Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar 2019

Previous

With the end of the winter bonus season rapidly approaching we decided to fit in one more high scoring session this time to the Lake District.  The plan for the Saturday was the three peaks of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar.  A fairly ambitious target which I failed to complete all in one go in 2018, so a personal challenge to overcome this year.

We were the first car to arrive in the car park at Wasdale head, as we were kitting up another car arrived and parked beside us, shortly followed by a third.  The driver of the third car wound down his window and asked us where Scafell Pike was.  After putting him right and pointing him back to the NT car park the occupants of the second car admitted that they were also planning Scafell Pike.  They were soon packed back into their car and heading off the same way.  One has to wonder sometimes.

The last time I attempted this route I went around clockwise, I was defeated by the weather that time and had to descend via the Blacksail path, only completing the activation of Pillar that day.  As the weather was forecast similar again with winds gusting up to 60mph we decided to try from the other direction this time as we were more likely to complete the first two summits that way rather than just the single but more difficult Pillar.

G/LD-005, Great Gable – 899m, 8 Points

Looking back into Wasdale and over Wast Water from somewhere below White Napes
Approaching the summit plateau of Great Gable

From Wasdale Head we took the easy path East alongside Lingmell Beck before turning North East to pass up beside White Napes and up onto  the col marked Beck Head on the map.  From here the path South East up to the summit of Great Gable is patchy at best.  Generally it is just a case of picking the best route over the rocks until reaching the summit plateau.  Conditions on the top were severe so we did our best to find shelter in amongst the few rocks marking the summit where we set up our stations.

The shack

There were quite a few operators around so to save time and batteries we all three worked the first four to qualify and then I continued to work the pile up whilst the others packed away their radios and did their best to keep warm.  I worked ten stations including a summit to summit with G4YTD Tim and an M6 from Northern Ireland MI6LNP Norman.  Although I know it’s not really that far away it always seems a bit exotic to work someone on another island on VHF.

G/LD-005 Log

Dropping off the summit plateau with Beckhead tarn below us

The return back down to the col was soon accomplished thanks to a clearing of the clouds which makes navigation so much easier.  There was quite a bit of fresh snow cover on the ground from overnight but as it hadn’t yet had time to consolidate it made the decent easier in some ways by filling many of the cracks and gaps between the rocks.

Once back down at Beck Head we stopped briefly for some lunch before heading over past the tarn and beginning the Eastern ascent of Kirk Fell.

G/LD-014, Kirk Fell – 802m, 8 Points

Looking back towards Great Gable from Kirk Fell

The path from Beck Head up to Kirk Fell was barely discernible under the snow cover, but fortunately the weather remained clear for the ascent so we enjoyed some fabulous views back over the Gables.

The top of Kirk Fell is fairly flat and when approaching from the East has a false summit at 787m.  Although this is within the activation zone it is only a couple of hundred metres beyond to reach the true summit and the trig point so persevere.  We soon set up our stations in the small summit shelter and set about the pileup.  As previously we all worked the first four contacts but this time Richard completed the operation so I only logged six contacts, including another summit to summit, this time with Allan GW4VPX/P down in Mid Wales.  It was a real challenge as he was barely audible but after much perseverance I finally completed the contact.  Thank you Allan

G/LD-014 Log

Walking off the summit of Kirk Fell

With time and daylight still in hand and some reserve still in the energy banks we decided we would descend into Blacksail Pass and go for our third activation of the day on Pillar.  This was an unknown route as I had never done it previously, what a pearl it turned out to be.  The route off Kirk Fell is easy to spot as the old boundary fence posts are still there to mark it, although the fence itself has long ago rusted away.  Once you reach the edge of the plateau there is a steep rocky scramble down over Kirkfell Crags and into Blacksail pass.  A great opportunity to get some hands on the rocks.  I am not sure if this is officially rated but I personally would class this as a short grade one winter scramble so wouldn’t recommend it unless you are comfortable with winter scrambling and have the correct gear.

G/LD-006, Pillar – 892m, 8 Points

Approaching Pillar
Spindrift blowing off the summit

From Blacksail it is an entertaining route up onto Pillar.  Hard work after a long day but with a nice mix of steep rock and flatter grass sections, albeit a bit drawn out.

By the time we reached the top we were certainly ready for a break.

M6XPE and M1CJE enjoying the comforts of the summit shelter

The summit shelter was full of snow when we arrived so we set to digging it out and soon had a cosy(ish) home from home in which to set up our stations.

Same procedure once again, all working the first four then it was M6XPE’s turn to work the pile up but by now he was struggling a bit with his radio and not a lot of battery remaining so I took over and worked the pile up for him making another thirteen contacts, including another two MI stations.  Magic stuff.

G/LD-006 Log

By the time we were ready to leave the summit the weather had closed in almost to the point of a white out.  It is unusual to see it quite that bad here in the Lakes, it was more like a Scottish winter day than the good old friendly Lake District 🙂

We descended down the ridge line into Wind Gap which was an exciting experience.  As we reached the col we dropped below the cloud  to reveal the full majesty of the Mosedale valley.

Looking down Mosedale from below Wind Gap

Descending the scree slope below Wind Gap we spotted a couple of walkers below us who had followed the path down to the bottom and were now trapped in the junction between Mosedale Beck and Gatherstone Beck.  This provided great entertainment as we watched them trying to find a way out of the trap.  In the end they took the plunge and got their feet wet.  Learning from their experience we instead contoured around the valley crossing Gatherstone Beck higher up the valley side.  Even so it was still not easy to cross, there had been a lot of rain in the preceding week.  We finally reached the car back at Wasdale head just as the sun was setting, a great end to a great and successful day out SOTAing.

Journey Details

Date – 9th March 2019

Postcode – CA20 1EX

Parking – NY 186 085

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 10 + 6 + 13

SOTA points – 8 (+3) +8 (+3) +8 (+3) = 33

Group – Myself, Peter and Richard

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Dunkery Beacon 2019

Previous

G/SC-001, Dunkery Beacon – 519m, 2 Points

A trip down to the West Country afforded the opportunity to pop over to Minehead and bag Dunkery Beacon before the end of the Winter bonus period.

Parking at the car park next to the cattle grid at SS 895 406, it is just a short easy walk up to the Beacon along a clearly defined path.  With the wind behind me pushing me up the hill I was soon at the top and set the station up in the lee of the large cairn marking the top.

It didn’t take long to put nine contacts in the log from a wide area ranging from Salisbury in the SE up though Cheltenham to the NE and around into Nelson in mid Wales.  As soon as I had worked the pileup I was packed away and on the way back down again.  Job done.

G/SC-001 Log

Journey Details

Date – 3rd March 2019

Postcode – TA24 7AT

Parking – SS 895 406

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA on 2m

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 9

SOTA points – 2 + 3

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Elidir Fawr 2019

Previous

GW/NW-005, Elidir Fawr – 924m, 8 Points

Sunday was forecast to be a glorious day and it didn’t disappoint.  It was shirtsleeve walking.

I elected to approach from the North West, perhaps not the usual route but with easy parking available at SH 596 630 it would avoid the crowds on what was likely to be a busy day out in the hills.  Passing the car park at Pen Y Pass just after 8:30am it was already closed with the ‘full’ signs out.

The track from the parking up to the Marchlyn Mawr dam is exceptional being surfaced all the way.  Once you reach the dam there is a path off to the left of the tunnel access leading up onto the hill.  The path soon fades out though and from here it is just a case of picking the best route up over a large boulder field.

Once you reach the top there is shelter if it’s windy but for once I didn’t need it.  I soon set the station up and had nine contacts in the log.

GW/NW-005 Log

The return back down is more of the same.  Once back onto the track below the dam it may be worth cutting straight down avoiding the long sweeping curves of the track.

Journey Details

Date – 24th February 2019

Postcode – LL55 3NA

Parking – SH 596 630

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 9

SOTA points – 8 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Gwaunceste Hill 2019

Previous

GW/MW-010, Gwaunceste Hill – 542m, 2 Points

A few miles South of Great Rhos is Gwaunceste Hill.

It was not clear if there would be room to park on the farm track down to Rhewey so I parked in the lay-by on the main road at SO 150 575.  Walking along the track I could see it should be possible to park on the verge at SO 149 573 without causing an obstruction.  The farm at Rhewey is not terribly welcoming with dogs chained up in the yard and signs on every fence stating the private nature of the land.  Hold your nerve though and walk straight through as is your right.  Once beyong the gate at the end of the farm yard it is a pleasant stroll up a good track.  South of the gate at SO 155 565 the land is signed as a SSI.  Stay on the good track here rather than taking a bearing for the summit as the going is very tough once off the track.  Make your own decision how far to follow the track before turning cross county for the final push up to the trig point.

GW/MW-010 Log

Journey Details

Date – 23rd February 2019

Postcode – LD1 5RR

Parking – SO 149 573

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 8

SOTA points – 2 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Great Rhos 2019

Previous

GW/MW-002, Great Rhos – 660m, 4 Points

This year I decided to try the approach to Great Rhos from the North.  There have been reports that the danger area to the South and West of the summit has ben expanded and although access should be still possible from that direction the route may be extended to avoid the expanded area.

There is room for a couple of cars to park at the end of the track at SO 156 655.  It’s fairly obvious with an old railway truck dumped beside the road.

From the parking spot it’s a pleasant walk gently climbing to an obvious left turn that leads up towards the summit.  When the track meets the fence line continue North and then North East following the fence until you find the gate at SO 178 641.  From here you will need to take a bearing and head South East out over the heather until you spot the trig point marking the summit.

GW/MW-002 Log

Journey Details

Date – 23rd February 2019

Postcode – LD1 5TD

Parking – SO 156 655

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 8

SOTA points – 4 (+3)

Group – Myself

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Tryfan 2019

Previous

GW/NW-006, Tryfan – 918m, 8 Points

Sunday started out wet and continued so right up until we got back to the car.  The plan was for a shorter day activating Tryfan then leaving to get home at a reasonable time.

We managed to park right next to the gate, probably the bad weather put off the crowds.

MW1CJE on the Cannon Stone

The route up is well known and documented on many youtube videos so I won’t go into detail here.  Just try and follow the ridge line as much as possible and don’t forget to stop at the cannon stone for the photo opportunity.

There were a few others around on the top, a number seemed to have come up via the South Ridge and one or two seemed to be there by accident, we were asked a couple of times if this was Tryfan and one person asked if it was the Glyders.

Stood between Adam and Eve, no jump today

We found a little shelter between a few big rocks and soon set up the station.  Conditions were good and I logged 23 contacts all over Northern England.  The temperature was well below zero so we were soon getting very cold and had to pack up to leave.  We dropped down the South Ridge and then SW down towards Cwm Tryfan and some welcome shelter from the winds.  By this time we were very cold and very wet so were pleased to see the sun put in a showing as we arrived back at the car!  Not a long day but a great adventure.

GW/NW-006 Log

Journey Details

Date – 17th February 2019

Postcode – LL24 0EU

Parking – SH 663 602

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 23

SOTA points – 8 (+3)

Group – Myself & Richard

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Carnedd Llewelyn & Pen Llithrig y Wrach 2019

Previous

The weather looked promising for this activation of two new summits for me.  This is a route that is overshadowed by it’s more illustrious neighbours to the South but it is well worth doing, offering a mix of just about everything Snowdonia has to offer terrain wise and 22 SOTA points as well.Parking is easy at the Gwern Gof Isaf campsite at SH 685 601.  Pop in and pay the farmer his £2 and for your money you will receive a days parking and some great local advice on conditions and the route.

GW/NW-002, Carnedd Llewelyn – 1064m, 10 Points

Cross the road to the obvious track heading NE.  Follow this to the bend where you will see the remains of a building on the right.  Turn here. Initially there is not much sign of the path but you should soon pick it up, it becomes more obvious as you approach the reservoir.  The final push up to Bwalch Ery Farchog is a bit steep in places but nothing too difficult.  Once on the ridge, follow it to the left, NW along a fairly clear path.  There is a short section at SH 692 635 that will require scrambling skills.  It’s not too difficult, approach it to the right then traverse along a small ledge to the left and up.  Just after this section there is a fork in the path, take the right fork, although  it looks steeper it’s an easier path.  From the crags of Craig yr Ysfa it’s an easy stroll across Penywaun-wen and up onto the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn.

We set up the station in the shelter of the summit cairn.  By this time the wind was up around 30 – 40 mph and the temperature was well below freezing.  I soon had seven contacts in the log.

GW/NW-002 Log

Once we had packed up we headed back down to the ridge and on towards Pen Llithrig y Wrach.  The down scramble at the crags was no more difficult than coming up but care does need to be taken.

GW/NW-013, Pen Llithrig y Wrach – 799m, 6 Points

Pen yr Helgi Du

From the bwlch continue SE to gain the height of Pen yr Helgi Du.  This is a quite imposing ascent that looks far more dramatic than it is.  Keep your nerve and stick to the path up and you will soon reach the top where it opens out onto the flatter summit plateau.  Stick with the path and drop back down into Bwalch y Tri Marchog and then climb the final ascent up onto Pen Llithrig y Wrach.

Pen Llithrig y Wrach summit

Once we arrived at the summit we quickly set up the station and soon had four contacts in the log including a summit to summit contact with GW7HEM/P on Mynd Langorse which I was very pleased to get as SW-015 is well known as a difficult summit to activate on VHF.

GW/NW-013 Log

By this time the weather was coming in and the wind was still ferocious so we didn’t hang around on the summit but headed back down to calmer conditions.  There is the option to just take a bearing down the side of the hill but the fence marked on the map was fairly substantial where we crossed it at the bwalch so I was not sure we wouldn’t end up following it back North to the stile in the bwalch, rather we opted to follow the path back down and take a bearing from there.  There is no obvious path ondown from here  but the dyke running West to East is very obvious and impossible to miss.  There is a good path along the South side of the dyke leading back to the access road and down to the A5.

Journey Details

Date – 16th Feburary 2019

Postcode – LL24 0EU

Parking – SH 685 601.

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 7 + 4

SOTA points – 10 (+3) + 6 (+3) = 22

Group – Myself & Richard

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Y Garn and Glyder Fawr 2019

Previous

Sunday and another early start, this time planning to ascend the Devils Kitchen and up onto Y Garn.

GW/NW-004, Y Garn – 947m, 8 Points

On the Devils Kitchen

Normally this is a long but quite easy paved route, today though the path was barely discernible under deep  snow and ice.  Eventually reaching Llyn Cwn we turned North in conditions approaching white out at times.  We eventually summit-ed and found room in the small shelter on the top.  It was fairly busy on top even given the poor conditions.

GW/NW-004 Log

After making twenty QSOs from Y Garn we were all pretty cold and pleased to head back down to the col. Conditions were deteriorating for the afternoon with rain forecast lower down but blowing blizzard conditions on the tops.

GW/NW-003, Glyder Fawr – 1001m, 10 Points

We reached Glyder Fawr a couple of hours later where we found shelter beside a few large rocks marking the summit. By this time the other two were fairly cold and wet so they weren’t over pleased when I put another seventeen contacts into the log, including  couple of summit to summit contacts

It was still a long walk out but as we started to lose height the wind dropped and the weather improved. We finally got back to the car just as we lost the daylight.

GW/NW-003 Log

In total over the weekend we activated four SOTA summits worth 48 points and made 53 QSOs over much of the North West and Midlands regions.  We climbed nearly 3000 metres of mountain and spent 17½ hours out walking.

Journey Details

Date – 3rd Feburary 2019

Postcode – LL24 0EU

Parking – SH 650 603

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – 2 Ele Yagi + MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 20 + 17

SOTA points – 8 (+3) & 10 (+3)

Group – Myself, Peter & Richard

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Snowdon & Y Lliwedd 2019

Previous

Saturday morning we were up for an early start, planning to complete the Snowdon horseshoe, a classic Welsh route including a traverse of the infamous Crib Goch, a knife edge ridge. Unfortunately the crowds beat us to it and the main Snowdon car park was already full when we arrived at 8:30am. A quick re-plan and we headed down to do the Watkins path instead.

GW/NW-008, Y Lliwedd – 898m, 8 Points

The Gladstone rock on the Watkins

A few hours later we arrived at the summit of Y Lliwedd at 898 metres. With temperatures well below freezing and an additional ten degrees of windchill, we didn’t want to stay there for too long. We set up the radios and worked stations from the Wirral through to Eire, a few in Anglesey and over to Manchester and Bolton.  There is no shelter at the top of Y Lliwedd so after nine QSOs we were all ready to leave.

GW/NW-008 Log

GW/NW-001, Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa – 1085m, 10 Points

From Y Lliwedd, it’s just over 150 metres of decent back to the Bwlch Ciliau and then the long climb up to Snowdon summit. The snow was fairly deep in places; on some of the steeper sections we were cutting steps to make the ascent.

MW1CJE on Snowdon summit

Once we reached the ridge at the top of the Watkins path though we were greeted by the masses that had come up via the Pyg track from the main car park.

The wind on Snowdon summit was stronger and the temperatures even lower but we found a little shelter beside the summit cairn and soon logged contacts into Dublin, Telford, Anglesey and around the North West of England.

GW/NW-001 Log

By the time we left the summit we had all lost contact with our PTT fingers which were now frozen solid.  Our return route was back down Bwlch Main, over Alt Maenderyn and down to the lake at Bwlch Cwm Llan where we turned East to regain the Watkins path and back home.

Journey Details

Date – 2nd Feburary 2019

Postcode – LL55 4NR

Parking – SH 628 507

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74

Antenna – 2 Ele Yagi + MFJ Longranger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 9 + 7

SOTA points – 8 (+3) & 10 (+3)

Group – Myself, Peter & Richard

Walking Route Summary

Route Profile

Next

Long Knoll 2019

Previous

G/SC-007, Long Knoll – 288m, 1 Point

One of my local summits, only one point so I would normally wait until summer to do this one, but after three weekends in the Brecons this was a little lilght releif before we headed off to North Wales the following weekend, or so I thought!

The parking for this summit is very restricted, ordinarily you would say room for one car only but when we arrived there was already one there.  We did manage to just squeeze our car in front but it was tight.

The forecast for the day was fairly good but windy.  It’s not a long or steep climb up to the summit but as we gained altitude the wind increased accordingly.  By the time we got to the top it was probably blowing better than fifty mph.  We set up on the top of the trig point but had great difficulty keeping the radio on there, we had to find some large stones to weight it down.

We soon made six contacts and were on our way back down for a well earned lunch.

G/SC-007, Log

G/SC-007, Journey Details

Date – 20th January 2019

Postcode – BA12 7HN

Parking – ST 801 378

Radio – Kenwood TH-D74 + 50W PA 

Antenna – MFJ 1714 LongRanger

Band – 144 FM

Contacts – 6

SOTA points – 1

Group – Myself + Peter

G/SC-007, Walking Route Summary

G/SC-007, Altitude Profile

Next