Gyrn Ddu, GW/NW-050 - 522m ASL - SH 401 468 - OS Explorer 254 - 2 SOTA
Guess what? The Bardsey boat was still not sailing on Tuesday 26th August
2008. Aargh! Four days on the Lleyn, and no Bardsey Island - meaning
no SOTA activation of Mynydd Enlli GW/NW-072. It will
have to be done another time, but without the company of those fine little hills
on the peninsular. Unless we do them again of course - that's not against the
rules, is it?
The weather looked exactly the same as yesterday. Low cloud, shrouding the
summits of the local one pointers, and hiding most of Yr Eifl
and Gyrn Ddu from
view. Windy, but, not raining. A possibility of an activation, I thought.
However, after unpitching the tent and loading the car, Campbell suggested we
all meet in Pwllheli for breakfast. Knowing that he was referring to the cafe
adjoining the arcade, and a "Full Welsh Breakfast" of sausage, bacon, egg,
tomato, mushrooms, soda bread, black pudding, toast and tea, for £5.20, we
didn't need any persuading! Recommended - very very good indeed.
Then it was time to go our separate ways. Campbell and Calum were considering
camping over in the Llandudno area, but we had to be back home for Liam's
hospital tests the following day. I decided we would have a crack at Gyrn Ddu,
but with the option of bottling-out and retreating if things didn't go too well.
The weather looked like it was capable of doing anything without warning, and I
well recall Shirley MW0YLS's lack of enthusiasm for this hill.
In actual fact, this turned out to be the best outing of the holiday. We parked
on a small grass verge by the entrance to Cwm-coryn farm at SH403452. We
progressed up the PROW which was initially coincidental with the farm drive, but
then soon mislaid the path. This was not a problem though, for we were able to
progress easily enough, and in the right direction through gaps in walls through
The side of a large house loomed eerily and unexectedly through the mist, and
this was marked on the map as Homestead, and was quite an impressive ruin, if
that is not too much of a contradiction in terms! We met the West-East running
PROW at around SH403460, and followed it to the wall running steeply uphill at
SH409462. Jimmy had been researching, and knew that G3CWI struck off uphill at
the very point.
Therefore so did we, but our initial hard work came to nought. At the top of
this steep field was a high wall with barbed wire fence, completely enclosing
us. There was no way through. We had no alternative but to retreat down the the
PROW, go over the stile, and ascend on the other side of the wall!
At about SH406465, was a large hole in the wall. Jimmy suggested that we crawl
through it to get on the side the the summit was in, in case we were similarly
blocked further up. I agreed, so through we went. The next section was hellishly
steep on long wet greasy grass, and not pleasant at all. I aimed west, so as to
relieve the gradient by "contouring" up the hill, and to aim for the saddle,
rather than unnecessarily climbing to the 491m peak at SH405467.
We didn't quite make the saddle, and had a gentle downhill section to achieve
it. We then angled right to avoid the 490m contour ring at SH402467, and out of
the mist loomed a big lump of high rocks. Bingo! We had successfully navigated
across a desolate and lonely place, with little more than 20 feet of visibility,
to the summit of Gyrn Ddu.
However, there was work to be done. This big lump of rocks had to be scrambled
up to attain the summit. The rocks were greasy, and many deep holes lurked
between them, each with genuine leg-breaking or body-trapping potential. This
was exacerbated by hardly any of the rocks lying with horizontal surfaces at the
top on which to place one's boots!
Slowly, surely, and safely, we picked our way to the summit cairn at the top,
and paused for breath. Liam sat down on the only flat rock surface in a
half-mile radius, while Jimmy and I stood, passing the VX-7R between each other.
If we could activate this one on HH/RD, we would. A challenging descent
remained, and I did not want the boys getting too cold or tired.
As it was, we each easily made four contacts each, including one with EI5GQB/M
working on an electricity substation in County Wicklow. After carefully picking
our way back down the rocks, we headed East over the moor and slightly downhill.
We came across a tractor track, so I changed the descent plan and said "Follow
this!". We did, and it gave us very easy and reassuring walking back down to the
PROW. We hit this path further West than where we did on the ascent, but we
continued through the fields in a south-westerly direction and spotted the ruins
at Homestead lurking through the clag.
This was good to see, and we knew we would be reunited with the car within
quarter of an hour. Back at the lane, the boys and I were busy drying our feet,
removing socks and changing into sandals. I went a little further, changing
everything, fortunate that no other vehicles passed by as I did!
We had all run out of water from our hydration packs during the day, so a liquid
refreshment stop at a pub in Bethesda was a welcome one. Then it was foot down,
A55, M56, M6 and home. That finest of establishments, the Weston Balti Raj
issued the take-away that fed us upon our return home.
So, disappointing weather, missed out on the Bardsey Island trip, and altogether
nothing like my last trip to the Lleyn back in 2004. But really, we made the
best of it and got six activations done, all required uniques for Jimmy, and
even Unique number 195 for me. The highlight was definitely the expedition on
Gyrn Ddu, the navigation involved, and Liam's fine performance on a challenging
hike. Many thanks to the following stations, all worked on 2m FM
with 5 watts: