Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Hegdon Hill

30.01.18  Grendon Green / The Firs (SO 598 573)

The summit of Grendon Green / The Firs

When in 1992 The Relative Hills of Britain was published by Cicerone Press, Alan Dawson listed this hill as a Marilyn with a summit height of 252m and by the name of Grendon Green.  This hill’s status was soon changed as in 1997 The Hewitts and Marilyns of England was published by TACit Tables and the accolade of Marilyn was now given to Hegdon Hill (SO 585 539) with a summit height of 254m, both values were based on map heights given to triangulation pillars.  The current listing for both hills give Hegdon Hill as 255m high with 157m of drop, and Grendon Green as 254m high with 41m of drop, with the summit height for Hegdon Hill taken from a spot height on the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger and 1:25,000 Explorer maps and the summit height for Grendon Green taken from a spot height on the Ordnance Survey Interactive Coverage Map hosted on the Geograph website.  Part of my plan today was to survey each hill and see if the Trimble could distinguish which is higher.

The forecast for the day was good until mid-afternoon and as I dropped Lou off at Shrub Hill railway station for her commute in to Birmingham the sky was a sublime colour, with delicate streaks of pink and yellow backed by a midday blue that forever got lighter as the sun rose casting slight warmth on a frost encrusted land.

I drove west toward Bromyard and on to Bredenbury before parking on the edge of a track that forms a T-junction with the A 44.  I’d read logs on Hill Bagging that the high point of this hill is either close to a large water tower on the track that leads from the main road to the farm of Batchley, or it was in an adjacent field which a gate gave access to.  The summit area of the hill also has a trig pillar which logs said was difficult to find as it is immersed in a thick hedge surrounded by nettles and barbed wire.

Leaving the car I walked up the track and used the first gate I came to and headed in to a field, following its perimeter to another gate which gave access to the field immediately west of the track and where the trig is positioned.  I quickly judged the high point of this field which was adjacent to a fence and a number of trees which combine with the thick hedge where the trig is hiding, and then set the Trimble up on top of my rucksack.  As it slowly crept down to the 0.1m accuracy level before data should be logged I spent time assessing the land to the immediate east of this field and as the ground rose from where the Trimble was positioned to the land where the track leads to Batchley farm I decided to close the Trimble down before it had gathered any data and set it up on the high point of land close to or on the track.

The field known as The Harps to the immediate west of the track to Batchley farm

Once out of the field and on the track it wasn’t hard to judge where its high point lay, and I quickly assembled the Trimble on top of my rucksack and waited for the 0.1m accuracy level to be attained, during this I chatted with a woman from a near house the other side of the large water tower as she was leaving in her car, this conversation lasted a number of minutes but as I waved her off the Trimble had still not achieved its accuracy level.  A few minutes later a van drove up the track toward the farm, I flagged it down explaining what I was doing and the driver was good enough to avoid the Trimble and rucksack as he drove past.  However, after this a dog ran up the track from the farm followed by a woman, the dog seemed particularly enamoured by my rucksack which caused the accuracy level in the Trimble to bounce back up which resulted in more minutes waiting for the 0.1m accuracy level to be attained.

Looking south with the Trimble set up on top of my rucksack just on the left of the top of the track

The woman was Mary Whitfield Jones, and she was the farmer from Batchley, I explained what I was doing and she said ‘oh you’re another one, I had one over a while ago, like buses you are, I expect you’re looking for the trig pillar, it’s over there buried in the undergrowth, come with me I’ll show you where it is.’  I thanked her for her offer but told her I didn’t have much interest in hunting out trigs but was interested in gathering data from the top of her track and I was also interested in the name of the hill, to this Mary said ‘he was from Marlow in Buckinghamshire, and only interested in Marilyns,’ I smiled at this and wondered who this was.

Mary Whitfield Jones

Once Mary realised I had little interest in the trig pillar we concentrated on the name of the hill, however before we could get to grips with its name she whizzed off to get the man who had earlier driven up the track as he was there to do a bit of work on the farm for her.  By now I thought the accuracy level in the Trimble must have reached 0.1m, and so it had, so I pressed ‘Log’ and wandered back down the track to await the return of Mary.

Within a couple of minutes she was back and we were talking about the hill, she told me that the actual hill had no name, or at least she did not know of one, I asked about the name of Grendon Green which is prominent on contemporary Ordnance Survey maps, she explained that this is strictly applicable to the land at the end of the track where the T-junction is with the A 44 road, and that the end house is named Grendon and that it’s a little disappointing as there isn’t even a triangle of green to lay claim to the name.

I then asked Mary if the bounded land where the Trimble was placed had a name, she told me that it is known as The Firs, by this stage she’d also told me that she had lived at the farm for 42 years and was born and bred in Herefordshire.  I asked about the name of The Firs, Mary explained that the land between the two grazing fields to the west and the east once had conifers on it and that’s why it is known as The Firs, she suggested I should look on the Tithe map (which I do, but mainly for Welsh hills), I then asked her about the two adjacent fields and she said that the field to the west is known as The Harps and the field to the east is known as the Front Meadow.  Before leaving to inspect sheep with the man who had arrived in the van she again offered to show me the trig pillar, I smiled and said that I should now turn the equipment off as it had probably gathered sufficient data.

Gathering data at the summit of Grendon Green / The Firs

During our conversation we also discussed the high point of the hill, Mary thought that it was in the adjacent easterly field and in hindsight I should of asked permission to take a data set from here, but I had already judged this to be slightly lower and as I wanted to visit and survey Hegdon Hill and the two summits of Seager Hill and get back to Worcester in sufficient time for a meal followed by a visit to the cinema with Lou, my priority led me back to my car, waving to Mary on the way.  What a fantastic woman, full of enthusiasm and knowledge. 

Survey Result: 

Grendon Green / The Firs (suggested significant name change)

Summit Height:  253.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 59900 57311

Drop:  c 41m

Dominance:  15.99%

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