Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Fforest Glud

09.07.15  Little Hill (SO 171 537), Gwaun Ceste (SO 158 555) and Little Hill (SO 142 537)  

Little Hill (SO 171 537)

Between the A 44 at Llanfiangel Nant Melan (SO 180 581) in the north and the B 4594 at Painscastle (SO 167 462) in the south is a hinterland of tranquillity that takes in a spine of 500m hills, with the lands of Gwaun Ceste rolling onward to those of Glascwm Hill and Red Hill.  Interspersed amongst these are a number of 400m peaks that dot the landscape like watchful outliers, many are rather forgotten places with their summits seldom trodden. 

It was one of these 500m peaks; Gwaun Ceste and two outlying 400m peaks; both named Little Hill that we had our sights on for today.  I was out with Nicola who quite fancied an afternoon in the hills away from the rigours of life, where one can find stresses and strains disappearing into a happy emotional state of contentment.

We parked in the hamlet of Glascwm where two cars can be left adjacent to a telephone kiosk.  The day was set fine with a radiant blue sky overhead that beat warmth down upon the land.  As boots were donned a friendly dog wagged its tail our way for playful patting.

Meeting the friendly dog at Glascwm

Walking up the steep lane heading east conversation only stopped when the gradient suddenly increased with height being gained relatively quickly.  At the top of the road we turned left and joined a vehicle track and followed it up toward a fence corner, here we rested.

From the fence corner we followed a sheep track toward the summit of our first of two hills named Little Hill, we soon abandoned the sheep track and wandered over the upper part of the hill which predominated in the rich emeralds of bilberry, with an occasional clump of heather and grass interspersed, all was easy going.

By now Nic had been introduced to the Trimble and she confidently strode out to find the high point, when reached we found that this hill has two distinct possibilities for its summit, each only a small rise above its surroundings and about 100 metres apart.  We walked over the westerly high point and set the Trimble up on the easterly high point first.

Heading for the easterly high point of Little Hill

As the Trimble gathered its customary five minutes of data we chatted as the remnants of early summer bird song lingered on the breeze.  As the end of the five minute data collection neared we approached the Trimble and I showed Nic where to press the key to stop the equipment.  Once noted she posed for a photo and off we went to gather data on the westerly high point and then down toward the connecting bwlch.

The Trimble set-up position on the easterly high point of Little Hill with the westerly high point in the background

On our way to the bwlch Nic accustomed herself to the theory of drop and the words of bwlch, saddle and col.  Once at the area of the bwlch she happily wandered off to find where the Trimble should be placed, once found she pointed to the spot and then set up our picnic place near to where the Trimble would be gathering data.

As we sat on a blanket happily laughing away with yummy sandwiches, cheese, biscuits and bargies I smiled as I hadn’t done something like this for quite some time.  The female of the species does seem to have an uncanny knack of creating refinement and comfort, this was something that was gratefully accepted on my part and enjoyed. 

Gathering data at the bwlch of Little Hill

After picnic and Trimble time we packed away our little camp and headed up toward the summit of Gwaun Ceste, during the walk Nic checked her phone a few times as her daughter was staying with her Mum in Welshpool and she had times and weekend activities to arrange, which included the possibility of going to a music festival in Llanfyllin.  As another bleep signalled an incoming message she quickly replied and told me what she had written, I couldn’t help but laugh and insisted upon taking a photo. 

An excellent precedent

The ground up Gwaun Ceste steepened and we followed another vehicle track amongst the summer growth of fern that soon butted against heather, this in time took us toward the summit.

The view south on the ascent of Gwaun Ceste

And the view up the hill as the path steepens

The summit of Gwaun Ceste has a trig pillar on it which stands forlorn amongst a sea of heather with its immediate land at its base consisting of a small patch of grass; it is this land that is the hill’s high point.  By now Nic was setting up the file in the Trimble prior to it being put on the ground to gather data, and as it did so we lay in the heather and looked out on the beautiful landscape of mid Wales.

Our onward route took us past Llyn-y-waun which shone with its flatbed of grass, reed and cotton grass.  This small pool is adjacent to a conifer plantation that has now been felled leaving its remnants forlornly forgotten in an untidy confusion of tree slump and stripped land.

The summer lushness of Llyn-y-waun

As we walked toward the second Little Hill the giants of south Wales lined up ahead of us with the peaks of the Black Mountains, Bannau Brycheiniog, Fforest Fawr and Mynydd Du shimmering in a slight dulled grey silhouette.  By now it was enjoyably warm and Nic posed with the Trimble for a calendar shot.

Time to get Nic's tummy trending on the Internet

The next point to survey was the critical bwlch of the second Little Hill; this was easily found and is on a path beside an ancient tumulus named Giant’s Grave on the Ordnance Survey map.  Once Nic had set up the file I placed the Trimble down on the ground to gather data and then as the last of the datum points were collected Nic pressed ‘Done’ and I took the customary photographs of its set-up position for future reference if needed.

The Trimble set-up position at the bwlch of our second Little Hill

Only one summit remained and we had the convenience of another earthen vehicle track to follow up its northern slopes, to reach the high point we left the track and stomped through heather.  As the Trimble gathered its data we lay in the heather, chatted and laughed and took some selfies.

Gathering data at the summit of our second Little Hill

Before leaving the hill we wandered over to a small undisturbed pool which nestled to the south-east of the summit.  This was another luxuriant place with its dabbled sheen set against the greens of summer growth.

The second pool we found was as enchanting as the first

A small path left the sides of the pool and soon joined another track that headed down toward our previously visited bwlch, from here a track led down past Upper Blaen-bedw and over a dried stream bed. 

On the track heading back to Glascwm

Nearing the end of another lovely walk

As the track continued we passed a herd of cows munching in the warmth, looking down on us from the steep earthen sides of the track, beyond were sheep with fattened lambs watching us as we slipped past on our way back to Glascwm and the awaiting car.

Being watched

It had been a very enjoyable day spent in the company of Nic, and she had picked up the intricacies of drop and the operating of the Trimble very easily, which was a bit scary.  We had a great journey back blasting out Pink Floyd as the illuminated greens of evening summer light cast down upon the land.

Survey Result:

Little Hill

Summit Height:  469.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 17175 53749 (summit relocation confirmed)

Bwlch Height:  422.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 16388 54416

Drop:  46.4m

Dominance:  9.90%

Gwaun Ceste

Summit Height:  542.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 15821 55547

Drop:  c 164m

Dominance:  30.26%

Little Hill

Summit Height:  490.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 14276 53724

Bwlch Height:  446.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 14029 54397

Drop:  43.7m

Dominance:  8.92%

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

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