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May Day Weekend Travels

Another long weekend, another ignored plan...

Saturday was already spoken for. Rochester Sweeps Fair, where I've spent the May Day Saturday for the last few years. I'd agreed to take some friends along who had no experience of the Morris, whilst I knew several members of some of the sides who were appearing there.

As they'd also not experienced any stones before, I took the opportunity to pop along to Kits Coty to give them a small taste of what the stones are about, which they enjoyed.

Saturday evening was spent planning the Sunday trip. On the itinerary were the Breamore MizMaze, Giant's Grave, Whitbury Fort, the Tidpit area barrows, Knowlton Henge, Badbury Rings and the Cerne Abbas Giant.

Weirdly, despite clear roads and a good speed it somehow took 3.5 hours to get to Salisbury (including a 30 minutes stop for breakfast). I can never work out the math on these trips. Time should = Distance / Average Speed but it never seems to when I go out…

Because of the apparent delay, I didn't spend much time looking for the Breamore and Tidpit sites. Dorset was disappointing in this respect. I didn't get the feeling (as I do in Wiltshire, Cornwall etc) of being in the midst of an ancient landscape. The fact there seemed to be so much (admittedly pretty) woodland around only served to hide what landscape was there. So we cut our losses and headed for Knowlton, hoping for better luck.

Knowlton Henge is one of those sites that have been the subject of discussion on the forums recently. An ancient site that's been taken over and christianised – in this case by having a church built within the henge. At this site though, I finally got the feeling I was part of the landscape again.

Knowlton Henges — Fieldnotes

I travelled down after reading the reviews, looking forward to seeing the site, which didn't disappoint.

Although the church has somewhat taken over the site, the fact that it's also in ruins just added to the atmosphere at the site, suggesting that no belief is constant...

I'd expected to see the two magnificent yews flanking an entrance from the entries here, but the placement of the trees is more in line with the church than the henge, which is unbroken by the trees (see photo)

Knowlton Henges — Images

<b>Knowlton Henges</b>Posted by ocifant<b>Knowlton Henges</b>Posted by ocifant

Back in the car, we decided to forgo Badbury Rings and make straight for Cerne Abbas and the Giant. This was most disappointing, packed with tourists, and looking for all the world like a modern tourist attraction rather than an ancient site. No feelings whatsoever about this place.

A glance at the map showed that Yeovil, and therefore Glastonbury was not too far away, so we headed in that direction. We managed to get to the bookshop in Glastonbury before it closed, but didn't pick anything up on this occasion. We dropped by the Chalice Well to pick up some water, then made our way up Well Lane to see what was going on at the Tor, where the tower was swathed in scaffolding – apparently it's being repaired and repointed. No doubt that'll look awful and new and out of place when they're finished.

Glastonbury Tor — Fieldnotes

Dropped by the Tor on our way home, and were surprised to see the tower swathed in scaffolding (see photo). It seems the tower is undergoing renovation and repointing.

Baza pointed out the following link that mentions the work:

Glastonbury Tor — Images

<b>Glastonbury Tor</b>Posted by ocifant

From Glastonbury we travelled up the A361, spotting what looked like an interesting recumbent hill figure near Nunney Catch. We couldn't find a suitable spot to stop and photograph it (and I subsequently can't find it on the map), so we carried on through Frome, Trowbridge and Devizes and finally reached (oh, what a surprise!) Avebury. I picked up what seems at first glance to be a good gazetteer of England in the shop, 'Discovering Prehistoric England' by James Dyer. We dropped down the Avenue, looking out for Falkner's Circle, but I didn't spot it – one for another day. Back on the A4, we stopped briefly at the Ridgeway to take a look at the Sanctuary – the first time I'd actually stopped here – before finally hitting the motorway for home.

The Sanctuary — Images

<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by ocifant<b>The Sanctuary</b>Posted by ocifant

A long day, with some wonderful views, even if we didn't see most of the planned sites. They say the journey's the thing, and on this occasion, that turned out to be true. A very enjoyable day.

Monday – a day of rest to catch up on logging the trip and sorting the weekend's photos.

Next week, Oxon and Glocs (Belas Knapp) is planned again. But we know what happens to plans, right?
ocifant Posted by ocifant
5th May 2003ce
Edited 2nd August 2004ce

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