Friday, 27 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Clee Hills



26.03.18  Brown Clee Hill (SO 593 867)

Brown Clee Hill (SO 593 867)

I’ve lived in border country all my life, that haphazard delineating line between Wales and England with my forbears and myself rooted in the formers land.  Across the border lies the English county of Shropshire which in the main is topographically a part of greater Cambria, however until recent times I had not investigated the Shropshire hills, this has been rectified over recent years and their appeal and also variety is great, but the highest hill of the county until today had evaded me.

The county high point of Shropshire is Brown Clee Hill which is given a 540m map height and is adorned with a number of heathery bumps on its summit area, one of which has a topographic viewfinder standing on a levelled plinth with the customary stone steps leading up to it, whilst there are also two large radar masts near the high point.  Although it is the topographic viewfinder that acts as a honeypot for most walkers this is not the summit of the hill, the high point is a little further north on one of the heathery mounds beside the radar compound.

By the time I parked the chilled air of early morning had been swept away and spring’s warmth cascaded down from a radiant blue sky.  This first hill warmth is always an awakening experience when winter’s harsh climate and its sometimes oppressive day light hour’s gives way to burgeoning growth with greenery sprouting and welcoming lushness.

I had planned to use the paved access track to the radar masts as my ascent route but decided to park next to other cars in a large lay-by adjacent to a public footpath giving access through the Stanbroughs Wood on the eastern part of the hill.  I was thankful I did so, as the wood proved a welcome release from what would have been a strip of tarmac, it also proved rather beautiful with mixed woodland and a good, albeit muddy path leading forever upward.

The route to Brown Clee Hill from the east

The path broke out of the forestry through a gate on to open hillside and soon the remains of the Abdon Quarry came in to view with a large derelict building nestled against the upper easterly slopes of the hill, beyond was the paved access track and the two large radar masts, and above was blue sky, which proved a pleasing quality detracting from man’s imposition on the hill.

Derelict buildings from the old Abdon Quarry

The paved road leading to the radar masts

The paved track led to the plinth and panoramic viewfinder where a number of people were quietly taking in the view, I continued toward the heathery mound where the summit of the hill is positioned, once there I quickly assembled the Trimble atop my rucksack giving it elevation above its immediate surrounds and which acts as an improvised tripod.

Gathering data at the summit of Brown Clee Hill

As the Trimble beeped away gathering its allotted data I stood back and took in the view, it was good to be out on the hill in such beautiful weather.  If the viewfinder position was quiet I also wanted to gather data from its immediate periphery, and by the time data were stored from the high point all walkers had left, so I headed back to the plinth and gathered a further two data sets, one from the high point beside the stone façade of the plinth and the other from an embedded rock which visually was slightly higher, during this three other walkers appeared, one from the west and the other two from the route I had taken from the east, I chatted with all and explained what I was doing.

Gathering data at the edge of the viewfinder plinth

Gathering data on an embedded rock close to the viewfinder plinth

After data were stored and the Trimble packed away I retraced my inward route back to my car.   



Survey Result:


Brown Clee Hill

Summit Height:  540.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 59372 86701

Col Height:  168.5m (LIDAR)

Col Grid Reference:  SO 61131 95573 (LIDAR)

Drop:  372.0m (Trimble summit and LIDAR col)

Dominance:  68.83%





Thursday, 26 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Beacon Hill



26.03.18  High Vinnalls (SO 477 724)

High Vinnalls (SO 477 724)

High Vinnalls is positioned on the Shropshire – Herefordshire border and its summit commands extensive views.  Surrounding the summit is the Mortimer Forest with this and the hill owned by the Forestry Commission.  The forest is named after the Marcher Lords family of Mortimer’s and nowadays has a number of marked trails leading toward its high point.  The summit used to be decorated with an unsightly wooden tower whose remains are still on the rough grass in a small fenced compound adjacent to the highest part of the hill.

I approached from the north having parked my car in the Forestry Commission car park, as I clambered out in to luxuriant early spring sunshine I struck up conversation with a woman who was just setting out walking her dog.  After explaining what I planned to do she kindly offered to show me the way, so once I had my boots on I joined her on the forest track that led toward a narrow track leading uphill.

The woman’s name was Shirley and she lived locally, it seems High Vinnalls is a popular place for dog walkers as we soon met one of Shirley’s friends walking his dog, and I came across a number of others during the 65 minutes on the hill.

Although the morning’s sunshine gave an appealing edge to proceedings the chilled air meant that I quickly put a thin pair of gloves on.  The forest path cut across another track as it steadily made progress ever higher, and Shirley and her dog headed down one of the tracks near the summit after pointing me toward the forest clearing and path which would take me to the high point of the hill, I thanked her for her company and helping me with directions as we parted.

Shirley kindly guided me toward the summit

I was soon on top and found the high point close to a bench beside the fenced compound on rough ground and bramble.  Once the Trimble was positioned on my rucksack and the offset measured between its internal antenna and the ground at its base I stood back and waited for it to collect its allotted data.

Gathering data at the summit of High Vinnalls

Thankfully the summit area is free of trees and gives extensive views, my eyes were drawn toward the Clee Hills and their highest point; Brown Clee Hill, which was my next surveying objective.

Brown Clee Hill from High Vinnalls

The Trimble set-up position at the summit of High Vinnalls

The morning was so subline that instead of the customary five minutes of data I waited for the Trimble to collect ten, during which I admired the view and let my thoughts wander.  Once 600 datum points were gathered I packed the Trimble away and headed down my inward route.  Next stop Brown Clee Hill. 
   

Survey Result:


High Vinnalls

Summit Height:  376.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 47791 72403

Drop:  249m

Dominance:  66.25%







Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Hill Reclassifications – The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland



Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland – Hill Reclassifications

The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland comprise all British and Irish hills that have a minimum drop of 600m, irrespective of their height.  This list was first published in a downloadable leaflet format by Europeaklist in February 2010 by Mark Trengove, the lists author.

The posts that have appeared on Mapping Mountains detailing the hill reclassifications specifically for this list appear below presented chronologically in receding order.









Mapping Mountains - Hill Reclassifications - Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland

Moel Siabod (SH 705 546) – Major deletion (2nd reclassification)

Bwlch survey post for Moel Siabod

Summit survey post for Moel Siabod


This is the second of two Hill Reclassification posts that give detail to a hill whose status has been altered in the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland through map study and / or surveys that I have conducted.

Moel Siabod (SH 705 546)

The post detailing this hill’s addition to the Majors list was retrospective as it appeared on Mapping Mountains on the 21.04.18 with the hill having been added to the list in January 2016, whilst the deletion of this hill from Major status is due to a survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 conducted by Myrddyn Phillips coupled with LIDAR analysis conducted for the bwlch by Aled Williams and independently by Myrddyn Phillips, with the author of this list; Mark Trengove being present during the survey of this hill’s summit.

This list was first published in a downloadable leaflet format by Europeaklist in February 2010 and entitled The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland, its author; Mark Trengove originally listed 119 qualifying hills with their criteria being any British and Irish hill that has 600m or more of drop, with these comprising 82 hills in Scotland, 25 hills in Ireland, 7 hills in Wales, 4 hills in England and 1 hill in the Isle of Man, with a further five Scottish hills listed that fail to qualify for this list by 10m or less of drop.  The total was revised to 120 hills with the addition of this hill, and which now reverts to its original total of 119 hills with its deletion.

The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland by Mark Trengove


The details for the deletion appear below:

There has been a deletion to the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland due to a survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 conducted by Myrddyn Phillips with the bwlch survey taking place on the 17.09.17 and the summit survey taking place on the 11.03.18, coupled with LIDAR analysis for the bwlch conducted by Aled Williams and independently by Myrddyn Phillips, with the author of this list; Mark Trengove being present during the survey of this hill’s summit.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Moel Siabod

Gathering data at the summit of Moel Siabod

The name of the hill is Moel Siabod and prior to this survey and LIDAR analysis it was listed with 600m of drop, which is the minimum drop value required for Major status.  This was based on the 872m summit spot height that is adjoined to a triangulation pillar and the 272m spot height that appears at the bwlch on the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website.

Extract from the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website

The hill is adjoined to the Moelwynion range of hills and is situated overlooking the A 5 road to its north-east, the A 4086 road to its north-west and the A 498 road to its west, and has the small community of Capel Curig to its north north-east.

The deletion of this hill from Major status was accepted by Mark Trengove and announced in his photo blog on the Relative Hills of Britain Facebook page on the 14.03.18, with this deletion augmented in to the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland resulting in the total reverting to 119 qualifying hills.


The full details for the hill are:

Name:  Moel Siabod

Summit Height:  872.2m (converted to OSGM15)

OS 1:50,000 map:  115

OS 1:25,000 map:  18

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 70524 54631

Drop:  599.9m (converted to OSGM15) (Trimble GeoXH 6000 summit and bwlch) 599.7m (Trimble GeoXH 6000 summit and LIDAR bwlch)


Myrddyn Phillips (April 2018)






Mapping Mountains - Hill Reclassifications - Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland

Moel Siabod (SH 705 546) – Major addition (1st reclassification)


This is the first of two Hill Reclassification posts that give detail to a hill whose status has been altered in the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland through map study and / or surveys that I have conducted.

Moel Siabod (SH 705 546)

This post is retrospective as this addition was initiated from studying the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website, and the details relating to this hill’s addition to the Majors were conveyed to the author of this list; Mark Trengove in January 2016.

This list was first published in a downloadable leaflet format by Europeaklist in February 2010 and entitled The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland, its author; Mark Trengove originally listed 119 qualifying hills with their criteria being any British and Irish hill that has 600m or more of drop, with these comprising 82 hills in Scotland, 25 hills in Ireland, 7 hills in Wales, 4 hills in England and 1 hill in the Isle of Man, with a further five Scottish hills listed that fail to qualify for this list by 10m or less of drop.


The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland by Mark Trengove

The details for the addition appear below:

There has been an addition to the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland due to consulting the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage map hosted on the Geograph website which has a 272m spot height at the bwlch, with these details being conveyed to Mark Trengove in January 2016.

The name of the hill is Moel Siabod and prior to conveying these details this hill was listed with 595m of drop based on the 872m summit spot height that is adjoined to a triangulation pillar and the 277m spot height that appears on the area of this hill’s bwlch on the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger and 1:25,000 Explorer map.  Importantly the 277m spot height appears on a road which is above the position of the critical bwlch.  

Extract from the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer map

Extract from the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website

The hill is adjoined to the Moelwynion range of hills and is situated overlooking the A 5 road to its north-east, the A 4086 road to its north-west and the A 498 road to its west, and has the small community of Capel Curig to its north north-east.

The addition of this hill to Major status was accepted by Mark Trengove and its new classification augmented in to the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland in January 2016 increasing the total of qualifying hills to 120.


The full details for the hill are:

Name:  Moel Siabod

Summit Height:  872m

OS 1:50,000 map:  115

OS 1:25,000 map:  18

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 70524 54631

Drop:  600m


Myrddyn Phillips (April 2018)




Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Fours – The 400m Hills of England


The 2nd edition of The Fours – The 400m Hills of England has been published by Mapping Mountains Publications and is now available to download as a 52 page e-booklet version for use on a PC, laptop, or e-reader, and as a print-booklet version if you want to make a paper copy of the booklet.  Both versions are free of charge.

The list is co-authored by Myrddyn Phillips and Aled Williams with the criteria being all English hills at or above 400m and below 500m in height and which have a minimum prominence of 30m.  Accompanying the main list of Fours are three categories of sub hills, these are entitled the ‘Drop Sub-Fours, ‘Height Sub-Fours’ and Double Sub-Fours’.



The list that is nowadays known as The Fours was first published in 2002 on the rhb Yahoo Group file database.  The list was re-evaluated for Europeaklist publication in December 2013 and all subsequent additions, deletions and reclassifications have been detailed on Mapping Mountains.

There are 296 hills that qualify for the main list of Fours, and 224 hills that are listed as Sub-Fours.

There are a number of initiatives included since the 1st edition of this booklet was published by Europeaklist, with the inclusion of historic (h) and artificial (a) hills, which are presented in the main and sub lists.

For the 2nd edition of The Fours, the hill-name information has been re-evaluated based on continuing historical and local research, whilst numerical data has been re-evaluated based on all interpolated summit and drop values being assessed via the 5m contouring on OS Maps in comparison to other scales of OS maps including the Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website.  Surface heights from the series of OS Six-Inch maps are also presented. 

Numerical data has also benefited from independent surveyors using GNSS receivers and LIDAR (Light Detecting & Ranging) analysis.  There are 520 hills listed in the main and sub lists, with 10% of these having been surveyed by GNSS receiver and over 29% having been analysed by LIDAR.

This has resulted in a number of reclassifications, both from Sub-Fours becoming Fours and vice versa, many of which have not previously been announced.  In particular, a number of new subs have been discovered since the Europeaklist publication, and likewise a number of subs have been deleted.

At the time of publication the combination of these has given the most accurate information to this height band of hills available.


The list is available from Mapping Mountains Publications as a downloadable:



For those accessing The Fours we hope you enjoy the list.

Myrddyn Phillips and Aled Williams (April 2018)





Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Carnedd Wen


16.03.18  Foel y Bwlch (SH 939 132)

Foel y Bwlch (SH 939 132)

Having driven past Foel y Bwlch many times over a great many years I decided it was about time I should visit, and with a weekend at my Brother’s in Nantlle it was the ideal time to visit and survey its summit and bwlch.

The hill overlooks Bwlch y Fedwen which is the critical bwlch of Carnedd Wen and close to the high point of the A 458 road as it makes its way from Y Trallwng (Welshpool) to Dinas Mawddwy, this bwlch consists of a land of tussocks, as does the north-western part of Foel y Bwlch, ground to avoid at all costs I thought, and with this in mind I planned an ascent from the east following public footpaths to the ruin of Beudy y Bwlch.

It had rained during the night, hours of deluge which had turned potential stream crossings in to hazardous affairs to avoid at all costs, this I only realised after setting off down a steep minor lane leading to the farm of Cae’r-lloi where a quad bike was rattling round a corner of a track heading up in to the hills, my route kept to another track close to the stream forming the Afon Banwy.

The map indicates a Footbridge and Fords that would hopefully help me on my way to the north side of the stream, what I encountered was a thunderous torrent with all hope of crossing being delusional, I backtracked and walked further up the main track as it headed toward Carnedd Wen hoping that a path of sorts would lead on the southern side of the stream toward the hill’s bwlch which was my first surveying objective.

Not wanting to claim too much height on the track only to lose it walking down to the bwlch I spotted what looked like a path heading the way I wanted to go, this soon narrowed but helped as the ground hereabouts comprised the same form of rough tussock as this hill’s north-western slopes, to add insult to injury across the stream was a green track leading toward Beudy y Bwlch, an easy way up the hill if ever I saw one!

I made relatively quick progress through the tussocks, but even rivulet and bog crossings were proving problematic, I’d thankfully worm wellies but when one got firmly stuck in a bog and I instantly reacted by backtracking I almost lost my welly and balance and ended up flat on my back in the bog, the welly sucked itself out as I overbalanced backward, thankfully I remained upright and relatively dry.

Eventually my upward progress brought me to the area of the bwlch, a land full of moor grass, tussock and heather, and a land probably seldom visited unless you are a sheep.  I used the Trimble as a hand-held device to zero in to the ten figure grid reference for the critical bwlch that I had obtained from LIDAR analysis the previous evening and smiled as the Trimble beeped away gathering its allotted five minutes of data, as using LIDAR is so much easier than ten minutes on one’s knees assessing the lay of land from various directions trying to pinpoint where the critical bwlch lies.

LIDAR image of the summit and bwlch of Foel y Bwlch

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Foel y Bwlch

With data stored and the Trimble switched off and packed away I headed up through rough grass to a fence and the comfort of closely cropped grazed grass, a sheer pleasure after the preceding 30 minutes of tussock and bog wandering.

Carnedd Wen rising above the bwlch of Foel y Bwlch

The Trimble was soon set on top of my rucksack gathering data at the summit leaving me to look down on to the bwlch of Carnedd Wen which I hoped to survey after getting back to my car and driving to the convenient lay-by close to it, this didn’t take place due to a huge and heavy shower that later sped in from the west.

Gathering data at the summit of Foel y Bwlch

The Trimble set-up position at the summit of Foel y Bwlch

Once five minutes of data were gathered I headed down toward Beudy y Bwlch and what I thought would be an easy stroll down the green track to the gravelled track on the opposite side of the stream that I had peered toward on my ascent, this would lead me to the main road and a short walk back to my car.  Little did I know that there are two fords, one that I had backtracked from and another that I had not seen and which when I got down to the stream confronted me as a raging torrent, the thought of even attempting a crossing was foolhardy so I backtracked again, this time following the stream back up toward the bwlch of Carnedd Wen, this was debilitating as I was only a few minutes from my car when I had to reverse my direction.

The remains of Beudy y Bwlch

I kept peering down at the stream and it looked horrific, a slender but nevertheless frothing creature running completely out of control, any attempted crossing without a fallen tree to cling on to was completely out of the question.  The fallen tree soon materialised and it was over what looked like a relatively shallow part of the stream, I scrambled down the mud splattered bank and sat beside the fallen tree, the steam thundered past, I put one foot in the water and it gushed over the top of my welly, I slithered backward and back up the bank, only one thing remained; a slow plod up stream toward the bwlch hoping to find an easier crossing, this I found at Pont Dol-y-maen where the stream bubbled under the road and a track led to the main road, I felt thankful to be out of its grasp.

I quickly walked down the road toward my car with a hopeful thumb out for any kind hearted motorist to notice and stop.  As I looked back I noticed a large shower cloud had suddenly appeared heading my way from the west, this soon turned the sky a slate grey and then a car stopped and I got in, thanked the driver profusely and was dropped off at my car just as the first heavy rain drops started to fall.  By the time I jumped in the car and drove the short distance up the road toward the lay-by where I planned on parking to descend and survey the bwlch of Carnedd Wen it was throwing it down, I smiled and continued driving. 


Survey Result:


Foel y Bwlch

Summit Height:  352.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 93936 13273

Bwlch Height:  306.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 93724 12944

Drop:  46.6m

Dominance:  13.22%