Sunday, 27 March 2011

Three Circles and a wedding

Visitors for the weekend- keen walkers like us so where do we go?

Wheather isn't great and they need to be off soon after lunch for a long drive home so it has to be nearby. There is a lovely circular walk taking in Stanton Drew stone circles and the viaduct at Pensford ( one of the party is abridge designer...) which we've done a couple of times so why not again

We parked the car in Stanton Drew and inspected the circles with our friends who had never seen them before.

There are a number of local tales attached to these stones. The most common tells how a wedding party was turned to stone by the devil for dancing on a Sunday. The devil disguised as a fiddler played on after midnight and the  wedding party were turned into stone as dawn broke. The dancers are represented by the 3 circles and the Cove ( actually believed to be the remains of a chambered tomb)  is the bride and the groom with the drunken churchman lying at their feet!. They are still awaiting the Devil who promised to come back someday and play again for them.

On from Stanton Drew to Pensford to marvel at the brick and stone viaduct. I wasn't the only one taking pictures now! The viaduct is just over 300 metres long and approximately 29 metres high. It is now disused but remains an impressive monument to Victorian engineering. Built in 1873 it was closed in 1968 following saftey concerns after severe flooding in the area.

Coming out of Pensford  is the one killer hill on this walk which goes up towards Norton Malreward ( named by a disgruntled Crusader  who was not too pleased by this gift from the king!) and then skirts past Maes Knoll Tump before descending slowly back to Stanton Drew. Lovely views of the  circles but it was too murky unfortunately to get any clear shots today.

Almost  time for lunch at the Druids Arms but just time first  for a look at the Cove in the back garden (yes the trees are in leaf-  this photo was  taken last summer!)

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Good Moon rising...

Typically of course it was clear the day before and the day after but on the day of the "supermoon" itself it was of course cloudy so I was unable to take my own pictures.

Fortunately the sky was clearer for my friend Rowland and this picture is by him ( used with his  kind permission).

Rowland is a very talented wildlife photographer and you can see more of his work here. The site is a little slow to load but is well worth the wait.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Noise, noise and more noise!

Feeling slighty jaded after last night's festivities so it had to be somewhere close. Somewhere we haven't been before - hmmm. Not so much choice then.

Internet to the rescue and Abbot's Pool and Leigh Wood popped up attached to a 5 mile walk starting at Ashton Court Park near Bristol.

Very very near Bristol as it happens, like 2 miles from the city centre! Ashton Court is very nice if you enjoy managed park land and dodging the mountain bikers. The constant background hum of the city never went away and I was glad to drop down to the woodland surrounding Abbot's Pool for a bit of tranquility.

Some hope! The place was packed with "screamagers". Why can young people no longer enjoy themselves without screaming? ( and I'm not as old as that makes me sound!)

 The pool itself dates from the  12 century and was created to provide fish for the abbey of St Augustine

A view across the pool - I managed to get one shot without children, dogs or fishermen! You are also spared the background noise.

I think a return visit will be required during a quieter time  - maybe at dusk. The surrunding woodland is beautiful and  the council who manage the land are obviously waging war on the rhododendron that is trying to take over.

Time for lunch and  a pub  is en route. Should be perfect.  Well no. The garden is closed "for refurbishment" so we have to sit inside on a glorious day. More noise. The interior is like a sounding box, stark with wooden floors and nothing to absorb the echoes. It is also the type of pub that wants to be a restaurant so after a glance at the menu we settle for a quick glass of cider and agree to raid the emergency rations in the backpack instead.

Leigh Wood at last; we are back to the background hum of the city and the birdsong is interrupted by the wail of emergency sirens. More mountain bikers to dodge as well. A glimpse of some muntjac deer was a compensation but again this is somewhere to visit at a quieter time.

Glad to get home to be honest for some peace and quiet!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Golden Day

So it's grey and raining, where do you go? Obvious - to the beach! Well not directly to the beach of course; me being me, we have to slot in a visit to an ancient site or two -so where to go?

A quick browse of the Megalithic Portal threw up some good possibilities and 9 Stone Circle it was. This is right on the A35 which meant it should be a quick drive-by on the way to Lyme Regis.

Drive -by is exactly what happened! I was keeping a sharp look out as I've been down that road many times and not realised there was a circle there.

 Having spotted it, (and it is right on the road) came the problem of where to stop. The A35 is horribly busy but luckily there is a very rough and muddy lay by between the circle and the Little Chef so a quick U turn and we were there.

This is a lovely little circle despite the proximity of the main road and the traffic noise. The ramsons were just starting to show, filling the air with the unmistakable scent of garlic. The woodland surrounding it lends an air of calm and it must have been quite idyllic before the invention of the internal  combustion engine.

There are 2 main stones and 7 much smaller ones. There was once a large beech tree but it has been largely removed by English Heritage on the basis that it was diseased.  The remains of the tree bears much graffiti and it is a sad sight.  

Having soaked up the ambience we decided to look for the "Broadstone" which was apparently close by but a little further along the A35. Finding this was far more challenging and despite have a detailed OS map and having programmed the co ordinates into the trusty GPS locator we had a number of trips up and down the same section of road before deciding  where it MUST be  even if we couldn't actually see anything.

And there it is! Yes rather small and inconspicuous. If you go to find it yourself, pull into the tarmac layby on the right hand side of the A35  ( travelling away from Winterbourne Abbas). If you peer through the hedge you can see a smallish stone lying prone in the field.

After that anticlimax it was Lyme Regis for lunch and a stroll in the now blazing sunshine along The Cobb   where they have a relaxed attitude to time!

Since the circle required no effort to visit and lunch had included large helpings of  Dorset Apple Cake  some exercise was definitely needed so the trip was rounded off by a 5 mile walk.

This was serious exercise. I can well believe that  Golden Cap  is the highest point on the South Coast and the walk which took in the ruined church of St Gabriel's had some steep climbs and descents. It was worth it though for the views ( I think!)


Saturday, 5 March 2011


Not very pagan, British or neolithic but great fun! The latest wanderings were to the Haute Savoie or more specifically  Les Arcs.

We struck lucky with the snow, arriving after a 7 hour transfer from Grenoble ( should have been 3!). It was snowing in the resort and chaos reigned. The coach burning its clutch out on a mountain hair pin didn't exactly help nor did the cars  scrabbling to find a space to put on last minute  snow chains but we got there in the end.

A little snow on the Sunday but then mostly clear blue skies. Snow has been scarce this year but the pistes were in beautiful condition for most of the week but showing signs of wear by the end. All credit to the pisteurs who will have their work cut out to keep the slopes open unless more snow falls soon. As we left there were huge bare patches of grass and rock in the resort and  it looked more like early April than the start of March.

The scenery of course was magnificent. 

 View from the apartment - OK  more like the view from the rabbit hutch; the room was barely 2 metres wide ad to open the sofa bed meant that the other seats and tables had  to be moved into the tiny kitchen area!iew from the apartment - OK  more like the view from the rabbit hutch; the room was barely 2 metres wide ad to open the sofa bed meant that the other seats and tables had  to be moved into the tiny kitchen area!

Although the pistes look empty here it was horribly busy.  The first decent snow for weeks brought the world and his wife ( plus aunty, uncle and dog) out and the main thoroughfares were packed. It was still possible to find a few areas though to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the area.
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