Friday, 21 August 2015

SOTA in South Wales - 8 summits in a day on 2m FM

It was 7.15 am last Friday 15th August 2015  when I met up with my driver and fellow activator for the day, Geoff Fielding, 2E(W)0NON who had driven down from Malvern, near Worcester. I had driven over the Severn Bridge (Toll charge £6.50 return) from Bristol. We met on a pub car park in Langstone, just off the M4 near Newport, which is where I left my car for the day. We were continuing where we left off in January when we activated 16 South Wales summits in four days. 

Our eight summit round in South Wales starting out from Newport
Our plan today was to activate 7 or 8 one point Summits for SOTA on VHF. The weather was misty and wet, and it stayed like that until around 1.00pm. Two golf umbrellas were used to keep our radio equipment dry. A maximum of 20 minutes activation time per summit has been built into the schedule, with 10 minutes set up / take down time. The rest of the allotted time being given over to driving from point to point and then walking up the hills to the summit for our activations.  All 8 summits would be "SOTA Complete" for me as an Activator, as I had made contact with them all from home several times before, as a SOTA Chaser. 


Yaesu FT-1500M 50 watt transceiver
7 AH LiFePo4 Battery X 2
(50 watts used for 4 contacts on each summit then power reduced to 20 watts)
1/2 Wave vertical dipole
5m long fishing pole & bungies
Vehicle used: Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer (Diesel)
Backup Equipment: Yaesu VX-170 - Yaesu FT-817 - HF link dipole (None used)

The only way to cram this amount of activations into a one day operation in daylight is to operate "smash and grab style" on 2m FM, which is what we did. HF equipment was carried as a backup but was not needed as all summits were qualified on VHF FM using the 145 MHz 2m band. 

GW/SW-037 Craig yr Allt

Duration: 0740z - 0833z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 11 minutes
Operation time: 18 minutes
Contacts made: 7

A gloomy outlook for our activation of Craig yr Allt SW-037
There is just room to park a car at the entrance to the waymarked footpath on the lane at grid reference ST 1299 8509. We turned right off the main path after 150m to climb via a well used path to the summit. 

Our first contacts were with Simon, G(W)4TJC and his son Jamie M(W)6TJC. Both were operating /A from a hotel near to our location. We arranged a rendezvous with Simon on our next summit. The take off from all the summits visited across the Bristol Channel was superb and we made contact with a long time SOTA friend in Peter G3TJE, who I often work from home when he is activating using Morse Code.  Another regular called in. This was Rod M0JLA from Hereford, who was worked before we pulled the rather damp plug...

GW/SW-034 Garth Hill

Duration: 0904z - 1003z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 13 minutes
Operation time: 6 minutes
Contacts made: 5

For this one we found a parking place before some cottages on Heol Goch, a road that runs along the southern flank of Garth Hill. A public right of way leads into the access land to join the Ridgeway Walk.  We were soon at the trig point setting up. After a short qualifying activation and just as we were packing up we were joined by Simon G(W)4TJC who was taking over on the summit fromus and intending to use the 10m and 6m bands. This was the last day of the summer period for the 2015 SOTA Challenge and Simon was anxious to get a few more points... It's not the first time I've met up with other activators on a summit, and this certainly won't be the last! We had time for a chat and a photo opportunity...

The writer with SOTA MT Member Simon G(W)4TJC
I think the last SOTA Management Team member I met on an activation was Andy MM0FMF, when he was on his way up Blencathra LD-008, and I was on my way down. 

GW/SW-027 Mynydd y Glyn

Duration: 1041z - 1204z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 26 minutes
Operation time: 15 minutes
Contacts made: 8

Parking place at the public road end of the track to Cefn-coed Farm

After two easy ascents it was time for a longer walk of just over one mile up to Mynydd y Glyn. We parked at the road end to Cefn-coed Farm (good job too - there was nowhere to park up the farm road) and walked up the track which is a public right of way. It had stopped raining for a while - great!

Track of our walk and G(W)4OBK the writer on the summit
The route was gated and the summit was easily accessible even though it was just outside the nearby access land. On the summit we noticed this unusual device around 50m from the trig point:

This is the Triton Wind Profiler which is a remote sensing system providing data to a company interesting in developing wind farms.

GW/SW-025 Cefn Eglwysilan

Duration: 1244z - 1318z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 6 minutes
Operation time:  10 minutes
Contacts made: 6

The trig point on SW-025 Cefn Eglwysilan - Bill G4WSB/P visited here in August 2014 and left his mark
This is one of the easiest summits to reach in South Wales. Eglwyslian Road runs across the  flank of the hill at 327m and the top is just 55m higher at 382m ASL. It is quite close to Pontypridd, above Taff Vale, which is a place with some social history after a well known legal case involving a strike by workers, played a part in the formation of the Labour Party. 

Phil 2(W)0NON and Phil G(W)4OBK on Cefn Egwysilan

Returning to the car we had our lunch before proceeding to our next summit. 

GW/SW-030 Mynydd Machen

Duration: 1424z - 1515z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 16 minutes
Operation time:  10 minutes
Contacts made: 6

There was just room to park at the end of the path which leads to the plateau of Mynydd Machen. The large mast on the summit did cause some intermittent intermodulation problems on 145 MHz, but in between the bursts of noise we were able to complete six contacts before moving off. 

The comms installation on Mynydd Machen SW-030 caused considerable interference to reception on 145 MHz
GW/SW-024 Mynydd y Lan

Duration: 1542z - 1623z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 12 minutes
Operation time:  8 minutes
Contacts made: 5

Another hill with masts on it but this time there was no problem with interference to our reception - it looks as though this W/T Sta is now redundant. To the left of the locked gated entrance to the track is a large solar farm.

Solar farm leading up to Mynydd y Lan GW/SW-024
This looks to be a very secure installation with cameras. The track used leads into gated access land on the plateau where the summit is located. We operated 10m down from the highest point which was more convenient, more sheltered and well within the 25 meter drop zone, despite the slight dip between the two points.  

Redundant masts on SW-024 - overtaken by technology
GW/SW-019 Mynydd Twyn Glas

Duration: 1651z - 1812z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 31 minutes
Operation time:  12 minutes
Contacts made: 8

Geoff puts his Berghaus coat on as we get ready to walk up to SW-019 from the sheepfolds there
This was the extra summit we did not think we would not have time for... In the event we had pulled back over an hour from our planned schedule so we went for it, despite it being the longest walk of the day at just over 1.5 miles each way. There is plenty of parking over the cattle grid near some sheepfolds, and a track follows pylon lines almost to the summit trig point: 

By the time we got back to the car we were pretty well shattered, but there was time to squeeze in a final SOTA Complete near to where we had met up in the morning. This was the well visited "drive on" summit of Wentwood. 

GW/SW-033 Wentwood 

Duration: 1856z - 1924z 
Time to reach summit on foot: 2 minutes
Operation time:  15 minutes
Contacts made: 11

Geoff puts his coat on again - this time we were at Wentwood SW-033
A winding tarmac road through woodland leads up to the car park for Wentwood, where most of the highest part of the forest has been felled and replanted with saplings. A two minute walk took us to a convenient tree stump on which we fastened the fishing pole.

Operating position on Wentwood GW/SW-033
We were anxious to get finished and return to the pub four miles away where I had parked my car earlier - for some food and a celebratory pint.  There were plenty of callers (11) though before the frequency went quiet and then we packed up. When we reached the pub it was just going dark and it was rammed out with folk. The waitress said it would be at least 45 minutes before we could be fed.... so we left and went down the road to the M4 roundabout for a "go large" McDonalds instead, disappointing maybe, but quick and easy and we enjoyed it. 

We still have unfinished business in South Wales, so we will be returning in due course to complete the final eight summits needed to finish the area off. 

Total Contacts: 57
Battery Power used: One 7 AH LiFePo  only 
Distance Walked: 11 miles
Height ascended on foot: 2300 feet
Distance driven on circuit from Langstone, Newport: 108 miles

If you visit these easy to access summits in South Wales I hope you find this report useful. 


  1. Thanks Phil, a most helpful post that has helped me plan for these summits tomorrow!

    James M0JCQ

  2. Very good James - enjoy yourself. I still have I believe 8 summits to do to complete South Wales. Most if not all are harder than these 8 were! I hope you complete as many as you can in the day. I'm glad you find my post helpful, that is the main reason why I write these reports but keeping up the blog up to promptly is quite hard due to other commitments. I'm sure you find the same.

    73 Phil