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Boddington Hill Camp



Boddington.... the name conjures up a couple of images in the Gladman mind, both rather striking. The gorgeous Melanie Sykes with a (lovely, if somewhat suggestive) mouth full of froth in those TV ads.... and Halton RAF camp, where the Mam C lived for a while in the 80's with her thankfully long-since-ex-husband (incidentally there is a sign warning motorists of 'troops and children crossing'. I kid you not). Of the two, the first is perhaps the most relevant to this rather splendid promontory fort, implying that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, so to speak.

Approaching Halton upon the B4009, I take the minor road signposted 'Wendover Woods'. So far, so good. Passing the golf course there is a sign for a 'pay and display' car park on the right. Needless to say I neglect to check the map (a disturbingly common occurence when visiting these semi-urban lowland sites - guess I should have learned by now) and consequently decide to park roadside and walk in... don't get me wrong, I simply hate car parks at ancient sites... destroys the vibe. Anyway, just over a mile later I finally arrive at the gigantic - and overwhelmingly twee - car park, having been passed en-route by a myriad cars and decide... retrospectively... that it would probably have been better to 'bite the bullet' and join the procession. Yeah, there's a cafe, adventure playground, barbecue area... even a free pamphlet - with map - explaining how Boddington Camp has been utilised as a 'Fitness Trail'. My, I can hardly wait. No, that's a lie. Let's get this over with. ASAP.

I head south-west along the promontory and halt in dismay at the sight of a wooden weight lifting contraption beside what appears to be a stretch of Iron Age rampart... Yeah, it's worse than I feared. Or am I just hopelessly out of touch? Hmm, the thought has occured. I check the map (finally!) and locate the rampart proper to the north-east of the site. It is heavily overgrown with vegetation, but much more substantial than I supposed. I force my way along the summit of the bank, sunlight streaming through the thick overhead canopy, and suddenly the vibe is all encompassing. Boddington Camp is seriously reclaimed by Nature. With a bit of help from the Forestry people, I guess. And that, I think, is what has saved it from it's banal surroundings, like a Mayan temple isolated within the rain forest...

For me the defining arc of the defences is to the south-west, the inner bank and ditch very pronounced here and (relatively) easy to access. The south and south-eastern flanks are also impressive, albeit overcome with tall - very tall - summer grasses. The odd group of rambling punters wander noisily by, but none seem to give a monkey's about this Iron Age gem rising aloof and silent above them. Assuming they even know it's here. The views described in the previous posts are, to all intents and purposes, non existent now due to the foliage. But the sheer scale - the length of the enclosure, the height of the surviving banks - has taken me completely by surprise at Boddington. As they say, you can't judge a book by its cover. Joggers may 'jog' around the perimeter, 'mountain bikers' may hurtle past doing their crazy thang and ramblers may simply ramble. But it would appear Boddington Camp itself is left to its own devices. Long may it continue, I say.
30th August 2011ce
Edited 30th August 2011ce

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