SOTA Activation & Wild Camping (Fan Brycheiniog GW/SW-003) 7

Lovely Sunset from the car park at Fan Nedd

Lovely Sunset from the car park at Fan Nedd

Fan Brycineog – Wow! This activation was a real experience! I arrived at the base of Fan Brycheiniog at 11pm after activating another 4 summits in the area on the same day (13th August).

I carried a large rucksack with everything I would need for the night and my 35 litre rucksack with radio equipment. I walked for 45 minutes from the car parking spot using my head torch and Garmin GPS to navigate.

The path (fortunately) is pretty simple, it’s almost a straight line, the only challenges were the multiple stream crossings and the fact I was very tired after walking all day activating 4 other pretty substantial summits. I had to stop a number of times and unload both bags to rest as the uphill trajectory and heavy load was taking its toll.

Summit Factfile

GW/SW-003 – Fan Brycheiniog – 802m, 8 points
Latitude: 51 52 56 N, 3 42 30 W
Grid Reference: SN825218, QTH Locator: IO81DV
Parking: Park at SN855223 (N51:53:17, W3:39:52) on the side of the minor road where there is a pull-in for at least three cars.
Walk:
The route is basically a straight line to the southern end of Llyn y Fan Fawr with minor detours to cross streams. After the camping spot the path climbs steeply up the escarpment to the col where it turns right and up to the summit.
Trig: TP6568 – Trescastle
WAB: SN82
VHF: Great takeoff – more 2m contacts than 40m contacts for previous activators
Wild Camping Spot: From the southern end of the very picturesque Llyn y Fan Fawr which is a popular spot for wild campers. You can camp right at the lake edge!

Spending the Night

I arrived at the lake edge of Llyn y Fan Fawr tired, sweaty and hungry but happy that I had found my camping spot for the night. First mission was to change T-Shirts, as mine was soaked through and the night chill was taking hold. I then proceeded to setup the two man tent on some flat ground near the lake edge. With shelter and bedding sorted out I started cooking a tinned curry for my evening meal, it was 11:30pm before I ate, but boy it was good. I enjoyed it with a beer while watching the Perseids meteor shower and thoroughly chilling out.

After quite a good nights sleep I woke up at 7am and opened the tent to a glorious lakeside view which I’d been denied the night before when I first arrived.

This is where I woke up! It was more beautiful than I had imagined!

This is where I woke up! It was more beautiful than I had imagined!

Sun rising over the lake

Sun rising over the lake

Soon enough I had the gas stove on cooking up a tinned English breakfast, not a taste sensation but necessary fuel for the walk ahead!

Cooking breakfast before starting the ascent

Cooking breakfast before starting the ascent

The Climb

After the farmers turned up to heard their sheep I decided it best to pack everything up and make a swift exit. I’m not sure this is private land and I think they just graze their animals here and come to tend them every couple of days. Either way I cut short my initial plan of leaving the tent setup next to the lake while I go up and activate the summit. The main problem being that I now had to carry my big rucksack up the summit alongside my smaller bag carrying the radio kit.

The climb from the lake is very steep and this soon got the blood pumping around my system! Half way up I decided to ditch the big rucksack behind a rock to make the going a bit easier.

Views back onto the lake from halfway up

Views back onto the lake from halfway up

It's a lovely distinctive summit

It’s a lovely distinctive summit

With the load significantly lightened I got to the summit in no time. Total time of ascension from lake was about 15 minutes and one pint of sweat.

The summit cairn and trig now visible

The summit cairn and trig now visible

This is the lovely well built cairn on the summit

This is the lovely well built cairn on the summit

The Activation

The top of the summit is marked with a trig point and summit cairn and on my visit very strong wind. This was matched by some incoming low cloud which was initially lower than the summit but then climbed up and swiftly engulfed the summit, lowering the temperature by a couple of degrees.

The trig point where I chose to operate from

The trig point where I chose to operate from

Oh no! Incoming cloud about to engulf the summit

Oh no! Incoming cloud about to engulf the summit

I wanted to activate this summit using 2m FM but chose to put up a better antenna than the vertical dipole I’d used for all 4 activations the previous day. I had carried up a homemade 2m Moxon which would provide much more gain (~11dBi) and some directionality to match. This would maximise the 5w out from the Yaesu 817.

Yaesu 817 Mid-QSO on 2m FM

Yaesu 817 Mid-QSO on 2m FM

I strapped the Moxon to the mast in a vertical polarisation for FM. Soon enough I had this 4m in the air with the mast strapped to the trig point. Getting this to stay put in the strong wind was a bit of a challenge!

2m Moxon vertically polarised strapped to the trig point - notice the lack of visibility now!

2m Moxon vertically polarised strapped to the trig point – notice the lack of visibility now!

I posted a SOTA spot from my phone and started calling CQ. Don G0RQL was the first in the log and a good signal from Devon. He said he couldn’t always reach activators on this summit so seemed like the Moxon was doing the business. Next in the log was Jim EI9GLB, now I’ve worked Jim a number of times on various HF bands but didn’t expect him to call in on 2m FM! This just goes to show what can be done from a high location, clear takeoff and a saltwater path across the Irish Sea.

My fourth contact was finally in the same DXCC with Terry GW4TGT calling in from IO71MQ Pembroke Dock. My last contact of the day was with Rod from Hereford City, I had worked Rod while he was also in South Wales the previous day and caught him for three summit to summit contacts. He had since driven back to England and called in from his home QTH In Hereford City.

After this I decided to pack up as the weather was worsening and didn’t look like it was going to get any better. I was pleased with the difference that the Moxon had made with 7 contacts across 3 DXCC, surely that doesn’t happen very often under flat conditions on 2m FM!?

Once I reached the car I drove back home via Wentwood summit (GW/SW-033). This activation will remain in my memory for sometime, primarily down to the adventure of it all rather than the 30 minutes spent activating the summit.

Back down next to the lake - you can't even see the summit anymore

Back down next to the lake – you can’t even see the summit anymore

Time Call Band Mode Notes
08:29z G0RQL 144MHz FM Don, Devon
08:37z EI9GLB 144MHz FM Jim, County Wexford, IO62UO
08:40z M0INY 144MHz FM  Ian, North Staffordshire
08:44z GW4TGT 144MHz FM Terry, IO71MQ, Pembroke Dock
08:55z 2W0MFD 144MHz FM Terry, Brecon
08:57z GW0GVY 144MHz FM Chris, IO71XR
09:01z M0JLA 144MHz FM  Rod, Hereford

7 thoughts on “SOTA Activation & Wild Camping (Fan Brycheiniog GW/SW-003)

  1. Reply GØNMY Feb 4,2016 17:53

    Looks like you are really into your SOTA Well done.
    If I had woken to such a nice lake view I would of been tempted to try a bit of fishing!
    Im surprised you didnt leave your Tent there, did you find out if it was Private land??
    I have enjoyed reading your blog you make Hill climbing sound like fun!
    Cheers and 73 Mark GØNMY

    • Reply James Stevens Feb 5,2016 09:37

      Thanks Mark. I did wonder if there was any fish there, but didn’t see anything rising at sunrise. I had read somewhere that a local fishing club had tried to stock it but the fish didn’t thrive. I think the reason was the water was either too acidic or too alkaline, one of the two!

      I don’t believe it’s a private land, nothing indicated this was the case, I think I was just there when the farmers were rounding up the hill sheep 🙂

      73, James M0JCQ

  2. Reply Jim Mouck Feb 7,2016 20:07

    Great post; felt like I was there with you.
    Would very much like the make & model of tent and mast that you used.
    Thanks & keep up the adventures; we love them.

    • Reply James Stevens Feb 8,2016 09:33

      Thanks Jim!

      The tent is the two man Vango Ark 200, it’s light enough to carry and spacious enough for one man and kit or one man & XYL for a cozy fit. Importantly it’s small enough that you can heat it up inside quite quickly when conditions are cold.

      I mostly use the SOTABeams 10m Travel Mast to support the center of antennas, but any fishing whips/poles (known as ‘roach poles’ or ‘crappie poles’ if you’re in N.America) as long as they’re made from fibreglass (as opposed to conductive carbon) will work just as well.

      73, James M0JCQ

      • Reply Jim Mouck Feb 8,2016 19:36

        Tnx for the response & info James, much appreciated.
        I have a MEC Quail Plus tent sounds about same size, basically okay for me & my pack. My Wilderness Sierra qrp rig works great with wire antennas. I need to get one of those extending poles for when no trees available, then good to go.
        Take care
        Jim
        VE3NWN

  3. Reply Dazztee Sep 17,2017 00:47

    i been slowly getting through your blogs an videos and im really up for some of this, all because of you

    • Reply James Stevens Sep 21,2017 08:49

      Glad to hear it – there’s nothing like getting out there and doing it – it’s how I learnt 🙂

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