Thursday, 27 November 2014

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moelwynion

22.11.14  Hir Ynys (SH 605 404) and Ynys y Gwely (SH 597 405)  

Ynys y Gwely (SH 597 405)
After yesterday’s entertaining encounter with some of the Traeth Mawr islands Aled and I decided to investigate Hir Ynys (long island) which is situated just to the north of the peninsula island ridge that we were on the previous day.

Hir Ynys is as its name suggests, it is long, but this is relative as it is only elongated when compared to its neighbouring islands.  This island is squeezed into the flat plain by the B4410 to its north, the Afon Glaslyn to its west, Ynys Berfedd and Ynys Glog to its south and forestry plantation and the A4085 to its east.  It was from the east where Aled recommended we start our walk.

We parked beside a gate just off the road at approximately SH 614 405.  As we left the confines of the road we entered a labyrinth of trees where the path which we started on eventually petered out the further into the trees we went. 

Heading through the labyrinth of trees toward Hir Ynys
The ground hereabouts is flat with many drainage channels criss-crossing the area of Traeth Mawr.  Within the plantation we had favourable underfoot conditions as wooded planks crossed many of the water channels. 

Many drainage channels are crossed by land bridges but the ones at the base of the islands are harder to negotiate
As we ventured further into the trees the path disappeared and onward progress involved a little tree bashing and weaving.  A bridge at the periphery of the trees gave access over one of numerous drainage channels and as we broke out of the plantation we were confronted by Hir Ynys, an elongated wooded island rising from the flat greenness of plain.  Seemingly our only other companions in this island world were a herd of black cattle, who kept an inquisitive eye on us as we walked beside the first of the day’s drainage channels toward a land bridge which gave access into the field of cattle and our objective of the day; Hir Ynys.

Hir Ynys (SH 605 404)
As the flat field butted against the rising wooded slopes of Hir Ynys we found another drainage channel that circled the edge of the island.  This channel was quite wide and each opposing bank was steep.  We walked back and forth trying to find the easiest way over, Aled decided to use an overhanging branch as a monkey swing and seemingly flew over with ease, I looked and thought how easy this would have been even ten years ago, as I didn’t want a wet slimy beginning to our walk I followed the channel of water to the corner of the field and used a slippery fence post which had been placed over the water as a makeshift bridge and slithered my way over into the brambled confines of the island.

Backtracking to find Aled we headed up through the customary undergrowth of bracken, bramble and sapling tree.  Although the weather forecast was good the land suddenly became grey and the only shower of the day fell as we carried on up the steepening slope.

Cresting the upper ridge the immediate ground opened a little with moss covered rock and lichen covered trees giving a forgotten and peaceful air to the hill.  Few except the committed hill bagger and off route farmer must come this way; I suppose this is one of the attractions of such places.

The upper ridge of Hir Ynys
Once at the high point I set the Trimble up and waited for it to gather the all-important summit data.  The shower had now passed and the area of the upper hill with its yellow laden gorse and rust coloured bracken gave a tranquil foreground to the flatness of plain with the shapely silhouette of Moel y Gest being pre-dominant on the western horizon.

Gathering data at the summit of Hir Ynys
As the data gathering Trimble did its stuff I looked out to the island ridge that we were on yesterday, all wooded with rock up thrusts as summits, a small microcosm of interest.  Aled had ventured a little downhill and was contentedly staring out to the flat Traeth Mawr plain, all green with the punctuation of wooded islands rising from its lushness.

Looking out to the flat plain of Traeth Mawr
As the Trimble was packed away Aled suggested that we follow the western ridge of Hir Ynys and try and get to a smaller island named Ynys y Gwely which we could see below us.  This island is in the wilderness of flatland and most easily accessible from where we now were.  The opportunity to visit may never arise again so we happily headed its way.

The western ridge of Hir Ynys brought us down past the walled remains of what was probably a summer hafod, well protected by a southerly facing large rock, with two rooms identifiable and an old iron headboard of a bed laid and forgotten against an outer small wall, an image of a time long gone when these islands would have been sea locked at high tide.

Once down from the wooded slopes we emerged onto a track which leads to the farm of Hir-ynys.  The track gave access onto a field which was out of sight of the farm, the field gave access to our next island; Ynys y Gwely.

As we approached Ynys y Gwely from the south we wondered how on earth we could get up the thing as although only 17m high on the map the southern part of the island is well protected by steep rock.  We circumvented the island on its west and then came across a particularly foul looking water channel running around the northern side of the island.  The water was yellowish red and looked very unpleasant.  Aled quite fancied jumping the channel but the old geezer with him favoured finding an easier alternative.

Eventually the eastern side of the island gave us access up onto its brambled and gorse laden land.  As we bashed our way through the undergrowth I wondered if any such relatively small heighted ‘hill’ was as well protected as this wee beastie.

Heading upto the summit of Ynys y Gwely
The high point consisted of a large gorse bush so I placed the Trimble on open ground below it and gave an approximate 0.35m measurement offset for its height placement.  As it collected data we stood in brambles on its eastern side and looked out toward the hills of the Moel Hebog range as afternoon sunshine cast out from a brightening sky.

Gathering data at the summit of Ynys y Gwely
Once five minutes of data were collected we retraced our brambled route back down the island and into the adjacent field where we stopped in our tracks as a hunting party came over the track from the near farm.  Our clandestine island visit was about to be rumbled.  We stood bolt upright and wondered what to do.

As the party walked toward Hir Ynys they split up, some heading up the hill and other shooters heading into the adjacent field beside the drainage dyke at the base of the island, positioned there to shoot any pheasants flushed out by their party higher up the slope.  The hunters positioned in the field were on the route that we wanted to take back to the car.

We waited for the hunting party to position themselves and we then made a move into the field toward the track which we had used to gain access toward Ynys y Gwely.  Before re-joining the track I took a five minute data set from the approximate position of the connecting bwlch between Ynys y Gwely and Hir Ynys.

Gathering data at the approximate position of the bwlch of Ynys y Gwely
As we approached one of the hunters we passed a number of feathers freshly scattered on the field, the dead pheasant was in the shoulder bag of the person who had shot it, and he had an accompanying gun dog excitedly wagging its tail looking up toward the island for the next flying pheasant.  We stopped and chatted and explained where we had been and asked if our outward route would disturb their hunt.  Thankfully he had no discernible grievance with where we wanted to go and we chatted for a number of minutes.  He used to farm at the base of Cadair Idris from the Dolgellau side of the hill.

Waiting for the next pheasant to be flushed from the undergrowth.
We left him with his gun and dog and prized catch of a pheasant and re-traced our inward route back through the field and plantation to the car.  An excellent few hours in the company of Aled and another two of the wonderful islands of Traeth Mawr investigated.

Survey Result:

Hir Ynys 

Summit Height:  57.7m (converted to OSGM15)
Summit Grid Reference:  SH 60504 40492

Drop  54m 

Dominance:  93.65%

Ynys y Gwely 

Summit Height:  16.8m (converted to OSGM15)
Summit Grid Reference:  SH 59702 40598

Bwlch Height:  2.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 59852 40491

Drop  14.6m

Dominance:  87.01%


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