Sunday, 28 June 2015

Mapping Mountains – Hill Reclassifications – 30m–99m Twmpau

Castell Cricieth (SH 500 377) - 30-99m Twmpau addition  

There has been an addition to the listing of Twmpau (thirty welsh metre prominences and upward) hills due in part to a recent survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000.  The hill is listed in the 30m-99m height band of Twmpau hills and is situated in the town of Cricieth.

Its P30 status was first discovered by Alex Cameron who rightly judged that with a 48m summit spot height which appears on the Ordnance Survey enlarged mapping hosted on the Geograph website, and with bwlch contouring between c 15m – c 20m, with an estimated bwlch height of c 18m, this hill should be listed as a P30 with c 30m of drop.

The hill is Castell Cricieth which as its name implies has a castle on top of it.

This hill is one of the rarities that have not appeared in previous Sub-Lists before its entrance as a fully-fledged P30.

The full details for the hill are:

Cardinal Hill:  Moel Hebog

Summit Height:  49.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Name:  Castell Cricieth

OS 1:50,000 map:  123

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 500 377

Drop:  30.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Castell Cricieth (SH 500 377) P30 status now confirmed by the Trimble GeoXH 6000

For details on the survey that confirmed this hill's status as a 30-99m Twmpau please click {here}

Myrddyn Phillips (June 2015)

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moel Hebog

15.06.15  Castell Cricieth (SH 500 377)  

Castell Cricieth (SH 500 377)

Having surveyed Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) and Moel y Gadair (SH 521 391) earlier in the day I wanted to investigate the recently elevated P30 status of Castell Cricieth.  Its P30 status was first spotted by Alex Cameron who rightly judged that with a 48m spot height appearing on the Ordnance Survey enlarged Geograph map and with bwlch contouring between c 15m – c 20m with interpolation indicating a bwlch height of c 18m, the hill that the castle sits on top of has an estimated c 30m of drop.

Having previously surveyed the heights of Castell Dinbych and Castell Caernarfon I contacted Cadw beforehand and their representative kindly permitted me to visit and survey the hill.

I parked close to the centre of Cricieth in one of the housing estates adjacent to the main street; my first objective was the bwlch which map inspection indicated to be on the town’s recreational grounds.  As I locked my car I found the area of the bwlch to have a pitch and put on it as well as a bowling green.  Thankfully the bowling green was visually lower, otherwise play for the day would have to be suspended whilst Trimbling took place.

Once on the pitch and put I assessed the lay of the land close to the 6th fairway, rather disconcertedly there was a pitcher and putter making his way around the course and by the time I kneeled on the ground and put my chin on the grass to assess the contouring of the land, my actions had come to the attention of the bowling green assistant who I suspected would also be the person in charge of the pitch and put.  I thought this would happen and I came prepared with one of my best and friendliest smiles and explanations, he was understanding to the needs of surveying and thankfully said that it was all right for me to continue ‘as long as you don’t get hit by a golf ball’, as the pitcher and putter seemed inclined to hook many of his shots this latter piece of advice was taken on board and seemed appropriate.

The fairway on each hole consisted of closely cropped grass with the ‘rough’ between being surveyable.  This was proving great fun as I had never surveyed a pitch and put course before! 

I collected data from two initial points, one on the fairway of the 6th and one in the rough between the 2nd and the 5th holes.  As the Trimble was doing its stuff I helped the pitch and putter find his wayward shot as the ball was immersed a centimetre deep in the thick rough.  I also looked up at the castle which looked rather grand perched on its hill top.

Gathering data on the 6th fairway
Gathering data in the rough between the 2nd and 5th fairways

As I packed the Trimble away I left the recreational grounds and walked through the housing estate, noting on the way that ground beside a bench next to the road looked as if it could be a teense higher, therefore if time permitted I would survey a third potential position for this hill’s critical bwlch once the castle had been surveyed.

Castell Cricieth was first constructed in the 1230’s by Llywelyn the Great and later heavily modified by the forces of Edward 1 in the late 1200’s.  It has a turbulent history with it being besieged by the Welsh in 1294 / 1295 and later re-taken by the Welsh during the years of uprising led by Owain Glyndŵr.  During the recapture of the castle it had many of its walls torn down and was set alight.  The vestiges of what survives are on show today.

Approaching the castle two proud Red Dragon’s fly above the remaining towers and the path onward leads the members of the public into the lower modern castle entrance, this is where the admittance fee is paid, I had been granted free admittance and signed their VIP book after I introduced myself to Sylvia Jones, who was expecting me.  My thanks are given to Cadw for letting me survey the castle and for giving me free admittance, this is greatly appreciated, diolch yn fawr iawn.

Approaching Castell Cricieth
As I walked up the path toward the top of the hill and the remains of the castle I looked back toward the area of the bwlch, which if not for the recreational grounds would no doubt have houses built on it, so pitch and putts can be a very helpful tool when surveying.

Thankfully the recreational grounds where the pitch and putt is situated exist, otherwise this area would no doubt have houses built on it and therefore surveying would be compromised

The castle is dramatically positioned overlooking Tremadog Bay and the sea with all but its landlocked entrance being hard to reach.  I investigated its outer southern grounds before venturing into its remains.  The highest point inside the castle was not hard to find as it was on grass under one of the walls.  I considered putting the Trimble on this point, but decided to investigate the other parts of the castle before doing so.

I exited the main entrance and walked around the eastern side which overlooks the sea, on this side of the wall were small rocky outcrops, I followed these upto their highest point, which proved to be directly on the opposite side of the exterior wall to the high point within the walls.

As the Trimble gathered data from the high point outside the walls I stood and chatted to a number of people as they passed, including a romancing couple who I apologised to as they swept each other up in their arms and I sheepishly approached trying to explain what I was about to do, thankfully they seemed interested and asked a number of questions, others were out with their dogs and guide books examining the various towers and reading about the history of the castle as they did so.

The highest rock outcrop outside the walls is diagonally opposite the high point inside the walls
Gathering data at the high point outside the walls

Once five minutes of data were gathered I headed back inside the walls and set the Trimble up on the high point inside the castle.  As it slowly ebbed down to its 0.1m accuracy level before data can be logged, I had a brief look at the exterior walls to see if they hid any natural rock outcrop in them, I could not find any so happy with my placement of the Trimble I continued to wait.

The Trimble was sitting in a bowl of walls and took a long time to reach its prescribed accuracy level, during this I chatted to Rachel who was out with her niece, they had been to Dylan’s on the seafront of the town for lunch, this is where I had a 7.15pm appointment to meet my brother and Al, Frances, Laura and Sam to celebrate Alun’s 60th birthday.  Rachel highly recommended Dylan’s and it looked inviting from outside as I passed it earlier in the day.  We chatted for quite some time, when they left I looked at the Trimble’s screen and it was still on 0.11m, I left it another couple of minutes and the 0.1m accuracy was attained, I pressed ‘Log’ and scampered off to wait for five minutes as it collected its data.

Gathering data at the high point inside the walls

Leaving the castle I thanked Sylvia and walked back down the road toward my car and the area of this hill’s bwlch.  I looked at the continuing downhill on the valley to valley traverse which went through a locked and closed off gate, I then chose my spot and placed the Trimble down on a patch of grass beside a bench and waited and waited and waited.  I was in no rush and spoke to a few people as they passed, one explained that the gate had once given access down a public footpath but had been closed off as someone had died there after having lying at the back of houses overnight, I also encountered three lost French tourists who were looking for their car, this was parked next to the sea and they were walking toward me which was heading inland, I tried my stumbling French (non-existent) and pointed them back toward the sea.

The last data set of the day at the critical bwlch of Castell Cricieth

Aha, bril, 0.1m, press ‘Log’ and quickly scamper off, five minutes later I switched the Trimble off, packed it away and sauntered back to my car to get my boots off.  A few minutes later I was parked above the town in a lay-by and changed from my walking gear into my smart let’s get a lot of nosh in my tummy gear.  I even had time to relax in the early evening sun and have a read for 45 minutes.  Next stop Dylan’s and Alun’s 60th.

Alun, Laura, Sam and Frances outside Dylan's

Survey Result:

Castell Cricieth

Summit Height:  49.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 50003 37733

Bwlch Height:  19.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 49943 38015

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

Friday, 26 June 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moel Hebog

15.06.15  Moel y Gadair (SH 521 391)  

Moel y Gadair (SH 521 391)

Having visited and surveyed Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) my next objective was Moel y Gadair which is situated next to the A 497 as it heads west from Porthmadog to Cricieth.  I parked just off the road next to a hotel and walked back up the road as I had spotted a right of way that I thought may give good access to the hill.  Before reaching the right of way I decided to try my luck at a house which had a track leading to it and which was conveniently nestled directly under the hill.  I knocked on the front door and someone appeared at a window looking as if they had only just woken up.  I explained where I planned on going and asked if it was all right for me to gain access to the hill from the back of the house.  The person replied that the land was private, this wasn’t a good start, especially so after I had reiterated my question and the same reply was forthcoming.  I persevered, but tried a different line of approach and asked if they would have any objection in me visiting the hill from the adjacent field to their house, they did not, I thanked them, quickly disappeared around the side of their house, jumped onto their garden wall and clambered over a barb wired fence into the adjacent field and proceeded to clamber up a bank and over another fence to open pasture and quickly headed for the summit of the hill.

Away to my east the eloquently shaped Moel y Gest rose above the land, a shapely small hill if ever there was one.  The high point of Moel y Gadair was not difficult to pinpoint and within a couple of minutes the Trimble was gathering data.

Moel y Gest from the summit of Moel y Gadair
Gathering data at the summit of Moel y Gadair

Once the Trimble was packed away I considered heading west and gaining a right of way back to the car and the bwlch which I now wanted to survey, but during the time the Trimble was gathering data I had walked a few metres north to inspect the lay of the land at the bwlch and found that the hill to hill traverse headed down the route of my inward walk, so I headed back down the same way I had come but avoided the garden wall and walked down the field to a conveniently placed gate which gave access onto the track and then the road.  It was then that my mind became muddled; I only found this out later when inspecting large scale maps, as when I arrived on the road I got the directions of part of the valley to valley traverse mixed up with part of the hill to hill traverse.  At the time I did not know this and happily collected data at the high point of the road thinking that this was a candidate for the bwlch.  It wasn’t, but I didn’t realise it then.

Gathering data at the high point of the road

I then walked down the road thinking that I had to find lower ground on the hill to hill traverse, which in reality was on the valley to valley traverse, because of this I found what I thought to be the low point of the road and then walked down to the side of a house, no one answered when I knocked on the door, so I quickly set the Trimble up thinking I was at or very near to the critical bwlch.  I was not, but I didn’t realise it then.

One option for the position of the critical bwlch of Moel y Gadair is where the white van is positioned
Gathering data beside the house

Happy that I had successfully captured all important data from the side of the house I decided that I should see if lower ground existed by a series of lakes that did not appear on my 1:25,000 map but had been built relatively recently as they appeared on larger scale on-line mapping that I had inspected.  I jumped in my car and drove down a rutted track and parked beside the fishery café.  I then spent a leisurely 30 minutes wandering around the lakes thinking that I was still on the hill to hill traverse when in fact I had descended on the valley to valley traverse.  Whatever my mishap I had a very pleasant time beside the lakes and found a stream on their periphery which I followed uphill until it swung around, I thought this indicated that the critical bwlch lay the other side of the steam, this deduction was correct but not in the place where I thought it should be.  It must have been the heat of the afternoon, or possibly the built up environment, or even my bad eyesight as the detail on the map was beyond my fathoming even wearing glasses!

One of the lakes at the Eisteddfa Fishery

Happy that I had found another potential place for the critical bwlch I placed the Trimble beside the water’s edge of the carp lake and waited for it to achieve its 0.1m accuracy before data can be logged.  This took quite some time as the whole area was enclosed with overhanging trees, however the Trimble did manage this accuracy and ‘Log’ was pressed.  During this wait I chatted to Trefor Owen and his grandson; Thomas Owen, who were relaxing for the day fishing.  Trefor originated from Rhyl, he could speak Welsh and spent many years living in Manchester.  He had brought his four sons up, none could speak Welsh but he seemed proudly happy that two of his grandchildren could now speak the language to an adequate level, including Thomas.

The Trimble gathering data beside the Carp Lake

Trefor and Thomas Owen enjoying their fishing

All catches were quickly put back in the water

As the Trimble gathered the last point of data and the five minutes were up, I switched it off, packed it away, chatted with Trefor and Thomas, took a few more photos of the lakes and walked back to my car in the knowledge that I had found the bwlch position of Moel y Gadair.  Of course this was delusional and I will have to go back at a later date, however I know now where the critical bwlch lies, so I’ll have no problem on my next visit in identifying its position, well I don’t think I will!?!?

Survey Result:

Moel y Gadair

Summit Height:  66.7m (c0nverted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 52165 39135

Drop:  28.5m (converted to OSGM15) (30-99m Twmpau reclassified to 30-99m Sub-Twmpau and deletion of Lesser Dominant confirmed)

Dominance:  57.21%

For the post detailing the bwlch survey of Moel y Gadair please click {here}

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

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Mapping Mountains – Hill Reclassifications – 30m–99m Twmpau

Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) - 30-99m Sub-Twmpau reclassified to 30-99m Twmpau 

There has been a new addition to the listing of Twmpau (thirty welsh metre prominences and upward) hills due to a recent survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000.  The hill is listed in the 30m-99m height band of Twmpau hills and is situated on the outskirts of Morfa Bychan overlooking Black Rock Sands to its east and Castell Cricieth to its west.

The first time Carreg yr Eryr ever appeared in a hill list was in 2003 when the original Welsh P30 hills under 500m in height were published on Geoff Crowder’s website.  It was then listed in the Sub-List which was named ‘Hills to Survey’.  The reason for this was that Carreg yr Eryr was not given a summit and bwlch spot height that gave it a minimum of 30m of drop on the then current Ordnance Survey map, because of this it was listed as a Sub.  When this list was first published on Geoff’s website it did not include a drop value for each hill, although the qualification for the main list and the Sub-List was based on drop.  These drop values were added at a later date.

When these drop values were added to the list I also decided to include hills in the Main P30 Twmpau list through interpolation of map contours, although some of these details were passed onto Geoff, the great majority were not.  When drop figures were added to the list I gave Carreg yr Eryr c 30m of drop and promoted it into the ranks of P30 hills.  This drop value was estimated from its 53m summit spot height and an estimated bwlch height of c 23m based on the 1:25,000 map bwlch contouring between c 20m – c 30m.  Since this hill was promoted into the P30 ranks the Ordnance Survey enlarged map on the Geograph website has been made available, and this map has contour intervals of 5m and gives the bwlch contouring between c 20m and c 25m, with an estimated bwlch height of c 23m, so the hill remained listed as a P30.  Even though the hill had been promoted in my list the details were never made public, so it was now time to have it Trimbled and to confirm its status via the Mapping Mountains blog.

The full details for the hill are:

Cardinal Hill:  Moel Hebog

Summit Height:  53.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Name:  Carreg yr Eryr

OS 1:50,000 map:  124

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 526 378

Drop:  30.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) P30 status now confirmed by the Trimble GeoXH 6000

For details on the survey that confirmed this hill's 30m-99m Twmpau status please click {here}

Myrddyn Phillips (June 2015)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moel Hebog

15.06.15  Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) and Graig Ddu (SH 522 376)   

Carreg yr Eryr (SH 526 378) on left and Graig Ddu (SH 522 376) on right

With the weather set fine and the prospect of a meal at Dylan’s in Cricieth at 7.15pm to celebrate the coming of age of Alun who turned a frighteningly 60 today, I planned a few little walks around small hills that I had not visited before, all around the Cricieth area, and all marginal P30s.

The first hill of the hill was Carreg yr Eryr which overlooks Black Rock Sands on the outskirts of Morfa Bychan.  I parked in a pull in spot on the way to where this hill’s critical bwlch is situated.

As I got my boots on the warmth of the day had not yet broken through the morning cloud but conditions for a few hours surveying on small hills was ideal.  I walked up the road to where the hill’s critical bwlch lay, this is on a corner of a narrow lane and where a track continues to a few houses.  I had inspected this bwlch in a Google Car the previous evening and wondered how safe it would be to position the Trimble on, or next to the road.

Thankfully I judged the position of the bwlch to be just off the road and on part of the track, however this was directly under a high hedge and adjacent to a number of wheely bins that were awaiting their morning collection.

After waiting a number of minutes for the accuracy of the Trimble to attain its 0.1m level before data can be logged, I wondered about using one of the wheely bins as an improvised tripod, I had also had to guard the Trimble from three cars that passed, one up the lane, one down the lane and one aiming straight for the Trimble approaching from the houses down the track.  The driver of the latter was very obliging and drove a safe distance from the Trimble when I pointed toward it and indicated for him to take a wide berth around it, he duly obliged.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Carreg yr Eryr

It took an age for the Trimble to reach the 0.1m accuracy, but when it did I pressed ‘Log’ and picked it up after five minutes of data collection, packed it away and started walking up another lane which gives access toward the top of Carreg yr Eryr.  A few seconds later and the bin lorry pulled up directly on the spot where the Trimble had been placed, the wheely bins were be collected and the Trimble had got its five minutes of data with no more than 30 seconds between it being picked up and ending up in the back of, or under a large bin lorry.

The lane led to the bwlch between Carreg yr Eryr and Graig Ddu, the former has a 53m spot height on Ordnance Survey maps and the latter an uppermost c 50m contour ring, so I wanted to survey both.  Graig Ddu also has another small c 50m contour ring on its summit area, but this was visually dismissed as being lower than its main summit when I arrived at its top.

Moel y Gest dominating the grassed summit of Carreg yr Eryr

I set the Trimble up on the high point of Graig Ddu and stood back as it gathered data and admired the view with Castell Cricieth away to west, this would be my last surveying objective of the day and I hoped the castell would remain a P30 as it has only recently been discovered by Alex Cameron.

Castell Cricieth would be my last hill and survey of the day

It was lovely to be on the edge of land overlooking the sweep of sea, there always seems to be a special beauty to seascapes, one that is hard to define, but their ending of land and flatness of sea is sometimes other worldly and pleasantly appetising.

Gathering data from the summit of Graig Ddu

Once the summit data were gathered I backtracked down to the lane and accessed the summit of Carreg yr Eryr through a gate and a field.  The high point proved to be at the top of a rock outcrop and soon the Trimble was collecting data from its top.

The great sweep of Black Rock Sands

As the Trimble gathered its data the warmth of the morning’s sun broke through the cloud and warmed up proceedings.  I was soon back on the lane heading down toward the bwlch admiring a newly cropped flock of sheep on the way.

Gathering data from the summit of Carreg yr Eryr

Newly cropped and out in the sun

Both summits proved enjoyable little ventures with that of Carreg yr Eryr seemingly higher when viewed visually, but Graig Ddu is certainly the more appealing as it sits wind-blown and open to the westerly sea elements.  Next stop Moel y Gadair and an encounter with a Carp lake.

Survey Result:

Carreg yr Eryr

Summit Height:  53.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 52627 37813

Bwlch Height:  22.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 52976 37896

Drop:  30.9m (30-99m Sub-Twmpau reclassified to 30-99m Twmpau)

Dominance:  58.06%

Graig Ddu

Summit Height:  52.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 52259 37621

Drop:  c 19m

Dominance:  35.94%

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

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Andy Nisbet - Interview

Andy Nisbet is renowned in the world of Scottish winter climbing having set an incredible 1,000 new routes in the winter months.  Away from his beloved Scotland he has been on various expeditions to the greater ranges including on Everest, with recent years being spent climbing in Norway and India.  He has been a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) since 1977 and has taken the position of President in 2012.  To gain insight into Andy's climbing career and his role in the SMC I took the opportunity to interview him.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Mynydd Epynt

10.06.15  Cefn Bola-maen (SN 965 348), Garreg Fawr (SN 945 373), Pt. 412.8m (SN 925 349), Pt. 412.8m (SN 931 340), Coedcae Colfrân (SN 936 330), Twyn Disgwylfa (SN 951 318) and Pt. 394m (SN 958 315)    

Twyn Disgwylfa (SN 951 318)
Mynydd Epynt is a large area of uplands in southern mid Wales whose hills in its northern and western lands are out of bounds for much of the year.  These lands were acquired by the War Office in late June 1940 and subsequently used as a military firing range and named the Sennybridge Training Area.

In all the War Office acquired approximately 12,000 hectares of land and 219 people from 54 homes were uprooted.  These homes were mainly farms and the community they formed has forever gone, with many having lived on the Epynt for generations.  Some found new farms, whilst others lived out there lives heartbroken from their loss.  This sparse community was Welsh speaking and their upheaval resulted in the de-facto Welsh language border being shifted ten miles to the west.

Access through these hills has to be planned, in the past I have been fortunate and have been taken by a local farmer in his Landrover on the northern escarpment tracks late in the evening when the military had ended their day’s work.  I’ve also picked off some of the hills on this ranges eastern periphery, but the bulk of the hills within the Epynt remain unvisited by me. 

In 2004 the Epynt Way was created by the Ministry of Defence as a 75km (49 mile) long distance footpath, this footpath is circular and has been established around the perimeter of the firing range.  This long distance footpath partly compensates those who wish to visit this area as the old rights of way have been closed due to the nature of the military’s use of the land.

Today I wanted to investigate part of the southern land of the Epynt and visit four Pedwarau and two Subs and survey as many summits and bylchau as possible, in fact only one critical bwlch associated with these hills was not on my planned route and this lay northward in the firing range and was definitely out of bounds for the day.

I parked in a small lay-by just beyond Ffosygerwn which is used by a farmer to swing his vehicles into his farmyard having spoken to him beforehand.  As I got my boots on and sorted my gear out the early morning wind whipped a chill into proceedings, and I put on my one skin  summer walking jacket as my arms had got decidedly cold when I had previously spoken to the farmer.

My first hill of the day was Cefn Bola-maen and to get to it I walked on quiet narrow lanes as they meandered upward, a farmer passed on a quad bike with fresh warm milk contained in a feeding vessel for a newly arrived calf, we only spoke for a minute or so as he needed to get to the calf before the milk cooled.

I left the lane at a corner and tried to find the continuing footpath having incorrectly investigated the back of someone’s house named Troed-y-rhiw on the map which is situated below the farm of Bolamaen.  Behind me the prominent profile of the Beacons rose out of the south-Walian landscape, these hills and their distinctive shape would remain with me for the rest of the day.

The distinctive profile of Bannau Brycheiniog - the Brecon Beacons that would remain with me for most of the day
Once on open hillside the views across the intervening valley of the Nant Brân opened up with my last Pedwar of the day; Twyn Disgwylfa, a tantalising far off distance away.

The slightly raised summit of Twyn Disgwylfa in centre of photo
I headed up and crested the eastern ridge of Cefn Bola-maen and swung left toward Maen Richard.  This ancient standing stone is 1.52m high and 0.81m by 0.45m at its base.  It overlooks these southern lands and stands adrift of the hill’s summit whose whitewashed trig pillar stares back at it.  These two pillars, one ancient and the other modern signify our intrinsic need for the upland landscape.  One may have been a marker stone or a significant element of a complex ideological system, and the other a bygone element in man’s need to catalogue and lay claim to a system of height understanding.

Old and modern; the ancient standing stone of Maen Richard with the more recent construction of the trig pillar on the summit of Cefn Bola-maen in the background
As I paid my respects to the older, I then walked to the newer and did the same by supplanting its flush bracket height with a data set from a Differential GPS produced by the Trimble GeoXH 6000.

Gathering data from the summit of Cefn Bola-maen
The critical bwlch for Cefn Bola-maen is situated to its north and its position has two possibilities, each separated by an intervening 386m spot heighted lump.  Both positions were Trimbled and I continued on a good green track heading north-westward as Sky Larks and their constant mesmerising song serenaded the hills.

Looking across to the summits of Coedcae Colfrân on the left and one of the Sub-Pedwar peaks on the right
By now the first explosions of the day had started, these and copious amounts of firing continued intermittently for a number of hours afterward.  My next hill was Garreg Fawr and I wanted to survey its southern 428m spot heighted top as well as its 429m more westerly spot heighted summit.  On the way I passed the dappled waters of Llyn Dŵr with its cotton grass swaying in the breeze, it seemed a peaceful spot to rest, but I only did so for a minute, just long enough to compose three or four photos.

The blue tinged waters of Llyn Dŵr
A quiet landscape of cotton grass and water
After taking a data set from the position of the 428m spot height I pressed on through a large bog that was thankfully relatively dry, beyond was the summit of Garreg Fawr, I thought this an unusual name for such a hill unless of course a large rock existed somewhere on its summit area.  As I approached the high point of its moorland summit I noticed what looked like a small shelter of rock off in the distance, by the time I had set the Trimbe up to gather its customary five minutes of data I knew that this rock was that of Garreg Fawr and I thought its high point also needed Trimbling.

As the Trimble gathered its all-important data from the moorland summit a small herd of grazing horses approached from the east, they happily submerged themselves in the long grass.  I then went to have a look at the rock that the hill takes its name from, Garreg Fawr is indeed large.  The rock is split in two and I wondered if it is a recumbent that once stood proudly on this hill.  Whatever its history I Trimbled it and took a number of photos when doing so.

On the edge of military land with grazing horses adding peace and tranquility to the thud of distant explosions
Gathering data from the summit of Garreg Fawr
Gathering data from the top of the Garreg Fawr
I left this hill and headed westward and found the descending track that would take me down to the head of the valley at Blaendyryn.  On the way I stopped to take my jacket off as the sun had now heated up the land and the wind was now making me overheat.  The track was ochre in colour and the heat of the day gave a reminiscent feeling of walking in Greece or Spain where the sun is incessant and adds impetus to slow movement.

My route down to the valley with the ridge to the left of the distinctive copse of fir trees being my next objective
My onward route did not seem to have any right of access so I approached the farm of Maesybeddau with a little caution.  I was now next to the land border between the farms of the southern Epynt and the military firing range and a red flag flew flapping in the wind, with a large red sign proclaiming ‘DANGER KEEP OUT WHEN RED FLAG IS DISPLAYED’.

No entry when the red flag is flying
Definitely a place to avoid on red flag flying days
Thankfully the two farmers standing in the shade against the side of the farm house of Maesybeddau did not seem to mind my presence, I tried conversing with them about place-names but they seemed more interested in going indoors for their dinner, this left me standing outside and with access to the continuing track that had no right of access up it.  I quietly headed up the track and thankfully chose the right route where it diverted toward the higher farm of Rhiw.

By now the early afternoon was proving warm and I slowly made my way up the track and quietly continued past Rhiw and followed the track to its end in a field.  This then gave access through a gate back onto the higher Epynt ridge.  Away to my north another red flag flew, but my route now continued south over two Sub-Pedwar hills.

These two Subs are listed under the point (Pt.) notation in Y Pedwarau as no names seem to exist for these hills; one has 28m of drop and the other 26m of drop according to Ordnance Survey map details.  Each bwlch and summit was Trimbled, with the high point of the 413m spot heighted top being at a grassed ancient cairn, between each is the continuation of the track that leads onto the military land. 

Gathering data from the summit of one of the 400m Sub-Pedwar hills with the copse of fir trees seen from the ochr coloured track on the right of the photo
This track proved a welcome convenience and eventually led down to the bwlch of Coedcae Colfrân which is a fully fledged Pedwar with 31m of listed drop.  By now the sun was taking its toll and I walked straight over the bwlch and headed for a higher bwlch which I thought was the one that needed to be surveyed.  I soon realised my mistake and backtracked to where the critical bwlch for Coedcae Colfrân lay.  This is beside a paved road that heads over the southern Epynt from Llanfihangel Nant Brân to Pentre’r-felin and Pontsenni (Sennybridge).

As I placed the Trimble down on the track next to the narrow road I waited in the sunshine and watched the occasional car and tractor as they crested the top of the road.  Once bwlch data were gathered I followed a sheep track back up toward the next summit, the sheep track soon found a wider green track that led through a small copse of conifers to emerge onto open hillside, a gate then led onto the high pasture where the trig point at the summit of Coedcae Colfrân stands.

I placed the Trimble approximately 4 metres from the base of the trig pillar on what looked to be the high point of the hill, as all surrounding rocks at the base of the trig moved when I examined them.  I was nearing the end of my walk but still had the bwlch and summit of Twyn Disgwylfa to survey, this hill is a Hump as well as a Pedwar so it had a wee bit of ascent from its connecting bwlch, and once the Trimble was packed away it was this bwlch that I now headed down to.

Gathering data from the summit of Coedcae Colfrân
The north-western profile of Twyn Disgwylfa is invitingly appetising with a gently gradiented flank smooth with newly sprung fern and small trees edging their will up the hill.  However, this hides its bwlch which consists of a bog laden with standing water.

I contentedly approached this bwlch and pinpointed where I thought the Trimble needed to be placed from the vantage point of height.  Once at this point I had to balance between large wobbly tussocks of reed grass as the whole area is water laden.  Before placing the Trimble I photographed some of these tussocks as the afternoon light highlighted their greens.

Greens of summer
Seemingly untouched and sprouting out of a landscape of tussock and water
As the Trimble gathered its data I stood legs stretched between one wobbly tussock and another with a flatbed of water waiting for any slip.  I was very happy when five minutes of data were collected and delicately plodded from one tussock to another and retrieved the Trimble.

Gathering data in the bog which constitutes the bwlch of Twyn Disgwylfa
I considered my options through the bog and decided on the direct approach over an intervening fence and a stride over more standing water, from here I found a green path leading up hill and followed it until it disappeared near the top of the hill’s summit ridge.  I had obviously taken the wrong path option lower on the hill as by the time I reached the summit ridge I re-joined the green path, I rested whilst the Trimble gathered taken on a rock which was obviously much lower than the high point of the hill, I just needed to rest so why not gather data when doing so?

I slowly plodded along this ridge past the first potential high point which is immersed in gorse, to the next two potential high points; the latter two are attractive and are situated near two pools which have cairns built on them, with the stones seemingly floating on the water.

One of the two attractive pools on the summit area of Twyn Disgwylfa
Both of these potential high points are thankfully situated on grass, away from the influx of gorse which is widespread on the upper part of this hill.  Both positions were Trimbled and as I waited for the allotted five minutes of data to be collected I looked out to the higher hills away to my south and west as the sun sank ever deeper in the western sky.

Gathering data from the summit of Twyn Disgwylfa
I thought that these would be my last surveys of the day but as I examined the map for my descent route I noticed that the next bump on the ridge was a potential double Sub-Pedwar, so I thought why not survey it.  This I duly did and happily sat on a grassed bank waiting for the Trimble to gather bwlch data and stood in the breeze and sunshine at the summit as it gathered its last data set of the day.

Looking back toward Twyn Disgwylfa
The 18th and last data set of the day
As I headed down the green track from this last survey the Beacons stood out to the south, their profile one of eloquent shape, with their hills set against a foreground of greenery and yellowed gorse. 

Evening light on Bannau Brycheiniog
When the track bisected I took the left hand option and followed it down through part of Coed y Rhiw-las back to my car, with the ever present sun casting through the trees a pleasing colour of contentment.

My route back to the car

Survey Result:

Cefn Bola-maen

Summit Height:  421.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 96510 34812

Bwlch Height:  375.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 96472 35794

Drop:  46.6m

Dominance:  11.05%

Garreg Fawr

Summit Height:  428.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 94536 37354

Drop:  c 36m

Dominance:  8.40%

Pt. 412.8m

Summit Height:  412.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 92523 34928

Bwlch Height:  385.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 92413 35584

Drop:  27.3m (400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  6.60%

Pt. 412.8m

Summit Height:  412.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 93184 34035

Bwlch Height:  385.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 92888 34684

Drop:  27.7m (400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  6.71%

Coedcae Colfrân (significant name change)

Summit Height:  408.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 93612 33065

Bwlch Height:  377.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 92959 33473

Drop:  31.0m (Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  7.60%

Twyn Disgwylfa

Summit Height:  416.7 (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 95132 31863

Bwlch Height:  316.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 93672 32560

Drop:  100.8m (Hump status confirmed)

Dominance:  24.18%

Pt. 393.7m

Summit Height:  393.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 95885 31534

Bwlch Height:  373.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 95425 31655

Drop:  19.9m (non 390m Double Sub-Pedwar and non 300m Sub-Twmpau 

status confirmed)

Dominance:  5.06%

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