Friday, 12 August 2016

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Cymoedd

23.07.16  Mynydd Ystradffernol (SN 936 009, not surveyed)    

Mynydd Ystradffernol (SN 936 009) with Fan Fawr and part of the Bannau Brycheiniog in the background

Mynydd Ystradffernol stands between the Rhondda Fach and Rhondda Fawr valleys and to its west its adjacent hill is Craig y Llyn; this being the highest hill in the south Wales valleys.  Since my last visit Mynydd Ystradffernol has undergone a transformation as the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project by Vattenfall has installed many wind turbines resulting in great swathes of conifered forestry being cut back.  This at least gives easier access to the area of the summit and also offers alternative routes to the top.

I set off on one of the forestry tracks that head toward the hill from the A 4061 as it crests its high point between Hirwaun to the north and Treherbert to the south.  I’d come prepared with a series of ten figure grid references for many forest track junctions and forest breaks which were situated  between my setting off point and the forest break that seemed to give easiest and quickest access to the high point of the hill.

It seemed unusual to see turbines poking up above the trees, I hadn’t been on this hill for a number of years and some hills significantly change over time, and this is one that is doing so as the wind energy project is not yet finished.

Reaching my cut off point I checked the grid reference for the forest break I wanted to take and headed up over horrendous tussocks in warmer and muggier conditions.  My going slowed as the tussocks proved unwelcome and it looked as if large parts of the forest break had once been covered in conifers resulting in small narrow ditches being hidden amongst the long grass.  However, bit by bit I gained height and decided to follow the very wide break around to my right where it seemed to penetrate the upper slopes of the hill the greatest, this was a mistake as it took me away from the summit in to the trees, I didn’t realise this at the time as all I was looking for was easiest passage to the summit.  It got to a point that I thought it more difficult to backtrack than go forward, so I carried on.  By now I was in the trees contouring around the upper part of the hill trying to get out on to open ground next to a wind turbine whose blades were on show sticking out above the trees.

I bashed through the last bit of conifers and popped out to sunshine and a few metres later was standing beside one of the newly installed wind turbines with the summit of the hill behind me to the west.  I was now much farther away from the summit when compared to where I’d been when on part of the forest break!

Not perturbed I decided that the wind turbines must be joined by tracks and as there was another one off in the distance close to where the summit was I headed in its direction.  However, I couldn’t find a connecting track but did find a forest break that took me in the right direction, only for two fallen trees to bar my progress; I bashed through them as best I could and emerged on the other side. 

Onward route through the trees

The forest break I was now on was close to the high point and I decided that I should at least gather data from two points adjacent to the trees on ground that rose in to them.  This took an inordinate amount of time as it took an age for the Trimble to ebb down to its 0.1m accuracy level before data should be logged.  Once two data sets were gathered I ventured in to the trees and wandered around visiting any high point I could find.

Gathering the first data set beside the trees on Mynydd Ystradffernol

Gathering the second data set beside the trees on Mynydd Ystradffernol

Once out of the trees I stumbled down to the nearest wind turbine and followed its adjacent track north-westward across the upper ridge of the hill toward two vehicles parked next to one of the turbines whose body was upright but whose blades were prostrate, awaiting the day of their instalment, they looked huge.

One of the blades for the wind turbines

Looking south south-east toward the summit of Mynydd Ystradffernol

As I approached this area another vehicle drove up the connecting track from the east, I flagged it down to check on the best track to use to get back on to the A 4061, within a few minutes I was sitting in the vehicle as it sped down the track, this gave me a rest from the forest and the trees and the thought of further conifer bashing.

I was fortunate to get a lift down the remainder of the forestry track

When we reached the A 4061 I thanked the driver and walked down the remainder of the road toward my awaiting car, next stop Mynydd Ton.

Hill's Details:

Mynydd Ystradffernol

Summit Height:  518m

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 936 009

Bwlch Height:  c 487m

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 929 021

Drop:  c 31m

Dominance:  5.98%

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