Monday, 27 April 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Cefn Digoll

21.04.15  Caus Castle (SJ 337 077)      

Caus Castle (SJ 337 077)

Nestled in the green Shropshire countryside are some of the best hills of border country, many are steep sided and concentrated around the Long Mynd and Stiperstones area, others are seldom visited and almost hidden from view and knowledge.  Today’s wee expedition visited one of these hidden little gems.  It was a hill suggested by Charlie who had arranged access.  I’d never heard of Caus Castle, but Charlie re-assured me that it would be full of interest, and so it proved.

We met mid-way between Shrewsbury and Welshpool and drove one car to where the critical col of the hill lay, this we would explore after visiting the hill.  Conditions were perfect for exploring with a big blue sky and unusual warmth for mid-April.  Just as we pulled up the sheep from an adjacent field were being rounded up and led down the lane.  We set off over a gate with the heat haze obstructing any distant view; it was similar to a day in mid-June rather than one in spring.

Rounding up the sheep

Ahead lay our hill, from our approaching vantage point it was no more than a copse of mature trees perched at the top of a field.  Soon we gained the boundary of the trees and entered a totally different landscape, one full of earthen ditches; ancient mounds of earth with the highest being impressively steep sided.

The view of Caus Castle from the narrow lane to its west

The tranquil beauty was enriched by dabbled light as the canopy of trees and their sprouting fresh green leaves accentuated light and shade.  Small banks of primroses and violets added warm colour against the green of grass with a multitude of tall, mature trees adding vertical height.
Beautiful colour of the Violet

Primrose yellow against wooded undergrowth

Behind these trees lay a huge mound of earth, we wondered if this mound was man-made as its gradient was similarly steep on all sides.  As we approached it the trees gave way for a distant view of the Stiperstones and the Shropshire countryside.

Distant view of the Stiperstones

We had both read an account by Rob Woodall that the westerly point of this hill is the higher; with the Ordnance Survey spot heighting a point further east.  Charlie led the way to the summit up an earthen sided bank next to wooded undergrowth.  As we arrived at the top the remains of a stone wall confronted us, we’d seen one or two similar remains lower in the wood, but this was particularly unusual perched as it was at the summit.

Our first view of the summit

The natural high point was easy to identify and I balanced the Trimble on a small rock to align the internal antenna with another small embedded rock, the waiting process began as the whole area was enclosed by trees; thankfully spring growth had not yet turned to a summer canopy when satellite coverage would be next to impossible.  However, even today the wait went on and on, after around 20 minutes the magical figure of 0.1m appeared on the Trimble’s screen and I pressed ‘Log’ and scampered off to re-join Charlie on the other side of the wall.

At the summit of Caus Castle
Gathering data at the summit of Caus Castle

Once five minutes of data were collected we headed over to the spot heighted summit and found an old well on the way.  Charlie had read about this and wanted to find it; it shot downward and was fenced off, with the sides of the well built up with slate.

Beyond the well lay the other summit, this proved a slender affair, one positioned under another dabbled canopy.  As we stood on this top we tried looking back to the point that had been Trimbled, although the tree coverage did not give us a clear view we agreed that Rob had been correct and the more westerly top was obviously higher.

The summit where the 223m Ordnance Survey spot height appears
Charlie at the top of the spot heighted summit

As we made our way down into the centre of the wood the higher earthen mound rose up, grey silhouetted and slightly mysterious, I thought it looked like an upturned jelly mould as its steep gradient was symmetrical.

The higher summit looking grey and mysterious through the wooded canopy
Symmetrical in shape the summit of Caus Castle looms over its surroundings

Circling these earthen mounds are a series of ancient embankments, there are a number that are obvious within the wood, whilst others existed in the adjacent field, but these are now slight and sometimes hard to distinguish.  These banks and their ditches gave a perfect enclosure to the wood, which sprang up with mature trees and bird song.

Part of the earthen embankment and ditch
Charlie on one of the embankments

The earthen mound which supports the high point of the hill is part of a later Motte and Bailey, a supplanted addition on a much earlier construction.  However, periods of architectural time in such a place does not detract from the overall beauty and one fortified construction next to another enhanced the landscape.

One of the embankments with the high point of Caus Castle towering over it on the left of photo

We walked part of one of the embankments and had now circled the compound as we headed back toward the car.  Once out of the wood the dabbled, gentle light gave way to the full strength of the sun.  Soon we had climbed the inward gate and walked past the car to look at a track that crosses the critical col of the hill.  This track rose at its high point above the surrounding ground which seemed to have been dug out for its construction.  On one side was a hedge where the height of the track plunged down to the bottom of the hedge, all of this meant pinpointing the position of the critical col was unexpectedly difficult.  Once a spot had been picked it had the customary five minutes of data gathered from it before I joined Charlie at the car.

Charlie at the col of Caus Castle
Gathering data at the col of Caus Castle

What a great little hill and a very enjoyable afternoon spent in the company of Charlie Leventon.   

Survey Result:

Caus Castle

Summit Height:  233.6m (converted to OSGM15) (significant height revision)

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 33713 07792 (summit relocation confirmed)

Col Height:  180.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SJ 33384 07622

Drop:  53.2m 

Dominance:  22.78%

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

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