Trig Point

This is a common site in the United Kingdom- the ubiquitous trig point atop a hill. Formally called a triangulation station or trigonometrical point, it was designed by Brigadier Martin Hotine, head of the Trigonometrical and Levelling Division of the Ordnance Survey during the 26-year-long retriangulation of Great Britain from 1936–1962. On a clear day, one would always be able to see at least two other trig points from the one at which one was standing, though vegetation growth now hinders this. Aerial photography and drone footage have somewhat rendered these stone or concrete pillars obsolete, but they remain an established part of our countryside, and a favourite spot for a well deserved group photograph. A trig point is the highlight of any walk, the essential climax of the hike from which the descent and homeward journey may begin. This should hopefully dissuade the penpushers who seem to run our national institutions from removing these veritable old pillars that have long kept watch over our hills and valleys.

In 2023, the average life expectancy in the UK is 81.77 years. By this standard, I have already reached life’s trig point and have started on the return leg. Of course, I have no entitlement (nor desire, actually) to live that long, and for all I know I could be dead within a minute of this post’s publication, in which case, I passed my trig point 20 years ago. Because we do not know how long we have left, we ought to treat every day as though it were not our last, but our highest point, to be savoured and enjoyed. Although we are descending into the valley, we have our Good Shepherd awaiting us, ready to escort us home and welcome us to our new home in the Palace.

I have wrestled on towards Heaven,
‘Gainst storm, and wind, and tide:—
Now, like a weary traveller,
That leaneth on his guide,
Amid the shades of evening,
While sinks life’s ling’ring sand,
I hail the glory dawning
From Immanuel’s land.

-Samuel Rutherford