Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Bryniau Dyfi

13.05.15  Fedw Lwyd (SH 804 093), Mynydd Coch (SO 804 099) and Mynydd Tri Arglwydd (SH 812 093) 

Fedw Lwyd (SH 804 093)
As we sorted the last of our gear out and laced up our boots the predicted blue skies and warmth had not pervaded this part of Wales just yet.  Before setting off I wondered about putting on my thin one skin summer walking jacket as there was still an early morning chill in the air.  However, Graham wasn’t in doubt and was decked out in Paramo jacket and gaiters, the latter would certainly come in handy for our planned last summit of the day, as we were heading up toward hills above the small community of Aberllefenni and our last planned hill was Moel Heulen, which according to all maps and first-hand accounts of its ascent; is embedded in a thick conifer plantation.

We parked on a large slated area at SH 776 100 and walked down to join a delightful path that led to a footbridge which crossed the Afon Dulas, this river passes through Aberllefenni as it spills over rocks, forming inviting summer pools before continuing down to its joining with the Afon Dyfi and the merging with the sea.

Crossing the Afon Dulas
Our ascent led through a beautiful deciduous wood on a good narrow path that gained height above the infant river as the grey sky tried turning to white and blue.  As we broke out of the wood onto fields and soon to be hillsides the view to our west opened out and gave us the first view of Cadair Idris.  It would only be from higher on these hills that the view of its elongated ridge taking in Mynydd Moel and Gau Graig would be on show, but its presence dominated the western horizon as it grew above the forested tops leading away from our current position.

Through the wood
Emerging out of the wood and Cadair Idris started to dominate the view to the west
Beyond the wood we joined a green track that merged to become one of rock and gravel, as this gained height it passed the remains of Esgair-neiriau, which is now a forgotten farm house, which in its time was quite substantial.  Its southern façade is still intact, although dilapidated, but from the north its roof is missing and its innards are open to the elements.  It sits tranquilly next to a pool that doesn’t appear on older maps, rather forlornly it stands, a testament to times gone by when this place was lived in and no doubt gave a family a home and shelter from these hills.

Mynydd Coch above Cwm Celli
Inside its main room still stands its robust fire place with its timbered ceiling now fallen and open.  I gazed at its outer shell for a number of minutes, partly to regain my breath from our ascent through the wood, but also to look and try and take in its surroundings whilst wondering who it was that lived here and how did they lead their lives.

The old farm house of Esgair-neiriau
As we gained height above the old farm house of Esgair-neiriau the green grazing fields slowly turned to heath and moor and the views across Cwm Celli on our left were to the high point of our day; Mynydd Coch, which stood with its trig pillar above the surrounding conifers as they marched regimentally up its hillsides.

The view of Cadair Idris from the approach to Fedw Lwyd
Our first hill to survey is listed as a Sub-Pedwar, its name if Fedw Lwyd.  It was once listed as a Tump and given c 31m of drop but was deleted from this list when the Ordnance Survey enlarged Geograph map was found to have a 399m spot height at the bwlch, giving the hill only 25m of drop.

When we reached its summit Graham set about Abneying between two points to find the highest, once completed, the Trimble was placed on the ground and gathered its customary five minutes of data.

Gathering data at the summit of Fedw Lwyd
As the Trimble gathered data I looked toward Mynydd Tri Arglwydd, which was to be our third hill of the day, between us and it was the upper reaches of Cwm Coeg and a drop of about 150m on easy gradiented land.  Penetrating this upper cwm was a track, one of many that we saw on these hills which give the farmer on quad bike and hill walker access to their grazing flock and the hills respectively.

Mynydd Tri Arglwydd from Fedw Lwyd
Mynydd Coch from Fedw Lwyd
Once summit data were collected we arrived at the critical bwlch for Fedw Lwyd which is beside the track that made its way up toward the summit of Mynydd Coch.  Another five minutes of data were collected from the position of the bwlch before we headed steeply uphill toward the trig pillar.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Fedw Lwyd
By now the blanket of high grey cloud had started to break up and whites and blues were emerging as we walked up toward the trig pillar, and as I set the Trimble up the sun came out and bathed us in its warmth.

Approaching the summit of Mynydd Coch
Gathering data at the summit of Mynydd Coch
The elevated summit area of Mynydd Coch with a ditch and part of the natural embankment on the right of photo
Mynydd Coch has an unusual summit area as it resembles an ancient hill fort with two distinct embankments and ditches and a large central elevated area which has the modern day trig at its top.  However, the embankments are made of natural rock and I cannot find any evidence that this is in fact an ancient structure.  Whatever the outcome, be it ancient hill fort or not, the summit area is beautifully shaped and the view is excellent with the Pumlumon range, Cadair Idris, the Aran and many other hills on grand display.

Fedw Lwyd from Mynydd Coch
We followed a path from the summit of Mynydd Coch down to very steep ground which gave access onto the area of the bwlch for our next hill; Mynydd Tri Arglwydd.  According to maps this bwlch has two possibilities for its position with the one nearest the summit of Mynydd Coch being the more likely for its critical bwlch.  As we walked down toward it this is what we also visually thought, deciding to leave the bwlch survey until after its summit survey we continued to its high point.

Approaching the summit of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd
The summit of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd consists of heather with a rogue spruce tree edging its way toward it with its lower trunk being about four metres from the highest point.  The Trimble was set up on its improvised tripod and obtained the 0.1m accuracy before data can be logged relatively quickly considering it had a tree trying to interfere with its satellite coverage.

Gathering data at the summit of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd
Mynydd Coch from Mynydd Tri Arglwydd
Once summit data were gathered we retraced our steps down to the connecting bwlch and gathered data from its two positions, with the one, now farthest from the summit of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd, being our favoured one for the critical bwlch position.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd
This part of the walk gave excellent views toward the eastern side of Fedw Lwyd and the south-western upper sides of Mynydd Coch, with the gently sloped western aspect of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd cascading down into Cwm Coeg, with the reclaimed green pasture edging upward to meet the moorland above.

Mynydd Tri Arglwydd from its critical bwlch
The survey of the critical bwlch of Mynydd Tri Arglwydd was likely to be the last of the day, so the Trimble was packed away and we joined a good path that cut across the slope of Mynydd Coch to rejoin with its connecting bwlch to Fedw Lwyd, we bi-passed the latter on a sheep track and rejoined our inward route and descended toward the entrance into part of the sprawling Dyfi Forest.

Mynydd Coch from our descent toward the entrance into the Dyfi Forest
As we stood beside the gate at this entrance to the forest we calculated the time it would take to walk to and hopefully bash our way through the trees to the summit of Mynydd Heulen (SH 776 081) and walk back.  We decided that unless the tree bashing proved easier than we envisaged that this part of the walk was likely to be no more than a scouting expedition for a later ascent.

I’d done a bit of ground work the previous evening and come well prepared with a number of ten figure grid references for where forest tracks joined the one we were now on, where forest tracks then diverged from the one we were now on, and more importantly the ones that Anton Ciritis had documented when he visited the summit of Moel Heulen.

As we walked further into the forest on a good, broad forest track the hill rose up in front of us, it was completely swamped in conifers and seemed impenetrable.  We had a choice, either to attempt to tackle the hill from its north or its south, Anton came up from its south having driven to its base on a forest track.  Running parallel with the forest track is a cycle track, one of many in these hills for off-roaders.  This cycle track would lead to the point where Anton entered the conifer plantation to bash his way up toward a forest break and eventually the summit.

On the forest track with the conifered summit of Moel Heulen ahead of us
We found the cycle track and walked on it back the way we had just come to explore if there was any path entering the conifers toward the summit, there was none.  We then walked on the cycle track parallel with the continuation of our route on the forest track.  We’d been in warm sunshine ever since leaving the last bwlch survey and it was pleasant to now be on a narrow path amongst dappled light as butterflies flew past us and bird song rang out, a gentleness that was all too soon to disappear as we neared the point where Anton had entered the trees.

It seemed that this point was also where a large number of particularly uninviting gorse bushes had staked their claim; we tried farther back on the cycle track and decided that there was a slight glimmer of an entrance somewhere there, where the thick conifer plantation was only semi-thick!!

Slowly we edged our way upward, I don’t think Graham or I had any expectation that we would reach the summit of Moel Heulen today as time dictated that unless we stumbled upon the fire break that leads to this hill’s summit, we would have to come back another day for the joy of this hill’s ascent.

However, slow progress was being made as we ducked into and through the dead lower branches of  a multitude of fir trees, we soon found a greener section which consisted of dead gorse, we followed this up for a few minutes before delving left through more dead branches.  Sunlight tantalisingly penetrated some of the trees and upward progress could definitely be made, although at a cost, as by now we were covered in tree stuff and Graham rather laughingly described my head as looking like a ‘bird’s nest’.

Graham at our high point in the trees
Deciding that our scouting mission had given us inkling toward what the ascent was like and where we would have to enter the forest for further upward progress to be made, we decided that it was time to head back out of the trees and down to the inward forest track.  Before doing so Graham took a ten figure grid reference so we could at least see on the map where we had reached.

Screen grab from the Ordnance Survey enlarged Geograph map with the blue circle indicating where we entered the trees and the green circle indicating our high point
Once back on the track we spent ten minutes getting twigs out of our gear and clothes before heading back to the gate at the forest entrance, which gave access onto the track and open hillsides of greenery and views.

On our way down we stopped next to the old farm house for me to take a few more photos, framing Mynydd Coch against the waters of the pond.  The route back through the deciduous wood was as delightful as the ascent had been.

Mynydd Coch from beside the pool next to Esgair-neiriau
As we walked the last few metres through the wood the houses of Aberllefenni came into view through the newly sprung greenery of fresh leaves, and we were all too soon back at the foot bridge over the Afon Dulas and heading up the short ascent to the awaiting car.

Heading toward the descent through the wood
Last view of Cadair Idris before entering the wood
Crossing the Afon Dulas
It had been another excellent day on the hill, investigating a part of Wales that I had not been to before, with the added bonus of a tree bash and the delicious prospect of having to re-visit the conifered slopes of Moel Heulen to claim an ascent of its summit.

The track of our walk

Survey Result:

Fedw Lwyd

Summit Height:  424.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 80491 09399

Bwlch Height:  399.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 80535 09521

Drop:  25.4m (400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  5.98%

Summit Height:  468.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 80458 09952

Drop:  156m

Dominance:  33.31% (Lesser Dominant deletion confirmed)

Mynydd Tri Arglwydd

Summit Height:  442.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 81228 09376

Bwlch Height:  398.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 80826 09777

Drop:  43.3m

Dominance:  9.80%

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

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