Roseberry summit, Sunday afternoon, a honeypot for the crowds, in spite of the threat of rain. Attracted by the prospect of tea and cakes provided by the National Trust.
The elusive trig point fairy has been and given Roseberry’s pillar a lick of paint. A fresh clean canvas for the graffiti artists. I happen to know the fairy goes by the name of Ray (no aspersion intended) and he lives in Great Ayton, the village just visible through the low cloud.
At 320m high Roseberry’s cap of Saltwick Sandstone Formation has been quarried, subjected to intense heat and generally exploited over the centuries. The hill was to have been used as a beacon during the war with Spain in the 1580s and again during the Napoleonic Wars. These beacons were never lit in earnest but in 1902 an enormous beacon was lit to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII. 32 tons of wood was hauled up using a steam engine. The iron stanchion to the right of the trig point was erected to tie the structure down. Some heat must have been generated. The nearer post is a fence post. At one time the Topping had so many visitors trying to stand on the summit a length of railings were erected along the crag edge. That was before the collapse of 1912 when the railings were dragged down with the rock.
There’s always been a sense of permanence about Ordnance Survey triangulation points. Manmade clutter on the hills yet viewed upon with some affection. They’ve been immortalised in the drawings of Wainwright and in countless photographs that prove that folks have bagged the summit. So it’s sad when a trig point is no more. And a reminder that they too are subject to the same natural forces as the rest of our fells.
Crag Fell is a 839m peak, not quite the highest point of the Coledale Fells, Grasmoor is a few metres higher but it commands the head of the very straight Coledale Beck making it visible from Braithwaite village and giving clear views of the Skiddaw fells.
The Ordnance Survey surveyors built this trig point from pieces of the flat rock that litter the summit around a 3″ steel pipe. They would only have had to carry up bags of sand and cement. And water too of course for the summit is dry. Although the pipe shows rusting which must have weakened it must have taken some force to actually topple the pillar. More so you would think an Atlantic gale could inflict. Perhaps man had some hand in its destruction which makes it even more sad that mindless vandalism should reach this far into the hills.
Eighty years ago today, somewhere in deepest Northamptonshire, the very first triangulation pillar was erected at the start of a project known as the Retriangulation of Great Britain. The project was to take 26 years by which time over six thousand pillars had been erected, all over the country, on the highest points of the land; although that is all relative, there is one trig point, at Little Ouse in Norfolk, that is actually one metre below average sea level.
The iconic trig pillar was designed by Brigadier Martin Hotine CMG CBE to provide a stable base for the Ordnance Survey surveyors’ theodolites. All materials were carried up and the survey itself could take several days and obviously depended on good visibility to the two adjacent trig points in the triangle.
This trig pillar is located at the highest point of Carlton Bank which has been variously mapped as Brown Hill and Howe Moor but TrigPointingUK, the authoritative website for trig point bagging enthusiasts, refers to it as Whorlton Moor. It stands next to an 18th century boundary stone.
Did the day break today? I must off missed it. Round Hill is a Bronze Age tumulus or burial mound on Round Hill, which at 454m or 1,490 feet is the highest point on Urra Moor and the North York Moors.
I’ve found that very few young adults of today that I take on to the hills, have any idea what trig points were used for. And fewer still show any signs of recognition when trigonometry is mentioned.
That’s Gisborough without the ‘u’. Sometime in the distant past the moor, hall and lord have lost their ‘u’.
Gisborough Moor may have been the scene of an airship crash in 1921. R34 was a former Royal Navy airship that had recently been converted to civilian use. It was returning from trials over the North Sea in the early hours of 28th January 1921 when it hit high ground at 1200 feet on the moor south of Guisborough. With two propellers out of action the crew managed to fly the airship back to its base at Howden in East Yorkshire but further damage was incurred in docking and R34 was eventually written off.
There is a slight problem in in this history in that Gisborough Moor is only 1061 feet high. You have to travel a good five miles further south to reach land at 1200 feet. There is speculation that the high ground was actually Roseberry Topping but even that is not 1200 feet.
It’s hard to visualise how just how big R34 was. It was 643 feet long, 79 feet in diameter and had a top speed of 62mph. It’s nick-name was “Tiny” and in 1919 it had made the first East-West crossing of the Atlantic just a weeks after the first transatlantic aeroplane flight.