. Moving away from his frequency a self spot brought 6 QSO’s from across Europe before the QRG went quiet. Changing to 40m SSB was very fruitful with 20 QSO’s logged in 13 minutes principally from the UK with a handful of European stations. Due to having had such good run on SSB I decided not to get the key out but to head off to the last of the hills today.
Mynydd Machen GW/SW-030
Although the drive to this hill was only 5 miles the last part in up some very ‘interesting’ steep and narrow lanes. Thankfully I didn’t meet any cars coming the other way because passing spaces were at a premium. Again there is parking for at least one , maybe two cars at the start of the track way (ST 216907). By the time I arrived here the last traces of the mist and fog had burnt off and the temperatures had started to rise enough to take the fleece off. The route starts off on a very steep concrete tracked section which pulls up onto the ridgeway. Once here the walk is fairly easy and relaxing up to the radio towers and trig point. Distance 0.75 miles, Ascent 343 feet, Time Taken 20 minutes.
I decided to follow the same MO as on the previous activation although there was to be no QSO with Phil this time. I opened up on 20m SSB and had a great run of 12 QSO’s from across Europe before switching to 40m SSB. 14 more QSO’s were logged before the calls ran dry. By now I was relaxing in the grass in blazing sunshine and starting to feel the effects of the early start. So before I got too comfortable I packed up and phoned the XYL whilst taking a gentle stroll back down the track to the car. and a spot of lunch before heading off home. I was tempted to head to one of the hills to the west near Caerphilly but decided against it as I want to do the four hills in the Caerphilly/Pontypridd area on my next trip, maybe next week.
Today has been a great conclusion to a good September of walking. In all I have activated 13 summits during the month from Crowborough Hill in the east to Mynydd y Lan in the west, Staple Hill in the south to Worcestershire Beacon in the north. The real bonus for me wasn’t the free pass into Wales but the great radio conditions, something that has been missing from the last few activations.
Thank you to all the chasers as usual because whilst the hills are beautiful and tranquil, and the walking exhilarating, the activation would be boring without you.