News & Current Affairs

September 19, 2008

Survey turns hill into a mountain

Survey turns hill into a mountain

Snowdonia including Mynydd Graig Goch  on the left

New mountain Mynydd Graig Goch is on the far left (Picture: ‘Envirodata-Eryri’)

A Welsh hill has been upgraded to a mountain after three walkers found its official measurement was just too low.

Mynydd Graig Goch in Snowdonia was originally put at 1,998ft (609m), just short of the magic 2,000ft (609.6m) that qualifies as a mountain.

But the walkers found its true height is six inches over 2,000ft (609.75m).

Their efforts have echoes of the 1995 film set in Wales which starred Hugh Grant as The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

In director Chris Monger’s quirky comedy, a Welsh community fought the attempts of two English cartographers to downgrade their local mountain to a hill.

In real-life too, Welsh pride in its rugged landscape has triumphed.

Now it is hoped that Ordnance Survey will alter its maps after the discovery by John Barnard, Myrddyn Phillips and Graham Jackson.

Welsh peaks have attracted tourists for generations, and its latest mountain takes the total number at or above 2,000ft to 190.

Before the survey, however, the country only had three hills at 1,998ft: Mynydd Graig Goch and Craig Fach, both in Snowdonia, Gwynedd, and Mynydd Troed near Crickhowell, Powys.

It’s fantastic… nothing like this had happened before
Myrddyn Phillips

The three were confident Mynydd Troed was a hill, but suspected at least one of the peaks under scrutiny in Snowdonia was a mountain.

Using “state-of-the art” equipment supplied by Swiss firm Leica Geosystems, the trio used satellite positioning to gauge the height of the hills in Snowdonia.

Their survey confirmed that Craig Fach was a hill, standing at 1,997ft (608.75m), but further research showed Mynydd Graig Goch, at 609.75m, was slightly above the 2,000ft minimum for a mountain.

Rough weather

“It’s fantastic. Nothing like this had happened before,” said Mr Phillips, from Welshpool, Powys.

“We’re very pleased our survey has proved Mynydd Graig Goch is a mountain and not a hill.

“Ordnance Survey has agreed to update its maps (on the internet) straight away, but it might take a bit longer to correct the paper maps.”

Mr Phillips said the trio took on the task because they wanted to check the facts.

But he said Ordnance Survey spot height measurements had a margin of error of plus or minus 3m (9ft 8.8in) so it was hard to argue that its original measurement was wrong.

The three spent two hours taking 7,000 readings on Mynydd Graig Goch as part of the survey on 11 August, and the rough weather played its part too, said Mr Phillips.

“Winds between 40 – 50 mph (64-80kph) made things quite difficult for us and it rained, but it was worth it.”

2 Comments »

  1. Question – What do you get if you put a sheep and a welshman on top of a hill?

    Answer – An instant mountin’

    Comment by English — September 21, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  2. Three amigos, with a combined age of 175 years between them set off to conquer the New mountain in Snowdonia National Park. Peter Shone, James Priestford and Denise Edwards nee Hancocks on hearing the news on BBC, Peter declares we should conquer this new mountain in Snowdon and camp over night.
    Saturday 20th Septmber we set off with our Jame’s 2 dogs, Harvey, Pip – Border Collies and Peter’s 2 dogs, Kellie 9 year old German Shepherd and
    R Vey a 4 year old spanial, border collies rescue cross.

    Mynydd Graig Goch is not a walk in the park, boggy with un even anckle twisting bogs in hidden gorse, but definitely worth giving it a go. The views are unbelievable, we had the beauty of seeing the sun go down in the West and then see it rise in the East over the mountains of Snowdonia.

    Set only 6 miles from the Llyn Peninsula – the views are spectacular.

    Comment by DENISE EDWARDS — September 21, 2008 @ 8:47 pm


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