Friday, 23 October 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Arennig


02.10.15  Y Gesail (SH 926 437), Cerrig y Gordref (SH 929 428), Garnedd Fawr (SH 937 423), Pen y Bwlch Gwyn (SH 932 411) Moel Emoel (SH 937 402) and Garw Fynydd (SH 944 400)  

Garnedd Fawr (SH 937 423)

The grouping of hills around Foel Goch (SH 953 422) is compact, they are positioned to the north of Y Bala and to the south of the small community of Llangwm.  At this time of year, when autumn’s beauty arrives their grassed moorland landscape takes on a windswept quality enhanced by golden colour.  This group of hills give a number of possibilities for circular walks, but today as I met Aled in a lay-by in Frongoch we had the opportunity to do a two car ridge walk over some of their wilder lands.

We left my car at SH 933 382 where there is sufficient space to park and not restrict the entrance to a farm track, Aled then drove north and we parked opposite an old Chapel at SH 938 447.  The forecast for the day was good as the warm and blue sky conditions of the last week was predicted to continue in to the weekend.

We followed a track and footpaths up toward the summit of Y Gesail which is listed as a Pedwar with 33m of drop; its high point is just beyond where reclaimed land of bright green pasture gives out to the succulent beige and goldenness of moor grass.

Aled heading toward the summit of Y Gesail

As the Trimble gathered data on top of my rucksack the deep blue of the sky seemed overwhelming in its intensity of colour as it enveloped the land.  Once five minutes of data were collected we headed down toward this hill’s critical bwlch.  We hoped to visit and survey six hills during the day, with an option to cut the walk short before our last planned hill.  The summits and bylchau of these hills required eleven surveys on route, with an unknown quantity of extra surveys if we came across second summits or complicated bylchau, and as the sun would sink and dusk follow just after 7.00pm we could not linger if all of these surveys were to take place.

Gathering data at the summit of Y Gesail

The bwlch connecting Y Gesail to the 400m Sub-Pedwar of Cerrig y Gordref proved a soggy affair of a bog, it also proved difficult to pinpoint where the critical bwlch lay by just using one’s eyes.  Aled helped this placement as he abandoned me to the squelchiness of the bog and gained height on the opposite side of the bwlch where elevation would help to pinpoint where the high point on the valley to valley traverse lay.  Once we had decided where this was I quickly set the Trimble up and away it beeped happy enough sitting on top of my rucksack.

Gathering data at the first of a number of bog laden bylchau

The summit of the next hill; Cerrig y Gordref, proved interesting, as it has a western 495m spot height and an eastern 497m spot height on current Ordnance Survey maps, with the former appearing on the enlarged mapping on the Geograph website.  As soon as we arrived on the summit Aled said that something was wrong as the western summit was by far higher, I was just happy enough to have arrived on top without too much mishap to my ailing and wheezing lungs, we checked the map and realised that two surveys would need to be taken, one at the westerly higher point and one where the current highest spot height of 497m appears on the ground.

Gathering data at the summit of Cerrig y Gordref

As I gathered data on the lower summit, Aled went off to investigate the next bwlch, as I joined him we discussed where its critical point was positioned, there were two distinct options and we assessed these from a number of vantage points and different directions before deciding where the Trimble should be placed. 

Moel Emoel (SH 937 402) with its distinctive shapely profile

Above us lay the slopes leading up to the summit of Garnedd Fawr, our high point of the day.  These proved a quiet contented plod of an uphill and soon I had joined Aled on the summit, where just a metre or so north of a three way meeting of fences is the high point of the hill.  As the Trimble gathered its allotted five minutes of data I sat with Aled, scribbling away in my note book beside the ancient summit cairn as the sun shone down and the whole world seemed at ease with itself.

Gathering data at the summit of Garnedd Fawr

To our south lay the steep profile of Moel Emoel, between us and it was a desert of bog, and it was this bog where the next survey took place.  As Aled led the way down to the connecting bwlch to Pen y Bwlch Gwyn I wondered how wet my feet were going to get as I stood in this quagmire of seldom visited delight.  On our way down Aled laughed away as he had no intention of accompanying me to this wetland of bog, and as he made his way up toward the next hill’s summit I started flapping around from one wet tussock to the next.  Eventually I chose a spot, set the Trimble up, pressed ‘Log’ and headed off to stand in water whilst it did its stuff.

The great desert of bog


On the way down to the bog


Gathering data in the bog at the bwlch of Pen y Bwlch Gwyn

The walk to the summit of Pen y Bwlch Gwyn proved amazingly warm, no breath of breeze could be found and as I succumbed to the heat I looked at my arms and they were glistening in the sunlight with moistured sweat.  At last I slowly joined Aled at the summit and for a while all I could do was double over and try and reclaim my breath and composure.

Gathering data at the summit of Pen y Bwlch Gwyn


The high Aran above Llyn Tegid and Llyn Maen Bras

Beyond the summit of Pen y Bwlch Gwyn was another unsavoury looking bog of a bwlch and again, as the Trimble gathered its data, and as I tried to find semi-firm ground to stand on, Aled slowly gained height toward the summit of Moel Emoel.  Once the Trimble was packed away I slowly walked through the bog to gain the narrow path that heads up the steep, northern flank of this hill, I stopped a couple of times to regain my breath, once at a ladder stile and once to take a photo looking back toward the hills we had visited. 

Moel Emoel rising above another delightful and unsavoury bog

The high point of Moel Emoel proved to be situated a few metres away from its flat summit cairn, as the Trimble gathered data I sat and enjoyed the last lingering heat of the afternoon.  We decided to press on to the summit of our last hill of the day; Garw Fynydd, and leave its connecting bwlch with Moel Emoel as the last survey for the day.  As we headed down toward this bwlch the day’s light was now cast low as the sun started to accentuate already magical colour.  We passed over the connecting bwlch which looked fairly easy to pinpoint and I slowly followed Aled around the perimeter fence that encloses the summit conifer plantation that has unfortunately been plopped on the top of Garw Fynydd.

Gathering data at the summit of Moel Emoel


Garw Fynydd (SH 944 400)

Thankfully this part of the walk was in shade and once over the fence the mature conifers were relatively easy to bash through and the way to the hill’s summit also relatively easy to follow.  The high point of this hill is under one of many conifers about five metres from a small clearing where steep rock and its mossed covered ground necessitates that no planting of trees could take place.

I Trimbled the summit and closed the equipment off after approximately two minutes of data collection as it screamed in agony when it decided that the confined space was not to its liking.  After I took a few summit photos we retraced our steps through the conifers and came out on a land where the bright afternoon light had now dimmed with the sun low on the horizon.  Only one survey remained and this was quickly conducted before we followed a path down beside the expansive bog on the western side of Garw Fynydd.

Aled at the summit of Garw Fynydd


The last survey of the day at the critical bwlch of Garw Fynydd

On our way down the last magical light of day highlighted trees next to the track we were on, this light was almost aflame and glowed back at us as we continued downward.  We then overshot our track back to the car and had to retrace our steps in the dusk of evening.  


Last rays of sunlight as we head down the hill
Survey Result:


Y Gesail

Summit Height:  485.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 92654 43720

Bwlch Height:  452.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 92726 43109

Drop:  32.7m (Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  6.75%



Cerrig y Gordref

Summit Height:  494.6m (converted to OSGM15) (significant height revision)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 92971 42820 (summit relocation confirmed)

Bwlch Height:  468.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 93203 42714

Drop:  26.0m (400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  5.27%



Garnedd Fawr

Summit Height:  568.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 93786 42307

Drop:  47m

Dominance:  8.26%



Pen y Bwlch Gwyn

Summit Height:  501.5m (converted to OSGM15) (Dewey, Uchaf and 500m 

Twmpau status confirmed)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 93291 41184

Bwlch Height:  467.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 93658 41717

Drop:  34.0m (Dewey and 500m Twmpau status confirmed)

Dominance:  6.78%



Moel Emoel

Summit Height:  548.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 93795 40257

Bwlch Height:  460.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 93663 40826

Drop:  87.7m

Dominance:  16.00%



Garw Fynydd

Summit Height:  492.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 94452 40052

Bwlch Height:  445.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 94199 40265

Drop:  46.5m

Dominance:  9.45%



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




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