Cyrn-y-Brain Hike - GW/NW-043 SOTA (2020)

Summits on the Air Activation Report

Activation Date: Saturday 8th August, 2020.
Activator(s): Richard M1HAX.
Summit: Cyrn-y-Brain, North Wales, Wales.
Summit ID: SOTA reference GW/NW-043 (2 points).
Summit Height: 565m elevation, 164m prominence.
Summit Location: Lat./Long. 53.03135, -3.18216. Maidenhead Grid IO83ja.
Distance: 4.6km travelled with 177m of ascent.
Difficulty: SAC Grade T1.(?)
Elapsed Time: 1hr 40m (including operating).
Weather: Feels like 22.2°C, 22 kph NW wind, 65% humidity.
Radio Equipment: Yaesu FTM100D, MFJ-1714, Zippy 4200mAh 4S LiFePo4. Yaesu VX6, Diamond SRH770S.
Callsign Used: MW1HAX/P.
Contacts: 6 (2m FM, 70cm FM).

Trip Notes

Cyrn-y-Brain, part of the Berwyn mountains near Llangollen, Denbighshire, is a peak on Foel y Gamelin. Its prominence is 403m, making it a Marilyn and Dewey peak. The summit’s height from sea level is 565m, measured and confirmed on 28th October 2001.

This would be my third Summits on the Air hill activation of the day, having earlier hiked Moel Siabod and Moel y Gamelin.

I started my walk up to the summit plateau of Cyrn-y-Brain as I descended from Moel y Gamelin back towards where I had parked on the roadside at the Ponderosa cafe.

Behind the cafe there is an access track for maintenance vehicles to reach the wireless transmitter mast near the top of the hill. I walked this easy path as it steepened towards the wireless station. I passed a young woman walking in the opposite direction struggling to control an aggressive Alsatian dog. The woman was entirely unapologetic as the dog almost broke free from its leash, apparently keen to taste my leg.

On the summit plateau the path levels out, heading towards a trig point at Sir Watkin’s tower. The SOTA activation zone for this hill is large. I opted to activate from the highest point at the cairn and small stone shelter immediately opposite the transmitter mast.

I deployed my trusty Yaesu FTM100D within the stone shelter and began looking for VHF Summits on the Air contacts, operating at 50 watts output.

This hill has more than its fair share of failed activations and bare minimum four-radio-contact activations, owing to QRM from the radio mast. I was only about 5km from the earlier summit of Moel y Gamelin, but the difficulty in making contacts on the two-metre band was very apparent.

After about 25 minutes I had six contacts in my logbook and decided to pack away the radio. I easily followed the path and access road back down to the car.

Combined with Moel y Gamelin and perhaps a stop at the cafe, these two hills make for an easy ten points during the winter bonus period. It’s also a great opportunity for less experienced SOTA activators to develop their skills, with convenient road access, an opportunity to stop in the middle, and to practice operating from a summit with QRM.


Below are some photographs taken during my activation of Cyrn-y-Brain on Saturday 8th August, 2020.

GW/NW-043 SOTA Activation, 08/08/2020 (Photo no. 1).
GW/NW-043 SOTA Activation, 08/08/2020 (Photo no. 2).
GW/NW-043 SOTA Activation, 08/08/2020 (Photo no. 3).
GW/NW-043 SOTA Activation, 08/08/2020 (Photo no. 4).
GW/NW-043 SOTA Activation, 08/08/2020 (Photo no. 5).
GW/NW-043 SOTA Activation, 08/08/2020 (Photo no. 6).

Walking Route for Cyrn-y-Brain

The interactive map below shows my GPS track taken to the SOTA activation zone for Cyrn-y-Brain. The GW/NW-043 summit area is marked on the map with a blue pin icon.

You can download the route shown above as a GPX file suitable for use with most GPS devices. This file is provided for information only, to support your own walk planning and research (it may contain navigation errors, detours and/or safety hazards). The route downloads provided here are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.

Station Log

I logged the following 6 amateur radio contacts operating as MW1HAX/P from GW/NW-043 Cyrn-y-Brain on Saturday 8th August, 2020 (all times shown are UTC):

15:29GW1AKT70cmFMMel, 5/9
15:33G8BEQ70cmFMKen, 5/5
15:372E0XYL2mFMKaren, 5/9
15:392E0TDX2mFMNeil, 5/9
15:49M6OXO2mFMBrian, 5/9
15:522E0SAE2mFMJohn, 5/8

In the notes field I will usually log the other operator’s name and the signal report they provided. In accordance with the Summits on the Air rules, I do not make a log entry where a complete exchange of callsigns and signal reports was unsuccessful.

Additional Information

The following resources may be helpful to walkers, mountaineers and SOTA activators interested in Cyrn-y-Brain:

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