Welsh Marches Tour 2016 – Day 2. The Famous Five

Monday 16 May 2016

day 2 title

Day 2

The work load today called for an early start, so it was up at 06:00 and on the road by 06:30.  The plan was to activate the ‘Famous Five’ Titterstone Clee Hill, Brown Clee Hill, Long Mynd-Pole Bank, Stiperstones and Corndon Hill. Heading down the A49 towards Ludlow from Shrewsbury arriving at the disused quarry car park (SO 593 776) at the start of Titterstone Clee Hill


FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-8, VX-170 plus RSS 2M dipole.

Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004

From the car park walk out onto the road up to the radar site on top of the hill.  After about 10 metres there is the waymarked Shropshire Way footpath on the left hand side.  Take this path up the ridge to the summit.  Walk past the radar bases to the trig point.  Distance 0.38 miles, Ascent 200 feet, Time Taken 10 minutes.


The plan for today was to check in on 2m then set-up for 7-cw & 7-ssb.  However, with the realisation that I had left the power cable back at the hotel I had no option but to make this a 2m only day.  Fortunately the area is fairly well laid out for VHF coverage.  Self spotting the account was quickly opened by G0CHU followed by 6 further stations including M6NSV Neil who was to keep me company all the way around and Frank RMD/M on his way to play golf.  16 minutes after starting on 2m the calls dried up and the first summit was qualified.

After taking a photo opportunity I made a quick descent back to the car and I was ready for the drive to the hill.


The view north to Brown Clee Hill


View back down to the car park

Brown Clee Hill G/WB-002

The drive across to the start of Brown Clee Hill took about 30 minutes and parking was found on the wide grass verge on the right just up from the footpath gate (SO 585868).

Once through the gate the navigation is very straight forward.  Follow the gradually ascending track to the gate at SO 590862, at this point follow the track up to the left along the line of the fence.  After 20 metres the summit transmitter tower and cairn become visible ahead and within a further 10 minutes the summit is reached.  Distance 0.85 miles, Ascent 567 feet, Time Taken 30 minutes.

A point of note for the trig point chasers – whilst the OS maps show one on the summit, it no longer exists other than in the form of the top plate and registration plate are cast in the concrete steps leading up to the summit observation cairn.

After a self spot for 2-fm Neil NSV was quickly in the log but it was while before the rest started to call.  It became very quickly obvious that I was getting a huge amount of interference from the transmitter tower on the summit.  At times it was wiping out all communication, then there would be a couple of minutes of clear frequency.  Despite the problems a further 10 stations made it into the log in 18 minutes.  Eventually the responses stopped so after a quick phone call to the Wife, Mandi, it was back to the car in a 20 minute descent.


Final approach to the summit



Observation Cairn that replaces the trip point – Titterstone Clee in the distance


Self Portrait in the early morning sun

Long Mynd-Pole Bank G/WB-005

A pleasant drive was had over Wenlock Edge and down to Church Stretton before the climb up Burway Hill and the nervous drive resisting the look down into the steep valley below – keeping the eyes fixed on the road ahead and hoping to met nothing coming the other way.  Pole Bank can be approached from either end but I had chosen the south-westerly route and after a short but beautiful drive over the rolling hills of Long Mynd I arrived at the car park (SO 412937).  The route is so straight forward you don’t really need a map.  Walk up the road for about 400 metres to an obvious graded dust footpath on the left.  Follow this for a further 400ish metres and you arrive at a grassy area with the trig point and observation cairn. Distance 0.46 miles, Ascent 121 feet, Time Taken 10 minutes.

By this stage the sun was getting very warm so a spot of relaxation ensued along with chats with passing walkers.  Eventually I self spotted 2-fm and got 8 stations into the log including Neil NSV and 3 others who were starting to follow me around – Paul M6NNK, Andy G8MIA and Ian G4WTF.  Once all stations were clear it was a very steady pleasant stroll back to the car for a lunch of cheese, nuts and dried fruits (the old faithful’s never fail!).


The somewhat ‘ephemeral’ footpath to the summit!


The Trig showing the check-in stamp for the Extreme Marathon run over the weekend.


A very sunny prospect for the station with good views in all directions

Stiperstones G/WB-003

From Pole Bank it was a short but scenic drive down the western side of Long Mynd to arrive at the car park for Stiperstones (SO 369977).  Like many of the other hills in this area, this is a very popular summit and there were several cars in the car park.  The pathway up the grassy slopes and along the stony ridge is very obvious and easily followed.  I had been warned that the summit is different from most English summits in that there is a little bit of scrambling and climbing required to reach the actual summit Trig Point surmounted on an out crop of the Stiperstones Quartzite Formation.  Distance 0.66 miles, Ascent 333 feet, Time Taken 20 minutes.


Having scaled the outcrop to the trig I descended to set the station up on the leeward side of the outcrop.  Self spotting 2-fm immediately brought Neil NSV into the log followed my what were now many regular callsigns. The highlight of this activation was the summit to summit with Adrian from Fan Gyhirych GW/SW-006.  In all 5 stations were worked before all fell silent again.  By now the sun was at its highest and making for an absolutely fabulous day out in the hills and the light breeze made for an enjoyable walk back down to the car.


The rocky track up the ridge


Summit Trig on top of the outcrop


I made it!

Corndon Hill GW/MW-013

I had completed four of the ‘famous five’ and still had loads of time left – it was becoming one of those rare days when everything was a pleasure – that was until I arrived at Corndon Hill.  I knew this was a steep and relatively short walk to the summit but as I was to find this hill had a sting in its tail.  I turned up the rough track by the reservoir and drove as far as the gate where there was plenty of room to park on the right hand side (SO 301973).

The first part of the walk is leisurely along the un-metalled road to the gate and style at the boundary fence between field and woodland.  From this point it just appeared to be straight up with absolutely no relief.  It was about half way up that I realised just how tired my legs were and it became a physical effort to drag my body to the top. However, the relief of seeing a comfortable bench seat at the summit made it all worthwhile. Distance 0.45 miles, Ascent 482 feet Time Taken 30 minutes.

Having regained my composure I self spotted for 2-fm and worked 7 stations in 16 minutes.  These included Neil NSV who had been with me all the way, Andy MIA who had worked me on 4 of the 5 and Frank RMD on his return from his round of golf.  It was a great relief to have qualified the hill and a greater relief to be back at the car and ready for the drive to the hotel, a nice soak and a nice warm beer.  I don’t drink euro fizz only real ale and tonight was a favourite of mine Rock Brewery’s Doom Bar (other well known brands are available).



So that was it, Day 2 complete and the ‘famous five’ under the belt.  Next challenge will be to do the five in the winter bonus season.  The day had gotten off to a bad start when I realised that I had left the FT-817 power cable in the hotel room.  However, I had a great day doing 2-fm activations and really enjoyed the company of several different stations throughout the day.  Special thanks to Neil NSV for working my on every summit.  The weather was also far better than had been forecast.  The Met Office had forecast sunshine until about midday however, it continued to shine all day and during the afternoon the temperature topped over 20C – not bad for mid May.

After the ‘Famous Five’ tomorrow was going to be ‘A Few Summits More’ with six 1 pointers spread across GW/MW, GW/NW, G/WB & G/CE.

73 Glyn G(W)4CFS/P