14.11.14 Caer Caradoc (SO 309 757), Stow Hill (SO 317 745) and Cwm Sanaham Hill (SO 270 755)
|Caer Caradoc (SO 309 757) and Stow Hill (SO 317 745) left and right of central background respectively|
With the prospect of good weather and a number of hills no more than 45 minutes’ drive from Welshpool that I had not visited, I decided to head back into Shropshire and investigate some more of The Fours. Ideally the three hills I’d chosen could be combined in a circular walk, but Google Maps indicated parking was limited, so I devised a route to the hills that required a there and back on a couple of occasions.
I parked outside a house at SO 286 754 having asked permission to do so. As I set off heading eastward the last of the morning’s light drizzled showers passed over the land, once this sprinkling had disappeared the sun shone all day. The green track I walked on was a quagmire of mud, sludge and water, heavy overnight rain had not helped. This track led up towards Stow Hill which I wanted to visit after Caer Caradoc. I left the track and climbed a gate into an adjacent field as the underfoot conditions were awful.
|mmmmmmm yummy, a slushy, sludgy, slimy track|
Once away from the mud laden track I slowly made my way up through a number of fields, each having access through a gate until nearing the earthen ramparts of Caer Caradoc, where a couple of fences and a hawthorn hedge had to be negotiated.
Caer Caradoc only entered the listing of The Fours on 27th September 2013 as the old Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map has a 403m spot height adjoined to the summit, this compared with a 399m spot height on current maps. The old height had been rounded up from a 1,321.4ft (402.76m) levelled height that appeared on the Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 map.
Approaching the summit of Caer Caradoc from the west one enters the ancient fortified structure through or close to the western gate. The structure consists of three ramparts / ditches, all well preserved, these are impressive constructions with the outer one being approximately 5m high from the ditch’s base, the central one is about 6m high and the inner rampart is higher still and looks out from an approximate 9m from its ditch base to its top.
The western approach is directly to the high point of this construction
and the hill. Unfortunately the day’s
mileage and number of planned surveys dictated that I could not fully
investigate the land around the ancient hill fort, but the high part of the
hill looks out to its concentric earthen ramparts as they disappear eastward
out of view.
|The inner embankment of Caer Caradoc|
|The view in the opposite direction looking up toward the high point of the hill on the inner embankment|
I took two data sets from points about seven metres apart, with both being close in height to each other. As the Trimble gathered data I looked south toward my next objective; Stow Hill, as sun caught the manicured green fields of its north-eastern slopes. To the north-west the gentle rolling hills of Shropshire spread out with their contouring highlighted by light and shade from sun and shadow.
|Trimble placed in position for the first summit data set|
|Trimble placed in position for the second summit data set|
|The manicured green fields of Stow Hill|
|Gathering data at the critical col of Caer Caradoc|
The part of the green track I was now on was in much better condition than its lower counterpart. Rutted through farm vehicle use it was relatively mud free, I walked on and beside it as it led up through a gap in two conifer plantations, the one to the south being extensive, whilst the northern one is only a narrow strip. I followed the edge of the northerly plantation and walked on the ridge past an attractive pool which gave a good foreground to views of the upper part of Stow Hill and to the high Fforest Glud hills farther to the west.
|The summit of Stow Hill is just beyond the conifer plantation|
|With the hills of Fforest Glud in the background|
|Gathering data at the summit of Stow Hill|
Once out onto the open field I gained the mud sludge track via a gate and walked back toward the car. It was now 2.00pm and the first two hills and their respective surveys had taken four hours. I crossed the road and continued on the green track, now more of a path which was adjacent to a hedge with a tarmacked road beyond leading to a house on my right. I was now close to where the critical col for Cwm Sanaham Hill is positioned. The land immediately ahead looked quite flat, with hedgerows consisting of overhanging trees on the enclosed path and ground to my left which was scrub made up of small trees and bracken. I reached a point where standing water continued from the path through the adjacent fence and onto the scrub land, this looked as if it indicated where the critical col is placed. Making a mental note of the position for my return journey I continued on the path and then up through the lower mud splattered field to higher and dryer fields giving access to the high point of Cwm Sanaham Hill.
The higher fields were now bathed by a lowering sun that cast rich colours and lengthy shadows. I walked through one field full of horses that came toward me inquisitively; the next field brought me out by an old barn and another slime laden bog. As I circumvented the bog a Red Kite flew across the outline of the hill and glided past in a southerly direction.
The grassed summit ridge of Cwm Sanaham Hill is crowned by a trig pillar on its southern periphery which has no height given to its flush bracket in the OS Trig Database. However, whilst compiling The Fours we found an old 1,343ft (409.4m) height on the Ordnance Survey New Popular One-Inch map which complimented the height on the larger scaled 1:10,560 map; this height elevated the hill’s drop to 98m. It’ll be interesting to find what the Trimble made of its summit and col height as with only another two metres of prominence the hill would become the latest addition to the HuMPs.
I assessed the ground leading upto the trig and decided that there were two possibilities for the high point, neither of them beside the trig. One being approximately 14 metres from the trig and the other further away from it next to a fence corner, both positions were Trimbled.
|Gathering data at the first of the two possible summit positions on Cwm Sanaham Hill|
|Gathering data at the second of the two possible summit positions on Cwm Sanaham Hill|
|Gathering data at the col of Cwm Sanaham Hill|
When I arrived I parked on the track, grabbed all necessary gear and walked the few metres up the narrow road to look at the col. It was one of the easiest I’ve had to judge since getting the Trimble, but unfortunately all land from the valley and the hill directions led me to the conclusion that the critical col for Stow Hill is placed in the centre of the narrow road. I had hoped that if this was so that a placement on an adjacent grass verge would suffice, but the sides of each were raised above the road. So taking the Trimble’s life in hand I set it up in the centre of the road and hoped that no vehicles would come this way for the next five to ten minutes.
Once logging data I decided to keep on the western side of the Trimble as from this side the road made its way toward the col around a slight corner and if any vehicle approached from this direction I wouldn’t have much time to either stop it or grab the Trimble, whereas on the eastern side the road climbed steeply up toward the col and therefore I may have time to grab it before its strength was tested against another car.
Two minutes into data collection and I heard the sound of a car which came from the western side of the col, as it approached I flagged it down and quickly explained what I was doing and asked if they would mind waiting about three minutes until it had done its stuff. They kindly said that this was no problem and waited, this meant I could run past the Trimble and stand on its eastern side and stop any vehicle approaching from that direction, thankfully none did and once five minutes of data were collected I packed the Trimble away, thanked the occupants of the car and explained in more detail what the Trimble did and possibly more relevant; the reasoning why.
|Living dangerously - the Trimble gathering data in the middle of the road at the critical col of Stow Hill|
Summit Height: 402.7m (converted to OSGM15) (Four status confirmed)
Summit Grid Reference: SO 30903 75743
Col Height: 347.1m (converted to OSGM15)
Col Grid Reference: SO 29798 75086
Drop: 55.6mDominance: 13.80%
Summit Height: 434.3m (converted to OSGM15)
Summit Grid Reference: SO 31758 74527
Col Height: 299.1m (converted to OSGM15)
Col Grid Reference: SO 26949 76843
Drop: 135.2mDominance: 31.13%
Cwm Sanaham Hill
Summit Height: 409.1m (converted to OSGM15)
Summit Grid Reference: SO 27080 75511
Col Height: 310.0m (converted to OSGM15)
Col Grid Reference: SO 28522 75426
Drop: 99.1m (Subhump status confirmed)Dominance: 24.23%