Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Guest Contributor - Rob Woodall



Introduction

I have approached a number of people to write articles, but if readers would like to contribute an article please contact me. The only two stipulations I make are that the article has to be hill related and that I don't end up in court through its publication! Otherwise the choice of subject matter is down to the Guest Contributor.

Guest Contributor – Rob Woodall 


Rob Woodall is one of the country's leading hill baggers with first completions for the Deweys, Clem-Yeamans, Irish 50 Most Prominent, Thousanders, The Fours, Y Pedwarau and the SubMarilyns of England, Wales and Scotland.  His bagging exploits are now taking him farther afield bagging the world Ultras.

Over the Wall – Success on the St Kilda Stacs, 13 Oct 2014

The two big St Kilda sea stacks are monstrous – rising straight out of the sea to heights of 170m+. The St Kilda archipelago, 45 miles west of the Western Isles, is like nowhere else in Britain - and Stac Lee and Stac an Armin are its boldest most audacious members.

Stac Lee from the east.  Photo: Richard Mclellan
The trouble with the stacs, however, is not so much their technical climbing, which by the easiest route is modest. The trouble with the stacs is that they are covered in gannets in summer and difficult to land on and climb in winter. The only ascents previously documented have all been in summer – the St Kildans would collect young gannets (guga) for food; more recent ascents have been in May when the birds are on eggs. Such visits have not been allowed for two decades and it was not known whether either had been climbed in winter or how feasible such an ascent would be.

St Kilda stac-watching has become something of an annual late-autumn ritual: seeing who's up for it, watching for - and mostly not finding - a suitable window in the usually uncooperative Atlantic weather outwith the breeding season for the gannets which nest in large numbers on both Stac Lee and Stac an Armin, the two 150m-plus sea stacks which have eluded Marilyn baggers since Alan Dawson published Relative Hills of Britain in 1992.

The most recent recorded ascents of the two stacs seem to have been in 1990 and 1994 respectively, neatly bracketing the publication of the book for whose adherents the two monster stacs have become notorious as the St Kilda Wall barring access to Marilyn List Completion status for an increasing number of summit baggers.

The process of watching weather forecasts for a suitable window and liaising with boat operators and prospective summitteers to put a trip together at a few days’ notice has continued most winters since 2009. The main requirements are a swell of around 1.5 metres or less, and winds of force 4 or less with no southerly component.

In November 2013 a trip was mounted, albeit with a marginal forecast and the sight of the two slime covered stacs in a surging two metre swell was pretty intimidating. However, useful information was gathered, and resolve not entirely dampened, although the nature of the challenge was brought into sharper focus.

2014 was an excellent year for St Kilda Marilyn bagging. A trip was mounted in mid-September, involving boat operators Seaharris and Seatrek, with all four non-stac Marilyns being summitted i.e the summits of Hirta, Dun, Boreray and the hard-to-land-on Soay.

October sometimes has opportunities, and a window was identified around 13 October with swell around 0.9 - 1.1 metre, unusually low for October, coupled with light winds from the NE. Recent research commissioned by the site owners National Trust for Scotland has found that the majority of gannets on the stacs had fledged by 10 October and their advice was that access should be possible by our proposed date, although fledging will vary between years and there may be some birds still present which should be avoided.

Seaharris who had transported the November 2013 "recce", confirmed that the Enchanted Isle was available; a boatload of 12 would-be summitters was available including a good mix of climbing expertise, so a plan was developed over a couple of days for a 2-day trip with the night of Mon 13 Oct to be spent on the main island of Hirta. To cover all eventualities, we assembled a range of gear including jumars, a caving ladder and a few wetsuits, in addition to standard rock climbing gear.

Stac an Armin south face from Boreray.  Photo: Rob Woodall
A nervous two days ensued with the forecast wind strengthening towards Force 5 meaning a day trip at best - and very nearly cancellation. However by Sunday morning the forecast had settled back to around Force 4 with swell holding around 1 metre so the team left home for various Sunday ferries for a Monday day trip. I met Paul Reeve early morning at Sheffield and he drove us up to Uig, collecting Colin at Glasgow en route, speaking to Seumas Morrison en route to check he was happy with the improved forecast. A spare half hour was spent climbing Craig Liath above Uig: a nice wee hill with a view across to the hills of Harris. A beautiful afternoon, boding well for tomorrow. Late evening we all converged on Am Bothan bunkhouse in Leverburgh for a few hours sleep.

Monday 0500 we boarded Enchanted Isle and Seumas negotiated the complicated navigation lane west out of Leverburgh then opened up to 20 knots for an atmospheric moonlit 45 mile crossing which was completed in a brisk 2 hours 30.

Stac an Armin

An hour away, at first light the familiar bulk of Boreray appeared and by 0800 we were nosing around the south side of its angular neighbour Stac an Armin looking for a landing spot. Given the NE wind, the SE corner wasn't feasible, and the southern slabs appeared challenging. The 1994 report used a landing on the steep west shore at the SW corner and Paul reckoned it was doable, so the two small tenders were deployed (a tough plastic boat for landing, additionally a small inflatable to act as a safety boat).

Stac an Armin south-west landing.  Photo: Rob Woodall
Paul and I were landed first, in a small recess a couple of metres south of an obvious basalt dyke. We scuttled up to a ledge on what turned out to be nice grippy gabbro (despite its very green appearance) angled at about 50 degrees. Paul took a rope up and fixed it at the top of the slab and I quickly followed, with a jumar which I didn't really need.  Meanwhile, Seumas started landing the others in pairs.

Landing on Stac an Armin.  Photo: Richard Mclellan
Above the steep slab is a long mostly level traverse of easy-angled slabs above the south shore. We crossed these keeping mostly to the top edge.  Initially we were wearing Kahtoola microspikes which are more or less compulsory kit for stac landings (some used old crampons with shortened sharpened spikes). However with no recent storms the rock was dry and grippy, and on reaching finer grained slabs we took the spikes off (I didn’t use mine again on Armin).

Crossing Stac an Armin south slabs.  Photo: Rob Woodall
Rounding the SE corner (short 2-foot ledge) we scrambled a short section which was steep enough to justify leaving another fixed rope marking the route. Above was a route choice. Keeping left near the cliff edge following a line of cleits, an intermittent trail leads to the main gannet colony. Keeping right of the colony provides the easiest way up once the birds have gone.

Stac an Armin's grassy east slopes and cleits.  Photo: Richard Mclellan
Instead keeping right and heading for an old roofless bothy then once past it cutting back left, leads via a grassy scramble onto the crest. Here the routes converge before a final scramble (where Paul fixed another rope) leads to the summit area, with the summit reached along an easy blocky crest. Most of us ascended the more scrambly right-hand route, but Paul reported that the left hand cliff top route was easier and largely bird free so we decided we would descend that way.

Paul summitted first; Pete Ellis and I summitted together and photographed each other. The summit has a couple of rocky tops a few metres apart, the northerly slabby outcrop probably higher, with a fine view of the magnificent north and west faces of Boreray, then Stac Lee with Hirta and its satellite islands laid out beyond to the southwest.


Rob Woodall at Stac an Armin summit.  Photo: Pete Ellis


Stac Lee

With the early start and the excellent conditions we were keen to make an attempt on Stac Lee, so we agreed with the others following us that they would strip out the fixed ropes while the first four would get established if possible on the second stac.

The return to the landing spot was easy, with the fixed rope barely needed. We jumped back into the boat, having spent about 1 hour 30 on the stac. Seumas was agreeable to the plan and in a few minutes we were back in the plastic tender, exploring Stac Lee's south face. Seumas wasn't too impressed with the usual landing spot immediately left (west) of Geo Lee; the climbers weren't too impressed with the prospect of landing further left in quieter water. As a compromise we agreed we'd try the usual spot but if necessary on our return would board the boat in the quieter water, if as forecast the wind came round to the east and the wave motion increased.

Again Paul and I went first. Seumas nosed the little boat in; Paul with microspikes fitted and rubber matting on the prow to facilitate jumping off, landed on gabbro slabs, I threw him the coiled rope, he threw the rope-end back, I tied on the dry-bag with the rest of the climbing gear and this was hauled ashore. I then jumped ashore - it had all happened quickly and we were established on our second stac of the day, hardest part over and half a day left to get up and down - all very doable. Bill decided Lee wasn't for him but Pete was quickly landed and we agree to climb as a three – not quite the original plan. Seumas headed back to Armin to retrieve the others while we got busy.

Stac Lee south face showing route.  Photo: Colin Crawford
The Stac Lee ascent route is well described in Jon Warren's 1990 report and there were no real surprises. Paul scuttled up the first easy 10m 50-degree gabbro slab and belayed us up the nice clean rock, climbing together on a rope each. Another 50m rope length took us to the corner. It was nice to have a rope for a short exposed narrow section before the corner and for the short step-up immediately above the right hand zig. The remaining ledge to the foot of the Pitch was easy with little exposure. Vertically below, we could see the next party: Richard, Denise and three others whom we assumed would climb as two teams. However, a short while later there was just a party of three climbing, the third being Eddie. We later learned that Michael and Colin had turned back as it hadn’t proved possible to put together a third rope. As it turned out, there wouldn’t have been time for a third party to summit and return.

Paul Reeve leading the lower slab on Stac Lee.  Photo: Rob Woodall


Ascending leftward groove on Stac Lee.  Photo: Richard Mclellan
Paul led the 8 metre climbing pitch and brought Pete and me up. Initially it was a scramble, but suddenly I found the holds had run out. Searching around I found a couple of small incut holds and was soon up. Around Mild Severe it seems to me. Just below the crux move an alloy peg has been installed – origin unknown. Above the pitch we climbed the big mostly-wide upper ledge leading left, Paul belaying us until we reach the old bothy which nestles below the overhang. It’s a superb situation, mostly not feeling very exposed - although the Atlantic is a hundred metres more or less vertically below. From here a slope of rubble and gannet droppings led to the summit slope. Initially we were almost wading through manure-like gannet droppings. In summer, this slope will have been packed with gannets, but today there are very few birds, easily avoided. The west ridge itself was mostly guano-free, and with the vertical north face immediately to our left this made a highly impressive route to the summit.

Pete Ellis below the crux move on Stac Lee.  Photo: Rob Woodall
Ascending the upper ledge on Stac Lee.  Photo: Rob Woodall
Paul and Pete decided I should summit first, given how long I’d waited for this summit, and I wasn’t going to argue! Stac Lee summit itself was just a few rocks, nothing special. But of course a superb situation, with fantastic views especially of Boreray’s massive west face. Being here in the warm October sunshine was very special. 172 metres below, Seumas saw us summit and sounded the ship’s horn – a great moment. However we realised it was a long way down, and headed off after a few minutes. Paul and Pete fitted their microspikes on account of the guano, although I preferred to do without. Either way, careful footwork was needed.

Ascending Stac Lee summit ridge.  Photo: Rob Woodall
Back at the old bothy, we roped up and climbed back down the ledge, soon passing Richard, Denise and Eddie on their way up. A little later we heard the ship’s horn again – Richard’s team had summitted. Reaching the top of the Pitch, some time was spent finding a trustworthy anchor for an abseil. Eventually we abseiled from a rockpile which had some good gear placements. However this involved abseiling diagonally across the fall line, and Pete and I (and later Denise) found this difficult. An alternative might be to use a spike 10 metres further uphill, for a vertical abseil direct to the foot of the climbing pitch. Reaching the foot of the pitch, two more rope lengths took us along the last ledge and down the big groove. Then a simple abseil and we were ready to leave. Seumas directed us to scramble a few metres further east across the barnacle covered rocks to a better pick-up point. Despite our earlier fears, the sea conditions weren’t significantly more difficult than when we had landed, and the three of us were soon back on the Enchanted Isle, receiving a round of applause from the others, and also a coffee – both very welcome!

Denise Mclellan and Eddie Dealtry at Stac Lee summit.  Photo: Richard Mclellan
We had taken about 7 hours, as a consequence of pitching the whole route. Whilst parties have in the past done all except the Pitch unroped, our lead climbers feel that teams of two would be best, each roped but mostly moving together, placing protection as necessary. This approach should save several hours. The Pitch would need belaying; the short section immediately before the first zig (off-balance ledge) and after it (1.5 metre scrambly step) would likely also need protection. The upper ledge has very few difficulties.

Pete Ellis leaving Stac Lee.  Photo: Rob Woodall
A nervous wait ensued as we watch Richard’s team descend. They finished in the dark by head torch and were safely retrieved by Seumas. We left at 2015 and were back at Leverburgh just before 2300.

It had been an unforgettable day, with 11 of us summitting Stac an Armin and 6 summitting Stac Lee, more successful than we had dared hope. This is possibly the first non-summer ascent, at least since the 1930s evacuation. I wondered whether Denise Mclellan had made the first female ascent of Lee and/or Armin, but it seems there have been several on Stac Lee, including Norman Heathcote’s sister in 1900, two before her, and the intrepid 1970s/80s archaeologist Mary Harman who likely summitted both.

Best of all, Eddie Dealtry and I have finished the Marilyns list – we have summited all 1556 peaks, fully 22 years after Alan Dawson’s ground-breaking Relative Hills of Britain was published.


Stac Lee climbing pitch and abseil detail


Photo: Mark Smith

Personnel

Stac an Armin: 11 summitted: Paul Reeve, Rob Woodall, Pete Ellis, Bill Forbes, Richard and Denise Mclellan, Michael Earnshaw, Alan Whatley, Colin Crawford, Mark Smith, Eddie Dealtry.
Stac Lee: 6 summitted in 2 parties: Rob Woodall, Paul Reeve (lead), Pete Ellis;
Richard (lead) and Denise Mclellan, Eddie Dealtry
2 landed, climbed above the high water mark then returned to boat: Michael Earnshaw, Colin Crawford.
Jonathan de Ferranti was the 12th member of the party.
Enchanted Isle: Seaharris skipper Seumas Morrison, with crew members Chris and Darren.

Equipment

In addition to standard rock climbing gear, each climber had either microspikes or crampons with shortened sharpened spikes - for grip on slimy rock. Most had jumars or ropeman ascenders. A caving ladder and a few wetsuits were taken but not used for either stac.

Conditions

The swell was around 1 metre all day with wind around Force 4, NE forecast to move round to E during the day. The Armin landing (W side, just N of SW corner) was sheltered and the landing quite easy by St Kilda standards. The Lee landing (S face, just W of Geo Lee) was less sheltered and a little more difficult, but quite doable in a 1m swell.

Summit Coordinates

Richard Mclellan recorded the following summit co-ordinates (GPS, not survey grade):
Stac an Armin   NA 15127, 06422    208m
Stac Lee   NA 14211, 04923    174m


Links

Oct 2014 photos :
Jon Warren’s 1990s ascents (same routes as ours, with videos):



Monday 13th October 2014 and Rob Woodall completes the Marilyns




On Monday 13th October 2014 Rob Woodall became the first person to complete the Marilyns with an ascent of the two St Kilda sea stacks; Stac an Armin and Stac Lee. An hour later and Eddie Dealtry became the second Marilyn completer as he also stood atop Stac Lee. I took the opportunity to interview Rob and talk about the organisation behind the expedition and the day of completion. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hill Lists – Cymru / Wales – 200m Twmpau update – Fforest Fawr



The first list to the Welsh 200m P30 hills was published on Geoff Crowder’s website v-g.me in 2000; this list preceded the list of TuMPs by nine years, the list proved a very useful resource for the TuMP compilation for this category of hill.

The Welsh 200m P30 list documents all hills in Wales that are at or above 200m in height and are below 300m in height, to qualify for the main list each hill requires a minimum of 30m of prominence.


The hills listed below are updates to the Welsh 200m P30 list originally published on Geoff Crowder's website.  To see the original list click {here}


The original published list had a Sub-List which was entitled ‘Hills to Survey’.  This list consisted of all hills in Wales in the stipulated height band that have a minimum of 20m of prominence, but do not meet the minimum 30m of prominence to enter the main list, according to Ordnance Survey map spot heights and contours.  Nowadays the standard Sub-List takes in all hills that have a minimum of 20m of prominence.  However, the Hills to Survey Sub-List discounted hills whose map spot heights gave a drop value of less than 30m, but more than 20m.  By doing so, the only hills that were Sub-Listed were those that map values dictated stood a chance of entering the main list, for example; if a hill had a summit spot height of 250m and a bwlch spot height of 221m, it was not listed in the Hills to Survey Sub-List as with 29m of drop I thought it did not stand a chance of main list qualification. 

When compiling the Sub-List I was measuring many hills for P30 status using a basic levelling technique, please click {here} for more information concerning this.  I now know that Ordnance Survey spot heights have a standard margin of uncertainty of + / - 3m associated with their accuracy.  Therefore many hills that were not listed in the original Sub-List may have sufficient drop to enter the main list.  Because of this the Sub-List has been altered to include all hills that have a minimum of 20m of drop but are not known to attain the minimum 30m of drop to enter the main list.

The hills listed below are those major amendments to the original Welsh 200m P30 list as it appears on Geoff’s website.  There are many hills that have been promoted from the Hills to Survey Sub-List to the main list, whilst there are many additions to the Sub-List now that it has been standardised to include all 20m minimum but below 30m drop hills.

When the 200m P30 list was first published it was the first to this category of hills and in some way it and its other 100m height band lists paved the way for Clem’s data that later appeared on the RHB file database and then for the TuMPs listing by Mark Jackson.

As well as the first P30 list to this height band the list is now the first to include a comprehensive Sub-List.

TuMP baggers beware; as the main list also includes P30’s not listed by Mark Jackson, so if you want to visit all P30’s you’ll have to include some non TuMPs to do so.

The list will be updated on a weekly basis and will be done so through each Group category, starting from the north and working south.  The Twenty Ninth Group is Fforest Fawr.


Fforest Fawr

North from SO 030 076 following stream to bwlch at SO 005 073 and the Nant y Gwyddel to SN 988 046, continuing north of the Afon Cynon to bwlch at SN 942 062 and the Camnant and Sychryd to SN 910 079, and the Afon Mellte to SN 902 074, continuing north of the Afon Nedd (River Neath) to SN 898 091 and the Afon Pyrddin to bwlch at SN 844 107 and the Nant Llech to SN 834 127, continuing east of the Afon Tawe to SN 848 172 and the Nant Tywynni to bwlch at SN 870 195 and the Blaen-crai to the Cray Reservoir at SN 877 207, continuing east from SN 883 220 following the Afon Crai to SN 901 290, continuing south of the Afon Wysg (River Usk) to SO 038 288, continuing west of the Afon Tarell to bwlch at SN 982 203 and stream to SN 987 194 and the Blaen Taf Fawr to the Beacons Reservoir at SN 986 190, continuing west from SN 989 183 following the Taf Fawr to the Cantref Reservoir at SN 992 163 and from SN 996 153 to the Llwyn-on Reservoir at SO 004 128, continuing following the Taf Fawr from SO 012 114 to SO 030 076.  Bordering with Mynydd Epynt to the north, Y Mynydd Du to the west, Bryniau Cymoedd to the south and Bannau Brycheiniog to the east.  
         

Sub-Twmpau - 200m updates

Pt. 293m    293m    SN 941 290

The name of this hill follows the Pt. notation as the blog author does not know an appropriate name for it.  The summit has a 293m spot height on it, and bwlch contouring is between c 270m – c 280m, with the bwlch height estimated as c 273m high, these values give this hill c 20m of drop.


Next update due on the 3rd November 2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Arenig



25.10.14  Cefn Caer Euni (SH 985 403), Caer Eini (SH 995 410) and Mynydd Mynyllod (SJ 002 395)

Caer Eini (SJ 000 412)
On the outskirts of Y Bala between the Afon Dyfrdwy (River Dee) and the peak of Foel Goch and its neighbouring hills is a land of quiet moorland summits interspersed by the seldom visited lakes of Llyn Caer Euni and Llyn Mynyllod.  The name of each lake has direct connection to hills that rise from their shores and look down on their waters.

Although the hills situated near these lakes are bounded by fences they portray a feeling of openness, part of this feeling is due to hillsides predominantly consisting of heather.  Today the heather had turned from its late summer bud to a swaying mass of foliage in tune with the direction and strength of the wind.  It blew as one, almost being an entity all to itself.

I’d often wondered about visiting these hills but had never done so.  The opportunity to investigate their inner depths arrived by email and was sent by Aled, who wondered if I fancied a wander taking in a survey or three.  Quickly the hills and route with an extension if time, weather and inclination permitted had been decided upon.

We met at 9.30am and left one car in a large lay-by at SJ 003 407 and proceeded to drive to the start of the walk at SH 980 401 where a car can be parked on the grass verge at the end of the paved road.  From here a track led toward the first summit of the day.

This parking spot is at 350m which meant that there was only about 19m of ascent to our first summit of the day.  Before setting off we sat in Aled’s van chatting about a forthcoming Europeaklist publication that should be published in the next month or so.  We also peered out of the car’s front window at a decidedly grey and inhospitable scene where southerly showers swept across the land turning everything in their path a deep grey of wet and murk.  The scene was pretty yuck and we waited until the yuckiness seemed to have gone and the sky turned a lighter shade of mucky grey and off we went.

Within a few moments we were heading toward the summit of Cefn Caer Euni which is given a summit height of 369m on the Ordnance Survey map.  It also has a twin 369m summit a kilometre away, separating them was something I’d wanted to do ever since first listing them over eleven years ago, the advent of Leica and Trimble hardware now gives this opportunity – YYIIIIPPPPPP!!

Heading toward the first of the two 369m map heighted tops
By the time we arrived on the first 369m map heighted summit of Cefn Caer Euni the southern and western sky was full to overflowing with rain, the Trimble was quickly positioned on the obvious high point which is an embedded rock, it attained its 0.1m accuracy before data can be logged relatively quickly and I turned my back to the rain and looked north to friendlier weather.

Gathering data on the summit of Cefn Caer Euni
Once the Trimble had collected its five minutes of summit data we headed toward the second 369m map heighted hill, by now the shower had skimmed across the landscape and the sun cast out from behind a bulbous and imposing deep grey mass of sky.  The whole area of land where we were took on an autumnal glow where colour seemed to pop out into an illuminated mass of gold, green and blackish grey. 

The view west from between the two 369m map heighted Cefn Caer Euni summits

Five minutes of colour before the next shower sped in
Shadowed distant hills
Shadowed distant hills contrasted with brackened foreground as the grey of sky shone and pieced a freshness of colour around us.  The light lasted for five minutes or so and was quickly replaced as the next mass of milky grey swept in from the south replacing the colour wonder with another wet wind swept shower.

Fierce shower greys

Bathed light of a rainbow
The second top was soon reached and the high point judged and once the Trimble was in position and gathering data we looked out across the forgotten Cwm Main stretching into the distance and bathed by the enriched colour of a rainbow.

The next shower approaches as rainbow light is cast down into Cwm Main
The rainbow stayed with us as we headed for the bwlch between our first hill of the day and Caer Eini which is a marginal P30 with a listed drop of 31m.  Its critical bwlch is positioned in a wasteland of heather but not difficult to judge for placement.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch for Caer Eini
I soon re-joined Aled once the Trimble had gathered its bwlch data and we continued to the summit of Caer Eini.  The summit area of this hill in another fine example of an ancient hill fort, we approached it via its southern entrance, with the northerly one probably being the main point of entry when first constructed.  The ramparts are impressive with a 6ft elevation between ditch bottom and the top of the earthern bank.

Hard to give a title to this one........ a rainbow
The summit of Caer Eini is crowned with a neat and well-constructed cairn, the land at the base of the cairn has a number of rocks, most were given a good firm kick to see if they moved, all did except for one, which unexpectedly was not the largest.  The Trimble was soon on its high point and gathering data.

I enjoy the time when each epoch second of data is logged and the Trimble ushers a slight beeping sound, it’s time to furiously scribble all necessary notes including margin of positional uncertainty, number of satellites the equipment is logged onto, time at which data started to be logged, terrain where the equipment is placed, time of overall data collection, name of hill and if the data collection is at a summit or bwlch.  However, this time can also be one of reflection or it can be one of admiration.  Today it was spent with the latter as the cairn atop Caer Eini became framed by the continuing presence of a rainbow which cast its delicate arch of colour across the north-western sky.

Gathering data at the summit of Caer Eini
As we left the summit and headed back toward the bwlch the next grey mass of shower cloud sped its way toward us and by the time we neared a conifer plantation above the minor road that runs parallel with the busy A494 the rain was upon us, but thankfully standing beside the fence next to the wood shielded us from the worst of the wet stuff.

The descent down to the minor road was a slippy affair on slothy mud.  Our route then took us across a couple of fields and onto the busy road which we walked on for a couple of minutes before heading up on a good path toward Mynydd Mynyllod which at 395m on the map would be our high point of the day.

The path gained height at a gentle gradient and led up to the higher heather clad slopes, as we left the path it was only five minutes of gentle stomping and the summit was reached.  The Trimble nestled amongst the heather almost hidden from view and data were gathered.  We contemplated investigating a hill to the south-west but this could be left for another day when this area could be approached from a different direction giving another perspective to this lovely land.

The Trimble heather bound on the summit of Mynydd Mynyllod
We descended on part of our inward route and then headed off on an overgrown green track which took us back to Aled’s awaiting van.  However, the surveying was not over for the day as I wanted to investigate the bwlch for Mynydd Mynyllod which is placed on or near to the busy A road close or on a cross roads at the small community of Bethel.

Aled drove to the crossroad and I jumped out and walked up the road toward the direction of Y Bala, the 271m spot height that appears on the Ordnance Survey map is positioned on the main road as it is intersected by the small lane from Bethel.  When out of the van and looking at the area of the bwlch it was evident that the critical bwlch is placed slightly westward from where the spot height appears on the ground.  Thankfully the critical bwlch was not on the busy A road otherwise Aled may have had to stop the traffic during Trimble collection.  The critical bwlch was found to be in a field adjacent to the road and it received the customary good Trimbling.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch for Mynydd Mynyllod
Once Aled had dropped me off at my car I drove toward Y Bala and into heavy rain that continued up onto Y Berwyn, it seemed we were fortunate to only experience wind-blown showers.  It proved a great day out on hills that pervade a welcome solitude.   


Survey Result:


Cefn Caer Euni

Summit Height:  369.2m (converted to OSGM15) 
  
Summit Grid Reference:  SH 98530 40303

Drop:  c 81m

Dominance:  21.94%



Caer Eini

Summit Height:  365.7m (converted to OSGM15)
   
Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 00048 41275

Bwlch Height:  334.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 99592 41006

Drop:  31.5m (300m Twmpau status confirmed)

Dominance:  8.62%



Mynydd Mynyllod

Summit Height:  393.7m (converted to OSGM15) (390m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed) 
  
Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 00230 39523

Bwlch Height:  272.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 98722 39722

Drop:  121.6m 

Dominance:  30.89% (non Lesser Welsh Dominant status confirmed) 




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

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Carnedd Wen


19.10.14  Y Byrwydd (SJ 145 045)  

Y Byrwydd (SJ 145 045)
Having visited Pen y Berth (SJ 0801 127) Mark and I headed down the B 4382 and onto the A 458 and turned out of Llanfair Caereinion on the B 4389 before finding the narrow lane that took us to the base of Y Byrwydd.

I’d visited this hill once before in October 2011, I was then on a bagging trip taking in six separate walks over a number of P30’s.  Today Mark wanted to visit two HuMPs, the first of which was Pen y Berth and the second being Y Byrwydd.

We parked in a lay-by at SJ 138 046 where there is room for one car, this is near to the track that heads toward Ashton Farm.  As we walked down the narrow lane inspecting the hedgerow for signs of the public footpath which would give us access into the field and the hill’s summit, the sky above was a vivid grey highlighted with sunshine.

Mark found the gap in the hedge giving access to the field and bashed a few brambles out of our way as we clambered over a wooden fence and into the green and pleasant pasture with sheep and cows as company.  There were more brambles at the next fence crossing; beyond this was a gate and the spacious grassed summit.

One brambled hedge negotiated, one more to go, Mark on the ascent of  Y Byrwydd
As the Trimble gathered its five minutes of data I admired the view which was extensive.  Away to the east were the hills around Welshpool with the Breiddin distinctive in their shape, Cefn Digoll and Corndon on the horizon, with Pen y Parc and Y Golfa nearer in view, all Marilyns and all on grand display.  To our north the view was of a heavy greyness obscured by shower clouds, these were also present to the west and although sunshine cast out to our south the showers were massing there as well, it was time to get down and inspect the bwlch.

Gathering data at the summit of Y Byrwydd
The critical bwlch of Y Byrwydd is on the narrow lane as it heads eastward from the summit back toward Llanfair Caereinion, the map contours indicate that the bwlch would be relatively easy to place.  When we arrived by car I parked in a small passing place and wandered down the lane to pick the spot for Trimble placement.  Considering that each side of the lane had hedgerows the Trimble attained its 0.1m accuracy before data can be logged remarkably quickly.  I pressed ‘Log’ and walked back a safe distance hoping that there wouldn’t be any passing vehicles in the next five minutes as the equipment was placed on the grass verge immediately beside the narrow road.

Bit risky placing Trimbles next to roads, you never know what might happen!

The opposite view looking west up the lane with the Trimble gathering data
As the Trimble was gathering data I tried to peer through the thick and high hedge to the south of the narrow lane to see the lay of land in the adjacent field.  Mark was doing the same but he had positioned himself sitting on the side of the roof of the car, the hedge proved thick enough that neither of us could get a good view into the field.  The adjacent field to the north of the lane headed up toward the road indicating that either the lane or the field to its immediate south was where the critical bwlch was placed.

Dedicated to the course, Mark sitting on the roof of the car trying to see into the adjacent field
Once five minutes of data were collected I drove further east and found a gate giving access into the southerly placed field, we wandered around for five minutes assessing the lay of the land as it headed up toward the hedge and the lane on the opposite side, indicating that the critical bwlch for Y Byrwydd is placed on or beside the narrow lane.

Happy in the knowledge that the hill and its bwlch had been surveyed we headed back to Welshpool for soup, toast and scotch pancakes – yummy!



Survey Result:


Y Byrwydd

Summit Height:  372.7m (converted to OSGM15) 

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 14570 04563

Bwlch Height:  269.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SJ 11597 05010

Drop:  103.2m (Hump status confirmed)

Dominance:  27.68%