Saturday, 31 October 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Moel y Gamelin

13.10.15  Mynydd yr Hôb (SJ 294 568)  

Mynydd yr Hôb (SJ 294 568)

Mynydd yr Hôb (Hope Mountain in English) rises above the small communities of Llanfynydd to its west, Cymau to its south and Caergwrle to its east.  The hill dominates its immediate surroundings as one would expect of a Marilyn as it is listed with just less than 190m of prominence.  It can be easily accessed from the west or the east as narrow lanes encircle its upper land.  However, these access points are not on open access land and if at all possible, permission should be sought to visit.

LIDAR summit image of Mynydd yr Hôb (SJ 294 568)

I approached the hill from the east and parked opposite the gate that gives access to a track leading up to the high masts that are situated on the eastern side of the hill and below its summit.  There is space to park one car opposite this gate and although the road is narrow there is sufficient space for vehicles to pass if a car is left.  This parking spot is at SJ 297 571.

As the track wound its way up to the masts the view started to open up, the day was set fine with early afternoon sunshine giving autumnal warmth to proceedings.  Although the view is extensive from the summit, today’s warmth meant that the view was also hazy, but Liverpool Cathedral could still be easily picked out across the flatlands of the Wirral.

Near to the masts one barbed wire fence has to be clambered over, this is a wee bit dilapidated and for people with long legs it can be stretched over easily.  All that remains is a saunter up a grassy field to the summit trig pillar which is positioned on an elevated plinth.

Looking toward the trig pillar at the summit of Mynydd yr Hôb

As I approached I assessed the ground at the base of the trig from a number of directions and eventually chose my spot for the Trimble.  It attained its 0.1m accuracy level before data should be logged within a minute or so and I pressed ‘Log’ and walked away to scribble down all details that will later appear in the ‘Trimble Survey Spreadsheet’.

Gathering data at the summit of Mynydd yr Hôb

Once data were collected I packed the Trimble away and sauntered off taking a few photos on the way as I looked back at the trig pillar forlornly keeping guard over its high perched summit.

The trig pillar on its elevated plinth at the summit of Mynydd yr Hôb

Arriving back at the car I headed down the narrow lane and in to Caergwrle as the next hill I wanted to visit was Castell Caergwrle, I’d never visited this P30 and yet had travelled past it on a number of occasions.

Survey Result:

Summit Height:  330.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SJ 29476 56892

Bwlch Height:  142.7m (LIDAR)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SJ 26903 58849 (LIDAR)

Drop:  187.3m (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

Dominance:  56.76% (Trimble summit and LIDAR bwlch)

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

Friday, 30 October 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Peak District

11.10.15  The Tower (SK 141 914)  

The Tower (SK 141 914)

When Aled and I were revaluating The Fours for Europeaklist publication I can remember accessing on-line information on The Tower and gazing at photographs of this rather beautifully steep hill, that although smaller in height when compared to its moorland neighbours it still dominated its immediate surroundings.  This sense of domination is seldom visualised in a hill of lesser height, but this hill is rather special and today we planned on visiting it.

The Tower which is also known as Alport Castle is situated north of the busy A 57 as it thunders between Manchester and Sheffield.  There is sufficient parking for two or three vehicles at SK 141 895 on the south side of the road just before Alport Bridge when approaching from the west.  This parking area is conveniently positioned opposite a path that gains height to a track that makes its way toward Alport Farm, and this is probably the easiest ascent route if just wanting to visit this hill.

There was a stillness in the air as we started our walk and the day’s forecast was good, at this time of year when seasonal change occurs high cloud can give a friendly blanketing effect to the land, however conditions can change quickly and high cloud can dissipate leaving radiant sunshine, and as we walked up the track past an avenue of small trees there were glimmers that the cloud would break and blue sky would burst through.

Walking through the avenue of trees toward Alport Farm

The track leading to Alport Farm is positioned above the River Alport and gives an elevated vantage point across to The Tower, but its steep sided profile is obstructed by the higher moor land plateau which is situated immediately behind it.  This partly obstructed view was tantalising as it looked inviting but its detail could not be picked out.

As we lost height toward the farm and down to the river the jagged summit of The Tower bust up out of its immediate background, it looked impressive.  We crossed the river on a slender but robust footbridge and as we gained height on a good path on the eastern side of the river I looked back toward the farm and there was a line of people heading toward the footbridge.  This was a group from The Priory Academy and Lincoln Minster School on their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, they had previously forded the River Ashop and then walked past us as we were getting our boots on and the customary good mornings were exchanged, we then past them as they were taking a well-earned break on the path leaving the A 57 and which gains the track toward the farm.

Our first view of the jagged summit tors of The Tower

On our way down to the River Alport

Crossing the river

On their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and passing Alport Farm

The green path leading up beyond the footbridge was a delight as patches of blue sky were now appearing and autumnal bracken shone out with dulled browns interspersed amongst golden greens and yellows, by now the group from Lincoln were quickly catching up with us, they past us at a brisk pace with smiles and waves and all carrying horrendously large packs and disappeared out of view above.  Our progress was more leisured as we were in no rush and we rested for a few minutes whilst John picked a variety of field mushrooms and happily munched away on them for his early dinner.

John heading up toward The Tower

Figures on the escarpment edge give perspective to the scene with the upper part of The Tower bathed in sunshine

Continuing upward we soon came across the group sitting down enjoying the brightening conditions, we stopped and chatted for a few minutes and then watched them as they shot off again to the moor land above.

The group from The Priory Academy and Lincoln Minster School

And away they go.....

Our route now left the main path and headed direct toward The Tower which looked even more impressive the closer we were getting to it, it looked as if it had three granite tors at its summit; their profile suggested they would require a hard scramble to get to the top.

I’d made a note of the ten figure grid references of the two positions that Ordnance Survey maps indicate could be the position of this hill’s critical col, which Mark had input in to his hand held GPS earlier in the walk.  As John strode out toward the first option for this hill’s col, Mark examined his GPS and we were still about 200 metres away from the first set of co-ordinates.  However, where John was standing was certainly one col possibility and we made a note to survey it on our descent.

Inputting the ten figure grid references.  Photo: John Kirk

On the eastern side of The Tower is a boulder field indicating that this area can become a wee bit hazardous on occasion as huge slaps of rock are dislodged from the hill itself or from the higher cliffs of the near escarpment edge.

John led the way as we gained height on steep grass to the slender grassed ridge that heads directly toward the southern base of The Tower, it was here that we found another col, this was enclosed by rock and as I set the Trimble above the col and took a measurement offset we inspected our surroundings, and there was consensus that this col was much higher than the one that we had just left, as both were on the hill to hill traverse this one could be dismissed, however as the Trimble was set-up I took data anyway, and as it beeped away collecting its 300 data points Mark and John continued steeply uphill.

John making progress on the steep grass

On the narrow grass ridge

Gathering data from the first of four positions surveyed for the critical col with the Trimble placed 1.64m above the point of this particular col

As the Trimble gathered its first set of col data I looked up and John and Mark were on steep grass making progress toward a small band of rock, John was leading and on occasion it looked as if his face was hugging the ground in front of him as the route up was so steep.

Once five minutes of data were collected I took a few photos, packed the equipment away and started to scamper uphill as fast as I could, Mark was already waving back at me from the summit and John was waiting beside the small rock band.

Mark nearing the summit

John at the rock band

Continuing upward I got over the one small rock step and grabbed grass in front of me as I heaved my way up and then popped out at the summit, Mark was happily sitting on top of the highest rock tor and I soon found myself on the adjacent lower tor looking over at Mark and taking a few photographs, as I placed the viewfinder to my eye the world took on a decidedly uncomfortable wobbly nature and my legs seemed to turn to the proverbial jelly, this only happened when the camera was against my eye, it is an experience I’ve had before and one that only happens when perched above a drop on a narrow platform.

Mark at the summit

As a breeze was blowing and the drop from the high point would mean certain Trimble death I started to sort out the Trimble’s dog collar, it’s never been dressed up in its chain and collar before, and I have fond memories of the ten minutes spent in my local pet shop as I and the assistant tried a variety if leashes on the Trimble, an experience that no doubt does not happen in the pet shops of this world on every day of the week.

I attached the chain to the elasticated grip underneath the Trimble and hooked this on to the dog lead which I placed through one of my rucksack straps; the rucksack was then placed in a convenient niche in the rock tor which was below the height of the summit.  Happy that the Trimble would be saved from certain oblivion if the wind blew it over I set it up aligned with the high point of the tor and sat under my rucksack on a rock seat and waited for the five minutes of data to be gathered.  Once complete I took a series of photographs, none of which would do justice to its position, and packed it and its dog lead away.  This system had worked perfectly well and gave me peace of mind, so in the future there will be no occurrences like those on the summits of Glyder Fach and The Stiperstones where I watched in horror and counted down the seconds hoping that the poor Trimble was secure on the rock and would not be toppled to an uncomfortable end on the ground below.

Gathering data at the summit of The Tower

The system of attaching the Trimble to my rucksack via a chain and dog lead worked extremely well and I'll use it again when faced with the next precarious summit

We left the summit of The Tower and negotiated the one rock step and continued down its steep grassy slopes to the narrow grass ridge below, meeting an exquisite yellow frog on the way who happily posed for a number of photos before bouncing off in to the grass.

Heading down from the summit of The Tower

Negotiating the rock step

Back on the narrow grass ridge

The beautiful yellow frog

The next point to survey was the first option for the connecting col that we had reached on our ascent.  As the Trimble gathered its allotted five minutes of data sat on top of my rucksack elevated 0.49m above the ground, John and Mark headed in to the boulder field at the eastern base of The Tower, where another option for this hill’s col was situated.

Gathering data from what turned out to be the critical col of The Tower

John and Mark in the boulder field assessing the ground for the next col placement

The stunning profile of The Tower

By now a dappled cloud scape was set against blue sky and our surrounds were magnificent as we were in a bowl between The Tower and the high escarpment edge.  After packing the Trimble away I scampered off to join John and Mark who had inspected this latest col position and as I arrived they indicated where the Trimble should be set up.  As it beeped away collecting its data points, I sat and looked up at The Tower, now straight above me it looked somewhat daunting.

Gathering data at the third col placement

Again, John and Mark continued around the eastern side of the hill and soon John called back that there was another col to its north, these col options are difficult to pinpoint on the map as a ring contour where the boulder field appears on the ground is a depression and not an elevation as usually expected.

John standing above the last of the col placements

Once the Trimble had been packed away I threw myself across the rock and scampered down and then up to join John who was standing just above this latest col option, as I set the Trimble up John sauntered off and Mark waited just below this col for the Trimble to do its stuff.

Gathering data at the fourth col placement

As we contoured around the western side of The Tower and headed toward our inward path the sun bathed down from a dapple clouded beautiful blue sky.  The colours now accentuated in the bracken made for a lovely gentle descent with the afternoon light now lower, giving an autumnal brilliance to the scene.  Crossing the river the land shone in autumn refinement, this is such a special time of year as seasons change and coloured life ebbs in to winters chill.

Our last view of the jagged tors at the top of The Tower

Autumn's beauty

The tranquil River Alport

We followed the path back toward the farm and picked a few dry mouthed slow berries on the way.  The eastern hillsides enclosing the River Alport rose in afternoon colour as their opposing and western hillsides ran down in shadow.

Mark on the path back toward Alport Farm

It had been a great day on the hill, capped with a visit to what must be one of the best of The Fours.  As we made our way down the inward track I stopped and framed Mark and John walking through the avenue of small trees, a moment in time captured as had been the memory of our walk.

Back through the avenue of small trees
Survey Result:

The Tower

Summit Height:  458.2m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SK 14111 91445

Col Height:  420.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SK 14207 91320

Drop:  38.1m (Four status confirmed)

Dominance:  8.32%

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

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Howgill Fells

10.10.15  Winder (SD 654 932), Arant Haw (SD 662 946), Calders (SD 670 960), Bram Rigg Top 

(SD 668 964) and The Calf (SD 667 970)  

Arant Haw (SD 662 946)

The Howgill Fells form an extended group on the periphery of the Yorkshire Dales and are sandwiched between the M6 to the west and the flat topped moorland hills of the Dales to the east.  The group of hills which form the Howgills are rather magnificent as they give good walking underfoot on extended ridges with the hills being eloquent in shape.

I travelled north with Mark and met John Kirk in Sedbergh where my diet met its match in the temptation of a scrummy English breakfast, having tackled three sausages and a variety of other rather lovely fattening objects that had all nestled on my large plate and said ‘eat me’, I sat back and wondered why some people think that dieting is difficult.

We parked the cars at approximately SD 652 922 and walked up the continuation of the paved road and headed up toward Winder, our first hill of the day, via the Lockbank Farm and initially steep hillsides eased with walking on green paths. 

On our way up Winder

The day’s weather forecast was good with rain an afterthought, and sunshine hazed with afternoon cloud predicted.  As we crested the upper ridge of Winder the trig pillar and its accompanying topographic viewfinder came in to view, three people were near the trig and another person was slowly walking up the hill’s western ridge to join them.  This family of Mum, Dad and two sons would spend the day being asked to avoid the Trimble on a succession of summits and cols as we came across them on three occasions, they happily took diversions and laughed along with our antics as somewhere during our meeting and the following conversation the term ‘dullness’ was mentioned and this then became a passing joke for the rest of the day.

We planned on visiting five hills during the day and I hoped to survey them all, the first of which is Winder, a Four that is listed with 32m of drop.  The high point of this hill is easily identifiable and as the Trimble gathered its customary five minutes of data I stood back, scribbled all relevant details in my notepad and tried to regain my breath.

Gathering data at the summit of Winder

Our next hill was Arant Haw, which is another smoothly shaped and elegant hill, between us and its summit was the critical col of Winder, we had some debate if this was on, or a few metres to the north-west, of the ridge path, deciding on the latter I set the Trimble up on top of my rucksack and waited for the five minutes of data to be collected.  During this Mum, Dad and the two sons walked toward us, smiled and kindly took a detour around the survey equipment.

Beyond this col lay the summit of Arant Haw and the slow walk up was pleasantly welcome; we rested beside its northern escarpment edge as the Trimble gathered its all-important data.  As Mark and John ate their dinner I scampered down the path leading to Calders and quickly set the Trimble up at the next col.  By the time data were collected John and Mark were walking on the path just a minute or so from the set-up position.

Winder from the ascent of Arant Haw

The beautiful smoothed land of the Howgills

Gathering data at the summit of Arant Haw

As we slowly plodded our way up the southern ridge of Calders John decided to head back as he had a meal to prepare for this evening and we all know that food is much more important than the hills, so off he dashed, and Mark and I plodded on.

The summit and critical col of Calders has been surveyed by Alan Dawson with his Leica RX1250, therefore this was not a priority for me today.  However, if time permitted I wanted to get a data set at the summit to check the Trimble’s processed height against Alan’s Leica equipment.  And if there was enough time the same could be done at its critical col, and this was scheduled as the last survey of the day depending on time and inclination.

The summit of Calders is a small embedded rock on the side of the path approximately 5 metres from the base of the hill’s summit cairn, as the Trimble did its stuff Mark went ahead to assess the next col on our route.  This col connected to Bram Rigg Top which is listed as a Nuttall with just 15m of drop.  As this is the minimum drop to qualify for John and Anne’s list of English 2,000ft mountains it meant that the Trimble survey was one of the most important of the day.  However important I judged this survey to be, it had not been pencilled in prior to the walk and had only been spotted by Mark as he consulted its drop value on Hill Bagging as we were getting our boots on in Sedbergh.

Gathering data at the summit of Calders

I was soon with Mark down at the col and set the Trimble up where we judged its critical point to be placed, this was a few metres from the gravelled path and adjacent to a drainage pipe inserted under the path which may indicate that this is the low point of the path hereabouts.  This pipe fed water away from a ditch which was lower than the Trimble set-up position and which we had dismissed as being man-made.  After the allotted five minutes of data were gathered we headed up to the hill’s summit.  This hill has a small cairn placed at or near to its high point, we both independently judged the summit of the hill to be approximately 10 metres from this small cairn.  The cairn is now placed on solid ground, whereas our preferred high point was amongst moor grass which can be deceptive as on occasion its height can give a false sense of elevation.

Bram Rigg Top in the background, gathering data at its critical col

Calders in the background, gathering data at the critical col of Bram Rigg Top

As the Trimble gathered data Mark sauntered off toward the high point of the day, and the highest summit in the Howgill Fells; The Calf.  I soon packed the equipment away and scampered off to join him.  I’d only been to the summit of The Calf on one occasion, in May of 1992 on a decidedly warm day.  I had good memories of this walk and the impression that these hills had left with me.

Gathering data at the summit of Bram Rigg Top

A more expansive view of the summit of Bram Rigg Top taken from the same position as the above photograph

The view of Calders from the summit of Bram Rigg Top

Gathering data at the summit of Bram Rigg Top

Once at the summit I positioned the Trimble on top of my rucksack and away it went gathering its five minutes of data.  All that remained was the critical col of Calders which was back the way we had just come.  As the Trimble gathered its last data set of the day Mark walked ahead and said that if I hadn’t caught up with him he would wait beside the cairn at the summit of Calders.

The Calf from the descent of Bram Rigg Top

Gathering data at the summit of The Calf

The last of the day's data sets at the critical col of Calders

By now my arms were cold as the easterly breeze had picked up during the late afternoon, I stopped and tried to get my one skin summer walking jacket on and had a bit of difficulty to get my numbed fingers working to zip it up, as I pulled my gloves on heat replenished my hands and I joined Mark on the track heading back over Calders.  All that remained was to re-trace the majority of our inward route back to the awaiting car. 

Looking toward Arant Haw (SD 662 946) on our descent

There is a soft beauty to the Howgill Fells as their sloping ridges fall to green pastured valleys, they evoke friendliness and hospitality with eloquently shaped profiles, and today their beige coloured early autumnal moor grass swayed in the light breeze adding movement to their static form.  They are a lovey hill range and one I hope to revisit again in the future.

The soft rounded ridges of the Howgills

Next stop Mr Kirk’s for a yummy Paella.

mmmmmmmmm yum yum, looks good
Survey Result:


Summit Height:  473.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SD 65401 93275

Col Height:  442.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SD 65784 93722

Drop:  31.0m (Four status confirmed)

Dominance:  6.55%

Arant Haw

Summit Height:  606.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SD 66206 94629

Col Height:  550.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SD 66955 95330

Drop:  56.6m

Dominance:  9.33%


Summit Height:  675.4m (converted to OSGM15, Trimble GeoXH 6000)  

675.4m (converted to OSGM15, Leica RX1250)

Summit Grid Reference:  SD 67070 96002

Col Height:  641.2m (converted to OSGM15, Trimble GeoXH 6000)  

641.2m (converted to OSGM15, Leica RX1250)

Col Grid Reference:  SD 66865 96762

Drop:  34.2m (Trimble GeoXH 6000)  34.2m (Leica RX1250) 

Dominance:  5.07% (Trimble GeoXH 6000 and Leica RX1250)

Bram Rigg Top

Summit Height:  672.7m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SD 66828 96453

Col Height:  658.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SD 67035 96278

Drop:  14.7m (Trimble GeoXH 6000)  14.7m (line survey)  (Nuttall deletion)

Dominance:  2.18%

The Calf

Summit Height:  676.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SD 66746 97038

Drop:  384m

Dominance:  56.76%

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