I tried to come here one evening last summer whilst we were down in Cornwall, tried and failed, no map, no idea, no clue, failed.
I tucked it away into a mental back pocket, not always a good thing, it's taken a decade to get back to some places, but I really wanted to get up Showery Tor, I really really wanted to see what I have dubbed the king of ring cairns, It would be on the front cover of a book that would be called something like Ring cairns of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, probably written by a man with a beard, anyway he would choose this ring cairn to adorn his cherished accumulation of years of travelling, above all others, it is the king of ring cairns.
From the car park the way is clear and obvious, you might want to follow the long silly cairn up the hill, try to pick out the spot where Phil Harding and Francis Prior stood excavating, selfie opportunity. (Shoot me)
I should probably mention that today is the spring equinox and that after a five hour drive under grey skies it was clear that the sun would not be recognising my dedication to duties, but would instead be ignoring my efforts utterly. As expected really.
Anyway, I am on site at the appointed hour, but I have to look at my compass to see which way the sun is coming from, I reckon a sunset would be better, the best vantage viewing points are on the east side.
So, there's no sun, but everything else is just superb, the ring cairn is massive, more like a henge in size, the rock stack in the middle works on me in more ways than one, on it's own it's an impressive little rock stack, made of pretty stones, the broken rock second from bottom....... was it broken when the ring cairn went up?
Why was it chosen for a cairn to go round it, is it just a cool place or did it have some deep meaning for them, bah, pesky mysteries.
Three ponies are sharing the hill top with me, but unlike most that ive come across they are totally unafraid of me, even pausing and posing for photos.
I've been here for a while now and it seems that nothing more can be gained from sitting in the wind, of which there is plenty, so after returning to the car for my lighter, I re climb the hill and sit out of the wind on little Rough Tor, a perfect point from which to zoom in a good picture of the south half of the ring cairn, until some dick on a motorbike screams round the hill top, there's no justice, if there were he would have exploded.
Climbing higher up the side of Rough Tor itself the ring cairn is perhaps now too far away to be seen, but Showery Tor is a Minninglow of Cornwall, an unmistakable shape on the horizon, not as unmistakable as Rough Tor or Brown Willy, but you hopefully get my drift.
But now I must get off for the long legs of my walk, three stone stone circles, a dozen cairns and a hundred round houses beckon me on.
This rocky outcrop has to be the most moving, aesthetically pleasing piece of sculpture I've ever seen - naturally occurring or otherwise.
Shaped by millennia of the viciously inclemental Bodmin Moor weather - and let's face it, it can be pretty bad - the graceful, flowing curves and contours exhibited here make it seem ludicrous to think that this just sort of, er, 'happened'. But then, Mother always has known best, hasn't she?
I can't help thinking the upper most segment looks remarkably like an archetypal dolmen capstone. Seeing as this was obviously an prehistoric 'special place' maybe the connection isn't as far fetched as I first thought. An intriguing thought......
I didn't read the notes for here beforehand so I was only expecting the "cheesewring". Missed the embanked avenue on the way up. Could have had something to do with the local hunt and the supporters riding past on bikes and quads.
Somewhat spoilt things.
In a stroke of genius I booked another week in Cornwall for the week the clocks change, and a week of stunning weather! It is early April and Bodmin Moor is tinder dry. Just before I arrived there had been several small fires in North Cornwall nd the day I left there was a large gorse fire at the other end of Cornwall (on the Lizard peninsula).
I stopped off in Dartmoor on the way, the sun was blazing and Fernworthy forest was so peaceful. Although it’s usually only the circle that is talked about Fernworthy is one of these ‘complexs’ with a stone circle , two cairns and cairn circles, two stone rows, and possible others. I was so taken in that I began to think I was an archaeologist for a day and soon I will have to unleash diagrams onto this fantastic TMA site! The south side of the forest also has a stone row. And a brisk walk onto the moor brings you to the Greywethers, a restored and stunning double circle. I also tried to find the Heath Stone on the way out. Does visiting ancient sites get much better than today?
On Sunday I went to the St Breock Downs area, checking out the St Breock Wind Farm Barrow, the colossal Men Gurta Menhir, and peering at the St. Breock Downs Menhir. I then moved south to the China Clay country (sounds like a theme park) to find the moved Menevagar / Roche Longstone and the huge Hensbarrow - this is the highest natural point in the area and the views back across the valley are stunning, with the St Breock Downs wind farm clearly visible. However, if you ignore the nice bit of the view you could just as easily think you are sitting on the moon as the clay works surround you. To round off a pretty lazy day I visited the two sites closest to where I was staying – Headon Barrow and Warbstow Bury, the later being quite stunning and the best-preserved hill slope fort in Cornwall.
On Monday I pleasured myself (steady on!) with a trip to the St.Austell Brewery - http://www.staustellbrewery.co.uk - and onto Mevagissey for sarnies on the harbour. I had forgotten my maps so instead of heading off for some yomping on Bodmin Moor I had to pull Plan B out, which was a visit to The County Museum in Truro - http://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk - I knew that the famed cup marked stone from the Tregiffian Burial Chamber was there, as was a copy of the Rillaton Cup, and other things. There is a huge amount to see and as they are a registered charity it is £4 well spent (and please fill out a Gift Aid form, so they can reclaim your tax!)
I really don’t seem to have got the hang of these ‘holidays’ have I? Not much resting going on, so I only went out on the moors late on Thursday, and spent some of Friday re-reading one of favourite books on the beach at Crackington Haven (‘Life and Times of Michael K’ by J.M.Coetzee if anyone is interested).