Sunday, 2 September 2018

Mapping Mountains – Trimble Surveys – Fforest Glud

06.06.18  Bradnor Hill (SO 282 584)

The critical col of Bradnor Hill

At 9.50am I was sitting in a field full of barley listening to summer bird song, somewhere in amongst the crop was the Trimble, beeping away as individual datum points were collected.  To my left a mature hedge obstructed any view of the field from the adjacent narrow lane, behind me was another hedge, this time one of trees which obstructed the view from an adjacent row of houses, ahead were one or two dotted houses off in the distance.  No one could see me, and as I couldn’t even see the Trimble from my seated position as it gathered data amongst the barley crop, it also meant that this equipment was out of view from anyone that just happened to pass, no one did.  I remained seated for ten minutes, enjoying the warmth from the sun, wondering how funny life can be and the directions it sometimes takes, after all I never thought that sitting in such a field full of barley could be a part of a hill walk, but here I was, content with life.

The esoteric part of mountain surveying

The field in question is where the critical col of Bradnor Hill is situated, the col is positioned near a row of houses, eloquently named The Row, it has the Cynon Brook to its south and a dismantled railway to its north, it sits almost forgotten, as is the want of a col, seldom visited except for the farmer whose field the col is situated in and who no doubt planted the barley.  Col’s are the polar opposite of summits in many ways, they are a meeting of convex and concave, whilst a summit is an individual point, they are seldom visited and yet they form an intrinsic part of a hill’s numerical data and are the pivotal point between summit and Ordnance Datum Newlyn.  Simply put, without a col there would be no drop, and yet they are almost forgotten, and almost devoid of visitors, especially amongst the hill walking community, but on this morning I was more than happy to spend time at this col, quietly sitting and thinking and luxuriating myself in summerness, where insect and bird and warmth and tranquil beauty slowly went about their business.

As the time spent sitting neared its end I checked my watch, ten minutes of data had been gathered, I stood and followed one of the vehicle tracks amongst the crop to where the Trimble beeped away in the sea of green, I pressed ‘Done’ and closed the equipment down, and took a number of photos before packing it away.

Gathering data at the critical col of Bradnor Hill

I followed the vehicle track back through the crop to the access gate I had used to enter the field, across the lane was my car, during my time in the field only one car had passed on the adjacent narrow lane and I was firmly planted behind the intervening hedge when it did so, no one to my knowledge had seen me and I tried to leave the crop as I had found it, sprouting to the heavens.

It was only a short drive east to the outskirts of Kington and then upward toward the Kington Golf Club on a narrow and steep road that gained height at an appealing rate.  I parked where a sign proclaimed ‘no cars beyond this point’ and headed up a closely cropped runnel of grass toward what turned out to be the 12th fairway.

A great place to park and a lovely hill to visit

As I walked along the fairway the morning was utterly beautiful with blue skies and a coolness of warmth, I stopped and chatted with a number of golfers and helped one try and find his misdirected ball, without success I’m afraid.

I knew that the summit of Bradnor Hill was close to the 8th tee and asked directions to it, I made sure that I stopped as any budding Nicklaus adopted their position before connecting with the ball that flew up the adjacent fairway, I found it next to impossible to follow the ball’s trajectory from side-on, but easy from behind.

Within a few minutes of setting out I spotted the large rocks that designate the hill’s summit, close to the 8th tee.  Thankfully and also conveniently one of the large rocks that made up the summit cairn was positioned in such a way that my rucksack could snugly sit on it and with the Trimble placed atop my rucksack it gave it elevation above its immediate surrounds, I measured the offset between the equipment’s internal antenna and the ground below and sauntered off to the 8th tee to sit whilst data were gathered.

Gathering data at the summit of Bradnor Hill

During this time a group of golfers passed, I headed over for a chat and they kindly posed for a few photos whilst in the background the Trimble did its stuff positioned high above the uppermost large rock of the summit cairn.

Some of the golfers on Bradnor Hill with the Trimble gathering data in the background on the right

The Trimble set-up position at the summit of Bradnor Hill

Once the allotted data were stored I closed the equipment down and re-activated it as I’d come prepared with a ten figure summit grid reference from LIDAR analysis conducted by Aled, this position proved to be 12 metres from the base of the cairn, and visually it was hard to determine which was higher as ground between consisted of bracken.

Gathering data at the LIDAR summit position of Bradnor Hill

I again positioned the Trimble atop my rucksack, measured the offset and headed back to the 8th tee waiting for the last datum set of the day to be gathered and stored, whilst doing so Rob Williams came slowly chugging toward me on a seated large mower, we chatted for a number of minutes and he told me about the Adder patrol and said that although there were a number of these snakes on Bradnor Hill, there were none on Hergest Ridge which was just across the valley from where we were.

Rob Williams with the Trimble gathering data from the LIDAR summit position of Bradnor Hill in the background on the left

I waved Rob off as he headed to mow another part of the course and then closed the Trimble down after the allotted data were gathered.  It had been a good morning spent in lovely conditions with blue skies and a cool summer warmth, meeting a number of very friendly people and enjoying the esoteric aspect of surveying when sitting in a field full of barley and on a golf course.  Next stop Worcester.       

Survey Result:

Bradnor Hill

Summit Height:  391.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Summit Grid Reference:  SO 28234 58440

Col Height:  212.6m (converted to OSGM15)

Col Grid Reference:  SO 23381 58603

Drop:  179.0m

Dominance:  45.72%

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