Thursday, 31 December 2015

Day One - South & Mid Wales December 2015

I was in Bristol again in early December and arranged to spend 3 days activating SOTA in Wales with my friend Geoff 2E0NON who lives in Malvern. For the third time this year I spent £6.50 crossing the Severn Bridge for a SOTA Tour of Wales, meeting up with Geoff at the Flag & Castle B&B in Brecon at 7.45am on 8th December.

It was midweek and heavy showers were forecast all day. As usual Geoff was the driver and we made our way north to the Eppynt Army Ranges for our first activation of five summits I had earmarked for that day. This was to be a day with much driving and a little easy walking.
GW/SW-018 Mynydd Eppynt 

The well used B4519 road runs across the army ranges and we parked at the viewpoint, grid reference SN964466. I'd last been here in 1982 when I was taking part in a car rally and recalled cooking bacon on a primus stove on a cold and frosty morning at the viewpoint before the event started. After the 30 minute drive from Brecon we walked for a short distance down an asphalt track to the OP9 observation post marked on the OS map and set up inside the open doorway. We scraped by on 2m FM qualifying the activation with just 5 contacts - enough to tick this one off, enabling us to shut down and make our way to the next summit. 40 watts was used with an home made omni directional vertical dipole at 4m AGL. Not one I will revisit again I'm sure, but as a SOTA Completer and activator of "uniques" these days even the most of mundane summits need to be visited....

GM/MW-021 Crugiau Merched (English = Two Sisters)

We walked from Allt Goch, parking in a wide section on the C Class Road. We walked past the chapel and met the friendly lady at the cottage with such a beautiful garden there. She directed us to the gate to  left of her cottage which takes around the back and then on to a well defined quad track winding steeply up the hill on to the moorland. The chapel and cottage are seen here from above on the quad track:
This was a very pleasant and enjoyable walk to the two piles of stones on the summit (The two sisters). There had been a heavy shower before we started out and we were able to complete a dry activation with the minimum 4 stations logged to qualify the summit before departing.  
The writer at the trig point of Crugiau Merched
From MW-021 Geoff drove us south west to a parking place north of Llandeilo for our next summit. 

GW/MW-034 Mynydd Cynros

We walked up the shortest (but steepest) access route from the farm Cilyllynfawr, where we parked beside a large barn (pictured). A public right of way leads from SN 624335. Unfortunately one of the field boundaries had been fenced across, so we had to climb a barned wire fence. Other fence crossing points were either stiled or gated.  This obstruction was reported to Carmarthen County Council. A 30 minute climb took us into access land and directly to the trig point which had no centre in it. It was raining hard when we arrived so rather than operate at the trig we got behind an earth bank and used a golf umbrella to keep the rain off the transceiver and battery, and to some extent ourselves. This was another 4 contacts only activation - we didn't stay longer than necessary as this was only the third summit of five we had planned to visit in the day.
Open trig point mount on MW-034 Mynydd Cynros
Geoff packing up the compact 2m antenna at the end of our 4 contact VHF activation

GW/MW-036 Pen-crug-melyn

Continuing westwards towards Carmarthen we reached the parking place for MW-036. A walk up a track of less than 400m took us to the highest point. It was raining again and we did the same as we had done on MW-031, setting up behind an earth bank away from the trig point with the umbrella keeping the rain off the gear:
Under an angry sky we completed six contacts before leaving to drive to Brandy Hill - the other side of Carmarthen.

GW/MW-037 Brandy Hill "Drive on" summit

Avoiding a new road which Alan GW4VPX warned us about earlier in the day, we drove into the village of Llanddowror and turned right on to the C Class road which took us to a transmitter compound on Brandy Hill. The road runs across the top of the hill so we simply got out of the car and operated a few metres away from it against the gate of the secure compound. It was now pitch dark as you can see from this picture of Geoff 2W0NON/P operating on his knees by the gate, where we had five contacts each on VHF 2m FM.

After completing the fifth activation we were ready for some food and found a McDonalds outlet by the ring road in Carmarthen. We then drove back to Brecon to check into the Flag & Castle Guest House (recommended). After getting cleaned up we went out and had fish and chips before visiting a pub in the town.


  1. I would have liked to the walked up to the true summit of Mynydd Eppynt GW/SW-018 or maybe beyond there to the Observation Post where you operated from. Where I asked for permission to walk on this track from SENTA due to this being in a firing range, I was told it was always out of bounds because when there is no firing there, there is always unexploded ordinance which can cause injury or possibly death.

    Jimmy M0HGY

    1. HI Jimmy

      We did not enter the road at the start so we did not see the warning signs on the tarmac road as we cut across the moor from the roadside compound. We are both still alive to tell the tale...
      73 Phil G(W)4OBK and Geoff 2(W)0NON