Friday, 28 August 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Carnedd Wen


08.08.15  Gaer Fawr Hill (SJ 223 129) and Pt. 172m (SJ 214 125 – not Trimbled)  

Gaer Fawr Hill (SJ 223 129)

A hill bagging day in the company of Alex Cameron which concentrated on summits, so the more esoteric side of surveying bylchau would have to wait another day.  The singular traverse of the summits started on the outskirts of Cegidfa (Guilsfield) and continued through the small community of Deuddwr, before heading toward the land above Llanymynech and ending up on the outskirts of Oswestrry (Croesoswallt).

Our first hill of the day is a rather stunning little gem; Gaer Fawr Hill, this hill is positioned on the outskirts of Cegidfa (Guilsfield) and is heavily wooded.  It is a hill that I have seen on countless occasions but up until today, never visited.

We parked at the top of the Gwreiddyn Lane at SJ 219 125 where three or four cars can be left in the area of a small disused quarry.  This is an official parking place as two paths start from it, both heading in opposing directions around the hill.

Gaer Fawr dates from around 800BC with work continuing on it for another four centuries, and originated as a small summit fort that over time was extended, taking in two massive entrance ways created with graded approach ramps and defended gateways.  The construction has up to five lines of ramparts over 8m (26ft) high.  Much of this is now swamped in undergrowth with the whole area of 5.8 hectares (21 acres) covered in woodland.

Information board showing an artist's impression of Gaer Fawr

We followed the northern path which gains steady height around the western fringes of the hill, the sun shone from a blue sky and occasional bird song sprang from our surrounds.  Occasionally small animal paths tempt you straight up the hill but we continued on the main path as it swung around to the north-west of the summit.

Heading toward the summit of Gaer Fawr

It seemed that we had this rather special place all to ourselves as the world went about its business below.  Nearing the top the path reaches a relatively flat area where a beautiful terracotta wild boar is on display, this is perched on the ground beside a secret gateway into a tree in the form of a very small door.  The statue commemorates a small hollowed bronze boar which was found at, or near to, the hill fort, this is now displayed in the National Museum of Wales.

Statue commemorating the hollowed bronze boar of Gaer Fawr

The secret doorway

Only a short distance from the rather beautiful piggy is the summit area of the hill, part of this consists of a small open space where a single tree is guarded by a stone circle which has been laid around its base, this is not ancient or in the form of what we would consider a stone circle, but more a laying of small rocks around the tree, however it does give an added mysteriousness to the place as do a number of objects that hang from the lower branches.

Tree with stone circle

Alex and I assessed the land around this tree and an area about 60 metres from it which was more overgrown but which we considered higher.  I placed the Trimble on the top of my rucksack to give it elevation above the undergrowth and the waiting game began.  After 10 – 15 minutes it had crept down to 0.12m accuracy and a short time later I pressed ‘Log’ and it started gathering data. 

Gathering data from the summit of Gaer Fawr Hill

On the periphery of the summit area the land plunged down into sunshine which occasionally broke through the canopy of trees, with the whole place being peaceful and seemingly forgotten.

Sunlight through the canopy of trees

Once five minutes of data were collected we measured the offset as o.45m which will be taken off the processed result, and I packed the equipment away.  Our descent was on the south-western path which headed straight down to the awaiting car.

Once back at the car we looked at the land on the opposite side of the lane as this led up to our next summit, Alex contemplated a direct approach through forestry.  I favoured a simpler, albeit less exciting approach via a footpath to the north of the hill.  Thankfully we decided on the latter and jumped in the car to drive north and then westward to park in a small pull-in spot.

Our next hill is listed as Bryn Trawscoed-hen in the P30 list that appears on Geoff Crowder’s v-g.me website, this is an invented name and is partly taken from the farm just to the south-west of the hill’s summit. 

Pt. 172m (SJ 214 125)

By the time we had walked up the lane to a track which led through the yard of Trawscoed Farm the morning had warmed up and the sun started to beat down.  Beyond this farm we had a chose and opted to walk down a field and over a fence that gave us access into another field which led up beside a hedge toward the copse of trees at the summit of this hill.

During this time we kept quiet as we didn’t want to disturb any farm dogs or farmers, once beside the copse of trees we headed toward its corner expecting to find the high point of the hill in a field, clear of trees, as indicated by the placement of the 172m spot height on current Ordnance Survey maps.  We were surprised to find this part of the hill embedded in trees with the wood much larger than indicated on the map. 

As we clambered over a fence past nettles and brambles it was obvious that I would have to forsake having the hill Trimbled as the tree coverage and undergrowth was extensive, I happily took a photo of Alex on what we deemed to be the high point of the hill and out of the wood we scampered.

Alex at the high point of Pt. 172m

Looking back toward the summit

Heading to the track through Trawscoed Farm and back to the car

The view of Gaer Fawr Hill from the track heading to Trawscoed Farm

Our next stop was Y Gaer which is situated to the north of these two hills and its walk and Trimble survey will be described in another blog post.


Survey Result:


Gaer Fawr Hill

Summit Height:  217.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 22391 12995

Drop:  c 80m

Dominance:  36.77% (Lesser Dominant status confirmed)


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



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