Thursday, 14 April 2016

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moel y Gamelin


05.04.16  Pandy Bank (SJ 336 538)  

Pandy Bank (SJ 336 538)

Scattered across the Welsh landscape are vestiges of its past industrial heritage, these are pre-evident more so in the south where the excavation of coal predominated, and in the north-west where slate predominated.  But the north-east of the country also produced the extracts from mining, with much of this industry situated around the town of Wrexham.

The hub and work of these industrial sites have now, in the main, disappeared, but the landscape formed from their digging out of the earth and rock have left us an intriguing surplus of rock hewn cliffs and mounds of coal spoil, the ones from the latter that still survive are now, in the main, stabilised from slippage and form an oddity of hill, many of which do not possess a single contour ring on the Ordnance Survey maps of the day, but they still do exist, and take a little investigation to reach their summit.  One such example is Bersham Bank (SJ 311 481) which I’d Trimbled in October of last year.  This hill is positioned to the south-west of Wrexham and stands beside the busy A 483 as it hurtles between Rhiwabon and Chester. 

I’d known about Bersham Bank for many years as I’d driven past it on numerous occasions, but I didn’t know anything about its history, this I only researched after getting my Trimble.  The hill I planned on visiting today I’d only found last week, through my continuing work using the excellent Ordnance Survey enlarged map on the Geograph website.  Like Bersham Bank it was unnamed on the map, but unlike Bersham Bank it did possess contour rings on the most enlarged map on the Geograph website.  These contour rings popped up as I trawled through seemingly endless hours of cataloguing thousands of Welsh hills which has still got approximately two or three years left until I complete my grand little project.  Anyway, as one scale of map was examined compared to another, I whizzed around the eastern Bryniau Clwyd range toward Welsh border country and passed through the complicated land of small lakes and no doubt old mine workings immediately to the north-east outskirts of Wrexham, this took a lot of concentration to work through and my eyes then came back to the land to the immediate north of Wrexham’s outskirts and as one scale was enlarged and compared I looked at my Laptop screen and there in front of me was a hill that didn’t exist on any other scale of mapping, and this seemingly non-existent hill possessed seven continuous 5m contour rings, giving it a minimum of 30m of drop.  I analysed the bwlch and interpolated the summit height and judged that the hill had an approximate c 35m of drop.  Wales’ newest P30 seemed to have been discovered, but a confirmation by surveying with the Trimble was needed and so late in the afternoon, having visited four hills around Mynydd Hiraethog I drove through Pandy and on to Pont y Capel Lane and parked at the end of the paved road where the earth is blackened through the past glories of mining.

The end of the road

On my way down the lane I’d had a fleeting glimpse of the top of Pandy Bank (a local name confirmed whilst descending the hill) as it stretched skyward above the thin intervening layer of trees.  It rose steeply sided and its summit was thankfully free of trees which may have made Trimbling it difficult.

Fleeting glimpse of the summit of Pandy Bank from Pont y Capel Lane

A metal barrier closes off access to four wheeled vehicles at the end of the paved road and a wide path continues beyond through the trees.  As I walked up it a white sign stared back down at me ‘land beyond this point is private property, no public access’, I looked around and wondered what harm I was doing to anyone who owned this land, deciding that I was a good citizen of the human race I took a photograph of the sign and continued on my merry way.

The wide path leading to the northern edge of Pandy Bank

After only a short distance the enclosed nature of the path opens up and the lower tier of Pandy Bank rises to the south-west.  This lower tier is relatively flat topped and covered in sapling trees on its slopes.  Leading up its northern slope were two distinct paths gauged in to its blackened land, probably the aftereffects of trail bikes using the hill as a playground for sport?  I decided to investigate its eastern boundary and continued on the wide path as it headed south with the bulk of the hill now on my right.

Looking toward the lower tier of Pandy Bank

I cut off from this main path before its high point and headed up to the first levelled tier of the hill, in front of me the summit cone shot up even steeper, its sides were covered in straight shooting silver birch as were its eastern slopes.  I plodded up toward its top and popped out on to a relatively flat summit area which rose slightly toward the centre and even more so toward its western edge.  Two Trimble surveys were required and as the first data set was gathered I peered out to the world below, the late afternoon sky gave me a half hour of colour as the western sun illuminated the eastern grey cloud, but the cloud eventually won out and the sun was then shielded leaving a stillness to the colour and a lack of depth to the view.

Illuminated grays always give good colour

Looking toward the higher tier of Pandy Bank

The view north from the summit of Pandy Bank

The view east to the Gresford Industrial Park

Gathering data from the summit of Pandy Bank

After repositioning the Trimble in the central high point and gathering another five minute data set I headed down the steep southern side of the hill to where I’d spotted a single person walking through a land of forgotten neglect, I called over and tried making conversation, without much success, although the person told me that he’d heard the hill being called Pandy Bank, which seemed logical as I’d been told that the hill that I’d surveyed in October of last year is known locally as Bersham Bank, a ‘bank’ in this instance being the name used for the waste spoil produced by the mine, and Pandy being the small community at its base.

After thanking him for the information I spent a while taking photographs with the hill framed against muddied pools amongst a flatland of nothingness.  Wanting to investigate the hill a little further I joined the continuation of the path on the eastern side of the hill which gave me a view down to its connecting bwlch which is at or very near to a railway line.

Looking down to the area of the bwlch

Having completed the eastern circuit of this main path I headed back up to the flat area of the hill’s lower tier and aimed for its northern edge where the two distinct gauged paths were situated.  This way down proved steep but relatively safe, although the waste spoil gave little purchase as it is densely packed.  As I re-joined the main path I looked back up to the hill and smiled, can’t wait for the Trimble result!

The northern face of Pandy Bank

Looking toward the summit of Pandy Bank from the hill's lower tier

Survey Result:



Summit Height:  105.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 33630 53882

Drop:  c 34m (100m Twmpau addition confirmed)

Dominance:  32.27%



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







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