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Tag: Stone Circles

A devil of a walk

A devil of a walk

When Amanda was a child she used to read books by Malcolm Saville some of who's stories were situated around the Stiperstones in Shropshire and she had always wanted to vist them. The Stiperstones are on a ridge a little west of the Long Mynd near Church Stretton and is about a 45 minute drive from us so, of course, we had to go.

There is a car park at the bottom of the eastern flank of the Stiperstones ridge and that is where we parked. We found the start of the footpath up to the ridge easily enough and could see some of the rocky outcrops on the summit of the ridge from the car park.

The slope wasn't too bad but the distance is longer than it appears in the photograph. This area is designated as an NNR (National Nature Reserve) and has lots of interesting wildlife including lizards and adders (venomous snakes) to mention but a few.

We reached the ridge after a not too strenuous walk to be greeted by this view.

It was unfortunate that we picked a hazy day which meant that, although it was a lovely day, the distant views were partly obscured. The views still looked amazing though and we started along the ridge which meant that, from this point, we were still climbing.

You'll never guess who that is ahead.

This ridge was formed about 480 million years ago from quartzite and during the last ice age these rocky outcrops stood above the glaciers and were subject to constant freezing and thawing which shattered the quartzite into a mass of jumbled rock as we were to discover.

That jumbled rock was eventually covered in vegetation but when people walk over it the vegetation wears away and, if it's popular (which it is), the soil is worn away too leaving the exposed rock. This is what the path looks like:

Let me tell you that is very awkward and uncomfortable to walk on. It is very unwise not to look at the ground whilst walking and, if you want to look at the view, then stop walking first.

A number of the various rock outcrops along the ridge have names and this was the second one we reached. This is called Manstone Rock and has an Ordnance Survey trigonomentry point on it which you should be able to see. Amanda 'collects' these so that was one to add to the list.


At the far end of Manstone Rock was this interesting rock pillar formation:


So on we went towards that distant outcrop in the picture above, the Devil's Chair, which is the one on the right below.

Luckily (or otherwise) there was a little devil in situ:

I hope it doesn't put you off going there. At this point we must be near, or at, the maximum height of 1759 feet as you may be able to see from the view in this next picture.

The two figures on the path between the rock outcrops give an idea of scale and they were two of the few other people we saw on this walk. We did hear, and see, some skylarks singing in the sky above our heads and we also saw two lizards although they quickly scuttled off into the heather but, sadly, no adders.

We turned around and made our way back along that dreadful path although once we reached the downward turn the surface was much better and we soon arrived back at the car park.

We drove down to The Bog, as you do, which is a visitor centre for the area and we had a light lunch before moving on to our next, and final, destination. It was a short drive on normal roads then a short, slow, very bumpy drive up a track to a small parking area and this is what we came to see:

It is Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle. Not quite as spectacular as Stonehenge, smilies, but it is possible to walk among, and touch, the stones. They appear to vary in size because a number of them have fallen and have been left in that position.

This view shows Corndon Hill in the background and also a little Amanda sitting on the grass on the far side.

Have you ever had that feeling that you're being watched?

This is a Bronze Age stone circle in Shropshire situated at a height of 1083 feet and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the guardianship of English Heritage. As with most sites of this type, its true history is unknown but the doleritic stones came from nearby Stapeley Hill.

In the beginning there may have been some thirty stone pillars and the survivors that still stand range in height from 10 inches to 6 feet 3 inches and stand in an ellipse 89 feet NW-SE by 82 feet.

That was our day! Two quite interesting (we thought) locations and just a shortish drive home.

Getting bored with all these Welsh/English borders views yet? smilies

 

Squaring the circle

Squaring the circle

Another sunny day. Another dash for the car. Another zooming off to somewhere.

This time it was Radnor Forest which is 10 miles (or 20 minutes) from home. The nearest village is New Radnor and it’s called ‘New’ Radnor because it was new when it was built in Medieval times to replace Old Radnor.

We passed through New Radnor and travelled on the A44, heading south-west, for about 1.5 miles until we saw a car park signposted where we turned off. We followed the rather bumpy track for about 0.6 of a mile and parked the car.

We walked along the track until we saw a path and stream going off to our left and followed it. Here is the intrepid Amanda following the stream.

We are both keen to see what’s around that bend ahead and, when we got there, this is what we saw:


It wasn’t quite as high as we expected and it certainly wasn’t impressive but it is pretty. It is fairly dry at the moment and we can always pop back after some heavy rain when it should be carrying a lot more water. There is no way in other than the path that we used and there’s no other way out.

The path is easy to navigate and it has been supplemented with boarding in places where the bank would otherwise be too steep to walk on without falling into the stream and, to prove it, Amanda didn’t fall in.

When we arrived back at the junction we turned left instead of back towards the car and carried on. We soon found ourselves climbing a very steep slope. So steep that had it been a bit steeper it probably been a hands and knees job. We got to the point where we were wondering whether to turn back when we saw the top not too far up and decided to continue.

On the way up we met this chunky little chap.

That is a Dor beetle. They are not uncommon and are of a type of dung beetle which all have the rather unattractive habit of eating dung. I thought that you might like to know that. We left it to its business, so to speak, and finally made it to the top of the slope.

We were rewarded with this sight after we realised we were being watched.

It was a Roe Deer. It watched us for a short time then trotted away. We joined another path and headed downhill. This time the slope was reasonable and at the bottom we were greeted with this view:

We rejoined the track and were soon back at the car.

We hadn’t quite finished yet and although we were headed back home we were looking for something on the way. How would you like to see a stone circle? Well unfortunately for you there isn’t one but we might manage a stone square. A stone square?

What can I say? Apparently these groups of four stones are not uncommon hereabouts and they are more common in Scotland but nobody has any idea what they are for.

Amanda had also noticed, on the map, another item marked ‘standing stone’ which was on our route back so off we went. We found the right area and found a place to stop the car and get out. We looked over a nearby field but couldn’t see anything remotely like a standing stone. We moved to the gate of the next field which had a lot of sheep down the far end and spotted a small stone near the sheep. There was no public access in that field but there was a public footpath in the next field so I thought I’d walk along it to see if I could get a photograph.

Now this is where it gets embarrassing. I found a gap in the hedge which enabled me to get a clear view of the stone.

Then one of the sheep spotted me and started bleating which started some of the others bleating as well. That soon moved through the whole flock. I realised that they were all looking at me and going baaaa. Time to move, I thought, and headed back to the car. I was horrified to see them start to follow me. Remember that I’m not in the same field but in the next one and there is a stout hedge between us.

By the time I got to the car the sheep had reached the gate of the other field and we noticed that there were some small metal troughs on the ground with some of the sheep putting their noses in them. It suddenly dawned on us that they thought I was Mister Food and were waiting for the goodies. We didn’t have any, of course, and as we drove away we could see dozens of little faces watching us through the gate. I felt really mean.

We went home.

Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies – Tuesday

Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies – Tuesday

We wasted a half-day today! It was, however, unavoidable. We left home at 9:30 AM and arrived at 12:30 PM after 3 hours of driving. That's the problem with travelling it has to be done to get anywhere but it could be better spent exploring.

The weather of late has been constantly cool, and raining for a lot of the time, but then last Monday, 21st May, good weather was suddenly forecast for at least 3 days so we booked some accommodation and left home on Tuesday, 22nd May for Wiltshire.

We had a clear run as far as the M25 and although there were no visible problems we started to see electronic signs displaying a message 'M4 junctions 6 to 10 long delays'. Guess what road we were planning to use for the next part of our route? We kept going past these signs and eventually decided that if we could see traffic queueing on the M4 slip road we would try an alternate route.

There was no queue on the slip road so we took a chance and went on to the M4 at junction 4. There were no signs of problems by the time we reached junction 6 and to cut a long story short by the time we passed junction 10 traffic was still flowing freely. There were no problems at all and I can understand why drivers tend to ignore such signs which seem not to be turned off once the problem has been cleared.

We arrived at Avebury under a clear blue sky with temperatures forecast to be around 75F. We didn't come for the stone circle but we did come partly for the stone West Kennett Avenue and partly to see inside Avebury Manor which has recently been restored. The restoration of Avebury Manor by the National Trust was the subject of a series of programmes on BBC television and it was very, very interesting so we were here to see for ourselves.

However, first things first! West Kennett Avenue starts from Avebury stone circle and winds across the landscape to the Sanctuary. It was originally lined with large stones of the sort which are to be seen in the stone circle but only some now remain.

This is a picture which I took on our previous visit in October 2011 which does not really show it to best effect.

So after lunch we walked along West Kennett Avenue to the lower end. This is what we saw this time.

Don't those buttercups make a difference? They show up the path along the Avenue very well apart from looking beautiful in their own right. There are also daisies in there somewhere but they aren't easy to see at a distance.

There is an old english folk song called "Strawberry Fair" of which the first two lines are:

As I was going to Strawberry Fair
Singing, singing, buttercups and daisies

Mid-June is probably strawberry time and buttercups and daisies are still in flower at that time but the first flush of Buttercups and Daisies appear towards the end of May.

Having reached the bottom of West Kennett Avenue we had also reached the path that went up and over Waden Hill to Silbury Hill so we just had to go to the top of Waden Hill to see the view of Silbury Hill.

We are just above the top of Silbury Hill at this height and looking a little left of Silbury Hill we could also see West Kennett Long Barrow which we have already featured on the web site. Even the standing stones which mark the entrance are visible at the left-hand end.

We went back down Waden Hill to the end of the Avenue and passed one of the locals looking a bit sheepish. Well you'd probably feel sheepish if you were seen wearing a thick wooly coat on a hot sunny day.

From here we went back to Avebury to look inside Avebury Manor. For the restoration it was decided to restore each room at a different time in the Manor's history, from the age of Queen Elizabeth I to the eve of World War II, and it is one of the few National Trust properties where visitors can touch, handle, sit in and lie on the furnishings.

This shows the Dining Room, with hand painted Chinese wallpaper, in the Georgian era.

The Victorian kitchen with one of the visitors, whose name shall remain anonymous but which starts with "A", leaning nonchalantly on the Dresser and she didn't even do the washing up.

This is a rather opulent bedroom, part of the Queen Anne Suite, and,yes, you could lay on it if you wanted although it would be nice if you took your shoes off first.

Then, of course, some of us have to start taking liberties on the Chaise Longue in the Withdrawal room.

We finally decided it was time to head for our hotel in Marlborough but, on the way, as we were passing the Sanctuary we were going to stop for a look.

This is where the Ridgeway starts and heads off to Ivinghoe Beacon in the Chilterns which I wrote about in the Blog – http://localhost/deoprrssw/?p=170

This is the signpost at the start of the Ridgeway, and it's a long walk to Ivinghoe Beacon,

and just across the road is the Sanctuary which was begun in about 3000 BC. The the site was constructed and modified in a number of phases, with eight rings in total (six wooden post rings and two stone circles) but, sadly, it is now just a set of concrete markers.

We went off to the Castle and Ball Hotel in Marlborough, where we were staying, for an evening meal and to prepare for our expedition tomorrow which features a lesser known historical monument and even more buttercups.
 

A Mere interlude – Day 4

A Mere interlude – Day 4

Monday, 3rd October 2011

Today we leave Mere to make our way home but we are going back via Avebury. We have been to Avebury before and there are pictures on the main web site but we are going again so you'll just have to put up with it. :devil:

On our last visit we didn't look round Avebury Manor although I did include a photograph taken from the front gate but this time we were able to look round the gardens. The interior was temporarily closed to the public so we weren't able to go inside.

There are no prizes for guessing who that person is walking by the hedge with the nice topiary.

There is a picture already on the web site which includes this stone with the funny face taken from this same viewpoint. So? It's a nice happy, friendly stone.

Amanda stopped to have a chat with one of the other stones and, being paranoid, I think they're talking about me.

Amanda: "What do you think of that old buffer with the camera?"

Old Stone: :censored:

There is the West Kennet Avenue, comprising more stones, which leads away from the circle towards The Sanctuary. This picture shows part of it with some of the missing stones replaced by small markers.

That was the end of our trip because we wanted to leave around 2 O'Clock so that we would be home in time to avoid most of the rush hour traffic which we managed without incident.

This is a Mere finale. :roll:

 

Walking in circles

Walking in circles

Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous stone circle in the world and there are other significant stone circles in this country such as Avebury, Arbor Low and the Rollright Stones but there are many others scattered around the countryside that are just as old but relatively rather insignificant.

When we were last in North Wales we noticed that on our Ordnance map of the local area there was an area marked as a ‘Stone Circle’ so we went to have a look. This entailed driving up a long, narrow lane into the middle of nowhere, but surprise, surprise there was a car park there.

Getting into the field wherein lay the stone circle meant climbing a stone wall and, luckily for us, there was a stile built into the wall. Not a type we’d come across before and it was quite, er, interesting negotiating it.

You could be forgiven for tripping over the stone circle before realising that you’d found it. It was of a reasonable diameter but the biggest stones were only knee high. You can get an idea of scale with Amanda standing next to one of the stones on the far side of the circle. I have marked some of the stones with black circles as they are not especially obvious.

We saw another similar circle, but of a smaller diameter, when we were on Froggart Edge in the Peak District. That was also marked on the Ordnance map in an area of bracken and the bracken was taller than the stones in the circle so we had to hunt for it but found it in the end. I didn’t even bother to photograph it then; perhaps I would now.

Some of these stone circles have names but a lot of them don’t. Next time you trip over something make sure it’s not a stone circle.

Oxon-Hants-Wilts: Homeward Bound.

Oxon-Hants-Wilts: Homeward Bound.

Day 4 – Wednesday 19th August 2009

Having stayed in Andover for three nights we thought that we should at least have a look round before we left. It’s not a place that would interest the average tourist but it does have some attractive corners and old buildings.

There is the Town Mills pub, for example, which used to be a mill and has the River Anton flowing underneath it.

You could be forgiven if you thought that the Angel Inn was Victorian but it is, in fact, the oldest inn in Andover dating from the 12th Century. In 1435 virtually the whole of Andover was destroyed by fire except for the church and priory which were both built from stone. The Angel Inn was damaged, although not destroyed, and was rebuilt in 1445. It does look, however, that the facade was rebuilt in Victorian times masking its origins.

This timber-framed house near the church looks old and is old.

Having had a quick look around the town we left. We didn’t intend going straight home and headed for one of the local villages – Upper Clatford. The river running past the village is the River Anton – the same one that runs through Andover.

This is a pretty little village with many thatched buildings including the local pub, The Crook and Shears, shown here.

We moved on to Stonehenge for our second visit in two years (we also went last year). Why another visit so soon? Well it was nearby and we get free parking and free entry so we might as well make the most of it.

It was very busy, of course, being August but we were here earlier in the day compared with last year and the car park wasn’t quite so full although there didn’t seem to be fewer people.

This was our last port of call on this trip so We’ll leave you with the few obligatory photographs of Stonehenge in dramatic lighting.

Wells – Days 5 & 6 (Thursday & Friday)

Wells – Days 5 & 6 (Thursday & Friday)

The weather on Thursday was supposed to include some sunny intervals and when we awoke it was to blue sky and sun. After breakfast we went for a short walk around the city but within an hour the cloud cover had increased to the point that sunshine was in short supply again.

We then elected to go to Cheddar Gorge. We didn't intend to just drive through the Gorge but to find somewhere to park near the top end of the gorge and walk along the top.

Once we knew that we had started down the gorge, it was just a V-shaped valley at that stage, we looked out for a place to stop and spotted a place where there was a layby on each side of the road so we pulled in to the one on our side. We were looking for a footpath that started near a place called Black Rock and after stopping I looked across the road at the other layby and there on a gate was a notice saying 'Black Rock Nature Reserve' – how's that for luck?

Not only that but the footpath that we were looking for started just a few yards along from where we had stopped and that's where our luck stopped. The footpath, in woodland, turned out to be very rough and rocky and really quite steep. Oh well you can't win them all and it should make the walk more interesting. smilies

The steep rocky bit didn't go on for ever, it just seemed that way, and we emerged onto undulating grassland with the wood continuing on our right.

We saw lots of Devil's Bit Scabious, a pretty blue wild flower, along the way which is an uncommon plant as it is very limited in its distribution.

Cheddar

By this time, as you can see in the above picture, we were beginning to see outcrops of the local Carboniferous limestone through which the gorge is cut.

A little further on and the woodland disappeared and the views opened up. It was still rather cloudy at this point but in the distance, from our high viewpoint, we could see the landscape bathed in sunlight. Careful study of the slow moving cloud shadow and we realised that the sunlight was moving our way. We sat on a rock and waited and the sun eventually reached us and this is the view that we had been watching.

Cheddar

The road through the gorge is quite a long way down at this point.

Cheddar

We could now see some pretty grim looking weather headed our way so we started off for the car. Just before we reached the woodland it started to rain, and they were fairly big drops, then we reached the woodland and decided to shelter until the weather had passed. Just as well because a short while later it absolutely fell down. Then the thunder and lightning started. Water started to trickle down path we were on so we moved off to the side a little then the water turned into a small stream.

The storm did eventually pass and we set off again downhill. We decided to drive through the gorge and head for Burrington Combe which we had visited the day before when it would not stop raining.

Cheddar

We arrived in Burrington Combe with the sun shining again. This is where I started caving as a youngster and I was interested in looking at the entrances to some of the caves I had been down then. What surprised me was that cave entrances that I remember being in the open were now in woodland and there was a new cave that had not been discovered when I was caving there.

Burrington Combe is less impressive than Cheddar Gorge inasmuch as it doesn't have the vertical cliffs but is still worth exploring.

Burrington Combe

Whilst there we spotted some wild goats.

Burrington Combe

That was our last visit of the day – tomorrow we go home.

Friday was predicted to be a better day and it certainly was when we went for breakfast. After breakfast we quickly packed, paid our bill, and set off for home.

The surprise is that, because the weather was quite good, we decided to visit Stourhead Gardens on the way and it wouldn't mean going out of our way at all.

We spent about two and a half hours there and all we did was walk round the lake – but what a lake!

Stourhead Gardens

There are 'follies' built around the lake in various places of which 'The Pantheon' is but one.

Stourhead Gardens

The range of trees and shrubs here is astounding and as one walks around the lake many different vistas appear and disappear.

We finally reached our original starting point and continued on our way home but it just happened that our route took us within sight of Stonehenge and our National Trust membership gets us in free. So in spite of it being a sunny day in August and half the world being there we went in.

Stonehenge

Although visitors are confined to a circular path it does pass quite near the stones at one point.

Stonehenge

It is spoiled by the numbers of visitors (it is August after all), the constant traffic noise from the two nearby roads, the fence which goes all the way around and the fact that one cannot get near or in among the stones. From the photographic point of view the later disadvantage becomes an advantage otherwise the views of the stones would be spoiled by the crowds of people that would certainly be milling among the stones.

We didn't leave Stonehenge until about 3:00 PM and what should have been a final two and a half hour drive home turned into 4 hours because of the rush hour traffic on the M25 and the Dartford Crossing where the motorway crosses the Thames and passes through toll booths. We were caught in an 11 mile queue for one and a half hours of stop/start driving when we considered ourselves lucky to reach 20 MPH.

Oh the joys of travel.

Thus endeth the latest trip.