Saturday, 30 May 2015

The History of Welsh Hill Lists

The History of Welsh Hill Lists – Part 9

The Early Years

1951 – E. G. Rowland

Because of its first use of 50 feet as the minimum re-ascent value, Arthur St. George Walsh’s 1950 list was ground breaking and so, in its own small way was our next publication; ‘Hill Walking in Snowdonia’, by Edward George Rowland.  Until now, the great majority of hill lists were somewhat restricted in their availability and hence their readership.  E. G. Rowland’s publication was widely available and became the first book to the Welsh mountains that incorporated a series of guided walks, following which one attained the summits of an accompanying list of mountain tops.  The guide book to the Welsh mountains had arrived; this publication formed the basis of many a young peak bagger’s first forays into the hills.

After retiring from the Civil Service, E. G. Rowland returned to live at Cricieth in 1943.  He was now within sight of his favourite hills where he renewed and extended his knowledge of the Welsh mountains.  Soon he decided that although an extensive choice of literature dealing with Snowdonia existed, he felt that a gap may be filled by producing a small volume detailing an account of routes up and down all the 2,000 foot peaks in the Northern part of the Snowdonia National Park.

The result was published in 1951 by the Camping & Open Air Press Ltd.  ‘Hill Walking in Snowdonia’ consists of eighty three pages interspersed with black and white photographs by W. A. Poucher (who will be entering our story in subsequent years).  A whole range of topics are covered including: ‘Notes on the Countryside’, ‘Welsh Words in Place Names’, ‘Countryside Societies’ and the ‘Snowdonia National Forest Park’.

Front cover to 'Hill Walking in Snowdonia'

Chapter one is entitled ‘Introducing Snowdonia’.  It is quite entertainingly informative and passes comment on a variety of subjects such as: “The native sheep that, unlike their more placid Southdown relatives, are filled with fierce Celtic blood and can negotiate anything less than a five-foot wall or a five-barred gate with the greatest of ease”, or, how to: “Prevent blisters, it is a good thing to grease your feet before putting on your socks”.  A number of suggestions for proper hill walking wear follow: “The short gaiters of the Home Guard are useful.  Battledress style jackets are hard to beat, while leather gloves take the chill off wet rocks.  Light oilskins are as useful as anything to keep the rain out”.  How times have changed.

The main part of Rowland’s publication deals with his guide to the 2,000 foot mountains of Northern Snowdonia.  The walks described give routes to the summits of all the listed peaks, either singly or in combination with others, with alternatives and variations incorporated.  The guide to these mountains is found in chapters three, four, five and six – with detailed excursions to the Snowdon Massif and excursions from the bases of Beddgelert and Rhyd-ddu, Pen-y-Gwrhyd, Pen-y-Pass and Llanberis and, lastly, Capel Curig and Ogwen.

Rowland doesn’t stop here. Within chapter seven are ‘some lower walks’ including one to the top of the excellent Moel y Gest.  The inclusion of the Clynnog Hills and Yr Eifl within chapter eight’s excursions to ‘A few Outliers’ shows that although these hills are not in Rowland’s list, by mentioning them in his guide, he takes the first step in recognising the merit of hills that are lower than 2,000 feet in height.  It would only be a few short years before an author listed some of these self-same hills.

The list which interests us within the boundaries of this article appears on pages viii and ix and is entitled ‘Mountains in Snowdonia’.  In all, fifty three mountains are listed in order of altitude with their name, height in feet, section and number of walk being detailed.  The specified number given each walk can be cross referenced with each respective guided excursion whilst the specified section letter can be used in conjunction with the ‘Sketch Map of Snowdonia’, which appears on pages 42 and 43.  This map is split into five sections; these are marked from A-E with each mountain’s designated number, in order of altitude being indicated on the map against its position on the ground.

The list of 'Mountains in Snowdonia' 

On page 19 of chapter two, Rowland pays tribute to the main source of his list, this is; “That excellent standard work, ‘The mountains of Snowdonia’, lists 49 peaks that top 2000 feet and of these 14 exceed 3000 feet.  The list on pages viii and ix includes all of these 49 peaks, with a few additions that seemed to merit inclusion.  To qualify there must be “a crest, distinct from high land leading up to some other peak”.  Therefore, E. G. Rowland’s 1951 list incorporates Carr & Lister’s 1925 list with four additions.  These are: Bera Mawr, Foel Gron, Gallt y Wenallt and, lastly, Gryn Wigau [sic].  Of particular note is Gurn Wigau (correct spelling) which although mentioned by Carr & Lister it did not, in their opinion, warrant a listing in their 1925 publication.  Therefore, E. G. Rowland’s listing of this particular mountain is the first time it had appeared in a hill list.  Also of note is the name given to the mountain at the head of the list.  Up until 1951 all previous hill list compilers had used Y Wyddfa, this being the Welsh name for Wales’s highest mountain.  Unfortunately, E. G. Rowland broke with this established tradition and within the context of his hill list just used the name, Snowdon.

As mentioned above, Rowland’s list is very similar to Carr & Lister’s.  He does employ a minimum designated height of 2,000 feet but his choice of mountains is somewhat arbitrary.  Yet his publication of ‘Hill Walking in Snowdonia’ proved to be Wales’s first guide book to the mountains that also comprised a list of hills.  I wonder if E. G. Rowland realised just what he had started.

Next instalment due on the 30th July 2015

For the Preface please click {here}

For Part 1 please click {here}

For Part 2 please click {here}

For Part 3 please click {here}

For Part 4 please click {here}

For Part 5 please click {here}

For Part 6 please click {here}

For Part 7 please click {here}

For Part 8 please click {here}

Monday, 25 May 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Elenydd

23.05.15  Allt y Clych (SN 978 570), Lan Ganol (SN 973 571), Lan Fach (SN 971 574), Llethr Melyn (SN 959 579), Craigol (SN 979 587), Banc Creigol (SN 983 582) and Cefn T ŷ Mawr (SN 986 576)    

Banc Creigol (SN 983 582)
When visiting five hills amongst the Elenydd two days ago that were centred on Wenallt (SN 933 571) I looked to my east and thought the ridges extending upto and away from Llethr Melyn and Banc Creigol worth investigating.  And so, with the weather set fine for the day I parked beside the B 4358 at SN 983 566 where there is sufficient space for two cars to be left.

From this parking spot a narrow lane heads into the Hirnant valley with hill ridges either side, it would be this valley that formed the centre of my planned horseshoe walk.  As I walked toward Allt y Clych the green slopes of Banc Creigol and the wooded summit of Cefn Tŷ-mawr rose across the intervening valley, both looked good hills and would be the last two I visited later in the afternoon.

The wooded summit of Cefn Tŷ Mawr
I left the lane after a few hundred metres and gained access onto the higher slopes of Allt y Clych through two gates leading across the hill’s lower fields.  Once on the higher part of the hill the views opened up and the ground steepened until I arrived at its attractive summit.  Two spots vie for the highest point, one grassy and one with a small outcrop of rock, I gathered data from both and waited lazily in the morning’s sunshine until the Trimble was packed away.

Gathering data at the summit of Allt y Clych
Between the P30s of Allt y Clych and Llethr Melyn are a number of small bumps, including Lan Ganol and Lan Fach, I surveyed both of these hills including any alternate summit and their respective bylchau, this took quite some time and by the time I reached the path leading upto Craig Chwefri and its trig point I had taken nine data sets.

Looking back to Allt y Clych - I'd taken nine data sets along this ridge
The path leading toward the trig point petered out into hillsides of moor grass and bilberry, away to my west was the forested top of Gornoeth which I had visited two days previously, it felt a little odd being back in this area so soon after visiting a number of its hills, but there are still more to investigate and these southerly approaches to some of the lower hills of the Elenydd are proving pleasantly tranquil.

The summit of Craig Chwefri is part of the slightly higher hill of Llethr Melyn which according to Ordnance Survey data has three summits of the same 433m map height.  As I reached the trig and placed the Trimble to gather data on the highest ground a few metres away from it, I looked out to these three tops of Llethr Melyn and thought the furthest easterly one to look slightly higher, however the human eye is deceptive when judging the lay of land and only a survey would be able to separate them by height.

Gathering data at the highest ground close to the trig point on Craig Chwefri
By now patches of cloud had built in the sky which added light and shade to the landscape, this in time would bring succulent summer greys to the eastern land that was enriched with direct sunlight, this is always a treat and gives a vivid appeal to photography, but this was for later in the day, now I wanted to survey the three tops of Llethr Melyn and shortly after leaving the trig point on top of Craig Chwefri I arrived at the first rocky top.

I checked the ten figure grid reference from the Ordnance Survey enlarged Geograph map and found it directing me to the lower of two rocky outcrops about thirty metres apart, I took data from both and then proceeded to the other two map heighted 433m summits, both of these are on moorland.

Gathering data on the rock that the Trimble data gives as the highest point of Llethr Melyn
Gathering data at the far easterly option for the summit of Llethr Melyn with its connecting bwlch in shadow beyond
Happy that four data sets and an additional one from beside the trig on Craig Chwefri was sufficient I packed the Trimble away and walked along the hill’s easterly ridge, before delving down northward toward the hill’s connecting bwlch with higher ground.

Craigol from the bwlch of Llethr Melyn
After collecting data from two places on the hill to hill traverse on this bwlch I considered that the second part of the walk was nearing its conclusion, the first having been the ridge from Allt y Clych to just beyond Lan Fach, the third and last section would take me over the three P30s of Craigol, Banc Creigol and Cefn Tŷ-mawr.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Llethr Melyn
I lost a little height and contoured through what could have been decidedly boggy ground on a small path that led toward green fields which constituted the highest part of this valley’s cultivation.  Once beyond the fields I joined a track that led to the old farm house of Lluestnewydd where Maj and Stewart Jackson-Carter were busy inspecting their large stone barn’s roof.  I waved as I approached and soon we were in conversation, shortly afterward Maj said some magical words ‘would you like a cup of tea’.  Mmmmmmmmmm heaven on earth does exist!

As Maj went inside to get the tea brewing, Stewart opened the gate and we sat beside their ornamental pool and chatted, when Maj appeared with a tray of mugs full of tea I had to smile and then found it hard to stop.

Heaven on earth - Maj brings the mugs of tea
It was lovely meeting Maj and Stewart, we talked for quite some time about the local hills, their house and its history, the Trimble and surveying, the route I had taken to get here and my onward route back to my car, their meetings with other walkers who occasionally come this way, fox hunting, place-names and probably a multitude of other topics.

With Stewart and mugs of tea at Lluestnewydd
Throughout the conversation I supped on my mug of tea and relaxed and happily smiled away, the tea was an absolute luxury and one that was totally unexpected.  After about twenty minutes I thanked them and we said our goodbyes and I wandered off to continue my route, this time in a southerly direction toward the next three hills.

Cheers - many thanks to Maj and Stewart for my refreshing pit stop.  Allt y Clych is in the background on the right and the summit of Banc Creigol on the far left of photo
The track from Lluesnewydd led toward another farm named Craigol with the right of way swinging leftward to miss the farm yard, this now led me down toward the next bwlch I wanted to survey, this is to the north of the rocky summit of Craigol which sprung up with its upper slopes now showing the signs of felled forestry, but thankfully no re-planting had taken place.

Once I had wandered around in the field where the bwlch lay for a number of minutes and picked the spot for the Trimble to gather its data, I stood and regained by breath for the next ascent up to the unusually rocky summit of Craigol.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Banc Creigol with Craigol on the left and Llethr Melyn in the background on the right
On my way up to the summit I bi-passed a group of cows with their calves that were wandering down the track and stopping for a contented graze, once across a fence I was in the remains of the felled forestry.   The high point of Craigol has a small ridge leading to a steep outcrop of what I thought to be mudstone, all layered on top of itself and looking unusually out of place amongst hills of moor and grassy field.

Llethr Melyn from the summit of Craigol
Gathering data at the summit of Craigol
The next survey was at the bwlch between the summits of Craigol and Banc Creigol, it was also the survey that I was most concerned about as it looked as if it was situated in a filed adjacent to a farm house.  As I arrived at the farm I knocked on the front door with good intention of introducing myself, explaining my unusual surveying hobby, trying to explain what prominence is and the necessity for them to give me permission to survey their field, and who knows I may have ended up with another cup of tea in the process.

Lines of hill and pasture
Unfortunately no one answered so I sneaked around the farm yard, quietly went through a gate and followed a track to where the critical bwlch lay, all in full view of the house.  Once I had picked the spot for Trimble placement I stood beside another gate and hoped that no one would ask what I was doing.  It didn’t help that the bwlch lay just below a grassed bank which interfered with satellite reception, so it took quite some time for the 0.1m accuracy to be attained before data can be logged.  Once complete I quietly retraced my steps and continued up the right of way to the easterly slopes of my next hill.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Craigol with the Trimble beside the fence on the right of photo
Banc Creigol is an appealingly shaped hill with an elongated summit ridge that extends from its grassy top in a south-westerly direction to a slender ridge crest before plunging down through slopes of bracken to the Hirnant below.  As I arrived at its summit the day’s exertions were taking their toll and I gratefully rested as the Trimble gathered its data, only two surveys now remained.

At the summit of Banc Creigol with Llethr Melyn in the background on the left
The afternoon was now enhanced with deep grey cloud out to the east which illuminated the richness of colour with the late afternoon sun in the west, and as I re-joined the right of way down to the next connecting bwlch I stopped and admired a single well shaped tree in a brightly coloured green field as deep colour behind faded into shadow.

Summer colour on a single tree
Once the last bwlch survey was complete I plodded up toward the summit of my last hill of the day, this summit is part of Coed Tŷ Mawr and has the name of Cefn Tŷ Mawr, with the farm that the hill and wood take their name from to the south of the summit, the north-easterly flank and upper part of this hill has an oak wood on it, today the wood was filled with Bluebells and once across a fence I delicately walked up to the large boulder at its high point.

Looking down on the bwlch (on far right) and wooded summit of Cefn Tŷ Mawr
After I had stood on top of the boulder I placed the Trimble with its internal antenna aligned to the highest part of it and then started a long wait.  I suspected this would happen as tree coverage is not ideal for satellite reception.  However, I found a comfortable rock to sit on which was covered in moss and only four paces away from the sides of the boulder, so I could briskly march up to the boulder and step up to check on the Trimble’s downward progress to the 0.1m accuracy level.

The boulder at the summit of Cefn Tŷ Mawr
The initial part of my long wait was welcome as I sat and ate a bean burger that I had cooked the previous day, munched on a couple of sandwiches and immersed myself in the life of the wood as bird song radiated out.  After a while I found that I was studying the colours of the near trees and examining the ground to my north-east which looked horrendously brambled, I had already torn my leg on one of these brambles and caused copious amounts of blood to trickle out of the wound, trying to wipe this with a clump of grass only smothered it all over my leg which now looked as if I had been stabbed!

The view from my mossy rock
Straight lines of green with the balanced colour of Bluebells
After thirty minutes I wondered how much longer I would have to wait and life in a wood began to tax my patience.  After 45 minutes I had lapsed into a contented otherworldly experience as an occasional flash of sunshine penetrated the wood and gave dabbled light to the undergrowth.

I'd been in the wood so long that I started to enjoy the pattern the trees made with the sky
Only the occasional sunburst penetrated the cloud as I waited patiently in the wood
After 55 minutes I wondered if I should at least activate the Trimble and gather data until it screeched, which is the sign that data collection should cease.  I jumped up from my slumber and pressed ‘Log’ and turned the equipment off after it had gathered 133 points which is more that the recommended minimum.

By the time I had taken photos of the Trimble positioned on the boulder I had been in the wood for over an hour, it felt as if I had become a Hobbit.  Re-entering clear skies and sunshine was a welcome relief.

The Trimble on top of the boulder at the summit of Cefn Tŷ Mawr
I walked back down the field toward where the last bwlch survey had taken place and joined a track and then path down through another wood, this led out onto the narrow lane at the base of my first hill of the day; Allt y Clych, which shot up in tapered form.

The shapely profile of Allt y Clych
House sign made out of nails
The walk back on the lane to my car was delightful as the early evening light gave a richness of colour with far away hills being highlighted against a deep mass of succulent grey cloud.

Succulent summer colour
These light conditions only seem to happen in the summer months and give a rare intensity to summer colour which is usually dulled and washed out.  I stood and happily took photos as sheep grazed in their fields and the freshness of early summer growth gave an emerald colour to the trees.

Greens and grays of summer
Richness of Grey enhanced by evening summer light
Before leaving this scene I looked back up toward the wooded slopes of Cefn Tŷ Mawr with the green ridged top of Banc Creigol above, both are excellent hills as indeed is the circuit I had now completed.

Banc Creigol in centre of photo with the wooded summit of Cefn Tŷ Mawr on the right
In all I took 22 data sets and the walk had taken me 9 hr 35 min, which was quite a long time, but I had been invited for afternoon tea on the way and spent an hour sitting in a wood, happy times.    

Survey Result:

Allt y Clych

Summit Height:  380.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 97829 57012

Bwlch Height:  341.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 97359 57356

Drop:  39.6m

Dominance:  10.41%

Lan Ganol

Summit Height:  375.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 97371 57189

Bwlch Height:  353.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 97737 57112

Drop:  22.2m (Sub-Trichant status confirmed)

Dominance:  5.92%

Lan Fach

Summit Height:  365.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 97161 57461

Bwlch Height:  347.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 97081 57539

Drop:  18.0m (Non Sub-Trichant status confirmed)

Dominance:  4.92%

Llethr Melyn

Summit Height:  433.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 95967 57997 (summit relocation confirmed)

Bwlch Height:  394.1m (LIDAR)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 96507 58769 (LIDAR)

Drop:  38.9m (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Dominance:  8.99% (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Summit Height:  361.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 97939 58725

Bwlch Height:  327.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 98101 58517

Drop:  33.9m (Trichant status confirmed)

Dominance:  9.39%

Banc Creigol

Summit Height:  381.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 98392 58269

Bwlch Height:  324.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 98033 58967

Drop:  56.6m

Dominance:  14.86%

Cefn Tŷ Mawr

Summit Height:  324.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 98691 57665

Bwlch Height:  292.0m (LIDAR)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 98452 57819 (LIDAR)

Drop:  32.2m (Trimble GeoXH 6000 summit and LIDAR bwlch) (Sub-Trichant reclassified to Trichant)

Dominance:  9.94% (Trimble GeoXH 6000 summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Mapping Mountains – Hill Reclassifications – Y Pedwarau

Wenallt (SN 933 571) - Pedwar reclassified to 400m Sub-Pedwar

There has been another reclassification of a Pedwar to a 400m Sub-Pedwar by surveying with the Trimble geoXH 6000, the second in a week.  The hill is situated in the Elenydd range of hills and is positioned north-west of the B4358 between Newbridge-on-Wye and Beulah.  It can easily be accessed on minor roads leading from close to Glandulas (SN 948 531).

The hill is named Wenallt (SN 933 571) and is given 30m of drop on current Ordnance Survey maps, with a 468m spot height at its summit and a 438m spot height at its bwlch, with the latter appearing on the enlarged mapping hosted on the Geograph map.  The survey with the Trimble GeoXH 6000 resulted in a 466.4m (converted to OSGM15) summit height and a 438.1m (converted to OSGM15) bwlch height; with these values give the hill 28.3m of drop.

This now brings the overall total for the Y Pedwarau to 450 hills with five additions and two deletions since publication of the list by Europeaklist in May 2013.  The hill will be taken out of the main list and added to the 400m Sub-Pedwar list in the 2nd edition that is planned for publication by Europeaklist.  The list of Pedwar hills is also available from the Haroldstreetwebsite.

This hill is an example where prominence should not dictate all (try saying that if you’re a hill list compiler!), as it is a fine hill which is situated in open moorland and can be combined with its neighbours of Y Garth, Allt y Ddinas, Lan Fawr and Gornoeth to make a worthwhile circuit.

The full details for the hill are:

Cardinal Hill:  Gorllwyn

Summit Height:  466.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Name:  Wenallt

OS 1:50,000 map:  147

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 933 571

Drop:  28.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Wenallt (SN 933 571) now reclassified from a Pedwar to a 400m Sub-Pedwar

For details on the survey that reclassified this hill from Pedwar status to 400m Sub-Pedwar status please click {here}

Myrddyn Phillips and Aled Williams (May 2015)

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Elenydd

21.05.15  Y Garth (SN 934 558), Allt y Ddinas (SN 928 567), Wenallt (SN 933 571), Lan Fawr (SN 939 578) and Gornoeth (SN 945 567)    

Allt y Ddinas (SN 928 567)
Another stunningly peaceful day in the Elenydd when the only sound seemed to be that of the breeze as it whisked over this endless landscape, sometimes the beauty of the hills can be found in the smallest of things and today I happily immersed myself in this open land, except for the occasional impression of a vehicle track on a ridge crest, or the specks of white grazing and running after their mothers, or the soaring silkiness of buzzards and red kites, I was left alone with big blue skies and succulent colours that screamed out in vividness.  Today was bliss!

I have seldom investigated the southerly approaches to the higher Elenydd, but on those occasions that I have the landscape does not disappoint, as streams gently make their way down from the higher wilds of these hills to roll down long peaceful valleys.

Today I wanted to investigate a compact part of this land, one I had not visited before, although I had looked at the combination of these five hills on the map many times in the past.

I parked to the east of the first hill’s summit where there is sufficient space for about ten cars on a large flat area of land at SN 942 559.  As I walked up the road the morning chill was still in the air, and although the sky blue with wisps of white cloud heralded warmth to the day, a chilling wind blew as I gained access into the field that aimed toward the summit of Y Garth.

Walking beside the fence toward this first summit of the day opened up the view of the land I planned to visit, across the intervening valley to my north the flat topped Lan Fawr shapely descended to the green reclaimed pasture on its lower flanks, whilst away to the north-east the forested top of Gornoeth looked out teasingly as this was planned to be my last summit of the day and would probably require a forest bash to reach its highest point.

Y Garth has a small rock outcrop at its highest point and looks north toward the high Elenydd with Allt y Ddinas, my next hill, squatly domed and beckoning.  Once the customary data were gathered with the Trimble I checked the map for where I should aim to head down toward this hill’s connecting bwlch and blissfully wandered down its northerly slopes.

Gathering data at the summit of Y Garth
As I headed down, the profile of Allt y Ddinas grew in height and started to dominate the horizon, from this vantage point it was almost symmetrical with cascading sides of bracken and deeply rich greens and flesh yellowed leaves stretching out across its lower slopes.

Allt y Ddinas from the descent of Y Garth
I found the bwlch to be in a field of bog and reed where my efforts to pinpoint its spot brought the prospect of wet feet.  Once I was happy with the placement of the Trimble I sauntered away from the equipment to leave it gather data and wondered how many people come this way.  Just the other side of the fence which I had stretched over to gain access into the field of bog was a track leading down to the farm of Cwmdulas, but except for this one habitation life hereabouts must be slowed and rather different in nature to that experienced by most people in these islands.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Y Garth
By now the light was superb with clear visibility and a colour rich to overflowing, the opposing hillside flowed with merging colour as subtle shades of fresh greens interspersed themselves with the dulled appeal of blue from an undergrowth of Bluebells that swept up to end with the early summer dulled browns of bracken.

Greens and blues of early summer
The shapely profile of Allt y Ddinas
Y Garth (SN 934 558)
Not wanting to disturb the occupants at Cwmdulas, I opted to walk up a track and through a field which ended up on a sheep track above bubbling waterfalls of the Nant Cyfyng as it flowed down between Allt y Dinas and Wenallt.

As I gained height toward the waterfalls the eastern side of Allt y Ddinas shot up beyond its green and blue lower slopes, from this angle it rose to a slender point with its eastern ridge appealing with small rock outcrops breaking through the steep ground of grass and bracken.  This was the way I wanted to ascend, and once across the Nant Cyfyng I joined a sheep track as it gained height above the steams water toward the dulled browns of those brackens that were butting up against a hillside of blue.

Allt y Ddinas above the valley of the Nant Cyfyng
Seasonal change in the hills is a great joy and the month of May brings blossom and Bluebells and the freshness of budding leaves when their greens are sometimes emerald, or yellowed in the striking light given from blue skies.

Y Garth from the Nant Cyfyng
As I followed the sheep track to the crest of the easterly ridge of Allt y Ddinas I soaked in the scent of a multitude of Bluebells and soon I was amongst them framing photographs of distant hills, with their blues set off against the radiant colour of greens, one colour merged eloquently into the other.  These Bluebell fields are to be savoured, they seem a world unto themselves where their fenced lands cannot be penetrated by those blissfully unaware sheep and their May sprouting luxuriates the countryside. 

A blaze of blues and greens
The beauty of May - a hillside of Bluebells
I stopped amongst the Bluebells for quite some time and took many photos with Y Garth and Gornoeth being framed against the blue sky, the latter hill is now forested but its profile portrays a past when this hill must once have been a shapely addition to this part of the Elenydd.

The forested summit of Gornoeth
Y Garth from the ascent of Allt y Ddinas
As I gained height toward the summit of Ally y Ddinas, Wenallt bulged out across the Nant Cyfyng with sheep tracks contouring across its rounded westerly slopes.  Below me to the south-east Y Garth stood solidly shaped with its north-westerly lower section full of deciduous trees, a welcome addition and one that accentuated its lower profile, immediately below Y Garth stood the farm of Cwmdulas with sheep being brought into one of its barns.

The westerly bulk of Wenallt
Y Garth rising above the farm of Cwmdulas
The summit of Allt y Ddinas consists of grass, and once the Trimble had gathered its data I set off down its northern slope to its connecting bwlch as the cairn on the distant Drygarn Fawr looked on from far to the north-west. 

Gathering data at the summit of Allt y Ddinas
I spent a few minutes assessing the ground at the bwlch and disturbing a mountain hare in the process, and once deciding on where the Trimble should be placed I stood back and waited for the customary five minutes of data to be gathered.  The continuation from this bwlch would take the walker to the wilds of Gorllwyn, but my interest lay across the Nant Cyfyng with the summit of Wenallt which would be my high point of the day.

The route from the bwlch to the summit of Wenallt passed through the first wet ground of the day, and as I crossed the stream I looked back at Y Garth neatly framed against the rising slopes of Ally y Ddinas and Wenallt.  I remember looking at this route on the map a number of times over the years and wondering what these hills would be like, were they full of tussocks, or perhaps laden in quagmires of endless bog, both can have their pleasures, but I was finding them a joy to walk through with sheep tracks to follow and relatively easy underfoot conditions.  However, I hadn’t yet encountered the stretch of land connecting two bylchau that I wanted to survey and that I suspected would bring a good bog trot to the day’s proceedings.

Y Garth framed against the rising slopes of Wenallt and Allt y Ddinas
I found an embedded small rock to be the high point of Wenallt which was positioned a few metres from a series of small puddles.  Beyond the flat topped grassland of Lan Fawr were the higher summits of Y Gamriw and Drum Ddu, between me and them were probably few if any fences, just an endless sea of moor and bog and solitude.

Gathering data at the summit of Wenallt
My next stop was northward of this hill’s summit in what the map suggested to be a flatland of moor, as I walked down to this bwlch I was surprised to find its point relatively easy to pinpoint, perhaps my eye is now getting attuned to bwlch detecting, or perhaps this is over optimism on my part as the human eye can be very deceptive when judging the lay of land.

I placed the Trimble near to a stagnant pool and waited until the allotted data were collected, during this I looked north-east through a morass of moor, reed and no doubt bog to where my next bwlch to be surveyed lay.  I considered a direct course but judged that to be foolhardy, I wondered about getting up onto high ground and trying to keep my footsies dry, eventually after the Trimble was packed away I decided to lose some height and hope that my route did not have me floundering amongst endless bog.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Wenallt
As I made progress my old dilapidated boots starting to leak and the sensual cleansing of water slowly ebbed into my socks, this persisted even though I tried to step from one tussock onto another whilst avoiding the brightly coloured greens of water laden sphagnum moss.  My route was not long but it was proving rather boggy, I found a vehicle rack which took me over a narrow runnel of stream water as it slowly flowed through this high grassland.  Beyond this was a path that made its way up the western flank of my next hill; Lan Fawr and according to the map it stopped right next to the critical bwlch of this hill.  Once on the path I knew the worst of the slushiness was over.

The critical bwlch of Lan Fawr was in a morass of moor, this is the true heartland of the Elenydd, I only touched this rawness of bog, reed and tussock during my day’s walk, but it has an unusual welcoming appeal to it, one that I have not savoured often enough in recent years.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Lan Fawr
My small wander amongst the openness and tranquillity of this part of the Elenydd was nearing an end, as although I’d got another summit to visit after Lan Fawr, it would be a forested one that was embedded in the joys of conifers.  Once the Trimble had been placed at where I judged the critical bwlch of Lan Fawr to be, I edged away from it as it collected the all-important data and stood with my feet on tussocks away from the numerous patches of standing water that spilled across this part of the hill.

A steady walk south then brought me to the summit area of Lan Fawr, this hill is listed as a Sub-Pedwar and I do not know anybody that has visited its summit before.  I was surprised to find a large boulder popping up out of the moor, it isn’t positioned on the high point of the moor but when I stood on its high point and peered out across the flatness of summit plateaux it looked to be the high point of the hill.

The large boulder at the summit of Lan Fawr
Drum Ddu on left of photo from the summit of Lan Fawr
Gathering data at the summit of Lan Fawr
By now the radiant blue sky had given way to high cloud that had pushed in from the west, I waited patiently for a flash of light hoping to illuminate the Trimble perched on this large rock with reed grass at its base.  I always enjoy trying to align the Trimble’s internal antenna with the highest part of any summit that has a rock or boulder on it.  Sometimes this can be a frightening experience as a strong wind could topple this piece of expensive survey equipment to a boulderly death below, surveys of Glyder Fach and the Stiperstones spring to mind, but usually its design and rubberised outer shell and bottom give good purchase onto rock and it can fit snugly on most rock even if angled or smooth.  Today was no exception as I delicately put it in position balanced on the high point of the large boulder, hoping that the brisk breeze would not dislodge it.

Before leaving Lan Fawr I gathered another data set on what I judged to be the high point of the moor, this whole area is almost sponge like as it is plateaued with a dexterity for water retention, something I didn’t approve of as I stepped from one small tussock to another trying to find the driest and safest way forward.

The large flat and watery moorland top of Lan Fawr
A few minutes later and the watery summit of Lan Fawr had been left behind and closely cropped grazing fields led through two or three gates down to the area of the bwlch for my last hill of the day; Gornoeth.  This bwlch is placed on the imprint of a path as it makes its way across a field.  It took a few minutes wandering before this became evident, but once the position was picked I placed the Trimble down and waited for it to attain its required accuracy before data can be logged.  I waited for around fifteen minutes for this to happen, during which two people on horses passed on the adjacent narrow lane, otherwise all was quiet.

Gathering data at the bwlch of Gornoeth
All that was left was a visit to Gornoeth, I approached from its north and walked up an appealing green path amongst mature pines, this I had spotted during my descent of Lan Fawr and I hoped it would lead up to a forest track and then felled forestry on the higher part of the hill.  The path led back on itself and I came out beside the upper part of the mature pines, a direct route to this point from where I had left the narrow lane would have been easier, but I enjoy investigating and I was now on the forest track.  A previous study of Google Earth and a report by Rob Woodall on Hill Bagging places a forest path heading from the forest track and which seemed the easiest way to make adequate height before the forest bash truly started.  I found the relatively wide forest path without any difficulty and followed it up through the trees, this path gets very near the summit of the hill, I’d previously noted a ten figure grid reference where to leave this path, and also one for the estimated summit position and the direction into the trees to find the high point.  The path proved rather good and soon I had walked past the summit and over the hill’s summit crest and emerged back into sunshine onto the southern side of the hill, I could now see my car down in the valley below.  I back-tracked and reached the high point of the path again and turned the Trimble on to use it as a hand-held GPS, and within a couple of metres from where I had estimated the position to leave the path and enter the conifers was a relatively easy entrance into the trees (SN 94580 56762), that would at least make good headway into the forest toward where the hill’s summit crest lay.  Once in the trees all I had to do was reach the summit crest and turn left and bash my way through the branches to try and find the high point.

The entrance into the trees with the high point of Gornoeth over on the left somewhere
There’s a certain enjoyment to heading straight through the darkened realm of a conifer plantation, thankfully today’s little adventure proved relatively easy and within ten minutes or so I was reading coordinates on the Trimble that were close to the ones I had estimated for the summit.  I then placed the Trimble on what looked like a high point, look a couple of photos and proceeded further into the trees where there seemed to be another high point.  I reached a point where I could see a slender ridge crest continuing downhill to my north-east, as I knew that the ground behind me was going downhill and I had kept as closely to the high point of the ridge crest as the conifer branches would allow, I stood on what I deemed to be the summit and turned around to find my way out again.  However, it has to be said that the land within this part of the conifer plantation is relatively flat.

The point where I gathered data from, at the summit of Gornoeth
Another 10-15 metres further into the trees and I was happy that I'd visited the summit
I popped out of the conifers with the usual scratches and blood on my legs, a sign that although relatively easy the dead lower branches of conifers can sometimes be fierce things to bash through.

Bloodied and scratched, but summits bagged and data gathered I headed back to my car
Once back on the forest path I stripped off as there were twigs poking out of all kinds of places.  All that remained was to retrace my steps down the forest path, onto the track and down to the small lane which in time led back to my car.  I’d visited five hills; four being Pedwarau and one a Sub-Pedwar.  The day had been rewarding with the landscape of the Elenydd inviting me in to another small part of its seldom trodden heartland.        

Survey Result:

Y Garth

Summit Height:  433.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 93443 55850

Bwlch Height:  327.8m (LIDAR)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 93690 56421 (LIDAR)

Drop:  105.2m (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Dominance:  24.30% (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Allt y Ddinas

Summit Height:  448.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 92830 56735

Bwlch Height:  414.1m (LIDAR)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 92832 57032 (LIDAR)

Drop:  34.4m (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Dominance:  7.67% (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)


Summit Height:  466.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 93366 57112

Bwlch Height:  438.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 93196 57615

Drop:  28.3m (Pedwar reclassified to 400m Sub-Pedwar confirmed)

Dominance:  6.06%

Lan Fawr

Summit Height:  460.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 93963 57819 (summit relocation confirmed)

Bwlch Height:  438.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 93664 57970

Drop:  22.0m (400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  4.78%


Summit Height:  442.5m (LIDAR)

Summit Grid Reference:  SN 94589 56714 (LIDAR)

Bwlch Height:  349.2m (LIDAR)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SN 94433 57132 (LIDAR)

Drop:  93.3m (LIDAR)

Dominance:  21.08% (LIDAR)

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