Friday, 30 May 2014

The History of Welsh Hill Lists

The History of Welsh Hill Lists – Part 3

The Early Years

1925 Carr and Lister

Up until 1925 no attempt had been made to write a comprehensive account about a specific British mountain district.  ‘The Mountains of Snowdonia’ remedied this, and weighed in with an all-consuming 400 plus pages.  Scattered throughout with foldout maps and black and white photographs, it was published by John Lane The Bodley Head Limited of London.  The book comprises four parts and appendices.  Part one deal with the historical aspects of Snowdonia; part two the scientific; part three has two chapters on literature; whilst part four concerns itself with sport.  Almost hidden away on page 385 within appendix two is a table to ‘The mountain peaks of Snowdonia – 2000 feet in height and over’. 

The table is split into five groups of which Snowdon is the first, comprising seven peaks; the Glyder group follows with eleven peaks; fifteen peaks make up the Carnedd group; seven the Moel Siabod group; and lastly the Moel Hebog group with nine peaks.  In all forty nine mountains are listed, twenty two of which had never appeared in a comprehensive hill list before, and remarkably all twenty two would, in time, qualify for Nuttall status (refer to 1989 publication).  Even more remarkably, nineteen out of the twenty two would, in time, qualify for Hewitt status (refer to 1992 and 1997 publications).  Welsh luminaries making their first list appearance include Yr Aran, Pen yr Oleu-Wen (Corbett’s listing was for two points on a lower ridge), Creigiau Gleision, Moelwyn Bach, Allt Fawr, Cnicht, Craig Cwm-Silin, Trum y Ddysgl and Mynydd Mawr.  Each mountain in each group is listed in order of altitude, followed by the peak’s name, English signification, height in feet, order in altitude and finally map reference.

The authors of this weighty tome were Herbert R.C. Carr and George A. Lister.  Carr and Lister state that in attempting to compile the list, they met at the outset with the difficulty of defining a mountain peak.  The basis of their chosen criterion was that a peak should only be included, if it rose by more than 100 feet above the lower ground connecting it with any greater height.  They go on to say: “Though we have been forced to admit one or two exceptions”.  Thus, although trying to apply a strict re-ascent rule Carr and Lister became somewhat arbitrary, take Mynydd Perfedd in the Glyder group; - this mountain is included even though the authors knew it had only 55 feet of re-ascent from its connecting col with Carnedd y Filiast.  The authors omit Bera Mawr, Bera Bach, Gyrn Wigau and Drosgl, all within the Carnedd group, as they are merely points on continuously rising ground. 

The outer spine of The Mountains of Snowdonia
As a whole, this book was a huge undertaking, and over three quarters of a century after its publication it can still be used as a source for detailed information.  The one page within the book that concerns this article breaks new ground in attempting to use a re-ascent criterion of 100 feet and lowering the minimum height criterion to one of 2000 feet, which to the present day is generally accepted as the lowest elevation of a mountain in Wales.  It would be another fifteen years before a comprehensive list to the whole of Wales was published using this height criterion.  Before we meet the instigator of this list we first have to acquaint ourselves with J.A.Parker.

Next installment due on the 30th July 2014

For the Preface please click {here}

For Part 1 please click {here}

For Part 2 please click {here}

Monday, 26 May 2014

Hill Lists – Cymru / Wales – 200m Twmpau updates – Mynydd Hiraethog

The first list to the Welsh 200m P30 hills was published on Geoff Crowder’s website in 2000; this list preceded the list of TuMPs by nine years, the list proved a very useful resource for the TuMP compilation for this category of hill.

The Welsh 200m P30 list documents all hills in Wales that are at or above 200m in height and are below 300m in height, to qualify for the main list each hill requires a minimum of 30m of prominence.

The hills listed below are updates to the Welsh 200m P30 list originally published on Geoff Crowder's website.  To see the original list click {here}

The original published list had a Sub-List which was entitled ‘Hills to Survey’.  This list consisted of all hills in Wales in the stipulated height band that have a minimum of 20m of prominence, but do not meet the minimum 30m of prominence to enter the main list, according to Ordnance Survey map spot heights and contours.  Nowadays the standard Sub-List takes in all hills that have a minimum of 20m of prominence.  However, the Hills to Survey Sub-List discounted hills whose map spot heights gave a drop value of less than 30m, but more than 20m.  By doing so, the only hills that were Sub-Listed were those that map values dictated stood a chance of entering the main list, for example; if a hill had a summit spot height of 250m and a bwlch spot height of 221m, it was not listed in the Hills to Survey Sub-List as with 29m of drop I thought it did not stand a chance of main list qualification. 

When compiling the Sub-List I was measuring many hills for P30 status using a basic levelling technique, please click {here} for more information concerning this.  I now know that Ordnance Survey spot heights have a standard margin of uncertainty of + / - 3m associated with their accuracy.  Therefore many hills that were not listed in the original Sub-List may have sufficient drop to enter the main list.  Because of this the Sub-List has been altered to include all hills that have a minimum of 20m of drop but are not known to attain the minimum 30m of drop to enter the main list.

The hills listed below are those major amendments to the original Welsh 200m P30 list as it appears on Geoff’s website.  There are many hills that have been promoted from the Hills to Survey Sub-List to the main list, whilst there are many additions to the Sub-List now that it has been standardised to include all 20m minimum but below 30m drop hills.

When the 200m P30 list was first published it was the first to this category of hills and in some way it and its other 100m height band lists paved the way for Clem’s data that later appeared on the RHB file database and then for the TuMPs listing by Mark Jackson.
As well as the first P30 list to this height band the list is now the first to include a comprehensive Sub-List.

TuMP baggers beware; as the main list also includes P30’s not listed by Mark Jackson, so if you want to visit all P30’s you’ll have to include some non TuMPs to do so.

The list will be updated on a weekly basis and will be done so through each Group category, starting from the north and working south.  The seventh Group is Mynydd Hiraethog.

Mynydd Hiraethog 

South from Bae Penrhyn (Penrhyn Bay) at SH 829 815 to bwlch at SH 821 785 and continuing to the Afon Conwy at SH 802 766, and then east of the Afon Conwy to SH 856 511, and then north of the Afon Merddwr to bwlch at SH 928 499 and continuing north of the Afon Nug to SH 953 475, the Afon Ceirw to SJ 022 442 and the Afon Alwen to SJ 060425, continuing a short distance west of the Afon Dyfrdwy (River Dee) to SJ 066 429 and then south and west of the Afon Camddwr to the Fish Pond at Y Rug (SJ 056 438), continuing west of the Afon Camddwr to bwlch at SJ 069 477 and the Afon Clwyd at SJ 071 500 to the sea at SJ 997 808.  Bordering with the sea and Gogarth to the north, the Carneddau to the west, Arennig to the south and Bryniau Clwyd to the east.  

Twmpau - 200m updates

Ffridd y Mynydd    258m    SH 825 758

A promotion from the sub-list and summit relocation as this hill was originally listed as c 250m at SH 826 753 (SH 825 753).  There are eleven separate contour rings at c 250m in the vicinity of the high point of this hill, but only one has an uppermost c 255m ring contour on the Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping on the Geograph website.  The same ring contour has an old imperial height of 847ft (258.2m) on the Ordnance Survey Historical 1:25,000 map.  The bwlch contouring is between c 220m – c 225m and the critical bwlch is estimated as c 223m, giving this hill c 35m of drop. 

Gallt y Celyn    258m    SH 811 542

Since drop values were added to the list this hill has been listed with c 30m of prominence.  It appeared under an invented name of Bryn Graeanllyn but has now been amended to Gallt y Celyn which comes from the Tithe map.  It has a twin summit at SH 810 544, it is hoped that a Trimble survey can soon separate these summits.  The survey took place and de-twinned the two summits and a later bwlch survey confirmed this hill as a P30.

Dinas Mawr    254m    SH 808 539

This hill is adjacent to the twin summits at SH 811 542 and SH 810 544 and will soon be surveyed with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 to confirm (or otherwise) its inclusion in the Welsh 200m P30 list.  Until then it is promoted from the sub-list as bwlch contouring on current maps is between c 220m – c 230m and suggests a height of c 224m, giving this hill a drop of c 30m.  The Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping on the Geograph website has a 221m spot height on the area of the bwlch at SH 809 539 but as it is not centred on the hill to hill traverse it has not been used for drop evaluation.

Pt. 253m    253m    SH 940 639

Another promotion from the sub-list as the Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping on the Geograph website has a 253m spot height on the area of the summit and as bwlch contouring is between c 220m – c 225m and estimated as c 223m, it gives this hill c 30m of drop.  The hill was listed as Bryn Gwern-llifion which was an invented name; it has now converted to the Pt. notation.    


Pt. 211m    211m    SJ 060 618

This hill used to be listed in the sub-list with c 29m of drop under the name of Bryn Llewesog.  The summit contouring has been re-evaluated giving this hill c 30m of drop.  The Pt. notation has now been used for its name as the previously listed name was an invented one.  The name of Pen-y-cae appears on current Ordnance Survey maps and has been used in other P30 listings, but map study implies this name relates to the buildings at SJ 065 622 and not to the hill itself.  The name of Coed y Plas appears on the Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping on the Geograph website for the wood on this hill’s southern flank, this may be the locally known name of the hill, but as the wood does not reach the summit, the name has not been used until further investigation can take place.

Sub-Twmpau - 200m updates

Mynydd y Gyrt    298m    SH 967 693

The area of the bwlch has a 274m spot height at SH 969 690 on the large scale Ordnance Survey mapping on the Geograph website, this gives the hill 24m of drop.

Pt. c 216m    c 216m    SJ 009 646

The critical bwlch may well be situated in someone’s living room in the small community of Groes Fawr!  The summit is estimated as c 216m from an uppermost c 215m ring contour on the Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping on the Geograph website.  The bwlch contouring is between c 190m – c 195m and is estimated as c 192m, giving this hill c 24m of drop.

Coed y Fron    274m    SJ 051 446

The valley to valley contours are placed so close to one another the bwlch height is estimated to be c 251m, with the bwlch contouring between c 250m – c 260m.  With a spot height on the area of the summit of 274m it gives this hill c 23m of drop.  The name of Coed y Fron has been used as larger scale maps indicate that the wood just takes in the summit.

Pt. 265m    265m    SH 999 646

The summit height for this hill comes from the old imperial height of 868ft (264.6m) on the Ordnance Survey Historical 1:25,000 and the New Popular One-Inch maps.  The 868ft height also appears on a number of 1:10,560 maps.  The area of the bwlch has a 243m spot height at SH 996 647 on the large scale Ordnance Survey mapping on the Geograph website, giving this hill 22m of drop.

Pt. 213m    213m    SH 817 637

The bwlch contouring is between c 190m – c 195m with the critical bwlch estimated to be c 192m, giving this hill c 21m of drop.

Pt. 227m    227m    SJ 019 447

The area of the bwlch has a 207m spot height at SJ 020 448 on the large scale Ordnance Survey mapping on the Geograph website, this gives the hill 20m of drop.

Pt. 203m    203m    SH 821 740

The bwlch contouring has 5m intervals on the Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping on the Geograph website.  The contours are between c 180m – c 185m, with the critical bwlch estimated as c 183m, giving this hill c 20m of drop.

Next update due on the 2nd June 2014

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Mapping Mountains - Hill Reclassifications – 100m Twmpau

Bryn y Beili (SJ 235 643) - 100m Twmpau addition

There has been a new addition to the Welsh 100m P30 list due to a recent survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000.  The hill is situated in the centre of Yr Wyddgrug (Mold) in north-east Wales.  The name of the hill is Bryn y Beili (Bailey Hill in English), and it is almost hidden from view when approaching from the High Street as it rises behind the former Pendref Chapel and is surrounded by a high wall, trees and shrubs.  

Bryn y Beili has the remains of a Norman castle on its summit which may have been built on a much earlier burial mound.  This hill lends its name to the current usage of Yr Wyddgrug and Mold as the name of the town; yr, gŵyddcrug (high hill, the prominent mound) in Cymraeg, and mont, hault in Norman French.  

The hill was proposed by Mark Trengove as a potential new P30 and involved an exciting survey as the Trimble GeoXH 6000 was run over by a car whilst surveying in the area of the bwlch.  Our second survey attained a good data set from the tree covered summit and was backed up with a basic levelling survey from the position of a spot height just below the summit.

The full details for the hill are:

Cardinal Hill:  Moel y Gamelin

Summit Height:  143.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Name:  Bryn y Beili

OS 1:50,000 map:  117

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 235 643

Drop:  31.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bryn y Beili (SJ 235 643), the new 100m Twmpau
For details on the survey that promoted this hill to 100m Twmpau status please click {here}

Myrddyn Phillips (May 2014)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Pumlumon

18.05.14  Pen y Darren (SN 764 942), Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen (SN 767 931), Foel Fras (SN 765 925), Foel Uchaf (SN 768 925) and Mynydd Lluest y Rhos (SN 765 920).

Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen (SN 767 931) and Pen y Darren (SN 764 942)
Pumlumon is often celebrated as the source of the Afon Hafren (River Severn), Afon Gwy (River Wye) and the Rheidol and the highest point in mid Wales.  Its ancient name has connotations relating to its five highest peaks, but the beauty of this massif is to the north of these hills, in the escarpment edges, the heather bound hills to the north of the Afon Hengwn, the forgotten valleys and the solitude of the hills to the north of Nant y Moch Reservoir.  It was some of these latter hills we wanted to investigate today.

The hills to the north of Nant y Moch Reservoir form a chain starting with the isolation of Drosgol (SN 759 878) and Banc Llechwedd-mawr (SN 775 898), before the relative ease of Bryn Moel (SN 772 911), Mynydd Lluest y Rhos (SN 765 920), Foel Uchaf (SN 768 925), Foel Fras (SN 765 925), Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen (SN 767 931) and Pen y Darren (SN 764 942).  Three of these hills are of particular note as they all have the same 529m map spot height given to their summits.  It was these hills that Mark had suggested we prioritise for today’s survey.  I say prioritise as the origin plan forwarded to Mark was to approach from the south and survey seventeen points, Mark thought this too ambitious and suggested concentrating on the priority hills and approaching from the north.  He also suggested that if time and inclination permitted we may visit the summit of Pen Criegiau’r Llan (SN 745 939) towards the end of the walk.

We parked near to the buildings named Cwmyrhaiadr at SN 756 963, where sufficient space can be found for two or three cars.  This is toward the end of Cwm Rhaiadr, a quiet and beautiful valley south-east of Glaspwll (SN 738 975) and south of the town of Machynlleth.

The day’s forecast was good with sunshine and a light breeze, with the possibility of high cloud pushing in from the west toward late afternoon.  There are at least three options for the ascent route toward Pen y Darren from where we parked, we opted for the one signposted ‘Private’.  This led us up the hill on a good forest track beside the Nant Cwm-cemrhiw before height was gained with a series of zig zags.  I couldn’t help myself as every few minutes I stopped and tried to do the luxuriant flora justice with another photograph.

The ascent through the forest

The track soon brought us out above the near conifer plantation, an incomer amongst the lush canopied deciduous tree growth of the small stream valleys below.  We contoured around the western flank of Pen y Darren on the track before branching up over its upper hillside of bilberry to its three summit domes, these are similar to tumuli in shape and appearance but closer inspection shows natural rock formations jutting out from their sides.  We Trimbled the two highest mounds and lay in the sun relaxing next to tiny alpine plants as a male Emperor Moth darted beside us, a blur of colour, an unexpected and rather impressive visitor to such a place.  Once ten minutes of data was collected from each mound we headed south toward the first bwlch of the day.  This consisted of a large bog, once we decided where we thought the critical bwlch was positioned we set the Trimble and Mark’s hand-held GPS to gather data and retired to the drier confines close to the continuation of the track.

Gathering data on the first summit mound on Pen y Darren

Gathering data on the second summit mound on Pen y Darren
This track would serve us well during the day as although these hills are generally grassy, the bylchau are boggy, and the track made for ease of passage between the points that we wanted to survey.  Our next point was the summit of Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen, another top consisting of grass and bilberry.

The Trimble GeoXH 6000 collecting data on the summit of Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen with (L-R) Foel Uchaf, Mynydd Lluest y Rhos and Foel Fras in background
The southern ridge of this hill led us down to the next bwlch, the map indicates there are two possibilities for the position of the critical bwlch, map contouring suggests the first of these can be discounted and so it proved when we arrived at this spot, as the second option was easily seen to be lower.  Again this consisted of a bog, relatively dry due to the sunshine and fine weather of the last week or so, but no doubt a squelchy affair during wet spells.

Foel Uchaf (SN 768 925) from the bwlch between Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen and Foel Fras
From this bwlch we made our way to the summit of the second of the 529m map height hills; Foel Fras, a central pivot on this ridge, an enlarged bulk and mound of grass, the summit is sponge like and quite flexible when bounced up and down on.  We sat on grass in a convenient peat channel and waited for the customary ten minutes of Trimble data to be gathered, ate a butty and chatted.

Mynydd Lluest y Rhos (SN 765 920) from the summit of Foel Fras
We then headed eastward down the hill toward what proved to be a problematical bwlch, not in the choice of placement for the Trimble, but in the time it took for the equipment to achieve the required 0.1m accuracy before being activated to log data.  The warnings were there from the start as it showed 0.80m when first logged on to a number of satellites and it then spent over 30 minutes creeping down to the magical 0.1m.  This was probably due to the tussock terrain of the bwlch but probably more so with the close proximity of steepness of hill side.  This critical bwlch is just west of the continuation of the track and not east of the track as shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:50, 000 and 1:25,000 maps.  During our prolonged wait we were joined by Adam Lewis who was three or four days in to a 350km off road cycle journey heading south from Conwy to Port Talbot, as we chatted we were joined by Maldwyn Lewis and his canine companions; Mot and Pero, Maldwyn was on a quad bike and was checking a number of gates to make sure that they were closed.  As Maldwyn waved us goodbye as he sped off on his quad bike with Mot and Pero somehow balanced on the back, Adam zoomed off north on the track heading for Nant yr Arian and a quiet spot to pitch his tent.

Adam Lewis on his way from Conwy to Port Talbot

Maldwyn Lewis with Pero and Mot

We spent around 45 minutes waiting for the Trimble to attain its 0.1m accuracy and to gather data

Our next survey was the summit of Foel Uchaf which is positioned directly above the previously surveyed bwlch.  Once data had been collected we headed south toward the next bwlch which proved remarkably easy to find considering the land hereabouts.  Another ten minutes of data was collected whilst we sat in the late afternoon sun.  By now we’d been out over six hours and the prospect of including Pen Creigiau’r Llan at the end of the walk was quickly dismissed.

(L-R) Mynydd Lluest y Rhos (SN 765 920) and Foel Grafiau (SN 759 920) from the summit of Foel Uchaf

Mark heading towards the last bwlch to survey between Foel Uchaf and Mynydd Lluest y Rhos 

Pen Creigiau'r Llan (SN 745 939) would have to wait for another day
Our last summit to survey was Mynydd Lluest y Rhos, a hill to the east of the Sub-Pedwar named Foel Grafiau.  Another convenient grassy seat above layered peat gave us time to relax as the Trimble gathered the all precious summit data.  Mark lay on the summit ridge and looked northward toward the other two 529m map height hills of Pen y Darren and Foel Fras, the two distinct summit mounds of the former could be seen over the slightly lower western summit ridge of the latter.  We both thought that the most aesthetically pleasing hill out of these three 529m map height hills was the one we were on as it has a fine profile when viewed from the direction we walked these hills, but the indication was that Pen y Darren may just be the higher of the three.  Our belly down on the summit ridge and looking out to the other hills approach to surveying was not scientific, but when I tried it I thought the grass smelled rather nice.

Once data had been stored the Trimble was packed away and as Mark quite justifiably observed; we could now go for a hill walk.  After all, surveying many points is not conducive to what most people regard as a hill walk, I do find it fun and it’s great to see the figures appear on the screen during post processing, but surveying does somewhat break the momentum of a walk.

By now the predicted high cloud had milked the sky with the sunshine turning a lazy summered haziness, we descended west over Foel Grafiau and dropped down to a track to the north-west of this hill’s summit.  We followed this as it gained a little height toward the edge of the conifer plantation at the head of Llyn Penrhaeadr.  Just before the conifer plantation we walked out in to a morass of flat bog, relatively dry and becalmed.  Once to the north of the lake we picked up a track and green path that took us to the top of Pistyll y Llyn.

Pistyll y Llyn is one of the tallest waterfalls in Wales and takes the waters of the Afon Llyfnant on a cascading journey from their sedentary passage north of Llyn Penrhaeadr to a downward drop of approximately 160 metres.

Once on the opposing bank of the steam we found the start of the path that descends in to the cwm.  As we started our downward passage we stood and tried to stare over and in to oblivion, problem was that the ground fell away so steeply that we couldn’t see the waterfall from our airy perch, the sound of water was heard and the view was dramatic but the waterfall was completely out of sight until low down in the valley.

Looking down the Afon Llyfnant valley
The path we were now on proved quite dramatic in its upper section as it clings on to the edge of a vertical drop, lower down we lost the main path and walked through copses of fire trees as the sun sank lower in the sky, casting sublime colours on the land.

Evening light followed us down toward the secluded valley at the base of Pistyll y Llyn
Slowly we lost height toward the valley bottom where yellowed reed grass stretched out in a continuous silken bed, green fields with white specks of bleating lambs overlooked by trees heavy with May blossom and the ever present bird song gave an unending quality to the scene, with Pistyll y Llyn as backdrop.

Pistyll y Llyn almost hidden amongst the crags

May Blossom

Pistyll y Llyn at the head of the Afon Llyfnant valley
The last few minutes back to the car were spent walking past the buildings of Cwmyrhaiadr with their golden mature trees and narrow country lanes, a wonderful walk.

Journeys end

Survey Result:

Pen y Darren

Summit Height:  529.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 76431 94297

Drop:  105m (non-prioritised Twin Hump reclassified to Hump)

Dominance:  19.83%

Creigiau Bwlch Hyddgen

Summit Height:  506.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 76740 93201

Bwlch Height:  482.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 76715 92865

Drop:  23.6m

Dominance:  4.66%

Foel Fras

Summit Height:  528.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 76544 92604

Bwlch Height:  461.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 76454 93672

Drop:  67.6m (prioritised Twin Hump deletion confirmed)

Dominance:  12.78%

Foel Uchaf

Summit Height:  522.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 76844 92519

Bwlch Height:  499.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 76808 92229

Drop:  22.9m

Dominance:  4.39%

Mynydd Lluest y Rhos (significant name change)

Summit Height:  528.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 76543 92029

Bwlch Height:  498.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 76752 92522

Drop:  30.0m (non-prioritised Twin Hump deletion confirmed, continued Dewey status is speculative)

Dominance:  5.68%

As the 30m (30.009m) drop value has an accuracy of + / - 0.1m the result is within the margin of uncertainty of the technology used.  Therefore, it is hoped that a line survey can be conducted to determine the absolute drop for this hill.

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