|The original plan was for a sunrise up at Brats hill with its neighboring circles, then off to Copt Howe.
But a last minute change in plans had me putting it off for a day. The weather report wasn't saying favourable things (rain everywhere) but they aren't always up to scratch so I went for it anyway.
The day begins at 2.00am, whilst loading the car, it is, as predicted, raining, I almost go back to bed. It rains on and off all the way up the M6 too, by the time I reach junction 36 it's just light enough for the day to reveal itself as decidedly miserable. So contingency plan-F swings into action, I head for Ulverston.
I have a bit of a thing for sites with Druid or Druids in the name and it's been nigh on ten years since my one and only time here, so it will be good to get reacquainted, and see how the stones fared against the red paint that some brainless moron slapped upon them, gone, faded or otherwise.
I park in the big obvious car parking place that is not more than a hundred yards from the circle, but, unnervingly, there is half a dozen less than new motor homes enjoying an adhoc camping trip here too. I'm hoping the throng at the ring wont be too big.
Waterproofed, more against the dew than the rain which has by now mercifully eased off, I head off along the grassy path, sooner than I'd anticipated the stones come into view, and Kalookalaylee, there's no one there, I have the Druids circle to my self, or so I thought.
Firstly I inspect the stones for red paint, one stone, the biggest one still has the gory stuff on it , but it is fading and lichen is growing over it. After bemoaning the current state of humanity I take a few low light pictures, and start to cut away some nettles that are overcoming one of the stones. Then I walk round the circle and stop at an overflowing bag of rubbish, I swear out loud and and give it an experimental tap with my foot. This elicits a loud and piercing bark from an unseen dog, then from the other side of a clump of ferns a large plastic sheet moves about.
Crap ! someone has slept here overnight.
I make my way over to the other side of the circle and take a few nervous pictures, a crusty dread-locked head peers at me over the ferns and says "Good morning"
I return his salutation and take a pew upon a relevant stone, turning my back upon his crustiness. Perhaps now he's up he'll have somewhere else to go. He sits upon the stone next to me, Alsatian at his feet and says " no sun today, can you crash me a fag", I realise, he's been here all night, this is his somewhere else. Sadly I didn't have a fag for him but I did roll one of his for him, his hands were too cold and wet. We both sit staring off across Bardsea and Morecambe bay.
I can take but a few minutes of this before I have to excuse my self and go for a wander, up here, round there, back in the car and away.
To Great Urswick.
It has been a similar ten years since I was last here as well. It wasn't a place high on my re-visit list but seeing as its so close and en route between the Druids circle and Copt Howe, via the Giants Grave, I more or less had to go have another look. I'm very glad I did too.
My biggest memory of it is not being sure of it's authenticity, sure it's a big a stone resting on two other stones, but it's not obviously a burial chamber.
Visible from the road, once you know what and where it is, it is but a five minute stroll across a field over a stile and up hill a hundred yards. Some cows were close by but they hadn't even got up yet so they just watched me from there small dry patches. I sat amid the low branches of the Hawthorn inspecting the rear of the big three stones, there are many more big stones under the tree, can we safely presume they are from the chamber and not just dumped there by the farming dude. I take a good look around the Limestone outcropping as well, always looking back at the stones, from the east on the limestone rocks the chamber is hidden by the Hawthorn. The Cows are getting up now and one even mooed at me, my change of socks are already soaked through, boots stopped being waterproof months ago, so I bid a fond farewell to Great Urswick burial chamber, and leave with a new found appreciation of this under valued site.
Really close by is Great Urswick hill fort and a too close to ignore tumulus, so I decide to have but a quick look round before I go off to find The Giants Grave which we so spectacularly failed to find for a second time last year.
I park/dump the car by a footpath sign north of the fort and follow the wall in the appropriate direction, the path is on the other side of the wall but so are a herd of still seated bovinators, so at the top of the field I have to jump a wall, just twenty yards east is the tumulus, I tell it i'm just going up to the fort then I'll come back for a good look, it has stones on top.
The ramparts are not well preserved, they are very worn down, but the large limestone outcrops still guard its western edge. In clearer conditions good views are to be seen all round, but todays conditions are anything but clear. I start the walk back down to the tumulus with stones on top when I get a text on me phone, it's my daughter, shes encountered a childminding malfunction and I have to return home at once.
I promise to do so straight away, and continue down to the barrow, swearing as I go, the kind of swearing one does when there is no-one to hear you. No Giants Grave, no Copt Howe, what a bummer.
The tumulus turns out to be a long barrow, not a particularly long individual, but to make up for a lack of length it has two small standing stones on it's eastern end. One stone is so gnarled it appears to be a tree stump at first but a closer look reveals it's stoney nature, the other stone is wider.
I cannot give it the time it deserves, I have to go.
But as I leave I hatch a plan, to get home as quick as possible, pick up my no longer little girl and without missing a beat drive off to the Peak District, before I'm even back on the M6 I've decided that a return to Stoke Flat stone circle upon Froggatts Edge is what the day needs to be rescued.
Everything goes according to plan, the only thing I didnt take into account is the frailty of the human body, I was so tired that when we parked up at the little parking area near Froggatts edge I fell swiftly asleep. After Phil listens to six songs on her MP3 I awaken to bright sunshine, jumping to life we exit the vehicle and take the pleasant walk along the edge to the circle.
As usual for this time of year the circle is busy getting buried and choked by the infernal bracken, Phil sits around impersonating a teenager that isn't bovvered whilst I take my little shears to the ferns. The big main stone in the circle has many solstice offerings on it's basin like top, a silvery bracelet, some small change, woven twigs, a wax effigy and so on. I reveal as much of the ring as my back can take then begin to photograph the circle. Phil used to be very camera friendly always posing with a sweat smile ,but now she cant bear to be even in the photo, how those times a change. When the inevitable "can we go now" comes I climb a couple of trees monkey boy like to get a more aerial view, without much success it has to be said.
But it really is time to go now, the solstice is definitely over for this year. Now I've got to get Phil to her friends, pick Eric up from his Mum's, and sleep for England on the sofa, interrupted only by microwave related questions and the information that some one is sleeping at Lukes. I was, as they say, not with it.
Posted by postman
23rd June 2013ce
Edited 25th June 2013ce
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