Sunday, 8 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Aran

26.02.18  Pt. 306.6m (SH 785 187) and Foel Caerynwch (SH 772 179)

Foel Caerynwch (SH 772 179)

Occasionally in life the hills are there for more than views and enjoyment, they are also there in times of need, when the soul needs replenishing and a mind needs to think and assess, this morning was such a day.

I’d only decided on the morning’s walk late last night, on a whim, out of an inner need to be on the hill.  I knew which hill to head for, one who’s rounded top I had viewed from many a direction and yet never visited.  It was a hill that had been on my radar for a number of months and it did not disappoint.

The hill is named Y Foel on Ordnance Survey maps and it is situated mid-way between Dinas Mawddwy and Dolgellau.  When compared to its many higher neighbours it is only small in height and yet for me, there is something special about its shape, as having an elongated upper ridge leading to a grassy coned summit seems to personify many a Welsh hill, I thought it must be seldom visited outside of the farming community with only an occasional hill walker going its way.

I set off from the outskirts of Brithdir to the hill’s north; it was bitingly chilly with winter morning colour enhancing the adjacent higher hills to the north.  It was good to be out, in an environment that I am accustomed to, an environment that over many years has given me so much.  Being on the hill seldom disappoints whatever the weather and whatever the season, the hills enhance and enthral, they are a wonderland difficult to quantify.  They give simple and yet fulfilling pleasure and they help to fathom those intricate ways of life’s complexities.

Winter colour on Rhobell Fawr

The route to the hill took me up a narrow paved road, at the end I veered left on to open but walled hill side, following who I thought to be a farmer, they were in fact a contractor who along with a colleague was rebuilding one of the many stone walls, a cold job for the day as an easterly wind chilled the land.

I stopped and talked with Dewi Thomas; the contractor, who was local to Dolgellau, he gave me two hill names and kindly posed for a photograph.  These meetings with people who work the land, who on the main are from the farming community are a pleasure to have, they have taken place on a frequent basis over recent walks, they enhance the pleasure I get from the hills, and inform and bring local knowledge to an otherwise unknown landscape.

After this chance meeting I made my way to the top of a 307m map heighted bump and assembled the Trimble aligned with the high point, as it gathered data I stood and took in the colour wash as the winter sun cast rich colour across the higher hill to my west, this is the hill named Y Foel on the map and which Dewi told me is named Foel Caerynwch, a name I noted and hoped to substantiate later in the day.

Gathering data at the summit of Pt. 306.6m (SH 785 187)

Sheep tracks led me to the hill’s connecting bwlch which bisected a vehicle track, I placed the Trimble on top of my rucksack and gathered another data set, during this I stood back and admired the moor, a bleached and yet radiantly delicate golden colour that will turn with the passing of the seasons to a luxuriant emerald green before the brilliance of orange tinged colour vividly strikes the Autumnal land.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Pt. 306.6m

By now bulbous snow flurried clouds were massing to the east, but in the main the upper ridge I was now on remained bathed in winter sunshine.  The next point to survey was the critical bwlch of Foel Caerynwch, this proved a wide expanse of bog, which today was thankfully frozen.  I positioned the Trimble to gather data and waited for the allotted 300 datum points to be stored.  After gathering the equipment up and packing it away I continued toward the high point of the day.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Foel Caerynwch

Although one aim for the day was to visit new hills, and another to survey and gather data, my underlying need was to think and let my mind open and race and consider and assess and possibly even conclude.  I did much of this during the day, it seemed to help, but sometimes life can be difficult, even complicated and occasionally even after time on the hill the conclusion that is reached is the one that was there before.

The view north-east beyond Pt. 306.6m

Cadair Idris and Foel Caerynwch

Approaching the summit of Foel Caerynwch

Reaching the summit of Foel Caerynwch the easterly wind blew across its top with flecks of snow being cast across the land.  It was wondrous to be out on such a day.  I stood in the lee of the wind whilst the Trimble gathered its last data set of the day, occasionally glimpsing the mass of Cadair Idris, a gem of a hill from this direction with its rounded cliff shaped summits soaring skyward.

Gathering data at the summit of Foel Caerynwch

Looking north-west toward Foel Offrwm

I joined a green path on the descent, a lovely way off the hill, and one that took me to Tyn Llidiart where Terry and Marion Ogden were out busying themselves around their car, I stopped and chatted, Marion smiled when telling me that they know the higher of the two hills I had visited as The Pimple, and that its name is Foel Caerynwch, and asked if I had noticed this name on one of the wooden marker posts just back up the path, I hadn’t and was intrigued, so double backed finding a Snowdonia National Park information board, a finger post and wooden marker post all giving the hill’s name as Foel Caerynwch.

And the name of the hill is.........

It had been a chance encounter with Marion and Terry, but one that led me to the name of the hill being substantiated by another local and by the National Park via their information board, finger post and marker post.  I had missed all these when walking down the green track; my mind had wandered to other things, ones whose importance was a part of my day on the hill.  Walking back to my car I thought how a mind can be a delicate and complicated thing, missing detail that is on show whilst still immersed in thought.

Survey Result:

Pt. 306.6m

Summit Height:  306.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 78563 18733

Bwlch Height:  288.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 78666 18477

Drop:  17.7m (non Sub-Trichant status confirmed)

Dominance:  5.77%

Foel Caerynwch (significant name change)

Summit Height:  342.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SH 77261 17997

Bwlch Height:  304.0m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SH 78442 18047

Drop:  38.9m

Dominance:  11.35%

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