Didn’t We Have A Lovely Time ? pt 1

‘The day we went to Bangor’……

Croeso !

It was that time…

the 2013 SOTA EX(pedition) to North Wales.

After a couple of possible ‘blips’ it was time to head south to North Wales for five days to play radio and activate some hills with obviously the priority hill Y Wyddfa or Snowdon as it is known outside of Wales. The intention was to travel down on the Monday, settle in and plan our attack for three days then travel back on the Friday.

It was a dreary day as we left slightly later than planned but soon we were travelling down through the Border region where as usual we made a stop at a well known supermarket just outside Carlisle, can I mention Asda ?

Final shopping as well as a good lunch, loo break then it was to be non stop to Bangor situated on the Welsh mainland opposite the Isle of Anglesey. We had the FT817 monitoring as we headed south just in the off chance any SOTA or WOTA stations were active but only localised calling was heard. The weather turned to sunshine as we headed along the A55 towards our base for the next five days. A false dawn I’m afraid.

Exciting ? of course it was as Snowdon would be another country top bagged. I would finally complete the Three Peaks Challenge in slightly under 45 years haha. Did I mention I turned the ripe old age of 60 the previous day and the trip south has delayed the celebrations until I return.

Vaynol Arms

Vaynol Arms

Excellent route planning saw us arriving in good time and Roddy had been giving us a running commentary of all the local landmarks along our route. Things were on a high.

We settled into the Travelodge and it was quickly approaching time to make that decision, where do we eat?

The internet was our friend and with glowing online reports it was off to nearby Pentir and the Vaynol Arms. It was a decision not to be regretted as we made that our evening eating (and drinking) base for the next four nights, food to remember. A very friendly pub in which we were made most welcome.

The weather forecast was not playing ball with us and constant monitoring of the Met Office forecast had us looking more in hope.

The day that looked best suited for Snowdon was on the Wednesday but there could have been problems as the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race was racing over the Pen-Y-Pass and finishing in Llanberis so access to the Pen Y Pass car park may have meant we had to ascend via the Llanberis track. More on this later.

Tuesday morning arrived and it was wet and windy, not on and off but constant. It was agreed to head to the local branch of the previous named supermarket for one of the excellent breakfasts whilst deciding what could be done. Fed and watered, it was decided to give Tal Y Fan a crack. It has a high starting point with just slightly over a mile to the summit. Interestingly enough this mountain or should I say, still a mountain. Explanation video HERE. In the video are the views that we ‘missed’ plus the BBC report and video is HERE

2WØIOB on Tal Y Fan

2WØIOB on Tal Y Fan

We headed through Llanberis ascending up over the Pen-Y-Pass marvelling at the rugged scenery whilst noting our drop off point if we took our proposed route to Snowdon, the Miners Track to the Snowdon summit.

Today was Tal Y Fan and we dropped down the pass before heading past Capel Curig with Betws-Y-Coed where we would head north along the banks of the Afon Conwy looking first for Llanwrst then a left turn at Tal-Y-Cafn where we travelled along country roads until we cut through the village of Rowen. We the started to head up in height on what was a very narrow single track road with not much clearance either side on some corners.

I opened a gate which led us on to a T junction, we turned right and within a kilometer drive Patsy dropped us off at a roadside stile at SH 731714. The rain was now a steady drizzle being blown into our faces as we headed up a defined well signposted path before a final scramble up through a rocky area.

The wind and rain now was full into our faces and after a customary photo at the trig point, it was to stand behind a high piece of dry stane dyke.

GW7GAX Tal Y Fan

GW7GAX Tal Y Fan

Roddy had first call and Karen XYL from the Wirral was first in the log and told us we were missing a grand view point, ach well. I called next and Bob ODU from the same area was logged. We shared contacts as we did only a handheld activation in which the VX 7 showed its waterproof capabilities. I next called and quickly logged Chris YKK in nearby Rhyl.

Bridge on road to Rowen

Bridge on road to Rowen

The drizzle started to get slightly heavier but we carried on and Mark PIE in Preston was next followed by BLV in Ellesmere Port. We decided that we wouldn’t hang about so next contact was Rob HRT in Southport, Patsy our expedition driver down in Rowen and finally Allan NPJ in the Wirral was logged. We did try more calls but to be honest, we didn’t want to stay long so it was the reverse route and as it would have it the cloud started to clear as we headed down the last field to the stile where Patsy was waiting. Typical but the hill was activated.

We headed back down the single track road but took another option just to see where it led but soon we were heading back down the A405 to join the A5 at Betws-Y-Coed where we then followed the next days cycle tour route. We stopped here to have a quick look around.

We were intrigued on the outward journey when we passed  a sign ‘Ugly House’ so on our return over the pass we stopped to see if it but on first look, we half expected a troll to appear. As you will see in the image it is ‘interesting’.

the 'Ugly House'

the ‘Ugly House’

We arrived but with only our rain jackets still slightly damp but my flou yellow Morton tammy was beat as it wouldn’t dry out missing the next days ‘big’ activation.

It was a quick shower and off to eat.

The big one ? Coming soon…..

I’ll possibly add to this so pop back…..

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