Another G SOTA Addition and Deletion


What used to be the man-made hill on Hensbarrow is not anymore, and has officially replaced Hensbarrow Beacon G/DC-004 as the Marilyn. The new hill is Hensbarrow Downs and the height is more than 25m above Hensbarrow Beacon G/DC-004. Here is Alan Dawson’s report of it below.

“Now that everyone has submitted their end-of-year numbers and reports to the relevant authorities, I can announce the first change of 2017. Hensbarrow Beacon (312m) in Cornwall has been replaced by Hensbarrow Downs (364.6m) as a Marilyn. The new summit is at SX 0013 5747 and is a small flat rock embedded in long grass. More information has been submitted to RHSoc for potential publication in the forthcoming edition of Relative Matters, subject to editorial approval. Alan”

Hensbarrow Beacon G/DC-004 will be removed from the SOTA programme on 31st August 2017 and Hensbarrow Downs will get SOTA reference G/DC-008 and will be in the SOTA programme from 1st September 2017.

Jimmy M0HGY
G - Association Manager

If these are close by each other - why do we need a new SOTA Reference number? Could this not be handled like a simple correction?


Hi Ed,

A new reference is needed as the new summit is more than 25m above the old one, so hence the new summit is not within the activation some of the old one. If the old and new summits were within activation some of each other, this would have been just an amendment of summit name, grid reference and height on the existing summit reference.

Jimmy M0HGY
G - Association Manager

I fell into that trap over the other summit change Ed. If the new summit is in within the old AZ then the number doesn’t change. If it is further away then it’s a new summit and new reference. In this case the new summit is man-made, it’s a spoil tip from the China Clay works that are all over this part of the UK. The tip has been extensively land managed and landscaped so it looks quite good. If it were still a spoil tip and looked like one, then it would not be classified as a Marilyn. But as it’s green and covered in grass and gorse and heather and a small conifer plantation, it is a bit odd that the summit is at a trig point when this big green hill is nearby!

I think this is the 1st man-made summit in the UK but there is a least one old industrial spoil tip (landscaped) in ON and a few in DM (relatively near Dusseldorf ISTR).


Does anyone know if the new summit is on private land if so, where would you obtain permission. I just suspect it is on private land as I was looking on Google Street View on the road to the east of the new summit and saw a gate to the China Clay works with notice saying no access to unauthorised persons, so looking like this summit is on private land. If it is on private land, I hope they will give us permission to activate the new summit, I would be very annoyed if the had a summit similar to Upper Park GW/MW-032 which is a private land summit where they do refuse permission, in the G Association.

Jimmy M0HGY

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Thanks for the explanation Jimmy and that the ruling is that only “minor” corrections of position (i.e. within the 25 vertical metres AZ) can continue to use the same SOTA-ID.

I’m presuming the new summit is also only 1 point. Let’s hope access is possible to the new summit otherwise it’s effectively a summit lost.


There is one other summit in the G association that is on entirely private land with no access, and that is Swinside G/LD-057, in the Lake District. However, the estate office here are very nice and helpful, and tend to grant requests for access. We’ll have to wait and see how things turn out with G/DC-008.

Looks like I answered my own question as I asked the same question on the RHB Reflector and here is the answer below.

“Chris Watson
Message 29 of 31 , Today at 2:25 PM
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It is on private land but is easily accessible. You are unlikely to get permission so don’t ask. It would alert the owners who might then make it less accessible.”

Unfortunately the new summit is on private land, but despite what is said on the message above, I would like to remind everyone in SOTA that trespassing onto private land to activated a SOTA summit is prohibited and permission must be obtained to activate SOTA summits on private land. When Hensbarrow Downs G/DC-008 becomes a SOTA summit from 1st September 2017, you must obtain permission to activate this summit, please do NOT trespass to activate this summit. As G Association Manger it is unfortunate that I have to make this a valid SOTA summit, but have to as it is a new Marilyn. I was against England becoming to P100 association when we had the big debate on it 8 years ago as that in itself would have brought a load more private land summits into the G Association. Permission for Hensbarrow Downs G/DC-008 may be easy to obtain like Swinside G/LD-057 and Myarth GW/SW-035 or it could be as difficult as Upper Park GW/MW-032, lets just hope it is easy to obtain, I am sure we’ll all find out soon after the 1st September how easy it is to obtain permission for this new SOTA summit.

Jimmy M0HGY
G Association Manager

Hensbarrow Beacon has always been known to be below the spoil heaps in the vicinity by some height. However, these are in actively-worked areas. I would therefore question the validity of the RHB reclassification of the summit on account of the fact that the situation is likely to change until the heaps are no longer actively worked and the area has been landscaped.

The fact that RHB clearly state that the summit is on private land AND recommend that permission is not sought leads me to question whether they had permission to survey the spoil heap…If they did, then why are they suggesting that we do not ask for permission?

In light of this, I am of the opinion that SOTA should hold on this reclassification and retain Hensbarrow Beacon as the summit until the issue is clarified.

Gerald G4OIG

Was it a spokesperson for RHB that said “do not ask permission”, or just a user of that message board? I don’t think we can take this as RHBs official position just yet Gerald!

The Hills Database is about to be updated, and whatever’s in there will be definitive. I’m sure they’ve taken the things Gerald mentions into consideration and made an informed decision. Not for us to overrule our definitive reference data source when it suits!

Does the RHBs definitive reference data control what are Marilyns in all the other SOTA associations in the world, or do they just control the UK SOTA?

The clue is RHB. Relative Hills of Britain.

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Are they being worked though? Mr. Marilyn himself said the tip has not been added to for many years. The aerial photos show an industrial tip on a huge scale but they are old compared to the Streetview shots which show the area being reclaimed with trees planted etc. There is a sign saying it’s another reclamation project. Again Mr. Marilyn says “None of the heather, rocks, grass and bushes were man-made as far as I could tell.” So it sounds like it’s being returned to nature or has been.

Private and no access is a non-issue. You realise how lucky you are to live in GM with its open land access compare to the troubles people face in other associations where there are real issues finding the owners and getting permission. It will just be another summit that currently has an access issue.

A google shows many, many reclamation projects in the that area, and Mr. Marilyn has been fairly consistent over the years. I doubt he’d have moved the summit if it still looked the way it does in old photos so I’m expecting something that looks like a hill albeit from Minecraft.

It does mean all the G-completers disappear off the lists and need to bag 2 new summits by the Autumn that are at opposite ends of England with one needing access permission. The permission stories will be interesting for this one.

I remember the first time I saw the “Cornish Alps”, about 50 years ago, most of the tips were brilliant white and looked as if they were covered in snow. Now many of them are greened up and inactive. The industry itself is in decline due to cheaper imports from abroad, the use of alternative minerals for paper filling, and new production areas near St Austell. The production areas move as they get worked out or too deep to be economic and the greened up tips are from abandoned pits which are unlikely to be re-activated. I would guess that access problems are more likely to be due to the unsafe nature of the pits - which are huge! It is likely that any access to Hensbarrow Downs that avoids the pits will be uncontested, but in any case, it is estimated that the area will be worked out by 2040 so at worst we just have to wait!


So who controls decisions on hill changes in the rest of the world, and why is it different for us. Cant we make our own decisions about hill changes in the UK?

Good question Micheal.

The UK associations came first and are based on the Marilyns list of summits. The G ARM says “Marilyn list, as defined in the above references is the definitive list of valid Summits for England.” So when the list is changed, the UK summits will eventually follow suit and change.

For the rest of the world the answer is it depends. Making lists of hills is something some people like doing. Making lists of relative hills is something fewer people like doing. So if there is a list of relative hills available for, say Elbonia, then any Elbonia association could base itself on that published list. Now you need to be sure the list was produced in a way that means it accurate and with a repeatable process. What we don’t want for SOTA is someone’s list of hills they like, but a list based on an objective measure. But if you have a list you use that.

For most of the world there are no lists. It gets hard then. You need to get topography data and run that through software that finds relative hills. Since SOTA started, more and better software has come available as has lots of data. You run the GB of data through the software and wait a while and you get a list of possible summits that need further checking against maps. And, you need to find the names for the summits.

The summits team spends hours doing this. Also prospective association AMs and helpers work with the summits team to identify the summits. It takes huge amounts of time. So if you have someone publishing a list of summits that you can use instead of having to do it yourself, then you grab the data with both hands (having checked with the list publisher that they don’t mind.)

If you think you’ve seen nitpicking over rules in SOTA then that is nothing to depths the RHB mob go to. In the UK the OS data has known errors, a function of all mapping procesess. There are RHB members who have bought expensive surveying gear to measure summits near extremes of validity so they can remove OS errors, they have been responsible for all the recent Munro height changes etc.

To emphasise one of Andy’s points, “we” don’t make decisions. The AM makes decisions. The AM of an Association is tasked by the MT to monitor the relevant authorities in his country and apply any changes in updates. As you have seen, the G AM has done his duty and is applying changes that have been determined by his authorities. We may question the replacement of a natural feature with a man-made feature, but presumably the RHB people have determined that the feature is stable and permanent. That being so then the change is necessary.

Point taken. However, since SOTA is wholly reliant upon the information produced by RHB, should not assurance be sought that they have information to the effect that there will be no further level changes on Hensbarrow Downs and that operations have ceased. It would be good to have some background details…

Yes, a rather glib statement from him in my opinion. However, I will try to check this out when I am down there later this month. I would not expect this particular spoil heap to be covered by a planning condition as its creation would be prior to the instigation of such controls. I understand that there is pressure locally to have these areas returned to as close to nature as is practical within the terms of the work being economically viable. The land owners appear to have a willingness to be pro-active in public relations, so let’s hope this extends the granting of access. One potential issue that I can see is liability and the land owners being a large company might have concerns over that.

Edit: if I can get a view on the actual situation on the ground in relation to access I will report back.

Having looked at the 25k map they may be a way round the issue of activating this summit. It will need local investigation as it appears that you can get to within 150 metres of the new summit on Access Land, so the boundary may be within the AZ.

Google Earth flood tool would suggest that the western edge of the AZ is within the Access Land.

I note that there are no contour lines entering into the disused spoil heap to allow an armchair check to be carried out. So to that end I will be speaking to my colleagues in the OS this week for the latest height evaluation of the closest point to the summit from Access Land.

We will see what comes out of the investigation.

73 Glyn

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Hi Glyn

As someone with a vested interest in activating the new summit when it comes on-line I’d like to thank you for your research on this one :slight_smile: Look forward to seeing the results!

Grateful 73 de Paul G4MD