Tom Read - click to email meBDXC ISWL WAB SOTA RSGB IOTA - see my radio page for more detailsLiam & Jimmy

Waun Fach SW-002


Waun Fach, GW/SW-002 - 811m ASL - SO 215 300 - OS Explorer OL13 - 8 SOTA points        Map & summit information from SOTAwatch    Click to return to summit index


After the long day and late night, there was to be no early wake-up call on Friday 28th August 2009. But when we did arise, we knew where we were going. Following the traditional NQT ("newly qualified teacher") motto of "Take the biggest and hit him", we aimed for Waun Fach GW/SW-002, which we assessed to be the most difficult of the summits on our agenda.

Jimmy navigated the long route around the narrow Welsh country lanes until we saw the sign for the Grwyne Fawr reservoir. We then drove up the long cul-de-sac and pulled in near the footbridge at SO249287. Jimmy, Liam, Craig and myself kitted up and embarked on our long day's walking.

Jimmy, near the summit of Pen y Gadair Fawr    Craig, near the summit of Pen y Gadair Fawr

First, after crossing the bridge, we followed the riverside path to the edge of the forest. Then we turned left (west) and climbed steeply on the path following the northern boundary of the Mynydd Du Forest. This was quite hard work, and a little tricky for me as the path skirted frequently close to a deep steep drop to my immediate right!

Craig at the summit    Jimmy at the summit

Craig and Jimmy pulled well ahead of Liam and I, and MW3EYP/M called me on the radio to report that they were passing over Pen y Gadair Fawr. When Liam and I reached that point, we chose to pass to the right of the subsidiary summit rather than top it. We then had the long boring plod over the squelchy 753m saddle before finally climbing the boggy lump of porridge that is Waun Fach.

Tom on Waun Fach GW/SW-002    Jimmy activating and Liam playing DS

It was drizzling and there was a cold wind. And Waun Fach has got to be be one of the most "shelterless" summits ever! We got stuck into the pasties bought from the campsite shop that morning, and set up the 40m dipole and 2m SOTA Beam.  Jimmy managed 7 QSOs on 2m FM, but only eventually, after enduring 80 minutes of silence between his 1st and 2nd contacts. Things were much more straightforward for me on 40m CW, although I too made only 7 QSOs! At least they came one after the other though in a 12 minute spell!

I didn't much fancy returning to Pen y Gadair Fawr and descending by the forest, so led the boys off the eastern slopes of Waun Fach, aiming for the reservoir. This proved to be easy going down the grassy slopes, which weren't too steep either. It was very much a "descent route" though; I imagine ascending this way would be a soul-destroying slog!

View down to the Grwyne Fawr reservoir as we descended Waun Fach        Getting near the dam

What appeared to be an unmapped trig point appeared just before the reservoir, but it didn't have the bracket or number. The waters of the reservoir were being whipped up by the wind and crashing violently into the dam wall. We walked across the dam and marvelled at the height of it, and the very deep drop to the right of us. At the other side of the dam was another trig-shaped stone pillar, so we assumed that they were something to do with the dam or reservoir.

We now had a very easy, long gently descending bridleway to follow, which took us right to where I had parked the car. I hadn't even recognised this as a possible ascent route, although I was satisfied with the resulting circular route.

Craig & Tom on Grwyne Fawr dam    Strange pillar on the other side of the dam

The walk and expedition had taken all day, so I instructed the JimNav to take me directly into Talgarth, and the Bell Inn. We were delighted to find that the pub was still being run by Sydna, who by my reckoning must be 68 years of age now, and exactly as kind and welcoming as she was four years ago.

Her homemade beef and onion pies were delicious, and amply accompanied by a big bowl of peas and a huge tray of proper homemade chips. Halfway through our dinners, Sydna returned to the table with another tray of chips: "Some more chips for you lads" she said, "I do like to feed boys with good appetites". And these boys liked being fed by Sydna! The couple on the adjacent table to us must have heard us talking about Jimmy's results, and offered their own congratulations.

The Albrights bitter was a refreshing accompaniment to the meal, and Sydna's homemade plum crumble and cream was an enjoyable desert. Four mains, four deserts, extra chips and all drinks - total price: 32. I thanked Sydna and told her we would see her again tomorrow night! We returned to camp for another good night's sleep under canvas.

Thanks to all the following stations worked by us on this activation:

DK5WL 40m CW T
ON4BB 40m CW T
DF5WA 40m CW T
DL1FU 40m CW T
2E1RFW 2m FM J

Waun Fach 2005