Sunday, 16 March 2014

Climbing The Skirrid

Safe in the magic of my woods I lay, and watched the dying light.
Faint in the pale high solitudes,
And washed with rain and veiled by night,
Silver and blue and green were showing.
And the dark woods grew darker still;
And birds were hushed; and peace was growing;
And quietness crept up the hill;

And no wind was blowing

And I knew That this was the hour of knowing,
And the night and the woods and you
Were one together, and I should find
Soon in the silence the hidden key
Of all that had hurt and puzzled me --

Why you were you, and the night was kind,
And the woods were part of the heart of me.
And there I waited breathlessly,
Alone; and slowly the holy three,
The three that I loved, together grew One, in the hour of knowing, Night, and the woods, and you

And suddenly
There was an uproar in my woods,
The noise of a fool in mock distress, Crashing and laughing and blindly going,
Of ignorant feet and a swishing dress,
And a Voice profaning the solitudes.
The spell was broken, the key denied me
And at length your flat clear voice beside me
Mouthed cheerful clear flat platitudes.
You came and quacked beside me in the wood.
You said, "The view from here is very good!"
You said, "It's nice to be alone a bit!"
And, "How the days are drawing out!" you said.
You said, "The sunset's pretty, isn't it?"     

 By God! I wish -- I wish that you were dead!

Rupert Brooks 1909 

And the above just about sums up my feelings on today's little jaunt.  The Skirrid - the Holy Mountain, full of families, children, dogs, noise, etc. Normally it's easy enough to escape the crowds but not today. Not on the ridge to the top at any rate. And yes if I am lying down on the grass with my camera pointing at an early anemone  I probably am photographing it and yes it is very pretty, thank you......

 Ranting apart, the Skirrid is very pretty indeed on the lower slopes which I guess is why it is so popular. It's a steep pull up through the woods though to get to the mountain itself and I'm a bit out of condition...

Made it to the ridge and although I've managed to make it look empty here  - it wasn't. It was a day that required patience... The ridge forms a natural path up to the summit -would have made an ideal formal processional to the Hill fort at the top or to the church of St Michael which was built on top of it. Little trace of both remain now other than some earthworks and a few stones near the trig point.

It's a walk of false summits - as you crest one in the hope that it is "the" top, yet another one looms in the distance... still once you're up on the ridge the gradient isn't too bad and there are some interesting rock formations to provide a distraction.

Rather like these in fact. You can't see the family and dogs climbing all over it. I've had to be creative with my camera angles today. You do get an idea though of how high the mountain loams above the plains.

Having reached the top we decided to take the steep way down to the path that circumnavigates it. This is my attempt to show how steep it was  - and that is the Sugar Loaf peak in the distance. This bit was horrible. The path was pretty much non existent and it was very steep.

Add some people and the gradient is much more obvious.

This was our final objective  - the Devil's table. Getting here was a real challenge. Most of the pictures of it are taken from the ridge and having scrambled over rocks and terrifyingly steep gradients i can see why.

However it was worth it  ( I think). Understandably we were the only ones daft enough to do this.

Actually it was well worth it if only to find this little glade on the left of the stones. A perfect little hollow with rocks and grass and twisted hawthorn trees. And most of all silent, blissfully quiet.

Apart from the raven calling overhead. I don't mind them though.

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