Sunday, 27 January 2013

In search of more holey stones..

Well the snow has gone, to be replaced by high winds and thunderstorms. I'm not sure which is worse. After a fairly wild night, the morning dawned with high winds and blue skies. Could have been worse.

I'm on a theme here and another holey stone was on the agenda - this time the Long Stone at Minchinhampton.

For a change, this one should have been easy to find but we still managed to drive past it the first time....

Yes fairly obvious from the road isn't it! Never mind. We found somewhere to pull off the road and walked back to find it.

Access is very easy - there is a gate but as the wall is currently being rebuilt it wasn't really necessary. There are 3 holes in this stone, and it has the usual healing legends attached to it. Passing children through the holes was said to cure rickets. They'd have to be very small children, there is just about enough room to pass an adult hand through - may be just inserting the affected limbs through the holes would be enough?

This is another stone that is said to get up and wander around. When the clock strikes midnight, this one gets up and heads for Minchinhampton spring for a drink.

There is a second stone a few feet away

This one has actually been built into the dry stone wall. So is this the remains of a burial chamber? A circle? or just some standing stones. There are barrows all over the place so it seems that the area was in ritual use at some time.

Speaking of barrows, there was one just across the road so it seemed sensible to go and try and find it. This proved equally easy to find. A most unusual day!

Sadly it is badly damaged with most of the middle now missing. It's also fenced off with the green tape and we didn't approach too closely as it is on private land.

I think you can just about see some of the stones here but without clambering all over the barrow it is hard to be sure. Reports on the condition of the chambers are very mixed, from being present and correct to not being there at all anymore. Sadly I am not able to say one way or the other

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Batcombe Hollow

There may be a slow thaw on but there is still plenty of snow on the ground and although the main roads are clear, anything not thoroughly on the beaten track is "interesting" to say the least - options today are therefore somewhat limited so it's local  only.

We are fast running out of "local" but there are one or two left. Batcombe Hollow is a combe we had yet to climb although we have visited the upper parts a time or two. It's about midway between Wells and Cheddar and today, because of the snow, the main road was very quiet. It's amazing how a blanket of snow keeps the traffic at home even when the roads are quite clear.

Anyway it is a steep but relatively easy climb up the bottom of the combe to the first of the two menhirs ( standing stones).

 This is the south stone. It stands on the side of the valley and is easy to spot as the path goes right past it.

We had the valley to ourselves apart from this herd of cows.

Have I ever mentioned I don't like cows? We had to pass right through the middle of this herd to reach the stone - I was ever so brave! And armed with a stout walking pole which I didn't need here but was very glad of when we got higher and the snow got deeper.

The only was of course is up and the climb got steeper and the snow deeper. At places where it had drifted it was up to 18" deep.... Mostly though it was only a couple of inches but still surprsiingly hard work.

Finally the second menhir, the north stone

Slightly dubious about this one. It has obviously been part of a wall at some time and has had holes chiselled presumably for a gate.

So which came first? The positioning of the stone which was then used much later for a boundary or was it erected deliberately as a gate post? I would have thought that there would have been easier ways to erect a gate post so perhaps the position is ancient after all.

Whatever it's origins it has a lovely position looking down the valley and past a small ( frozen!) dew pond. Those are the Somerset Levels down below all covered with snow.

This landscape isn't normally as monochrome. A grey mist hangs over everything blending the ground with the sky.

Not much more climbing to do before we rejoined the path through the nature reserve and headed back down into Draycott itself.

Just in time to head  to the pub for a well earned glass of cider and some lunch.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow Day

We have snow - we have enough snow to make working from home a requirement. My car is incredibly unsuited to snow and ice even in limited amounts so I'm going nowhere for a day or two.

Despite it being a working day it did seem a shame not to slip out for half an hour after lunch just to take advantage of the opportunity to play in the snow. It's been grey all day - it's still snowing but in a very desultory manner so I don't know if we will get any more accumulation on top of the 5-6" we currently have.

Of course I took the camera with me -

The road isn't usually quite as quiet as this!

Looking so pretty. 

In the summer this pond is full of very vocal frogs but today silence reigns.

No car noise, no passing aircraft, just the occasional barking of overexcited dogs being walked in the snow.

The local flock of exotic sheep with dreadlocks didn't look too impressed with the snow but at least they had some hay to sit on.

The geese seemed happy though - just out of shot is the farmer with a bucket of feed for them.

And finally a reminder that although it's cold and snowy that Spring is just around the corner.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


No not the bookshop!

After the adventure of finding the Wimblestone last week it seemed a good idea to go in search of the Waterstone as  the Wimblestone is said to visit the Waterstone for a drink. As the Wimblestone itself  is close to a water course itself it does seem an awful long way to go for a drink so I guess we could conclude that it makes the journey for social purposes!

Anyway this is an ancient burial chamber right by Bristol airport and not given to wandering about so it should be easy to find.

The Waterstone is on the edge of Goblin Combe which is nicely sign posted from the A38. So far so good. The road though is in pretty poor condition and I winced more than once as we hit the car's undercarriage.

We were supposed to park here.

Yes I didn't think it a very good idea either. After some careful testing of the water depth we elected to go on and ended up parking right up by the end of the airport fence along with all the plane spotters.

 Still it made a reasonable walk out of what would have been only half a mile or so.

Walking back was all downhill and we spotted this magnificent stag in the tree.

After last week's fun and games, this stone was refreshingly easy to find ( apart from the odd barbed wire fence in the way). I guess the proxmity of the airport may have been part of the reason for the subatantial barrier. However where there's a will there's a way and a convenient track took us to the right field.

And here it is - the remains of a Portal Dolman. The mound is almost completely gone and the stones have moved.

Folklore has it that offerings of primroses were made here - too early in the year unfortunately for us to continue the tradition.

This is the capstone with the hollow for the water. It is said never to dry up. With all the rain though we've had recently it was inevitably full.

 A close up of the hollow.  The water may look  a little strange - that is due to the layer of ice over the top  Although too low for the snow last night it was bitingly gold.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A Holey Dancing Stone ?

Interesting one today. I'm still recovering from the December festivities (!) and today was the first time I didn't have to be up early for weeks so it was a very late start - coupled with the short winter afternoon, that meant somewhere local. Ideally somewhere we hadn't been yet.

A search of the Megalithic Portal throw up a nice oddity not so far away so it was off to Star. As we wanted to take advantage of the pub car park so we felt honour bound  to at least have lunch there first. The cider was nice!

The object of the excursion was to find the Wimblestone. A 5ft standing stone with a hole through it. Normally these stones are credited with having healing powers. You climb through the hole and are cured of whatever malady affects you.

Well the stone itself proved remarkably difficult to find. I didn't read the associated folklore before the visit or I'd have been forewarned. Wimble means "lively" and the stone has the reputation of being quite mobile.....

Well it certainly lived up to its name - I was with someone who swears it wasn't there when he looked so much frustrating wandering around ensued until I took control of the map and found the stone exactly where marked - he still says it definitely wasn't there the first time!

Anyway it is now frozen in pixels so these images shouldn't be going anywhere- or at least I hope not even if the stone does go dancing around its field or pursues impertinent farm workers all the way to the churchyard.

The hole is that dark mark near the bottom on the right hand side. You are looking through it onto mud which is much the same colour as the stone so it doesn't show up as well as it might.

A back view  - the hole shows up much better from this side.

 A close up - it is just about big enough to put a hand through comfortably. I guess it is just too small a hole to pass even a baby through which is why there seem to be no healing legends attached to this one. 
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