Friday, 19 December 2014

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Bryniau Clwyd

16.12.14  Pen y Cloddiau (SJ 127 678) and Moel y Parc (SJ 119 699)   

Moel y Parc (SJ 119 699)
It had almost been a year since Mark and I enjoyed the hospitality of John Kirk in his Burney villa and as the festive season was almost upon us we decided to meet up for a walk.  The area we chose was the northern Bryniau Clwyd with Mark devising a route over Pen y Cloddiau and Moel y Parc with an option to include Moel Arthur and Moel Plas-yw at the end of the walk.

We met at Mark’s in Mold at 8.00am and proceeded to enjoy the comforting taste of croissants with copious amounts of Passionfruit Curd spread on their flaky pastries, once breakfast had been devoured Mark drove to the bwlch between Pen y Cloddiau and Moel Arthur where a large car park is situated.

As our chosen foot gear was put on; John with trainers, Mark with walking boots and me with wellies, the sky darkened from the north and the only shower of the morning fell, this remained with us for ten minutes as we walked down the road to the south-west to inspect the lay of land for a Trimble survey of the bwlch.

The Ordnance Survey enlarged Geograph map has a 284m spot height positioned on the road just on the south-western side of the car park on the area of this bwlch, but as with most road spot heights, lower ground can usually be found either side of the respective road, and this bwlch is no different.  The critical bwlch for Pen y Cloddiau lies on the south side of this road and it mainly consists of scrub land with many small trees and overgrown undergrowth.  However, there is an earthen path that leads from the road to a foot stile which gives access onto the lower hillside of Moel Arthur.  Either side of this path the land looked as if it was descending; indicating that part of the path is the critical bwlch.  As the Trimble gathered its five minutes of data John followed by Mark inspected the land either side of the path and both came to the conclusion that the critical bwlch lay on or immediately beside the path.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Pen y Cloddiau
By the time the Trimble had been packed away the shower had passed and the sky tried to murkily brighten.  The route Mark led us up was rather alpine in nature with relative steep ground giving an elevated feel to the land with intermittent extended views through the conifer trees of Coed Llangwyfan down to surrounding countryside.  This path eventually breaks out onto open hillside and the first of the hill’s earthen banks.

Interpretive board with an artists impression of what Pen y Cloddiau looked like when inhabited
Pen y Cloddiau is one of Wales’ largest hill forts when measured in area, taking in approximately 26 hectares (64 acres) with four lines of defensive banks still intact on its periphery.  We followed one of these banks as it snaked its way around the eastern upper slopes and then followed a small path toward the high point of the hill.  

Mark and John heading toward the high point of Pen y Cloddiau
Until recent years the summit of this hill was crowned by the remains of an ancient bronze age cairn, it is now crowned by the same ancient cairn but this has been positioned on a modern construct of grassed earth, made to resemble a rounded tumulus with a circle of small rocks placed on its periphery.  This gives an unusual appearance to the summit and one on first viewing that I thought unnecessary.  The earthen construct has also elevated the high point of the hill, albeit not by much, but its height has been increased.  The Trimble was placed on grass immediately at the base of the stone cairn and gathered five minutes of data.

The re-fashioned tumulus atop Pen y Cloddiau
Gathering data at the summit of Pen y Cloddiau
We left the modern summit construct on Pen y Cloddiau behind us and headed down its northerly slopes on a good path toward the connecting bwlch with Moel y Parc.  A line of deep grey showers were pushing southward down across the Wirral and the Cheshire gap to our east, with the western sky now brightening we were just on the edge of the shower band but thankfully we remained dry.

The next point to survey was on a track and the placement for the Trimble was not hard to judge, as it gathered its data Mark stood on guard at the top of the track, ready to stop any approaching vehicle, thankfully none passed during the time that the Trimble was logging data.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Moel y Parc
The ascent of Moel y Parc from the track to its summit is on a good path next to a barbed wire fence.  On our way up the hill shadows appeared heralding glimpses of the sun through the winter milky sky.

Ascending Moel y Parc with Pen y Cloddiau in the background
The summit of Moel y Parc has a trig pillar on it which is positioned in a closely cropped grassy field, to its north-west and the other side of the fence is a neatly stacked cairn which vies for the highest point of the hill.  In January of this year John Barnard surveyed the summit of this hill with a level and extendable tape with the conclusion being that the ground beside the trig is 1.45m higher than that beside the cairn.  These two points were surveyed with the Trimble.

As Mark headed north to look over the end of the main Clwyd ridge, John and I assessed the ground at the immediate base of the cairn and chose a spot for the Trimble, which soon achieved its 0.1m accuracy before data can be logged, and once five minutes of data were collected we headed over the fence toward the trig.

Gathering data beside the cairn on Moel y Parc
The ground on the trig’s south-west proved to be the highest and as the Trimble gathered its customary five minutes of data Mark re-joined us for a few summit photos.  By now the brightening weather had brought out a number of people, all seemingly converging on the cairn to the north-west of the trig.  Once back over the fence and onto the path we stopped and chatted with a small group as they headed down the hill toward their awaiting cars which were parked on the track at the bwlch.

Gathering data beside the trig on Moel y Parc
We followed them down and then continued on a chewed up muddy track around the western slopes of Penycloddiau.  This track lost height as it headed toward the minor road that crosses the range and where Mark’s car waited for us at its highest point.

Heading back toward the awaiting car
As we reached the road and walked up towards the car we had time to assess the position of this bwlch when approaching it from the west.  Our conclusion was that the path where the Trimble had been placed earlier in the morning was where the critical bwlch lay.  Once back at the car we visited the Loggerheads pub and afterwards headed back to Mark’s house for tea, mince pies and hill chat.

Survey Result:

Pen y Cloddiau

Summit Height:  440.6m (converted to OSGM15, Trimble GeoXH 6000)  440.2m (converted to OSGM15, Leica GS15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 12714 67888

Bwlch Height:  282.8m (converted to OSGM15, Trimble GeoXH 6000)  282.9m (converted to OSGM15, Leica GS15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SJ 13951 66745

Drop:  157.8m (Trimble GeoXH 6000)  157.3m (Leica GS15)

Dominance:  35.74% (Lesser Dominant status confirmed)  

Moel y Parc

Summit Height:  397.8m (converted to OSGM15) (300m Twmpau and 390m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 11934 69999

Bwlch Height:  306.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SJ 12108 68992

Drop:  90.9m (Subhump status confirmed) 

Dominance:  22.86%

For further details please consult the Trimble survey spreadsheet click {here}

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