Celebrate the 80th anniversary of the trig pillar in Britain!
We reveal eight great trig point summits in Scotland that should be on your walking list... and a few facts you might not know about the hundreds of trigs dotted around the countryside! Feel free to share your favourite walks with us in the comments below or on social media.
1. Benarty Trig at 1168ft is found in the Lomond Hills, Fife. It will be Rob Woodall’s final trig pillar after 14 years of walking to and discovering trigs in Britain. He has bagged 6189 so far and says: "My final one is Benarty, which I think is a great place to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the first ever trig pillar in Britain." See trigpointing.uk/trig/1315
2. Duncryne Hill is known locally as the Dumpling. It might be only 465ft above sea level but the views over Loch Lomond and its many islands, as well as the wider southern Highlands, are stunning. Walk Duncryne.
3. A four-mile walk to the trig pillar on Dumyat at 1371ft in the Ochils reveals lovely views over the city of Stirling and the Stirlingshire landscape.
4. Ben Ledi is a popular mountain hike near Callander, also in Strilingshire. It claims the title as the highest mountain in the Trossachs area of Loch Lomond national park. There is a trig pillar located at the 2884 ft top. Walk Ben Ledi.
5. Cairn Table, at Kames, Muirkirk, is a fairly easy-going hill climb in Ayrshire although it does stretch to more than five miles in total if you follow a circular route. The views from the trig pillar at 1945ft on a clear day are spectacular and can reach as far as the Isle of Arran to the west and Ben Lomond to the north.
6. An Teallach ridge, near Dundonell, offers a challenging hike with the most breathtaking rewards of views over the surrounding Scottish Highlands landscape. There are two Munros on the ridge, Sgurr Fiona and Bidein a Ghlas Thuill and the trig pillar is found on the latter.
7. The most southerly of Scotland’s 282 Munros, Ben Lomond sits on the shores of Loch Lomond in the southern Highlands. It is a popular walk with the trig pillar offering fantastic views over a rolling landscape in fine weather. There are two routes to the top, via the “tourist trail” and ptarmigan ridge.
8. A lovely coastal walk from Portree on the Isle of Skye heads to a trig, Ben Tianavaig, at 1354ft. A book Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye suggests 56 walks, including this one, with trig viewpoints.
Here are some things you might not know about the humble trig pillar...
- Trig pillars were used as the basis for a method of measuring the shape of the landscape so that maps could be created. The maps that were created with the trig pillars in the UK are the ones many of us know and use, OS Landranger and Explorer maps.
- It was on April 18, 1936, that the first trig pillar was installed in a field in Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire. This was the start of the "retriangulation of Great Britain".
- Triangulation is a mathematical process that makes accurate map-making possible. It works by determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline and, in this case, the many thousands of trig pillars.
- Between 1936 and 1962, around 7,000 trig pillar being built across Britain, including thousands in Scotland as OS surveyors took on the huge task of mapping the entire country.
- There are still thousands of trig pillars left in Britain although many have been lost to building developments, farming, erosion and other causes. No one is sure of the exact figure although it’s thought to be around 6,190.
- The highest trig pillar sits on the top of the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, Scotland, at 1344m.. and the lowest? It's at Little Ouse at -1m in Cambridgeshire, England.
- Trig pillars have been out-dated by more modern measuring technologies, including GPS. However, the pillars still offer a beacon for walkers, especially when looking for a hill summit.
- Trig pillars have become the focus of “collectors”. This hobby is known as trig-bagging or trig-pointing, where people travel across the countryside spotting and recording as many as they can. Rob Woodall recently completed his 13-year mission to bag all of Britain’s trig pillars - read the story here.