Thursday, 30 April 2015

Y Pellennig - The Remotest Hills of Wales - Western Mail Wales Online article

Hill sleuths' book uncovers Wales' most remote uplands

Wales' best-known beauty spots trip off the tongue with ease - Snowdonia, the Beacons etc. But what of the gems we have to search for?

They are at least 2.5 kilometres from the nearest road and have a drop of 15 metres or more from the summit to a path connecting them to other peaks.

And in some cases you would have struggled to find them in any guide. Until now.
Because some of Wales’ wildest spots have a guide book all of their own.

Myrddyn Phillips’ and Dr Aled Williams’ new booklet Y Pellennig: The Remotest Hills of Wales catalogues the undiscovered gems of the Welsh hinterlands.
The list evolved out of an attempt to pinpoint the most remote spot in mainland Wales from the nearest road.
Some of the spectacular images from the new booklet
This point was identified in the heart of the Black Mountains in South Wales. This soon led the pair to investigate all the hills in Wales.
But they had to decide on an objective measure of remoteness. They came up with the definition based on the closeness of roads that also tries to ensure individual hills are identified rather than bumps in a range.
They settled on the 2.5km measure in relation to roads and the 15m drop to distinguish one hill from another.
It resulted in a list of 166 hills across Wales catalogued in their recently published booklet.
But after publishing the work, the keen walkers discovered another hill they had overlooked.

The complete list includes 42 island hills

On a journey to Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula, in Gwynedd, Mr Phillips discovered Pen Diban on the south of the island also fits the criteria for their booklet.

The work included another of Bardsey’s hills, Mynydd Enlli, but made no mention of Pen Diban. Now the pair plan to republish the work with Pen Diban included.
Retired printer Mr Phillips, 54, from Welshpool, Powys, said: “I surveyed that hill (Pen Diban) and it just squeezes into the list so we have a new remote hill.

Some of the spectacular images from the new booklet
Yr Wyddfa, part of the gallery of photographs on view

“The main point of access for the list is the booklet and it hasn’t been put in there because it’s only been published two weeks and already we’ve got a new hill to enter the list.”
The complete list includes 42 island hills, the majority of which are out of bounds during the summer due to seabird nesting colonies, or their inaccessibility.
So a mainland-only list was also devised that would be feasible for walkers to complete.

A few of the hills will be unknown to many walkers

The booklet features a diverse range of peaks with contrasting summits, geological features and locations.
Included are the lofty tops of the dramatic Worm’s Head, on the Gower, the lonely sentinel of Ynys Llanddwyn on the south-western tip of Anglesey and the handful of hills found on Ramsey Island, off Pembrokeshire.
Carnedd Uchaf, in Snowdonia’s Carneddau range appears, as does Snowdon itself.

Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales, but not the most remote

But a few of the hills will be unknown to many walkers, as the booklet represents their first appearance in a list.
The remotest hill in all of Wales also proved to be one of the lowest – West Tump, which is a 17m high wave-battered lump of rock 16km out in the Irish Sea, on Grassholm Island off Pembrokeshire.

Tyle Garw, the remotest hill of mainland Wales, was found in grassland to the south of the Black Mountain peaks in the Brecon Beacons.

Scientist Dr Williams, 29, from Porthmadog, said: “These distances are not great by Scottish standards, but the perception of remoteness is, of course, relative to a particular country.
“The remote land found in Siberia is on another scale when compared to the Scottish Highlands, and so are the Welsh hills when compared to the Highlands.
“The booklet will assist walkers in getting far from the madding crowd, visiting the loneliest, wild and scenic spots in Wales”.

The book marks the latest in a series of works

The writers say every hill name has been painstakingly researched, and the booklet also publicises some unrecorded names from the duo’s research.
These names were given to the pair by farmers, shepherds and landowners.
The authors say they want to safeguard local upland names and encourage their use over invented terms with “no or minimal historical and cultural merit”.
They hope to publish the entirety of this place-name research to help ensure the names survive.
The book marks the latest in a series of works Mr Phillips has been involved in cataloguing Wales’ hills and mountains.
In 2013 Mr Phillips and Dr Williams published what they believed was the definitive list (dubbed the Pedwars) of the more than 400 hills in Wales between the height of 400-499m.
And with friends Graham Jackson and John Barnard Mr Phillips has measured mountains and hills throughout Britain to ensure they are properly classified.
In 2008, Mynydd Graig Goch on Snowdonia’s Nantlle Ridge was designated as a 2,000ft mountain as a result of their work – it made mountain status by just six inches.

And in 2009 they proved that one of the accepted 3,000ft Scottish Munros was below the 914.4-metre line that defines qualification for that list.

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