Saturday, 1 December 2012

A weekend in the Welsh Borders and the Brecon Beacons Day One

My fellwalking friend Geoff lives in Malvern and had invited me down to stay with him and his lovely wife Eva some time ago. At last the chance came to visit and walk in the Welsh Borders and Brecon Beacons. My visit coincided with the Winter Bonus period for Summits On The Air - this applies in the UK from December 1st to March 15th when activators making contacts from summits over 500m ASL are entitled to claim a 3 point per summit winter bonus. 

I drove down from North Yorkshire and arrived in Cradley near Malvern by 2.00 pm. After a quick cup of tea Geoff suggested we walk to the Worcester Beacon. This is a Marilyn Summit which I could see from the house, and one Geoff had climbed previously. At 2.45 pm we left on what was an 8.5 mile walk, so it was obvious we would be returning in the dark. The weather was fine, after previous days of heavy rainfall and flooding near the rivers and watercourses of the area. 

Our route from Cradley to Worcestershire Beacon
This walk was predominantly on fields paths and through woodland and we passed a large complex of buildings connected with the Elim Church, a Pentecostal Christian faith at the foot of the beacon. 
Our view back to Cradley on our walk to Worcestershire Beacon
The hills here were covered in footpaths with the undulating ridge stretching from North Malvern down to Upper Wyche and then continuing to climb back up to the Herefordshire Beacon, a distance of around four miles.  We arrived on the summit at dusk and made 11 contacts for Summits On The Air using a 2m FM handheld connected to a half wave dipole vertical rucksack antenna, before we left at 4.35 pm. The winter bonus did not apply here on two counts - the summit is only 425m high and it was still 30 November. The bonus comes in on 01 December and the summit needs to be at least 500m high. 

Leaving Worcestershire Beacon at sunset - there were still plenty of walkers around
We soon needed our lights for our return to Cradley - me with my small Varta LED hand torch and Geoff with his Petzl headlight. We arrived back at 6.00pm and were surpised we had covered over 8 miles and activated a summit for SOTA in just over three hours. 

....to follow next day: The "Favourite Five" - four short climbs up to the Welsh Border Marilyn Summits over 500m in height and the Mid Wales Summit of Cordon Hill.    

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