Thursday, 22 January 2015

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

Mynydd Carn-y-cefn - 550m, 2 points

Association: Wales Region: South Wales
Latitude: 51 46 9 N, Longitude: 3 10 46 W
Grid Reference: SO 187085, QTH Locator: IO81JS

The second summit of the day was Mynydd Carn-y-cefn. This was approached from a parking spot close to the West Monmouthshire golf club which is officially the Highest Golf Club in Great Britain! (or so it says).

There's a good track virtually all the way to the summit which is obviously regularly used by 4x4 vehicles, probably for tending the many sheep which roam the hillside. 

The first false summit ahead
We were quickly above the snowline and once again into cloud. I stayed on the track until the trig point was at 90º to my path, made the turn, and struck off across the heathland to intercept it without difficulty.

Trig point

The trig point "moat" was frozen solid, and the convenient scaffold pole stuck in the ground made a strong pole support.

I was soon on the air but without all the excitement of the S2Ss of earlier in the day. Luckily Peter, G3TJE/p once again came to the rescue and gave me a S2S from Wills Neck, G/SC-002 to add to the further 44 QSOs for the activation.

The descent was straight forward and the clouds cleared briefly revealing the valley far below.

A glimpse of the valley below
I got back to the car with the last vestiges of daylight after a fairly productive, enjoyable day.
Maybe next time the sun will shine again.

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

My first trip to South Wales for 2015 and I seemed to pick the only day of the week where the cloud never lifted above 300 metres!

Anyway today's pair were picked to provide a reasonably easy 10 points with the winter bonus in full swing.
Big Pit with Coity Mountain somewhere behind!
As per usual, the trip up Coity was from the Big Pit museum, firstly scrambling across the open bog land before arriving at the access road to the disused mine workings. This presented the usual issues of finding a path which didn't take you thigh deep in the bog. Today as well, there was no sign of the access track ahead, visibility was down to about 10 to 15 metres at best. The trusty GPS came to the rescue but I also took a compass bearing just in case things should go pear shaped. I was soon engulfed in the cold grey cloud , the Big Pit now lost in the mist behind me. Right on target I hit the access path and started climbing into the clouds above.

Track to mine workings
Upwards past the old mine workings and then we were completely "off piste".
Even on a clear snowless day, there are no obvious tracks to the summit, which is in itself a featureless unmarked entity.

I scouted around the cliffs at the back of the mine workings, took a bearing for the summit and headed off uphill.
Summit bound
It was quite tough going, the snow being quite deep in places. Eventually my reckoning and the altimeter told me I was either at the summit or pretty close, certainly well within the activation zone.

The summit.
I set up the station and got ready to go. Looking for a clear QRG on 14Mhz I stumbled across a pile up on 14.062Mhz This was Bruno, HB9CBR/p on HB/VD-035 - Le Chasseron, and obviously he was to be my first QSO and S2S of the day. Finding a clear frequency I was about to call CQ when the 2m handheld burst into life. This was Phil GW4OBK/p and Geoff 2W0NON/p on Mynydd Sylen, GW/SW-036, approx 70 Kms to the west. Needless to say I waited around to work them (an unusual occurrence for me to be on 2m FM) for my third S2S of the day.

Working 14, 10 and then 7 Mhz resulted in a further 28 QSOs before Peter, G3TJE/P on Dunkery Beacon, G/SC-001, called in on 7Mhz to make it 4 S2S of the day.

As I was packing up to leave the handheld burst into life again. Again this was Phil GW4OBK/p and Geoff 2W0NON/p, but this time on Mynydd Llangyndeyrn, GW/SW-039, some 75 Kms to the west. Those boys were moving along fast!

That made it 6 S2S for the day and 34 QSOs.
I packed up and retraced my footsteps (nice easy navigation!) back to the access track. After a quick bite of lunch and some coffee it was off to summit number two, Mynydd Carn-y-cefn, GW/SW-014

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

SOTA - Cleeve Hill - G/CE-001

Cleeve Hill - 330m, 1 point

Association: England Region: Central England
Latitude: 51 55 11 N, Longitude: 2 0 21 W
Grid Reference: SO 996245, QTH Locator: IO81XW

The first activation of the year and what was a "coming of age" activation for me too. Yes, it was my 21st activation of Cleeve Hill! You'd think I'd be getting bored with it by now.
With a few spare hours, a point available and not wishing to travel too far afield, it made perfect sense.

There was a bit of snow and ice on the approach road, but nothing that couldn't be handled by my vehicle.
At the car park the hill looked crisp and clean with the fresh snowfall from overnight.

There were not many people around and I set up in the lee of some gorse bushes to get out of the bitter wind. It was a balmy 3ºC when I started operations.

Whilst conditions were hardly sparkling, I worked all bands, 40 through to 15 metres, for a total of 50 QSOs and 15 DXCC.
As usual the handwarmer came in useful, especially after struggling with trying to collapse the upper section of frozen pole with bare hands.
A nice winter day, if a little grey.