Tag Archives: trig point

Happy anniversary to the trig point

18 Apr

Regular readers of my blog will know I have a fascination with trig points, the concrete pillars that were used to map Britain (or at least one of the methods used).

Today is the 75th anniversary of first observations made using a triangulation pillar and the beginning of the Retriangulation of Great Britain. The pillar in question is located in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire and unfortunately I was unable to join the small group of devotees who made a pilgrimage to the pillar today.

The Ordnance Survey have marked the anniversary with a special blog Happy birthday to the Trig Pillar – 75 years young today” href=”http://blog.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/2011/04/happy-birthday-to-the-trig-pillar-75-years-young-today/” target=”_blank”>post today and I understand that the pillar in question will be featured on the local BBC news bulletin.

I have long been aware of trig points, although it wasn’t until recent years that I really began to appreciate their history and function. For a long time I knew they were used in map making and were a physical reminder that I had reached the top of a hill, but now I know a lot more about their history and their part in producing the maps that I still use today.

So happy anniversary to the trig point, and because I can’t be at Cold Ashby here is one of my favourite trig points instead, at Blackcap near Lewes, East Sussex.

Unplugged: South Downs Way – Washington to Amberley

12 Feb

At last some reasonably good weather allowed me (and my wife) to head back to the South Downs and my first proper hill walk of the year. We revisited a section of the South Downs Way that I walked last year.

The weather forecast was good (no rain, a little cloud and light winds) but it took a couple of hours for the sun to finally break through and for some of the mist to clear, although the visibility was never really that good.

We started at the village of Washington, West Sussex taking a slightly different route to the one I had taken last year (but still part of the South Downs Way), taking a bridge over the busy A24 London to Worthing road and not crossing at road level as I had done last year. The advantage of this route is that it took us past Washington Church, where my 5x great-grandparents Thomas HAYBITTLE and Mary DALE were married in 1776.

The climb up to the top of the hill was made slightly tricky by the muddy conditions underfoot, we have had a fair bit of rain over the last couple of days, but it was possible in most places to pick a way through the mud and puddles. Once we were at the top of the hill the going became a lot easier and a lot flatter.

As the weather conditions improved so did the views, the best views should have been to the south towards Worthing and Littlehampton on the coast but the mist pretty much put paid to that. At Chantry Post we took a detour off the South Downs Way and took a path slightly further north giving a much better view of the landscape at the foot of the hills.

The view to the north was dominated by the village of Storrington, West Sussex (pictured above) and this detour also gave me a perfect excuse to pay a visit the trig point at Kithurst Hill. The path went right past the trig point and I was unable to resist a few photos.

Slightly further along (past another trig point at Rackham Hill) we were looking down to the village of Amberley and the River Arun (pictured above). There was a lot more blue sky now, although there was still some cloud about, so the sunshine wasn’t continuous, but if it wasn’t for the slightly muddy conditions underfoot it would have been almost perfect walking conditions, not too hot and not too cold.

It was great to be back on the South Downs, looking east and west along the hills brought back many fond memories of my walking last year, it was also good to be familiar with the route now and I can’t wait to walk the entire route again later in the year (hopefully).

Capital Ring: Preston Road to Finchley Road

11 Sep

My friend Chris and I continued our walk around London on the Capital Ring. To be honest it wasn’t a very good day’s walking, the weather was not very nice, although we did manage to avoid most of the showers. There was very little of interest in this part of north London to look out for.

Having said that it did get off to a promising start (once we had left the residential area around Preston Road underground station) with a climb up Barn Hill. On the top of the hill we were rewarded with a splendid view across to Wembley Stadium (despite the grey conditions) and a white painted trig point.

Barn Hill trig point

Not long after here things started to go downhill, there was a bit more open country, and a climb up to Gotford Hill (with the rather desolate looking footpath sign shown below) but soon were in built up areas again, walking along pavements beside busy roads and between rows of houses.

Remote footpath sign

Then things got really bad as virtually all the signs marking the route disappeared. I don’t like having to walk around with a map constantly in my hand, and have been used to just following the signs on previous sections. We didn’t go far out of our way, but we did miss a couple of turnings. It was just annoying to have to keep checking the map to see which street we should be following.

By lunchtime we had just about had enough, the weather was deteriorating and we need some food. We decided we wouldn’t make it all the way to the end of this section of the route in time for the train home, so we decided to stop early, get some lunch and make our way home. As we are now in north London it is taking longer and longer to get back home, but we are about three-quarters of the way around the route now, and time to start planning the next route we are going to walk.

Capital Ring: South Greenford to Preston Road

28 Aug

After a break of a couple of weeks (probably too much of a break if truth be known) I was back up in London with my friend Chris walking another section of the Capital Ring More accurately it was about one and a half sections, finishing the previous section off, completing one whole section and starting the next.

Today’s route was largely along residential streets and as such was a bit disappointing, there were however a few highlights which made it worthwhile. The first of these was following another section of the Grand Union Canal, unfortunately it was quite a short stretch, but it did make me think again about walking to Birmingham one day.

For me the best bit of the walk today was the climb up Horsenden Hill and the views at the top. We were lucky with the weather today, and despite a bit of cloud the views were quite excellent, probably the best of route so far. The picture below shows the view looking west.

View from Horsenden Hill

As an added bonus, at the top of the hill was a trig point, a lovely grey painted (apparently anti-graffiti paint) block of concrete used in mapping the country. It was a few metres away from the path and I couldn’t resist paying it a visit and getting some photos.

Horsenden Hill trig point

Whilst I enjoy visiting trig points it is always much better when you just happen to come across one in the course of a walk, although it can be rather frustrating to find out afterwards that you have been somewhere near a trig point but didn’t actually spot it at the time, like in Richmond Park.

Today’s walk was rather more hilly than previous sections, Horsenden Hill was the only real green hill of the sort I am used to, but the other hills were evident in the place names (Sudbury Hill and Harrow on the Hill) and the sloping streets.

Harrow on the Hill is the home to the famous public school, and as we are just at the end of the summer holidays it wasn’t too busy. There are some nice looking buildings and impressive views across to the City of London to the south and to Wembley Stadium. The Capital Ring runs through the school’s playing fields heading east towards Northwick Park, home to a large hospital and golf course but not much else.

South Downs Way: Cocking to Queen Elizabeth Country Park

19 Jun

South Downs Way sign

I just can’t get enough of the South Downs at the moment, and although the weather was a little disappointing, it turned out to be one of the most memorable days for a long time, mostly for the right reasons.

It is getting more complicated to get to the start and get back from the end of these walks, but getting to the start provided the first surprise of the day, our train was held up because of a steam train! I knew there was a steam tour passing through Sussex today, but didn’t think I would actually see it. Not that I could actually see much, but it was unquestionably a steam train, a rare sight on the mainline this day and age.

After the train came a bus ride to Cocking Hill Car Park, and almost straight away a walk up Cocking Down. Halfway up the hill is a rather large chalk boulder (pictured below). Like a giant marble, it is begging to be pushed down the hill, but I guess it is probably fixed in some way (or too heavy to be moved). According to my guide book it a work by sculptor Andy Goldsworthy and is part of the Chalk Stone Trail.

Chalk boulder

Up on the top of the Downs the views are quite spectacular, unfortunately because of the combination of poor light and haze my photos don’t do them justice. To the south Portsmouth with it’s Spinnaker Tower was clearly visible, with the Solent and Isle of Wight beyond that.

Closer to the path the next point of interest was a cemetery, but not the sort of cemetery I am used to, there were no headstones at this cemetery. The Devil’s Jumps (part of which is pictured below) are described on the information board as being "the best example of a Bronze Age (2000BC – 800BC) barrow cemetery on the South Downs". The Downs are dotted with smaller barrows and tumuli but these certainly take some beating.

Devil's Jumps

Not far from the Devil’s Jumps is a much newer memorial, a nice flint built memorial to Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann, a German pilot. It seems rather unusual that a German pilot should be remembered in such a way, and the story is certainly worthy of further research, such as who actually put it there?

Flint memorial

The path continued in a north-westerly direction, before turning westwards near Mount Sinai and climbing up Pen Hill, there once again the were some spectacular views, this time mainly to the north-east. Dropping down from Pen Hill, you are confronted by the bulk of Beacon Hill. The South Downs Way actually goes around the side of Beacon Hill, but I took a quick detour up to the top to visit the trig point and admire the views.

Looking east from Beacon Hill

As you can see from the pictures, there was plenty of cloud about. There were larger gaps in the cloud which allowed the sun to briefly spotlight certain favoured parts of the landscape. For most of the walk though it was still pretty warm, despite the lack of sunshine.

The biggest surprise of the day came after retracing my steps down Beacon Hill and walking around it to the other side. I was just beginning the climb up from Bramshott Bottom to Harting Downs when I heard the sound of a plane, or was it a helicopter? It certainly didn’t sound right, not a normal light aircraft, something bigger perhaps? Suddenly a big black shape appeared above the trees, no wonder it didn’t sound right, it took me a few seconds to realise it was a Lancaster bomber, passing a couple of hundred feet above my head!

I quickly pulled my camera out, but only managed to catch it disappearing to the east. There is only one Lancaster bomber flying in this country, with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, but what was it doing over the South Downs?

After the physical and emotional high points the rest of the walk became rather disappointing, heading west from Harting Down the path entered a thin strip of woodland and the temperature seemed to drop dramatically, and I was glad to get out into the brief spells of sunshine again.

The path westward from Harting was quite a challenge, not so much physically, but mentally. I had been going for nearly four hours without a break, I was starting to get hungry, my legs were beginning to ache, but worst of all the South Downs Way was becoming boring.

There were no real views to speak of, the path was pretty flat and mostly farm tracks and roads. Worst of all it seemed to go on for miles, although in truth it was only a couple of miles. Then came the county boundary, leaving West Sussex and entering Hampshire, this should have been an occasion worth celebrating, but there was no sign marking the border and it wasn’t easy to tell I had crossed it. The only noticeable indicator was a slight change in the style of signposts.

It was a real struggle to keep going, I needed to find somewhere to sit down and have a bite to eat, ideally somewhere in the sun, preferably with a view and a bench, and definitely soon. But there wasn’t anywhere, finally as I came to a bend in the road, I seized the opportunity. There was a length of wood acting as a step up to a footpath, that would have to do for a seat.

Not your usual picnic spot

It wasn’t much of a picnic spot, but I set off after only ten or fifteen minutes rest with spring in my step. I had looked at the map, there were only about four miles to go, the end was almost in sight. Suddenly I heard bells, they were loud and clear, I thought for a moment it was a mobile phone ringtone, but no it was definitely church bells, presumably carried up on the wind from Buriton Church.

It didn’t take long to finish of the last four miles. The last two were through the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, with nice wide paths and lots of signposts. In the end it took me about five hours to walk the fourteen miles and was glad to finally sit down in the bus shelter, by the side of another busy road as usual.

Getting home wasn’t easy: bus to Petersfield, train to Havant, train to Horsham and finally a bus home. Although I didn’t have to wait long at each change of transport, it still took me about two and a half hours to get home, but at least I was sitting down all the way.

So now I am in Hampshire, with only two sections to go until Winchester, the signpost at the country park said 23 miles to Winchester. The next section is going to be interesting, it should finish in Exton, Hampshire the home of some of my MITCHELL ancestors. I am really looking forward to having a look around the village and at the church where some of them were baptised and buried. The problem is that I still haven’t worked out how I am going to get home from there.

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