Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Pen Llŷn

08.02.15  Ynys Gwylan Fawr (SH 184 245)   

Ynys Gwylan Fawr (SH 184 245)
Ynys Gwylan (gull island in English) is nestled in the waters to the south-east of Aberdaron toward the end of Pen Llŷn.  There are two islands in close proximity with the Ordnance Survey map indicating that the larger is named Fawr and the smaller named Bach.  Each is given a summit spot height with the larger island also being the higher with a map height of 33m, whilst the smaller island is given a height of 18m.

These islands are seldom visited except for an occasional visit by members of the Bardsey Bird Sanctuary or a passing fisherman.  No known hill bagger had ever visited and thanks are due to Adrian Rayner for organising our little island trip so we could rectify this.

We met at Porth Meudwy (SH 163 255) having parked above the bay in a designated parking area at SH 159 258.  Leaving the car park a track heads down through a padlocked gate toward the pebbled beach and slipway at Porth Meudwy.

Porth Meudwy is a busy lobster fishing cove and as we walked past the one stone building in the small bay we passed a number of lobster pots, all lined up and stacked one on top of another.  This bay is also the main point of departure for trips to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island).

Alex and Mark heading down to Porth Meudwy
The bay is well sheltered and the day proved ideal for our trip to Ynys Gwylan Fawr, this is a trip that had been organised by Adrian Rayner and had been on hold for a number of months waiting for the ideal weather and sea conditions.  Adrian had been given the go-ahead for the trip only 24 hours prior to us meeting, so everything was put in place at the last minute.

Ynys Gwylan Fawr (L) and Ynys Gwylan Bach (R) from Porth Meudwy
As Mark, Alex and I relaxed listening to the rhythmic wash of wave upon rock we were soon joined by Colin Evans who was our boat man for the day.  As Colin and a colleague manoeuvred Benlli III into position, Adrian and Crina came walking down the track.  As this was the first time that Colin had taken anybody on the boat who wanted to visit Ynys Gwylan Fawr specifically to bag an island summit he wanted to restrict the numbers to five.

Preparing for departure, L-R:  Mark Trengove, Colin Evans, Adrian Rayner, Alex Cameron and Crina Popa
Soon we were aboard and heading out to sea with Ynys Gwylan Fawr appearing almost submarine like in shape, with an elongated profile and a steep, rounded summit cone giving a dramatic affect to its outline.

The sea cast out in a flat bed of tranquillity, there seemed not a breath of breeze, occasionally the sun would gleam from behind the grey winter cloud and lighten the water, all was framed against the outline of island and coastline.  This was only my second island trip having visited Ynys Seiriol (Puffin Island) in early September of last year; they really are great little affairs, full of unknown logistical outcomes and tinged with adventure.

Approaching Ynys Gwylan Fawr
Colin approached the island at its north-westerly point and manoeuvred the Benlli III toward the black sea battered lower rock.  He positioned the boat a few metres from the island and we peered out and looked at one of the two possible landing spots for us to slip our way overboard and onto the island.  It looked feasible albeit a bit slippy, Colin offered to take us around the island to show us the second landing possibility.  We chugged off around the southern extremity of Ynys Gwylan Fawr and pulled up on its eastern side, the second option looked easier to land, but more difficult to head up onto safer ground above, it also had a small swell, so Colin quickly decided to head back to the first option. 

Part of the western side of Ynys Gwylan Fawr

The southern part of Ynys Gwylan Fawr
Rounding the southern part of the island
This gave us a tour of the island and a chance to watch Great Cormorant, Canada Goose, Oystercatcher and the fluorescent greens and tufted bonnets of the Shag.  The latter in particular was rather beautiful, streamlined and aloof it stood tall with its crest pointed skyward, all glinting a subtleness of green.

The Shag
Once Colin had positioned the boat next to our landing spot he grabbed the rock and pulled us as close as we could get and out popped Mark onto slippy rock, followed by me, Alex, Crina and lastly Adrian.  We went up the rock on all fours making sure that each foot placement was solid as a slip would probably mean a dunking in the sea.

Getting ready to land
Onto the slippy rock
Once past a rocky rib we were on solid ground with a small steep slope leading upto a plateau of rough grass and a tremendous feeling of openness as sea surrounded us, with the sweep of the Llŷn to our north and east and the flat-bed of water in all other directions.

Alex on the plateau with Pen Llŷn in the background
Adrian led the way as we headed up the summit cone, the highest point consists of a few embedded rocks and as the customary group summit photos were taken I switched the Trimble on.

Approaching the summit
Summit photo:  (L-R) Alex, Adrian, Crina and Mark
As the Trimble was positioned on the highest point of the island the others kindly sat below the summit to the south, I soon joined them and let the equipment gather six minutes of data.  To our south the squat upthrust of rock that constitutes Ynys Gwylan Bach stood out framed against the grey outline of Ynys Enlli and the land at the end of the Llŷn.

Looking down toward Ynys Gwylan Bach with Ynys Enlli and the end of the Pen Llŷn in the distance
Gathering data at the summit of Ynys Gwylan Fawr
Once six minutes of data were collected I packed the Trimble away and we left the summit heading steeply down its cone and back to the plateau.  Colin had positioned the boat on the island’s eastern side and as we descended toward the slippy lower rocks Mark signalled him to come and get us.

The boat waiting on the eastern side of the island
Arriving back at the plateau with the rounded summit cone in the background
The route down the rock seemed easier than its ascent and much was taken slithering on one’s backside.  Colin brought the boat in rear end-on and this also proved easier to get back on board when compared to our side-on departure.

Back down the slippy rock
As he revved the motor up we skirted the larger island and headed off toward Ynys Gwylan Fach for a tour around its rocky flanks.  This gave views of its southerly side, which was almost split in two; it looked a difficult prospect to land on.

The southern side of Ynys Gwylan Bach
We were soon heading back to Porth Meudwy and as Adrian and Crina headed toward Mynydd Mawr and afternoon Tump bagging; Mark, Alex and I headed into Aberdaron for the delights of coffee, hot chocolate and a glass of water.  It had been a great few hours and thanks to Adrian Rayner for organising another very special island trip.

Heading back to Porth Meudwy with Ynys Gwylan Fawr on the left and Ynys Gwylan Bach on the right

Survey Result:

Ynys Gwylan Fawr

Summit Height:  33.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 18423 24508

Drop:  33.1m (30–99m Twmpau status confirmed)

Dominance:  100.00%

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

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