Saturday, 7 July 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Mynydd Du

06.05.18  Carn Pen y Clogau (SN 717 185), Banc y Foel (SN 725 186), Garreg Lwyd (SN 740 179), Foel Fraith (SN 756 182) and Cefn y Cylchau (SN 757 197)

Banc y Foel (SN 725 186)

With one remaining Dewey to visit in Section 32B (the only one!), Mark suggested a visit to the western hills of Mynydd Du and we decided on a circular walk taking in five hills and starting from the convenience of a lay-by close to a sharp bend on the A 4069 road as it heads south from Llangadog to Glanaman.

The weather was idyllic on our drive south with warm May sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky.  We left the car parked in the lay-by and set off walking at 12.25pm up the continuation of the A road, until it bisected a minor road which contours the northern slopes of our first hill of the day; Carn Pen y Clogau.

Looking back to our inward route with Cefn y Cylchau in the background

The whole land shimmered in the warmth of the day adding heat haze to any prospective distant view.  We left the minor road and headed up over parched grassland to the large ancient cairn atop the hill.  This is just one of a multitude of Bronze Age round barrow’s that has been mutilated to incorporate a wind shelter, it is reported on Coflein to  measure 18m in diameter and be up to 3.4m in height, and today it was Trimbled.

The ancient cairn of Carn Pen y Clogau

Gathering data at the summit of Carn Pen y Clogau

The connecting bwlch to the next hill proved to be in expansive dried grassland that merged in to an expansive bog, once the customary data were gathered I circumvented the wettest parts and joined Mark on the summit of Banc y Foel.

Whilst the Trimble perched atop what was judged to be the highest embedded rock, I chatted with Mark, who sat in the sun and lunched on what looked like morsels of juicy nit-bits.  To our north-east the ancient cairn of Carn Pen Rhiw Ddu nestled on the edge of this hill’s summit plateaux and looked of similar height and therefore worth surveying, once these two points had been surveyed we followed a narrow path leading down toward the high point of the A 4069.

Gathering data at the summit of Banc y Foel

The critical bwlch of Banc y Foel lay near this road, but before surveying it we had a call of destiny with an ice cream van that was parked in one of the large lay-by’s, and on a warm day when ice cream is served by a south Wales accented attractive young woman whose lilting voice sounded like bird song and the smoothness, texture and altogether yumminess of the ice cream was all too much and was to be savoured, it was proof enough that the world is a good place.

The ice cream van awaits


Once the bwlch was surveyed I slowly plodded up the steepening westerly slopes of Garreg Lwyd and joined Mark as we headed for its summit, a number of people descended the hill back toward the road as we approached the high point, and while on top we had the hill to ourselves.

Approaching the summit of Garreg Lwyd

Mark at the summit of Garreg Lwyd

All points east led in to the expansive grasslands of Mynydd Du, which is a vast open land with few fences.  A path headed down in to this land toward the connecting bwlch with Foel Fraith, this was Trimbled before we slowly made our way up toward the next summit.

I’d visited Foel Fraith on a number of occasions but not for many years, it is positioned between two 2,000fts and because of this probably has fewer ascents when compared to its higher neighbours, but it is a good rounded and grassed hill overlooking the open wild surrounds of the hill range.  Whilst two points were surveyed for summit position Mark lay on the ground and soaked up the sun, during the second data set I stood with my face toward the sun, closed my eyes and let my mind wander almost to a meditative state, where coloured hues played on my inner eye and bird song tranquilly pierced the freshness of air.

Gathering data at the summit of Foel Fraith

Just one hill remained to visit; Cefn y Cylchau, which is an outlier of Foel Fraith and not positioned on the direct traverse of the main Mynydd Du ridge, it is a great bulk of a hill, predominated in the grasslands that make up the hill range.

Heading toward Cefn y Cylchau

Its bwlch was Trimbled before a narrow sheep path led toward its high point, I positioned the Trimble on ground a few metres from a cairn and waited for the allotted five minutes of data to be gathered, and then joined Mark on an attractive rock outcrop to the west of the summit and on our descent route back to the car.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Cefn y Cylchau

Foel Fraith

Gathering data at the summit of Cefn y Cylchau

The descent proved steep, but the day had been good, the weather blissful, and although warm it was not overly so.  Ahead lay Banc y Foel and the ancient cairn of Pen Rhiw Ddu perched on the hillside commanding extensive views.  These hills are to be savoured in their openness and grassed surrounds, a wilderness area to be respected and enjoyed.              

Banc y Foel (SN 725 186)

Survey Result:

Carn Pen y Clogau

Summit Height:  521.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 71707 18595

Bwlch Height:  505.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 71954 18567

Drop:  16.5m (Uchaf status confirmed)

Dominance:  3.17%

Summit Height:  531.6m (converted to OSGM15) (significant height revision)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 72536 18670

Bwlch Height:  492.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 73064 18397

Drop:  38.9m

Dominance:  7.32%

Garreg Lwyd

Summit Height:  617.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 74042 17921

Drop:  105.4m

Dominance:  17.07%

Foel Fraith

Summit Height:  603.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 75642 18295

Bwlch Height:  526.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 74953 17944

Drop:  76.9m

Dominance:  12.74%

Cefn y Cylchau

Summit Height:  555.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 75728 19716

Bwlch Height:  518.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 75755 19034

Drop:  37.1m

Dominance:  6.67%

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