|We took a quick jaunt down to Newbury today as a) Mikki wanted to spend lots of money at a craft fair and b) I needed to give the new car a run to see how it feels on a longer journey, having only driven it locally so far.
The craft fair was busy, and we saw lots of (by now) familiar faces on the stalls. Of course, we spent far more than intended, but that's half the fun!
I hadn't planned much for the day, but I had picked three sites around Newbury that I wanted to take a look at.
First up was Beacon Hill. I didn't actually climb to the top - it was far too hot and uncomfortable. I did take a couple of photos for the files though.
This seems to be a hangout for the local youths, as three or four carloads passed us as we were leaving.
I didn't climb the hill, but did take some nice photos of wild flowers for Mikki.
Just down the A34 is Seven Barrows, within view of Beacon Hill. We had to drive further down and double back to get to the nearby layby.
Four barrows are visible to the west of the A34, and two more are visible to the east, the barrows lay in a rough n/s alignment.
There's a layby right by the barrows on the northbound carriageway, for the use of visitors to the De Haviland Memorial, which is nearby.
Approaching from the north, we spotted the barrows and were looking for a suitable parking place when we spotted it. A huge crop circle on the hill in the adjoining field (see photo). So the stories are true. It is a centre for this kind of activity.
Once parked in the layby, I spent a bit of time looking at the barrows, which seem to leap from the surrounding fields, before moving down to look at the circle. In the hedge at the edge of the field was a fallen treetrunk, hosting an enormous fungus growth, looking for all the world like an alien spaceship.
A spooky visit.
Pointing north again, we passed Newbury and drove up to, and through Grimsbury Castle before heading back for the motorway and home.
An interesting site, with a road that drives straight through the heart of the fort. There are no views as, in so many cases, the hillfort is now covered in thick tree growth.
There is an information board near to an 18thC folly, called Grimsbury Castle, and a footpath across the road leads to one of the gates of the fort, where the fortifications and ditch can be clearly seen. Whilst I was there, a muntjac deer scurried past, totally at home in the environment.
If we had been 30 seconds earlier leaving Grimsbury, I'm convinced we wouldn't have made it home, as a car in front of us on the motorway had a blowout, and collided with a large horse transporter. We avoided the collision, which subsequently closed two lanes of the motorway.
The car performed well, passing the test sufficiently for us to decide that our next major outing will be a week in Cornwall again, in early October.