kirkstone pass view

Kirkstone Pass Topographical Survey

Historic landmark topographical survey case study

Scope of the project 

It is likely that people will talk about the heatwave of 2022 in a similar way to the summer of 1976 and only professionals (or the foolhardy) were out in the open throughout the worst of the heat.  Some of the Gridmark Survey team found themselves on a stretch of the A592 known as “Kirkstone Pass” and sometimes the sense of irony on a topographical survey job is less than subtle.   

The reason for this picturesque road’s name is due to the historical landmark on the site known as the “Kirkstone”.  And the name comes from the shadow cast by the stone which is said to resemble a church – or in old Norse a “Kirk”.  The irony was, it was very difficult to find sufficient shade whilst we conducted this survey work. 

historic landmark topographical survey at kirkstone pass
topo kit at historical landmark

The topographical survey report was vital for several reasons though.  Firstly it was to better inform stakeholders who are planning resurfacing work and there was a requirement for the installation of permanent ground markers to tie in with existing survey data.  Secondly there are significant plans to improve drainage on specific stretches of the road which can be susceptible to troublesome surface spray and perhaps if the heatwave is a sign of extreme weather to come then flash flooding will become an ongoing concern. 

Some of the survey information also relates to some of the glorious Cumbrian dry stone walls where restoration work is in the pipeline.  Some of the iconic Cunbrian dry stone walls we surveyed are believed to be up to 2000 years old and could have been built by Norsemen pre-dating the use of quarried stone as they simply used stones cleared from the fields. 

Site and technical challenges 

In the words of comedian Peter Kay “I like it warm, but I don’t like it this warm” and one of the main challenges at the site was the combination of record breaking high temperatures and the gradients on the long stretches of the carriageway.  The respite of plenty of water and the air conditioning in the van was very welcomed. 

As with many remote sites the mobile signal for use with our equipment was also patchy as with the majority of Cumbria the population is sparse outside of places like Carlisle and Workingham.  We’re used to contending with curious livestock so the numerous sheep were not an issue but along with the afore-mentioned sunshine there were also significant wind issues at 14,000ft and we’re not just talking about one of our team after lunch. 

We had to tie in our survey results with a previous survey from a different company who had worked to a different specification.  This meant that before work commenced on day one we had to present the details of the differences we’d identified to the client. 

Due to the large stretches of road covered in the survey it was paramount that we were maintaining tight/accurate control along the full length of the survey areas which meant that some of the work was painstakingly slow – but we’re all about accuracy and our clients were delighted with the survey reports. 

Kirkstone Pass Historic Landmark Topographical Survey info

Points of Interest

Whilst the Gridmark Survey team toiled in the baking heat, dozens of Common Lizards were basking on some of the dry stone walls and where required this seemed to provide them with a super charge in terms of their speed hunting winged insects attracted by the local livestock. 

During our short (but frequently required) breaks a charm of goldfinches took advantage of the aerials on our base stations as they surveyed the fields for their next batch of thistles to feed on. 


Kirkstone pass topo
topo kit at historical landmark
topo equipment
kirkstone pass topo survey

If you have topographic survey requirements and believe that Gridmark Survey might be able to help you with your project please get in touch with one of our friendly team and we can discuss your specific needs. 

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