Friday, 27 April 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Clee Hills

26.03.18  Brown Clee Hill (SO 593 867)

Brown Clee Hill (SO 593 867)

I’ve lived in border country all my life, that haphazard delineating line between Wales and England with my forbears and myself rooted in the formers land.  Across the border lies the English county of Shropshire which in the main is topographically a part of greater Cambria, however until recent times I had not investigated the Shropshire hills, this has been rectified over recent years and their appeal and also variety is great, but the highest hill of the county until today had evaded me.

The county high point of Shropshire is Brown Clee Hill which is given a 540m map height and is adorned with a number of heathery bumps on its summit area, one of which has a topographic viewfinder standing on a levelled plinth with the customary stone steps leading up to it, whilst there are also two large radar masts near the high point.  Although it is the topographic viewfinder that acts as a honeypot for most walkers this is not the summit of the hill, the high point is a little further north on one of the heathery mounds beside the radar compound.

By the time I parked the chilled air of early morning had been swept away and spring’s warmth cascaded down from a radiant blue sky.  This first hill warmth is always an awakening experience when winter’s harsh climate and its sometimes oppressive day light hour’s gives way to burgeoning growth with greenery sprouting and welcoming lushness.

I had planned to use the paved access track to the radar masts as my ascent route but decided to park next to other cars in a large lay-by adjacent to a public footpath giving access through the Stanbroughs Wood on the eastern part of the hill.  I was thankful I did so, as the wood proved a welcome release from what would have been a strip of tarmac, it also proved rather beautiful with mixed woodland and a good, albeit muddy path leading forever upward.

The route to Brown Clee Hill from the east

The path broke out of the forestry through a gate on to open hillside and soon the remains of the Abdon Quarry came in to view with a large derelict building nestled against the upper easterly slopes of the hill, beyond was the paved access track and the two large radar masts, and above was blue sky, which proved a pleasing quality detracting from man’s imposition on the hill.

Derelict buildings from the old Abdon Quarry

The paved road leading to the radar masts

The paved track led to the plinth and panoramic viewfinder where a number of people were quietly taking in the view, I continued toward the heathery mound where the summit of the hill is positioned, once there I quickly assembled the Trimble atop my rucksack giving it elevation above its immediate surrounds and which acts as an improvised tripod.

Gathering data at the summit of Brown Clee Hill

As the Trimble beeped away gathering its allotted data I stood back and took in the view, it was good to be out on the hill in such beautiful weather.  If the viewfinder position was quiet I also wanted to gather data from its immediate periphery, and by the time data were stored from the high point all walkers had left, so I headed back to the plinth and gathered a further two data sets, one from the high point beside the stone façade of the plinth and the other from an embedded rock which visually was slightly higher, during this three other walkers appeared, one from the west and the other two from the route I had taken from the east, I chatted with all and explained what I was doing.

Gathering data at the edge of the viewfinder plinth

Gathering data on an embedded rock close to the viewfinder plinth

After data were stored and the Trimble packed away I retraced my inward route back to my car.   

Survey Result:

Brown Clee Hill

Summit Height:  540.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 59372 86701

Col Height:  168.5m (LIDAR)

Col Grid Reference:  SO 61131 95573 (LIDAR)

Drop:  372.0m (Trimble summit and LIDAR col)

Dominance:  68.83%

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