Monday 29 February 2016
This winter period has not been the best for me from a walking point of view. Firstly there was illness at the start of December then the bad weather through January and now work issues. With one member of staff on leave there is flex to continue running the shop without hassle. However, add a member of staff off sick for 2 weeks means no time off for 14 straight days and hence no walking trips since the 7 February. With the bonus season fast running out (as pointed out by a well trained Mrs CFS) I took the first opportunity to get back into the hills.
The target today was always going to be Waun Rydd with the add-on of Tor y Foel at the end. From the reports that I had read Waun Rydd was going to be a fairly straight forward walk of about an hour and a half. I wanted to do this mountain on a reasonable day as the views promised to be breath taking. As always, this time of year, I set off at 0430 along the M4 for South Wales and the Brecon Beacons. I arrived at the car park at the start of the walk at 0730 (SO 056175).
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole
Waun Rydd GW/SW-004
By 0745 I was off up the steps that follow the line of the stream and beautiful waterfalls. Its bad when you have to stop for a genuine photo opportunity within 5 minutes of starting a walk! The first part of the walk is a fairly steep pull up onto the ridge, The path is well maintained by the Parks Authority and use of the natural indigenous stone means the paths blends in well with the terrain. Stopping for a couple of photo opportunities on the way up as more of the local scenery comes into view, I reached the ridge in 45 minutes. From here it is just a case of following the well defined path and avoiding falling over the steep drop on the right hand side. The views are breath-taking especially on a nice sunny morning but as I gained more height the temperature dropped to -6 C plus wind chill . The only bad part of the whole walk is the section from the cul to the top where you have to cross peat hagged ground. The summit is marked by the smallest cairn possible and must a be a pig to find in poor visibility. Distance 2.44 miles, Ascent 1354 feet, Time Taken 1:45.
The plan had been to open up on 2m then follow this with a spell on 40m. Self Spotting on 145.500MHz quickly brought 2E0MDJ into the log who also spotted me on the working channel. Within a further 6 minutes I had 3 more stations in the log and despite several calls had no further response on 2m. Time to set up the HF when I encountered a problem I have never experienced before. The ground was frozen solid and I couldn’t get the pegs into the ground. I decided I gather a few stones but there were none large enough to hold the fishing pole up without moving. By this stage I had spent 30 minutes messing around and I couldn’t feel my fingers even with my gloves on. So with just 4 QSO’s in the log I called it a day and packed up for the walk back to the car.
Tor y Foel GW/SW-013
After just a 30 minute drive I parked up on the left side of the road adjacent to a charming seat to take in the view (SO 110187). This is a very straight forward walk – just follow the path until you run out of hill to climb! I think it was Phil, G4OBK, who said it was a popular winter bonus hill and an easy 2 pointer – I totally agree. Distance 0.58 miles, Ascent 441 feet, Time Taken 30 minutes.
A quick check of Sotawatch on the phone showed Adrian GW4AZS/P was on 145.400MHz from GW/NW-049, so the scorecard was opened with a nice S2S contact. However, although Adrian was working a veritable pile-up with his 40 watts and a J pole, I was struggling with just 5 watts and an RSS and managed no further contacts on 2m. Setting up for 7-ssb and self spotting I quickly started a good run of contacts and in a matter of 12 minutes 15 QSO’s went into the log. A pleasant point of note about this activation was the behaviour of all the chasers. Having started to work the pile-up on 40m I was called by Pete GW4ISJ/P on 2-fm from Pen y Fan GW/SW-001 for a S2S. I quickly advised those calling on HF that I had a S2S on 2m and requested they standby. On return from 2m to 7-ssb I put out one call and continued with the pile-up. After all the recent bad press some chasers have received it was a real pleasure to work such a well mannered and patient bunch of chasers – thank you.
This was a fantastic day out in the hills with some most enjoyable walking and great radio. The only down side was the inability of me to operate on HF from Waun Rydd. I shall be looking into what alternates I can take with me. An interesting encounter with a local whilst walking up Tor y Foel who enquired about the poles in my ruck sack. When I explained he said oh yes I have met one of your guys several times- old chap must be pushing 70 and I think his name was Allan (poss GW4VPX??)
Thanks as usual to all the chasers and spotters – without you this would be just a walk in the park!
73 Glyn G(W)4CFS