Sunday, 12 May 2013

Visiting the Giant's Grave at Melcombe Bingham

Dorset this week - selected mainly as the weather maps showed this as being the nearest location that was expected to have only light rain rather than a deluge. Yes the fabulous British summer weather returns...

More precisely  Melcombe Bingham and the Giants Grave. This was a walk of two parts - the first a quick run up the hill to find the pillow mound and "gravestone" and a second longer walk starting in the village but going in a completely different direction.

So first the Giant's Grave. This is the "headstone" at the end of a long low pillow mound ( medieval, not prehistoric  but constructed to provide a home for rabbits and a cheap source of meat). To be honest the mound is very hard to see so I am more or less taking this on trust.

Not the most exciting of menhirs but nevertheless it has a quaint story attached. The giant in question lost a stone throwing contest with a neighbouring giant and died of disappointment!

So back to the centre of the village and a steep climb up the other side of the valley. Spring has been very late this year so the path sides were thick with both spring and early summer flowers. Red and white campion. cowslips, primroses, vetch, violets and many more.

The wind and rain had set in by now and it was very exposed at the top of the ridge. The views would have been fabulous if we'd been able to see anything but low lying grey cloud. Oh well.

We could see the ditches and lines of the barrows at the top - this is taken looking along the top of one of them.

Coming down from the top it was a lot pleasanter being sheltered from the wind  and we carried on to find the Dorsetshire Gap

This was quite magical. A mysterious meeting of 5 trackways which cut deeply into the landscape. This was the hub of Dorset from medieval times to the 19CE.

All around is evidence of    of prehistoric and medieval settlement: hilltop cross dykes, barrows and an incomplete iron age fort.

I could have stayed here a lot longer than we did but it was time to take the upper track and start to head back to the car.

Stopping of course to admire the bluebells in the wood and to pick some of the wild garlic which was everywhere.

 What goes down though must come up and there was a short climb back up on to the exposed ridge to enjoy the wind and rain again... 

Still we were rewarded by the sight of a dew pond which made the climb almost bearable. I was glad though to drop down into the valley again and take the farm track along the bottom back to the car.
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