Thursday, 31 December 2015

Mapping Mountains – 2015 Retrospective

For this year’s retrospective I’ll concentrate on its highlights and throw in a few statistics and hill reclassifications on the way and end with a summary of where I hope the site will go in 2016.  But before then let’s have an introspective interlude:

When the Mapping Mountains site was first activated toward the end of 2013 I had a number of ideas for its content, but it has taken at least a year to fully establish in my own mind a way forward and how to construct this via a web based blog.  Therefore, during 2015 I'd like to think that the Mapping Mountains site has become more refined in its content and has found its niche amongst the hill related sites available on the Web.

This has involved building upon the foundation of the previous year with the inclusion of a number of new Page Headings, these include details relating to Summit Relocations and Significant Height Revisions, these compliment the Hill Reclassifications heading that had already been established.  These headings relate directly to the Trimble surveys and their results, and it is still these surveys that lead the content of this site.

As the site is mainly led by the surveys conducted with the Trimble it is sometimes hard to get away from statistics, and the ones relating to the Mapping Mountains site are encouraging as during the past year there have been over 39,700 page views compared to the 22,294 from 28.11.13 – 31.12.14, with another 264 posts being uploaded to the blog compared to the 200 that had already appeared.  Although I have a tremendous amount of fun with the blog, it is very time consuming and this was evidenced between April and May when I posted on 34 consecutive days, a record.  However, this record was short lived and somewhat smashed to smithereens as on the 21st November when Simon Glover’s article was published it was the 120th consecutive day that I had uploaded a post on the site – phew!

Simon’s article was a part of the Guest Contributor heading and this has proved another success during 2015, with articles published by John Kirk, Richard Moss, Adrian Hendroff, Robin N Campbell, Carole Engel and Simon Glover.  For me, this is one of the joys of the blog as it involves approaching and communicating with people who I have the utmost respect for, and with their permission publishing articles that they have written.  Hopefully the following year will see more Guest Contributor articles appear.

These Guest Contributor articles are definitely one of the joys and highlights of running the blog.  There have been other highlights during the year which I’ll briefly detail in the following paragraphs, but above all others the one that stands out is when I was approached in early July by the National Library of Wales (NLW) for the Mapping Mountains site to be archived in their Permanent Collections.  I was chuffed to bits when this happened and still awestruck many months later.

Other highlights include the ones associated with G&J Surveys when we appeared in part three and five of a six programme series for ITV Wales entitled ‘The Mountain’.  Along with The Munro Society we were also invited to take part in a film about Scotland being produced by a German television company named ARD.  However, although these two films proved interesting, it was the involvement with Leland Carlson and his book on the ‘Dull Men of Great Britain’ that proved the most entertaining, with its launch party at Stanfords in London.  Another rather funny episode happened when the media mistakenly reported that Moelwyn Mawr had been demoted from mountain status, an easy thing to do when one considers that our survey that demoted said mountain was to one that the Nuttall’s have named Moelwyn Mawr North Ridge Top.  The story goes that many a Blaenau Ffestiniog resident was having sleepless nights due to their mountain being demoted, dependent upon one’s point of view, this could be considered as a wee bit funny, I thought it hilarious.  Outside of G&J Surveys I was asked to advice on a film being shot in Snowdonia by Daria Martin who is an American conceptual artist, and the weekend doing so proved a highly enjoyable experience.

Although there have been a number of highlights during the past year it is still the surveying with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 that leads the impetus behind the blog, and the following are the major hill reclassifications either instigated by surveying with the Trimble during 2015,  or those announced during the last year:

Ynys Tywyn (SH 571 385) – new 30m-99m Sub-Tumpau

Pen Diban (SH 112 205) – new Pellennig

Pt. 422m (SO 073 822) – deleted Pedwar

Wenallt (SN 933 571) – deleted Pedwar

Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) – new 30m-99m Twmpau

Castell Cricieth (SH 500 377) – new 30m-99m Twmpau

Pt. 650m (SH 660 452) – deleted Uchaf

Bryn Serth (SO 147 109) – deleted Pedwar

Twyn Walter (SN 828 175) – deleted 500m Twmpau

Banc Bronderwgoed (SN 871 987) – deleted Pedwar

Ynys Arw (SH 266 945) – new Pellennig

Bera Mawr (SH 674 682) – deleted 700m Twmpau

Bersham Bank (SJ 311 481) – new 100m Twmpau

Knocknaveacal North Top (V 744 562) – deleted Irish 500-Metre Top (J Fitzgerald survey)

The Pimple (SJ 299 472) – new 100m Sub-Twmpau

Pt. 68m (SH 383 949) – deleted Dominant

Two hills of interest that are not included in the above list are; Banc y Celyn (SO 047 464) whose bwlch was surveyed giving the hill 102.1m of drop, and which has now been accepted as a Hump, and Bram Rigg Top (SD 668 964) which was surveyed as having 14.7m of drop, which is insufficient for Nuttall status.

One aspect of the Mapping Mountains site which I enjoy is having the opportunity to include hill related things that I have produced prior to its existence, one of these is the Table to the List of Irish Hill Lists.  This Table was inspired by Jeff Parr’s List of Lists and forms a comprehensive study of all hill lists to Irish hills that exist up to and including 1999.  When time permits I hope to extend the detail in the Table nearer to the present day.  Another retrospective included on the blog during the last year was the 'Mountain Biking the Hill Boundary of Powys' article, with each of the ten blog posts being posted 25 years after it had taken place. 

The place-name research with Aled continued with the highlight of the year being a day in the Weston Library at Oxford University studying the ‘Returns’ to the ‘Parochial Queries’ which were produced by Edward Llwyd in the late 1600’s / early 1700’s.  These form an important part in the historical documentation of Welsh upland place-names, and the day proved a wonderful experience hunting through old documents and finding names that have been passed down from one generation to the next.

Another highlight of 2015 was the island trips organised by Adrian Rayner, these proved stunning and I took the opportunity to visit as many as Adrian organised within Wales.  These included Ynys Gwylan Fawr, Ynys Tudwal Fach, Ynys Tudwal Fawr, Ynys Aberteifi, Ynysoedd y Moelroniaid and a separate trip to Ynys Enlli.

And what is in store for 2016?  This will partly be led by the Trimble as when the blog was made public in late November 2013 my initial hope was that 100 P30’s would be surveyed each year, and last year’s total of 150 has almost been matched this year with over 140 P30’s having been surveyed.  Many of these also include the respective bwlch, with a number of subs and P15’s also Trimbled.  Over 430 hill surveys have taken place during the past year which compares favourably with the 440 previously done.

Next year will also see the continued publication of Y Trechol – the Dominant Hills of Wales, and it is the last year’s publication of hill lists that gives me the sense of greatest achievement (oops, almost forget the NLW).  These have included Y Pellennig – The Remotest Hills of Wales (co-authored with Aled Williams) being published by Europeaklist, Haroldstreet, Geof Crowder’s website and Mapping Mountains.  The higher height bands of the Twmpau (thirty welsh metre prominences and upward) have also been published with the 100m height bands from 500m upward appearing on the Mapping Mountains site.  The Welsh 500m P15s (co-authored with Aled Williams) has also been introduced with their totals given, and now Y Trechol – The Dominant Hills of Wales has started to be published.  Prior to the Mapping Mountains site I had always been reliant upon the kindness of people like Geoff Crowder and Mark Trengove to publish listings that I had been involved in, having the Mapping Mountains site has opened up so many possibilities that I am prone to get overly enthused on occasion!

However enthusiastic I am prone to get, it is the thought that some people find what I produce to be of sufficient interest to keep returning to the Mapping Mountains site that fills me with greatest joy and this bolsters my enthusiasm, so many thanks for visiting the blog and I hope you enjoy the New Year and have fun on the hills you visit during 2016.

Myrddyn Phillips

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