Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Fours – The 400m Hills of England

The 2nd edition of The Fours – The 400m Hills of England has been published by Mapping Mountains Publications and is now available to download as a 52 page e-booklet version for use on a PC, laptop, or e-reader, and as a print-booklet version if you want to make a paper copy of the booklet.  Both versions are free of charge.

The list is co-authored by Myrddyn Phillips and Aled Williams with the criteria being all English hills at or above 400m and below 500m in height and which have a minimum prominence of 30m.  Accompanying the main list of Fours are three categories of sub hills, these are entitled the ‘Drop Sub-Fours, ‘Height Sub-Fours’ and Double Sub-Fours’.

The list that is nowadays known as The Fours was first published in 2002 on the rhb Yahoo Group file database.  The list was re-evaluated for Europeaklist publication in December 2013 and all subsequent additions, deletions and reclassifications have been detailed on Mapping Mountains.

There are 296 hills that qualify for the main list of Fours, and 224 hills that are listed as Sub-Fours.

There are a number of initiatives included since the 1st edition of this booklet was published by Europeaklist, with the inclusion of historic (h) and artificial (a) hills, which are presented in the main and sub lists.

For the 2nd edition of The Fours, the hill-name information has been re-evaluated based on continuing historical and local research, whilst numerical data has been re-evaluated based on all interpolated summit and drop values being assessed via the 5m contouring on OS Maps in comparison to other scales of OS maps including the Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website.  Surface heights from the series of OS Six-Inch maps are also presented. 

Numerical data has also benefited from independent surveyors using GNSS receivers and LIDAR (Light Detecting & Ranging) analysis.  There are 520 hills listed in the main and sub lists, with 10% of these having been surveyed by GNSS receiver and over 29% having been analysed by LIDAR.

This has resulted in a number of reclassifications, both from Sub-Fours becoming Fours and vice versa, many of which have not previously been announced.  In particular, a number of new subs have been discovered since the Europeaklist publication, and likewise a number of subs have been deleted.

At the time of publication the combination of these has given the most accurate information to this height band of hills available.

The list is available from Mapping Mountains Publications as a downloadable:

For those accessing The Fours we hope you enjoy the list.

Myrddyn Phillips and Aled Williams (April 2018)

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Carnedd Wen

16.03.18  Foel y Bwlch (SH 939 132)

Foel y Bwlch (SH 939 132)

Having driven past Foel y Bwlch many times over a great many years I decided it was about time I should visit, and with a weekend at my Brother’s in Nantlle it was the ideal time to visit and survey its summit and bwlch.

The hill overlooks Bwlch y Fedwen which is the critical bwlch of Carnedd Wen and close to the high point of the A 458 road as it makes its way from Y Trallwng (Welshpool) to Dinas Mawddwy, this bwlch consists of a land of tussocks, as does the north-western part of Foel y Bwlch, ground to avoid at all costs I thought, and with this in mind I planned an ascent from the east following public footpaths to the ruin of Beudy y Bwlch.

It had rained during the night, hours of deluge which had turned potential stream crossings in to hazardous affairs to avoid at all costs, this I only realised after setting off down a steep minor lane leading to the farm of Cae’r-lloi where a quad bike was rattling round a corner of a track heading up in to the hills, my route kept to another track close to the stream forming the Afon Banwy.

The map indicates a Footbridge and Fords that would hopefully help me on my way to the north side of the stream, what I encountered was a thunderous torrent with all hope of crossing being delusional, I backtracked and walked further up the main track as it headed toward Carnedd Wen hoping that a path of sorts would lead on the southern side of the stream toward the hill’s bwlch which was my first surveying objective.

Not wanting to claim too much height on the track only to lose it walking down to the bwlch I spotted what looked like a path heading the way I wanted to go, this soon narrowed but helped as the ground hereabouts comprised the same form of rough tussock as this hill’s north-western slopes, to add insult to injury across the stream was a green track leading toward Beudy y Bwlch, an easy way up the hill if ever I saw one!

I made relatively quick progress through the tussocks, but even rivulet and bog crossings were proving problematic, I’d thankfully worm wellies but when one got firmly stuck in a bog and I instantly reacted by backtracking I almost lost my welly and balance and ended up flat on my back in the bog, the welly sucked itself out as I overbalanced backward, thankfully I remained upright and relatively dry.

Eventually my upward progress brought me to the area of the bwlch, a land full of moor grass, tussock and heather, and a land probably seldom visited unless you are a sheep.  I used the Trimble as a hand-held device to zero in to the ten figure grid reference for the critical bwlch that I had obtained from LIDAR analysis the previous evening and smiled as the Trimble beeped away gathering its allotted five minutes of data, as using LIDAR is so much easier than ten minutes on one’s knees assessing the lay of land from various directions trying to pinpoint where the critical bwlch lies.

LIDAR image of the summit and bwlch of Foel y Bwlch

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Foel y Bwlch

With data stored and the Trimble switched off and packed away I headed up through rough grass to a fence and the comfort of closely cropped grazed grass, a sheer pleasure after the preceding 30 minutes of tussock and bog wandering.

Carnedd Wen rising above the bwlch of Foel y Bwlch

The Trimble was soon set on top of my rucksack gathering data at the summit leaving me to look down on to the bwlch of Carnedd Wen which I hoped to survey after getting back to my car and driving to the convenient lay-by close to it, this didn’t take place due to a huge and heavy shower that later sped in from the west.

Gathering data at the summit of Foel y Bwlch

The Trimble set-up position at the summit of Foel y Bwlch

Once five minutes of data were gathered I headed down toward Beudy y Bwlch and what I thought would be an easy stroll down the green track to the gravelled track on the opposite side of the stream that I had peered toward on my ascent, this would lead me to the main road and a short walk back to my car.  Little did I know that there are two fords, one that I had backtracked from and another that I had not seen and which when I got down to the stream confronted me as a raging torrent, the thought of even attempting a crossing was foolhardy so I backtracked again, this time following the stream back up toward the bwlch of Carnedd Wen, this was debilitating as I was only a few minutes from my car when I had to reverse my direction.

The remains of Beudy y Bwlch

I kept peering down at the stream and it looked horrific, a slender but nevertheless frothing creature running completely out of control, any attempted crossing without a fallen tree to cling on to was completely out of the question.  The fallen tree soon materialised and it was over what looked like a relatively shallow part of the stream, I scrambled down the mud splattered bank and sat beside the fallen tree, the steam thundered past, I put one foot in the water and it gushed over the top of my welly, I slithered backward and back up the bank, only one thing remained; a slow plod up stream toward the bwlch hoping to find an easier crossing, this I found at Pont Dol-y-maen where the stream bubbled under the road and a track led to the main road, I felt thankful to be out of its grasp.

I quickly walked down the road toward my car with a hopeful thumb out for any kind hearted motorist to notice and stop.  As I looked back I noticed a large shower cloud had suddenly appeared heading my way from the west, this soon turned the sky a slate grey and then a car stopped and I got in, thanked the driver profusely and was dropped off at my car just as the first heavy rain drops started to fall.  By the time I jumped in the car and drove the short distance up the road toward the lay-by where I planned on parking to descend and survey the bwlch of Carnedd Wen it was throwing it down, I smiled and continued driving. 

Survey Result:

Foel y Bwlch

Summit Height:  352.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 93936 13273

Bwlch Height:  306.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 93724 12944

Drop:  46.6m

Dominance:  13.22%

Monday, 23 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Hill Reclassifications – Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland

Moel Siabod (SH 705 546) – Major deletion

This is the second of two Hill Reclassification posts that give detail to a hill whose status has been altered in the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland through map study and / or surveys that I have conducted.

Moel Siabod (SH 705 546)

The post detailing this hill’s addition to the Majors list was retrospective as it appeared on Mapping Mountains on the 21.04.18 with the hill having been added to the list in January 2016, whilst the deletion of this hill from Major status is due to a survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 conducted by Myrddyn Phillips coupled with LIDAR analysis conducted for the bwlch by Aled Williams and independently by Myrddyn Phillips, with the author of this list; Mark Trengove being present during the survey of this hill’s summit.

This list was first published in a downloadable leaflet format by Europeaklist in February 2010 and entitled The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland, its author; Mark Trengove originally listed 119 qualifying hills with their criteria being any British and Irish hill that has 600m or more of drop, with these comprising 82 hills in Scotland, 25 hills in Ireland, 7 hills in Wales, 4 hills in England and 1 hill in the Isle of Man, with a further five Scottish hills listed that fail to qualify for this list by 10m or less of drop.  The total was revised to 120 hills with the addition of this hill, and which now reverts to its original total of 119 hills with its deletion.

The Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland by Mark Trengove

The details for the deletion appear below:

There has been a deletion to the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland due to a survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 conducted by Myrddyn Phillips with the bwlch survey taking place on the 17.09.17 and the summit survey taking place on the 11.03.18, coupled with LIDAR analysis for the bwlch conducted by Aled Williams and independently by Myrddyn Phillips, with the author of this list; Mark Trengove being present during the survey of this hill’s summit.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Moel Siabod

Gathering data at the summit of Moel Siabod

The name of the hill is Moel Siabod and prior to this survey and LIDAR analysis it was listed with 600m of drop, which is the minimum drop value required for Major status.  This was based on the 872m summit spot height that is adjoined to a triangulation pillar and the 272m spot height that appears at the bwlch on the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website.

Extract from the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website

The hill is adjoined to the Moelwynion range of hills and is situated overlooking the A 5 road to its north-east, the A 4086 road to its north-west and the A 498 road to its west, and has the small community of Capel Curig to its north north-east.

The deletion of this hill from Major status was accepted by Mark Trengove and announced in his photo blog on the Relative Hills of Britain Facebook page on the 14.03.18, with this deletion augmented in to the listing of the Major Mountains of Britain and Ireland resulting in the total reverting to 119 qualifying hills.

The full details for the hill are:

Name:  Moel Siabod

Summit Height:  872.2m (converted to OSGM15)

OS 1:50,000 map:  115

OS 1:25,000 map:  18

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 70524 54631

Drop:  599.9m (converted to OSGM15) (Trimble GeoXH 6000 summit and bwlch) 599.7m (Trimble GeoXH 6000 summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Myrddyn Phillips (April 2018)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moelwynion

11.03.18  Pt. 561.6m (SH 717 549), Moel Siabod (SH 705 546), Pt. 815.9m (SH 708 550), Pt. 811.2m (SH 709 551) and Pt. 800.8m (SH 711 552)

Pt. 561.6m (SH 717 549)

For many years it seemed as if I was walking with blinkers on, being preoccupied with the 2,000ft mountains of Wales with little regard for visiting lower heighted hills.  Nowadays I get pleasure enough on the lower P30s, but when opportunity arises to visit the higher hills their dramatic architecture is savoured, and today was such an occasion as along with Mark and Aled we planned on visiting Moel Siabod and a number of lower satellite peaks whose existing and potential P15 status needed clarifying.

Moel Siabod is a wonderful hill set apart from its higher neighbours, its 872m map heighted summit commands extensive views and is a relative recent addition to Mark’s P600 Majors list, only entering this list as the 272m bwlch spot height that appears on the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website gives the hill 600m of map spot heighted drop.

Having left three cars at different points for optional descent routes we ascended via Pont Cyfyng, walking up the narrow lane to the footpath gaining the track leading to the north-eastern ridge of Moel Siabod, across the valley spring sunshine picked out the rugged profile of Creigiau Gleision and the pyramidal shape of Pen Llithrig y Wrach.  However, the sunshine was not to last as high greying cloud would slowly ebb in from the south adding wisps to the higher tops with the prospect of incoming rain.

Creigiau Gleision

Pen Llithrig y Wrach

The first hill we wanted to investigate is listed as an Uchaf, these are the Welsh P15 hills at and over 500m in height, and the hill only entered this list through a basic levelling survey conducted in July 2004.  Following a path toward a quarry lake the hill rose above slightly rounded and elongated in profile it sits away from its much higher neighbour and is probably seldom visited and yet it is situated in a marvellously wild landscape of heather moor, bog and rock.

Moel Siabod looked dramatically appetising as we descended to the hill’s connecting bwlch which has a number of small attractive pools situated on it, we judged where the critical bwlch lay and as I set the Trimble up and floundered in the overly wet bog adjacent to the larger of these pools, Mark and Aled headed off to investigate if there was an outflow from the opposing side of the pool.

Descending to the connecting bwlch of Pt. 561.6m (SH 717 549)

Mark with Moel Siabod as backdrop

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Pt. 561.6m

This hill has two tops and both were Trimbled, with each summit consisting of a large rock.  As the more north-westerly top was Trimbled Mark and Aled visited the south-easterly one, I looked out as they waited on this summit with the cliff face of Moel Siabod as backdrop rising skyward dwarfing our position.

Gathering data from what proved to be the lower of the two tops

Aled and Mark on the south-westerly top of Pt. 561.6m

Gathering data from the summit of Pt. 561.6m

Leaving the hill we followed a narrow path across the outflow from Llyn y Foel and joined the lower part of Daear Ddu, which if wanting a scramble is the way to approach Moel Siabod.  Daear Ddu is the eastern ridge of Moel Siabod and I’ve enjoyed its rock on many occasions, the first being with a horrendous hangover when I was sick on the hill, not a pretty sight!

Beside Llyn y Foel

As height was gained the view opened, down upon Llyn y Foel and across the Eryri peaks to the far off Berwyn and Bryniau Clwyd.  The ridge was fun, as it ever is, with just enough hand on rock to bring a sustainable amount of enjoyment.

Llyn y Foel

The north-eastern ridge of Moel Siabod with the three tops which were later surveyed

By the time we crested the summit ridge cloud had built and as the Trimble clung aligned to the highest rock gathering its all-important data, mist quickly rolled in and would remain with us until we descended.

The north-eastern ridge from close to the summit of Moel Siabod

The view south-west just before the mist rolled in

Gathering data at the summit of Moel Siabod

If time permitted we hoped to survey at least two of the three tops on the upper part of the north-easterly ridge of Moel Siabod, each is a jumble of rock with two of the three bylchau being tight with plunging drops nearby down horrendously steep gulleys.

After the Trimble had gathered its allotted data from the summit of Moel Siabod I joined Mark and Aled in the large wind shelter just below the high point for a bite to eat before continuing to the three rocky tops. 

As we walked through the mist toward the first connecting bwlch we discussed the merits of what ones to survey as dusk would be approaching on our descent and as the weather had closed in it looked as if the forecast rain would overtake us, these weren’t ideal conditions to survey castellated summits above mighty drops.  The impending problem was solved when Aled suggested a two minute data set at each bwlch and summit, this is the minimum suggested for data collection by Trimble.  This would enable the three tops to be surveyed in turn and would complete all tops adjoined to Moel Siabod then having been Trimbled.

The ridge proved fun as the rock was damp with rock step after rock step negotiated from one summit to bwlch and onward to the next summit.  These surveys came thick and fast with barely a moment to contemplate some of the Trimble bwlch positions with two being on the edge of mountainous drops down steep gulleys.

A precarious position for a Trimble

As the last summit was Trimbled Mark headed down to a fence which gave access to the path leading to where one of our cars was parked beside Plas y Brenin and Llynnau Mymbyr, Aled and I soon followed.

Gathering data  from the summit of Pt. 800.8m

It had been a good day on the hill with ten surveys completed, with an enjoyable time picking out an occasional scramble whilst visiting the summit of one of Eryri’s special mountains.  We ended the day in the Bryn Tyrch at Capel Curig with good conversation and a welcome meal.


Survey Result:

Pt. 561.6m

Summit Height:  561.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 71781 54962

Bwlch Height:  546.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 71805 55107

Drop:  15.3m (Uchaf status confirmed)

Dominance:  2.72%

Moel Siabod

Summit Height:  872.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 70524 54631

Bwlch Height:  272.3m (converted to OSGM15) (previously Trimbled)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 66044 55603 (previously Trimbled)

Drop:  599.9m (Trimble summit and Trimble bwlch) 599.7m (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch) (P600 Major deletion confirmed)

Dominance:  68.78%

Pt. 815.9m

Summit Height:  815.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 70859 55036

Bwlch Height:  808.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 70797 54991

Drop:  7.0m (non Uchaf status confirmed)

Dominance:  0.86%

Pt. 811.2m

Summit Height:  811.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 70955 55120

Bwlch Height:  803.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 70898 55084

Drop:  7.3m (non Uchaf status confirmed)

Dominance:  0.90%

Pt. 800.8m

Summit Height:  800.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 71115 55231

Bwlch Height:  787.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 71076 55224

Drop:  13.3m (non Uchaf status confirmed)

Dominance:  1.66%