Guest post by Myrddyn Phillips
The fells of the Pennines form the backbone of England. They stretch from the border with Scotland southwards to the Yorkshire Dales and to the Peak District in Derbyshire. They comprise a remote upland habitat of wilderness, bog and vast openness, beautiful on a spring day when skylarks are singing, but somewhat bleak and inhospitable when the weather is inclement.
Amongst this vast tract of wilderness is Thack Moor, a fell that is situated in the Northern Pennines and is positioned above the small village of Renwick. Its grid reference is NY611462.
Thack Moor has a current map height of 609m, which is very close to the magical imperial height of 2,000ft (609.60m). As it is generally regarded that mountain status in England and Wales is reserved for those summits at or above 2,000ft, this ‘hill’ had been a priority for G&J Surveys to visit for quite some time.
We first visited Thack Moor in August 2012, making our way to the top from Renwick and carrying all necessary surveying equipment including a level and staff, tripod, Leica Geosystems 530 GPS receiver and pole. Although visibility was good and the cloud base was above the local fells, the weather forecast predicted heavy localised showers. While we were using the level and staff to determine the highest point of the fell, the grey clouds sped in from the west and the first of the day’s showers descended upon us.
Image with thanks to G&J Surveys
We found the fell’s high point to be on the northern side of the solid wall that follows the summit ridge. The fell also has a Trig Pillar which is positioned just on the southern side of this wall.
We gathered two hours of GPS data and descended back to the awaiting car, happy in the knowledge that we’d now made our visit and surveyed Thack Moor. However, once the data were processed, the result was of so much interest we consulted with Mark Greaves, Geodetic Analyst at Ordnance Survey. Mark’s advice was to re-visit and gather an additional four hours of summit data.
Autumn soon turned into winter and the thought of spending four hours and more on a bleak Pennine ‘hill’ in the depths of winter did not fill us with joy, so we waited until the start of better weather and longer daylight hours. Our opportunity to re-visit Thack Moor was on 3rd March and along with Bob Smith, the Editor of the Grough website who was accompanying us for a feature article, we again ascended from the village of Renwick. Conditions were almost perfect as the cloud base was high, visibility good, and only an occasional wisp of breeze.
Image with thanks to G&J surveys
- ‘Graham Jackson, Bob Smith and John Barnard beside the Leica GS15 which is positioned on the high point of Thack Moor’
However, once over the summit ridge wall we encountered a bank of thick and solid wind-blown snow that had accumulated against the wall and was stretching out toward the high point of the fell. Thankfully the high point was just on the edge of the snow and once determined again by level and staff we positioned our new Leica GS15 over it and started our long four hour vigil. After what seemed an eternity the four hours had elapsed and the equipment was then switched off, dismantled, packed away and we finally descended to the friendlier climate of the valley below.
The two data sets were sent to Mark Greaves who kindly processed them. But what of the result? Would Thack Moor join the elevated ranks of 2,000ft mountains? The result confirmed by Ordnance Survey is that Thack Moor is 609.62m in height. So, the ‘hill’ becomes a mountain by just 2cm or in imperial terms no more than ¾ of an inch!
John Barnard, Graham Jackson and Myrddyn Phillips