Thursday, 3 July 2014

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Mynydd Hiraethog

29.06.14  Llys Dymper (SH 894 591), Pen yr Orsedd (SH 892 555), Moel 

Rhiwlug (SH 885 552), Pen Bryn Ci (SH 872 563) and Moel Seisiog (SH 860 


Moel Seisiog (SH 860 573)
Mynydd Hiraethog is an expanse of moor land on the edge of Eryri with its western confines looking out towards the highest peaks in Wales.  Forty square miles of its central land is now covered in the Clocaenog Forest which was planted in 1905; this coniferous forest has Llyn Brenig and the Alwen Reservoir on its western fringe with Llyn Aled and Llyn Alwen just to its north-west.  The area is sometimes referred to as the Denbigh Moors and is crossed by the A 543 as it heads north-east from its junction with the A5 near Pentrefoelas to the town of Dinbych (Denbigh).  Outside of the conifer plantation the land gives a feeling of openness, one that is seldom visited except by farmer and the occasional hill walker.

Today’s walk was proposed by Aled as a horseshoe from the hamlet of Gwytherin (SH 876 615), heading clockwise around a number of Pedwar hills, with alternatives for a descent route dependent upon time and energy.

We met at Mark’s house on the outskirts of Yr Wyddgrug (Mold) and headed in one car to Gwytherin.  Parking can be found on the road in the hamlet next to the Lion Inn, a pub we hoped to visit after the walk for drinkies and eaties, unfortunately it doesn’t cook on a Sunday and its door was locked when we did visit.  However, it does look lovely and probably well worth a visit.

Our route to the hills headed southward out of Gwytherin on a narrow dead end lane that soon turned in to a track beyond the farm of Bryn-y-clochydd (SH 878 608).  This track proved an easy way to gain height toward our first hill; Llys Dymper.  The forecast for the day was ideal with a slight northern wind giving clarity of colour as the showers of yesterday and the lingering cloud on the higher Eryri peaks was replaced with big blue sky and pleasant warmth.

Aled and Mark on the track heading toward Llys Dymper
The high point of Llys Dymper has a number of rocks on it and what looks like the remains of part of an old plough, as Aled made conversation with a farm worker who was seeing to the gathered sheep, I set the Trimble on the high point of the hill for five minutes of data collection. 

The summit of Llys Dymper (SH 894 591)
As we set off toward the marginal Sub-Pedwar of Moel Llyn (SH 899 573) the view west was a constant backdrop, a line of mountains from the Rhinogydd, Moelwynion, Yr Wyddfa, Glyderau and Carneddau, all grey profiles etched in sun and shadow.  This view remained with us for much of the day, never disappointing.

(L-R)  Yr Aran, Moel Siabod, Yr Wyddfa and Crib y Ddysgl

(L-R) Yr Wyddfa, Crib y Ddysgl, Glyder Fawr, Glyder Fach and Tryfan

The high Eryri peaks from the western Hiraethog

On our way toward Moel Llyn we flagged a Landrover down as it drove toward us; the driver was the local farmer who Aled then spent a half hour with.  The farmer was more than welcome to impart his knowledge of the hills which Aled noted on his map.  Many names and anecdotes were given, some of the names matched those on current Ordnance Survey maps, others did not, whilst some names on current maps were no longer in use and had been supplemented by others.  Aled will write all of this up and do further research in to the names the farmer gave him, for this blog post I’m using the names used from the 1st edition of Y Pedwarau, some of these names may now be altered due to the information given to Aled, if they are the place-name information will be updated when the 2nd edition of Y Pedwarau is published by Europeaklist.

Aled with map in hand making place-name enquiries with the local farmer
Beyond Moel Llyn we dropped down to Ty’n-llyn, a now deserted farmhouse next to the waters of Llyn Alwen.  Access to this house is only by track, it has an outbuilding that was once a boathouse, its position both a lonely but stunningly desolate place to make a life’s living.  Today we sat in the sunshine, listened to fish jumping in the lake and appreciated the surroundings.

Heading toward the quiet waters of Llyn Alwen
Where sky, moor and water meet
The remains of Ty'n-llyn beside Llyn Alwen
The access track to Ty’n-llyn took us toward our next summit of the day; Pen yr Orsedd, before heading east over the moor to its summit we watched three off-road vehicles pass us slowing edging their way on the track toward the ruined house.

As the Trimble gathered five minutes of summit data from Pen yr Orsedd we sat in the sunshine and chatted.  The high point of the hill proved to be an embedded rock with moss growing on it, a good hill with the blue waters of Llyn Alwen as backdrop.

Gathering data at the summit of Pen yr Orsedd (SH 892 555)
The next hill; Moel Rhiwlug is listed as a Sub-Pedwar with 29m of drop, it was this hill that we were most interested in for data collection, as with one more metre of drop it would enter the ranks of Y Pedwarau.  It has two options for its critical bwlch, one to the west and one to the east of its summit.  The western bwlch option is probably higher and therefore where the critical bwlch is positioned, the eastern option has two possibilities for its bwlch position.  As we re-joined the track from the summit of Pen yr Orsedd I quickly surveyed each eastern bwlch option with a spirit level and placed the Trimble on the high point of the valley to valley traverse on the lower of the two.  During this Mark and Aled lounged in the sun patiently waiting for the Trimble to do its stuff.  Next stop was the summit of Moel Rhiwlug, again another five minutes of data was gathered from the high point.

Moel Rhiwlug (SH 885 552) a Sub-Pedwar with 29m of drop

Gathering data at the summit of Moel Rhiwlug

As I packed the Trimble away and Mark collected his ten figure grid reference for the summit on his hand-help GPS, Aled headed off toward the western bwlch, this looked rather expansive from the summit.  Slowly Aled got further and further away becoming no more than a silhouetted figure in an expanse of open moor as the higher Eryri peaks looked on.

Aled disappearing in to the expanse of moor as he heads toward the critical bwlch of Moel Rhiwlug

Soon Mark and I headed down to join Aled, Mark had input the coordinates of the ten figure bwlch spot height that appears on the Ordnance Survey enlarged Geograph map.  The whole area proved a flatland of tussock and heather outcrop where the thought of accurate line surveying would be a rather novel experience.  By the time we met Aled, he had stomped around on the flatland and had decided upon the position where he thought the critical bwlch lay, Mark had followed the spot height grid coordinates and was standing no more than 15 metres from where Aled was, quite remarkable considering how expansive and wild the area of the bwlch is.  I positioned the Trimble on its improvised Tupperware and draughts board tripod so it had some elevation above the morass of undergrowth.  The measurement offset between ground level and the position of the Trimble’s internal antenna will be taken off the processed result.  Once the required data had been gathered it was packed away and we headed toward the hill we have listed as Pen Bryn Ci.

The Trimble GeoXH 6000 on its improvised Tupperware and draughts board tripod
Relaxing in the sun waiting for the Trimble to gather its allotted bwlch data
As we headed toward the summit of Pen Bryn Ci we came across three horses with two small Foal’s running on the hillside, a welcome addition to such an open landscape.  The underfoot conditions on the way to this summit proved mainly pathless but an occasional stop for munching on bilberry’s seemed to help progress.  The summit has a cairn on top fashioned to resemble a small wall, as the Trimble gathered its data we sat in the sun and admired the view.  Just one summit remained, the highest of the day; Moel Seisiog.

Heading toward the summit of Pen Bryn Ci
Looking back at Moel Rhiwlug from the lower slopes of Pen Bryn Ci
Relaxing at the summit of Pen Bryn Ci (SH 872 563)
The land between the summit of Pen Bryn Ci and Moel Seisiog was surprisingly easy to walk, especially so beyond the connecting bwlch, where a vehicle track on the moor helped progress up to a gate which gave access to the summit trig point.  By now the sun had moved toward the western sky and the earlier detail edged on the high Eryri peaks had been replaced by a gentle smoothness as blue and grey merged to outline their growing bulk.  The Trimble was placed on the highest ground I could find adjacent to the trig pillar and gathered another five minutes of data.

The summit trig point atop Moel Seisiog (SH 860 573)
Our downward route was north-eastward across the moor toward the old farmhouse of Ddol-frwynog (SH 872 579).  From here we picked up a track at the head of the valley that became the paved road, all around was the luxuriance of high summer with vivid greens of grass and hedgerow with overhead deep blues of sky, sounds of distant farm dog’s and the gentleness of moving stream, and all passed through in an instant, never to be replaced.  The paved road continued for quite some time leading us forever nearer to our starting point at Gwytherin, where we found the pub shut – Boo Hoo!

Part of the outbuilding adjoined to the old farm house of  Ddol-frwynog

The track at the head of the valley that leads down to the hamlet of Gwytherin

On the way down the road we came upon this house sign; almost but not quite!

Survey Result:

Llys Dymper

Summit Height:  466.2m (converted to OSGM15) 

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 89467 59177

Drop:  c 72m

Dominance:  15.44%

Pen yr Orsedd

Summit Height:  442.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 89294 55542

Drop:  c 33m  (Pedwar status retained)

Dominance:  7.46%

Moel Rhiwlug

Summit Height:  433.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 88525 55275

Bwlch Height:  404.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 88073 55327

Drop:  29.2m  (400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  6.73%

Pen Bryn Ci

Summit Height:  447.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 87220 56352

Drop:  c 44m

Dominance:  9.83%

Moel Seisiog

Summit Height:  467.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 86093 57306

Bwlch Height:  400.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 88884 55362

Drop:  66.6m

Dominance:  14.27%

For further details please consult the Trimble survey spreadsheet click {here}

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