Saturday, 13 February 2016

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Malvern Hills

28.01.16  Herefordshire Beacon (SO 759 400)

Herefordshire Beacon (SO 759 400)

Herefordshire Beacon forms the high point of the southerly part of the Malvern Hills.  Surrounding its summit are the remains of an extensive Iron Age hill fort known as the British Camp.  The ridge that forms the Malvern Hills is extremely popular with easy access from two roads that bisect it and relatively large conurbations also within easy reach of the hills.

Artist's impression of the Iron Age hill fort known as the British Camp

As the wet conditions to the start of 2016 were forecast to generally continue, we kept an eye on a gap in the westerly fronts that were rolling in from the Atlantic, and Thursday morning was forecast to give good, chilly conditions with the prospect of rain later in the afternoon.

Driving south-west from Worcester the sky shone blue and the air gave a slight chill to the morning’s beauty.  We parked at the top of the A449 where the large British Camp pay and display car park is situated.  As Lou remained in the warmth of the car I ventured out to explore the T-junction where the B4232 heads north toward West Malvern, it is this junction of roads that forms the col of Herefordshire Beacon.

As I assessed the lay of tarmac the customary cars whizzed past and I wondered what I would do if I judged the critical point to be in the middle of the road, thankfully the road headed down on the hill to hill traverse to the adjacent pavement at the entrance to the Malvern Hills Hotel, and this seemed to be where the valley to valley traverse also met on its upward journey.

I placed the Trimble on top of my rucksack, measured the offset from the position of its internal antenna to the pavement below and then the height between pavement and road, and patiently waited for five minutes of data to be gathered.  Once data were stored and the equipment packed away I re-joined Lou and away we went in the welcoming sunshine.

Gathering data at the critical col of Herefordshire Beacon

A tarmacked path leads up from the car park past a large Victorian era stone plaque giving the history of the hill and its height; 1,115ft (340m) compared to its current map height of 338m (1,109ft).

The Victorian era stone plaque

Leaving the main path we headed up on to another path and the grassed lower slopes of the hill, by doing so the views opened and away to our north the higher Malvern Hills with Worcestershire Beacon dominant extended to the immediate foreground, with the land to our east opening onto flat plains, and away to our west the grey silhouette of the Black Mountains were easily identifiable.

The grassed path on the hill’s north-eastern slopes led through a number of remaining earthworks that formed a part of the ancient hill fort.  Below us scampered dogs, running and playing with the energy of only a dog on the hill can, coloured jackets of walkers started to appear, some below with their dogs and others ascending the hill from the south.

The view north toward Worcestershire Beacon

Lou wrapped up for a chilly January day on the hill

As we reached the top I placed the Trimble down on the high point and activated it to gather data, as I did so, Lou marched around the base of the summit area to keep her limbs warm.  Two people stood on the periphery of the summit and I explained what I was doing and asked if they would be good enough to remain a safe distance away from the Trimble whilst it did its stuff.

Gathering data at the summit of Herefordshire Beacon with Millennium Hill in the background

Gathering data at the summit of Herefordshire Beacon with Worcestershire Beacon and Pinnacle Hill in the background

During data gathering I wandered down to meet Lou as she completed her first lap of the summit base, she was wrapped up well against the chill breeze with hands in pockets and scarf pulled up over the lower part of her face, all that was visible were her eyes which were running due to the coldness of the conditions.

Lou wrapped up with the Black Mountains as a hazy grey shape way off in the distance to the west

Once the Trimble was packed away we continued southward over the summit of Millennium Hill and dropped down toward a path that contours around the eastern slopes of Herefordshire Beacon.  Down to our right were the rounded waters of the British Camp Reservoir looking invitingly blue and tranquil.

The British Camp Reservoir

As we made our way northward on the contouring path more dog walkers said their hello’s as tiny figures appeared on the summit overhead.  It had been a pleasant hour or so on the hill, and we rounded our visit off with a relaxing hot chocolate and pot of tea in the Malvern Hills Hotel before throwing ourselves in to the fray with shoppers in Birmingham. 

Hot drinks after a walk - yummy!!!

Survey Result:

Herefordshire Beacon
Summit Height:  339.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 75994 40029

Col Height:  236.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SO 76320 40420

Drop:  102.5m (Hump status confirmed)

Dominance:  30.23%

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

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