Monday 7 March 2016
This walk was likely to be my last of the winter bonus season and I was keen to maximise the return. I wanted to do SW-006 & SW-007 however, whilst the route up SW-007 looked fairly straight forward, the route up SW-006 suggested by Pete (ISJ) looked fairly gruelling. I was however, interested in the blog by Tom (M1EYP) who did the two hills as a ’round trip’, this also had the advantage of not having to drive to different start points. Whilst, as Tom said, the path skirting the northern end of Fan Nedd along the line of the wall does not appear on 1:25 OS map it can clearly be seen on the Google satellite imagery.
Setting off from home at 04:30 I arrived at the parking space (SN 923196) at 07:30. The satellite imagery suggested that there should be room for a couple of cars and sure enough when I arrived there was room for 2 maybe 3 cars. The drive up to the parking space had been treacherous due to icy conditions and the weather didn’t look too promising. I was unable to see either summit from the car due to the low cloud base and the driving snow blowing horizontally up the valley. However, once all kitted up I set off along the line of the wall.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8 plus RSS 2M dipole
Fan Gyhirych GW/SW-006
The route is initially fairly straight forward, just follow the line of the wall and the obvious path until you intercept a wall in front of you in the cull between the two mountains (SN 903193). Passing through the broken down gate the obvious track heads up to the right – ignore this track and take the fainter path which sets off up hill to the left. Follow this un-mapped way marked path until you reach a hardcore track. Go left here until you see an obvious path leading up the flank of the mountain to the summit. As I left the hardcore track the visibility dropped to about 20 metres so care had to be taken as the path runs close to a drop on the right into the corrie below. Thanks to the GPS I eventually found the white painted Trig Point in a white snowy summit with a white snow filled sky!! Distance 3 miles, Ascent 1200 feet, time taken 1 hour 45 minutes.
Self spotting on 2-fm quickly brought in a couple of local contacts followed by Pete (GW4ISJ) saying he was enroute to GW/SW-010. After a quick chat with Pete I was called by Don G0RQL in Holsworthy for the best DX of the day. I then get a call from Viki MW6BWA to let me know she is on her way up Troed SW-009. No further calls were forthcoming on 2 so I self spotted for 7-ssb. A quick CQ on 7.128MHz resulted in a contact with G7BGA but then just as the QSO ended I started getting a loud howling noise from the radio. I powered down and started up again (standard IT procedure) but the noise on the band was horrendous. A quick check of 20m – same problem, so turned off and packed up the HF kit. No sooner had I packed my rucksack I received a call on 2-fm from Viki from Troed GW/SW-009 for an S2S followed by Rod MW0JLA/P for a S2S from Mynydd Llangorse GW/SW-015. No sooner had I finished with Rod I am called by Pete for a S2S from GW/SW-010, then to close the account off nicely a 70-fm S2S with Viki – my first 70cm QSO in SOTA. Usually I only use 70cm for Satellite communications believing you will get a nose bleed if you do terrestrial operations at that high a frequency!!
So with rucksack packed I head off in near zero visibility and am suddenly stopped in my tracks by a dark shadow ahead. I had made a classic school boy error and left the featureless summit on what I assumed to be the correct heading and was heading straight towards the steep descent on the NW side of the summit!! I was 180 degrees out. A quick backtrack to the trig point and set off this time on a compass bearing to quickly pick up the path off the summit and back to the hardcore track. I add this to highlight the point that even an experienced hill walker can make a fundamental mistake and whilst on this occasion the error would not have had a nasty outcome it does remind you to Never Assume CHECK.
Fan Nedd GW/SW-007
Once on the hardcore track I retraced my steps to the way marked path and then back down to the broken down gate (SN 903193). From this point I took the obvious track up the side of Fan Nedd to the trig point. The top 300 feet was difficult going due to the amount of snow that lay on the ground but I finally arrived at the trig and small stone shelter. Distance (from summit to summit) 2.5 miles, Ascent 600 feet, time taken 1.25 hours.
Once on the summit a quick call on 2-fm brought GW7MMG into the log followed by Rod (JLA) advising me he was on his way up Troed. Two further calls made it into the log before the band went quiet. By this time the cloud base had risen high enough to be able to see the summit of Fan Gyhirych so a short time out was taken to snap a few photos. The afternoons activation were concluded with S2S QSOs with Rod on Mynydd Troed on 2m and Viki on Mynydd Llangorse on 2m and 70cm.
The walk back to the car was a fairly straight forward affair in good visibility and took 20 minutes via the substantial cairn that lies at the northern end of the summit plateau. It was only when I got home and inputted the information into the SOTA database that I realised that Fan Nedd was my 100th activation. Not a big achievement in the greater scheme of things but a significant milestone for myself.
This was a most enjoyable day out and the chance to take in 2 summits on one continual walk. The going was hard at times due to the amount of snow that lay near the summits and the very poor visibility on Fan Gyhirych. It was a chance to relearn from fundamental navigation errors. But more importantly is was the great V/UHF radio contacts that made it all worthwhile. Many thanks for all the S2S contacts especially those on 70cm.
Thank you to all those who called me and sorry to those waiting patiently on 7-ssb for me to check in.
73 Glyn G(W)4CFS