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Rob reaches final 6190th British trig pillar

Written by Fiona

April 21 2016

Trig bagger extraordinaire Rob Woodall made history this weekend when he bagged his final trig pillar, on Benarty Hill in Fife. He has become the first person (unless you know different…) to reach all 6,190 known and existing trig pillar in Britain.

What is a trig bagger?

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that there are Munro baggers and Corbett baggers. (I am a keen Munro bagger having reached 201 of the 282 Munro summits.)

There are also many other hill lists, including Grahams, Donalds, Marilyns, Hewitts, Nuttalls, Dewys and Wainwrights, that some walkers love to tick off. And then there are the trigs.

Trig pillars are part of a huge network of triangulation stations (6500-plus pillars were installed between the 1930s and 1960s), which were used as the basis for the Retriangulation of Great Britain and the creation of the Ordnance Survey (OS) maps that we know so well today.

Indeed, as I have written before, 2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the Retriangulation of Great Britain.

Rob’s huge trigs feat

Rob on Benarty Hill. Pic credit: Janet Munro.

Rob on Benarty Hill. Pic credit: Janet Munro.

For 14 years Rob, of Peterborough, has been walking to – and searching for – existing trig pillars in Britain. It’s thought there were at least 6500 trigs built but some have been lost e.g. to building developments and coastal erosion. Some are sited on private property and can be difficult to gain permission to access.

Yet Rob believes he has uncovered and walked to all known trig pillars in Britain and that amounts to 6190 (even some of these have since been destroyed).

On April 17, Rob and 29 other people enjoyed a sunny but chilly walk of five miles in total to reach the trig pillar on Benarty Hill. Celebrations at the 356m top included champagne, whisky and cake and an OS representative presented Rob with a gift, his own flush bracket. Flush brackets are special marking plates for trig pillars.

Rob Woodall on Conachair, St Kilda, in September 2009. PIc credit: Bob Kerr

Rob Woodall on Conachair, St Kilda, in September 2009. PIc credit: Bob Kerr

Rob was delighted to have completed his trig bagging quest. He says: “It has been a great adventure to discover all the trigs and in fact it was in June 2015, when I bagged the three Treshnish Isles trigs on Staffa, Burgh More and Dutchman’s Cap, that I started to get excited about coming to the end of the mission.

“The Cap is notoriously hard to land on and only one of our two charter trips made it. Luckily I was on it. Burgh More is a wee gem and we had corncrakes calling. Quite a few trigs need charter boats to reach them – and friends to help pay for them – so they are always the more exciting and rewarding to reach.

“With those done, it was a straightforward job to bag my remaining few and set things up for Benarty to tie in with the Triggers Spring Gathering, which was in Scotland this year.”

Rob will walk on

Rob has plenty more trig “points” to bag. He explains: “There are many trigs that aren’t pillars. Around 1000 are denoted Passive or Active Stations, and are associated with the modern GPS setup.

“I have about 150 of these left to visit. The Ordnance Survey placed some 25,000 trig stations in all, but many are either destroyed or very hard to find or access and while I can get plenty more, I’ve no plans to do them all. Even finishing the Passives may be tricky, as they include a Bolt on the tiny island of Sule Skerry, a long way west of the Orkney Isles.”

Then there are Rob’s hill walking goals. He says: “I have the Simms (British 600m summits) and HuMPs (summits with at least 100m drop on all sides) that will keep me occupied for a few years. Overseas, the Ultras (1500m drop on all sides) would keep me busy for several lifetimes.”

To bag a trig see See trigpointing.co.uk and www.haroldstreet.org.uk/trigpoints/.

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