Saturday, 19 May 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Beacon Hill



19.04.18  Garth Hill (SO 271 725), Waun Sidan (SO 250 726), Fountain Head Well Field (SO 231 722), Bwlch Bank (SO 242 720), Pt. 410.4m (SO 245 710) and Gwernaffel (SO 259 712)

Waun Sidan (SO 250 726)

With a forecast for rising temperatures I set off from the outskirts of Knighton at 7.30am and slowly plodded up the Garth Lane.  Overhead the sky blazed blue and the crisp yellow of daffodils sparkled as the land awoke.

The sparkle of yellowed daffodils

I planned on visiting six hills, two of which are listed as Trichant, two as Pedwarau, one as a Sub-Pedwar and one being a possible new Sub-Pedwar, this would take me on a circuit above Cwm Gilla on country lanes and relatively high fields where lambs were scattered following their mothers, and all bathed in the early morning sun.

Nearing the top of Garth Lane I headed in to the adjacent southerly field and followed hedgerows toward the summit of Garth Hill which was easily identifiable.  As the Trimble gathered data a quad bike and trailer zoomed my way stopping off to scatter feed for sheep in the adjacent field.

Approaching the summit of Garth Hill

I left the Trimble beeping away gathering its allotted data and flagged the farmer down who parked his quad bike just below the summit, the farmer was Guy Hodnett and he was out dropping feed off for a number of sheep who had been roused from their slumber with the thought of breakfast.

Guy Hodnett

I chatted with Guy for ten minutes or so, and he confirmed the hills name and mentioned others that I was yet to visit, it was a pleasure meeting Guy and even though I was in his field early in the morning with an unusual piece of kit set up at its high point, he didn’t mind at all and was happy enough to talk about the hills.

Gathering data at the summit of Garth Hill

Guy directed me down toward the bwlch of Garth Hill which was on a T-junction of minor lanes where I met Tony, who farmed from Craig-y-don.  Tony’s tractor was pulled up near the point where I wanted to set the Trimble up and after another chat with more place-name information given he kindly moved it and chugged back up the lane, and once five minutes of data were stored I headed up the same way past the entrance to the Racecourse Farm, Craig-y-don and White Anthony Farm.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Garth Hill

The next hill to visit and survey was Waun Sidan, a relatively new addition as a Pedwar due to LIDAR analysis conducted by Aled, I had visited this hill once before many years ago.  The ten figure grid reference produced by LIDAR led me to the high point where I set the Trimble up, as it gathered data a tractor headed up the field straight toward the summit, I flagged it down and proceeded to talk with John and Liz Roberts who farm from the Racecourse.

Gathering data at the summit of Waun Sidan

These chance meetings with farmers are proving a joy, and have been so for many years, this is one of the reasons why I gain pleasure from visiting smaller heighted hills as chance meetings with farmers on the higher hills seldom occur.

John and Liz Roberts

The three of us chatted away for many minutes with a number of names being confirmed and ones that I had never heard before also given.  I asked permission to visit and survey the connecting bwlch and although this was not a part of the Racecourse’s land John and Liz directed me to the nearest gate leading toward the bwlch.

The bwlch proved expansive and was situated in another closely cropped grazing field, and again the grid reference produced by LIDAR directed me to its critical point and once five minutes of data were gathered I headed back to the minor lane and continued south-west toward the potential 400m Sub-Pedwar.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Waun Sidan

By now the sun was well and truly heating the land and I paced myself toward the summit of the next hill, slowly plodding, and enjoying the unseasonal warmth.  The high point was adjacent to a small covered reservoir which was positioned in a fenced compound, and once data were gathered I headed down to the hill’s connecting bwlch.

Gathering data at the summit of Fountain Head Well Field

The bwlch was at a T-junction between the minor lane and a track, as I assessed the lay of land two vehicles drove past, a rarity on these roads.  As the Trimble gathered its allotted data another farmer on a quad bike zoomed around in the adjacent field and as data were stored and I packed the Trimble away I flagged David Williams down who was then heading up the lane toward me.

Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Fountain Head Well Field

David farms from White Anthony and his family farm is Fountain Head, whose land the potential sub is situated on.  He told me that the hill doesn’t have a name but the high field where the summit is situated is known as the Fountain Head Well Field.  It was a pleasure meeting David and as he continued toward the top of the hill where the small covered reservoir is situated to drop feed for the sheep I continued up toward the high point of the day; the summit of Bwlch Bank.

David Williams

I surveyed two points at the top of Bwlch Bank, one near to where the 426m spot height appears on the map and which I considered the high point of the hill, and the other where I judged the highest ground to be at the position of a small 425m ring contour that appears on the map. 

Gathering data at the summit of Bwlch Bank

By the time I arrived at the next bwlch the heat had started to take its toll and I knew that the rest of the day would have to be taken very slowly, I’d come prepared and brought extra water but I also know how my body reacts toward excessive heat and have become accustomed to being completely poleaxed on occasion.

Once the bwlch was surveyed I followed the track up toward the high point of the next hill which is a part of Blaen-y-cwm land; a farm nestling to the south of the summit, the farmer; David Wilding had been busy most of the morning ploughing the adjacent northerly field and I hoped to meet him for more place-name enquires, however when I arrived his tractor was pulled up at the bottom of the field and all was quiet, I took advantage and quietly gathered a data set from the summit and hoped that he would again be ploughing by the time I was back on the track, unfortunately he wasn’t, so I did not have the opportunity to confirm this high field’s locally known name.

Gathering data at the summit of Pt. 410.4m

It seemed the land comforted itself with warmth, farmers were out working, and the occasional hill walker toiled in their wake.  Only two points remained to survey; the bwlch and summit of the last hill of the day, whose name had been confirmed as Gwernaffel.  I took three data sets from the area of this hill’s bwlch and rested as each were gathered and stored, I needed to as the temperature rose and my body wilted.

Reaching the summit of the hill I took a further two data sets, one from the LIDAR summit position and one from a higher point, with LIDAR only covering part of the summit area, only downhill remained between me and the comfort of my car where I could get my boots off and rest.

The observatory on Farrington Bank

Gathering data at the summit of Gwernaffel

The downhill was through ploughed fields following fences and hedgerows, over fences and down steep grassed fields with the town of Knighton my final destination.  I rested frequently and luxuriated myself in the heat and the knowledge that I had sufficient water and there was not far to go.

A welcome sight

I arrived back at my car after almost nine hours on the hill with 15 surveys having been completed and with a wealth of place-name information to catalogue and good memories to last.



Survey Result:


Garth Bank

Summit Height:  347.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 27178 72597

Bwlch Height:  272.5m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 26803 72882

Drop:  75.4m

Dominance:  21.67%






Summit Height:  407.8m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 25022 72649

Bwlch Height:  376.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 24638 72691


Dominance:  7.72%





Fountain Head Well Field (significant name change)

Summit Height:  405.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 23159 72299

Bwlch Height:  387.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 23772 72302

Drop:  18.0m (non 400m Sub-Pedwar status confirmed)

Dominance:  4.43%






Summit Height:  424.9m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 24234 72023

Drop:  c 95m

Dominance:  22.38%





Pt. 410.4m

Summit Height:  410.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 24525 71043

Bwlch Height:  386.3m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 24092 71505

Drop:  24.1m

Dominance:  5.88%






Summit Height:  380.4m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 25947 71212

Bwlch Height:  346.1m (converted to OSGM15)

Bwlch Grid Reference:  SO 25623 71156

Drop:  34.3m (Trichant status confirmed)

Dominance:  9.03%






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