Saturday, 15 October 2016

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Beacon Hill

03.10.16  Cefn y Coed (SO 211 934) and Black Hill (SO 209 929)     

Cefn y Coed (SO 211 934)

After visiting Stingwern Hill (SJ 132 014) with Rick and Jen we navigated toward Trefaldwyn (Montgomery) and onward to the area known locally as Cefn y Coed, the top of which has another Marilyn to add to the growing number already bagged during the last twelve months by Jenny and Rick, who are fast approaching the record for the greatest number of Marilyns visited during a twelve month timeframe.

I’d visited this hill twice before, the first time in July 2004, and the second time in the company of Alan Dawson in October 2013 when he surveyed the hill with his Leica RX1250.  The hill is no more than a high pasture used for sheep grazing but it has extensive views and is situated in a quiet spot that is seldom visited unless you’re a Marilyn, Hump or P30 bagger.

We approached from the north where a gate gave access to the first of many fields.  There was a slightly chilling breeze whisking across the land as we gained height beside a row of stunted trees which shielded us from a tractor working away to our east on a complex of large barns that had appeared on the land since my first visit.

The top of this hill is slightly rounded and I remember watching Alan on my last visit as he used an Abney level to sight across to an adjacent point which is given a 355m spot height on Ordnance Survey maps, compared to the 355m ring contour where the listed summit appears, each point was surveyed by Alan with the results being 353.2m and 353.5m respectively.

As we approached the summit I crouched down and assessed the lay of land leading up to the high point from its north, once reached I put my rucksack on the ground as an indicator and Rick then assessed the lay of land from a number of directions and directed me toward where he judged the high point to be situated.

I set the Trimble up on top of my rucksack to give it elevation above the grass, measured a 0.43m offset between its internal antenna and the ground at its base and waited for the 0.1m accuracy level to be attained before pressing ‘Log’.  As data were gathered I joined Rick and Jen for a natter, as the last of the designated 300 datum points were stored the Marilyn bagging couple made a move toward the top where the 355m spot height appears on current Ordnance Survey maps.

Gathering data at the summit of Cefn y Coed

The route toward this southerly high point took us through a field of cows, they all rather obediently skipped through an open gate in to the field that we were vacating, all that was left in the field where they had once been and where we now were, was a rather big looking and slightly inquisitive bull, thankfully he seemed more concerned where his female company had gone rather than wondering why three people were roaming through his field.

As we arrived in the field where the 355m spot height is situated Rick directed me to a point to set the Trimble up, whilst Jenny headed toward a point nearer to where a conifer plantation is situated.  We decided that each point needed Trimbling, making three data sets in all including that already taken at what is designated the summit of the hill.

Once the five minutes of allotted data were gathered I headed toward Rick and Jen who had found the high point near to the conifer plantation, visually this looked higher than the point where I had just gathered data from, but lower than the point where the designated summit is given and where the first data set was taken with the Trimble.

Again the Trimble was set up on top of my rucksack to give it elevation above its immediate surrounds, and as it beeped away gathering its all-important data I kept Rick and Jen amused telling them stories of how I re-met Lou, a date we had whilst in school and also the fact that I’d lived with her younger sister.

The Trimble set-up position at the high point of Black Hill near to the conifer plantation

After the Trimble was packed away we descended north-west toward where a public footpath leads in to a wood; in front of us was a superb view stretching for miles, it was good to be out on the hill in good company with good conversation.  The path through the wood led us to Camp Farm where I went hunting its occupant.

Gordon Davies was busying himself in the sunshine when I introduced myself and explained my interest in Welsh upland place-names.  We then spent the next 30 minutes with him talking about all manner of things.

Gordon’s grandfather had moved to Camp Farm in 1904 from the Trefeglwys area, I asked about the names of the two tops we had visited, the latter beside the conifer plantation was just in view from where we were standing and Gordon told me that it is known as Black Hill.  I asked about the name of Caeliber Isaf which appears on the southern side of the hill on current Ordnance Survey maps, Gordon explained that Caeliber Isaf is mainly on the other side of the hill and takes in a small district and that there are other local places with Caeliber in their names (the name Caeliber Uchaf also appears toward the west on current Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps).  I then asked about the name of Cefn y Coed which appears across the summit area of this hill on the Ordnance Survey One-Inch ‘Old Series’ map, Gordon told me that he knew Cefn y Coed to be a local area rather than the hill itself.  The high point of the hill was out of view from where we were standing but Gordon pointed toward where it was situated and said that it was a little higher than Black Hill and that it was known locally as Cwm Bromley Top, with Cwm Bromley being a farm on the eastern side of the hill.

Gordon Davies

I scribbled all necessary details in my note book as Gordon kindly gave me all this information, he then asked us to follow him as he was going to try and point out where Snowdon was, we walked to the top of his drive and on to a scrub piece of land from where the high Berwyn and Aran, and the bulging profile of Cadair Idris were on fine display, and way off in the distance were two pyramidal summits and Gordon pointed toward them and said ‘there it is, that’s Snowdon.’  

We’d spent a very pleasant half hour or so in Gordon’s company and thanked him for his time and shook his hand before saying our goodbyes.  It was only a short walk back on the road to the awaiting car and then it was off to Churchstoke and the minor road leading toward the base of Corndon.

We approached Corndon from its north-west and I dropped Rick and Jen off next to a foot stile which gave access to the path that leads steeply up the hill’s western slopes, this is adjacent to where a mall conifer plantation has recently been felled.  Whist they bagged another Marilyn I continued up to the top of the track, parked, had a butty and watched the two of them nearing the summit.  I just had time to visit the summit of Lan Fawr; a 426.1m Pedwar before jumping in the car and driving back down the track to pick them up as they arrived back at the foot stile – good timing.

Jenny and Rick approaching the summit of Corndon

Corndon from the summit of Lan Fawr

Next on the agenda was the Stiperstones, an excellent hill, I dropped them off for their fifth Marilyn of the day on the high point of the road to the south of the summit and then drove to the main car park and sat in the sun and slightly chilly breeze and waited for them to wander down the path from the summit.

Before the last hill of the day we visited the Horseshoe Inn at the Bridges where Rick and Jen sampled a number of brews.  This is a lovely pub situated next to a bunkhouse that accommodates 22 people beside the trickling waters of the River East Onny.

Ready to sample the brews at the Horseshoe Inn at the Bridges

All that remained was a drive toward and through Churchstoke and Forden and up the steep minor road that leads to the ridge road passing over Cefn Digoll (Long Mountain).  By the time we reached the gate that gives access up the track to the summit the sun had sank in the sky, the gate was open and we took full advantage and gained a few metres in distance by driving up the track to park beside the large mast just to the south-east of the summit.

Leaving the car we followed the path to the northerly side of the ancient earthen embankment that encircles this hill’s summit and joined its top and walked round to the western side where the view opened up with slithers of orange hued against subtle blues as day turned to night.

The last light of a great day out with Rick and Jen

There was just time to venture in to the wood to visit the trig and the high point of the hill, before heading out of the wood and back to the car before darkness fell.  It had been a great day out in the company of Rick and Jen which was topped off with an extremely good meal at Spice UK in Welshpool.

Beside the trig pillar at the summit of Cefn Digoll


After arriving home I contacted Ted and Merle Davies at Cwm Bromley farm, Ted told me that he knows the high point where the summit of the hill is situated as the Tank Field as there’s a water tank in it, and confirmed that he occasionally refers to the field where the summit is situated as top of Cwm Bromley but doesn’t really know this field or the hill itself as either Cwm Bromley Top or as top of Cwm Bromley, preferring to call it the Tank Field.  However, study of the Tithe map confirmed that the old bounded land of this hill that now takes in many of the upper fenced fields and importantly also includes the summit was named as Cefn y Coed at the time of the Tithe map, this confirms that in all likelihood the hill is also named Cefn y Coed.

Survey Result:

Summit Height:  353.6m (converted to OSGM15, Trimble GeoXH 6000)  353.5m (converted to OSGM15, Leica RX1250)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 21164 93411

Drop:  169.5m (Leica RX1250 based on 184.0m [converted to OSGM15] bwlch survey)

Dominance:  47.94% (Lesser Dominant status confirmed)

Black Hill

Summit Height:  353.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 20930 92921

Drop: c 9m 

Dominance:  2.55% 

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