Sunday, 31 March 2013

SOTA - Aconbury Hill - G/WB-024

Aconbury Hill - 276m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Welsh Borders  
Latitude: 51 59 35 N, Longitude: 2 43 20 W
Grid Reference: SO 505329, QTH Locator: IO81PX

It was only a short drive away from the previous summit at Garway Hill, I quickly found a parking spot outside the village hall. This was almost directly opposite a bridlepath which leads directly to the summit. This is one of the easiest  summits to access that I've activated. At the summit I found a clearing with a rotten tree stump into which I could the pole. I ran out the antenna and launched the far end over the limb of a tree. The higher bands weren't terribly productive but we still managed a comfortable 52 QSOs with 18 DXCC before pulling the plug and heading for home.

The shack

Full logbook

Heading for home.

SOTA - Garway Hill - G/WB-013

Garway Hill - 366m, 1 point

Association: England  Region: Welsh Borders  
Latitude: 51 55 14 N, Longitude: 2 49 17 W
Grid Reference: SO 436250, QTH Locator: IO81OW

Easter Sunday and after all the snow of the last couple of weeks, I decided to get out and do a couple of hills whilst we wait for the higher roads to become passable again. It was a cold day with still plenty of snow around but bright and sunny. I parked at the end of the road at "White Rocks". It's an easy ascent up to the summit where there is an old disused WW2 RDF station. I set up in the lee of the station to stay out of the cold wind. This turned out to be quite a busy spot with plenty of folks out for a walk on Easter Sunday. It took quite some time to break a wy from conversation with a couple of walkers but eventually got on the air where the useual crowd were waiting patiently! 46 QSOs with 21 DXCC rounded off a pleasant sunny early afternoon. With time for another activation, I packed up and descended to the car.

Snow covered Black mountain in the distance.
Sugar Loaf in the distance.

WW2 RDF site.

Luxurious shack.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Another SOTA Milestone

Another small chaser Milestone. This time for chasing 500 unique summits. There's a long way to go for the next milestone which is 1000 uniques and of course it gets progressively more difficult the more uniques you have! I don't expect the next 500 will come within 14 months like these ones did.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SOTA - Sugar Loaf - GW/SW-011

Sugar Loaf - 596m, 2 points

Association: Wales  Region: South Wales  
Latitude: 51 51 46 N, Longitude: 3 3 30 W
Grid Reference: SO 272188, QTH Locator: IO81LU

Next stop after Coity Mountain was Sugar Loaf. It rained quite heavily on the way to Sugar Loaf, but the sun was once again shining as arrived at the car park, although there were plenty of big rain clouds around. I set off on the walk towards the distant summit.
I met only 4 other people descending and a women out exercising her horse.The sun was shining down over Abergavenny and I was hopeful of a dry activation. The summit itself is fairly narrow with  very little room for HF antennas. Luckily it looked like I'd have the place to myself so used the trig point to lash the pole . There were very few other positions to mount it so this would be a problem if you were to visit on a busy weekend. My CQ was rapidly answered by the hoards just as te snow started to fall in earnest. 10 Minutes into the activation and I'm in a complete white out as the snow and clouds roll in and surround me. The crashes in my headphones left me a bit uneasy sitting up 600 metres in the clouds. Feeling a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing I decided to call it quits and get out whilst the going was good, unfortunately leaving a whole pack of chasers without a QSO. So only 16 QSOs and 7 DXCC this time around.. I packed up in the blizzard and no sooner had I done so than the clouds parted, the sun came out and everything looked calm and peaceful again! I was tempted to set up again and give the chasers their points, but with a long hike back, the day drawing on and an hour and a half drive home I just put on my back pack and started the descent.  So that's the winter bonus period over, we'll be back on these 2 pointers next season!

Sugar Loaf in the distance.
Sunshine over Abergavenny.
Antenna up and the snow arriving
Ready to go

The snow arrives.

SOTA - Coity Mountain - GW/SW-012

Coity Mountain - 581m, 2 points

Association: Wales  Region: South Wales  
Latitude: 51 45 55 N, Longitude: 3 6 56 W
Grid Reference: SO 231080, QTH Locator: IO81KS

I read mixed reviews of this summit, but with only couple of days left before the winter bonus period ends, I thought I'd give it a try.  I parked in the car park of the Big Pit mining museum in Blaenavon.
From here there is a marked trail and, as I discovered, marked parking for walkers. I left my car where it was in the virtually empty car park rather than move the 100yards or so to the designated spots. Initially the marked trail  takes you up to a disused reservoir. I crossed a style to walk across the dam, and then another style onto open moorland. There was no sign of any track on the ground other than a few animal trails. I headed upwards to intersect a road up to some old mine workings. The trek across this boggy ground was difficult and slow going and needed occasional back tracking to find a way through. Once on the old road it was an easy ascent up to the derelict mine works. This is a sorry state but a reminder of the working heritage of the site. Following the track past the workings there's a short sharp climb before open moorland and the final ascent. From here there was a faint but definite path heading in the general direction of the summit. The summit is marked only by a small earth mound and, with nothing to support a pole, I had to revert to guying, something I try to avoid if at all possible. A quick activation with 39 QSOs and 15 DXCC followed, all the time watching the building clouds heading in form the north. There were occasional flurries of snow in the cold north wind. A quick descent and on the way back I picked up a better track between the old road and the reservoir. I'm not sure whether it was an animal track or not but it seemed to avoid the worst of the boggy terrain. A quick bite of lunch and then off on the the second summit of the day, Sugar Loaf.
Derelict mine workings

Big Pit museum

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

SOTA - Great Rhos - GW/MW-002

Great Rhos - 660m, 4 points

Association: Wales  Region: Mid Wales  
Latitude: 52 16 1 N, Longitude: 3 12 0 W
Grid Reference: SO 182639, QTH Locator: IO82JG

With a spring day forecast between more rain and cold, I headed for Great Rhos. This is a beautiful walk with fantastic scenery, only made better by the clear sunny and quite warm weather. I parked on the verge by the Mill on the A44 near the village of New Radnor. From here the path follows a river which it crosses by the entrance to the restricted range. It's a long steep ascent over the 3.5 miles or so to the summit.
Warning signs - keep out!
Apart from a few cars I could see within the rstricted area there was no other signs of human activity. Conditions at the summit were perfect, the ground was still frozen solid but the trig point made a convenient pole support and I was soon on the air . 58 QSOs and 17 DXCC followed. The descent was more of the same in reverse, taking about an hour to return to the car. A good day out, fantastic views, beautiful weather and 7 points! Highly recommended.

Ground still frozen solid

The summit in a blue cloudless sky.

Start of a  long ascent

Monday, 4 March 2013

SOTA - Black Mountain - GW/SW-041

Black Mountain - 703m, 6 points

Association: Wales  Region: South Wales  
Latitude: 52 0 30 N, Longitude: 3 5 12 W
Grid Reference: SO 255350, QTH Locator: IO82KA

This is a nice hill to activate. I arrived at the parking spot on the Gospel Pass (SO240373) to find one other car there. The weather was fine with temperatures hovering around freezing point. After an initial hard climb, the path contours around the hill and eventually switches back to the Hay Bluff trig point at 677 metres. From here the path is almost flat following Offa's Dyke path to the summit at 703 metres.

The summit itself is featureless. I opted to operate on the Welsh side of the path only because it felt more sheltered. Once again contacts came quick and fast with 52 QSOs and 16 DXCC. The US stations worked were extremely loud today. 
Although this is a popular summit, today I only saw 6 other people who had braved the cold but lovely sunny weather. On the steep slippery descent my feet went from under me, so I arrived back at the car with a muddy arse to accompany the 9 points for the day!
Hay Bluff - 677 metres

Hay Bluff from the carpark
Lord Hereford's Knob in the background

Still plenty of snow on the northern flanks.

An icy wasteland.