Brown Clee Hill & Titterstone Clee Hill 2018

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G/WB-002 Brown Clee Hill

Sunday was a perfect day for walking.  Cold but with clear blue skies.  There is a good service track all the way to the top of this hill on the North East flank. Parking is restricted at the bottom of the track but there is room for one car if you park carefully so as to not block the access.

The route to the top is straightforward, just follow the track and enjoy.

Once you get nearer the top you will probably notice the radio masts.  There are some fairly high power signals transmitted that will play havoc with your front end.

I set up my station alongside the summit marker, it’s not really a trig point although the remains of the old trig point seem to have been built into the path nearby.

Between the QRM I soon managed to make six contacts.  Although the day was clear and sunny there was a lot of wind chill on the top so I didn’t hang around once I had worked everyone calling.

The return back to the car is as straightforward as the ascent and I was soon on my way to the next summit.

G/WB-002 Log

Journey Details

Date – 25th February 2018

Postcode – WV16 6TP

Parking – SO 602 877

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 6

SOTA points – 2+3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

G/WB-004 Titterstone Clee Hill

I had decided to attempt Titterstone Clee hill from the South West which with hindsight was perhaps not the best decision I ever made.  Although the walking is fine, the parking is not.  I managed to find a spot in the village which whilst it was safe and legal was not an ideal spot.  What I hadn’t realised from the map was there is good parking at the viewing area to the South of the summit at SO 593 775.  Next time I will try from there instead.  Yes I know it’s obvious on the map now I know it’s there!

For anyone who wants to try this route, once you have found parking there is a good track up as far as the incline.  This is the remains of an old narrow gauge railway built as part of the extensive quarrying activities which have taken place in the area.

It’s now just a grassy trackbed but still very obvious. From here there is no defined path to the top, the going is easy enough but it’s just a case of take a bearing and follow it.

At the top there is a trig point and a small shelter to operate from but more significant is the large radar dome just off the top.

Either this or the radio masts alongside interfere quite a bit on VHF although not as bad as it was on Brown Clee hill earlier.

I set the station up between the trig point and the shelter as there was still quite a bit of wind chill.  The summit seems quite popular and I had many visitors whilst I was there.

I’m not sure if it was the weather or the location but there was a lot of activity on the band and I made nineteen contacts before I managed to clear the pileup.  I was glad of the limited shelter keeping me out of the wind.

G/WB-004 Log

The return to the car is a straightforward reverse of the route up.

Journey Details

Date – 25th February 2018

Postcode – SY8 3PP

Parking – SO 584 773

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 6

SOTA points – 2+3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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May Hill & Ruardean Hill 2018

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G/WB-019 – May Hill

Had a spare Saturday afternoon and the weather was looking good so thought I would bag a couple of 1 pointers.

May Hill summit

I decided to try May Hill from the road to the West.  This is a narrow road but there is parking available for about four cars in a small lay-by at SO 688 213.  It is a short walk up the hill to the small copse on the summit.

I soon set the station up alongside the trig point and logged six contacts.

G/WB-019 Log

Journey Details

Date – 24th February 2018

Postcode – GL17 0RF

Parking – SO 688 213

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 6

SOTA points – 1

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

G/WB-021 – Ruardean Hill

A few miles to the South or May Hill is Ruardean hill.  This has to be one of the shortest SOTA walks there is.  The summit is on the village green and there is room to park on the roads nearby.

If operating on VHF then there are a couple of small masts on the buildings nearby that create a lot of interference on the channel.  You will need a radio with a reasonable front end to avoid overloading.  I soon managed to get four contacts in between the bursts of noise before packing up and heading back to the car.

Journey Details

Date – 24th February 2018

Postcode – GL17 9AR

Parking – SO 634 169

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 4

SOTA points – 1

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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Great Rhos 2018

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GW/MW-002 Great Rhos

New Radnor

I arrived in New Radnor about 8:30am for an early start.  Parking is on street in the village but there is plenty of room so not a problem. For a change the weather was forecast to be a bit kinder today although it was still overcast.

The route up to Great Rhos is fairly obvious and not too steep, following a clear track until you reach the summit plateau.  To the East is a large firing range which appears to be still in use so make sure you avoid this.  It is clearly marked on the maps and signposted as you ascend the track. At about 620m the track disappears and as this is not yet within the activation zone you will need to resort to some old fashioned nav to find the summit trig point.  On the day I activated Great Rhos the summit was in cloud with visibility around 50m so no chance of spotting the high ground.  Progress across the plateau is slow and hard work unless you can find a track to follow.  It is typical Welsh moorland bag with what looks like a fairy even cover of undergrowth hiding clumps and hollows at about knee height.

Every step was a lottery between sinking into the wet depths or straining your ankle on the side of a high clump.  Take it slowly and allow plenty of time.  When you reach the East to West fence about 250m South of the trig point, find the gap and there is a sort of path from there to the trig point.

As I arrived at the trig point I heard G1NCG calling on the ~GB3WH repeater in Swindon.  I tried to get back to him but couldn’t open the repeater with just the whip antenna on the WT.  I set up the station using the trig point to support the mast and tried again to reach WH, this time with no problem. I was able to reach Ken and arrange a sched on simplex.  Switching to simplex FM I was soon on the receiving end of a mini pileup and rapidly put nine entries in the log but I couldn’t hear Ken G1NCG.  Switching back to the repeater I contacted Ken and he made some changes to his station before we tried again.  As soon as I called simplex I picked up another two chasers for the log who I must have missed first time and then I received G1NCG 5/9 calling me which added the twelfth entry in the log.  It seems he was having a problem with his antenna which he managed to resolve.

GW/MW-002 Log

By this time the cloud was starting to clear and I could appreciate the views from the top.  

Off to the North East the radio tower on the top of Black Mixen was clearly visible.

The clouds clearing certainly added to the enjoyment of the walk but the return from the summit is not obvious even with the benefit of a bit more visibility.  Follow the path leading South as far as the fence but shortly after that the path disappeared so a bit of careful navigation is required to pick up the end of the track again.

The Whimble

Once you find the track it is an easy route back to the village and if you get a clear sunny day as this one had turned into then you will enjoy some wonderful views out over the hills of Radnor Forest.

Journey Details

Date – 17th February 2018

Postcode – LD8 2TB

Parking – SO 211 608

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 12

SOTA points – 4+3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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Black Mountain & Sugarloaf 2018

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GW/SW-041 Black Mountain

The forecast was bad for Saturday and worse for Sunday.  Persistent rain, winds to 50 mph, tops in cloud  and temperatures just above freezing. It wasn’t wrong!

We arrived at the car park below Hay Bluff just after 9am.  There is normally plenty of room in the car park but this time someone had dumped a few piles of chippings in the car park, there was still plenty of room though.  The wind was buffeting the car and the rain was lashing down.  At this point we almost decided to turn around and head home again. But no, it couldn’t really be that bad, could it? With a great deal of will power we managed to get kitted up and set out up the face of Hay Bluff.

There was still a bit of snow lying on the path but it was rapidly being eroded by the rain, that is until we reached the summit plateau where the rain was just forming pools on top of the ice that covered the paths.  Added to the effect of the winds it made for some interesting walking.

We soon reached the summit cairn, if you can call it that, it’s only a six inch high pile of a few small rocks, but still, it’s enough to let you know you found it.

We set up the station and climbed into the emergency shelter for a bit of warmth and to try and keep the rain out of the equipment.

Black Mountain Log

We soon had eight entries in the log before the wind blew the aerial off the mast so we packed away and set off back down the hill.

Journey Details

Date – 10th February 2018

Postcode – HR3 5RJ (see text)

Parking – SO 239 373

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 8

SOTA points – 6+3

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

GW/SW-011 Sugarloaf

A short drive across Abergavenny brought us to the parking for Sugarloaf viewpoint.  Again there is no problem parking here with space probably for twenty or more cars.

There are many routes up Sugarloaf as it is a popular walking spot.  Even on a day like this we passed plenty of walkers, albeit mostly they were on the lower levels.

It didn’t take long to reach the summit where we set up the station at the trig point.

The trig point base has been heavily eroded over time so it now sits quite some way above the surrounding hill top.

Once again we made eight contacts although by this time the wind had dropped considerably so we were able to operate in the open and without the aerial being blown down.

Sugarload Log

The return to the car was straightforward and the weather cleared as we descended providing some lovely views over the Usk valley and even a hint of some sunshine at one point.

Journey Details

Date – 10th February 2018

Postcode – NP7 7LA

Parking – SO 268 167

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 8

SOTA points – 2+3

Group – Myself & Peter

Walking Route Summary

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Craig y Llyn, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn and Coity Mountain 2018

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GW/SW-010, GW/SW-014 & GW/SW-012 – At last, a sunny day

It was still dark on Sunday morning when I left home.  Three new summits today, none of which I have ever been up so a bit of a challenge.

GW/SW-010, Craig y Llyn

Arriving at the viewpoint below Craig y Llyn at about 8:30 am I decided it was too public a spot to park up for the ascent so I continued on along the road to SN 923 027 where there is room for a couple of cars to park, in not such an obvious place.

The path marked on the map across Ffos Toncenglau is not there on the ground.  I tried to follow it but it was a big mistake.  The ground is boggy and covered in long coarse tufty undergrowth, the sort that is a nightmare to cross.

By the time I was half way across I decided to make for the northern boundary and pick up the track. Progress along the track was a lot easier although it is very badly rutted by motorbikes and off roaders.  The views over Llyn Fawr make up for the poor terrain though so don’t be put off.  Once on the track it is a straight forward route up to the summit with very little ascent.  The only challenge is knowing where to find the summit trig point which requires a bit of astute navigation.

The actual trig point is set a little way back from the edge and is now surrounded by trees so I decided to set up the station back on the main track which had a clearer takeoff.

I soon had seven contacts in the log which cleared the pileup so as I still had two more unknown peaks to complete I decided not to wait around. On the return I checked the route across Ffos Toncenglau from the high ground above it and thought I could make out the path but when I got down to the corner where it meets the track it didn’t look any better so instead I returned along the track to the road and then along the road back to the car. A bit further but far far easier going.

GW/SW-010, Craig y Llyn Log

Journey Details

Date – 4th February 2018

Postcode – CF44 9UE

Parking – SN 923 027

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 4 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

GW/SW-014, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn

Mynydd Carn-y-cefn turned out to be a bit of a challenge navigationally. All the previous logs I have read seem to have approached this one from the North, generally starting from the West Monmouthshire Golf Course.  I decided that as I would be short of time I would try the shorter route in from the Blaina side.

Finding a parking spot was the first problem.  These are very narrow roads and it’s not clear exactly where to start walking from.  There is room for a couple of cars on the side of the road around SO 196 084 which is just below the radio tower.  From there I hunted around looking for a path up through to the hil.  There are a number marked on the map, eventually I found a way through at the southern end of the woods to the south of the radio tower.  Once through the woods it is an easy route up the hill until you reach the access land where it becomes quite steep at SO 192 081.

Looking back down the hill at Llanerch-y-pant

There is a stile on the right here which looks like it goes the wrong way but in fact leads to another stile and an easier route up the steep section of the hill.  In the event I went straight up the hill following the route of the path marked on the map.  This is a very steep grassy route which I would not attempt again, especially if it was wet.  Once on the top there is a clear track, badly cut up by off roar bikes a few of which were buzzing around whilst I was up there.

The trig point is not visible from the track so to find it I took a back bearing from the radio mast and walked along the track until I was on this bearing.  Then it is a short walk to the top and the trig point.

I set up the station at the trig point using the hole in the top to support the mast.  It was a fairly cold and windy activation with occasional flurries of snow in between the sunny spells. Again I made seven contacts to clear the pileup including three summit to summit entries.

GW/SW-014, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn Log

The return back down to the car was much easier with the benefit of some height to observe the route.  The path down the steep section is much easier than the direct ascent and once onto the lower slope there is an easy route via a track to the North of the radio tower and woods then South back to the car.  Next time I will go up this way as well!

Journey Details

Date – 4th February 2018

Postcode – NP13 3DD

Parking – SO 196 084

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 2 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

GW/SW-012, Coity Mountain

From GW/SW-014 it is a short drive to Cwmtyleri and the ascent of Coity Mountain.  At last, a summit name I can pronounce! Again I took an unusual approach to the hill.  Other logs I have read have started from the Eastern side of the mountain, generally from the Big Pit mining museum.  That is a shorter walk but a longer drive from the last one so swings and roundabouts.

There is good parking at SO 218 061 which appears to be a visitor resource or there is room for a couple of cars at SO 220 066 if you want to save a bit of walking.

The route up to the access land is fairly obvious but once onto the access land I headed South then turned East up the flank of the hill.  There is no obvious path up this was so I would avoid it next time.

Spot the summit

The track to the North and then South East up the other flank of the valley is a much better option.  From the crossing marked 504 on the map head North and then pick your spot to head into the wilderness looking for a summit.  I picked a spot at random that was showing as within 2 metres of the summit on the altimeter so very much within the activation zone.  I set up the station of the clearest bit of ground I could find, when I checked later I was about 180m from the marked summit on the map.  For the third time I made seven contacts to clear the pileup.

GW/SW-012, Coity Mountain Log

Returning to the car I stuck to the tracks which was much easier.  I was back at the car well before dark with three successful activations in the bag.

Journey Details

Date – 4th February 2018

Postcode – NP13 1LR

Parking – SO 218 061

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – 2 ele dipole

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7

SOTA points – 2 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

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